There is no better measure of both the intellectual exhaustion of the modern Left and their grip on the institutions than that they consider it a substantial argument to call their opponents ‘right-wing’. Modern Liberals can seemingly spend their whole lives without meeting anybody who doesn’t experience an almost Pavlovian reaction to the words ‘right-wing’. Equally, if you’re a flatulent fraud whose most visible distinction was being number two in the most despised government of recent years, then it’s always worth knowing that you can burnish your reputation as a fearless truth –teller by attacking your fellow Conservatives for being right-wing. Just look at Jabbah the Hut.
Not to say we couldn’t learn a lot about politics from the guy who once described the ambulance service as ‘professional drivers’, but has this guy given up even trying to make sense ? Apparently, the Tories are both an unelectable rump and too populist. Ah huh. Unsurprisingly, Jabbah doesn’t actually name the policies he thinks are too right-wing. It’s obvious he means Europe and immigration, but can’t say that without some ordinary pointing out that all the polling showed the complete opposite – these were about the only policies the proverbial man in the street agreed with. Apparently, calling people ‘right-wing’ isn’t the trump card the Beeb would have you believe.
But, for now, let’s ignore the fact that the gifted politician Ken Clarke would have had the Tories ditch their two most popular policies, and consider whether there’s an appetite for more touchy-feely policy in less hot button issues. If Liberals have an equivalent of mom, God and apple pie, it’s aid for Africa. What kind of hard-hearted Nazi can object to that ? Well it turns out that – even now in the middle of the Live 8 maelstrom – most of the public is sceptical about aid, while few buy the ‘blame the west’ rhetoric of the Left. Or to put it another way, yet again it turns out that the 'extremist Right' is far more in tune with the public than the supposed elite. Note too that while the public has a far more sophisticated understanding of the issue than you would ever guess from the BBC, it is our alleged betters who can conceive of no policy more innovative than doing what we’ve done for fifty years, but more so.
In its own way, this question of foreign aid may be as significant as the excesses in privatised industry were for the Major government. What had previously been a vote winning policy became a massive embarrassment for the Tories, as board members awarded themselves huge pay rises for successfully competing in monopoly markets. These excesses not only besmirched the concept of privatisation, they also became fixed in the public mind as symptomatic of a wider failure of the Tories to deal with the proverbial ‘unacceptable face of capitalism’. So it may be with foreign aid. After all, virtually all of ZaNu Lab’s reforms turn out to be, at heart, just variations on throwing money at the problem. If the public is now sceptical about this strategy in Africa, there’s no reason at all why they should necessarily buy it in the classroom.