Harris-Quinney: Scruton Was Hounded by Woke Mob and Fake Conservatives in His Final Months

Roger Scruton / Peter Helme

Just as the virulently anti-Thatcher Conservative Party became momentarily “Thatcherite” when Baroness Thatcher passed away, establishment Conservative Party figures have been out in force eulogising Sir Roger Scruton upon his passing this week. Where were they less than a year ago when he was being fired from their government for holding “unacceptable views”?

I am a great believer in the linkage between mental and physical health, but there is no way to know whether Sir Roger would still be here were it not for the stress placed upon him in 2019. We can be certain that the last year of his life was made extremely unpleasant due to the hounding he faced by the woke outrage mob, and the betrayal by those he considered to be peers and colleagues.

In the last few months of his life he was honoured by Hungary and the Czech Republic for his work. These are governments regularly described in the British media as backward and even fascist, yet they curiously appear to treat our national treasures with greater respect than we do.

I had lunch with Sir Roger in 2018 where I asked him if he ever envisioned a time, in his days as an underground academic risking his life to pass books into the Communist bloc, where he would be welcomed to speak at Moscow State University and hounded out of speaking in British academia. He paused, laughed coldly, and said “No”.

In his twilight years, the philosopher reflected that he had come to be celebrated by many countries, but not his own.

I do not agree with much of what Richard Dawkins has to say, but I recognise his incredible mind and contributions to the public discourse.

It would be abominable to have a Christian crusade against his work, to strip him of his job, and to hound him into his grave. A rare point of agreement across the political spectrum until very recently was that it is a good thing society has moved past the book burnings and inquisitions of dark centuries past.

What an especially sad and irredeemable society it is that has millennia of learning, enlightenment and information at its fingertips but hounds philosophers of any political stripe. There is a distinct difference between robust disagreement on ideas, the preserve of freedom, and the rabid persecution of individuals for having ideas, the antithesis of freedom.

We don’t kill people in Britain, but we do withdraw their ability to live. We allow individuals to be unpersoned, to be “cancelled”, hounded out of their jobs, their homes and their families on the basis of what is unaccountably and suddenly considered by the often unelected and unaccountable to be acceptable views.

We live in a nation in which the self-declared died-in-the-wool liberal comic Ricky Gervais is described as “far-right” for concluding freedom of speech must be absolute to have any value. This is neither far-right nor far-left, but the foundation stone of a free civilisation.

I have found myself at the hands of the outrage mob, also aided by the Conservative government of the day, and it is a testing experience for anyone.

In very many ways Sir Roger was more able than most to survive the summary judgement of the tissue paper theology of wokeness. His quiet dignity and genius choked the pernicious anti-free thought and free speech movement on its own words, and his countless friends and supporters rallied to his cause.

Epiphets today cast freely like racist, homophobe, misogynist, used to define and destroy lesser beings, have no power against his depth of intellect, reason, and candour.

For the nurses and doctors who refuse to call a man a woman, the students who are expelled from school for their politics, the priests who refuse to ignore Biblical teaching, foster parents who are denied a child due to their party membership, the junior academics who voted for Brexit — there is no eulogy for them and no redemption.

They are ruined and ended and never heard from again.

I look at myself, at conservatives I respect greatly, and on our best day we are no Roger Scruton, and we never will be. As Peter Hitchens said “his loss we can ill afford in these narrow, conformist times”

Sir Roger Scruton is not and was never in need of our redemption, his words and ideas will last far beyond the hollow mores of our age.

It is our society that is in desperate need of redemption, only underlined by its condemnation of his brilliance.

But now that many of us, including our slightly re-ordered government, have belatedly accepted what happened to Sir Roger was a disgusting bastardisation of everything this country is built upon, the greatest testament to him would be to not repeat the same behaviour into the future, nor allow it to be repeated.

To enshrine, in law if necessary, that whatever people have to say, they are allowed not only the liberty to say it, but to continue freely with their lives after having said it.

If we do so we may be so lucky in the future to again be blessed and redeemed as a nation with someone of the iridescent grace of Sir Roger Scruton.

Ben Harris-Quinney is Chairman of the Bow Group. Sir Roger Scruton served as Senior Patron of the Bow Group from 2013.

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