A Response to a Response to my piece on The Lark Ascending

  An Open Letter to Tom W Green, a composer and musician based in Glasgow. Dear Tom, Thank you for alerting me to your blogpost entitled ‘The Farts Ascending: Classical Music and the Culture War’, albeit with a rather unfriendly tweet saying that it was “partly in response” to my “ nonsense article that tried to concoct a culture war from RVW's The Lark Ascending”. I read it with interest. In responding here, I would like to address a number of factual errors and omissions you make which should be corrected. You call me “a right wing author”. This is untrue. I am actually of the left. I was a Labour Party member from 2010 to 2016 and still count myself of the left. My blog on which this letter is published is called A Free Left Blog . At no point have I said that I am no longer of the left. This assertion is at the core of your argument and should be corrected. Understandably, you use the original title of my piece , ‘Why The Elites Hate Vaughan Williams’. However perhaps yo

Black Lives Matter - how should we respond?

This article was posted yesterday, 10th June 2020, on the SDPtalk website. Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a masterpiece of political marketing. It’s a slogan with a campaign attached, linked to some pretty heavy racial ideology and propaganda.  None of it can be criticised without appearing to oppose the idea that black lives do indeed matter. BLM is a classic and effective piece of rhetorical blackmail. Either get on board or you’re a racist: that is the logic of it - a logic driven by fear. It’s the perfect slogan, as befitting the powerful alignment between progressive liberal-left politics and the PR, media and advertising industries across the Anglophone world. There’s an immediate and powerful social block on even questioning this movement just from its name. One of the great successes of the campaign is how it has got many institutions in our society applying this block themselves, promoting the organisation and even punishing insiders who publicly question and criticise any activ

A response to David Lammy

In his recently-published book Tribes , the Labour MP David Lammy, newly-appointed as Keir Starmer's Shadow Secretary of State for Justice, makes a number of accusations against me based on a reading of my book The Tribe . As you can see from the passage below, Lammy calls my book "conspiratorial", saying that I "chastised" his words in responding to the Grenfell Tower disaster "as an example of identity politics' most flagrant excesses". However, if you read the passage from my book that he quotes afterwards, I think you will find none of that. I certainly didn't set out to chastise him or anyone else in the book. Rather, I was seeking to describe how progressive identity politics (or the identity politics of the 'liberal-left' as I describe it in the book) has become so utterly normal that a senior politician can respond to a deadly fire by putting not just skin colour, but gender, front and centre of how he responds to it a

On race and racism in everyday life – or how the race ideologues are winning

Public, political and institutional discourse can often appear strangely detached from ordinary, everyday life. On identity politics, now a specialist area for me, there was a time when my own everyday life seemed blessedly free of race antagonism. Race/skin colour and ethnicity appeared as a borderline irrelevance that we seemed at least close to transcending. I know that hasn’t been so for many non-white people. However I have heard from some who have said the same. Of course, sometimes I have witnessed or been part of incidents in which these things came to the fore – either conventional racism or racism used as an accusation to attack someone else. On other occasions I have smelt it in the air, palpable and unmistakable, while remaining under the surface, just. However in the last four days race has appeared front and centre in my ordinary life, just being around in London, three times. The first occasion was in a bus station when a scrawny-looking white man appea

On impartiality in broadcast journalism – follow-up to Spiked piece

I had a short piece published for Spiked a few days ago about the erosion of impartiality in broadcast journalism. In this piece I only had the space to relay a few thoughts I’d been having in response to various journalists’ tweets. Quoting them in full meant there was little space to develop thoughts and put them in proper context. So I thought I’d write a follow-up piece here on my blog. Clearly, the erosion of standards is a much wider phenomenon than what broadcast journalists (who are meant to be impartial according to OFCOM rules) say on Twitter. What they say there is important, for it shows us how they think, how this thinking informs their broadcasting and other things like how they tend to act as a pack, enthusiastically running with some stories but not others. However the real proof is what they do in their broadcasting – and this leaves a lot to be desired. For my part, I have now largely given up on mainstream news, bored by the subjects it focuses on and

On misunderstanding politics as philosophy

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the differences between politics and philosophy – and how we confuse the two of them much of the time, treating what are often basic political necessities as matters of theory.     We do that in explaining our own actions, seeking justification after the fact, but also in explaining those of others, criticising them for mistakes in their ‘thinking’ when it is not always evident much thinking has taken place at all. Politics is a domain of decision-making, in the world , not detached from it. It is relentless, continuing day upon day for as long as we interact with others in society. In it, our primary reference point is not detached philosophical reflection and the theories that come out of it, but the immediate world around us, of other people and institutions and the demands they make of us. Of course, theory is embedded in this world. But we do not typically relate to it in a detached, individualised manner – that of the ‘thinker’

What should be done?

Sometimes as a writer on social and political issues, I get this nagging feeling that it might be a good idea to suggest what should be done in government and wider public life rather than just moaning about it. This may seem like a somewhat obvious and absurd thing to say. Surely it is the job of someone writing about public life to put forward ideas about how to make it better? I agree with this to an extent. However there are real practical difficulties. Firstly, I think the primary task of a non-fiction writer is to describe and explain what is happening fairly and accurately. This takes a lot more time, effort – and space – than people might give credit for. We have limited time and space to play with as writers – and since we tend to be writing about something, that something necessarily takes up most of our time and attention. Secondly, and perhaps more interesting, is the necessary confrontation with the world of existing policy-making and law.   Policy-making i