Tone: The Liberal-Left’s Codeword For ‘I Hate Free Speech’

Jo Cox

The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee is a (not that bright or imaginative, very expensively stabled) one trick pony. That’s why in times of tragedy like the murder of Jo Cox MP, she knows exactly what to write…

…It’s the same thing dull, predictable left-liberal columnists always write on those rare occasions when there’s a shooting incident they can plausibly ascribe to “right-wing” ideology.

They wrote it after the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson in 2011.

They wrote it after the massacre carried out in Norway in the same year by Anders Breivik.

Now they’re dusting it off and sprucing it up for use once again.

It’s that old favourite — right-wing “tone”.

Here’s Polly, showing how it’s done:

I believe they bear responsibility, not for the attack itself, but for the current mood: for the inflammatory language, for the finger-jabbing, the dogwhistling and the overt racism.

This is the same thing Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is on about when he talks about “the well of hatred” which was — apparently — responsible for Jo Cox’s murder.

And it’s what this gentleman is implying in this tweet in which he holds two fiercely pro-Brexit newspapers, The Sun and the Daily Mail responsible for the “atmosphere of hate” which allegedly led to Jo Cox’s death.

Do you see what’s going on here?

It’s very important to spell it out because only by calling the liberal-left on its rhetorical cheats can we stop it from doing so much damage to the political debate in particular and Western culture generally.

Actually several things are going on.

They are smearing their enemies without any requirement for burden of proof. “What did we say? Show us what we did that was evil or wrong.” “Oh, nothing specific. Just your tone. It’s inflammatory.”

They are trying to deny their political opponents use of one of their most effective weapons: rhetoric. Politics is about stirring passions: necessarily so or many people just wouldn’t bother to vote. But what the left are saying here is that while it’s perfectly acceptable for them to make rabble-rousing comments about greedy fat cats, austerity and the one percent, it’s somehow not OK for conservatives to push similar emotional buttons about immigration or welfare scroungers.

They are rewriting history — as the left so loves to do — by pretending that there was some golden age in which political discourse was polite and civilised and consensual. Look at the bloody, brutal politics of ancient Rome. Look at the English Civil War. Look at the age of Wilkes and liberty. Political debate has always been necessarily scabrous. “Consensus politics” is just a left wing way of saying – “Leave us to get on with things, why don’t you? We’re really good at government because government is what we like best and want lots more of…”

They are Closing Down The Argument. Since I wrote this piece today about the way the Remain camp — which is using most of the left’s techniques — has sought to make political capital out of Jo Cox’s murder, I have been inundated with tweets like these, essentially telling me that I’m not allowed to speak out because…sensitivity.

Polly Toynbee felt that the death of Jo Cox gave her carte blanche to make some vicious and unsubstantiated slurs against leading Leave politicians, effectively calling them Nazis — even the benign endlessly polite Michael Gove.

Rude, crude, Nazi-style extremism is mercifully rare. But the leavers have lifted several stones. How recklessly the decades of careful work and anti-racist laws to make those sentiments unacceptable have been overturned.

This campaign has stirred up anti-migrant sentiment that used to be confined to outbursts from the far fringes of British politics. The justice minister, Michael Gove, and the leader of the house, Chris Grayling – together with former London mayor Boris Johnson – have allied themselves to divisive anti-foreigner sentiment ramped up to a level unprecedented in our lifetime. Ted Heath expelled Enoch Powell from the Tory front ranks for it. Oswald Mosley was ejected from his party for it. Gove and Grayling remain in the cabinet.

When politicians from a mainstream party use immigration as their main weapon in a hotly fought campaign, they unleash something dark and hateful that in all countries always lurks not far beneath the surface.

Apparently, in the eyes of the left one isn’t allowed to fight back.

But I’m afraid I disagree with this. Freedom of speech is important — never more so than in dark times like this. Bad ideas need to be challenged. Truths must be asserted. Vile calumnies denounced.


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