The dangerous disconnect between our elites and the mass of the populace becomes ever more apparent.
When breaking news of the murder of Lee Rigby the BBC’s Nick Robinson spoke of men of “Muslim appearance.” He soon apologised for the remark. Thus, we have an incident where two men of Nigerian extraction are found shouting “Allahu Akbar”, standing over their victim with blood stained hands in which were clutched bloodied knives and machetes and justifying their atrocity by referring to the Koran, and the BBC News political editor apologises for saying they appeared to be Muslims. To people who do not inhabit the media, political or academic environments this seems passing strange.
Sir Simon Jenkins, one-time editor of the Times must be awarded the palm for most out of touch and inappropriate remark concerning the Woolwich murder. In, where else but the Guardian, Sir Simon loftily described the terrorist atrocity as a “mundane act of violence.” Perhaps in downtown Mogadishu, Jos or Kabul, but not in south London.
It is doubtful that Sir Simon lives in Woolwich, or any other unfashionable area. The anointed tend to live in the more select districts, it is the hoi polloi who must live with the results of the decisions of those elites who have spent their lives talking and commenting about ideas without actually making anything, other than money.
The recent comment by a leading member of the Conservative Party that rank and file Tory activists were “swivel eyed loons” should surprise no-one. It is similar to David Cameron’s description of UKIP as being full of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists.” The condescending attitude of our political elite towards the common people is akin to that of the aristocracy of yore.
The Labour Party are no better. Gordon Brown’s response to an elderly lady concerned about unrestrained immigration was that she was a “bigot.” The BBC’s Today Programme in 2003 asked listeners to suggest a law that they would like put onto the statute books. Five suggestions were short-listed, from which listeners then voted. Stephen Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, agreed to sponsor in parliament whichever idea eventually won the final vote. On 1 January 2004 it was announced on air that first place with 37% of the vote had gone to the proposal to authorise home-owners to use any means to defend their home from intruders. Stephen Pound’s on-air reaction was that, “The people have spoken — the bastards”.
Such attitudes are not uncommon. So many of our elites have never had to face the reality of life outside politics, the media, law or academia. The leaders of all three major parties (lets be kind and include the Lib Dems) have never worked in any productive position.
Between university and politics David Cameron worked as a PR flack for a TV company. The only non-Labour Party job Ed Milliband has held was a year spent as a researcher for Channel 4’s A Week in Politics. Apart from a gap year as a ski instructor Nick Clegg has never worked outside politics. These men have only ever been observers, never participants. They are unequipped to identify with ordinary people.
The same progression from school to university to professional politician is duplicated amongst their henchmen and women. At best there is an occasional interlude in productive work, but that is becoming increasingly rare. Even those, like Stephen Pound, who have spent a short time in the workplace soon go native and accept that they the elite know better than the little people, “the bastards.”
It is significant that one term of abuse often used to stigmatise movements such as the Tea Party in the USA and UKIP in the UK is “populist.” This is the ultimate term of condemnation from the progressive elite. If the people want something the elite don’t consider trendy the people are bound to be wrong. As a result the people are deserting them.
In the early fifties Conservative Party membership stood at over 3 million and the Labour Party at over 1 million. By 2010 the Conservatives were down to around 130,000 and Labour approx 193,000. In 1983 4% of the electorate were members of political parties. By 2005 this was down to 1.3%. Today it is generally reckoned to be hovering around or just under 1%.
With membership of all parties imploding as a result of this disconnect we will hear increasing agitation for involuntary taxpayer funding for political parties which have forfeited our voluntary support. Floated prior to the expenses scandal this idea fell away for obvious reasons. At the moment it is not floated because none of the main parties want funding to go to UKIP. It will, however, return. Their sense of entitlement runs so deep they do believe that the little people are there to supply the needs of the elite, and then do as we are told.
It need not be this way. There is an example of a politician who saw the well-being of the little people as one of the two main reasons for being in politics. Abraham Kuyper, prime minister of the Netherlands had another reason to be involved in political action, it was to live out the gospel of Christ.
Kuyper’s politics were scorned as being for de kleine luyden, the little people. It was his identification with the working and lower middle classes that made Kuyper effective as a social force. This was no mere public relations exercise to garner their votes. Kuyper’s whole public theology can be interpreted as a liberation movement for de kleine luyden, freeing them to be all God made them to be. If Christ died for these little people so looked down on by the elite of his day, then Kuyper could work for their physical and social as well as their spiritual liberation.