In a piece titled “Ukip’s Rochester win shows voters no longer trust the main parties,” Charles Moore writes in the Telegraph about Cameron’s ‘modernisers’ :
…modernisers have two great faults. The first is to assume that what is modern is inevitable. Soviet Communism was modern once, and part of its power lay in its claim that it was inevitable. It wasn’t, and now it is dead.
The second is to equate modernity with virtue and so to treat its critics as moral inferiors. In Britain, the saga of same-sex marriage is a classic case. Parts of the Western world are heading in that direction: “therefore” it must be welcomed: “therefore” its opponents are bigots: “therefore” they should be virtually disqualified from public office.
All those “therefores” are wrong. A moderate conservative approach would try to balance the age-old, universal view that marriage is between a man and a woman with tolerance of homosexual relationships. This balance was achieved by civil partnerships, but violated by the way that Mr Cameron casually imposed gay marriage. His approach insulted settled beliefs, and therefore wounded him politically more than people like to state directly.
In a similar vein:
Those who berate the Ukip nostalgists the most are those who most uncritically believe that the European Union is the future. Isn’t there more and more evidence that they are wrong? We have now lived beside the eurozone long enough to realise that it truly, madly, deeply does not work. It cannot correct its original flaw: most of its members cannot be like Germany, and so the single currency has become a machine for joblessness, recession and political alienation across half the Continent. Far from being modern, the eurozone is the product of a mid-20th-century, top-down, bureaucratic Utopianism. It cannot deal with the connected, competitive, global character of the 21st century.
It’s all very insightful. He’s not wrong. But as he chews over immigration, gay marriage, and the EU as issues which, ” if you get angry [about] , you are much more likely to vote Ukip,” this top Telegraph columnist still can’t see the elephant in the room, even though he’s more or less walked right up to it, and tugged its tail.
It’s another bit of ‘modernisation’, which is also widely regarded as ‘inevitable’, ‘long overdue’, and which has been loudly welcomed by almost everyone who’s anyone, and its opponents ignored as moral inferiors. And it’s also another piece of modernisation that people get angry about, and which makes them particularly likely to vote UKIP.
And it’s one that has had a direct and powerful impact on some 25% (maybe more) of the adult population of the UK. Does immigration directly affect that many people? Have that many people been directly affected by the EU’s directives?
I think if Charles Moore were reading these words (which he won’t be, of course), he’d be scratching his head wondering what on earth I was on about. The internet? Mobile phones? Global warming? Paedophilia? Islamic terrorism?
Shhhh!!! Don’t tell him, anyone!
It’s something that is never ever discussed. Pundits and politicians may talk about immigration, the EU, gay marriage, and all the rest. But they never ever discuss this particular subject.
And in large part that’s because those 25% on whom this other modernisation fell did not protest much about it. Instead they all (or almost all) accepted it stoically and phlegmatically, and got on with their lives despite it as best they could. The British are not a nation of complainers. They didn’t complain 100 years ago when millions of them were sent off to Flanders, and fight in the trenches. They just got on with the job, even if it was cold sitting in a freezing tent with the wind whistling through it. And they’re the same today. They also sit quietly and uncomplainingly outside in the freezing rain.
And it’s also because the other 75% simply didn’t notice what was happening to the 25%. Because they’d kicked those habits a long time ago. And they never think about it.
For I doubt if someone like Charles Moore ever goes to pubs. And when he does, he orders a glass of wine. And a plate of tapas. Or sushi. And I doubt if he has porridge for breakfast either. Or cocoa at night. Or puts hot water bottles in his bed on winter evenings. Or lights a fire every morning, with lumps of coal and wood. He probably never ever touches a lump of filthy, dirty, stinky coal, let alone tries to light one. He’s moved on.
And everyone he knows is just like him. They’ve all got central heating, and electric cookers, and all the other mod coms. They’ve moved on too.
And if Brigitte or Rose or somebody were to blurt it out before I could clap a hand over their mouths, his eyes would go blank with incomprehension.
I like to think that one day they’ll all suddenly wake up to it. But I imagine that, when and if they do, they’ll all say they “knew it all along”, and they’d been “saying so for years”, and it was “perfectly obvious to anyone with even half a brain inside their skull”.
I sometimes think it’s Nigel Farage’s secret weapon. Because he doesn’t talk about it either. In the last UKIP manifesto, it appeared as the very last line. And yet it may well be what’s winning him 25% of the adult vote, in addition to the votes of all those people who’re angry about immigration and the EU.
It’s certainly why I’m going to vote for him.