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Daniel Hannan: For Brexit to work, power must be stripped from the quangorats – and returned to people we elect

Daniel Hannan is an MEP for South-East England, and a journalist, author and broadcaster. His most recent book is What Next: How to Get the Best from Brexit.

When Donald Trump entered the White House, his then senior adviser, Steve Bannon, set out the administration’s three priorities. First, “national security and sovereignty” (hurrah!) Second, “economic nationalism” (boo!) Third, “the deconstruction of the administrative state” (huh?)

Few Americans had much idea of what “the administrative state” was; but conservative think-tankers and writers were ecstatic. Indeed, Trump’s readiness to act against the administrative state (or the regulatory state) is, along with his judicial appointments, the main reason that they overlook his character flaws and back him.

In Britain, we call it “the quango state”. We mean the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies that can set rules without legislation, raise money without taxation, and impose decisions without accountability. We mean bodies like the Charity Commission, the National Lottery Community Fund, the Education and Skills Funding Agency, the Carbon Trust, the Export Guarantees Advisory Council, the Care Quality Commission, the Food Standards Agency, the Low Pay Commission, the Information Commissioner’s Office, UK Sport, the Highways Agency and a hundred others.

There may be occasions when MPs need narrowly and contingently to delegate authority. But what has happened in Britain, as in other large democracies, goes well beyond specific outsourced functions. We have seen the growth of an imperium in imperio, a network of bodies staffed by people who think in similar ways, and who pursue their agendas more or less independently of the wishes of Parliament or people.

Naturally, those who share the quangocrat outlook – fondness for higher public spending, obsession with diversity and inclusiveness, enthusiasm for the EU – are untroubled by this state of affairs. But Conservatives have never much cared for it, and fitfully go through phases of scrapping the more obviously obsolete quangos while encouraging people from beyond the Left to apply for the others. This website, for example, runs a regular “Calling Conservatives” feature, aimed at encouraging more Tory applications to some of these bodies. None the less, perhaps inevitably, the system remains dominated by Blairite smoothies.

So pervasive is the soft Left culture in our administrative state that attempts to even the balance are often seen as an invasion, and the few Conservatives who take on positions on even purely advisory bodies can be hounded out of them. Just ask Roger Scruton.

The first task of the new prime minister in a couple of weeks’ time will be to reassert the supremacy of our elected representatives over our functionaries. That might strike you as an eccentric statement. Surely the new Prime Minister’s first task will be Brexit?

Yes, but the two things can no longer be separated. Over the past three years, we have seen large chunks of our standing bureaucracy – civil servants, quangocrats and other officials –working to frustrate the referendum result. The Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner’s Office have harassed Vote Leave campaigners. Eurosceptic donors even appear to have been targeted by the tax authorities. At the same time, senior civil servants have taken full advantage of Theresa May’s disastrous readiness to be ruled by official advice.

What I am saying should be uncontroversial. The purpose of having elected ministers at the top of departments is to ensure that those departments – including the quangos they fund – work for the general population rather than for themselves. A minister who simply does what his officials tell him is guaranteed a quiet life. He will be well regarded. He will get a reputation as a safe pair of hands. Approving remarks about him will find their way into the papers. But he is utterly failing to do his job.

Not every Secretary of State is like this, of course. Indeed, the starting line-up in the current Conservative leadership election included some of the ministers who had shown themselves most prepared to impose themselves on their departments. But, in general, May preferred – and offered preferment to – ministers in her own image: that is, ministers who deferred to the experts, said little in public and declined to rock the boat.

Well, that won’t do any more. Not at a time like this. We need the entire government machine to be working to make a success of Brexit. We need to be cutting taxes, especially business taxes, so as to attract investment. We need to be exploiting the regulatory freedoms we acquire as we diverge from Brussels. We need to let our financial services, in particular, compete against their global rivals. We need to remove tariffs and trade barriers, unilaterally if necessary. These things will require an act of collective national endeavour. We simply can’t afford to let Sir Humphrey frustrate things because of his sincere but, in the circumstances, inadmissible belief that we must cling on to every aspect of EU membership.

I’d be tempted to give Michael Gove the task of streamlining our standing functionariat, with Dominic Cummings as his SpAd. That should sort things out.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Kristian Niemietz: How, and how not, to use the ‘V-word’ when debating the Left

Dr Kristian Niemietz is Head of Health and Welfare at the Institute of Economic Affairs.

A while ago, I took part in a panel discussion on the issue of “Millennial Socialism”. One of the speakers, who was broadly on my side of this argument, called for a self-imposed moratorium on the V-word: Venezuela.

Critics of socialism, he argued, had been banging on about Venezuela for too long, and they had to stop doing it. According to him, references to Venezuela were pointless, because they did not resonate with people. British people are interested in what’s going on in Britain, not Venezuela. They see such references as irrelevant at best, and as a lazy cop-out at worst.

As is usually the case with panel discussions, there was no time left to discuss this further. But as someone who does bang on about Venezuela rather a lot (I dedicated a chapter of my book Socialism: The Failed Idea That Never Dies to it), I feel like I should address it.

I actually agree that the V-word can be overused. I agree that shouting “Venezuela!” can act as a mere rhetorical trump card against the Left, and a poor substitute for an actual argument. The fact that a number of key socialist policies have failed in Venezuela does not mean that the opposite of those policies is automatically right, or that all attempts to create a more equal society must always end up that way.

Nonetheless, a moratorium on the V-word would throw out the baby with the bathwater. So I’d like to suggest a little “how-to guide”, outlining when it is appropriate to bring up Venezuela in a discussion, and when it is not.

The main point to note is that Venezuela is an actual country, not a shorthand for “everything I don’t like about the Left”. It is a country that is in trouble for specific, identifiable reasons, not for being, somehow, generically, “too left-wing”. This sounds obvious when you put it like that, but deviations from this point are the main cause of V-word inflation.

So when somebody on the Left proposes to, for example, raise income tax, wealth taxes, or corporation tax, people on the pro-market side should not respond by shouting “Venezuela!”. Because that’s not what happened in Venezuela. Venezuela is not a high-tax economy, or at least, their tax burden is not what ruined them.

In the same way, if somebody on the Left proposes to hike the minimum wage, to abolish university tuition fees, or to ban zero-hour contracts, shouting “Venezuela!” is not the answer either. Those are bad ideas, sure. But those are not the ideas that destroyed Venezuela.

In short, we shouldn’t bring up Venezuela in a discussion of run-of-the-mill left-wing policies, which bear little relationship to anything that Chávez and/or Maduro did.

Furthermore, when somebody points out a genuine social problem in Britain, “Yeah but Venezuela!” is not much of a reply. Socialists are sometimes good at identifying problems, even if they are terrible at developing solutions. It is true that we have some of the highest housing costs in the world. It is true that our productivity performance, and as a result, wage growth, are poor, and have been poor for far too long. It is true that our welfare system is riddled with flaws, and often fails to support people who have fallen on hard times.

“It’s much worse in Venezuela, which is the system you lot want!” is not good enough. “It’s much better in capitalist countries X and Y – which is the system we should learn from” is more like it. So in such cases, it’s best to leave Venezuela out of it. Let “Venezuela” be a country, not a rhetorical all-purpose put-down.

That said – don’t declare that moratorium just yet. When prominent British socialists call for mass nationalisations, when they call for price controls and capital controls, when they deride the rule of law as a mere “bourgeois” construct that only serves “the elites” – then yes, it is absolutely fair to point out that this is exactly what happened in Venezuela. Here, we’re not talking about some allegorical “Venezuela”, but about the actual country, and about specific things that happened there. These are the very policies, and this is the very mindset, which turned what was once South America’s richest country into a basket case. This argument may not “resonate with people” – but it’s true.

Further to that: when socialists claim that “their” version of socialism will be completely different from any of its previous incarnations, that it will be genuinely democratic, empowering, grassroots-based and non-hierarchical – then it is fair to point that this is exactly what the Chavistas also used to say.

Some Western socialists are currently trying to convince themselves that Chávez and Maduro just never really aspired to a different kind of socialism, that authoritarian populism is all they ever wanted. This is fundamentally untrue, and Western socialists used to know this very well. The project of Venezuelan socialism started with the aspiration that this time would be different, that this time, “socialism” would not mean an all-powerful state controlling everything. It started with the aspiration that there could be completely different forms of collective ownership, which had nothing to do with the top-down nationalised industries of the past.

The appeal of Millennial Socialism rests on the delusion that the democratic, bottom-up socialism Millennial Socialists aspire to is a fundamentally novel aspiration, and that nobody in history has ever tried to build anything like this before.

But it is not a new aspiration. This was precisely what Chávez’s and Maduro’s “21st Century Socialism” was also about, which is why it used to be so popular in the West. A moratorium on the V-word would just play into the hands of those who now want to pretend that none of this ever happened, and that “Millennial Socialism” is novel, untried and untested.

So no, I absolutely won’t stop banging on about it, and if you don’t want to hear it, tough luck, because I’ll bore you with it anyway. We shouldn’t stop banging on about Venezuela until the Left stops banging on about socialism.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Dean Godson: There are plenty of ideas on the centre-right. Here’s how it can create a new, decent, patriotric consensus.

Dean Godson is Director of Policy Exchange.

Where next? For the last two years, British politics has been stuck in paralysis. There has been a lot of noise and clamour, but no side seems capable of creating consensus and winning broad support. That is not to say that this is a dull time in our national debate – a deep ideological contest is under way for the future of our country. It will reverberate long after Brexit, in whatever form, is complete.

It is often said today that all the intellectual energy is on the Left. But is this true? There are no leaders of the quality of Clement Attlee on the Labour benches. There are no economists or thinkers of the ilk of Anthony Crosland. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have people aspiring to power in this country who are proud to call themselves Marxists – including the Shadow Chancellor.

The problem is not that there is an absence of ideas on the centre-right. It is that they have yet to coalesce into a coherent vision of national renewal. Policy Exchange, for example, identified the plight of the “just about managing” classes in our country – the JAMs – in 2015. So many in the country would put themselves in this camp. But has enough really been done for them in the four years since? Do they think the state is on their side, or that the political class is fighting for them?

The election of a new Conservative Party leader is the moment – perhaps the last chance – to get this right. One of the greatest mistakes that the Tories could make is to play the only game that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is capable of – sectional, identity politics that sets different groups of voters against each other.

Last year, Policy Exchange organised a Conservative conference event with the title ‘Can the Conservatives win in Canterbury and in Middlesbrough at the same time?’ But you could ask the same question of Labour. As it stands, the UK risks being treated as if it exists in balkanised sub-electorates, each with niche interests and obsessions. The only way to electoral victory in this model is with temporarily cobbled together coalitions of rival groups.

Yet despite polarisation on Brexit and other issues, there is more agreement – and more consensus – among voters than often appears, and therefore more cause for optimism. This is not a jingoistic nation. Instead, there is a deep tissue of patriotism in the best sense of the word – a fidelity to constitution, citizenship and community – that has too often been dismissed out of hand. Policy Exchange’s polling on the Union revealed that a clear majority of people in the UK say their support for it has remained constant or has risen in recent years – 78 per cent in England, 60 per cent in Scotland, 69 per cent in Wales, 70 per cent in Northern Ireland.

There is also, among immigrant communities in the UK, a complete rejection of the gatekeeper politics that sees putatively “national” representative organisations claim to speak on behalf of millions without their consent, in the most damaging form of identity politics. Only 20 per cent of British Muslims, for example, saw themselves as represented by such organisations. Fifty-five per cent of British Muslims felt ‘very strongly’ that they belonged to Britain and 38 per cent ‘fairly strongly’ that they belonged to Britain; only seven per cent did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.

Consensus can be found elsewhere. Our work on lawfare – the unfair hounding of British troops through the courts – has had huge cut-through with the British public, whose outcry on the issue has forced our political and legal establishment to wake up.

The same goes for housing, where our research was based on the simple proposition that the way to overcome opposition to building more homes – so-called Nimbyism – is to make sure they are designed in a way that fits the tastes of local communities and makes our country more beautiful. This is a vision with massive support.  Traditional terraces with tree-lined streets, for instance, are by far the most popular option for the design and style of new homes. They may be unfashionable among “starchitects” but they are supported by 48 per cent of the public, with some of the strongest support among working-class Ds and Es. And how many want housing developments or estates in a modern style? Just 28 per cent.  Our polling shows a clear majority favour traditional design over modern developments. In housing and more, the first job of the new Prime Minister is to come up with a coherent national narrative that restores our sense of direction as a country.

There is the chance for a new Unionism, not just making sure that the individual countries of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland breathe comfortably within the shared home of the United Kingdom, but also that the Union itself is to an extent reconceptualised – so that we build a union between young and old and address the challenge of generational justice. A union between newer arrivals in Britain and long-established communities, so that suspicions and enmities can be overcome. A union between those whose faith means so much for them, and others for whom faith is vestigial and whose values increasingly shape the public space.  In short, we need a new social contract for post-Brexit Britain.

Social care is one concrete policy example. It is increasingly plain to those involved in the care sector that the state should cover almost all of the costs of long-term complex social care, which can involve ruinous costs for individuals and families, particularly for those suffering from dementia in old age. It can lead to the forced sales of family homes and wipe out a lifetime of saving and hard work. This idea – effectively the completion of the Welfare State – was proposed in a recent Policy Exchange research paper and embraced, perhaps surprisingly for someone on the right of the Conservative Party, by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued in the foreword that “It is far better to pool risk and for the taxpayer, where appropriate, to step in and help those who would face ruinous costs on their own, making social care largely free at the point of use.” He is surely right.

Where else could the next Prime Minister discover a quiet majority? On the environment, perhaps, where there are strong arguments to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – with support especially high among the young. On investment in R & D and industry, especially in the North East, which could become a leader in the high-value, green economy. Certainly, on protecting British troops from pernicious forms of lawfare, which has high levels of support because of the obvious injustices involved. On education, too, where our polling revealed that poor pupil behaviour is driving teachers from the profession and undermining children’s education – 72 per cent of teachers know a colleague who has “left the teaching profession because of bad behaviour”. On countering extremism online, 74 per cent think that the big internet companies should be more proactive in locating and deleting extremist content, with 66 per cent of people believing that the internet should be a regulated space.

There is more thinking to be done across all policy areas – People, Prosperity, Place and Patriotism, as Policy Exchange’s work is organised – as a new Prime Minister is chosen. With that in mind, we will be publishing a series of proposals under these themes in the forthcoming weeks, which will seek to answer the question: what do we want from the next Prime Minister? We will also be hosting a series of events, including one in partnership with ConservativeHome, on electoral politics, housing, the economy, education, energy and the environment, lawfare and the rise of China. Only by hunting out areas of existing consensus will the next Prime Minister be able to start bringing the country together and healing the divides of last few years.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

George Freeman: Our new book. In which forty Tory MPs band together to help revive conservatism

George Freeman is the founder of the 2020 Conservatives Group, the Big Tent Ideas Festival and Chair of the Conservative Policy Forum. He is MP for Mid-Norfolk.

The Conservative Party is in a hole. We need to stop digging. And start thinking seriously about the real causes of the EU referendum result, the grievances it spoke to – and set out a plan to honour that referendum result by leaving the European Union and setting out a bold programme of domestic reforms.

The EU referendum was a massive vote to reject the political status quo and embrace radical, small c conservative reform. The 17.4 million Labour, Conservative and unaligned voters who voted Leave were voting for radical change. The genius of the Leave campaign was its call to “take back control”. It spoke powerfully to huge swathes of the country feeling marginalised by a potent mix of globalisation, post-Crash austerity, an influx of low paid labour from Eastern Europe, the decline of traditional market towns and high streets, fear of economic marginalisation from automation and the gig economy and a deepening despair at a sense of injustice at the gap between the “unaccountable elites” and the ordinary citizen.

Brexit spoke to – and has enshrined – the principle divide in Britain which is no longer between Left or Right, or North and South, but between those with comfortable lives and those on the margin.

This is hardly surprising. After eight years in office overseeing painful local public spending cuts, in the wake of the £700billon bank bailout, MPs expenses scandal and Blair’s dishonest Iraq war dossier which have entrenched a sense of Parliament dangerously detached from the people it serves, the Brexit referendum was a roar for reform. A number of us had been warning David Cameron and George Osborne it was coming.

Handled properly it could – and should – have been a catalyst for that most difficult of political challenges: renewal in office. But Cameron misjudged the mood and treated Leavers with contempt. Theresa May misjudged the mood as a mandate for a toxic combination of hardline anti-business UKIP rhetoric and bureaucratic Brexit bungling.

Now we choose a new leader in the teeth of a deepening public anger and pressure – whipped up by Farage and Banks – the Dick Dastardly and Mutley of British politics – to embrace the “kamikaze” approach of an anti-business No Deal Brexit.

Get this wrong, and we risk the destruction of the Conservative Party for a generation: losing our professional, business, metropolitan and liberal supporters to the Liberal Democrats, our Leave supporters to the Brexit Party and those who just want competence in office to stay at home in despair.

If we are to avoid gifting a broken Brexit Britain to Jeremy Corbyn, John Mcdonnell and Len McClusky, the next Conservative leader has to do three things:

  • Deliver an EU Withdrawal which a majority of moderate mainstream British voters in the centre ground can support
  • Embark on some bold domestic reforms to tackle the legitimate grievances which fuelled the Referendum vote
  • Restore some grip, vision, inspiration and unity to a divided country and Party.

The scale of the revolt against the status quo demands bold reform. Not the technocratic tinkering and endless self-congratulatory initiative-launching of Ministers looking busy on Instragram, but real reform.

This is a 1975, 1945, 1905 moment of profound disruption. The old order will be replaced by a new order. The only question is who will shape it? Can the Conservative Party make this a moment of bold and inspiring renewal in the same way that Mrs Thatcher and Keith Joseph did in 1975, Attlee, Churchill, Beveridge and Butler did in 1945, and Churchill and the Liberals did in 1905 to see of socialism by creating pensions and national insurance?

Too often, we forget that the great institutions we cherish as permanent were once mere ideas – whether the NHS, the BBC, the London Docklands, universal suffrage, the Right to Buy or the privatisation of the old state industries. They were bold ideas which reshaped a whole generation and quickly became permanent fixtures.

When was the last time any modern politician had an idea on the scale of any of these? We now face a genuine battle of ideas with a resurgent hard left and we need urgently to rediscover the power of political imagination.

So what would a bold programme of Conservative reform look like today? In our book Britain Beyond Brexit: a New Conservative Vision for a New Generation, published today by the Centre for Policy Studies, I and forty MPs from all sides of the party – Leave and Remain, North and South, left and right, urban and rural – have set out a collection of pieces to frame that programme.

Our book sets out a range of policy proposals across six defining themes we believe must be at the centre of a coherent and compelling narrative for the New Conservatism: identity, opportunity, enterprise, social justice, security and citizenship.

Of course, many may ask: is the Conservative Party capable of that task, amid the seemingly endless and deepening divisions of the Brexit civil war?

The successes and failures of a post-Brexit new conservatism will be based on understanding the profound societal, economic and technological changes coming at us. Not how we return to the old dividing lines of the 1980s or 1950s, but how we address the profound challenges of our age: issues such as globalisation, digitalisation, genetic engineering, sustainable development, religious extremism and the traumatic rupture of the crash and its legacy on our public finances.

We have got to be brave enough to tackle the big issues of the day. Low and fragile growth. A fragmented health and care system. Structural deficit. Intergenerational unfairness. Deepening anxiety, disillusionment and despair. Rising pressure on weary public servants in creaking public services. Stubborn ghettos of low aspiration and deprivation. Housing unaffordability, homelessness and small town decline. Sluggish infrastructure. Bad planning.

For our elderly – and the families and community of carers who look after them, we need a fair system of funding and providing elderly care. For the young, the urgent priority is addressing housing and the wider issue of economic disenfranchisement. Put simply, we’ve built an economy where the principal mechanism for building economic security – owning a home – is getting beyond the reach of all but the most privileged. Is it any wonder that a whole generation of millennial voters – with little or no chance of acquiring a house or any capital – are seduced by the rhetoric of anti-capitalism?

We face a genuinely historic challenge: are we going to make Brexit a moment of catalytic renewal of conservatism and our nation? Or a moment of annihilation by a new alignment of a new generation of voters?

To avoid a decade of decline in a post-Brexit Britain run by Corbyn, we urgently need a new conservatism for a new generation.

I hope our book will help light the way.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Richard Ritchie: Christianity and politics at Easter. Do the Gospels present a manifesto?

Richard Ritchie is the author of The Progress Trust (Without Hindsight: A History of the Progress Trust 1943-2005). He is Enoch Powell’s archivist and is a former Conservative Parliamentary Candidate.

Eastertide presents Christians with an obligation, as well as an excuse, to think about something other than Brexit. But it is probably no exaggeration to say that anyone interested in politics who professes also to be a Christian is bound to wonder whether the political beliefs he or she advocates meet with the approval of Jesus Christ.

This presents a problem – because while Christ has a great deal to say about morals and motivation, his words are not so easily transcribed into political practice. An obligation to feed the hungry and protect the poor, for example, is not necessarily achieved by the introduction of a wealth tax. But if a Conservative’s sole reason for opposing such a tax were the dislike of having to pay it oneself, he would be on shaky ground. And even then, it’s not simple. Can anyone be confident of the purity of one’s motives? And yet, if pressed too far, scrupulosity might easily lead towards political paralysis.

For socialists, it’s easier. Christians with left-wing views almost always tend to think that their politics are consistent with their faith, and one can see why. Literal readings of the parables all lean towards condemning the rich for having too much and for lacking compassion. Hence, the need, in the eyes of many on the Left, for redistribution – although a redistribution dictated by the state rather than freely offered by individuals which, it could be argued, is not at all what Christianity is about. It’s hard to see why simply paying taxes should help to get one into heaven. But it is not just politicians of the Left who make this mistake, and who seek to mould Christ’s teaching into a political philosophy. Margaret Thatcher, for example, used the parable of the talents to justify capitalism. But Doctors of the Church remind us that these talents represent God’s grace – not money in the bank.

This is why for a ‘literal’ reading of the parables, one might more accurately substitute ‘superficial’, because it is clear that they were never intended be interpreted from a single standpoint. Almost every parable has a deeper theological meaning, which is peculiar not only to Christian morality but also to the very nature of Christ’s Church. If anyone doubts that, they only have to read Harold Macmillan’s great friend, Monsignor Ronald Knox. His Mystery of the Kingdom interprets the parables as being primarily about Christ’s purpose in creating his Church and the characteristics which it will hold – including the presence of good and evil within it.

But this doesn’t mean that an avowedly Christian politician should expect to end up politically in the same place as, say, a Muslim or an atheist. One’s religion should make a difference – and then the question is whether a religious person has a duty to ensure that the law of the land reflects his religious values.

Most today would say not, but again it is not that simple. A recent essay by the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, has recently been published, in which he returns to his favourite theme of ‘absolute’ rather than ‘relative’ moral values. He challenges today’s central assumption that morality should be determined exclusively “by the purposes of human action that prevailed.” He concludes that the current approach to morality means there can “no longer be anything that constitutes an absolute good, any more than anything fundamentally evil.”

Any Christian whose conscience is in the same place as Pope Benedict would have found it necessary to oppose, in his words, “the unprecedented radicalism” of the 1960s. In particular, he singles out the proliferation of pornography as a serious source of evil which no Christian politician should have countenanced, however ‘libertarian’ his or her outlook. But he goes further in the following passage, which goes to the heart of the dilemma facing any Christian politician:

“After the upheaval of the Second World War, we in Germany had still expressly placed our Constitution under the responsibility to God as a guiding principle. Half a century later, it was no longer possible to include responsibility to God as a guiding principle in the European constitution. God is regarded as the party concern of a small group and can no longer stand as the guiding principle for the community as a whole. This decision reflects the situation in the West, where God has become the private affair of a minority.”

Most people today would say :“and a good thing too.” Religion should only be “the private affair of a minority.” But that is not what a Christian politician should think, whether of the ‘right’ or of the ‘left’. One doesn’t have to be a Roger Scruton to note, in Pope Benedict’s words, that “in the twenty years from 1960 to 1980, the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely.” Christian politicians are under an obligation to challenge a morality based entirely on private judgment and relativity, especially if they conclude that these normative standards are endangering the spiritual welfare of children.

It is because socialists in particular have liked to claim for themselves a monopoly of Christian morality – except, of course, when it comes to sexual morality – that the politics of this country has drifted into a religious ‘no man’s land’, where everyone is judged by the standards of the BBC and nobody asks difficult questions. But however important issues such as the distribution of wealth or child poverty should be to a Christian, it does not follow that the Gospels contain a political message or solution.

All we know is that ambition and material sufficiency can be barriers to holiness – and the more comfortable we are, the greater this danger. Such thoughts don’t write a manifesto: at best they only provide the moral foundations on which a manifesto is based. And Christ’s resurrection certainly doesn’t help us out on Brexit – unless it be to remind us of the Christian virtues of temperance and respect. Perhaps that should be the focus of our Easter meditation before political hostilities recommence.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Narrative Fail: Media Now Warning Us that “Unplanned” Movie Will Lead to Terrorism

Westlake Legal Group narrative-fail-media-now-warning-us-that-unplanned-movie-will-lead-to-terrorism Narrative Fail: Media Now Warning Us that “Unplanned” Movie Will Lead to Terrorism unplanned The Left Terrorism Politics planned parenthood movie lies Hollywood Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats bigotry Allow Media Exception Abortion

Westlake Legal Group unplanned-screenshot Narrative Fail: Media Now Warning Us that “Unplanned” Movie Will Lead to Terrorism unplanned The Left Terrorism Politics planned parenthood movie lies Hollywood Front Page Stories Featured Story democrats bigotry Allow Media Exception Abortion

The left has done some pretty outrageous things in order to hinder the success of the recently released Unplanned movie surrounding the true story of Abby Johnson’s transformation from a Planned Parenthood director to a pro-life activist after witnessing an abortion at 13 weeks.

The latest, and possibly laziest attempt, is attempting to convince people that the movie may result in terrorism.

Writing for The Cut, Caitlin Moscatello penned an article titled “Unplanned Is a Movie That Could Get Someone Killed,” wherein Moscatello attempts to reason that the movie may lead some to radicalize against the abortion industry, which may lead to deadly violence.

Moscatello first attempts to paint anti-abortion protesters who pray in front of abortion clinics as — and I’m not kidding — “sanitized harassment.” This, after attempting to tell its audience that an abortion wouldn’t bother a fetus since it doesn’t feel pain until it’s 24th week of gestation.

Moscatello’s facts are out of date, and while it’s still unclear what a baby feels at 13 weeks, we now know it can begin feeling pain as early as 15.

After sneering in type at the movie some more with social justice laden sexism and racism in tow, Moscatello finally gets around to making her point. The movie gets its message across well…in fact, maybe too well. As a result, people may be taken in by the movie and resort to terrorism.

Moscatello points to a scene involving the off-screen death of abortionist George Tiller who was shot and killed by an anti-abortion radical and attempts to sell the reader that the movie could create more killers thanks to messaging from right-leaning figures like Rush Limbaugh or Bill O’Reilly, which she blames for any violence against abortionists.

“It is films like Unplanned that could get more people killed,” wrote Moscatello.

Tiller notes there are hundreds of Planned Parenthood locations, but it only takes one of the hundreds of thousands who have watched Unplanned to do violence.

“There are currently 357 Planned Parenthood health centers that provide abortions in the U.S., and already, hundreds of thousands of people have viewed Unplanned,” wrote Moscatello. “It would only take one of them to create a real-life tragedy.”

Moscatello then noted her time in the theatre watching the movie herself alongside those who came to see the movie due to their agreement with the message. She notes that a woman nodding along to the message of the film, and one man raising his hands in the air near the end (a typical Christian sign of worship and prayer) gave her a feeling that she was “witnessing something scary,” and then proceeded to notice how normal everyone looked when the lights came on:

Toward the end of Unplanned, Johnson’s character tells members of the coalition that in her eight years at Planned Parenthood, she had seen lots of women drive away when they saw protesters praying outside the clinic. “It works,” she says to the other characters, but really, the audience. The message is as subtle as an infomercial: Take to the clinics. It works. In the theater I was in, a woman with white hair nodded and a man in the third row raised his arms up to the ceiling, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was witnessing something scary.

Then the lights came on, and everyone looked perfectly nice.

This is astounding bigotry on Moscatello’s part, and painting normal, everyday Americans as dangerous, because they agreed with a film that killing babies is bad, says a lot more about her than it does the movie, right-leaning opinion, or the pro-life movement.

If she wants to see radicalization as a result of propaganda, then I can point to a boatload of left-leaning criminals who engaged in violence both in the past and the present that Moscatello would likely not like to answer for, or at least make excuses about.

Perhaps she would like to discuss the multitude of shooters who were registered Democrats or the consistent violence of Antifa?

I also wonder if Moscatello’s concerns for violence causing propaganda extends to Democrat politicians encouraging literal confrontation in the streets, which their supporters did, by the way. In fact, some people can’t step outside wearing a MAGA hat without running into an assault or threat of some form.

Going through Moscatello’s articles on The Cut, I’m not seeing much from her addressing these things, and I doubt we ever will.

The post Narrative Fail: Media Now Warning Us that “Unplanned” Movie Will Lead to Terrorism appeared first on RedState.

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Chloe Westley: As a migrant to Britain, I say: what’s wrong with patriotism, borders and control?

Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

When I was a child, I remember our teachers playing Imagine by John Lennon at a school assembly. I thought the sentiment was lovely. All people living in peace, no countries, no borders, no war. It’s a very pretty idea…with absolutely no basis in reality.

The modern Zeitgeist among academics and politicians in Europe is that borders are a thing of the past; that they are a nasty, xenophobic barrier to progress and co-operation, and any sense of national pride should be disregarded as backwards and racist.

As an immigrant to this country, I don’t understand this way of thinking. To deny the notion of nationhood and borders is to deny that there is anything of value in this country worth protecting, or any particular set of principles that divides British society from any other. But this country is special, and it is worth protecting.

It is a privilege to call Britain home. And it isn’t racist or xenophobic to expect the Government to protect and guard its borders, as well as to ensure the implementation of a fair and controlled immigration system. The desire to protect your home is as universal as the desire to love, to work and to raise a family. Why should protecting your country be any different? We put up fences and walls to guard our homes, but guarding national borders is somehow subject to accusations of xenophobia.

Globalists do not believe in maintaining national borders, because they do not believe that this country is their home. After all, if you believe that there is nothing that distinguishes Great Britain from the rest of the world, and reside here merely for convenience, then you would be satisfied being born or living in any other country. In fact, the way some on the Left describe this country with disdain, you would think they would prefer to live just about anywhere else.

There are of course those who describe themselves as strictly ‘European’ – not citizens of the world, but citizens of Europe. They advocate a greater European superstate, to replace individual nation states, with a strict border around Europe. They replace nationalism with supranationalism – the community is extended to the European continent. Whilst this is a minority view, (just 15 per cent freely choose to describe themselves as ‘European’), it is worth pointing out that calling oneself a ‘proud European’ expresses the same innate instinct to belong to a country (albeit an imaginary country, as the EU is not yet a superstate).

Living in a world without borders, and without nations, would not magically result in world peace and a greater sense of belonging. Rather, people would seek other tribes to belong to – quite possibly even extreme political and religious tribes.

Moral Psychologists such as Jonathan Haidt lhave warned against the dismissal of national identity. The need to belong to and defend a community is an innate human instinct, and is often expressed by loyalty to the nation state:

“There is nothing necessarily racist or base about this arrangement or social contract. Having a shared sense of identity, norms, and history generally promotes trust…Societies with high trust, or high social capital, produce many beneficial outcomes for their citizens: lower crime rates, lower transaction costs for businesses, higher levels of prosperity, and a propensity toward generosity, among others.”

There are of course extreme forms of nationalism, particularly ethno-nationalism, that need to be avoided. We should strive for a golden mean of nationhood: one which allows citizens to care for and protect one other, to maintain national borders and traditions, which is welcoming to visitors and immigrants, and is fair and just in dealings with other nations.

A shared national identity doesn’t necessarily mean that citizens believe their country or their people are innately superior to all other nations. Your love for your family does not require you to hate strangers – but you would do anything to protect and care for them above other people, simply by virtue of them being family.

You cannot force people to stop loving their country. A shared national identity is what brings people together, despite differences in religion, politics, football teams and age. Because the thing that we have in common is our home – and we should take care of and protect our home together.

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Tim Dawson: The BBC Murders. How the corporation used anti-Brexit poison to kill Poirot.

Tim Dawson is a writer. He created and wrote three series of the hit BBC sitcom Coming of Age, and has contributed to several other comedy programmes on the BBC and elsewhere.

The BBC has done it again. As the nation seeks a few days respite from division and argument, the BBC has launched their Yuletide adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders. Sadly, it exhibits much of what is wrong with both the Corporation and our wider cultural discourse.

Naturally, the story has been reimagined as an anti-Brexit parable. Everything that makes Christie entertaining – the wit, the twinkle, the twee contemporaneous details – have been shorn away. The picture has been washed out: we have been treated to a portrait of a 1930s Britain overrun by fascism. (In reality, unlike on the continent, fascism gained little foothold in Britain; and was more likely to be mocked – with its Spode-like popinjays in their preposterous uniforms – than admired).

Christie herself was of course a Conservative, of the even-tempered Burkean variety. So it’s hard to believe she’d have sympathised with scriptwriter Sarah Phelps’ own strident, Junckerphile left-wing politics. To an BBC executive, this new mini-series’ conspicuous rejection of the source material may confer ‘freshness’: to many others, it will seem disrespectful. Packaging in an anti-Brexit crusade – particularly now – seems tin-eared and crass.

There is an assumption amongst the high priests of the corporation that another sermon on the evils of Brexit/Conservatism/‘Fatcha’ (delete as applicable) is welcome. Yet the relationship between the BBC and its audience is growing ever more fractious. Perhaps the way in which the BBC is funded is fuelling the acrimony – we are supposedly a liberal democracy, but we are forced to pay a regressive tax to maintain a state broadcaster.

More likely, it is the nature of the broadcasting we are compelled to pay for. The corporation has never been more political. From its Christmas blockbuster drama to its woefully underperforming comedy output, to its obsession with diversity quotas – the corporation’s left-wing, metropolitan agenda is at the heart of everything it does. And viewers are switching off in droves.

This is part of a wider cultural trend. Our universities – once world-leading beacons of critical thought – have been reformed by thousands of low-grade academics into left-wing madrassas. On social media, militant ‘campaigners’ hunt down any defiance of the New Orthodoxy, and organise punishment pile-ons. It is ironic that, 50 years after the abnegation of the Lord Chamberlain’s role in censoring live theatre, actors and academics, students and socialists, find themselves at the forefront of a new movement to curtail free thought and expression.

State industry quickly begins to operate in the interests of the producer rather than the consumer. Both the BBC and our higher education sector now reflect this universal rule. Some University Vice-Chancellors are earning three or four times the Prime Minister’s salary. An Executive Producer may expect to earn £200-250,000 a year. Meanwhile, graduates are leaving inauspicious institutions with valueless degrees; and the BBC’s Christmas viewing figures have been so poor that, even in the upper echelons of Broadcasting House – usually impervious to anything so vulgar as public opinion – alarms bells will be ringing.

Conservatives are squeamish about a culture war. But the hard left is waging one, and our only choice is whether to cede more territory or enter the fray. Achieving a cultural rebalance will mean tackling the corporation and higher education simultaneously.

The truth is that we have far too many universities, offering far too many degrees which will be of little value to an employer. Attempting to corral 50 per cent of school-leavers into university has been a mistake; unsuitable for many, and creating a bloated and unwieldy sector which is not delivering to the needs of either students, companies or wider society.

Reform should pivot around marketisation. Universities should be forced to publish details of what graduates from each of their courses can expect to earn and the chances of finding gainful employment in the months after they’ve left. We should encourage sponsorship of individual students by potential employers. Such institutions as the University of Buckingham – a successful private university which offers many undergraduate degrees in two years instead of three – should be learned from, and public universities incentivised to follow their example.

The BBC must also drag itself into the modern world. That doesn’t mean employees wandering around in LGBT+ ally badges (how appallingly patronising), but the organisation engaging with the reality of its position. As Anthony Jay (producer, Thatcherite and co-writer of Yes, Minister) noted in his 2008 Centre for Policy Studies report How to Save the BBC, a corporation run by a liberal elite for a liberal elite will lose the faith of those who pay for it.

He suggested that ‘quality’ should be at the heart of the BBC’s output – and, since quality can only be measured by viewing figures, this meant dropping the left-wing cant and catering to popular tastes. He also proposed that the license fee should be reduced, and funnelled into a slimmed-down range of channels. We could go further – switching to a subscription model which would allow the BBC to continue to pursue its political agenda unfettered, as it would only be beholden to those who choose to pay for it. Ultimately, the corporation can only expect to sit at the heart of our cultural life if it is aware of its audience. That means bringing salaries under control; abandoning the relentless identity politics; and creating programmes which reflect, rather than lecture, the nation.

Entering the cultural melee on behalf of ordinary voters represents an obvious opportunity for Conservatives. The luvvies may not appreciate it; but taxpayers will. It’s as easy as ABC.

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