Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Jeremy Clarkson, Nigel Farage and the death of the outsider

This is an interesting article by Brendan O'Neill on faux outsiders such as Jeremy Clarkson and Nigel Farage. 

I liked this line about the Guardian pretending to be an outsider:
When actually the Guardian is the house journal of every stultifying, misanthropic orthodoxy of our age, whether it’s on the environment (murdered by human hubris), economic growth (bad), or the massive, creaking welfare state (the best thing ever invented because the poor are fat and stupid and can’t look after themselves).
The points the article makes are good ones but I agree rather less than I usually do with O'Neil. I normally agree with most things he says, Trotskyite though he is.

In fact I think many right wing Conservatives including Mrs Thatcher WERE outsiders. Rupert Murdoch considers himself one in a way that, say, Anglican bishops and Supreme Court judges do not. The ultimate outsiders are people who don't like homosexuality or immigration even if they are hereditary peers. 

I wonder how it happened that people born into the establishment and holding very conservative views became outsiders. It is not a recent phenomenon. The Monday Club the right-wing. anti-Immigration. pro-Empire political group within the British Conservative Party numbered a number of hereditary peers among its members, including two Marquesses of Salisbury, but was always on the outside. How this happened we need a historian to investigate. Rather urgently.

On the other hand people can choose to be insiders or outsiders. Chippy people like being outsiders. Rupert Murdoch, despite being the son of a newspaper baron chooses to be one. So do many malcontents, levellers, the kind of people that Squire Haggard would shoot.

In any case, what England does need are more characters, more eccentrics, real ones, not false ones. I am told they are almost extinct. I almost wish we could have some Squire Haggards, but I don't approve of shooting papists.


  1. Gregory Lauder-Frost18 March 2015 at 14:48

    I don't see Mrs Thatcher or Murdoch as conservatives. Both are, IMO, classic Manchester Liberals. So what is an "outsider" today? I would argue that they are people who were once mainstream and who have held fast to classic Toryism and conservatism but who have been marginalised by the Liberal-Left takeover of their domains. This has largely happened as a result of the British ideal of allowing freedom of speech etc without opposition. The Liberal-Left have used this like seditionists, as the enemy within, and by the time most conservatives understood what was happening/had happened, it was too late as they had become a minority.

    I do not see the old Monday Club as "always on the outside" at all. In fact the evidence is opposite. At its height it had 10,000 members, 35 Members of Parliament and a similar number of active peers. Ted Heath's first administration had 6 Monday Club MPs in the cabinet. From 1961-1991 the Club's delegations were received at no.10 and by Ministers with their reports and submissions.

    1. She was a small town lower middle class Methodist Tory who became Low Church C of E - hence her creating 3 hereditary peerages. She would not say, as you once did, Gregory, that she absolutely loathed liberal democracy.

      I do not think you are really a Tory yourself. Can you think of a famous Tory in history who held your views on parliamentary government? H.S. Chamberlain, Gobineau and Marshal Petain, all of whom you have said you admire, were not Tories

      Petain was a dictator which is not Tory at all. Gobineau and HSC believed in the superiority of Aryans over Semites. That’s not Toryism. Toryism is in any case a British or Anglo-Saxon thing. HSC, though English, made himself into a German - not a Tory thing to do, in itself - and ended up joining the Nazi Party, whose spiritual father he was.

      I don’t like any of these people. I am with Burke, Cobbett, Disraeli, Salisbury, Waugh, T.S. Eliot, Enoch Powell, instead, and Falkland who said "where it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change".

  2. I think that Margaret Thatcher can best be described as a libertarian, albeit with Conservative leanings. Reflecting on my own political views, I realised that I was attracted to her policies because I too am a libertarian. The guiding principle of much of what she tried to do was to minimise the role of the state. It's such a pity she couldn't go much further.

    1. I think she had a lot of libertarian in her as do I but she was essentially a Tory - a villa Tory as Salisbury called them - a patriot who reintroduced hereditary peerages. I didnt like her or see the point of her project and many of my criticisms are the conclusions of Richard Vinen in his wonderful book on her government. But she raised national pride a long way and this was extremely important. She was absolutely no social conservative, presided over a time of great change in a socially liberal direction. She broke the unions which was very good indeed, though she did so via high unemployment which was not. Her three most lasting legacies however were allowing the education system to move a long way to the left (comparative religion taught in school in place of scripture, for one example), the Single European Act and 50,000 secondary immigrants each year, almost all wives from the Sub-Continent. Her Methodism is the key to her character.

      But I was completely wrong to think she was class prejudiced and yes it is a shame that she did not further reduce the role of the state. But the EEC was busy increasing the role of the state and now we have a situation where the state is vastly powerful, people are not allowed even to smoke in pubs or tut tut when they see men kissing, and most laws originate abroad.

    2. Paul, your analysis is most interesting. I was and am anti-government, so for me one of her greatest achievements was the abolition of the GLC. She wanted to follow this with abolishing county councils. In so many areas she was anti-state.

    3. But I was completely wrong to think she was class prejudiced and yes it is a shame that she did not further reduce the role of the state. But the EEC was busy increasing the role of the state and now we have a situation where the state is vastly powerful, people are not allowed even to smoke in pubs or tut tut when they see men kissing, and most laws originate abroad.
      Yes it was a mistake giving non householders a vote in local elections which the Attlee government did - before that it was all apolitical and about paying dustmen and keeping down rates.

  3. I don't see her as a Libertarian, as she centralised so much power into Whitehall, then it turned on her. She is from the Non Conformist Manchester Liberal school I agree.

    1. she was not a liberal but the Manchester School were libertarians. All 19th century politicians were. Gladstone was right that we should have given Ireland home rule but Chamberlain was equally right about tariff reform and the need to turn the old commonwealth into a sort of EU avant la lettre.

  4. You're begging the question, I think, as to what an outsider is. Take a group in the Lords called the Repeal Club, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, who wanted to repeal as much legislation as possible. Were they outsiders? You need to say what you mean by 'outsider'. Peter