It is fair to say that in the long run everything is balanced out, although I am obliged to add that, as John Maynard Keynes pointed out, ‘in the long run we are all dead’. In the short run and in politics, the left must put up with government by the right, but, don’t worry, for in time the right will give way and be obliged to put up with government by the left. Were British politics to be viewed over the past 200 years, it would be apparent that, more or less, the awful ‘progressives’ have had their hand on the tiller for about as long as the awful ‘reactionaries’ and neither has had a disproportionate time in office. (I should add, though, that as far as I am concerned both terms are next to meaningless: there are as many reactionaries who regard themselves as ‘progressive’ as there are innovators who are seen as ‘reactionary’.) Naturally, if the perspective is a lot narrower, the balance isn’t always too apparent. So someone born in the mid to late Nineties, such as my two children, will only have known Labour government (I won’t say ‘New Labour’ as that was just so much PR bullshit dreamed up by the essentially red-top mentality of one Alastair Campbell, he of Diana, ‘the people’s princess’.) They will now know that Labour isn’t the be all and end all of politics, by the time they get to be my age, they will also come to realise that politics is not the be all and end all of life.
When I was at college, the lefties all thought of me as a righty and the righties thought of me as a lefty. In fact, I was – and am – neither and have remained, overall, pretty much dead centre all my life. My father once accuse me of being ‘dangerously liberal’ which, at the time – I was still in my salad days – I thought of as being a contradiction in terms. Now I know it isn’t and I fully understand what he meant, but then from his 30s on he was always pretty much ‘on the right’.
I usually do my best to avoid political discussions because they are invariably horribly dull. Either both sides agree with each other completely, or the ‘discussion’ quickly degenerates into a slanging match. Very rarely indeed are both sides prepared to listen to what the other has to say, to consider it and to responded rationally.
All this occurred to me when I visited the Daily Telegraph website for a general mooch around and spotted the name James Delingpole. I’ve twice met him very briefly and on the second occasion decided to take against him when – he was still wearing his hair exceptionally long – he wrote off the band Steely Dan. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and own tastes, of course, but anyone who writes off Steely Dan wholesale, even if they don’t like their music, is either striking a pose or downright stupid. I now suspect that in Delingpole’s case it is the former, because he is now an established youngish journalist who makes his living writing for right-of-centre publications and producing pieces along the lines of ‘how awful the world is/is becoming/will be in the future’. That’s fine and dandy from some hack in his late
50s with a drink problem (I intend calling him George Rant), but Delingpole is not in his 50s (as you can see from the piccy) and, as far as I know, doesn’t have a drink problem (which the piccy cannot establish either way).
The piece I spotted in the Telegraph, which you can read here, is true to form. It is headlined ‘Why we still love Sarah Palin’ and to give you a taste of the kind of reasoned, intelligent polemic it sets out to be, contains the observation that ‘President Obama is a socialist and his administration a crazy house of eco-loons, crypto-Marxists, progressives, collectivists, surrender monkeys and anarcho-lesbian harpies’. I could live with the opinion that Obama ‘is a socialist’, but the rest of that sentence can be taken no more seriously than you would the rantings of your local bar bore. On the face of it, Delingpole does not strike me as the kind of chap who would contribute very much to a rational political debate.
For a taste of something a little more rewarding, I can recommend a distinguished writer and journalist called Talbot Church who is currently employed by The Independent ('The Inday'). You can find his latest piece (or, if you are reading this in the year 2015, a piece he wrote several years ago) here.