BY DOMINIC WIGHTMAN
I am acquainted with two talented painters. Both have failed. One paints works that appear unfinished and vague. The other paints pieces that seem beyond optimal – like the drawing rooms of clutterers, who display too much porcelain or dangle trinkets from over-decorative curtain finials, he overpaints past the point of optimum into an unrealistic and ragged chintz.
By the former artist I am reminded of conservatives past. Those who held back on areas that clearly needed some reform – women’s rights, smoking, capital punishment, legislation around homosexuality – who, for whatever reason, were thinking and policymaking sub-optimally.
I am reminded by the latter painter of left-liberal errors and excesses, of going way too far – Labour’s embrace of the Paedophile Information Exchange, turning a blind eye in the name of political correctness to the Pakistani rape gangs scandal and the Left’s ‘new for new’s sake’ leading to some of the unsightliest architecture ever conceived.
There is an optimal point. There must be. Somewhere between (however ‘bigoted’) conservative and today’s runaway train of loony lefties. A point between the parodies of the Daily Express and the inanity of a Skwawkbox or Byline. A point at which reform is undoubtedly essential – a point at which improvement passes into unworkable and dangerous excess.
So how do we know when and how to define such a point? Where is the trade-off? How do we agree on a point where common sense pervades all? Political spectra are still too clunky and unrealistic to mark an x on a map or metamorphose government into an effective algorithm. The executive and the civil service are still too unwieldy to be manageable. At 91 Thomas Sowell is getting too old to continue to be right about everything. Where is that gyroscope of zero friction and optimum equilibrium that renders universal agreement?
The answer is simple. Today there ain’t one. The nature of today’s competing political parties leads to gross miscalculations. A vacuum of leadership stifles Sense’s breath.
So which side is more capable of civilised reflection? Which side can better determine the distinction between the maintenance of success and necessary reform?
To that last question there is, alas, a track record to turn to. It is there for all to judge. There is therefore an answer to be derived:
The answer beyond doubt is the privilege-checking Left with their bitter resentment of the individual and poppy-lopping of the talented and successful. Unquestionably they are the ones more out of control.
Less insane are the conservatives among us.
So in the current stormy climate it is only logical in sensible countries (poor Canada) that trust should be placed more in conservatives – so-called progressives tend to be on a train heading for the cliff edge these days (something the current ‘Conservative’ government should reflect on to change tack, as it in due course untangles itself from the neo–Marxists’ Gordian Knot, perhaps with a Badenochian slice).
Meanwhile, are the British Left really that useless and imbecilic?
To give them some credit, the Left’s success in stacking the institutions and key charities over the last decades merits some chapeau – ingenious and self-preserving – but it hardly does them any good long term nor classifies them as qualified at achieving point optimal. It’s only a matter of time before the fox gets shot in the head (or indeed, thwacked by a comrade’s baseball bat). The internet is killing off the moral relativists, as nowadays truth gets uncovered by a tweet. The Left is a circular firing squad – Owen Jones firing at Kieth, while Blair fires back at Corbyn while Richard Burgon struggles with the safety catch.
Their anti-democratic deviancy, as it becomes exposed and injustices repaired, merely progressively reveals the Left’s anguish and desperation – a growing recognition that ordinary Brits are now wide awake to woke and that Labour have lost all trust over past errors, most recently over shenanigans related to Brexit. They have no saviour in waiting, just another Jess Phillips diatribe, possibly about how white tampons are racist.
These days those who still always vote Labour quietly admit things have not gone entirely to plan, that the country is now less civilised, not more – Blair and Brown tragedies keep on echoing. With Afghanistan back in the news of late, we are once more reminded of the Left’s psychotic lying and preponderance for catastrophe.
For an optimal position surely what is needed is pragmatism. That only comes via sound-headed conservatives and realistic, grounded progressives (there must be some?) who undertake in good faith to achieve civilised trade-off. The great tragedy is that such a situation is way away, or so it seems.
Until the point of no return when the Left’s train has finally careered off the clifftop and been replaced by one devoid of self-defeating Marxism, Britain will be the poorer and our status shall continue to be far from optimal.
Dominic Wightman is the Editor of Country Squire Magazine.