Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Civics and Civility

The party conference season in the UK has finally ground to a halt, and all parties have grounds for both hope and despair. Even Labour, beset by fears over their new hard-left leader seem to have found a few crumbs of comfort, and the opinion polls show that the British public are prepared to give Jeremy Corbyn the benefit of the doubt.

Personally I find this a little strange, because the behaviour and the language of Labour activists is generally quite intolerant. I hold no brief for Conservative policies, but I am absolutely prepared to believe that Conservatives are just as sincere in their beliefs as Labour supporters. That is to say that I disagree with their ideas, but I do not believe that either Labour or Conservatives are necessarily malevolent.

However if I listen to Labour not only should I disagree with most Tory policies, but I should also generally regard Tories as an evil and selfish breed.

Except they are not, or at least they are no worse than Labour in their self-serving log rolling. In fact, after Tom Watson has continued to hound Leon Brittan even on his death bed, I am getting rather irritated with the sanctimonious cant that Labour continues to serve as a personal and wounding critique of the government.

The fall in popularity of politics in recent years, in my view, is precisely because one party or another pretends to moral standards that they simply cannot uphold. Whether back to basics or any other moral panic, politicians, whatever their views, are no more moral than anyone else and it is the hypocrisy of pretense that backfires over all politics.

So the intolerance and bigotry of the left, whether Socialist or Nationalist, is a poison that corrodes public trust and even public interest. Wherever we stand on the political spectrum, we our it to ourselves to treat the debate with respect and not attempt to play the man instead of the ball by impugning the motives of others. Most politicians are perfectly sincere in their motives, even if they are often wrong in their policy ideas.

It is time we were all adult enough to recognize this. Listening to Labour over the last few days has been unedifying- and when even the Guardian has to point out that the Conservatives are perfectly sincere in what they say, it suggests that Labour are engaged in a dialogue of the deaf which will indeed lead to their defeat.

As Corbyn refuses to accept the constitutional niceties over the privy council, and continues to issue public statements that seem to support Putin, it may not be too long before the boot is on the other foot- and the left gets a taste of its own, rather unpleasant, medicine. 

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