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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lady Tonge, Some Subjects are Off Limits!

The British political class, currently headed by Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband, define some subjects and opinions as off limits. You get kicked out of this Masonic club if you fail to recognise that. Lady Tonge, a plain speaking Liberal Democrat, has just had that happen to her.

The basic solidarity is around the notion that on an agreed list of topics the electorate is told what to think; suggesting that their views might be canvassed is off limits.

I identify the following as among the off-limits topics:

1. The Monarchy. It would be a sensible and reasonable thing to suggest that the electorate might like to consider whether it wishes the Monarchy to continue after the death of Elizabeth II. Maybe the issue should even be put to a Referendum. It would be suicide for an aspiring member of the political class to propose any such thing. The political class exists to defend the Monarchy and the line of succession. You are going to get Charles III whether you like it or not.

2. Northern Ireland. The political class agrees that Northern Ireland should remain in Union with Great Britain until such time as its voters decide otherwise. It would be out of order to suggest that voters in Great Britain might also have a legitimate say in the matter, not least because it is realised that they might cheerfully vote to quit an unwanted Union with a troublesome and expensive province.

3. The Special Relationship. We have a Special relationship with the United States. We do as we are told. You are not allowed to ask if this is really such a good thing, even after the disaster of the Iraq War - well, you are not supposed to call it a "disaster" either.

4. The Two State Solution. Lady Tonge had to fall on her sword for failing to start from the premiss of Israel's right to exist. That is something which cannot be questioned. In contrast, North Korea's "right to exist" can be questioned and, indeed, it is true that the world would be a better place without it, just as the world is a better place without the German Democratic Republic. Some people think the Middle East would be a more secure and prosperous place if we had a One State solution rather than a Two State [one-of-which-isn't-going-to-happen] Solution, but that view is off-limits.

5. Equality. Bit by bit, the political class has grouped around the notion that certain kinds of discrimination, in attitudes or policy - notably racism and increasingly sexism and homophobia - are not only not acceptable but cannot legitimately be argued for. It is one of the achievements of the political class to have enforced this position and is a very good argument in favour of "managed democracy" rather than "populism". Compare how in Israel the political class has failed to hold the line against the expression of the most crude racism towards the Arab population.

But the downside is that this Masonic clasping of hands around Agreed Positions is one of the things which detaches the Political Class from the population it rules over. Lines of communication on the Forbidden topics are closed down, producing at least some degree of alienation, resentment and periodic anger.

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