Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Berlusconi a right-winger? Can't be, he agreed with New Labour...

The mind boggles at Tom Harris' explanation of why he shouldn't be considered a right-winger. Essentially he lists seven reasons typically given for suggesting he is one - and then says "er, yes, those are all true actually, but they're all things the New Labour government was keen on or that traditional Labour voters support". Well, a striking number of traditional Labour voters have been turning to the BNP in recent years, while the New Labour government always seemed remarkably comfortable in the company of American neocons, not to mention the Italian and Spanish right. By Tom's rather simplistic logic, does that mean Nick Griffin, George W Bush and Silvio Berlusconi can't possibly be considered right-wingers either?

Specifically, Tom ought to be careful about his smug assumption that he, rather than the left, is in tune with the core Labour vote on the issue of welfare - this poll indicates that the position is, at the very least, somewhat more nuanced than he imagines. Hardly surprising - the more likely you are to have been a benefit recipient at some point (or to know someone who has been) the more likely you are to appreciate that many, many claimants are not "scroungers" or "trying it on".

To be fair, the first commenter on Tom's piece hits the nail on the head by pointing out that a lot of the other questionable views his detractors point to aren't so much "right-wing" in the strictest sense as just very, very authoritarian. Hint - that doesn't actually make it any better, Tom. After all, it was the Chinese Communist Party that felt it was entirely appropriate to tell people when they should and shouldn't have children - just like the Labour MP for Glasgow South...


  1. I thought it was one of his loopier posts. I suspected that he had had a few drinks before he wrote it.

    I work with people who are unemployed, some of them sick. There are, without a doubt, people who are using the system, but the truth is that most people would prefer to work, for a wide variety of reasons, not least money. A fair percentage of unemployed people live on £51- - £65 a week. They eat cheap food, wear cheap clothes, and have to don several layers of clothing just to sit in the house for 7 months of the year.

    The Daily mail's front page exclusives about people with 19 children and a house bigger than the Queen has and weekly payments that would make George Osborne jealous, really are quite rare.

    The reason that many people are unemployed is that they are unemployable for a wide variety of reasons, among which are drink or drugs problems, criminal records, and simply that there aren't the right kind of jobs that they could possibly do.

    Not everyone can work in a call centre; not everyone can work in Asda. Number of jobs v number of people unemployed is just not even vaguely sensible. An unemployed docker or crane driver can’t just apply for and get a job as a social worker or dentist, and vice versa.

    More recently, and I suspect into the future, we are going to have many more people "hard working British Family" people, maybe even Daily Mail readers, made redundant. And that will start to change attitudes, when they find that it is impossible to get another job.

    Tom's assumptions may become embarrassing for him once that happens.

  2. That's a very good point, Tris. A good analogy might be the way that opinion finally turned against the 11-plus a few decades ago - apparently the turning-point came when the exam started to be less culturally-loaded and more of a genuine IQ test. The result? Well-to-do parents increasingly found their own children being packed off to secondary moderns, and comprehensive education suddenly became a whole lot more appealing.