Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Is Cowell the new Orwell?

It was delightful to hear that David and Samantha Cameron are expecting another baby in September, and doubtless they have been inundated with warm congratulations from across most of the divides. The bringing of a new life into the world is perhaps the most selfless response to their recent tragedy, and it will be a profound joy to see another little one born in Number 10 (if…).

But His Grace was struck by an article in yesterday’s Daily Mail in which Bel Mooney said:

Like everybody else I send congratulations and wish the couple joy. But I tell you this - the subliminal message couldn't be better if they'd hired Simon Cowell to produce this event. It says: What could possibly cheer up this country more than a new start – and a new life?

It is undeniable that politicos tend to conceive of everything in terms of votes, and in this media-obsessed, emoting era a bereavement or a baby can affect public perception and voting intention just as much as a scandal or a strike: electoral volatility is no longer an aberration; it is the norm. Every opportunity is to be milked for everything it’s worth, especially if that milk is breast.

Yet it is Simon Cowell who is now credited with ‘producing’ public opinion. It used to be the press barons, then editors, the BBC perhaps, or Max Clifford, and (of course) Alastair Campbell. There were times during the New Labour era (for it is surely past) when one wondered if politics could ever recover from its addiction to ‘spin’: would people ever again be able to distinguish between reality and the Westminster Matrix?

But then the political system itself imploded, and people no longer give a damn. If they do not wish a plague on all their houses, they no longer feel particularly disposed to any party, and so a hung parliament is in the offing.

Perhaps David Cameron needs an injection of Simon Cowell, for now all politicians are deemed to be liars, and no-one tells it like it is better than Simon Cowell. Parliament has become a palace of deceit; a privileged priesthood of self-believers who pass their days raping the taxpayer and selling indulgences. The X-Factor offers reformation: it provides an uncomfortable truth, but it is a truth which liberates and which the public already know, and actually yearn in the depths of their souls to hear.

According to Total Politics magazine, Simon Cowell is the 26th most influential non-politician in politics: that is to say, the 26th most influential unelected person responsible for ‘shaping the political ideas that dominate the election and in the unknown entity beyond’.

He is described as a ‘music supremo’:

Perhaps a surprise inclusion, Cowell is someone who can guarantee the attention of political leaders if he wants it. Last year the X-Factor mastermind announced that he was considering bringing the populism of the show to politics, with politicians suggesting policies to be voted on by the public. Such is his influence that David Cameron admitted recently that "politics can learn from Simon Cowell".

Indeed it can.

X-Factor mania has swept the western world: it is the 1984 of the new interactive media age. It is defining and creating reality, permitting the masses to live vicariously the ecstasy of others; to fulfil their fantasies and to dream big dreams.

And David Cameron has been studying the strategy carefully – very carefully indeed.

He has grasped the public mood of impotence: a pervasive lack of faith in politicians, universal exasperation with bureaucracy and ubiquitous frustration with the great institutions of state. He knows there is a gulf between the political class and the public: party memberships are in terminal decline, and activists are aging. There is an epistemic distance between those who wield power and those upon whom that power is wielded. The fragile social contract is in danger of being torn up, not simply because the good times are gone, but because there is a feeling that, whatever the parties choose as their theme music for the imminent General Election, things will never get better.

Reconnecting with the marginalised; engaging the dispossessed; reversing the indifference; enthusing the cynical, jaded and despairing: these are the principal tasks which must occupy David Cameron, for without this urgent priority our democratic institutions and system of representation are in danger of collapse.

And what is X-Factor but a revamped 'Opportunity Knocks'? It is a postmodern 'New Faces'; a reconstituted 'Sunday Night at the London Palladium' with an unknown surprise guest perpetually topping the bill.

This is the sort of invigoration with which politics could be infused. And the remedy must produce happiness and peace. Not ephemeral jollity or ignorant dormancy, but enduring happiness and the peace which passes understanding. Until politics begins to touch people deeply, its perceived usefulness will be increasingly eroded by its own systematic failures.

Unless political discourse is to be reduced to the mono-dimension of single-cause issues, there is a need for the entire political class to coalesce around the higher needs of democracy. Independent views must be encouraged, and proper debate restored to political conferences. The public can tell the difference between real Cole-Cowell contention and staged angst, and their engagement is heightened when the stresses, intolerance and conflict are authentic.

And Simon Cowell knows this.

Which is why he is a paragon of authenticity.

He does not whip the other judges (or the voting public) into line in order to achieve victory.

He arrives at a winner by wading through a sludge of mediocre candidates, enduring his colleague’s policy convulsions, and then giving birth in all its glorious messiness in full public view.

That is true democracy.

Yet Parliament’s new candidates are shiny, happy people, airbrushed to perfection: there is no debate about policy even within parties, for fear of them being portrayed as ‘divided’; and victory, when it comes, is a staged affair, with just the right cast of black, Asian, gay and disabled characters.

Simon Cowell couldn’t give a damn about whether or not X-Factor finalists are ‘representative’ of the nation as a whole: he simply wants the best.

It is impossible to conceive of a life without music: it is not only the food of love; it is the breath of life to the soul. As the Bard observed:

"The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils."

And the nation which does not treasure its democracy is destined for disunity, betrayal, treachery and corruption. Politics abhors a vacuum as much as nature. If a way is not found to fill the void, if the collective wisdom of the British people is not enthused to engage, we will be left with nothing but a hollow shell of political so-called ‘experts’. The crowd may be maddening, but it knows: and its instinct is for the common good. It is innately conservative, and is tired of being patronisingly ‘consulted’ only to be forever completely ignored.

Unless there is reformation of the mechanisms of democracy, there will be revolution within the demos.

You can’t buck the people.

It is not likely that the Cameron’s Christmas conception was planned to coincide with the coming months of crowd-sourcing. But it will constitute a people-pleasing side-show to the tedious consultations and interminable pretence at ‘listening’ in order to arrive at ‘the people’s policies’, which the unseen bureaucrats will ensure coincide with everything the Government wanted to do anyway.

The art of Simon Cowell is not an illusion: or, at least, not one as depressing and discredited as the art of policis. There is something of a façade in deferral to the crowd, and yet that crowd can rebel. It had chosen Jodie Prenger to be its Nancy while the divine right of experts was determined to reserve the crown for their own anointed. And they chose Leona Lewis (black) and Alexandra Burke (black) on merit. And doubtless there were a few gays there as well, who all progressed on merit.

The big ‘reality’ idea in television could be the next big idea in government. Certainly, it is a risk. But so is democracy – true democracy. If the people are not permitted the possibility of voting for the wrong person, they will give up altogether on voting for the right one. If you let them participate in writing the script and casting the show, they will feel they own the outcome and share in the awards.

The 20th century bequeathed the Orwellian narrative of Newspeak.

But that prophecy is now fulfilled.

The new era is producing the Cowellian paradigm of Politricks.

And politicians would be foolish not to grasp this shift in the medium, because it is the message.

It is axiomatic that he who controls the nation’s currency owns the country.

But he who controls the nation’s music has bought the country’s soul.


Blogger English Viking said...

The only thing that Cowell and Orwell have in common is that X Factor is a prime example of the utter tat, produced on machines in 1984, with which the Gov managed to sedate the proles. This tat was always super-simplistic, with just the right amount of pornography to keep people 'entertained'.

Cowell appears to me to be an vacuous, inane, shallow and deceitful man, so it is no surprise that Cameron, of the same mould, thinks he something to learn from him. This is the same man who thinks Britain has a lot to learn from Muslims.

If Your Grace thinks, as his post seems to indicate, that the X Factor, and other pap like it, are paragons of Democracy, and not simply rigged entertainment that appeals to the lowest common denominator, a reflection of the stupidity of the people who watch and vote in them (in exactly the same way as Parliament is), he has lost his marbles.

24 March 2010 at 09:44  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...


Oliver Cromwell Addressing the Rump Parliament. April 1653
was it John Lennon taking a break from spinning in his grave to talk to Simon Cowell.

24 March 2010 at 09:58  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

YG You seem to be in confusion as to a fundamental difference between politics and Showbiz, between the illusion of "democracy" that we have in the UK, and the reality.
I suggest that there are millions of politically aware people who probably never watch Cowell and the X factor, and would not draw the parallel you seem to be trying to make in your highly verbose comment.
Uncharacteristically you fail to display clarity of thought.

English Viking summarises the comparison very well in his post.

Perhaps you should be asking far more important questions as to why there is such a vast gap between the political parties and the electorate. There is far more to this than the litany of personal greed, and the matter of expenses, though that was serious enough.

There is a far bigger issue underlying the deep cynicism of the electorate, and that is the dawning realisation, slow though it may be, that WE NO LONGER HAVE ANY RECOGNISABLE DEMOCRACY IN THE UK.
The familiar charge made by voters about politicians and political parties is a truism -
"They are all the same".

Many understand that if the polices of all three main parties is to subsume Britain and its governance further under EU rule, then by definition we are not a democracy. We still possess the trappings in the "toy" parliament, but the real decisions are made elsewhere, mainly in Brussels, and via unelected quangos.
As UKIP point out Britain is basically a one party state - the EU party.
Invoking Cowell as some sort of exemplar of democracy in action is childish and irrelevant.

24 March 2010 at 10:03  
Blogger Gnostic said...

I am happy for the Camerons but it won't change my mind about voting for UKIP.

As for Cowell, the least said the better. Needless to say I don't watch that sphincter clenching, eye watering wannabe celebrity circus he is the ringmaster of.

Word verification - upsymixi. :D

24 March 2010 at 10:30  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

This is hysterical at first glance: reality politics, but after a bit of thought I think you could have something. I am not one to sit and watch soaps and indeed cannot abide reality TV shows. I hated the X Factor. But what you say about the general public is correct, what they want is to have everything reduced to their crass TV world. And let's be fair, there are millions of people out there who are so disconnected from reality (what is reality) that they role model themselves upon some of their favourite TV characters - I have seen this for real all too often. They have a repertoire of scripted language and chirpy sayings which they have absorbed from the box.

I don't think it would be a difficult transition myself. It never ceases to amaze me how the newest and latest crap seems to take a hold of people's imaginations so quickly,,,sometimes I am envious of this capability which has always eluded me.

24 March 2010 at 10:40  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

I already have a suggestion Your Grace:

Naked PMQ's on ice!

24 March 2010 at 10:46  
Blogger Giolla said...

Politics learnt the lessons of X-factor ages ago in various communist states, with show trials, rigged votes and well stage managed events to keep the populace happy.

I've not been involved in X-factor but I have with "Britains got talent"
(helping friends not taking part directly) and it's as rigged as any crooked stuffed ballot ever was.

So if you want politics to resemble such shows we're already doing well, we just need a few more fake elections, more unbalanced reporting but with everything wrapped up in a bundle of glitz and a nicely presented public display of the pre-decided winners and losers saying what an honour it was to take part all the time not being able to say a thing about the dirty tricks due to gagging contracts.

24 March 2010 at 10:56  
Blogger Jared Gaites said...

Sorry to be spamming with so many comments this morning, but His Grace and communicants may find this video of Cameron yesterday interesting because it shows how much ground he has to cover considering the fact that "David Cameron has been studying the strategy carefully – very carefully indeed."

David Cameron stumbles through interview on gay rights.

24 March 2010 at 11:03  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Your Grace, you didn't want to say it, but here is your clue: 'and then giving birth in all its glorious messiness in full public view.'

Is this a suggestion that tackmeister Cowell should officiate at the birth of Samatha's baby on reality TV?

I rather think it is!

24 March 2010 at 11:07  
Anonymous circus monkey said...

A baby is a baby is a baby. A reason for joy. Why doesn't everybody back off and leave it alone. It's not even out of the womb yet and will have to come to terms with this soiled society soon enough. In the meantime let's not taint it with our grubbiness.

24 March 2010 at 12:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simon Cowell? Who he? I had to google to find out. Obviously people who don't watch television "shows" are not true democrats.

24 March 2010 at 12:32  
Anonymous Mikec said...

In Orwell's time the influence of television was negligible, ans one could not therefore fool 'all off the people all of the time'

For twenty-five years politicians, using television, have been able to fool enough of the people enough of the time.

I do not suppose it will be any different this time around.

We have had a decade of New Labour because the Conservative party could not field 'TV friendly' leaders...

YG, embedded in your article is a Gem: "Unless there is reformation of the mechanisms of democracy, there will be revolution within the demos."

The problem is a 'Party Politics' system where once elected, an MP does not need to ever consider his electorate for the duration. His future is decided by the Party, and it is to the Party that his prime loyalty must be if he is to prosper. He is no longer a representitive of his constituents, he is a minion of his affiliated party. This is a PROBLEM.

It becomes a government of the people according only to Party ideology.

24 March 2010 at 13:04  
Blogger OldSlaughter said...

There is something else here that is not alluded to. The public are malleable.

Through enough crap like that in front of them and they think that is good music. If you played Stockhausen to people exclusively, kids would grows up thinking Karl was a pretty hip kind of a guy.

Cowell sells pap and calls it music, the herd yelp and scream and vote and then buy the pap when it comes out in record form.

None of this is art, none of this lifts much other than Cowell's bank account.

'True democracy' is nothing if the choices are only between examples of what you already know and are comfortable with.

24 March 2010 at 13:13  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

A resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.What better words could describe Simon Cowell.

24 March 2010 at 13:38  
Anonymous graham Wood said...

From time to time Dr Richard North of EU Referendum Blog inserts some incisive comments about the nature of politics.
Commendably it is a fantasy free zone, and notable absentees from it are TV personalities, including Cowell, Samantha, babies and Uncle Tom Cobley.
Slightly edited as it comes in a broader comment on the absurd "global warming" distraction from real politics, I make no apology for quoting:

"Politics, in its proper sense, is about policies – and in particular choices. The essence of the political process is the construction of different policies by different parties, and of choices made between them. In the normal course of events, voters gravitate towards their preferred policies which bring them into the ambit of the parties that offer them.

But, when there are no policies, or the policies held by different parties are the same, then real politics die. The substitute – a choice between parties – is a pale shadow of the real thing. It is not politics. It is a beauty contest – fun while it lasts but entirely lacking in substance.........
Now, if we still had real politics, the governing party would be counterbalanced by an opposition. It would mock the insanity and offer what we needed for half the price. We would have real choice. Where to cast our vote would be an easy decision to make.

But we no longer have real politics. We have no real choice, only different parties with the same broad policies. There is no reality, no substance, just different faces and the same outcome "

YG I hope you take the point.
The business of politics is about real policies and issues, not abstract theories.
Cowell is theatre and nothing more.

24 March 2010 at 14:19  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

The solution to all Your Grace’s worries about the health of democracy and the chasm between rulers and ruled can be found in two words: direct democracy.

Give the people the power to choose (say, once a year) a subject for referendum, with the outcome to be binding on Parliament. We’ve had government by monarch, by politicians, and, now, by Brussels. Never have we had real democracy—government by the people.

For far too long, we’ve had to endure a system of government that sees power alternating between the two wings of the Establishment, between two sides of the same coin. Up to now, ‘democracy’ has comprised giving the people, once every five years, the opportunity to flip the coin. That isn’t good enough any more. If we’re a free country, the people have to be able to fashion their country as they wish, and if that means the restoration of capital punishment, the liberals will just have to lump it.

24 March 2010 at 14:20  
Anonymous john said...

The art of Simon Cowell is not an illusion: or, at least, not one as depressing and discredited as the art of policis. There is something of a façade in deferral to the crowd, and yet that crowd can rebel. It had chosen Jodie Prenger to be its Nancy while the divine right of experts was determined to reserve the crown for their own anointed. And they chose Leona Lewis (black) and Alexandra Burke (black) on merit. And doubtless there were a few gays there as well, who all progressed on merit.

24 March 2010 at 14:44  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

The parallel of Cowell as a bell weather for political stimulus is, after some period of consideration of His Grace’s submission, really quite apposite. But does the Divine Dave really want to be so like the vain, Svengali he so obviously admires – maybe he does,certainly he does, if His Grace’s submission is anything to go by. But the analogy of showbiz and popular politics need not end there – if it pleases Your Grace I submit:-

Cowell makes far more money and garners more fame from his projects than any of the so called ‘artistes’ or shall we say - ‘policies’, which is true (and certainly was for Blair) and of the ambitions of most of todays political class. He sets up a phoney panel of arbiters (Cabinet) with himself as the pantomime villain (Prime Minister and Lord High Executioner of course); Louis Wash as Baron Hardup (Chancellor); the young pretty one as Cinderella (Minister for Wimmin and babies) and a wizened old crone as one of the Ugly Sisters, probably as (Home Secretary) and usually the first to fall from grace.

Each one mugs the cameras, baits, and is in turn is baited (PMQs), by the other three, as they pretend to be remotely interested in promoting the endless chain of ‘singers’ it always bloody ‘singers’, (Unlike Op Knocks and You’re a Star, where you might see a musical-saw player going head to head with some dude twitching his muscles to Wheels Cha-Cha) devoid of originality or any creative talent. How similar is this scenario to 21st Century UK Politics and main-stream party policies. Genuine talent is supplanted by an increasingly bizarre parade of delusional freaks,(more token women and ethnic minority cardboard cut outs) guaranteed to engage only with the addled minds of life long Party sycophants and opportunists. But what about the other lot, Cowell’s real target audience, the great unwashed or washed and fragrant as maybe, but still (Useful idiots) voters who think that theirs and their Nation’s interests will be paramount in future deliberations). The career benefit claimants, watching the show on their tax-payer funded flat screen TVs, slugging from tax-payer funded cans of super strength cider, spiff in hand, surrounded by their only achievement in life and source of additional revenue, (Rug-Rats) who are pre-destined to be the next generation of bludgers and Human Rights exploiters but none the less, still potential voters or suitable ‘victim’ causes.

This is the real face of British democracy where even convicted criminals, block voting brain-washed Muslims, non-existent postal voters, layabouts and sundry drongos, have equal status rights with the likes of WW2 veterans and the beleaguered taxpayers working 15 hours a day or more. At least Hughie Green was a genuine phoney.

What a pantomime.

24 March 2010 at 15:03  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

I made a remark above about block voting brain-washed Muslims – I offer these quotes and link in justification before I’m accused of racism, Islamophobia or hate speech. Reality TV?- No - this is Iranian backed, London based, Press TV

"British Muslims must punish the warmongers at the general election"

"So I have one thing to say to those Muslims in Blackburn who are again contemplating voting for this man. Are your community institutions and your personal comfort more important than the hundreds of thousands of your brothers and sisters Straw helped to kill? If you believe that is the case you should hang your heads in shame"

24 March 2010 at 16:00  
Anonymous Oswin said...

English Viking et al; you are correct, the people are indeed ''stupid''. Whilst we rightly berate profligate and deceitful politicians, we must acknowledge the idiocy of their public counterweight.....and judged on that basis alone, one might even entertain (God forbid!)a certain sympathy.

If it is true that we 'deserve the government that we get'; then we, as a people, are in for many more years of......well, it just doesn't bear thinking about!

24 March 2010 at 16:30  
Anonymous jeremy hyatt said...

Is Simon Cowell a police informer? Orwell was, it has emerged.

24 March 2010 at 16:44  
Anonymous not a machine said...

"26th most influential non politician in politics" sounds very similar to non dom to me your grace.

Whatever next the new polit breau for music condusive to happiness in the marxist ideal.

I keep trying to tell the conservatives and anyone else , the modern structures of society by wire are creating a big know all as well as a big brother .We are becoming a dumbed down end user ,in that the structure cannot and never will be an organic lifeform .
Simon Cowell is the least of my worries he just makes money out of it , it is these dam fools making more and more immersive and attached social media . Call me old fashioned but could it not be the new slavery , disguised as liberation?.

The budget was startling in that it was full of promises but with no map far be it for me to say that is how despots gain power.

24 March 2010 at 17:57  
Anonymous Oswin said...

Jeremy Hyatt: is that so? Very interesting! My father met Blair in 1927 and later, on several occasions, during the 1930's. He often surmised that Blair had more than a passing relationship with British Intelligence.

24 March 2010 at 18:17  
Anonymous len said...

The X factor has elements of the Circus Maximus with Cowell and co presiding over the events.
It is amazing the level of delusion amongst the participants,just like politics you might say.
Orwell on the other hand was a genius,a visionary.

24 March 2010 at 19:15  
Anonymous TruthSeeker said...

As for the current impacts of the media on society, this was predicted by Aldous Huxley in an Interview about how his "Brave New World" is becoming a reality Also, Johnny Rottenborough, you advocate a "Direct Democracy" with regular referenda. If what "Oswin" and other commenters on this blog say is true, that the people are "stupid" is "Direct Democracy" actually what we want. Do we want brainwashed ,"stupid" people deciding the future of our country, or would you want elected expert who actually know what the right decision is. Just a thought.

24 March 2010 at 19:47  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ TruthSeeker (19:47)—The incidence of stupidity being much the same in every country, if the Swiss can cope with direct democracy, so can we.

24 March 2010 at 23:46  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Johnny Rottenborough said...

@ TruthSeeker (19:47)—The incidence of stupidity being much the same in every country, if the Swiss can cope with direct democracy, so can we.

24 March 2010 23:46

The British not only can happily cope with direct democracy, in some notable parts of the country they are already doing so.

The good news is, (and our Lord know we all desperately need all the good news we can get these days) that so far directly elected Mayors seem to be working very well indeed.

Many have been re-elected and have become very popular with their people.

Now all we need is the virtual destruction all forms of centralised government, and the express creation of direct elections for just about every important position of power. Including top police chiefs, and judges, as well as the Director General and Chairman of The BBC.

Then and only then will we be starting to peacefully get somewhere worth arriving at.

Otherwise many forms of completely counter-productive and immoral violent types of spasmodic reaction will inevitably start to brake out all over the place.

Our democratic system being wholly run by wholly controlled main stream political party's has long since been our individual and collective living nightmare.

For surly it has now become obvious to even the ESN's of this world, that all of our established political parties are entirely, utterly, covertly or subversively controlled by the exact same extremely well established corporatist powers.

Powers that have, historically, as well as self-evidently, never given a damn whether we live, or die.

Correction; they do give a damn, they very much desire to basically get rid of as many of us as they can possibly and safely get away with. Of course they will try to get us to slaughter ourselves or each other in vast numbers first.

If this does not sufficiently have their very much desired effect?

Well let me put it this way, it would be a good idea to stock up on hankies and Lem-Sips. They wont help at all, but at least you can say you did something slightly useful.

25 March 2010 at 01:45  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Truthseeker @ 19.47, these categories devised by the Italian economic historian Carlo Cipolla may assist you. There are five fundamental laws of stupidity:

1)Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
2)The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.
3) A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.
4) Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.
5) A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.
As is evident from the third law, Cipolla identifies two factors to consider when exploring human behaviour:

Benefits and losses that an individual causes to others.
Benefits and losses that an individual causes to him or herself.
By creating a graph with the first factor on the x-axis and the second on the y-axis, we obtain four groups of people:

Intelligent people (top right)
Helpless / Naive people (top left)
Bandits (bottom right)
Stupid people (bottom left)
Cipolla further refines his definition of "Bandits" and "Helpless People" by noting that members of these groups can either add to or detract from the general welfare, depending on the relative gains (or losses) that they cause themselves and society. A bandit may enrich himself more or less than he impoverishes society, and a helpless person may enrich society more or less than he impoverishes himself. Graphically, this idea is represented by a line of slope -1, which bisects the second and fourth quadrants and intersects the y-axis at the origin. The helpless people and bandits to the left of this line are thus semi "stupid," because they represent a net drain of societal welfare.

If you have seen this before I apologise.

25 March 2010 at 08:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

Excellent analysis:

'And the nation which does not treasure its democracy is destined for disunity, betrayal, treachery and corruption.'

Your Grace, this people once loved its democracy; from the bringing of a wicked king to heel, Magna Carta; to the petition of 1628 and civil war; to the 1688 Bill of Rights - to the wretched Lisbon Treaty that robbed us all of our sacred treasure - our sovereignty.

It was not the people that trashed democracy - it was their leaders.

Now their leaders are to pay the price: a hung parliament. Civil war within both major parties and another General Election in the autumn.

25 March 2010 at 09:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

And another thing. That Mr Blond has written an article published over at the Prospect blog as to why the Conservatives lead has shrunk to two points in March.

His analysis of the shrinking lead is fundamentally flawed: he sub-divides Conservative factions into ‘progressive’ and ‘regressive’. This classification is without merit. It is accurate to say that the two major factions are the liberals and the conservatives (economic and social conservatives).

In Mr Blond’s view the ‘Conservatives [have come] with scary talk of emergency budgets, and violent images of slashing spending. The result: a gradual re-toxification of a brand Cameron had painstakingly cleansed, and a retreat from his often visionary and transformative agenda.’

People are concerned about their jobs and they blame New Labour: tax! Spend! Tax! And spend! Spend and spend! They know that New Labour is going to have to slash and burn. They know that New Labour has wrecked the economy.

The so-called ‘de-toxification’ of the Conservatives was unsuccessful in the hearts of the mass of the people, particularly the middle-aged. Therefore, it would have been better for the Conservatives to remain true to who they were.

Blond criticises Tim Montgomerie of the ConservativeHome website for calling for ‘more red Toryism’ and ‘less red Tory nonsense’ upon the ground that this lost the Conservatives three elections in a row. But what Blond will not recognise is that ‘red Tory nonsense’ was formulated as a response in the Blair years. We are now under the Mandleson-Brown regime which requires ‘red-meat Toryism.’

Here is Melanie Phillips’ analysis as to what has gone wrong (March 2010).

The British Tories are in a state of finger-gnawing nerves. With Gordon Brown’s Labour government in terminal meltdown, the Conservatives should be on course for a landslide victory at this year’s general election.

In fact, their poll ratings have dropped dangerously into hung parliament territory.
While some believe the quirks of Britain’s electoral system may deliver the Tories victory in the end, there is no doubt that they are losing support overall.

The lesson they surely need to learn is staring them in the face in Australia. This is the remarkable rise of Tony Abbott, on the apparently improbable platform of opposing man-made global warming theory and the policies this entails.

Indeed, that Abbott is snapping at Kevin Rudd’s heels demonstrates a crucial lesson for conservatives everywhere. This is the truly astounding fact that a conservative will most likely win power by remaining unambiguously true to conservative principles.

To Tory leader David Cameron and his inner circle of liberal modernisers, such a view would be proof of a pitiable absence of political sophistication. Their strategy of ‘hope and change’ is based on their unshakeable belief that the Tories were denied power for the past 13 years because they were not progressive enough.

Accordingly, they rebranded themselves by taking left-wing, socially liberal positions and, in particular, a wholesale embrace of the environmental agenda.

25 March 2010 at 13:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alas for the new green Tories, man-made global warming theory has gone spectacularly belly-up. More fundamentally still, Cameron has made a strategic error. He wants to tell the country it’s ‘time for a change’, but the change he has implanted in people’s minds is that the Conservatives are more similar to Labour.

At the same time, he is keen to pacify his increasingly unhappy right wing. The result has been mounting incoherence.

He appeared to retreat over his long-proposed tax advantages for marriage, then restated the policy; now he has supported a campaign to end the stereotyping of single mothers.

He endorsed a smaller state, but supported Labour’s ruinous public spending targets; he then proposed purportedly deep cuts to public spending to reduce the deficit that weren’t deep at all, before retreating to more modest economies still. He proposes allowing householders to kill burglars in cold blood, even if they are running away, yet he countenances cuts to Britain’s defence budget.
By contrast, Abbott took a clear and firm position on global warming against conventional wisdom, and called it right. He even ventured into the lethal minefield of sexual mores, telling a journalist he advised his three daughters not to give themselves away carelessly.

Abbott is scoring so well for two main reasons. First, he is expressing views that are in tune with what so many think but are too intimidated to express. He is a champion of the voiceless mainstream.

Perhaps even more crucially, everyone can see he speaks from principle, and it is no accident that this is securely rooted in his Catholic faith. He is therefore clearly a leader.

By contrast, the British Cameroons appear to be opportunists slavishly following whatever the latest focus group tells them. People need to know where they are with their leaders, even if they don’t agree with everything they say. But there is no courage or consistency in going with the flow.

Moreover, what all successful politicians instinctively understand is that most people are conservative. What Cameron crucially failed to grasp about Tony Blair was that he won power by appealing to a conservative yearning for social order and tranquillity.

So why are the British Conservatives in such a muddle? Their plight reflects a confusion besetting conservatives everywhere.

Conservatism is not an ideology but a cast of mind that seeks to defend what is valuable. That means in the West defending liberal democratic ideas and the Judeo-Christian precepts on which these depend.

With the defeat of communism, many conservatives really believed this was the ‘end of history’. Since everyone embraced the free market, they thought there was no longer anything to defend.

They couldn’t have been more wrong. The battleground had simply moved from economics to culture, with an onslaught against normative moral values, national identity and Western civilisation itself.

But British Conservatives don’t grasp that a culture war is being waged for the soul and future of the West. As a result, they have put themselves to a large extent on the wrong side of that war by jumping on to the progressive bandwagon.

25 March 2010 at 13:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thus they support gay adoption and all-female political short lists, are nervous about discussing mass immigration or egalitarianism, and are all but silent about Islamism and the Orwellian moral inversion that tries to criminalise as ‘Islamophobia’ the legitimate concerns about radical Islam.

The great battles today are not between left and right. They are between morality and nihilism, truth and lies, justice and injustice, freedom and totalitarianism, and Judeo-Christian values and the would-be destroyers of the West both within and without.

If conservatives are not on the right side of all these touchstone issues, then what is the point of conservatives at all? Why should anyone vote for them if they are merely left-wing wannabes? If people want utopia and the repression that inevitably follows its pursuit, the party to vote for is Labour: it does it so much better.

Moreover, one of the dirty little secrets of the Left is that, far from being the voice of the downtrodden, its agenda has tremendous appeal to the rich.

Green politics in particular provides painless radicalism; it lets people believe they are acting out of high-minded conscience without causing themselves any more pain than cycling to work and recycling their rubbish.

By contrast, the decent working class and lower middle class who have no moneyed leisure for such self-indulgent frivolities are naturally conservative. And the most successful Australian politicians have understood this key fact.

The main reason for John Howard’s four election wins and 11 years as prime minister was his capture of the blue-collar vote from the Labor Party, especially voters in Sydney’s west and their counterpart in other capitals.

He did this by standing up against the Left through initiatives such as dropping multiculturalism, strengthening border protection and refusing to apologise to the Aborigines for the so-called Stolen Generations.

Now Abbott is once again appealing to the people Howard scooped up so effectively. These are the same kind of people the British Conservatives have abandoned. That’s why Abbott is on a roll while the British Tories wonder why they are floundering. They should raise their eyes from their collective navel and look 15,000 km away for the answer.

25 March 2010 at 13:47  
Anonymous bluedog said...

D Singh, an excellent series of posts.

Abbott's embrace of the demographic that secured Howards's record tenure is critically important in his early success. However, just as important is the sheer arrogance and incompetence of Rudd. The Australian people are acutely aware of their good fortune - a federal government with debt at just 15% of GDP (actually 0% under Howard) and an economy that is a satellite of China.

Rudd is a manic obsessive micro-manager, hated by his own staff and disliked by his own union-based party (he has never been a union member). Some of Rudd's economic initiatives have been badly executed with much waste and corruption. Despite this he is likely to win this year's GE because the Australian political term is just three years and the electorate usually gives an incumbent party two terms.

Like Abbott, Rudd is vocally Christian, in his case an Anglican although raised as a Catholic. Rudd recognises that being interviewed on TV with his parish church in the background is beneficial and does it often.

You never see British politicians in such a setting. Perhaps Dave should give it a go.

25 March 2010 at 20:15  
Anonymous It's faith, stupid said...

They are indeed. Particularly astute was recognising that Dave's strategy is based on fighting the middle-ground of Tony Blair's administration instead of the overt socialism, and general unpopularity, of Brown.

People are fed up with media-driven, spin politics. A man of principles, rather than sound-bites, would have been a true vote for change.

I think, perhaps, Conservative HQ took their I off the ball after Brown's spectacular fall in popularity immediately after becoming PM.

Still, it ain't over till the fat lady sings. The question is do we even want what Dave's crew have to offer?

26 March 2010 at 10:01  
Anonymous sydneysider said...

Mr Singh ,be assured Tony Abbot will not be Prime Minister in this country.Australians will never vote for someone who wears budgie smugglers.

27 March 2010 at 07:14  

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