I was down the pub with my wife last week, out in the tiny smoking section, when a woman with a glass of beer sat down beside us and opened a conversation. She was from Delhi, she told us, before announcing somewhat grandly that she was an ‘academic’. I suppose I should have got the hell out there and then, but I was enjoying my cigarette. Anyway, we chatted briefly about the university at which she worked and shortly after this she said that at the moment she was ‘preparing for 29 March’ and was aghast at the whole Brexit business.
Oh, I said, I voted Leave. She responded somewhat acidly: ‘And this is where the conversation ends. I cannot talk to irrational people.’ I demurred a little… um, you know, I don’t think I’m actually irrational and it’s a little bit rude to suggest that I am.
At which point she told me to ‘check your privilege — I have brown skin and you are old and white’. I suggested to her that when it came to privilege, holding a university post wasn’t too bad, was it, which was when she called me a ‘jackass’ and the conversation sadly ended.
It seemed to me a bit rich that a woman who came to the UK on a nice scholarship and had landed a good job in a university could be so blithely dismissive of the views of the majority of people in this country, even if it is a small majority. She struck me as being smug and stupid, a fairly lethal combination. So I looked her up on her university website. Remember that comment of hers about not wanting to talk to irrational people, a comment made solely because I had told her I voted Leave? Well, she teaches a course about Brexit at her university. I bet the kids get a really rounded view of the whole business, then — and this at a college which promises students they will be given ‘the ability to formulate and sustain a complex argument which is supported with appropriate evidence’. Remember, too, the speed with which this idiot clambered into victimhood as soon as anyone even mildly challenged her asinine worldview.
But I suspect she is not quite alone within higher education in being a bit dim and very absolutist and inculcating those qualities into her poor benighted bloody students, along with the usual checklist of fraudulent idioms about privilege and power and how old people are vile.
The irony was I had just come from giving a speech to a bunch of sixth-form students about the nature of truth and how to distinguish between false news and reality. The kids were great — well informed, sparky and full of clever questions. I hate to think of them a year or so down the line, studying one or other social science under the guidance of a halfwit who thinks all opinions other than her own are irrational.
Meanwhile, as Brexit limps like a dog with a broken back towards a grotesquely unsatisfactory denouement imposed upon it by a government, civil service, broadcast media and House of Commons that did not want it in the first place, I’ve done what, as a 25-year-old, I would have considered treacherous — I’ve joined the SDP. I have scoured its various mission statements and cannot find anything in it with which I would dis-agree. It’s staunchly pro-Brexit, supports the traditional family and the nation state and, in lieu of the endless hierarchy of competing intersectional victimhoods so beloved of Labour (and the Lib Dems, and most of the Tories), it stresses the commonality shared between citizens, rather than the differences.
It’s also pro-armed forces. In other words, it most definitely ain’t liberal. But by the same token, it’s pro-social market and a bit of government spending here and there, so it’s fiscally centre-ish or perhaps centre-left. The party leader, William Clouston, is a former Conservative. The London regional organiser was once a Labour candidate. The SDP’s serving MEP is Patrick O’Flynn, who was previously a member of Ukip.
What they — and I — have in common is a deep disaffection for the parties of which they were once members and a determination to allow the electorate the whiff of a new agenda which is utterly unrepresented in the House of Commons at present, except in sadly ineffectual tendrils: Blue Labour, Red Tory and so on.
As I’ve mentioned here before, all but one of the parties in the House of Commons is by a majority of MPs pro-Remain. Further-more all of the sitting members, with the exception of the DUP and a handful of Labour and Conservative recusants, are basically liberal on social issues. The divide which exists in society, then, is not remotely reflected in the Commons, and the creation of the new ‘Independent’ bloc of MPs merely emphasises this lack of representation: they too are all pro-Remain, they too are all social liberals.
The SDP is a small party at the moment, but growing quite rapidly from an admittedly low base, and at least Shirley Williams is no longer part of it: this time the party is strongly represented among the working class, which it never really was before. I’m telling you, when I read their policies in detail and spoke to a few members, it was like that moment when you lock eyes with a woman on the other side of the bar and you suddenly know that you will be together for life, rather than just back to her place for a cheapening night of desultory sexual intercourse from which you depart at dawn. If I can put it like that. Which I suppose I just have.
Anyway, we need new members for this exciting project. Join me in — what was that phrase again? — oh yeah, breaking the mould.
The argument continues online.