These are the same sort of people who dismiss Brexit voters as gullible misled thickos.
“STATE of you!”, “State of him!”, “State of her!”
This is a phrase I encounter a lot on social media, especially the first, I notice, as I get older and balder.
And whenever I do, 99 times out of 100 I can be sure of one thing: That the person speaking is one of those sensitive, enlightened, progressive types who claim to hate “personal abuse” and to believe in a “kinder, gentler politics”. Just like their hero Jeremy Corbyn.
The key thing about this insult is it doesn’t advance any kind of intelligent argument. Like the T-shirt that apparently sells like hot cakes at Corbyn rallies, the one that quotes Nye Bevan saying Tories are “lower than vermin”, their purpose is to dismiss people you disagree with as being such hateful scum they don’t even count as humans.
You could detect exactly this ugly mix of preening superiority and poisonous disdain in the comment posted on social media this week by aspiring “artist” Hetty Douglas. Douglas’s photograph, taken in McDonald’s, featured three scaffolders queuing and was captioned: “These guys look like they got 1 GCSE”.
A new survey thinks it’s got Britons squeezed into seven categories – but the glory of our class system is that it offers us endless opportunities to become whoever we want to be.
Which class are you? I reckon I’m upper middle. Lower, fake, poseur, scumbag upper middle, to be more precise, because despite exhibiting many of the signs of reasonable-ish social smartness (public school and Oxbridge education; mildly fruity pronunciation; Georgian vicarage home), I’m secretly tinged with lots of hidden common.
For example, one of my grandfathers was the gaffer at the local electrical works – and that’s not posh. Nor are the Midlands and Black Country accents used by quite a few of my close relatives. Nor is having been born anywhere near Birmingham (as I was, arkid). Nor is the fact that I don’t own my gorgeous ironstone country rectory: I rent it because, while I have huge pretensions, I’m in fact totally skint.
Yet, were you ever to meet my upper-class landlord, you’d think I were the toff, not him. He dresses like a down-at-heel student; I wear a sturdy, Cordings hacking jacket. He’d happily spend his life chopping up logs or watching DVDs, whereas I’d rather be out huntin’, shootin’ or fishin’. I stride around his Capability-Brown-landscaped estate like I own it, whereas he acts more like the junior undergardener.
So where, exactly, would he and I fit in to the new study by the BBC Lab UK, and published this week in the Sociology Journal, which says there are now seven social classes in Britain: Elite; Established Middle Class; Technical Middle Class; New Affluent Workers; Traditional Working Class; Emergent Service Workers; and Precariat – or Precarious Proletariat? Nowhere, I’d say, for these definitions just aren’t up to the job. If you really wanted to capture the rich, glorious and oh-so-nuanced stratifications of the British class system, you’d need closer to 700 gradations than that measly, reductionist seven.
To be fair to the study, it does at least have a stab at finding a definition of class that extends beyond the usual “working, middle and upper”. Besides how well paid or wealthy you are, the study posits, your class is also a function of your social capital (how many people you know and what their status is) and your cultural capital (the extent and nature of your cultural interests).
All this is true and it’s one of the things that has always separated Britain’s social class system from, say, America’s, which is much more strictly income-dependent. This was evident even as far back as the 19th century, when the French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville visited the US. He was at once impressed and appalled to discover a new kind of society where values such as noblesse oblige had no meaning: being upper class was more or less synonymous with being rich and since, in the land of the free, anyone could supposedly make their fortune through hard work, there was much less social guilt or sentimental pity for the plight of the poor.
But what the study doesn’t capture (how could it possibly? It would be the work of several lifetimes) is the degree to which, even in post‑Blair Britain, so many of us continue to eat, breathe, speak, work, play, dream, dress, make love and live every last detail of our lives in ways defined by an invisible code that no foreigner could ever hope to comprehend but which we all understand perfectly.
Let me give you one example of how obscure these nuances get. Waitrose is posher than Sainsbury’s; Sainsbury’s is posher than Tesco. But if you’re really über-posh you’re just as likely to go to bargain basement Aldi a) because if you’re really posh, you’re probably also asset-rich and cash-poor and b) because you’re so confident of your social status that you don’t need to show off, like lower-middle-class people do, by paying too much for your groceries at Waitrose.
Here’s another. The defining characteristic of posh English teenagers is that they have to dress head to toe in Jack Wills: this applies throughout, except at Eton – arguably the poshest school of the lot (except maybe Radley) – where boys wouldn’t be seen dead in Jack Wills because it has a branch on Eton High Street, which somehow renders it tainted and non-U. The way to tell an Etonian, in any case, is that he tends to dress and speak down, not up: it’s a survival tactic born of trying to avoid being beaten up by Windsor boys.
Another subtle signifier is the concept of shabby chic. To a visiting American, say, a big house that had been done up to the nines with everything beautifully finished by artisan craftsmen would be an obvious status symbol: this person has made it, they’ve arrived! To a certain kind of Englishman, though, it would mean the exact opposite. No one can be properly smart in a house where the furniture isn’t bashed and the carpets aren’t frayed and everything doesn’t smell of wet dog. Too much polish and cleanliness are vulgar.
The problem now – if you’re the sort of person who thinks it is a problem – is that socially ambitious oiks have cottoned on to this distinction. (How could they not? The concept of U and non-U goes back to the Fifties, and there have been loads of similar climbers’ guides since, such as my Eighties bible, The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook.) Companies such as Farrow & Ball have built a lucrative industry on this, catering to aspirational wives of new-money City types who’ve twigged that all you need to rise a couple of notches is to paint your hallway Elephant’s Breath and your guest room Mouse’s Back.
This is an important detail missed by those earnest class warriors who bang on about the limitations of being born in a country where – allegedly – you only have to open your mouth for another Englishman to despise you. The glory of our class system is not that it’s constricting but rather that it offers endless opportunities to become whoever you want to be. It’s not a straitjacket. It’s the equivalent of that marvellous changing room in the magical shop visited by Mr Benn where he escapes the dreariness of Festive Road to become an astronaut or deep-sea diver or knight errant.
Did being born Welsh (in a place called Splott) – the son of a hairdresser and a self-employed French polisher – really hamper John Humphrys’ entry into the snooty, Oxbridge-dominated British media establishment? Not so that you’d notice. No more, I’d say, than having been born the daughter of a lowly Nigerian oil tycoon has prevented Emma McQuiston from becoming the future Marchioness of Bath. This is the point about the British class system: it’s porous and has been since at least the days when a lowly actress like Nell Gwynne could become the King’s mistress and become mother of the Earl of Burford (and later Duke of St Albans).
A good friend of mine spotted this very early on. Born into a desperately poor working-class household in Nottingham, he realised that he would never get on unless he learnt to mimic the ways of the middle classes. At university, he instructed his flatmates to correct his every error of pronunciation (for example, making him pronounce “pass” with a bourgeois long “a”, rather than a clipped Northern one), with the result that he can become whoever he wants to be at a moment’s notice. In legal circles (he’s a top barrister), he can play an Old Etonian smoothie (he has even memorised all the rules of the Wall Game); if he’s at a football match he can revert to broad Nottingham.
This same friend’s children, on the other hand, have to play an entirely different class game. Public school-educated in a world where “posh” people are about the last minority it’s socially permissible to persecute, they spend their social lives desperately trying to demonstrate how down-to-earth, ordinary and unsmart they are. They’d probably kill to have the authentic working-class credibility their father had – but which they can never benefit from socially because their dad has striven so hard to shake it off.
It was ever thus. If you could go back to a time as socially stratified as Victorian or Edwardian Britain, I doubt you would find it easy to tell who belonged where: not in an era when Earls and Dukes often spoke not in upper-class drawls but in the thick rural accents of their region; not with keen young Mister Pooters mimicking the affectations of their social betters. Class in Britain is a bit like a virus: just when you think you’ve pinned it down, it mutates into something else.
Julian Fellowes: poshism is the last acceptable form of discrimination (Photo: Rex)
This morning I had a debate on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme with someone called Owen Jones on the issue of class in modern Britain. It was provoked by Lord Fellowes (aka Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey), who argued in a Times interview that toffs are the one remaining minority in Britain against which it is considered acceptable to discriminate.
Recently, he was watching Loose Women — “a programme I rather enjoy” — and one of the participants declared: “I hate posh blokes.” Lord Fellowes says: “There was a cheer from the audience. If I said, ‘I hate Americans’, or ‘I hate blondes’, or ‘I hate common blokes’, that wouldn’t work. But somehow that one was OK.
“And of course it’s not OK. I suppose ‘poshism’ is the last acceptable form of discrimination. Having been fat, bald, posh and male I’m used to a certain amount of humour at my expense but rather than striving towards a pseudo-egalitarianism that in 2,000 years of recorded history has failed to come about, I think we should strive for a position of giving people their worth and being polite.”
Fellowes has lots more eminently sensible stuff to say in this vein. (He’s splendidly scathing about the recent Number 10 barbecue in which the British prime minister and the US president doled out burgers to show what regular guys they were: “There was an era when people wanted to be governed by great kings, then they wanted to be governed by great nobles who would keep the king in his place. Now they want to be governed by great friends. They want to know these people — whether or not they like toffee ice cream — and my natural pull is more towards the statesmen era.”) Indeed, it’s all so glaringly obvious you almost wonder why Today thought it a suitable topic for debate. Isn’t pointing out that toffs are discriminated against in modern Britain a bit like saying that ice cream makes your tooth fillings go funny or that Gordon Brown wasn’t one of the great prime ministers or that squirrels are great hoarders of nuts?
Well I thought so, anyway, but Jones and the interviewer John Humphrys begged to differ. Humphrys’s opening question invited his listeners to roll their eyes at the preposterousness of the notion that toffs faced discrimination, while Jones threw in his tuppeny happeny’s worth about the continued dominance of the “Ruling Classes” and about how many MPs had been to public school and Oxbridge and so on, as if somehow this were a major national scandal which needed to be addressed.
I wonder how parliament would look if Jones got his way. It would be imbued with a lot more earthy, horny-handed, echt, coal-ingrained, sweat-smelling, demotic, multi-ethnic, gender-balanced authenticity, presumably, for as Jones was keen to point out one of the problems with our current ruling class is that they are completely out of touch with the modern world. Actually I agree with him on this point, though not with his analysis of why this is so. The problem with government these days is not that it’s full of rich toffs but that it’s full of career politicos who instinctively want to extend the power of the state and have no understanding of what it is like to be an ordinary taxpayer who just wants to be left alone.
Anyway, Humphrys asked me for evidence that toffs face discrimination, and I suppose the best evidence there is is David Cameron. Here is a man who benefited from the best possible education in the world Eton and Oxford and who instead of feeling proud of the fact has been compelled by our prevailing social mores to behave as if it’s a toxic liability.
You could argue, indeed, that almost everything wrong with our current Coalition can be put down to the fact of David Cameron’s awkwardness about being an old Etonian. He daren’t reduce the 50p tax rate (though it makes economic sense) lest he be seen to be favouring his rich friends in the City; he daren’t create more free schools by allowing entrepreneurs to run them for profit for fear that this might come across as elitist; he daren’t address the issue of the Europe because this is just the sort of thing blimpish, blue-blooded, Tory reactionaries do in the shires, and we can’t have that now, can we?
And, of course, the main reason we’ve got the wretched Coalition in the first place is because Cameron was scared of advancing proper Tory principles, lest he be mistaken for the kind of terrible, evil person who went to a school where they dress you in a smart uniform and teach you all sorts of poncy stuff like Latin and Greek and you come away with ghastly behavioural tics like good manners and a strong desire to succeed.
20 thoughts on “Lord Fellowes is right: posh people are the last persecuted minority”
Andrew Ryan says:31st May 2011 at 11:59 am1. If the estimable Lord Fellows was a black man complaining about black victimisation, people would be piling on him to with the accusation that he’s ‘playing the race card’. Yet because he’s ‘playing the posh card’, somehow it’s OK?2. If Cameron can’t get away with certain policies because he can’t get the public support for them, then that’s simple democracy. You seem to be saying it’s not Cameron’s fault he can’t get away with certain policies, it’s the voting public’s problem for not allowing a posh man to put in place certain policies. OK. So, would you let Obama off the hook by saying “It’s not Obama’s fault he can’t get away with certain policies, it’s the voting public’s problem for ‘not allowing a black man’ to put in place certain policies?”3. The Loose Woman who claimed she hates posh blokes may well have been using the word as a short hand for ‘men who look down on her because of her class’, not just all upper class men indiscriminately.
Nige Cook says:1st June 2011 at 10:18 pm“… Lord Fellowes (aka Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey), who argued in a Times interview that toffs are the one remaining minority in Britain against which it is considered acceptable to discriminate.”Elitism itself is a form of discrimination. Toffs are the ones discriminating against everyone else by choosing to behave in an elitist or posh way. The problems are generated by the particular toffs who don’t have any charm or eccentricity, who don’t really have time for “little people”. Boris Johnson (as well as many other toffs who have been to charm school) manages to get around this problem by making himself appear as a lovable clown.It is acceptible to discriminate against elitism, which many see as being arrogant, because snobbery itself is a self-discrimination decision. Everybody can vary their accent, dress sense, etc., if they wish. It’s a conscious decision to behave in a particularly elitist way (subliminal message: “I’m uncommon”). You can’t accuse someone who attacks racism, snobbery, or any other form of nasty and unfair bias of being themselves “discriminatory”. You might as well accuse Pasteur of being a evil for killing dangerous bacteria.
If anyone should ever wish to sound “posh”, one could presumably do so by taking posh elocution lessons (and maybe also refering to oneself as “one”, to really sound stupid). The problem with toffs is not the way they speak, or the clothes they wear, but the association of these things to stuffy, patronising and arrogant upper class conservative traditions (similar in all but law to the distinction between citizens and slaves in ancient Greece). The toff characteristics are a label of elitism, a badge of pride in being better than others. It’s regarded as arrogance, because it is arrogance.
People can learn foreign languages, and by analogy they learn different dialects and accents and blend in if they want to. It’s not rocket science. Those who want to stand out from the crowd by speaking “properly” are just annoying. Especially when they attract all the girls. Or at least, the slappers who are impressed by that kind of egotism.
guest says:2nd June 2011 at 1:10 amJames, you aren’t hated simply for the accident of your birth. My advice is to stop worrying what the girls think and get on with a life more satisfying than whining about the accident that is daddy’s money.Peace.
Andrew Ryan says:2nd June 2011 at 8:50 amNige: “You can’t accuse someone who attacks racism, snobbery, or any other form of nasty and unfair bias of being themselves “discriminatory”.”Oh but people do! All the time I hear people say “If you tell Christians not to be intolerant of gays, then you are being intolerant of Christianity”. Just this week I read on Christian Apologist Bill Prat’s site:“People say “You ought not judge.” Isn’t that a judgment?
People say “You should be tolerant.” Aren’t you being intolerant of me?”
By the way, isn’t this particular ‘victimisation’ blog a bit rich coming from someone who encourages others to use the word ‘LibTard’? Presumably JD wouldn’t like similar rude names for ‘upper class twits’.
Nige Cook says:2nd June 2011 at 9:24 amAndrew, by “can’t”, I mean you can’t do it ethically, i.e. without having double-standard hypocrisy. Of course you can do bad things, you just can’t do them in a morally defensible way. There are two basic unresolved problems in the world: firstly, judging others by your own standards which differ from those of others, and secondly, having double standards so you expect others to have higher ethical standards than you display yourself. Double standards are always easy to excuse, “I try my best”, “I’m just under the weather and having a bad day”, “many other people are worse hypocrites so I shouldn’t be held to account”, etc.On the subject of religion, Christianity is today weakened in its power. Islam is better at dealing with sinners. Maybe you should consider the bigger source of intolerance, not the smaller. However, that would be politically incorrect, and you might find yourself targeted by the media extremists armed with IEDs, something that certainly is unlikely to happen if you choose to go on about the less severe punishments dished out to sinners in Christianity.
Andrew Ryan says:2nd June 2011 at 10:39 am“:Andrew, by “can’t”, I mean you can’t do it ethically, i.e. without having double-standard hypocrisy”I got your meaning. I was pointing out that such hypocrisy is sadly common.What has political (in)correctness got to do with this Nige? I find people tend to use that term to shut down debate. Accusing someone of being ‘PC’ seems to have the same function as calling them a racist. Once that accusation has been made, dialogue shuts down. If fact, ironically JD described it perfectly on another blog: “It enables them to play judge, jury and executioner without having to go through any of the tedium or intellectual challenge of offering their antagonists a fair trial.”
In fact I debate much with Muslims. But it is Christians I hear making the claim I quoted (“It is intolerant to argue against intolerance”). And when dealing with subjects such as the teaching of evolution in schools in the US, or gay marriage, it is fundamentalist Christians with whom one finds oneself dealing, and it is then that you are told one must tolerate intolerance.
And it is hard to push the idea that Christianity is weak in the US – arguably the most powerful country in the world. The accusation that Obama is a Muslim is seen as damaging there. No atheist could get elected to high office there, and in fact politicians come in for criticism if they don’t mention their Christianity enough.
Andrew Ryan says:2nd June 2011 at 2:58 pmBy the way Nige, last month, an interviewer asked four US evangelical church leaders if their intent of using violence to force Christianity on Americans was tantamount to the Taliban in Afghanistan. They replied that, “yes, they were the same as the Taliban except they were better armed, better organized, and had the full support of conservatives in positions of power.”Meanwhile, a student in Louisiana who pointed out that school-led prayer at school functions was against the law (it is literally unconstitutional) has been threatened with physical violence, death threats, demeaned by teachers, ostracized by the community, and cut off from all financial support by his parents who threw him and his belongings out of his house.“Islam is better at dealing with sinners.”
I think the word ‘better’ is subjective here. The term ‘Fatwa envy’ was invented for the sort of people who think that the Muslims have the ‘better’ system.
Nige Cook says:2nd June 2011 at 6:42 pmAndrew: here in England it is politically correct to attack Christianity for alleged intolerance, rather than Islam. We have Richard Dawkins and other feeling perfectly happy attacking Christianity – knowing that they won’t be assassinated – but not Islam.I don’t agree that mentioning “political correctness” is an excuse to shut down debate: either it is politically correctness, or it isn’t. Similarly with the Nazis, either we want to learn the lessons of history by pointing out fascist dangers when we see people using Nazi type arguments, or we don’t. “Godwin’s law” is quoted as if a God-given demand never to invoke Nazism for fear of “trivializing” WWII and/or the holocaust, the hidden lie being the claim here that the Nazis were recognised as being non-trivial when they could have been stopped without bloodshed in the mid-30s.The whole point is that public fashion proclaimed that the racism, intolerant Nazis were a trivial threat until after it was too late to stop them without a world war.
The definition of Nazi and/or fascist behaviour is intolerance, which itself is a “ends justify the means” stamping out of people they perceive to be inferior to them or to be dissenters. That’s the root cause of the holocaust, and the bigger Communist massacres of 40 millions.
It all began with lies about economic motivation in Marx and Engels, and about a utopia via eugenics and militaristic society in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. If this happens again, “Godwin’s law” will be used to prevent early warnings and comparisons being made. Then you end up with a repetition. There was effectively a “Godwin’s law” in place in the 30s concerning the lessons of WWI, which enabled most people to ignore Churchill’s warnings about Hitler trying copying the Kaiser in 1914.
If you want to censor out warnings about the perils of political correctness leading to Nazism, then you’re going to encourage and protect those elements intent on intolerance.
“Islam is better at dealing with sinners.”
Islam aims to deter sin by stated punishment for stated acts. It’s a stronger religion than Christianity, which stresses forgiveness. Sin is defined by the religion. Obviously there is going to be a possible conflict here between strict Sharia law from Allah, and “infidel laws” passed in this or that country. The bigger problem with Islam is limited to a few fanatical extremists who want a religious war against the “infidels”. The more general problem of intolerance to certain minorities by both Christianity and Islam in some ways is related to the other problem, since any alleged conflict between the Koran and Western (im)morality is going to feed the recruitment of the fanatical fringe. What is needed is an honest comparison of Christianity and Islam, to see exactly what the mechanisms of intolerance really are, and how Christianity has lost its grip. Galileo was imprisoned for heresy 400 years ago, when the European Christian political influence situation was like some Islamic countries today.
How do religions generally lose their bigotry, or gain strength? Persecution is what made Christianity powerful in the Roman empire, when the circus lions were fed with martyr. Similarly, the persecution of the Jews by the Nazis led to the state of Israel, a final Jewish homeland. So persecution ultimately backfires in the religious worldview. The only long term solution to Islam is to integrate it and reduce intolerance to religion generally, which is the opposite of the mainstream secular view of people like Dawkins. Religion loses its power not by being persecuted, but by being widely tolerated. Ignoring Islam to attack Christianity achieves nothing more than burying your head in the sand.
Andrew Ryan says:2nd June 2011 at 7:34 pmRichard Dawkins does speak out against Islam. So does Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris and all the other high profile atheists.
Nige Cook says:2nd June 2011 at 8:06 pmAndrew, Dawkins direct his venom not at the religious terrorists, but at all who want the freedom of choice, and specifically targets Christians. Seeing that superstring theory fails to make even a single falsifiable predictions specifically about this universe, it’s a religious dogma itself, so he doesn’t really have much ground to use science to attack religion. My point again is that historically religion thrives when persecuted, and loses extremity when it is tolerated. Thus, it’s more logical to tolerate religion than to persecute it.
Andrew Ryan says:2nd June 2011 at 9:01 pmAre you sure you’re not confusing him with someone else? When has he said he’s against freedom of choice? He attempts to persuade, but he’s never suggested coercion or taking away freedom. And you don’t deny that he attacks Islam. His Root of all Evil programme criticised Islam and I’ve seen him doing the same on Nicky Campbell’s Big Questions programme. Dawkins has said he enjoys visiting churches and finds parts of the King James bible beautiful. Find me a quote from Dawkins on Superstring theory that you disagree with and I’ll have a chance of seeing whether I agree with you or him.“and loses extremity when it is tolerated. Thus, it’s more logical to tolerate religion than to persecute it.”Not sure about that. It sounds like you’re saying we should have tolerated the Nazis in order to lessen their extremity. I think we were too tolerant of the Taliban for too long. The more slack they were given, the worse they got.
Nige Cook says:2nd June 2011 at 9:58 pmAndrew, Dawkins has repeatedly stated in public – it’s well reported – his claim that “there is almost certainly no God” in God Delusion: for the quotes and analysis, see for instance http://www.seekingtruth.co.uk/dawkins.htm Science can’t assign any probability to such vague stuff, certainly not nearly zero, as Dawkin’s statement means. It’s plain pseudoscience to claim that science has anything to say here. The strength of religious talk of “God” is its vagueness; “God” means something slightly different to each person, and in extreme forms is consistent with even the most abstract stuff, e.g. Sir James Jeans’ claim back in 1930 in The Mysterious Universe that “God is a pure mathematician”. You can interpret any thing in science, therefore, to either support or condemn religion.“It sounds like you’re saying we should have tolerated the Nazis in order to lessen their extremity.”Remember we’re dealing with the analogy to the 1930s Nazis, before WWII and the holocaust. If we had a preventative war to keep the Nazis unarmed before 1935 as Churchill wanted (but was denied), we would then have had to deal with the pro-Nazi backlash without being able to point to a holocaust as proof of how bad the Nazis were.
We’d have been in the situation of having to deal with a very difficult situation, but it could have prevented a world war and holocaust. In that situation, with Nazis disarmed by a preventative war in say 1935 or 1936 (our situation was deteriorating every year, because they were rearming faster than Britain), the objective would have been to coerce the remaining Nazis to rid them of “ends justify the means” extremity, e.g. racism/”ethnic cleansing”.
The whole problem is the ongoing one today after preventative wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You have a continuing problem of insurgents and military power can only do so much. You can’t expect to find and shoot all the troublemakers even with the best technology on the planet. Look how long it took to find Bin Laden. The idea of a making the enemy pay heavily after a war was tried with Germany when France caused it hyperinflation by demanding massive reparations for WWI. This was manipulated by the German government to maximise resentment and helped to kick start the Nazis movement in the first place. If France had handled the situation a little better, the Nazis wouldn’t have been able to exploit that. This is why the West is still helping rebuild Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of clearing out straight after the wars and letting the people get on with it. The bitter lesson has been learned that it doesn’t pay to take what looks like the cheapest and most moral option… you just end up with another expensive way a few years later.
Andrew Ryan says:2nd June 2011 at 10:30 pmStill no examples of persecution, and no argument with me saying Dawkins has many times criticised Islam. Back on topic, you’ve no argument with the points I made in my first post either. Given that you don’t seem to have any quarrel with my points, there’s not much further to discuss. As for persecution, you can only make such a claim for Christianity if your definition of persecution is so wide that any questioning of an idea is persecution. JD criticises liberalism every day, but I still don’t play the victim card.
Nige Cook says:3rd June 2011 at 3:13 pmAndrew, we’re not persecuting Muslims in general for the actions of a handful of fanatical terrorists, so there aren’t any “examples” there, if that’s what you mean. As I explained to you, Dawkins includes Islam but doesn’t specifically target it, preferring to try to tar all religions with the same brush rather than distinguishing those behind recent terrorist activities.“Given that you don’t seem to have any quarrel with my points, there’s not much further to discuss.”Maybe we can agree to agree, then? I don’t believe in starting arguments, just pointing out facts to the deluded.
“As for persecution, you can only make such a claim for Christianity if your definition of persecution is so wide that any questioning of an idea is persecution.”
Promoting falsehoods like Dawkin’s the claim science disproves God, and lumping Christianity in with Jihad extremists, is a kind of persecution of those who don’t need to be abused for their faith, I suggest? Maybe we can agree to disagree on this one?
“JD criticises liberalism every day, but I still don’t play the victim card.”
I think you’ll find that it’s not liberalism per se that gets his goose, but dogmatic environmentalism pseudoscience hype in the name “political correctness”, the term you claim to be a good way to close down discussions. It’s not criticism that’s a problem, but the corruption of objective criticism by the fascists who distort, misquote, or quote out of context what is said to create a “strawman” whom to attack, or shoot the messenger, or assert politically correct expert consensus of scientific opinion as though it is scientific fact.
Gordon Rabon says:3rd June 2011 at 3:21 pm@Andrew RyanForget it Andrew, you’re dealing with the ever shifting denialist style of arguing. No matter how matter times you debunk something, it just shifts to something else. After that, comes the strawman arguments, bit like what you dealing here. Once you’ve established that it’s a strawman argument, you shift back to debunking the already debunked arguments. Denialism is a self perpetuating, their own opinions become fact, then they use their newly created fact (opinions) to create more opinions, so on and so forth.
Nige Cook says:3rd June 2011 at 4:03 pmI forgot to mention that the last-resort tactic by the denialists is huffing and puffing, allegations and rants, and claiming that the denialists are not those who ignore the facts, but are those pointing out the difference between fact and fiction! When they start writing such complete drivel, you’ve won your case and no mistake. 😉
Andrew Ryan says:3rd June 2011 at 4:39 pm“Dawkins includes Islam but doesn’t specifically target it”One last post. I already told you that Dawkins does specifically target it. He has specifically called out Islam on specific aspects, many, many times. The only reason one would deny this is to maintain a persecution complex.Gordon – quite so.
Gordon Rabon says:4th June 2011 at 4:36 amNige, why do you persist on the same line, Andrew has told you over and over again he does! All you need to do is to research what Dawkins says instead of putting up the same strawman arguments. I’m familiar with Dawkins and I know he does. The same goes for the climate debate, it’s the same tactic. But let’s get this right, who usually huffs and puffs. When all the myths are debunked, JD blogs resorts to name calling like ‘libtards’ and ‘watermelons’, and frequently rips climate experts to pieces.
London Calling says:4th June 2011 at 7:05 amAndrew Ryan and Nige Cook: why don’t you f-off and start your own website? Then you can continue yourconversation without us have to scroll through it. What a yawn.
Last night’s Newsnight saw Old Malvernian millionaire interrogator Jeremy Paxman clashing with Old Etonian millionare Mayor of London Boris Johnson. But according to Paul Waugh the most exciting bits of the interview weren’t included:
In what insiders described as “fantastic political theatre”, Mr Johnson clashed repeatedly with his interviewer over his stance on an EU referendum, on his membership of Oxford University’s Bullingdon Club and on David Cameron’s public image.”
Mr Johnson raised the issue of Paxman’s pay, saying: “You are paid elephantine sums by the taxpayer.”
Paxman replied: “If only that were true. You don’t know [what I earn]. I should stop making assertions.”
In unscreened exchanges, Mr Johnson pointed out that Londoners could see how much he earned as Mayor but licence-fee payers were not allowed similar transparency. At one point, Mr Johnson said: “Why don’t you get a proper job?”
When asked about drunken antics in his Oxford days, the Mayor replied: “Ask me a serious question…”
Splendid stuff and I quite agree with those “Mayoral Aides” (Boris?) who are urging that the full interview be put up online.
What interests me especially is the question of Paxo’s alleged £1 million salary. It interests me first as a nosey bastard. It interests me second as a licence-fee payer. But most of all it interests me ideologically.
They can be terribly grand BBC presenter types – the Paxos and Dimblebys – when quizzed about their personal lives. The salary issue, especially, they seem to think is tantamount to asking the Queen whether or not she goes to the loo. And up to a point I agree with them. A BBC political interviewer’s private life, in so far as it does not bear on his public role as frank and fearless interrogator of slippery MPs, is none of our ruddy business.
Where it is our business, though, is in cases like the Paxo/Bozza clash above. The ideological undercurrent to Paxo’s line of questioning (he may not share it but tough: that’s his karmic price for working for the pinko BBC) goes like this: “You are a toffy public school boy. David Cameron is a toffy public school boy. You were both in the Buller. You both earn way, WAY more than the national average. How can throwbacks like you possibly be fit to run modern Britain?”
This tack is outrageous and deserves to be challenged at every turn, as vigorously as possible. (Can you imagine a similar line of questioning being adopted if Boris’s and Dave’s “crimes” were to be, say, black or female or homosexual or physically handicapped?) Boris was quite right to make his response personal, for an ex public schoolboy on a million a year (or whatever Paxo earns) by asking such a question lays himself open to a charge of hypocrisy.
No more do Boris Johnson’s or David Cameron’s class, background and income rule them out of being great, effective and morally decent politicians than Paxo’s class, background and income rule him out of being a first rate interviewer.
If Paxo wishes to be impertinent (and disingenuous) on this score, then he should damned well expect some impertinence back.
As a blogger you get pretty used to reading the odd piece of utter bilge below your posts. But rarely have been quite so nauseated and shocked as I was by some of the comments yesterday on the piece I wrote about my Oxford days with my old mucker Dave Cameron.
After twelve years of Blair and Brown Britain is, I think we can all agree, in the most terrible mess. Our economy is in ruins thanks in good part to an outrageous spree of deficit spending by an irredeemably socialist Chancellor. The tax burden has risen (largely by stealth). Our freedoms have been circumscribed by ever-more-intrusive bureaucracy and legislation, governing everything from how we are allowed to illuminate homes and dispose of our rubbish to the way we arrange our childcare. Health and safety regulations have made harmless, traditional past times like the village fete or the school trip a nightmare of red tape, form filling, overcautiousness and needless expense. Dotted all over Britain are ghettoes – sorry “communities” – a worrying percentage of whose members believe it is their holy duty to destroy us from within, sometimes metaphorically and sometimes literally.
I could go on, but that’s enough for the moment. What leaves me truly gobsmacked is this: that after twelve years of utterly disastrous mismanagement by a ruling caste made up of socialists, liberals, progressives, grievance-mongers, rabble-rousers – all of them on the left, none of them exactly motivated by a desire to make life easier for the silver-spoonfed and privately-educated – there are still pillocks out there so stupid as to believe that the problems of Britain are essentially to do with the facts that people like David Cameron and Boris Johnson went to Eton and Oxford, that some people have more money than others, that some people have bigger houses than other people, and that it’s all jolly unfair.
Get real, you unutterable tossers! Normally I’m quite good with words and insults, but in this instance I find it all but impossible to express how much I despise you for your ignorance, your refusal to see the glaring evidence before you, your chippy repellance, your stale, cliched view of the world, your bitterness, your wrongness and puke-making fatuousness. Go to North Korea, you twonks! Enjoy what it is to be classless and free!
Now the Cameroon analysis of this situation would go something like this: “Aha, so you finally get the problem. Against all reason, there really are still lots of people out there whose analysis of Britain’s problems is rooted in class resentment. Therefore, we can never be as boldly ideological as some of us might like to be. We must catch the monkey softly softly, for example, by adopting fiscally brain-dead policies like sticking to Labour’s 50p upper rate tax band, not because it will bring more money into the Exchequer’s coffers but because it will appeal to the mob’s desire to see rich people suffer.”
Naturally, I disagree. I don’t believe that surrender-monkey nonsense about politics being the “art of the possible.” Anything is possible, but first you have to make your case. The best thing about Conservatism – the reason I’m a conservative – is that the facts of life are Conservative. It’s really not that difficult to argue the conservative position because its also the best position, the one that most accords with reality and human nature. Conservatism is the philosophy of “It’s not where you’re from; it’s where you’re at.” In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you were born in a stately home or the lowest ghetto: a conservative believes as far as is reasonably possible that EVERYONE should be afforded equal opportunities.
But equality of opportunity – note – NOT equality of outcome.
There. I’ve solved the problem of Conservatism and class in one par. Why couldn’t those spineless Cameroons?
By the way, don’t forget to laugh at me being ridiculed in When Boris Met Dave on TV tonight. I really recommend these outtakes too. Especially the ones with me in: