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How Labour became the nasty party Social justice has become a form of persecution

A kinder, gentler politics (JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)


September 30, 2021   4 mins

The morning after the deputy leader of the Labour Party called a number of her fellow citizens “scum”, the leader of the Labour Party spoke at a church service in Brighton, the theme of which was “love thy neighbour”.

As an atheist, and as someone who had to apologise the last time he went to church after its leaders were accused of carrying out “exorcisms” on gay people, you might have thought this would be a tough gig. And yet it wasn’t.

The theme was deliberately chosen so he could reflect on the way local communities had pulled together during the pandemic: “One of the things I’ve been profoundly struck by in the last 18 months is the fact that people have looked out for each other in a way I haven’t seen in my lifetime.” And he thanked people of faith for playing their part in all this. “I may not believe in God, but I do believe in faith,” as he once explained. Christians, he said on Sunday, were the Labour Party’s “moral compass”.

But the “love thy neighbour” story is a good deal more morally challenging than Keir Starmer seems to realise. For it is not a moral tale designed to celebrate social togetherness; it is supposed to challenge the listener to think about who their neighbour might be. And this is the message that appears to be lost on Angela Rayner.

After all, the point of the Good Samaritan story is that the audience hated Samaritans. They were “scum”. Too often this story is simply taken to be a heart-warming moral tale of helping others in a time of need — hence Starmer’s words about our coming together in the pandemic, with references to food banks and so on.

That’s all good and fine. But the parable’s purpose is not to make us all feel good about ourselves. It is the “scum” that acts with compassion, while the morally righteous pass by on the other side of the road. Applied to the Labour conference, the story should be renamed “the Good Tory”.

And here we reach the heart of the Labour Party’s problem with voters. It believes far too much in its own virtue — and so gives itself the licence to disparage its opponents in any way it likes. They are “scum”, we are the righteous. They deserve it.

At the end of Sunday’s church service, Starmer was presented with a copy of Graham Dale’s God’s Politicians: The Christian Contribution to 100 years of Labour. It is a “contribution” which has historically been fundamental to the success of the Left — arguably even more so than to the Right — but has been on the wane following the decline of Christianity.

Theologically, the Christian contribution to the Labour movement has rested on one fundamental idea: that what used to be called the “brotherhood of man” was rooted in “the Fatherhood of God”. To claim that all human beings are children of the same heavenly Father is to establish a deep ontological equality between all people and readily serves as the basis for a politics of social justice. But while this basic religious assumption can be harnessed as a powerful defence against divisive forces of social change — most notably certain forms of unbridled capitalism — it can just as much be used to express our fundamental connectedness with people with whom we passionately disagree.

In other words, the Fatherhood of God cuts both ways: it serves as the basis for food banks and better social security, but it also resists the dehumanisation of those some might label “scum”. It is no coincidence that churches are perhaps still the most socially diverse gatherings in the country.

But social justice has come to mean something else to the modern Labour Party. Justice is a complicated word in Christian ethics because theologians have long recognised that it can have a persecutory flavour. In many ways “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is the epitome of justice in so far as the punishment is proportionate to the crime.

Starmer spoke proudly yesterday of his former life in the Crown Prosecution Service. The scales of justice that hang over the Courts of Justice in which he plied his trade speak precisely to this sense of balance — the punishment fitting the crime. But without being tempered by mercy, justice alone can lead to a kind of revenge mentality in which retribution is cheered and celebrated. This is especially prevalent among those who are convinced of their own righteousness. Which is why, generally speaking, I fear people’s virtues far more than their vices.

Martin Luther famously had a complete about turn in his theology when he recognised that he actually hated the idea of a just God, because if God was just — and so treated people according to their just deserts — then we would all be lost. Polonius says to Hamlet: “My Lord, I will use them according to their desert.” Hamlet replies: “God’s bodykins, man
 use every man after his desert and who should ‘scape whipping?” From this perspective, we are all wrong-un’s, in need of forgiveness.

And so social justice — unmoored from the Christian belief in forgiveness and a society rooted in the Fatherhood of God — can easily turn into something that most of us might legitimately fear. After all, who of us would escape a whipping were the extent of our social sins exposed? That is why I — and I suspect I am not alone — am terrified at the prospect of angry people such as Angela Rayner gaining a whiff of real power. I fear that what they call justice many of us would experience as persecution. We would become scum.

That isn’t to say, as the great theologian Stanley Hauerwas once commented, that just because we should love our enemies we shouldn’t have any. Yes, there is struggle and political contest. Yes, there must be passion. But justice warriors must also recognise in their opponents something inherent in all of us — we are all potentially loveable, all fallen. When Labour violates this basic human solidarity out of a heightened sense of their own righteousness, voters rightly flee. Because the fear is that it’s Labour that has now become the nasty party.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

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Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago

The ever fragrant and emollient Angela Rayner knows her “Tories are Scum” comments will barely cause a ripple among Labour supporters. On the whole they’ll be warmly received. Over at the Guardian – both above and below the line – it is taken as a simple matter of fact that we have a Racist, Homophobic and, likely as not, Fascist PM.
If you ever question such assertions, you will be treated to a well-worn rehashing of various quotes, taken wholly out of context, as proof of things that bear little truth on examination.
The quote that always gets dragged up to “prove” Boris Johnson’s racism is the (admittedly misjudged) comment about Blair’s foreign travels “What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies
”
Johnson was mocking Blair for his colonialist attitude towards touring the developing world. Enjoying travelling there to receive adulation and to escape whatever domestic political problems he was facing in the UK. Boris was being rude about Blair rather than black people. As I say, it was probably not a well-judged comment (from a man hoping to become PM one day) because in employing such racist epithets – even as a way to mock that colonialist attitude – he opened himself up to criticism. He was writing in his usual florid and provocative style rather than using those expressions himself. But was he being intentionally racist? No. Context matters.
Looking at the PM’s voting record through his career, looking at his writing, it is plain that Boris is actually at the very liberal end of the Tory party, yet is painted as a racist and fascist routinely.
Any attempt to push back against the BBC/Guardian narrative is met with variations on the “If it walks like a duck, 
.” argument.
You then have to try and point up the obvious 
.. So, Boris presides over an “openly racist” govt that has the most ethnically diverse cabinet in history?
Leads an “openly homophobic” Govt whose leading lights all supported Gay Marriage legislation?
Whose Govt is “Extreme right wing” – even though the PM, if you took the time to go through his voting record, has always been at the very liberal wing of his party (indeed his voting record has been further left than, say, Jo Swinson’s)?
Rather than the “Duck Test”, their argument sounds more like the “Witch Test” from Monty Python’s Holy Grail. They’ve decided Boris is a racist and fascist and so everything they conjure up proves that he is. Even though the merest glance at his career would demonstrate he is absolutely nothing of the sort.
Most of the “offensive” things Boris has been accused of saying were in the context of his writing – he is an amusing and provocative writer. I would rather read an entertaining writer, who isn’t afraid to sometimes sail close to the wind, than a dull, sterile writer who tiptoes unscathed through the minefield laid by the professional offence-takers by never saying anything even vaguely interesting or amusing.
Take the whole Burqa row – There was zero condemnation for Denmark on the pages of the Guardian when the Danish parliament introduced their Burqa ban. No, instead of arguing against such an illiberal law, in blessed Denmark of all places, the ire of columnists was directed at someone who had penned an article actually defending peoples’ right to wear it, but gently lampooning it as a strange garb. Boris described burqas as making the wearer look like a letterbox. Shock. Horror. Immediately he was accused of being a monster, a racist, and an Islamophobe.
Why is it that when Denmark passes a law specifically aimed at Muslim women that is okay, yet when a Tory pens an article defending Muslim women’s right to wear a Burqa – whilst making fun of it – he is accused of every “-ism” that comes to mind? It’s just not a consistent position.
The prize, though, goes to the increasingly ludicrous Matthew D’Ancona who insisted that “Johnson’s burqa row is more important and dangerous than Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech”. Seriously? D’Ancona’s deep and obvious antipathy towards the PM may have something to do with their respective success and popularity over their tenure as editor of the Spectator.
A quick experiment – I referred to the Boris article about the Burqa, I thought it was pretty tame stuff. Boris made an amusing comparison about it – WHILST ALSO DEFENDING the right to wear it. So, read this and tell me if you think this is okay, that this passes the smell-test for woke, progressive journalism as regards a (religious) form of dress:
“Something horrible flits across the background in scenes from Afghanistan, scuttling out of sight. There it is, a brief blue or black flash, a grotesque Scream 1, 2 and 3 personified – a woman. The top-to-toe burka, with its sinister, airless little grille, is more than an instrument of persecution, it is a public tarring and feathering of female sexuality.”
Ooooh, actually, reading that again I can see a few problems with it. Maybe it should have been criticised, maybe it was a bit racist, I mean, I guess we should expect such horribly unwoke attitudes from a creature like Boris, the pantomime villain in the eyes of the left-liberal media.
Oh no, wait a minute, that wasn’t from the Boris article. That was published, in the Guardian itself, and written by none other than the irreproachable St Polly of Toynbee.
In fact, even the Boris “letterbox” jibe wasn’t original. Exactly the same joke had been cracked before – again in the Guardian – BY ONE OF ITS OWN WRITERS – Remona Aly.
https://www.theguardian.com
Deemed perfectly fine when done by one of their own, yet denounced as “Dog whistle Islamophobia” when done by Boris. More incendiary than “Rivers of Blood”? Give me strength!
Line up those who have become truly demented by Boris being PM – Angela Rayner, Matthew D’Ancona, Polly Tonybee, the entire Guardian writing staff, the BBC, Matthew Parris, practically every Labour, Lib Dem or SNP MP, the entire run of liberal placemen running every institution and quango in the country ..( not to mention the bien pensants littering the corridors of Brussels) and you have to smile.
If it is true that you can judge a man more by his enemies than his friends, then, for all his faults, Boris must be doing something right – he annoys all the right people.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I read the Guardian and UnHerd a lot. I haven’t yet decided which one is right on this, but thanks for reminding me that context is everything

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Why do you read the Guardian a lot?!?

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Maybe because there’s a lot to read. I try to see different sides and not get into any bubble. They usually provide evidence, but they also mislead sometimes (often?)

Andy Griffiths
Andy Griffiths
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

I also read both UnHerd and The Grauniad, for the same reason. I don’t want to live in an echo chamber.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Griffiths

You should add in Breitbart. Surprisingly informative about otherwise unreported events in Europe.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Niobe Hunter

Thanks for tip. I’m looking just now

Riccardo Tomlinson
Riccardo Tomlinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Yep me too. I try for a wider view. The Guardian’s annoying sometimes but worth it I think.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I found this in the Guardian, which does recognise that Boris was mocking Blair’s globetrotting
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2008/jan/23/london.race?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Other

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Rodney,
Go to the Guardian site – put the words ‘Boris’ and ‘Piccanninies’ in the search bar and you will find that the Guardian had referenced Boris’ comments IN 266 ARTICLES since running the article you mention, that recognised he was mocking Blair’s globetrotting.
And thus they build a “Received Wisdom” consensus that they know to be false. It is not merely poor journalism – they are printing outright lies.
They did exactly the same with Gove’s “had enough of experts” quote. Which they used to “prove” that Brexit supporters were stupid. Rather than printing what Gove had actually said “I think the people in this country have had enough of experts from organisations with acronyms saying that they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong” – which, given how serially and disastrously wrong the economic forecasters of the IMF, CBI, ECB etc etc have been over the years, is a pretty defensible statement. That deliberate “misquote” has appeared in 225 articles.
The most egregious example is Mrs Thatcher’s “no such thing as society”. Over 450 articles within the Guardian archive reference it – how many do you imagine set the quote in context? What she was saying was perfectly defensible, yet Guardian journalists use it to “prove” that Mrs Thatcher and the “evil scum” Conservatives believe in a dog eat dog world, and let the devil take the hindmost.
These lies have informed the worldview of so many people that it has become commonly accepted. Yet who in the liberal media is honest enough to push back against it?
The Guardian proudly trumpets “Comment is free
 but facts are sacred”. Yet facts are so routinely ignored in favour of their preferred narrative that I wonder how the Editors still put out CP Scott’s dictum every day with a straight face.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I need to look into this when I have time (I’m meant to be working!), but right now I think Angela Rayner should apologise, at least for the word scum, and maybe for other things if there’s no evidence.

It was fairly easy for me to uncover one case where Boris wasn’t being racist, but apologised for his language

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I have always tried to defend the “infamous” Mrs Thatcher quote: “there is no such thing as society” – quite often to colleagues such as social/mental health workers who seemed to take a delight in misrepresenting what she said without reference to the actual context. Depressing.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Allie McBeth

Allie,
Sadly, those who control how history is presented to the next generation can rewrite the past, and have done.
As you rightly say, many people ‘hate’ Mrs Thatcher because they’ve been fed the narrative that selfishness was baked into the country by Thatcherism. They can all quote “There’s no such thing as society” … yet see it in context and obviously it means something completely different:
“I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it: ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”
The message (although phrased rather less elegantly) is very much akin to JFK’s famous line from his inaugural address: “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” which, I presume, would be a sentiment many would approve of, particularly at times like these.
If JFK is not their bag either, then perhaps Tony Blair, who (even less elegantly) echoed the sentiment of her comments almost exactly when he called for:
” A welfare state based on rights and responsibility where we gave opportunity to people on benefit to get into work; but demanded responsibility in return. …… We believe passionately in giving people the chance to get off benefit and into work. … But with the chance, comes a responsibility on the individual – to take the chance, to make something of their lives and use their ability and potential to the full. 
.. Only in this way will we drive up social mobility, the great force for equality in dynamic market economies. To do all that, ours has to be an enabling welfare state – one which helps people to help themselves. “
Any PM worthy of the job realises that the state should be there to provide a safety net, but not a hammock.
Mrs Thatcher wanted people to become masters of their own destiny once again, rather than subjects of the state, reliant on hand-outs. She believed the pervading culture of entitlement encouraged apathy and a poor work ethic. That is not selfishness.
Contrary to what has become the received wisdom, Mrs Thatcher did not cut back on the welfare state. Instead she was keen to encourage private enterprise to reduce people’s reliance on the state.
Frankly I don’t understand why she isn’t held up as an example by people from across the political spectrum. Here was a lower middle class grammar school girl who, by dint of hard work, determination and vision, succeeded in a male dominated world of entrenched privilege. She believed in a genuine meritocracy (far more than any PM since), and the empowerment of the individual who could achieve their potential without a stifling state. Much of this she achieved, which is, in no small measure, why she won successive large majority election victories.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I think I agree with all of that. Have an uptick.

I personally know someone who is bringing up her son in a state of severe poverty through absolutely no fault of her own.

She gets low paying jobs for a while, but they don’t last, and there isn’t much around. You mention the need for a safety net, but sometimes these two are actually starving.

This country should do better. It can afford to waste huge sums on useless PPE, but can’t properly help the really needy

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Yes, ‘Maggie Thatcher milk-snatcher’, as rent a mob students used to chant. Like the evil scum Tories and Brexit Boris – voted in by the ignorant masses (and in Maggie’s case never rejected by them). Just as well Joe Public knows a thing or two would-be intellectual superiors fail to grasp.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jane Watson
Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Yes, she believed that meritocracy was so possible that she ensured a family member was placed into deals to make cash in such a way the records still remain sealed…plus of course no need to work hard for cash when you can marry a millionaire.

Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Fantastic stuff, thank you Paddy!

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Didn’t know the full Gove quote – thanks and par for the course with this lot

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Some Blues do believe in a dog eat dog World just as some Reds are mentalists who think a person with a c0ck can be a woman.

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I have heard lefties describe Boris Johnson quite casually as ‘fascist’, which proves to me that they have no idea what a real fascist is or does.
I neither trust nor like Boris, but he doesn’t have his opponents killed, does he?

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Blair and prof John Kelly?

D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

I was thinking more of V. Putin.

Jan Rushton
Jan Rushton
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

No, I agree, our PM is not racist – but he is unashamedly out for himself – in the history books, and benefitting his backers (? Including Russians) and his friends – his raising of taxes (and yes we need to) via National Insurance rather than Income Tax, tells us exactly his lack of any real care for ordinary people other than his reputation for posterity

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Jan Rushton

I think you’re right on this. Politicians should serve all the people

Last edited 2 years ago by rodney foy
Allie McBeth
Allie McBeth
2 years ago
Reply to  Jan Rushton

I can’t think of many politicians who are not ‘out for themselves’, the Blair creature for starters!

Carol Moore
Carol Moore
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Brilliant comment!

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Yes. I find it odd though that Johnson never seems to defend his piece on the right wear the burkha. He could simply say “I regret the use of the letterbox similie but my purpose was to defend the right to wear the garment, unlike in those intolerant countries, both western and Islamic, now and in the recent past, which have banned it, including France, Denmark, Turkey and Tunisia.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Smith
Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Because he is savvy enough to know his little joke about Letterboxes ,and above all the reaction of the woke crowd ,won him 1m votes in red wall seats .
Instead of saying he isn’t woke and is on the side of working people up north he used humour to demonstrate it .

Why would he ruin it by apologising ? Anyone offended by that joke was going to vote Labour anyway

Raab when asked whether he would ‘take the knee’ said only for Her Majesty and the missus . Great answer but then he ruined it by feeling the need to explain himself .

Last edited 2 years ago by Alan Osband
Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Yep, Raab f67ked up by explaining.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

I take your point. Notwithstanding though, he should make a great deal more of the fact that the whole point of his piece was to defend burkha wearers against unBritish prohibitions, unlike certain ‘progressive’ but actually intolerant European nations and even some Islamic ones, and to invite his critics to agree with him on that.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

I’m not sure wanting to be super tolerant about letting people wear burkhas is a great idea .Allowing radical Islam to manifest is a luxury only countries with very small numbers of Muslims can afford .
I rather like Eric Zemmour’s suggestion that French Muslims should have to give their children French names . Jean , not Mohamed ,for example

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

I fancy imagining what kind of colourful descriptions of kilt-cladden Scottish soldiers have been made down the decades, centuries even, by foreign writers or correspondents who witnessed their mobilisations, marches or parades, in the various exotic climes of Empire or in other mysterious places.
Will Scottish football fans wearing their kilts in Qatar be subject to some sardonic put-downs, especially if the writer in question supports the opposite team? Or to some colourful sardonic put-downs by the local press? Would we know about it even if it were translated? Would such a flavour of writing be a sign of the level of freedom of expression?
Brothers and sisters tease each other. I suppose such folk who oppose such teasing as is carried out in the media between one individual and another, or by one individual on another, yet who barely know each other or not at all, would say that the people concerned are not brothers or sisters or brother and sister, as the case may be. Freedom has its strict limitations in various places. But it is not to those places that the mass of humanity gravitates to.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago

Speakin’ ‘o the men in kilts..
https://youtu.be/WOfF7gjE-IU
Where is a Lt. Col Mitchell to restore law and order onto the streets of London and to smash the wall of silence about crime in the (now effectively foreign) parts of the UK, areas the Police won’t impose law and order on.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

This is a very, very, long defence of Boris Johnson, with which I agree (though he is an awful PM for other reasons!). Yet again though, an Unherd commentator rapidly swerves from the topic at hand to one of his pet subjects! Giles Fraser is always interesting. It is a shame that his commentary with its wider cultural and religious rather than narrowly religious focus, often seems to be approached with bafflement or is just ignored. Back to our good old culture war comfort trenches!

Fraser makes a good case that we completely misunderstood the Good Samaritan story. And it is not only the Left – there are a lot of people on here, for example, who routinely demonise the Left and disparage the motives of every single act of a left wing figure.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Fisher
Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

The ‘Tories are scum’ comments will be as warmly received in Red circles as when a PM accused TUers of being the enemy within. to wild approval from the Blues.

It’s just wibble. Political theatre to keep the hacks happy.

Last edited 2 years ago by Allan Dawson
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago

“The modern world is not evil; in some ways the modern world is far too good. It is full of wild and wasted virtues. When a religious scheme is shattered (as Christianity was shattered at the Reformation), it is not merely the vices that are let loose. The vices are, indeed, let loose, and they wander and do damage. But the virtues are let loose also; and the virtues wander more wildly, and the virtues do more terrible damage. The modern world is full of the old Christian virtues gone mad. The virtues have gone mad because they have been isolated from each other and are wandering alone. Thus some scientists care for truth; and their truth is pitiless. Thus some humanitarians only care for pity; and their pity (I am sorry to say) is often untruthful.”

G.K. Chesterton

Giles Fraser
Giles Fraser
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Great quote Julian. Exactly that.

ralph bell
ralph bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Fraser

Another great article reminding us all of leading a good life.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Giles Fraser

The problem is most people under the age of fifty are biblically illiterate so will never have heard the full story of the Good Samaritan, let alone its meaning. The Christianity we have today is just scraps – throw-away soundbites such as ‘love your neighbour’ – whilst the stories and teaching from which they come are long forgotten. This is not to say past generations were biblically fluent. But they would at least have been aware (from school lessons) of the point of the story – that for Jews at the time, ‘good Samaritan’ was an oxymoron (just as for modern day Labour pharisees, ‘good Tory’ is an oxymoron).

Last edited 2 years ago by Judy Englander
Ed
Ed
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Jordan Peterson seems to be doing more than most to ensure that is not the case.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

By the 1950s, most children were attending Sunday School.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago

Bet it wasn’t attendence of their own free will. 🙂

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Well, I reckon old GK was well into his favourite beer when he wrote most of that, but think he had begun to sober up by the time he wrote the last two sentences!
Perhaps I am just a bit thick, but surely he should have popped the word Mercy in somewhere ? Even, isolated and wandering alone Mercy has value. Indeed, history whispers to us that it is when Mercy is hard to find or is misconstrued that things turn for the worse and get really bad.

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  hugh bennett

See Ps. 85:10…”Justice” alone is cold comfort. One can consider the Islamic death bed test, is your soul lighter than the feather against which it is weighed? Or one can channel Browning, “Between the stirrup and the ground, he mercy sought and mercy found”…in modern parlance, “justice”‘ all too often means reparation, payback. Every time I see the word, I am on guard,

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Liz Walsh

Justice is handed out when folk get given their due, i.e. according to a law, be it God’s law or manmade law. The act of justice while therefore an act of the law, it can, I agree be an act of vengeance and force.
What I was trying to say was that Mercy, on the other hand, means exercising forbearance (self-control; restraint and tolerance).. An act of mercy is an act of courteous goodwill and compassion?

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

That is an acutely poignant quote. Thank you. Pity, and its exhibition, has become the great vice of our age.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

“Neither Rousseau nor Robespierre was capable of dreaming of a goodness beyond virtue, just as they were unable to imagine that radical evil would ‘partake nothing of the sordid or sensual’ (Melville), that there could be wickedness beyond vice.”
Hannah Arendt

Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

Or back further in history, “Vices are but virtues in love with fantastic objects” Jeremy Taylor

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

I voted Leave. To many I’m ‘scum’.
I’ve voted UKIP in the EU election. To many I’m ‘scum’.
I’ve voted Conservative. To many I’m ‘scum’.
I’m a pale (scum) stale (scum) male (scum).
Remarkably I’m still a nice guy. Just don’t expect me to jump on the latest divisive bandwagon.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

“That is why I — and I suspect I am not alone — am terrified at the prospect of angry people such as Angela Rayner gaining a whiff of real power. I fear that what they call justice many of us would experience as persecution. We would become scum.”
I wouldn’t worry too much about that. Angela Rayner is the gift that goes on giving to the Tories. They can mess up more or less anything – as long as the Labour party remains resistant to the proposition that calling your opponents names instead of articulating decent policy is not a good electoral strategy, they can be assured of power.
Pigeons learn faster than certain factions of the Labour party. I’m not a particular fan of Starmer but he must just go home and scream into a pillow sometimes. With Rayner and her motormouth in the party it must feel like going one step forward and about a mile back.

Last edited 2 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Agreed – if you wanted to plant a sleeper Tory agent in the Labour Party you would plant people like her and Corbyn.
I think it also hugely helps the government that Starmer looks like such a milquetoast.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Starmer’s egregious role as public prosecutor is all you need to know about him: avoid controversy and unpopular moral stances (e.g. ignore Asian molestation rings) while spouting Righthink, and watch your career advance.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago

“Politicians, and posturing ‘heads’ of organisations, seem to believe that appeasing activists will broaden their appeal. As Kier Starmer seems yet to comprehend, the disrespected majority vote with their feet.

Maybe people who float to senior positions in academia and public life do so by routinely ducking controversy and avoiding confrontation. They rarely say what they think but mouth apparently benign platitudes (allowing others to be thrown under the bus). Chickens come home to roost, with a bit of luck, when they inadvertently expose their shape-shifting core.”

I wrote the above a day or two ago in response to Mary Harrington’s article on the erasure of ‘women’.

Adam Wolstenholme
Adam Wolstenholme
2 years ago

This stuff about Starmer being guilty of ignoring the grooming gangs of Rotherham and elsewhere – there’s a lot of it below the line. Why not in other media? Genuine question.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

The comment was probably aimed at the activists and members who will vote in the next leader . They would have loved it .

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Osband

Which is terribly short-sighted…unless it is their long-term ambition to sit around being impotently angry and shouting into a void rather than getting elected and actually making a difference.

Last edited 2 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Al M
Al M
2 years ago

“That is why I — and I suspect I am not alone — am terrified at the prospect of angry people such as Angela Rayner gaining a whiff of real power”

Best keep voting Tory then.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

When Bevan called the Tories lower than vermin, he was speaking as a damaged man who had come up a very hard road. What has Angela Rayner ever suffered that she can speak with such rage?

Edward Jones
Edward Jones
2 years ago

Walk a mile in her high heels and then you will know.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

An excellent article and some excellent early comments. But in many ways it is an open goal. Time and again those who serve the bigwigs of the left when in government like chauffeurs, security people etc report them as arrogant and patronising in contrast to the politicians of the right who tend to be polite and thoughtful.
Self-righteousness is not a good basis for real compassion. A Christian understanding even at an irreligious level that we are all fallen is a much better basis. Not, of course, that Christians are without such self-righteousness as the many religious wars of the past testify. Believing only you and your fellow believers knows the truth is a great basis for horrific levels of cruelty.
The end always justifies the means. Lying about your opponents and hating them is justified by the noble goal. A noble ideology justifies all vile behaviour that supposedly serves the end.

Dave Corby
Dave Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Please do not confuse the actions of Christians with the actual teachings of Christ. (We are human after all).
Self-righteousness is the exact opposite of the Christian teaching which says that no one is righteous except Christ Himself. We are only seen as righteous by God because of Christ, and nothing to do with self.
Although we do, of course, believe that we are the only ones that have the Truth (it is the Word of the One who created the universe, after all) – Christ taught us just to offer it and if it is not accepted then to move on. Nowhere did He instruct us to force it on anyone.

Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I work in a culture (the arts) where 99% of participants are on the political left. Alongside the automatic sense of virtue, the chief personal characteristics I observe are : 1) eye watering sexism (the men); 2) rudeness to the little people (waiters, shop staff); 3) and comprehensive hypocrisy across the board (tax avoidance, expenses fiddling, and private h/c or schooling if a rich spouse / parent / trust fund is on hand). Until you see it up close and personal it’s hard to appreciate how deep this goes; all is justifiable if you’re on the “correct side”.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago

The appointment of Angela Rayner as Shadow Secretary of State for Education was truly the death of satire
To appoint a person so thick that she is not capable of appreciating how stupid she is to shadow Secretary of State for Education demonstrates the absolute dearth of talent in the labour party. It was tantamount to a declaration of war on education.
However, just because she as thick as 2 short planks dos not mean that the Julius Streicher of the labour party is not dangerous. Extremist parties always find a use for such people, and they in turn intuitively realising that they owe their promotion not to ability but to their rabid doctrinal loyalty and their lack of conscience about the use of extremist rhetoric to whip up the mob.

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago

“The death of satire.” Wonderful. A bit like Stalin appointing Beria as Minister of Justice?

Glyn Reed
Glyn Reed
2 years ago

Great article, thank you.
I must recommend Jordan Peterson’s talk entitled, when victimhood leads to genocide. He uses the example of the genocide of the Kulaks in Russia, 1929-1932. Who knows, perhaps hearing about it encouraged a certain leader of German national socialists to shape the narrative of grievance and victimhood against the Jewish people that led to their ultimate genocide. There are several examples of such events taking place throughout history – many in the 20th century. The fact that the left sees nothing in embracing this narrative of weoponising blame and resentment in order to win power should shock us all but sadly parliament and the MSN, populated as it is by far too many cowardly ignoramuses ( with a few noble exceptions), they get away with it unchallenged as most instead prefer to nod along with an air of righteousness more worried about the consequences of disagreement on their careers than of what is being promoted on the next generation or so. Such narratives rely heavily on profound ignorance something that now proliferates. A more damning indictment of our education system would be hard to find.
There is an illustrated version of the JP’s talk on you tube.

Last edited 2 years ago by Glyn Reed
Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

I would say that politics is always and everywhere Us vs. Them.
I would say that government is always and everywhere loot and plunder for the government’s supporters.
The only reason that this is not universally recognized is the remarkable ability of journalists and intellectuals to put lipstick on a pig and call it social justice.
And don’t get me started on the left’s butcher’s bill.

Ed Cameron
Ed Cameron
2 years ago

I suggest the scales of justice, and the blindfold, represent the impartial weighing of evidence and argument rather than punishment fitting the crime.
The pursuit of “social justice” is the pursuit of a goal without definition. Is it equality of opportunity or the redistribution of wealth?

Jim le Messurier
Jim le Messurier
2 years ago
Reply to  Ed Cameron

The pursuit of “social justice” is the pursuit of a goal without definition. Is it equality of opportunity or the redistribution of wealth?
It’s redistribution of wealth, carried out with the intention of bringing about equality of outcome (‘equity’, in other words). This redistribution will be punitive owing to it being viewed as redress for the perceived moral failings of the people from which wealth or ‘privileges’ will be taken. So the pursuit of ‘social justice’ could be more aptly described as ‘social vengeance’.
Equality of opportunity as a goal is of little interest to the left.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
2 years ago

Equality of outcome except for the keepers of the flame of this belief who deserve much more.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago

And yet it is said that most of the wealth is owned by a minority, and the rest have no opportunity to get their hands on it. Should we reject all forms of redistribution? (Just asking, I don’t know the answer)

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

Some of them even want to be taxed!
https://millionairesforhumanity.org/

Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago

Well said. And the increase in the number of have-nots reinforces the need for redress and the urgency of the redistribution. This is the playbook of the Biden regime and its open borders.

Brooke Walford
Brooke Walford
2 years ago

I am an athiest and totally persuaded by the astute observations regarding the tyranny of virtue.

Ann Ceely
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

I’ve always thought that Labour were the nasty party! Their 1950s and early 60s conferences were full of angry, shouting, personally nasty.
Conservatives were much more likable.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ann Ceely
Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Lately, I’ve been more drawn to Conservatives too. Not necessarily the party, but the people around me who I know to be Tory voters.* It’s because they tend to see the world more pragmatically and understand being a good person to consist in doing what you CAN within your own sphere of possibility/responsibility. Human imperfection is allowed. That contrasts with the huge utopian or Platonic vision of the perfect world and how it all OUGHT to be that drives the visions of the Lefties I know. It’s not the aiming high and the idealism that I don’t like. I think being principled and ambitious is very admirable. It’s the nastiness that happens when someone is seen to fall short of the standards staked out for this perfect world. The “we’re only human” phrase only comes out when someone of the same tribe fails to come up to scratch. Which sort of nixes the principled bit and causes the part of my brain that requires logic and rationality to go a bit haywire.
Most of that reflects what the author argues – I just tend to see this through a philosophical rather than a religious lens.
(* for the record, quite a few of them don’t think much of the party these days)

Last edited 2 years ago by Katharine Eyre
Douglas McNeish
Douglas McNeish
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I think perhaps you said it more clearly than the author. I would add that the leftist utopians are also forgiving of themselves when they fall short of their own high standards because “victimhood.” It is always there as the fallback position if they are caught out – especially if they are in the public eye.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Like the socialist s in my family, overall net takers and very vocal about their entitlement

Mark Vernon
Mark Vernon
2 years ago

Ivan Illich’s take on the Good Samaritan complements Giles’: ensure you see the humanity of another, which frees you because able to respond, and watch out for the tribalism that feels empowering but actually leaves you bound.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Vernon

The key part of the parable is often forgotten: after telling the story Jesus asks (paraphrasing), ‘so who is my neighbour?’. That was the question for Jews who despised Samaritans and the challenge for all of us tempted to dehumanise the ‘other’.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

That was the question Jesus put to smug English people who despise Europeans.

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Penelope Lane

I must have missed that. When did he visit?

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Al M

Didn’t he visit Glastonbury Tor with Joseph of Aramithea?

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Think they were the warm up act for Corbyn on the Pyramid Stage.

Penelope Lane
Penelope Lane
2 years ago
Reply to  Al M

My point exactly. Jesus—or more properly, the Christ—has been knocking at English doors for a couple of thousand years, apparently without success.
How comfortable and unthreatening is Mark Vernon’s original comment: ten upticks at the time of my posting this for a correct, but entirely abstract, observation.
This abstraction is then pushed further away from any contact with harsh reality by Judy Englander’s response: oh yes, it was those Jews and Samaritans over there in that foreign country a long time ago: nine upticks for giving us a lesson in the abstract about what it means to be human.
So then I try to bring Vernon and Englander’s comments into real-life England in 2021: ten instant downticks for daring to suggest something concrete which we ourselves might have done, something actual to which the lesson might apply

Oh, no, no, no
 No! We’re English! We lead the world. World-beatingly, it is for us to preach to others. We teach them how it’s done.
But just in case ten downticks are not enough to dispose entirely of the perceived threat to complacency, the classic male response to threat then piles in: defuse and deflect by employing the emotionally distancing weapon of put-down schoolboy humour: Little Britain to the rescue! Mea culpa? Mea what? Me? Oh, no, no, no
 Please, don’t give us any of that foreign rubbish here.

Last edited 2 years ago by Penelope Lane
Michael James
Michael James
2 years ago

Tom Lehrer summed it up perfectly:
‘Some people do not love their fellow man and I hate people like that.’

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

As a first step on the road to recovery Labour has to win over a relatively small number of floating voters in marginal seats. These are precisely the sort of voters who will contrast the public face of the ‘nice’ party with the private behaviour of its Deputy Leader and the hearty cheers of her audience.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Labour has to win over a relatively small number of floating voters

This sort of misstates the magnitude of the challenge though. To win over that small number in 40 seats actually entails achieving a general shift in perception that will win over millions across all 650 seats. The others won’t affect the result, but to bring about a result in the decisive marginals that will, that’s what is required. There isn’t a way to craft a message that wins you 40 odd marginals with no impact (or effort called for) elsewhere. To get 100 more people to vote for you in Nantwich you probably need 1,000 more people to vote for you in Bolsover and 10,000 more in Christchurch.
The Telegraph today says

without winning seats in Scotland or a majority in England…Labour is so far adrift that a swing greater than that secured by Tony Blair in his landslide 1997 victory would be required just for a majority of one.

Let’s face it, that is not going to happen in the next election. If it were there would be signs of it already. Labour would be smashing it in by-elections, winning councils, soaring in the polls, and its leader would be trouncing the PM at the despatch box and in the polls. None of it is happening.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I see what you mean, and can’t disagree. I suppose I hedged my bets by talking about a first step on the road to recovery.

George Stone
George Stone
2 years ago

Angela Rayner should not be allowed to continue in her role as deputy leader, after dragging democratic politics into the gutter with her abhorrent, aggressive language, excused as ‘passion’, and her phoney moral virtue signalling. This ‘speech of the street’ is the street to anarchy ultimately.
Also, Keir Starmer was wearing his ‘politics hat’ in church when he said that, as an atheist, he did not believe in god but he does ‘believe’ in faith. I believe in faith too, because some people have it and it exists, but I do not respect a prejudiced dogma based largely on tribal values with no real evidence.
An excellent piece from Giles Fraser with good responses, particularly from Paddy Taylor.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago

Isn’t is strange how rapidly smoking a fag has become almost taboo? As an ex smoker I feel for Ms Rayner. Let her have her fag in peace for heaven’s sake! On the other hand a more paranoid part of myself wonders whether it was all done on purpose
.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Imagine if you wanted to smoke and you had to clear it with a hypothetical non-smoking Angela Rayner. Would she let you smoke in peace? Or would you be scum?

Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

I don’t see it as relevant that it was at a private meeting (it clearly wasn’t, otherwise there would not have been so many people present, it wouldn’t have been filmed, and we wouldn’t all know about it), or that she may have been drunk (in vino veritas). I’ll add that she has shown no regret.
You say she is entitled to her anger, bringing to mind the common tactic of biased broadcasters who attribute the motives for an action as a devious plan to ‘Tories’, but anger, implied as being righteous, to people such as Rayner.
As for the ÂŁ20 credit; it was granted as a temporary measure at the start of Corvid, so its reversal is a logical consequence, rather than an evil act, however one might believe universal credit to be too low.
Policies to control government spending are surely an objective even Rayner might accept as absolutely necessary. If not, Starmer shouldn’t keep her in the position she does. We are not a lightly taxed nation, and rich people are particularly heavily taxed, although I accept that some exploit international options closed to the majority. This is a subject for debate, not real, exaggerated, or feigned anger.

Last edited 2 years ago by Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
Colin Elliott
2 years ago

“….the Labour Party ……believes far too much in its own virtue — and so gives itself the licence to disparage its opponents in any way it likes. They are “scum”, we are the righteous.”
Oh so true, not necessarily of the Labour party, in which there have been and are many fine people, but of too many on the left.
But one thing else I’ve noticed; this strong feeling of righteousness allows them to enjoy very high incomes, even ennoblement, with a clear conscience, while criticising the greed of their political opponents.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
2 years ago

Is it not possible the craze for setting up food banks , especially when the Conservatives are in power ,does more harm than good. Less well off people are far more likely to suffer from obesity than malnutrition in this country . Food banks are mainly for giving a role to Justin Welby and the CofE , and other left wing organisations. Needy vicars and bishops who no longer believe in God do have a problem , but they oughtn’t take it out on the overweight poor .

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
2 years ago

The true purpose of the parable of the Good Samaritan is to demonstrate to Jesus’s legalist interlocuture the impossibility of justification by works and the law. “Go thou therefore and do likewise.” Even the GS himself cannot realistically be expected to go out of his way to help every person in need who crosses his path, only the Messiah can do that. The chapter (Luke10) ends with Jesus admonishing Martha for criticising Mary for sitting at Jesus’s feet rather than helping her prepare the traditional hospitality. The message is clear, the ways of the law are fulfilled, it is time to seek salvation in the only place it can be found, with the Son of God:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Last edited 2 years ago by Martin Smith
Margaret F
Margaret F
2 years ago

Interesting article exploring the concept of justice. I think that one of our current problems and one that makes it impossible to reason with the Left is that people today literally do not know what justice is. Most young people and those on the left confuse justice with mercy. There is no such thing as social justice; what they are really talking about is mercy.
I think this may be deliberate because calling for justice has dignity while calling for mercy makes one sound weak. So basically we can’t have a productive conversation because our language has been twisted to suit the privileged victim groups and because appearances matter more than reality.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

The road to h3ll is paved with good intentions.

Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

From ‘Keeping Up Appearances’, the lady of the house, Mrs Hyacinth Bucket, reserved her chief disdain for her layabout, council estate relatives, calling them “you people” once. Nothing more frightful than that, God love her. She still called by them.
Keeping up the epithets.

Allan Dawson
Allan Dawson
2 years ago

Go to a church in a shire county and see how diverse the Church isn’t…

Milos Bingles
Milos Bingles
2 years ago

I think Christians don’t like their hypocrisy being called out. If Jesus really did exist, and Richard Carrier suggests compellingly that he didn’t, but if he did, He would be horrified by the wealth of the Church, he would also be horrified by some Conservative MPs.
Raynor was calling out Boris Johnson’s lies and prejudice. He has been homophobic and racist in the past. He does tell lies over and over again. She wasn’t calling Tory voters scum. She was calling out an Eton buffoon who is clearly a cheat and a chancer. Using medieval fairy tales to twist the narrative seems a bit twee and naive