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The attack of the invertebrates.


THE ABSOLUTE SPINELESSNESS of contemporary politicians in the face of manufactured media outrage or grandstanding is one of their defining characteristics, especially if there’s a photo opportunity in it or the chance to flaunt their PC virtue and emotionalism. When you watch their behaviour you wonder why they don’t just hand over the reins of power to the journos and pressure groups and have done with it.

So, while the ash of Notre Dame has been swept up, while the obsequious obeisance to Islam in response to the New Zealand attack dribbles away with the image of Prince William visiting the survivors, and while the nauseating adoration of Greta Thunberg, the Scandinavian climate change panic-monger, fades from view, it is heartening to see some resistance to the media’s manipulative narratives.

I’m talking about the sacking of Sir Roger Scruton, who, having survived the first attempt to remove him as newly-appointed chairman of a government commission on architecture (see my article from November last year), was finally dumped as the result of a piece published in The New Statesman. The article, based on an interview with Scruton by George Eaton, the magazine’s deputy editor, twisted Scruton’s words to make him appear homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic and Islamophobic at the same time (a repeat of the initial strategy, of course). The deliberate mendacity of the piece is obvious and indefensible.

What made the egregiousness worse was the way Eaton bragged on his Twitter feed “The feeling when you get right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked as a Tory government adviser,” with a photo of himself swigging from a bottle of champagne.

And that’s all it took. Whatever spine the Tories had five months earlier had dissolved in the interim. James Brokenshire, Housing Secretary, sacked Scruton immediately; although, as is so often the case these days with the communicative incompetence of our political class, he failed to pass the news on to Scruton first. It was clear from the mechanical cliches uttered by Tories and Labour alike (“deeply offensive and completely unacceptable,” press button and repeat cycle) that they had not checked any source material to see if the accusations were true. Nor was Scruton given the opportunity to rebut the smears. Such is the adamantine witlessness of Brokenshire  it would not have occurred to him that giving such credence to a left wing journal was a bad idea for the Tories. I mean, why should you believe what your enemy says about one of your own and do their dirty work for them?

Brokenshire smartly kept quiet once the thing erupted and has not uttered much in public about it since, having other things to bugger up. MP Johnny Mercer, on the other hand, jumped right into the Twitter pit with the usual platitudes, only to find himself being berated for following the mob. Mercer then realised his mistake and wrote an article for The Spectator in an attempt to exonerate himself. Unfortunately, it was one of those, “I was wrong and apologise but” apologies which made things worse, especially as he spent too much time talking about himself, and he was soundly pilloried by James Delingpole for it. [See note below.]

The heartening thing about this is that so many commentators have come to Sir Roger’s defence and not let the matter vanish into the ether of oblivion. Scruton has vigorously defended himself. Douglas Murray and Toby Young have written about the affair. Murray actually managed to get hold of a recording of the interview. Both Daniel Johnson and Roger Kimball have declared this marks a watershed in public discourse.

Thus the row continues. George Eaton, according to reports, may have been asked to stay away from the magazine for a while, “to let stuff die down,” that is, to return to his muck-flinging as soon as the coast is clear. His absence from his paid position will only be temporary — unlike Sir Roger Scruton’s from his unpaid position which will be permanent.

Roger Kimball in his piece makes point (quoting Niall Ferguson) that the only way forward now is for each PC attack to be met with “massive retaliation”. I hope we can look forward to this happening more often and more aggressively. In too many cases those responsible for the harm they cause receive no comeback. That has to change.

suxcoverCurrente Calamo columnist, poet and writer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire. A Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Lincoln University (2005 – 2008), his poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent book is Albion Days (perennisperegrinator press). Sucks to Your Revolution is a collection of his Fortnightly columns.

Note: Since this article was written Brokenshire has followed the weasel politician’s textbook and issued a standard non-apologetic apology He comes out looking worse than if he’d kept quiet. —MB. And the same for Eaton. —Ed. 

Note: Title changed subsequent to publication.


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