Douglas Murray Douglas Murray

The tactics of victimhood

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Late last week the Labour deputy leader was the subject of a glowing profile in the Times. The piece described Angela Rayner’s alleged physical similarity to Nicole Kidman, spoke indulgently of her ‘outspokenness’ and otherwise confirmed my suspicion that most of the people who go into politics should never be allowed near the stuff.

Rayner described herself as having ‘thrived’ off the ‘chaos’ of recent years. Apparently ‘the trauma, the screaming, the unpredictability — this is my bread and butter’. She continued: ‘In fact, I think it’s strange when people are nice. I find taking compliments more difficult than taking abuse, to be honest. I’ve never had that love and affection, so I don’t crave it. That’s really sad, because I see how people can be fulfilled by those things. And I can’t.’

A matter of hours later Rayner indulged in a bit of unaffectionate Tory-bashing. Not for the first time, she described the Conservatives as ‘a bunch of scum’ and made the typically dishonest accusations that the left levels at everyone they oppose (‘racist, homophobic, misogynist’). A certain amount of backlash followed. But Rayner’s own side indulged her. Labour leader Keir Starmer simply said it was not language he would use of Her Majesty’s Government. Others, such as former shadow chancellor John McDonnell, cheerily insisted that we all get a bit overheated at times and besides how could any decent person not be angry at a government doing such unforgivable things as this one is allegedly doing?

In other words the left, as usual, rallied. The amiably wrong Zoe Williams wrote in the Guardian that the Tories were cynically deploying ‘the language of fake hurt and victimhood’ when they presumably should have either accepted the critique or chortled along as all these prominent leftists would have, had such words been used about them.

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