IN Breitbart on Thursday, James Delingpole argued that Sir Roger Scruton ‘has won a landmark victory in the cultural wars’.
Following the exposure of the truth about ‘that interview’ by George Eaton of the New Statesman, he says: ‘It is hard to overstate what a triumph this represents for free speech, sound thinking and honest journalism against the malign and increasingly devious and censorious forces of the modern left.’
I am not so sure. For it to be a ‘landmark victory’, surely we have to feel in some sense that the tide has turned? But has it? Where is the evidence?
As a long-standing member of the Conservative Party, the place I look to most hopefully for a turning of the tide is the Conservative Party. I don’t see it. All I see is that James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government who fired Scruton, remains silent. Despite the fact that the story continues in the newspapers, the tapes of Scruton’s interview are made public and it becomes plain that his words were taken out of context, the silence continues. Brokenshire and the rest of the Conservative Government have nothing to say.
Government adviser Sir Roger Scruton was sacked after controversial comments about Islam, China and George Soros.
He says he feels unfairly treated. @justinonweb questions him on some of his views.
— BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) April 26, 2019
According to Scruton, interviewed by the BBC, he was told of his firing by his secretary, who found out about it via the media (or social media). Scruton says: ‘I never received any official communication. Nothing at all.’ It beggars belief. Putting aside everything else, even ignoring everything that Scruton said or didn’t say, someone employed by the Conservative government deserves a fair process. Someone employed by anyone deserves a fair process. Scruton’s position was unpaid, so perhaps it falls outside employment law – I have no idea. But it doesn’t matter. We are talking about the most basic principles of fair process and decency that should be upheld in any situation. A Conservative Minister failed to uphold them.
In his book The Coddling of the American Mind, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt explores the foundations of human morality. He has a section on ‘procedural justice’ (page 219). He says that there are two basic concerns that people bring to their judgements of procedural justice.
The first is how a decision is being made. ‘This includes whether the decision-makers are doing their best to be objective and neutral and are therefore trustworthy.’ It also includes transparency: ‘Is it clear to all how the process works?’
The second is ‘how a person is being treated along the way’. This means: ‘Are people being treated with dignity, and do they have a voice – do they get to fully state their case, and are they taken seriously when they do?’
Spelled out in this way, it really makes me, as a member of the Conservative Party, weep.
Did James Brokenshire do his best to be objective and neutral? No.
Does he therefore come across as trustworthy? No.
Is it clear how the process worked? No.
Was Scruton treated with dignity? No.
Did he have a voice? No.
Did he get to state his case before he was sacked? No.
Scruton says in his BBC interview that there is an ongoing attempt in this country and in Europe to ‘silence the conservative voice’. He says: ‘We get identified, caricatured and then, and then . . . demonised, and made to look as though we are some kind of sinister, fascist, racist kind of people. And as soon as the Conservative Party sees one of us being demonised in this way, they rush to dissociate themselves from us. This happens, you know, so I gather, on social media, all kinds of MPs saying, “Oh, he’s not one of us.” And, erm . . . there I am, out in the cold, my only fault having been trying to defend them.’
Who can disagree with him?
I wish I could be as optimistic as Delingpole and say that a landmark victory has been won. I wish the Conservative government would just give us some small sign. Like apologising to Sir Roger – and giving him his job back. That would be enough.