The other shoe still has yet to drop. But Janet Daley makes a good point:
Everybody is talking about learning political lessons – and then going on to say exactly the same thing they were saying before the Great Earthquake of Election Day 2014. The Tories are promising that they will “learn the lesson” about disenfranchised Conservative voters who now feel that only Nigel Farage speaks for them. Then they proceed to rule out the possibility of any pact with Ukip. Labour will “learn the lesson” about how angry people feel over the loss of national power (and control of our borders) to Brussels. Then they refuse to contemplate a referendum on EU membership.
The Liberal Democrats are slightly different in that the lesson they claim to have learnt is that their support for Tory measures in the Coalition has cost them the trust of voters. So they propose to move further to the Left – which is exactly the wrong direction. If there is any real lesson to be learnt from this tumultuous electoral event it is that the party of protest is now on the Right rather than on the Left.
That means that the precious centre ground of politics, on which all elections are said to be won, has moved. The Westminster establishment, from which the country is so famously alienated, is now seen as uniformly Left-liberal. All the major parties, along with most of their media friends, are regarded by much of the electorate as members of an insular, mutually affirming coterie who regard any outside voice as risible or dangerous.
The UK centre ground has shifted to the right. And as a result the three main parties are all being seen as progressive-left-liberal. They’re all Politically Correct.
I should know. I’ve shifted rightward myself. And I look set to carry on moving that way.
I was writing a few days back how, when I first heard of Political Correctness back in the 1980s, I discovered that I already had the full set of politically correct attitudes to more or less everything.
But now I want to be politically incorrect. I think political correctness is a prison. I think it was something that was always only ever enforced by the threat of social exclusion.
And what else are smoking bans but the social exclusion of smokers? The bans are intended to teach them a lesson: that smoking is something that’s now socially unacceptable.
I hate that word: “unacceptable”. I hate the smug self-satisfaction underlying it.
I don’t care if smoking is “unacceptable” to some people. Because, guess what, I don’t want to know people who find smoking unacceptable. I don’t want to know people who’re frightened of tobacco smoke. I don’t want to belong to their prim, uptight, judgmental society. I never did.
So screw all you pinch-faced puritans, I’m going to carry on smoking anyway. I don’t care whether it’s politically incorrect, or socially unacceptable, or even an Abomination in the Sight of the Lord. Because I don’t care any more.
And what’s refreshing about Nigel Farage is that, with his beer and cigarettes, he’s so darn politically incorrect. He breaks all the rules. After 40+ years of antismoking and anti-alcohol social conditioning , up jumps this joker, cocking a snook at all of their petty rules and regulations.
He’s capturing a new mood. And it’s a mood of deepening rejection of petty tyranny, and political correctness.
It’s coming up to the seventh anniversary of the UK smoking ban, and I was remembering today something that George Godber once said.
Need there really be any difficulty about prohibiting smoking in more public places? The nicotine addicts would be petulant for a while…
Godber seemed to think that the petulance would wear off, and smokers – or “nicotine addicts”, as he preferred to call them – would get used to a smoking ban.
But I never got used to it. And I never will. I’m still petulant after all these years. And if anything, I’m getting more and more petulant as the years go by.