He goes to extreme lengths to make it “clear” in his Spectator article that he is “not saying that the new populist right in Britain are proto-fascists, neo-fascists, or anything like the European fascists of the past century”, but Times columnist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris knew exactly what he was doing when he wrote his latest piece entitled: “Reading the comments on my Ukip columns, I finally understand the Nazis”.
In fact, we all know what Mr Parris is doing. He’s got a taste for being talked about, maybe with a view to being lauded in Portobello Market like Don Homer.
“Like many, I’ve always been a bit baffled by the story of the rise of Nazism. The Germans I’ve met have appeared to be human beings like any other: in no signal way a different breed from my own countrymen.”
Always a good place to start. Admitting you have no understanding of basic human psychology and have evidently done very little historical reading around the subject.
“I’ve tried to insert myself into that era, imagine how it must have felt, picture a society in economic turmoil and gripped by personal insecurity, and think myself into a 1930s German frame of mind… But I’ve always failed… Until now. In what I’m going to say there’s a very great danger of overstatement — or of being read in that way.”
There’s no danger of it not being “read in that way”, when you begin an article comparing online comments by people who you claim – though offer no evidence – support UKIP, and the Third Reich.
“So let me be absolutely clear at the outset. I am not saying that the new populist right in Britain are proto-fascists, neo-fascists, or anything like the European fascists of the past century.”
“I see not a glimmer of the dawn of fascism in modern Britain, and to say otherwise would be scare-mongering; I know of no significant political figures today who would even dream of going that way; and, yes, for the record, that does include the leadership of Ukip.”
And yet it goes on…
“Let’s not beat about the bush. I’ve been rude about [UKIP supporters]. Urging the Conservative party not to take the colour of its opinions from theirs… I must therefore expect — and did expect — to be insulted back. I dish it out and (unlike many of them) I can take it. So I have not been surprised and must not feel traduced to be called a snob, an arrogant little squirt, a pinko and proto-Marxoid, and (on the Fawkes website) a puss-filled queer — or words to that effect: I forbear to recheck the reference. And worse. And that’s fine.”
Except you’re not really taking it in return, are you Mr Parris? You’re just dishing it out again, veering wildly into Godwin’s Law territory to try and shut the whole thing down. Like a kid in a cartoon who thinks he’s seen a ghost except for you, Mr Parris, it’s: “N-n-n-n-n-na-na-NAZZZIIISSS!!!” followed by a brisk trot in the opposite direction.
You’re using your status as a national magazine and newspaper columnist, as you once did with the people of Clacton, to now smear an entire audience of right-wing website readers and commenters. You mention readers of the paper you write for: The Times, as well as the Telegraph, Guido, and even at the Tory sycophant’s news site of choice: ConHome.
“You’ll remind me that these commentators are no more representative than the loudmouths who call in to shock-jock radio phone-ins; that I’m looking at a grotesquely skewed sample; that such individuals have always existed and may signify little.”
We’ll remind you that a posh-boy Cambridge liberal who also studied at Yale, then went to work in the Foreign Office, followed by a career in Parliament is the one who is not very “representative”.
“I hear echoes of their craziness from the real world of real politics among the right.”
“I am coming miserably to the conclusion that a kind of collective mental illness can whip large numbers of people into a Gadarene rush — and reason is helpless in its path.”
Ah, there we go. Now right-wingers and those who buy into “populism” or rather, the fact that in a democratic country the will of the people is rather important (shock) are “mentally ill” according to Mr Parris.
“So no, these people aren’t Nazis and I’m sure never will be. But I have begun to understand the mass psychosis we call populism and, rather late in my life, almost to despair.”
Phew! We’re not Nazis. Rejoice. But we are mentally ill. For a moment I was worried we were mentally ill AND Nazis. But graciously, he’s absolved us of the headline allegation. Cheers, Matt.