Magazine article The Spectator

The Left's Alt-Hate

Magazine article The Spectator

The Left's Alt-Hate

Article excerpt

Who knew the left had so much venom?

At the start of the year, a Facebook friend messaged me, telling me that she and a chum had been asked to leave their north London book group (how I hugged myself on reading those words!): she for posting a link on Facebook to a Spectator piece by me -- pleasingly and rather reasonably headlined 'The Brexit divide wasn't between young and old but Ponces and Non-Ponces'; her friend for liking it. I was naturally fascinated, my curiosity driven by righteous indignation and unrighteous glee. I asked for more information and Judith -- my penpal's suitably heroic name --wrote back: 'The last line from the email of the man who runs the book group was "I am therefore asking you to resign from the group. This would be the honourable course for you to take."' Judith, he claimed, was 'unable to engage in rational discussion', an accusation levelled by men at women who dare to disagree since the dawn of time.

Judith's like-happy chum Jane, a charming, pretty novelist, was so shocked by the book group's behaviour that she decided to write a play about it. Would I like to be a co-author? I would.

That was January; in April the Prime Minister called a general election; by May our play was written, and in June the people went to the polls and a nation once more woke up, looked at the person sleeping next to them and thought: 'Who are you?' To say that these are interesting times is like saying Sarah Vaughan could carry a tune. I've always been somewhat sceptical of the phrase 'The personal is political', but when Relate relate that one in five of their councillors has worked with couples who have fought over Brexit, we know that times have rarely been more interesting.

Who knew, either, that there was so much hate within the left? Growing up in a communist household, I thought 'Tory' was a curse word till I was a teenager. My father was the kindest and, yes, most noble of men -- maybe the fact that his socialism was a product of being genuinely working class, rather than a pose struck to impress/shame others, had something to do with it -- but I had no idea until Brexit of the bigotry that lurks within the Brotherhood of Man. We are often reminded of the 'hatred' the referendum and recent election 'stirred up' in our society -- warned off democracy by those who would control us for our own good, as if we were wayward children eyeing the biscuit tin. What these sorrowing sad-sacks fail to add is the hate comes largely from their side. Too much democracy has merely flushed the poison out. Brexit did indeed unleash hate -- but the hate it unleashed was not that of the British for foreigners but rather of the liberals for the masses.

It sounds strange coming from someone who has made a lovely life out of peddling vitriol for pleasure and profit, but I've been amazed -- and not a little amused, comparing their swivel-eyed social media savagery with their mollycoddling manifestos -- at the level of nastiness that the Great and the Good (or, as I think of them, our Betters and Wetters) have displayed over the past year. During my entire career of evil, from 17-year-old enfant terrible to 57-year-old grande dame, I only recall wishing death on one person -- well, two: the Eurythmics. But my dad, when he shouted 'Tory!' at the TV, was content to leave it at that.

What my dad didn't do, unlike Alastair Campbell, was compare those who thought differently from him to jihadists. …

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