Aren’t Right Wing People Just A Bunch Of Racists?

There was a particularly interesting documentary on Radio 4 this week (link below) about why so few ethnic minority voters are happy to vote Tory called ‘Operation Black Vote’. According to this program, in the last general election the Conservatives received a smaller portion of the ethnic minority vote than Donald Trump did during the 2016 presidential election.

There were some similarly alarming facts all the way through the program:

  • Once an area becomes more then 30% non-white. It becomes essentially impossible for the Tories to win that seat.
  • 70%-80% of the non-white vote goes to the Labour party
  • Being perceived as ‘anti-immigrant’ has a massive knock on effect on the amount of young voters a party attracts.

Although the program was focused on the Conservative party, and I do not support the Conservatives. Being the insufferable optimist that I am,I thought that there were some positive things to take away from this insightful documentary.

We are often left to believe (by those on the left and right) that a pro individual freedom and pro capitalist message simply does not wash with ethnic minorities. One of the things that this short doc made clear is that this simply is not true.

Almost by definition immigrants and the children of immigrants are often eager to improve their lot in life. For many of the interviewees, the Conservative message mattered very little. What mattered more was the perception of the Conservative party. The legacy of Enoch Powell, ‘the cricket test’ and opposition to migration all contribute to make the Tory brand toxic for many minority voters.

But more importantly the idea that certain ‘kinds’ of people are just not receptive to free market ideas is one that I think should be challenged.

Spoof ‘Grievance Studies’ Papers Get Published

A bunch of left-wing academics in the United States wrote mock articles and sent them to ‘respected’ journals that specialize in Gender Studies, Fat Studies, Race Theory etc.

Some of the fake papers include: A section of Mein Kampf rewritten in the language of intersecionality, an article explaining why nobody should be allowed to make fun of radical feminists and a paper arguing that white students should not be allowed to speak in lectures.

There is a short YouTube video below detailing what happened and I have put a link to the original article below.

The results are both hilarious and deeply worrying.


The Grievance Studies Scandal: Five Academics Respond

The Battle for Civilization

In 1969 the art historian Kenneth Clark presented TV audiences with his vision of Civilisation. In scope and ambition this documentary that explored the story of mankind from it’s prehistoric origins to the present day, was revolutionary.

As a total documentary junkie myself the idea that the BBC was remaking Civilisation made me jump with glee. Yes, I really am that boring…

The modern remake Civilisations is a nine-part series that involves three historians: Simon Schama, Mary Beard and David Olusoga. Like the original it is a massively ambitious project, beginning with our prehistoric ancestors and finishing in the modern era.  Yet, just as Kenneth Clark’s version did Civilisations has caused controversy.

The BBC’s Will Gompertz bashed the series for not being ambitious enough. He lays into the series for not presenting viewers with a new polemic. This is true, there is little in this series to appease the modern progressive crowd. Even the episodes presented by David Olusoga, an unabashedly left-wing academic does not follow the standard Europe= bad spiel that we have become so used to hearing.

Moreover, The Guardian’s Mark Lawson criticises Civilisations for its lack of diversity. Of the nine episodes, five are presented by Schama (a white man of all things) leaving only two each for Beard and Olusoga.  Well, I suppose you can’t please everyone.

There has also been criticism from the other end. The Spectator’s Ed West lamented that Civilisations was far too relativist for his liking. Claiming that it is a silly façade for us to pretend that the Olmecs were on a cultural Parr with the ancient Greeks.

There are some issues with Civilisations to be sure. Sadly, this is not the historical equivalent of Blue PlanetThe lack of a grand overarching narrative or unified approach makes the series feel discombobulated and pieced together rather than a unified project. It also must be said that Schama, Beard and Olusega all have copious amounts of progressive left-leaning credentials. It is doubtful the BBC would have commissioned the remake of this famous TV series starring Niall Ferguson. Lastly, many have derided Civilisations for not being daring enough. There is some logic in this, apart from the gorgeous camera work it is certainly not a revolution in programming.

It is often said that we live in a time of decay where our best years are behind us. Apparently, we are abandoning our principles and forging ever forward into the abyss of cultural nihilism. Yet watching Civilisations reminds us that while the supposed ‘great man’ narrative of history, so familiar to Kenneth Clark has suffered a vicious assault. Not everything is up for debate.

It is indeed impossible to tell a coherent story about civilisation without paying homage to The Greeks, Christianity and the ruptures of the Industrial Revolution. In an age characterised by identity politics, it is nice to be reminded of that important enlightenment maxim- that we do have a shared humanity.

It should also be mentioned that Civilisations is visually stunning. The whole series feels like one part documentary,  one part travel programme. At times, like when Schama visits the Mexican jungle I felt like saying “the BBC is just showing off now”.

In the opening scenes of Civilisations Schama in all his bombast states that we instantly know what civilisation is when faced with its opposite; barbarism in all its terrible forms. Implying that barbarism does in fact exist. The whole series stands opposed to the cultural relativism that we have become so used to and this is something to be celebrated.

Historical Repentance

One of the most difficult issues for any history student is the problem of context. Should we judge historical actors according to our own values, or do we need to take the views of the time into account?

There are problems with both choices. If we decide who is a ‘good’ person in accordance with twenty-first-century values- then the vast majority of people who have ever existed should be considered monsters. This clearly won’t do; accepting that most people in history are evil as a starting position is a mistake.

Whereas approaching the past with an uncritical eye, willing to forgive all historical misdeeds because ‘it was normal at the time.’ Does not represent a better alternative.

History is complex. The countless people that have passed away since humans started writing were individuals. They possessed hopes, dreams and desires. They are not cosmic dust, helpless victims of circumstance for us to pour scorn on. How we judge them is something we must consider. We must think about it carefully.

Writing in The Guardian this week the columnist Afua Hirsch wrote an article about feminism. At the end of her article, Hirsch made a remark about Emeline Pankhurst:

“We are all quoting Emmeline Pankhurst. Mention the fact that Pankhurst was a staunch imperialist, blind to the colonial exploitation of African women, however, and you stray outside acceptable feminism. Such feminism is still seen as threatening – and it may well take another 100 years to change that.”

For this Guardianista, the comment was probably a throwaway line. Yet it encapsulates everything that is wrong with the modern social justice movement. It reminds me less of a ‘political project’ and more of a modern iconoclasm. A spasm of anger aimed at destroying all historical symbols of racism and sexism.

It turns out that Hirsh also called for the toppling of Nelson’s column last year. What the social justice movement doesn’t understand is that iconoclasms have tended to be temporary, and extremely violent.

Like Mother Like Daughter

A graph published in this weeks edition of The Economist shows how a woman’s earning power is impacted by having children. It turns out that there is a strong correlation between the amount of income a woman loses by having children and the earnings her mother lost by starting a family.

For example, if a mother took a significant drop in income to have children then her daughter is likely to do the same. Similarly, if a mother went straight back to work after having kids then her daughter is likely to follow suit.

The pace of change today is staggering. Even in my comparatively short lifetime, the world has transformed beyond recognition. Big cultural shifts, on the other hand, happen more slowly. While some things change rapidly others mutate at a more relaxed pace. 

Despite the flux of the modern world ones parents are still a good indicator of what a child’s future may hold for them. Some people get extremely frustrated with things like this. “We need rapid change now!” They proclaim.

For decisive alterations to happen they need time to take effect. Through culture, not by state decree. People would do well to remember this.

NHS Number One Issue in Britain

A recent poll by YouGov suggests that the NHS is now the biggest concern for people in Britain. This is not surprising, our healthcare is in a truly desperate state. Waiting times are long, quality of service is bad and patients often end up paying for medicine themselves.

The NHS has become a cause celebre of the left. However, while they claim the NHS is ‘the best system in the world’. They are also chomping at the bit to explain how it is on the brink of collapse.

Well…Which one is it?

The Casualties of Globalisation

This week’s edition of The Economist has a cover story about globalisation. The feature, entitled The Right way to Help Declining Places laments the populist movements that have recently risen to prominence.

It is no secret that The Economist detests the likes of Trump, Farage and Le Pen. The article beings with a foreboding message:

POPULISM’S wave has yet to crest. That is the sobering lesson of recent elections in Germany and Austria, where the success of anti-immigrant, anti-globalisation parties showed that a message of hostility to elites and outsiders resonates as strongly as ever among those fed up with the status quo.

The magazine suggests that governments should work in partnership with local colleges and universities to find more creative ways of spending tax-payers money. This rather tepid solution does not meet the enormity of a complex problem.  Given the current turmoil that British universities find themselves in. We have to wonder whether they would be productive partners in this relationship.

The logic of the legislators has been to assume that what works for London will work for other parts of the country. However, it is important to realise that not everywhere in Britain wants to be London. While some places like Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Edinburgh etc. are ambitious. Many places do not want to be transformed, they simply want a better deal.

The left-wing and nationalist desire to legislate and protect communities is understandable albeit mistaken. The response of libertarians on this issue is often predictable; ‘we need to give people more freedom’. But what does this actually mean’?

It is often said in the liberal economic literature that ‘poverty is a gift’. Once wages drop and costs of doing business decreases, the area becomes competitive and business returns. While theoretically sound this idea runs into two practical issues.

Firstly in a society where we are used to a high standard of living such an ordeal would be politically impossible. Secondly, the word freedom is easily distorted. Asking hard-working individuals to accept steep wage cuts while others get tax breaks means we face condemnation for creating a ‘race to the bottom’.

In our current state of affairs, the outlook for these communities looks bleak.

The government’s economic regime is suffocating local communities outside the wealthy South-East. The UK is not alone here, in wealthy economies across the world stagflation reigns supreme.

Negative interest rates, high taxes and short-term investment are stifling many areas in the UK. In order to really help globalisation’s casualties, we need to radically liberalise our economy. Of course, a healthy financial sector is necessary and important. But even these firms are suffering anaemic growth and low returns.

A transition towards a more sensible economy would be painful at first. However, when all the financial tricks have been exhausted. There is little wonder wealth is accumulating in places like London.

An old truism says ‘if you love something let it go’. Contrary to what The Economist argues if governments want to help their ailing communities, they need to set their economies free.