Is Hugo Rifkind always this wrong?
Hugo Rifkind is precisely the problem with British politics. Left-leaning, instinctively statist and wrong about everything.
Hugo Rifkind's hatchet job on non-Cameroon conservatism this week opened my eyes to what the main problem is in today's Britain. It's Hugo Rifkind.
A man who would rather explain away electoral trends, sound economic theory and social issues by talking about people he's met and would like to meet rather than exploring human action, philosophy and statistical evidence. He is one of the very same people that, as he describes, is constantly surprised not to see David Cameron with a shotgun under his arm. This should already tell you what you need to know about the man.
That's because Rifkind is reliant on anecdotal evidence and brand interpretation rather than policy and anything beyond the headlines of The Guardian. Knee-jerkingly un-conservative and (unrelatedly) unintelligent in their musings, Rifkind's Britain is populated by miners from the '80s, their Marxist offspring and the left-liberal pseudo-intelligentsia who, to quote a left-liberal pseudo-intellectual himself, sit on the floor with wine and cheese,and mispronounce "allegorical" and "didacticism".
Yes, Britain's capacity to think further than what they can vote themselves in largesse is being embraced by people like Rifkind and indeed embraced by the coalition government under one David Cameron.
Electability, implies Rifkind, is key. By those standards you should indeed say anything and everything to ensure majority government. That is the thesis, anyway. The flaw is that nowhere in his piece did Rifkind remark upon what is better for Britain. What is actually 'progressive' (because debt and welfare traps most certainly are not) and what he would imagine is a conservatism that stays true to its roots but also embraces modernity. That's because Rifkind cannot reconcile such things. Instead, he is forced to use Cameron's tepid, unappealing interpretation of conservatism as a benchmark for what Tories can and should do in government and for electoral purposes.
One of the wonderful things about the United States, despite what you may think about Republicans, is that there are numerous institutes, investors, philosophers and activists more concerned with preserving conservatism than preserving their political party.
Regardless in the same way, what you might think of UKIP as a party, take a serious moment (in lieu of Rifkind) to analyse just why the defectors defect, the electors elect, and the serious reasons behind why the Tories took a massive drubbing instead of a moderate one just a week ago.
Is it because in reality, Rifkind's straw man of 'the gays' and 'the Lords' (and maybe even the gay Lords?) is not the be all and end all but just a slim indication of an electorate that feels the Tories no longer represent what they want them to. I think so. Time and again, polling reflects that where the Conservatives are traditionally stronger, the public is traditionally concerned. Crime, education, taxation, economics and Europe all rank highly. Arguably, the NHS is the only anomaly here (although if you're like me, you'll be of the belief that more conservative policies work better here, too).
Rifkind states that Cameron commands the following traits and for him, that's enough to make him an ardent conservative. But let's take a look:
Cut taxes? 2009 levels simply is not good enough.
Anti-BBC? By whose measure and what proof?
Hostile to Europe? - But more hostile to Eurospectics.
Pro business? - Who was the last 'anti-business' Prime Minister?
Anti-welfare? - Nope, just marginally less inclined to give it up easy.
Hell-bent on privatising the NHS - I wish.
Instinctively Atlanticist - Less so than Blair, even!
Frankly, I can't say that I'm all too upset that Rifkind says he doesn't want to meet me (for I am one of the 'eight' people in the country, by his excellent math, that stopped voting Conservative because of Cameron's stance on issues of importance to me). Not, it wasn't gay marriage, but it was matters of conservatism. And as a working class, Muslim-born, first-generation immigrant, I'd have thought Rifkind's sort would imagine I'm specifically who they need to court. But apparently I'm 'representative of nothing'.
On the other hand, I have an idea as to why Rifkind wouldn't want to meet someone like me. Because it would blow his whole left-leaning, Islington-dwelling pseudo-intelligentsia world apart.
Raheem Kassam is the Executive Editor of The Commentator and tweets at @RaheemJKassam
We are wholly dependent on the kindness of our readers for our continued work. We thank you in advance for any support you can offer.