I had an email from a Guardian editor yesterday in response to my completion of their questionnaire about the smoking ban. She wanted to “confirm that you would still like to use the name in your submission if it is featured.” I’d given my name as C. F. Davis. Perhaps they were bothered by that. If I’d given my name as Charlie Davis – or better still Coriander Davis – I’d have had a bit of credibility. But C. F.? It’s borderline anonymous. I could well imagine the scene in the editor’s office as they mulled over which submissions to publish:
“We can’t publish something by someone called C. F. Davis. He sounds like he’s a dentist who lives in Tunbridge Wells.”
“I agree. But I think we should publish the one by Ariadne Cornfellow. She sounds much more interesting. She’s probably a redhead who lives in Scotland, and climbs mountains at weekends.”
“Did she have anything interesting to say about the smoking ban?”
“I don’t know. I just thought she had an interesting name.”
“Perhaps someone should write to ask the C. F. chap in Tunbridge Wells whether he really wants to be called C. F. It’s so dull and dreary. He would be so much more credible if he was called Charlie.”
“Or better still, Coriander,”
The email set me wondering whether the Guardian was contemplating publishing my rather bleak reflections on the smoking ban. But I still think the odds of that happening are about 100 to 1. It didn’t fit the narrative. And the narrative is that smoking bans are a great success and everyone wants more of them, because they don’t have to wash their hair when they get home, and put their clothes in the washing machine, and count to 100 before going up to kiss the children goodnight. What I wrote didn’t fit that narrative.
The editor who emailed me included a helpful photo of herself, with long, slightly tousled hair, and an insouciant smile on her face. In fact I thought she probably had some slight variant of that insouciant smile permanently on her face, even when she was buying parsley and cucumber rolls from Subway at lunchtime, or riding the Underground back home to Islington, or jetting off to the south of France for the whole of August.
I used to read the Guardian, many years ago. I started reading it when the Times stopped being published by a strike circa 1972, and I was forced to read something else. Back then the Guardian was a simple broadsheet newspaper with a few ads in the centre pages. And it had thoughtful opinion pieces by someone called Jill Tweedie, who I always imagined liked all-weather hill-walking in Scotland, and had slightly tousled long red hair as a result, and who wrote her pieces while grilling oat cakes over a peat fire in her isolated crofter’s cottage when she got home, while her panting border collie watched attentively in hope of a crumb or two. I read the Guardian for several years until they started adding supplements with as many pages as the original newspaper. The supplements were full of ads for jobs in local government. And they kept adding more and more supplements. And the newspaper got heavier and heavier. One day, after lugging the beast home, I couldn’t even be bothered to lift it out of the plastic bag I’d been carrying it in, and which it completely filled. Next day I started reading the Independent.
Back then I was a bit left wing, of course. Although I’d already started my long slow trek to the right, I suspect. Leftists are idealists who want to Build A Better World. That’s why they always occupy the moral high ground, above right-wingers who want to make it worse. But the right don’t actually want to make the world a worse place than it already is. They’re just trying to stop it getting any worse. On the windswept mountainside where they’re both standing, the left is looking upwards at the peaks above, and the right is peering down at the abyss below. The left is full of good intentions. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions. And that’s where the left almost always leads everybody.
What’s “better” anyway? Tony Blair used to regularly talk about making the world a “better” place, without ever once saying what he meant by “better”. As he used it, it gradually became increasingly meaningless. Eventually I found myself imagining that he had actually said “batter” or “butter” or “bitter” instead of “better”. And perhaps “bitter” is what he actually meant. He left Iraq a broken, bitter country. And he left us smokers broken and bitter too.
The left’s vision of the “better” future always entails elaborate planning. Theirs is always a planned new world, and their plans are extremely detailed. They have plans for everyone else, that invariably entail spending everyone else’s money. But in peacetime, as in war, the plan is always the first casualty. Plans always go wrong. And that’s why they always eventually lead to hell.
A planned world is entirely incompatible with a free world. In fact, it entails the negation of freedom. Because in a free world, people do what they want to do, rather than what some planner wants them to do. That’s why it’s only the right who speak of freedom, and the left never use the word if they can possibly help it. I’m not even sure if they know what it means. The more planned any brave new world is going to be, the less free it will be. In a completely planned world, freedom will cease to exist.
It’s the left who’ve been dreaming of a brave new “smoke-free” world. That’s why 90% of Labour MPs voted for it, and Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn too. The really astonishing thing is that over 30% of Conservative MPs voted for it as well. They voted to abolish the congenial smoky pubs in which much of English culture and discourse was conducted. They may as well have set fire to them all. But that’s planning for you. It always entails breaking a few eggs, doesn’t it?
And as a left-wing newspaper, the Guardian is almost certainly 100% in favour of a planned, globalist vision of a smoke-free, carbon-free, fat-free world with a global government controlling absolutely everything. For it is only in those senses that they understand freedom. They don’t want a free world: they want a smoke-free world.
And that’s why they won’t be publishing anything I wrote about the dystopia that they’ve created with their smoking bans. It doesn’t fit their narrative of ever-onward and upward progress. Neither do people with names like C.F.