We don’t know the result yet except actually we do: a total dog’s breakfast of an epic cock up of a disaster for pretty much everyone.
The people I feel especially sorry for are those of us on the right. (If you vote left then, frankly, you deserve everything you get and more). We are in the majority – the polls have consistently shown this – yet we’re almost certain not to get a government that in any way reflects this fact.
Where did it all go wrong?
Well I asked the great Lord Tebbit this question the other day but I’m going to save his answer for another column. Today I prefer to address the issue by invoking yet another of my political heroes, the mighty Thomas Sowell.
Reading a couple of his essays in bed last night (as you do) I was reminded just how many of the political problems we face today, both in Britain and the US and indeed across the free world, can be traced to a single root cause: the right’s ongoing failure to counter the left’s increasingly dominant cultural narrative.
Here’s an extract from his essay The Left’s Vocabulary
Another word that the left has virtually banished from the language is ‘bum’. Centuries of experience with idlers who refused to work and who hung around on the streets making a nuisance – and sometimes a menace – of themselves were erased from our memories as the left verbally transformed those same people into a sacred icon, ‘the homeless’.
As with swamps [which, as Sowell notes earlier in his essay, have been rechristened “wetlands” and must be preserved at all costs] what was once messy and smelly was now turned into something we had a duty to protect. It was now our duty to support people who refused to support themselves.
Thomas Sowell: the black, tenured Katie Hopkins. Who knew? But he’s dead right, of course – though it takes quite a sharp jolt of recognition and counter-intuition to appreciate this. Why? Because, as Sowell suggests, our language has been so effectively colonised by the left that we have all but forgotten how to think of issues clearly and objectively.
Take one of the more popular so-called “issues” of this dismal election cycle: the “Bedroom tax”. This is a phrase that could simply never have gained traction in a culture which had not been hijacked by progressives. Because it simply isn’t true, is it? It’s not a tax. A tax is when the government takes money that you have earned away from you. But the “bedrooms” to which this “tax” refers never belonged to their occupants in the first place. They’re a loan, from the state – and funded, of course, by people who do pay tax – to those who, for whatever reason, are deemed incapable of paying for their own accommodation.
Or take “Our NHS” as David Cameron has insisted on calling it, since forever. This is a classic – and sadly, increasingly common – case of a conservative dressing himself in the mantle of the caring left. There are lots of things politicians of a conservative persuasion ought to be saying about the NHS – starting with the fact that it doesn’t work and badly needs sorting out so that more of us don’t end up dying parched and neglected on soiled bedsheets in a crowded ward. But they’re not saying them because they’ve already decided to concede the argument to the enemy: that is, they’ve given up on the hard task of trying to reform a broken product in favour of papering over the cracks by simply treating it as a rebranding exercise. (See! We may be Conservatives but we CARE at least as much as Labour or the SNP do…)
If there’s a lesson from this dismal stalemate of an election it is that the Conservatives will never be able to win a working majority until they first learn how to fight and win the culture wars. Pretending to be just as nice (but slightly more efficient than) their left-wing opponents was never going to be enough to galvanise the troops. They needed a persuasive message and they didn’t have one because instead of acting according to their own ideological principles they were too busy pretending to speak the language of their enemy.