From the very fringes of the far right – who still have a bizarre obsession with a vast Jewish conspiracy – to what we now refer to as the centre-right. Whether it be the Chancellor’s constant referrals to those on any sort of welfare – those who have very little public room to respond – as having their curtains drawn whilst ‘hard working’ people venture to work as the bearers of true British values, or the Daily Mail’s (and a number of Tory MPs) grotesque analysis of the Philpott murders as a symptom of the Welfare state; or the insistence that the lack of affordable housing and a strained health service is the product of job stealing HIV-infested immigrants rather than vast underfunding from very wealthy figures in central government who have no love for state housing or health provision in the first place, selling off both to the highest bidder in a suit; or millionaires with massive country estates stretching acres across vast swathes of land that I imagine a young Theodore Roosevelt might have considered too vast for his exploring eyes, telling those already struggling in tiny council houses that they have one too many bedrooms; or the cowardly refusal of conservatives in the Department of Work & Pensions to have the decency to face the families of those whose suicides followed a vindictive regime of harsh benefit sanctions; or in more recent days; the Scots are coming! Everyone hide!
We have become so desensitised to the suffering that the powerful inflict upon the powerless (who, further, are told to blame equally powerless people for their plight, rather than those who framed the system in the first place), and to the victim-blaming rhetoric of those with obscenely imbalanced power, that to advocate – and vote – for a continuation of those hideous policies accompanies a morally bankrupt demand for the rest of us to offer an unquestioning respect for those views condensed as a simple “difference of opinion”. To put it a simpler way; It is as if they understand that without demanding unquestioning respect, it simply isn’t a respectable view on its own merits. It is an insult to basic human decency.
Following the Conservative Party’s unexpected general election victory, a rather odd theme emerged across social media channels. Conservatives suddenly became aggressively sensitive to others disparaging their views. To be clear, being a liberal secular democrat, whilst my side lost the argument, I respect the outcome of the election. The atmosphere – which I believe is a largely manipulated and distorted atmosphere – in the UK is nevertheless favourable to the right wing. Left leaning parties failed to challenge that atmosphere adequately. Further, and more relevant to this post, I believe all views have an equal right to be heard, with no view institutionally suppressed by anyone else. The right to a view according to one’s conscience must be respected. If I expect my right to my view to be protected, I must defend that same principle for everyone else, from devout Islamists to avowed Communists. Whilst the right to a belief and to express that belief must be respected, the actual substance of the belief itself commands no inherent respect from individuals, and can – and should – be open to criticism, satire, and contempt, if it is to also be open to admiration, and loyalty. And as it stands, I’m quite convinced that the view of the wealthiest of conservatives is far more prominent, with much more media attention (the Marr Show had no-one sat on the couch who suffered the Bedroom Tax, but had Myleen Klaas explaining why a £2,000,000 house is in fact tiny with the mansion tax proposal being deeply unfair) offering an extremely distorted and negative view of the least wealthy, than vice versa, and that this is deeply unnerving and unhealthy for a democracy. It is a hypocrisy that sees those on benefits sanctioned for the smallest of misgivings to placate an audience of constantly outraged ‘hard working’ Daily Mail readers, whilst those actively and consciously avoiding tax promoted to senior governmental positions. Those that defend and vote for the continuation of that situation, I have very little time for, and won’t be told that I must respect. So with that said, whilst I respect a conservative’s right to believe whatever they choose, and do not seek in any way to restrict their right to expression, I simultaneously consider those views to be cancerous to the core. There is little room for nuance with me when it comes to political conservatism, as there is little room for nuance with me when it comes to religious conservatism; the ideas upon which their ideological structure is based – the extraordinary amount of effort required to desensitise the public to the suffering of the most vulnerable, essentially victim blaming by rich men in the religious-like robes of business attire – is hideous that I simply cannot bring myself to offer even the slightest respect to those who advocate and vote for a party of multi-millionaires who epitomise that wildly sociopathic mindset.
It is this conservative voter’s insecure – and massively hypocritical, given their history of disrespect for absolutely anyone who isn’t George Osborne – demand for respect in recent days that summarises the mindset perfectly; when human beings already struggling to eat are threatened with eviction for having a spare bedroom, and/or forced to attend food banks during their free time on a zero hour contract in the World’s sixth largest economy placing unimaginable stress on vulnerable families, Conservatives register no concern, there are no vast melancholy paragraphs registering their sensitive unhappiness (instead making awful excuses; food banks exist because benevolent Tories told people they exist). Yet, conversely, When one refers to the policies and beliefs that lead to that misery as utterly hideous, Conservatives – as if they couldn’t get any more contemptible – have a multi-paragraph, pathetic tantrum and demand respect for those views. It is as if they just want to kick the most vulnerable in peace, and to challenge it, is to, in some alternate Tory universe, actually victimise the abusers. The hypocrisy is intense, but common to both the political right wing and religious right wing. It is why the US Christian-right is convinced that empowering those typically oppressed by Christian dogma, is to simultaneously oppress Christians. Conservative Party religious-like dogma and the dehumanising rhetoric that necessarily accompanies it, requires those who are dispossessed and disempowered by it, to shut up and accept that they are to blame, to challenge the prevailing Tory discourse is to upset and ‘offend’ conservatives who just want respect for views that necessarily harm the most vulnerable. To my mind, there is very little worth respecting less than such a position. It is why the Conservative Party richly deserves the “nasty party” title that has surrounded the Party for so long. The rabid individualism of their economic outlook, is matched only by their inward looking defensive and what appears to be a display of sensitivity only when their own religious-like views are scrutinised, or – straight from the religious fanatic handbook – ‘offended’. The desire is to be free to dehumanise those without power and influence, whilst themselves – and the powerful they so lovingly defend – protected from the same such treatment (see UKIPs rhetoric on that; happy to invent all sorts of vicious nonsense about Bulgarians that Farage would be unhappy living next door to, whilst at the same threatening ‘Have I Got News For You’ with the police for satirising UKIP). For the rest of us to capitulate and offer respect for those beliefs, is to capitulate and accept that those deeply hypocritical & most importantly, inhuman beliefs are normalised rather than incredibly extreme and damaging, and beneficial to one group of people to the detriment of everyone else. Indeed, to victimise the powerless for the sake of legitimising an economic & social system that benefits those who advocate it – the powerful – is not the Conservative mantra of “making tough decisions”, it is making long dreamed of ideologically driven decisions, that also happen to be excruitiatingly cowardly, whilst hypocritically demanding respect for it. I don’t, and absolutely never will.