Tag Archives: Nick Cohen

Off With Her Head?

As people fight in the aisles of Tescos over the last jar of Marmite with rolled-up copies of The Daily Express, Nick Cohen reminds us what happens to executives who pick a fight with parliament and lose.

All the government’s bombast flows from the relatively quiet economic summer we had after the Brexit vote. Like George W. Bush, when he declared ‘mission accomplished’ after the Americans rolled into Baghdad in 2003, cocksure Tories are full of-unwarranted self-confidence. It will shatter if the pound keeps heading for parity with the euro, and a nation with huge sovereign debts finds that the Treasury’s predictions of the tax take slumping are accurate. If jobs start going, if inflation and the national debt start rising, if the bond markets turn ugly, voters will demand that MPs intervene, and the sensible majority in Parliament will be only too pleased to oblige. May will then learn that, for all our faults, we are a parliamentary democracy, and that politicians who treat parliament like Charles I risk meeting the fate of Charles I.

I would hope he’s talking metaphorically rather than literally here. But the events of the past six months are a reminder of why show trials and public executions were a feature of less elightened times.

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Fellow-travellers of the Far Right?

Nick Cohen is yet again beating his usual drum of the moral bankruptcy of the left, from Julian Assange to Jeremy Corbyn, highlighting theit unconditional support of Vladimir Putin, despite Russia’s corrupt crony capitalism representing everything socialism is supposed to oppose.

Wikileaks’ double standards and blind spots, its collaborations and self-censorship, go to the root of the crisis on the left. Or rather, because there are many lefts, the crisis on the version of the left that dominates the Labour party and most of the West’s allegedly radical culture. To put it bluntly, what’s its problem with standing up to the Kremlin? What gives? And, more to the point, who is on the take?

It’s difficult to tell whether it’s a case of misplaced nostalgia for the Soviet Union, or the sordid idea that any enemy of the West should be supported in principle. But when you end up on the same side as both Donald Trump and the European far-right, it’s just possible you’re not on the side of Good.

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Nick Cohen takes on the Right

Nick Cohen has long been a scourge of the regressive tendencies of the post-modern left, but with The English right’s Putinesque conspiracy theories he turns his guns on the equally regressive right.

Vote Leave is not a fringe organisation, like UK Against Water Fluoridation, or The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The Electoral Commission decided in its wisdom it was respectable enough to lead the official Brexit campaign. Whether it is Michael Gove or Boris Johnson, a Vote Leave politician will be the next leader of the Conservative Party one way or another, and hence our next Prime Minister. The darkness on the right of politics is about to cover the land, and it is worth peering into the murk before it descends.

The way they’re tried to bully ITV and Robert Peston threatening “consequences” once they’re in power is the sort of thing you expect from the rulers of a tinpot dictatorship, not from those who aspire to lead a major democracy.

Yet more confirmation that Boris Johnson’s persona as a lovable rogue is completely fake, and he’s actually a nasty thuggish little man. And it’s a reminder that the whole referendum debate that’s putting Britain’s future at stake is really a proxy war for the leadership of the conservative party.

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What’s needed now are real left-wing radicals

Nick Cohen writes in The Spectator about how the left’s problem with anti-Semitism is a symptom of a deeper problem and suggests what Labour needs now is a takeover by real left-wing radicals.

Perhaps anti-Semitism is not taken as seriously here because the Nazis stopped at the Channel and we never had to live through our own version of Vichy. But there is a more contemporary reason for the failure to tackle it, or even admit its existence, that could unravel social-democratic politics.

Most Jews are white. And across the middle-class left, it is held that racism is not racism when it is directed against whites in general and that entitled aristocrat of our age, the straight white male, in particular. The dangers for centre-left parties should be obvious. In Europe and in Donald Trump’s America, the white-working-class base of social-democratic parties is falling away. Voters will carry on leaving if they keep hearing expensively educated voices tell them in perfectly constructed sentences that they are the oppressors who must be overthrown. Why should a white man with miserable job and no prospects tolerate a left-wing elite that casts him as an overprivileged villain? If I were in his shoes, I would loathe the lies and point-scoring and want nothing to do with such politicians.

A ‘left-wing’ egalitarianism that takes so little notice of class is fake. Like a ‘left-wing’ foreign policy that is on the side of the reactionary and obscurantist, it will first infuriate and then fail.

But he fears that when the left abandons the currently-fashionable middle-class identity politics, what will replace it won’t be the genuine radicalism that the centre-left needs, but a timid acceptance of a consensus set by the Tories

Like a case of dysentery, the Corbyn moment will pass. My fear is that it will be replaced not with a serious commitment to reform, but with the terrified conformism that characterised the Labour party after Tony Blair became leader. Labour will be so desperate to prove it is strong on national security that it will agree with whatever the generals and security services propose. It will be so desperate to appear economically reputable that it will endorse rather than oppose the stagnant system the Cameron government has presided over.

Nick Cohen is sounding more and more like a stuck record on this issue. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t right.

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Boris is the British Trump

Boris Johnson’s attack on Barack Obama belongs in the gutter, says Nick Cohen in The Spectator, not mincing his words.

I am therefore writing with the caution of a lawyer and the deference of a palace flunkey when I say that Johnson showed this morning that he is a man without principle or shame. He is a braying charlatan, who lacks the courage even to be an honest bastard, for there is a kind of bastardly integrity in showing the world who you really are, but instead uses the tactics of the coward and the tricks of the fraudster to advance his worthless career.

Boris doesn’t care whether Britain leaves the EU or not. It’s all just a means to an end in his ambition to become Prime Minister. He has no underlying principles whatsoever; everything he says or does is based on cynical calculation around what he thinks his audience wants to hear.

The parallels with Donald Trump run far deeper than the terrible hair. If Boris thought being a massive racist would gain him support, he’d be as racist as Trump. The fact that he isn’t says more about the British people than it says about him.

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The idea of a university as a free space is vanishing

Nick Cohen, writing in The Spectator, considers the consequences the culture of no platforming and safe spaces in Britain’s universities.

The idea of a university as a free space rather than a safe space is vanishing. This is a profoundly conservative development. The only people I can imagine welcoming it is the type of hard-headed businessman who says the point of education is to train the young to work not argue.

Then there is the question of what will happen to all these barking martinets when they leave and join the establishment. Whatever poses they strike now, we will find that they fit in all too snugly.

As I have written before:

The politicians, bureaucrats, chief police officers and corporate leaders of tomorrow are at universities which teach that free debate and persuasion by argument are ideas so dangerous they must be banned as a threat to health and safety. Unless we challenge them in the most robust manner imaginable, whatever kind of country they grow up to preside over is unlikely to be a free one.

That last paragraph is chilling, and stresses why this stuff actualy matters.

It’s easy to dismiss student politics as toytown stuff that has no impact on the real word, but what will happen when people raised in that highly illiberal environment get into places of real power and responsibility in the outside world

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Let Justice Be Done Though The Liberal Heavens Fall

Nick Cohen is on form again in Standpoint over the events in Rotherham and Cologne, and the apparent divide-by-zero error sufffered by some parts of the left.

My colleague David Paxton looked at these and other examples of fear of the far-Right and aptly described them as a “noble lies, told to prevent us idiot yokels from becoming a mob. People are stepping out from their job descriptions and moonlighting as censors.” He might have gone further. The refusal of the police and public authorities to follow the law they are meant to uphold demeans the societies they are meant to serve.

They see Britain as a 21st-century Weimar Republic where the smallest incitement could lead to pogroms and tyranny. The white men and women around them are not fellow citizens but closet fascists, who must be kept in ignorance for fear that they will dress up in black leather and attend torchlight parades. In these circumstances, abused girls aren’t victims, but inconveniences who must be suppressed for the greater good.

He again stresses how the current incarnation of identity politics which puts communities and their sometimes self-appointed leaders ahead of individuals is not fir for purpose for today’s highly diverse society.

We should stop playing shabby games of ethnic favouritism with the victims of crime, which should never have been played in the first place. Whether a child is abused by a white celebrity or Pakistani thug, or a migrant taking advantage of unknown freedoms, says nothing about whites or Pakistanis or asylum seekers, and everything about them. We should do what we should always have done and insist that equality before the law is the best way of integrating newcomers as well as being a blessing in itself.

Nick Cohen is sounding more and more like a stuck record on this subject. But that doesn’t mean he’s wrong.

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Nick Cohen on Charlie Hebdo

This blistering piece on Charlie Hebdo by Nick Cohen in the Spectator pulls no punches when it comes to those parts of the Anglo-American left who seem all too willing to make excuses for terrorism.

Not one mentioned that the gang went on to slaughter Parisian Jews in a supermarket for no other reason than that they were Jewish. But they cannot oppose religious prejudice – and in their failure they live a lie far greater and more grotesque than their lies about the dead of Charlie Hebdo.

Prose, Carey, the London Review of Books and so many others agree with Islamists first demand that the world should have a de facto blasphemy law enforced at gunpoint. Break it and you have only yourself to blame if the assassins you provoked kill you

They not only go along with the terrorists from the religious ultra-right but of every state that uses Islam to maintain its power. They can show no solidarity with gays in Iran, bloggers in Saudi Arabia and persecuted women and religious minorities across the Middle East, who must fight theocracy. They have no understanding that enemies of Charlie Hebdo are also the enemies of liberal Muslims and ex-Muslims in the West. In the battle between the two, they have in their stupidity and malice allied with the wrong side.

Most glaringly they have failed to understand power. It is not fixed but fluid. It depends on where you stand. The unemployed terrorist with the gun is more powerful than the Parisian cartoonist cowering underneath his desk. The marginal cleric may well face racism and hatred – as my most liberal British Muslim friends do – but when he sits in a Sharia court imposing misogynist rules on Muslim women in the West, he is no longer a victim or potential victim but a man to be feared.

What he said, basically.

If you follow any discussions in left-liberal or social justice circles, you hear the word “privilege” a lot. Privilege is a very useful concept when it makes you consider the crap that other people have to deal with and you don’t, especially when it makes you mindful in not contributing towards that crap.

But privilege is not an infallible moral calculus that can decides who’s right and who’s wrong in any situation based purely on what demographic or sub-demographic group they belong to. And it breaks down completely if you start to believe in one-dimensional hierarchies of oppression than take no account of contexts or individual agency. Sooner or later you’re going to end up defending out-and-out evil. And once people start getting killed, society pays a high price for such moral self-indulgence.

If there are really significant numbers of people in the Anglo-American middle-class left who believe that cold-blooded mass murder is a lesser evil than publishing sacrilegious cartoons because White Privilege, then it demonstrates the utter intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the left. They will deny it if challenged, of course, but their use of weaseling language of the “I’m not racist but” variety and the way they spend more time explaining why Charlie Hebdo are bad than condemning the murderers shows whose side they’re really on.

Not that the right deserve to get off the hook either. The right’s continual blurring the distinction between criticism of fundamentalism and old-fashioned racism, and Bush and Blair’s criminally ill-conceived and disastrously-executed military adventures in the Middle East that have killed vast numbers of innocent people have done much to poison the well. And it’s all compounded by the idiotic Red Tribe versus Blue Tribe nature of American politics which poisons everything it touches, so if one tribe supports a thing the other will oppose it as a knee-jerk reaction regardless of the merits of the actual issue.

You are perfectly free to believe that Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons are gross, purile, insulting or offensive. But that is not the point.

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