Fast on the back of the Chingford Skinhead’s tale that the ‘real fascism of today comes from the Left’ – in which Norman Tebbit argued that: Britain has no history of fascism beyond the career of Oswald Mosley; rambling on that Mosley was left-wing, not right-wing, and that his ideas are similar to those of today’s Labour party; before ending with a bizarre tilt at Diane Abbott, Sadiq Khan and the LGBT movement, via a comment about the Garden Bridge, “Let me end… on a lighter note”, writes Tebbit:
“The Labour mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has brought the rather charming floral Thames bridge project to a halt… without money the Garden Bridge Trust has now been closed.”
“If only Boris had called it the London Garden Bridge Trust (or LGBT for short), Diane Abbot might have fought to the death to save it.”
This is prime Telegraph, like the Mail for literate Tories, respectable bigotry in inky print.
If the Activate social media wars has thrown us some giggles this week, the rise of the prospect of Jacob Rees-Mogg as a Tory party leader should be taken more seriously.
Tebbit’s intervention is followed by more apologia for Mogg and ‘respectable bigotry’ by Fraser Nelson today and his colleague Isabel Hardman, who in an extraordinary act of sisterhood re-fashions the concept of a ‘glass-ceiling’ as a barrier to an obstacle to politicians with faith climbing to the top of their career (“Can leading politicians get away with opposing gay marriage and abortion?”)
In a country with an upper house stuffed with unelected Bishops this is positively hilarious.
Hardman, joining the throng of pro-Mogg articles on the Spectator, explains to us the real reason why poor Tim Farron had to go: “But the reason Farron didn’t want to be sincere was that he feared the reaction of an illiberal society – and more precisely an illiberal political world – to his beliefs.”
In the world of the Spectator and the Telegraph:
The Labour Party are Fascists.
Politicians of faith are persecuted.
Arguing that women who are pregnant through rape should be forced to give birth is unremarkable.
In Hardman’s troubled and confused article she attempts, somehow, to disentangle Mogg’s bigotry against women from his bigotry against homosexuals.
But the problem for Uncle Tomasina writers like Hardman is that the threads of reactionary and bigoted politics are there for all of us to see.
In 1998, Tebbit wrote in a letter to the Telegraph saying that homosexuals should be barred from holding cabinet posts. Commenting on rumours at the time that Peter Mandelson was gay, Tebbit wrote that LGBT people “like Freemasons… should not be in a position to do each other favours”.
Nor is this, as Hardman tries to portray, some kind of proud individualistic streak of authenticity. These views are entirely predictable and distinctly ideological. As Suzanne Moore writes (“Jacob Rees-Mogg isn’t old-fashioned, he’s a thoroughly modern bigot”):
“As the Home Office document leaked this week shows, a British-interests-first ideology is now subsumed fully into the Tory high command. No one should be surprised by this any more than they should be surprised that Rees-Mogg is a class warrior (for his class alone) who has a track record of voting down every socially progressive policy. Far from being “eccentric” or “freethinking”, as the extreme right likes to characterise itself, he embodies their tick-box views: anti-gay marriage; anti-abortion; doesn’t believe in climate-change legislation, votes against any rise in benefits, even for disabled people; supports zero-hours contracts and tuition fees. He supported Trump, although he has since distanced himself. This is pure neocon territory.”
This is pure Culture War.
It’s a phenomenon in which the right and far-right seek to (and often succeed) in shifting the political debate from the economic (on which their policies are palpably failing) to the social and the cultural – setting the dispossessed and brutalised against each other.
Fraser Nelson writes today also in the Telegraph – (“Why the fuss over Rees Mogg’s unremarkable views on abortion? My Telegraph column on liberalism breeding intolerance”):
“Even Jacob Rees-Mogg was surprised when Piers Morgan turned on him on the television sofa. Against abortion, is he? Even in truly grim circumstances? The response was a stutter, and a confession: “I’m afraid so.” Life is sacred, he said, so abortion is morally indefensible. Bingo! A heretic, exposed.”
Well, indeed. I do like the idea of that arch-Lefty Piers Morgan leading the charge, like an English John Pilger.
As the Amnesty Global Insights report outlined, there are new areas and forums for attacks on women participating in public life (“Unsocial Media”). It is part of a continuum.
In the world of Nelson and Tebbit Hardman and others a way of life is under attack. To an extent it is. In 2015 Ireland became the first country in there world to legalise gay marriage by popular vote. Basic tenets of feminist thinking have become assumed as part of mainstream headspace as basic human rights by most of the adult population – even if they are not a reality. The emergence of Corbyn (despite his many flaws) and a newly articulate left policy agenda in Scotland, has left these relics and throwbacks in apoplexy. Their reaction is likely to be angry, bitter and backed by powerful interests as they attempt to protect the world they have create and inhabit at the public cost.
Religious figures hiding their toxic hate-filled politics behind their faith; women defending attacks on other women; open attacks on gay people and minorities like gypsies; a language being twisted out of control to mean the opposite of what it intends; a re-writing of history. Sound familiar?
Good Morning Britain.
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