BY FRANK HAVILAND
In the wake of last December’s UK General Election, resulting in Labour’s worst drubbing at the polls since 1935, Jeremy Corbyn confidently claimed ‘We won the argument’. At the time he was met with ridicule; on reflection, he may have a point. With the Left increasingly willing to simply cancel those it disagrees with, it’s not a stretch to conclude it was the voters who got it wrong.
As a case in point, take Shadow Secretary of State for Women, Dawn Butler’s recent bizarre assertions about transgenderism:
‘A child is born without sex.’
‘If you’re saying that a transwoman isn’t a woman then there are issues around that.’
‘We haven’t decided that you can’t have a discussion about it, but the Labour Party should and must be a safe space.’
In other words, ‘we’re having the debate in-house – but only if everyone agrees not to say anything’. ‘Having the debate’ now means not having the debate.
I’m old enough to remember when being left-wing meant standing for something. In the era of #BeKind however, genuine opinions are just too dangerous. Instead, the Left contents itself with identifying the highest possible victim status and pretending to care about it. This explains the Labour leadership contest’s descent into the worst Dutch auction in history, with Keir ‘Trans’ rights are human rights’ Starmer, Rebecca ‘Let’s get men into women’s refuges’ Long-Bailey, and Lisa ‘Let’s get male rapists into female prisons’ Nandy.
The trouble is when everyone’s a victim, everyone is also an oppressor – which means the Left has come full-circle and is now eating itself. Women are empowered by ensuring only men are allowed to win female sports. Muslims are protected from islamophobia by covering up the stark reality of grooming gangs. And everyone under the age of 25 is a child, except toddlers who haven’t fervently participated in drag acts or gender-transitioned – who are of course dangerous Nazis in the making.
With reality dictated by offence not truth, last month’s apoplexy was the revelation that Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, enjoys a cup of Yorkshire Tea – Christ knows what the Left are going to do when they discover Tories breathe oxygen too.
Desperate to relieve us from the patriarchy/ racists/ transphobes, the champions they promote are magnificently ill-chosen: Meghan Markle, a B-list activist whose half-blackness provides just enough victimhood to besmirch not just the monarchy, but the entire nation as racist; Greta Thunberg, an eco-brat who jets around the globe lecturing the plebs on their carbon footprint, as well as organising the worst bunk-off school in history; and Stormzy and Dave, gang-glorifying thugs who happen to vote the right way. On balance, I preferred Chas.
While the best weapon we have in the culture war is unquestionably the Left, we conservatives are still losing where it counts. The list of those no-platformed, sacked or even convicted for holding the wrong opinion is extensive. Although much triumph was had at Harry Miller’s recent free speech victory, Kate Scottow, James Grundy, and Maya Forstater flew somewhat under the radar.
It is not simply the media bias towards liberals, but the nature of the debate itself: the Left doesn’t do free speech. Instead, they are now successfully using the law to enforce their cries of ‘racist’, ‘transphobe’, ‘Nazi’, and they are winning. UK police have already recorded a staggering 120,000 cases of ‘non-crime hate incidents’ – which roughly translate as ‘something someone somewhere sulked about’.
The dearth of free speech has got to such a point that even the most ardent Liberals have begun to notice. It was A C Grayling of all people who recently noted his students were afraid to voice Leave views – what a shame he couldn’t apply that insight to the bitter Remain campaign.
For all the criticism the right receives for its lack of tolerance, tolerance is a one-way street. Conservatives accept Liberal views, Liberals do not reciprocate. If you want to test that watch how tolerant the Left is of minorities who dare vote the wrong way. A recent, rather despicable piece in the Guardian depicted British Indians as colonialist lackeys to their white overlords – but don’t worry, it’s not racist when the Left does it.
Yes it’s true, the Left has no arguments; they rely solely on smears. AOC’s recent assertion that not buying enough Chinese takeaways is ‘straight-up racism’, being perhaps the battiest. There is, however a worrying trend of late. Certain factions of the right have clearly decided enough is enough, and that they’re going to fight fire with fire: if you can’t beat them, cancel them.
While this is understandable, it is I fear a grave mistake. Take the case of Ash Sarkar, who is admittedly rather loathsome, and would long since have had her career ended were colours reversed. Instead of demanding she be removed from the BBC (their stock-in-trade, surely?), it is far better that she be heard.
First of all on free speech grounds – the test for which is of course speech you hate. Second, because it’s better to know what the enemy is actually thinking. And third, because her twaddle needs to be countered by superior arguments (of which there are plenty).
Playing the Left’s cancel culture game is not only an endorsement of petty tale-telling; it is an acceptance of playing by their rules – not something the right should ever countenance.