Britain pre-eminent conservative philosopher, Sir Roger Scruton, has said he is “not very impressed” by the way the Conservative Party hastily sacked him from an unpaid advisory post after the left-wing New Statesman published misleading extracts of an interview with him.
Leftist journalist George Eaton published partial quotes from Sir Roger, who rose to prominence from humble beginnings as a grammar school boy from High Wycombe, following a sit-down interview with the 75-year-old scholar.
These quotes were parsed even further on social media, with Eaton tweeting that “Roger Scruton has made a series of outrageous remarks” and picking out “Roger Scruton on the Chinese: ‘Each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing'” as a particular example.
Culture Secretary James Brokenshire panicked and sacked Sir Roger from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission — the scholar is a professor of aesthetics and arguably the country’s leading advocate for traditional art and architecture — with Tory MPs including Johnny Mercer and Tom Tugendhat chirping their approval.
— Douglas Murray (@DouglasKMurray) April 26, 2019
Eaton greeted Sir Roger’s sacking with a celebratory Instagram picture of himself swilling champagne from the bottle — but, unlike most victims of left-wing cyber mobs, Sir Roger found a number of public figures coming forward to defend him.
One of these was The Strange Death of Europe author Douglas Murray, of The Spectator, who was able to uncover the original tapes of Eaton’s interview with Sir Roger which suggested that the left-wing journalist had misrepresented the philosopher significantly.
For example, his comments “on the Chinese” took on an entirely different complexion in their full context, which concerned the increasingly totalitarian tendencies of the Communist regime:
There are difficulties around the corner that we are ignoring like the rise of China. There’s something quite frightening about the Chinese sort of mass politics, and the regimentation of the ordinary being. We invent robots and they are… in a sense creating robots out of their own people by so constraining what what can be done that each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one. And that’s a very frightening thing. Maybe I don’t know enough about it to be confident in making that judgment. But the politics is like that and the foreign policy is like that.
Left-wing totalitarianism is a particular concern of Sir Roger, who was active behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, helping to organise the underground universities which operated under the noses of the Soviet-backed Communist regimes in Central Europe — earning him high honours in countries like Poland after independence.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 about how the Tories had failed to look into Eaton’s allegations, as Douglas Murray did, Sir Roger said he was “not very impressed” by the party’s behaviour.
“I’m a conservative thinker, well-known as such, outspoken but reasonable in my view,” Sir Roger told presenter Justin Webb.
“[T]here’s been throughout this country, and throughout Europe, really, an attempt to silence the conservative voice. We get identified, caricatured and then demonised and made to look as though we are some kind of sinister, fascist, racist kind of people — and as soon as the Conservative Party sees one of us being demonised in this way, they rush to dissociate themselves from us,” he explained.
“This happened, so I gather on social media, all kinds of MPs saying: ‘Oh he’s not one of us.’ And there I am out in the cold.”
The Evening Standard reports that George Eaton has been asked to take a temporary break from the New Statesman ‘to let stuff die down’. https://t.co/vyGYpc46JP
— Douglas Murray (@DouglasKMurray) April 26, 2019
The BBC presenter suggested, possibly for the sake of argument, that “the Conservative Party and this Government has moved away from [Scruton]” in order to “modernise themselves”, highlighting the fact that the philosopher was “quoted as saying that homosexuality has been normalised but [is] not normal,” for example.
Eaton, too, had put this quote to Sir Roger, remarking, “On homosexuality you’ve been criticised by some for saying, for instance, homosexuality’s not normal. But that seems to be a statement of fact” — emphasis added — in the leaked tapes.
Eaton’s seeming agreement with the sentiment was not reflected in his New Statesman piece, of course — and Scruton, for his part, later elaborated: “[N]obody has told me… why that is a particularly offensive thing to say. Red hair too is not normal, nor is decency among left-wing journalists. In Sexual Desire (1986), I argued that homosexuality is different from heterosexuality, but not in itself a perversion.”
Delingpole: Sir Roger Scruton Just Won a Landmark Victory in the Culture Wars https://t.co/TIjpUQMloD
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) April 26, 2019