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The real conservative future

The Spectator.co.uk

How growth stunts us
Aidan Rankin

In the developed world, the poor are becoming poorer. A Joseph Rowntree report showed that in 1983 14 per cent of households lacked three or more necessities because of poverty. By the new millennium, this had increased to more than 24 per cent. The "invisible hand" does not, after all, fashion order and justice out of chaos....

...a friend and neighbour recently expressed ‘dismay’ that I did not possess a plasma TV screen. Using the language of the addict, he explained that he ‘could not live’ without one. He lives, through no fault of his own, on benefits, and often has trouble paying rent and household bills.

Please - "the poor are becoming poorer" - and as example he mentions someone with a Plasma TV. Simple tosh - there might be an argument that the poor aren't getting as rich as quickly as the rich are getting richer but he fails to make it. But then he seems to be basing his article on this report:
Townsend Centre for International Poverty Research: Press releases and consultations

"The only way to end poverty within a generation would be to embark on a serious policy of redistribution. At the beginning of the 21st century, the UK is one of the most unequal societies in Europe. In order to reduce poverty and social exclusion the Government needs to reverse this redistribution to the rich, and, at a minimum, return to the levels of inequality in income and power that existed in the mid-1970s. This would see poverty and social exclusion reduced by at least half."

A fine example of publicly funded research from one of our universities I'm sure, but not the sort of rubbish I need on a Saturday morning as i grope to the light after a night at the King's Arms with Mr FM.

But what is more interesting is this Aidan Rankin chap - His progress through politics mirrors so much these days:

As a young man in the mid-1990s, I had held standard progressive views and written occasional contributions to New Left Review. But, like many at that time, I became disillusioned with a left that seemed to be recycling old slogans and ignoring new complexities. Moreover, it was doing so with a distortion of liberalism dubbed "political correctness", which seemed harsh and intolerant, and could hurt most those whom it intended to help. In particular, I found that the left's assumptions about gay men - of which I am one - were often patronising and in many ways as restrictive as the old stereotypes. Being gay, the left seemed to think, meant ceasing to be an individual and becoming a nameless, faceless member of a minority group, obediently reciting the mantras of victimhood.

I was interested in green issues as well and had the experience of working for Survival International, which promotes the interests of indigenous peoples throughout the world, oppressed minorities who are struggling to preserve their ancient cultures as well as keep their environment intact. I came to see a contradiction between this cultural and ecological conservatism and the universalist values of the left.

In moving right, I thought that I would meet people who would excite me and make me think, who would dare to question received assumptions. I thought I would find cultured yet passionate individuals whose radicalism was balanced by a sense of history. I had the naive and hopelessly utopian idea of uniting green politics with cultural conservatism and in the process strengthening both. This led me towards sections of the right that showed some basic ecological awareness. In 1997 I became a contributor to Third Way, then the British mouthpiece for the European new right, and which proudly proclaimed itself green.
...My attraction to Ukip took me into a peculiar demi-monde, peopled largely by men with faces red through alcohol and outrage against the modern world, ladies with affected accents or strange hats, and youthful zealots who collected "facts" about Europe or immigration the way better-adjusted young men collect train numbers....
The Eurosceptic movement as a whole consists of a series of mock-conspiratorial cabals, sad little internet discussion groups and obscure news-sheets, each trying to outdo the other in vituperation. They hate each other at least as much as they do the European Union.

I have yet to meet anyone on the British right who is made more contented or fulfilled by its politics. So why do otherwise relatively intelligent people put up with it?

The answer, I believe, is to be found in the initial frisson, the sense of adventure and vague threat, which much of left-wing politics has lost. Indulging in right-wingery is a form of political slumming akin to the predilection for "rough trade". And, like the taste for rough trade, it is initially thrilling but yields quickly to feelings of loneliness and inner turmoil. Right-wing politics and rough trade are both addictions. They take over as substitutes both for real thought and real emotion. They combine certainty with danger, and rebellion.

Indulging in rough trade gives you the certainty of sexual encounter and the danger of it being with a stranger, in illicit (and often illegal) circumstances that can climax in violence. ...

It took me two more years to leave the right fully. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to use the past tense when I describe it. When I awake in the morning, I relish the sudden realisation that, no, I am no longer right-wing.

So now he offers :

'Rankin cuts through with razor-sharp clarity the dishonest cant we call 'political correctness'. He provides a defence of freedom and tolerance that is both welcome and overdue.'

Zac Goldsmith, Editor, The Ecologist

The new Tory - not right wing, green loving, economically illiterate and a penchant for "Rough Trade" - count me out.


Aidan Rankin was obviously an angry young man who matured into an angry old man.

If one isn't prepared to accept the broad church of a particular movement, then like me why doesn't he go his own way. His vote for any particular party would be pretty futile anyway.

Aiden should be made aware that it's more fun standing outside the tent and pissing in. That way you can campaign for whatever you believe in, right wing on some issues and left wing on others.

and me..

I see he's from Oxford too. Maybe his chums in the ALF need his address.

As an aside, weren't the "Conservative Democrats" of Zac's headline the old style segregationist Democrats of the American South?


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