Tim Montgomerie’s harangues in The Times are getting tiresome. In the latest one he attacks ‘political entertainment’, as exemplified by Fox News in America and the unnamed Mail in Britain.
By itself there’s nothing wrong about that: all media these days gravitate towards the light intellectual end (note to Mr Montgomerie and his sub-editors: ‘media’ is plural in English). Where his article, Don’t Get Frothed into a Right-Wing Bubble, is deficient is in what he sees as the serious, balanced counterweight to ‘many of our best-read newspapers’, which is the lawyerly for The Daily Mail.
Mr Montgomerie calls himself a conservative, but he seems to have a very vague idea of what the word means. He is, however, crystal clear in what he dislikes: real conservatism, which he attacks with demagogic weapons borrowed from the arsenal of those who still think that Lenin was fundamentally correct if occasionally too hasty.
One of those weapons is ascribing to one’s opponents words they never uttered. Thus, ‘[The Mail, still unnamed] believes that you can cut the foreign aid budget or the Whitehall payroll and the deficit problem will largely be solved.’
I’ve never heard such an asinine view expressed by anyone, and certainly not by any Mail writer. What I have heard from many is that this foreign aid serves not to help what Mr Montgomerie describes as ‘the hungriest people on the planet’ but to beef up the offshore accounts of the nastiest people on the planet.
Does he think that neither foreign aid nor ‘the Whitehall payroll’ should be cut? If so, we’d be interested to hear his arguments, as distinct from demagogic rants.
Another gripe is about ‘the… columnists who can’t mention the EU without resorting to Second World War imagery – one [this is the lawyerly for Simon Heffer] most recently suggesting that Angela Merkel wanted to create the Fourth Reich.’
Mr Heffer surely can see for himself the differences between the German-dominated EU of today and the German-dominated Europe of yesteryear. He also no doubt feels it’s his duty to point out the worrying similarities.
Does Mr Montgomerie think that no similarities exist? Then he ought to be prepared to make a case for a single currency pegged now as it was then to the German mark, which benefits Germany only; Germany’s political and economic diktats to the rest of Europe; political structures retaining only a veneer of local autonomy but in fact dominated by Germany. Mouthing off is no substitute for thinking, Mr Montgomerie.
Then, exactly as he wrote a couple of days ago, he accuses right-wing ‘ideologues’ of not even beginning ‘to speak to the anxious voters who fear big business and market forces more than a helping hand from the government.’
Speaking to people who prefer handouts to hard work, while shunning those who create wealth, has produced the present crisis of world economies. Does Mr Montgomerie think this is how it should be? Really, his conservatism isn’t so much wet as drowned.
Talking to his fearful darlings isn’t cheap. Does he think we can sustain trillion-pound debts and a massive welfare state ad infinitum? If so, I for one wouldn’t mind an elucidation – but one based on facts and understanding, not girlish gasps.
Mr Montgomerie and his ilk are rearing scapegoats to blame for the likely defeat in 2015. Their argument is that the Tories failed to score an outright victory against the worst government in British history, and will probably lose against the very same bunch next time, because they weren’t sufficiently similar to Labour. It’s not that they didn’t offer enough of an alternative but that they offered too much.
I congratulate Mr Montgomerie for having found a perfect forum for his views in The Times, that scrupulously unbiased, if lamentably moribund, paper. Featured immediately above his harangue is a stupid and offensive cartoon showing a small missile fired by Hamas meeting in mid-air a much bigger one fired by the Israelis in the opposite direction. Both have ‘Because all we want is peace’ written on them.
The message is that both sides are bad, but Israel is much worse. This is consistent with the paper’s unremitting campaign against the only civilised country in the Middle East and for ‘the legitimate rights’ of terrorists. The Jews, if you read The Times, now drink the blood of Hamas babies, rather than Christian ones. The immediate proximity of the cartoon to Mr Montgomerie’s article has to be seen as divine providence.
And speaking of divine providence, The Times has been waging an equally vociferous campaign in favour of women bishops. Its intellectual content matches anything Mr Montgomerie is capable of, though I may be underestimating him.
In the same issue one can find refreshingly ignorant comments by Ruth Gledhill, religious correspondent. Ignorance about religion has to be a necessary qualification for her job, but surely it can’t be the only one? Yet this is the impression one gets from Miss Gledhill’s musings.
Every time she mentions, all in a purely unbiased way of course, a hypothetical Anglo-Catholic bishop, she attaches a pejorative modifier, such as ‘camp’. Traditional Christianity ‘was bitchy and biased, chiefly against women’. The case against, according to this ignoramus and also today’s editorial, can be argued neither by the Anglo-Catholics on the basis of tradition nor by the evangelicals on the basis of Scripture.
What then should be the basis of an argument? Why, women’s rights, diversity, equality and other such wonderful things. If Miss Gledhill doesn’t realise that these have nothing to do with Christian doctrine, she should consider a career change.
Today’s unbiased editorial states unequivocally that ‘The Church will be strengthened by the consecration of women bishops.’ No doubt it will, if they mean the Roman Catholic Church that can expect a stampede of converts, should the vote go against believers in God and Christian orthodoxy and for believers in pandering to every half-baked secular idea.
The same woolly, ill-informed, unprincipled thinking, as exemplified by Mr Montgomerie, will do a similar service for UKIP, already a haven for conservatives who don’t want to be Labour in disguise. Real conservatives, either political or Christian, can’t win votes in the face of rampant modernity. But they can punish the stupidity and ignorance of those in power.