A couple of days ago New Statesman published an interview between their deputy editor George Eaton and the conservative philosopher Roger Scruton. Here’s how Scruton approached the interview:
I recently gave an interview to the New Statesman, on the assumption that, as the magazine’s former wine critic I would be treated with respect, and that the journalist, George Eaton, was sincere in wanting to talk to me about my intellectual life.
Turns out it was a hit job. Eaton littered the piece with quotes stripped of context which portrayed Scruton as antisemitic, an Islamaphobe, and derogatory towards Chinese. For example, the New Statesman interview contains this paragraph:
Perhaps most remarkably, he commented of the rise of China: “They’re creating robots out of their own people… each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.”
Scruton’s actual words were:
“They’re creating robots out of their own people by so constraining what can be done. Each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.”
It is clear from the full quote that Scruton is talking about the Chinese political system and its demands for uniformity from the population. By removing the words in bold, Eaton makes it sound as though Scruton’s saying Chinese people are indistinguishable from one another. Eaton claims he removed the context for reasons of space, which tells you he doesn’t care much for his reputation, that of New Statesman, or journalism as a whole.
When the interview came out, Scruton served as an adviser on a government architectural committee. For reasons that are scarcely fathomable even for an outfit so inept, unprincipled, and cowardly as the Conservative party, UK Communities Secretary James Brokenshire fired Scruton. A spokesman for the Prime Minister said his remarks were “deeply offensive, completely unacceptable and it’s right that he’s been dismissed”. Even half-sensible Tories stuck the boot in:
New Statesman is less of a news journal than a leftwing agitprop organ. They publish Laurie Penny, for goodness sake. What the hell the Tory party are even doing reading it, let alone letting it dictate who they fire, I don’t know. For his part, Eaton posted this on Twitter before later deleting it:
In other words, it was a deliberate hatchet job by a lefty hack and the Tory party, perhaps thinking their reputation for incompetence, treachery, and cretinism was not quite solid enough from Brexit, walked right into the trap laid for them. As Scruton responded in The Spectator and news reached the dolts in Tory HQ that the interview had been misleading, they removed one foot from their mouths and replaced it with another:
So the sacking of Scruton was a panicked, knee-jerk reaction based on left wing propaganda they didn’t bother verifying. And these are the sort of people who think they should be running the country.
There are a few points to make here. Firstly, it shows the incompetence and lack of principles we’ve seen over Brexit is not a one-off: it runs to the very core of the Conservative party. Like a lot of people these days, they’re more interested in pandering to the metropolitan middle classes and people who hate them than their core constituents. They are also woefully inept. If Britain is to revive its political fortunes, the Conservative party needs to be destroyed, the building razed, and the ground it stood on soaked with anthrax. There is nothing left to save, and nobody to redeem (except the one MP who reads my blog of course, because by doing so she’s proven she exposes herself only to the best ideas).
Secondly, journalists like to claim they are under attack more than ever before. They do so on the rather pompous presumption they are guardians of the truth who hold the powerful to account. I doubt journalists in the UK are in any greater danger than ironing-board vendors, but if I wanted to increase the online abuse and threats media figures receive, and diminish public sympathy if and when one gets smacked in the mouth by a disgruntled citizen, publishing a brazenly dishonest interview and quaffing champagne in celebration when the subject gets fired is how I’d go about it.
Thirdly, I don’t give a damn if Scruton’s words weren’t doctored. The idea that anyone slightly to the right should be hounded from his position for holding opinions which don’t conform to the ever-shifting standard set by lunatics in university social science departments needs to be resisted, and hard. This is especially true when those on the left – even those in positions of substantial power – frequently engage in open racism, antisemitism, and misandry to rapturous applause from their followers. As I’ve said before, if the right are going to join the left in condemning their own every time they utter an unapproved opinion, they’re part of the problem. If the right can’t support Scruton now, regardless of what he said or didn’t say, could they at least have the decency not to complain during the next decade or two of cultural Marxist domination?
And maybe now’s not the best time to talk about principles either, Johnny:
Now where did I put my Gallic shrug?
Keep digging, Johnny: