Tories in queer hypocrisy shocker!


11:38 am - October 1st 2008

by Laurie Penny    


      Share on Tumblr

So now the Tories are courting the pink vote. Big surprise. But the notion, promoted even by the BBC, that gays might have a ‘duty’ to vote Conservative is baffling.

They’ve wheeled out Margot James, PPC for Stourbridge and noted deep-blue dyke, to tell us all why we need to vote Tory. This is the same Margot James who did not stand as a gay candidate at the last election, and who has been heard saying that she hoped her partner’s name, Jay, would be mistaken for that of a man by reporters. Ms James’ parroting of the party-line at the Stonewall event yesterday goes something like this:

“Gay people are net contributors to public services through their taxes, because very few of them have children.

“I think gay people have got more angst on this issue than anybody else because gay people are paying in, through their taxes and actually using far less of the NHS because they tend not to have families, less of the education system for the same reason and all the more reason to be angry with this government for the waste of their taxes.”

Translation: “Everyone knows you faggots hate kids! So vote for us – we hate kids, too!’

The suggestion that homosexuals do not have ‘families’ is both degrading and manifestly false. I happen to live in a massive multi-sexual household of six. None of us are related by blood, but we consider ourselves family. All of us, furthermore, have mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters and all of us feel that – despite our sexuality – we are just as invested in other humans as anybody else. Me and my big queer family are appalled by this throwaway rhetoric, at a Stonewall event, no less.

The logic of the tory tax argument also falls down when you remember that this is a rapidly ageing society . Sure, homosexuals may, on average, raise fewer sproglets than their het friends, but this makes it all the more important for us that we live in a society that invests properly in healthcare, elderly care and the pensions system. Without the dubious surity of grown-up kids to wipe our octogenarian bums, we are going to need a government that invests in our care – a government that values the contribution we make as members of society enough to make public spending a priority.

The main tory line, however, remains that you and I should vote Conservative because, well, there are quite a lot of gay conservatives. Newsflash: there have always been gay tories. What there have never been are tories promoting a gay agenda. In recent years, tory MPs have had an appalling voting record on vital issues like civil partnerships and the age of consent. The tories are quite happy for us to carry on shuffling in the dark, and if they’re gay, too, they certainly haven’t traditionally wanted the world to know about it. The tory closet door remains firmly shut. And no wonder, this being the party that introduced and tried desperately to save Section 28 of the Local Government Act, 1988.

Just a reminder: the amendment stated that a local authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. Ian Duncan Smith and a great deal of the tory party faithful spent 2003 trying to save this disgustingly homophobic piece of legislation. Nobody has apologised for that, and the silence of top conservatives over their shocking record at the Stonewall event stank of hypocrisy.

I am not suggesting that just because you like a bit of same-sex action you absolutely must be a political radical. Not at all. Not one jot. In fact, I’m grudgingly of the opinion that one thing the 1990s were good for was freeing gay men and women of the grinding obligation not to also be bigoted fuckwits if they so chose. But bigotry and a forward-thinking queer agenda have never gone hand in hand, and if one is queer – not just gay, which is a statement of fact, but politically queer – you do have a duty to vote for anyone else apart from the tory party and far right.

Queer politics involve more than a private penchant for leather and a public rhetoric of tax breaks for straight, married couples. Queer politics are politics which make it easier for the millions of men and women who choose to live and love outside of the heteronormative box to do so without cultural, practical or financial discrimination. Queer politics are inherently radical, and not everyone working towards them is gay, and not everyone gay has queer politics. Let’s not mistake gay – which is what the Conservative party has always secretly been – for queer, which it never will be.

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Laurie Penny is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She is a journalist, blogger and feminist activist. She is Features Assistant at the Morning Star, and blogs at Penny Red and for Red Pepper magazine.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


Homosexuals would be rather better off individually being given the opportunity to invest in tax efficient private pensions and healthcare, rather than relying on the dubious benefits of the NHS and social care offered by a perpetual Labour government so your self-interest (we need help in our 80s) argument doesn’t necessarily pull through.

As for helping others, homosexuals have the same autonomy as everyone else. There is nothing to stop them contributing voluntarily to the welfare of others through charitable or other means. You don’t need to vote someone in to force YOU to do good, you have to make that decision for yourself.

Unfortunately, not all homosexuals have the money to invest in private pensions and healthcare. Some people are both gay *and* poor, and certainly don’t have the money to put towards voluntary schemes. This victorian idea of philanthropy as a cure for inequality just doesn’t wash.

Of course, the poor right now don’t have such money because it is hoovered up at the first opportunity when they start working, residing or buying things!

And I am not advocating Victorian philanthropy. I’m advocating 21st century philanthropy! In general, we are all rather a lot richer now in terms of time and money and if only so much of what we produce wasn’t being flushed through the state whereupon much of it is wasted or distributed to bankers who have fallen on “hard” times, we would be able to engage in very productive welfare.

Translation: “Everyone knows you faggots hate kids! So vote for us – we hate kids, too!’

That may be your reading of it but that assumes that the best place for child to be is state crèche and not with its parents . I disagree although I can see you might prefer some sort of a communal kibbutz style arrangement. Good luck with that .
My own experience is that there at least two contrasting attitudes to children amongst gay men . One group would like to adopt and lead a quasi hetro-sexual life and another group will happily admit that they would forget to feed them thinking about the interior decor. I don’t see that a Lesbian ,( I am assuming thats what you are ) would have any special insight into gay men by the way . Why do you ?
There is not a tax break for married couples. There is a disincentive for any sort of couple in the system to the very obvious disadvantage of children .
I do find there is a certain male’ gay school of thought’ that is impatient of people unprepared to take responsibility for their own decisions (like single mothers ), when they get so little from the state , as do most of us. I went to a gay club near St .Pancrass where the cabaret certainly issued a loud and obscene up yours to the left and its icons .
I also have the impression at there is something about the dull conformity that the left prefer that does not appeal to some gay men. The Conservative Party has never pried into other people’s business and while the scattering of progressives may be your Labour Party the second choice vote of 35% is the BNP and the rank and file are a lot more homophobic than the average Conservative who is exceedingly easy going sexually as we all know . That’s why we have thrilling undergarments whereas you get by with grey sacklike drapes made from recycled sewage
There has always been a puritanical preachy side of the left that not all gay men enjoy . You are typical and it occurs to me that perhaps Conservative Party will probably end up with all the gay men and the Labour Party will be stuck with all the miserable lesbians . I am only going on what I read , don’t know any ..

So in conclusion
1 You speak for no—one
2 You know nothing about he tax system (it appears )
3 You do not address all the perfectly good reasons for gays to vote Conservative

Newmania – I’m perfectly aware there’s no tax break for married couples at the moment. However, the Conservatives plan to introduce one, according to their ‘Work for Welfare’ proposals.

I’m bisexual. I have dated both women and men, some of whom have been gay men. I live and have lived with gay men, my brother is a gay man, I grew up in Brighton. I have also read a great deal of background research, most of which has been given to me by gay men for my education. So yes, I think I can speak from a position of some experience.

‘My own experience is that there at least two contrasting attitudes to children amongst gay men . One group would like to adopt and lead a quasi hetro-sexual life and another group will happily admit that they would forget to feed them thinking about the interior decor.’. Yes. This is also true of most lesbian couples and, indeed, most straight couples. What’s your point?

At no point do I advocate kibbutzim-esque childcare, because I know that it simply doesn’t work, having visited kibbutzim and talked to parents who took their children out of the system. What I also know is that gay and unmarried couples with children have just as much right to look after them in the best way possible as married couples, in a state that invests in education and healthcare. I know, too, that enough gay couples want children and/or consider themselves part of a ‘family’ that the conservative tax line is both insulting and ignorant.

Newmania – I’m perfectly aware there’s no tax break for married couples at the moment.
Silly woman! -I am talking about the tax break for remaining single that exists now . In this context Conservative Plans would only somewhat lessen the incentive to live alone. The Institute of fiscal studies shows that if a couple are earning £5000 and £15000 a year respectively they will lose £5400 in benefits if they continue to share a home .Care have shown that many couples are £50 per week worse of f they stay together rising to £100. A Couple on £18000 who live in the same house pay a penalty of £8588 per year or 40% of their pre-tax income .A couple on £50,000 per year would be £7000 worse off . Shortfalls then are throughout the population . No wonder 200,000 cohabiting couples are pretending to live apart. Got it , and thats before we get onto housing.
I’m bisexual. ..do anything to anything…etc. …( You would fit in well in the Conservative Party ….)
Gay men that date women may not be typical capiche ? Brighton is certainly not . I live in Lewes where people go to escape Brighton (including gay men) . Brighton is for people who would like to live in London but cannot afford or those would like to be urbane but end up provincial live .It is a where the gay scene is peculiarly up its arse ,to the point of navel gazing tedium. Know anyone like that ?
The attitude of straight people to having a family is not something you can understand and it is not the same for gay men on average , from my observation. That is my point ,on average , numbers , likelihoods , proportions . Furthermore your studies soi disant , almost certainly emanate form the unlamented wimmin`s agenda and related crapola almost universally dropped for universities due to its having become a playground for 1970s vintage dog eared radicalism. How is the commune going then ?

What I also know is that gay and unmarried couples with children have just as much right to look after them in the best way possible as married couples…….

Really then why do they not get married then which is quite reasonably open to them and has other advantages in the long term as regards the estate ? In the opinion of many who are more concerned about the welfare of children than your precious feelings ] we have a problem .Children now are three times more likely to live in a one parent household than in 1972 ,2 Britain now has 1.9 million lone parent households, an increase of 200,000 since Labour came to Power. One in three children will experience divorce or separation before the age of sixteen and UNICEF.. yes even that left wing collection of whiners, say that Britain’s position as having the least happy children in the developed world is due to the high level of family breakdown.
Marriage matters. ONS showed that children of single parent families are about twice as likely to have mental health problems .Children from Lone Parent Families are 2,.4 times as likely to smoke ,1.6 times as likely to drink alcohol .In the US 63% of teenage suicides , 90 % of homeless and 85% of juvenile prisoners are form Fatherless homes ( 70 % of UK young offenders coke from fatherless homes and again in the UK about the same proportion of young drug abusers . Don’t say marriage is just incidental to the single parent story either .Only one in twelve married couples par within five years of the child’s birth for unmarried couples that number is ONE IN TWO.

The world Ms Penny is a bigger place than you your weird life style your posturing There and your tender feelings . If gay people want to take on the sort of responsibilities I do , ( which I absolutely agree with ), Good. They can start by making the sort of commitments made by other people which work best for children and the government should at least get out of the way.

Good Grief, Newmania, what drivel. I’m not going to bother responding in more detail, because you haven’t actually responded to anything I’ve said, just stated and restated your ‘marriage is best, marriage works’ point. What about gay couples who can’t get ‘married’, then?

I’m from a broken family, and I’m far happier that it worked out that way – better to have grown up with parents who were happy than in a household with a loveless, violent marriage.

And – ‘silly woman!’ – ? are you actually trying to sound like Sid the Sexist?

Margot James: “I think gay people have got more angst on this issue than anybody else because gay people are paying in, through their taxes and actually using far less of the NHS because they tend not to have families, less of the education system for the same reason and all the more reason to be angry with this government for the waste of their taxes.”

Can I offer a different translation? This is really an appeal to the ‘what’s in it for me?’ individualists – rational economic men (sic) – rather than kiddie-haters, on the grounds that what they pay in tax gets ‘wasted’ on ‘Them’. So if they don’t have kids of any age between 0-21, or use healthcare the way women do (breast cancer screenings?) or use public transport (the losers’ option, according to Thatcher), then why wouldn’t they vote Tory for tax cuts they can blow on consumer goods (furnishings, clothes, holidays, Kylie CDs, bondage gear, whatever)? We’ll just ignore those gay men living with HIV/AIDS, and LGBT undergraduates struggling with tuition fees…

PS: Newmania – if the Tories introduce a married couple’s tax break, they’ll have to include LGBT civil partnerships – such as Alan Duncan’s – unless they want to lose all those lovely voters Margot James is after.

“I’m from a broken family, and I’m far happier that it worked out that way – better to have grown up with parents who were happy than in a household with a loveless, violent marriage.”

That is a single data point there, Laurie. Much as I believe in freedom to choose (especially relationships), the evidence suggests that couples tend to bring children up better (that does not make any claim about any single individual case) and that couples should at least NOT be disincentivised from staying together.

What about gay couples who can’t get ‘married’, then?

if the Tories introduce a married couple’s tax break, they’ll have to include LGBT civil partnerships

For all legal and legislative purposes, civil partnerships in the UK are the same as marriage. The Tories would need to repeal or amend the Civil Partnership Acts 2005 to /not/ give the tax breaks to civil partners, which I suspect would be going a bit far even for them…

This is really an appeal to the ‘what’s in it for me?’ individualists – rational economic men

Exactly right. This is a message for wealthy young gay men (and the smaller proportion of gay women who are wealthy and young) saying “we’ll cut your taxes, we won’t lock you up or close your bars, and if someone beats you up for being gay we’ll send them to jail, so you don’t need to worry about the rest of the community”.

Given that the current Tory vote is primarily based on that part of the straight population which warms to the “we’ll cut your taxes, we won’t lock you up or close your foxhunts, and if the proles try and rob your house or mug you we’ll send them to jail, so you don’t need to worry about the rest of the community” message, it’s a sensible expansion strategy for them.

“the evidence suggests that couples tend to bring children up better”

I don’t think the evidence is clear-cut on whether couples who’re incentivised/compelled to stay together are better than those who don’t (couples who do, in fact, stay together are better on average at raising children than those who don’t, but that’s presumably not least because dysfunctional and violent relationships are overrepresented in those who break up…)

But it is not just violent or otherwise intrinsically dysfunctional relationships that break up. It can be those families that come under financial strain which augments or generates conflict. It can also be due to financial strain that people who would under some circumstances make good couples don’t in the end make the commitment.

Newmania: As much as I hate to engage with you this way, or indeed at all, I’d like to point out, amongst other things, that you are a disrespectful little creep and a troll. Even disregarding your frankly pathetic crypto-Thatcherite stereotypical separatist political expressions here, you have engaged with the writer here in a way that is patronising and distasteful. You’re also a cretin who doesn’t seem to recognise that not all queer people are part of the gay! scene!, and that different categories of queer people are neither mutually exclusive nor completely socially divorced.

“The attitude of straight people to having a family is not something you can understand”
The attitude of straight people towards having a family (or not) is something that is discussed, dissected and propagated in books films plays anecdotes jokes songs poems and philosophy throughout this society. It’s quite hard NOT to gain some understanding of what straight people feel about having a family.

Furthermore, your conflation of “giving a shit about queer issues” with the terrible spectre of “the commune” with its concomitant “weird lifestyle, and the ever-popular “excesses of 70s feminism” is lazy and ignorant in the extreme. I’m pretty sure that neither Ms. Penny nor myself, despite our affinity for socialism and bisexuality, sport kaftans, beards, or any of the other outdated and irrelevant signifiers of a past “alternative” movement.

In fact, your whole argument is of a fine 1970s vintage, and, to overextend a metaphor, is delivered in a rickety and hateful packing crate stuffed with straw men. Lazy generalisations and stereotypes such as those of the fun-loving gay men and those ever-miserable lesbians (and never the twain shall meet!), reveal your understanding of the situation to be woefully outdated at best, and PIG-FUCKINGLY STUPID AT WORST.

The logical leaps (not all of which I will bother to enumerate, as I am but mortal) in your argument are not only staggering but crippling. All the social forces you delineate are based on stereotype, conjecture, and badly-formatted statistics. I’m sorry to tell you this, but this really isn’t good enough.

You have no right to tell Ms. Penny who she stands for. You have no idea about any of the subtleties and interrelations of different segments of the queer community. You have ABSOLUTELY no right to dismiss her work and argument on the grounds of her gender. YOU HAVE NO GRASP ON THE SITUATION. Almost everything you are saying is JUST MADE UP.

I apologise. You have the legal right to do these things, as I’m sure you’re gearing up to tell me. All I’m saying is that having done these things, you reveal yourself to be blinkered, boring, and not that clever.

I’m not going to bother responding in more detail, because you haven’t actually responded to anything I’ve said, just stated and restated your ‘marriage is best, marriage works’ point. What about gay couples who can’t get ‘married’, then?

I have not .I have shown how the tax system encourages separation and evidenced it in detail . I have contextualised your reference to a ‘Marriage tax break’ showing it to be no such thing .I have them demonstrated that for children marriage is statistically vastly the best environment and concluded that for the state to continue discriminating against something that works so well for children is madness. I have finally pointed out the solipsism of someone who is only capable of seeing marriage as a comment on their lifestyle.
In short; I have knocked you argument into a cocked hat , and if you pretend not to understand, well whatever floats your boat ……. /Oh the last” what about ….
Well they will be less well off than those who can. Sadly perfection is not on the menu ( I for example currently suffer grievously under the tax system in many ways ) .Needlessly condemning children to a demonstrably poor start in life we can amend.

…and thus shall the Lewes Conservative disdainfully swat the Brighton crusty in perpetuity .If any gays are looking in by the way , perhaps you want to talk about something other than ‘gay issues’(zzzzzzzzzzzzz) occasionally . For example the impending new dark age and the iniquity of Brown and his demonic hoard. I recommend the intellectually bracing atmosphere of the Conservative Party .In Brighton its so gay , gays feel oppressed in Lewes more are very welcome add to the drinking team.

( Thanks Nick you are getting it !)

“.I have them demonstrated that for children marriage is statistically vastly the best environment”

No, you haven’t. If you had, then you’d have a very good point that would be a tough moral dilemma for liberals. But you haven’t, because – as correctly discussed above – you’re a creep, a troll and a liar.

(I might be being unfair here. If you /genuinely/ can’t understand why the stats you cite fail to prove your point, then let me know and I’ll explain.)

Look, Newmania, my dad lives in Lewes – I grew up there, too. Can I say that people like you are the reason that so many of us Lewes kids end up smoking dope around the back of the Priory and cutting class, the reason that nearly every young person in Lewes saves up all their money for the train to Brighton every day?

Redpesto: A pedantic point I know, but an undergraduate cannot “struggle with tuition fees” by definition, because you don’t pay them back until you’ve started earning (15k+). Until very recently, tuition fees *were* paid up front, which was a terrible thing, but it is no longer the case today.

Guys, when it comes to bothering to respond to Newmania, it’s worth remembering the teaching a pig to sing principle: it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

Oh lighten up -I `d just like to clear up a teeny confusion that seems to have arisen . Squealing like a puce faced Violet Elisabeth Bott and making an arguments are not the same thing chaps .

Laura – Don’t blame me I moved from Islington last year . Sadly Lewes is dominated by people like you hence the MP Norman ( The loon) Baker and his appalling hegemony of Liberal cant . You were perhaps not aware of the political complexion of the place when you blamed me ( and my kind……) for your poor behaviour . Frankly ( darling ) the idea of escaping to Brighton is too exquisitely parochial for words . I shall treasure it .See , I can camp it up when I want to , but now I must do some manly work 🙂 Grrrwolll !

Newmania – I will make this brief and final. You are wasting everyone’s time. Your arguments are tedious dodgy-stat copypasta, and have been mostly addressed and dismissed, if not here then elsewhere. The point is that Ms. Penny is not the “Brighton crusty” that you’re apparently arguing with. That person is not here. You are attacking, disrespectfully and occasionally misogynistically, a straw woman. I recognise that this is almost certainly wasted effort, but I thought it might help for you to know that all you are doing is displaying your pathetic macho ignorance of a variety of difficult subjects. With a bizarre element of chummy parochial rivalry turned incontinent and dribbling. One more time. You are making a dick of yourself by conducting an argument, in public, with the voices in your head, essentially. It’d probably a lot more healthy if the various issues you have with queer people, feminists and the left in a darkened room. Or at least less bowel-shatteringly boring.
Lastly, I am not a “gay”. I am a bisexual man and an individual, rather than one of the teeming homo-genous hordes you call into play as part of your “argument”. I am perfectly willing to discuss things other than my own “issues” Not only is it you who is tediously blabbing your cracked thought-trap, distracting from the debate and revealing your essential worthlessness, but I’ll stop talking about queer issues when
a) they are considered important enough to be looked at accurately and without stereotype
b) people like you stop shitting on about marriage all the time.
This is not going to happen soon, I fear. You’re just going to have to learn to deal with it.
Next time this comes up, read some Dworkin and punch a swan or something – don’t bring your issues here, as it will solve none of your problems. Look, you’re not the Socratic mosquito here. You’re not even on that sort of scale. You are a mental microbe and deserve no further response.

Nick – “Homosexuals would be rather better off individually being given the opportunity to invest in tax efficient private pensions…”

And see it flushed down the toilet by libertarian bankers?

Oh dear…

Soon – we have already had this discussion. Those bankers are not “libertarians”, banking being one of the prime areas where neo-liberalism divides from libertarianism. In fact, bankers appear to be fairly evenly distributed throughout the mainstream political parties: http://www.order-order.com/2008/09/gordon-browns-millions-from-hedge-fund.html

Before we get into an argument, it would be good if you at least acknowledged a libertarian position on financial markets rather than its mere caricature. This brief article provides a decent summary of a respected one: http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc175.htm

23. Johnathan Singh

John b. and other liberals,

““.I have them demonstrated that for children marriage is statistically vastly the best environment”

No, you haven’t. If you had, then you’d have a very good point that would be a tough moral dilemma for liberals. But you haven’t, because – as correctly discussed above – you’re a creep, a troll and a liar.”

Well I don’t think it need be a dilemma for you. Judging from the vitriol which saturates all of the left-wing posts here, it might just be that you are guilty of a dishonest attempt to distract our attention from the very clear evidence that, on average, even when all other social variables are held constant, children are badly harmed by being deprived of the kind of stable, (if often flawed) family arrangement that most of them enjoyed for, say the first two thirds of the 20th century.

Here are some references for you which you will of course choose to ignore:

Booth A., and A. Crouter (1998) “Men in Families: When Do They Get Involved? What Difference does it Make?” Mahwah NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum

Cockett M., and J. Tripp. (1994) “The Exeter Family Study: Family Breakdown and Its Impact on Children”. Exeter: University of Exeter Press

Flood-Page, Claire, S Campbell, V Harrington, and J. Miller (2000) “Youth Crime: Findings from the 1998/99 Youth Lifestyles Survey.” London Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate.

Sweeting H., P West and M. Richards (2000) “Teenage Family Life, Lifestyles and Lifechances: Associations with Family Structure, Conflict with Parents, and Joint Family Activity” International Journal of Law, Policy and Family 14: 15-46

Whelan R. (1994) Broken Homes and Battered Children. Oxford: Family Education Trust

I mean there’s mountains more evidence that contradicts left-wing assumptions about families.

But you don’t have to read any of it, and I doubt that any of you have or should wish to do so becuase it would call into question many of the shibboleths of liberal social policy for the last 50 or 60 years—beliefs that give you all a strong sense of moral superiority. Unless you have the courage to patiently consider this information which is often thoroughly detailed, you can quite easily continue as you are; insulting and swearing and changing the subject because no conservative is going to come onto Liberal Conspiracy and sustain a argument about family policy for more than a few days. Therefore you can always resort to explanations which are not quite as distressing to your pre-held beliefs eg: as long as there’s more public spending everything will be all right. Even if if social welfare policies encourage the creation of Shannon Matthews-style households? how can conservatives object to more welfare spending to reduce the harm done to children in them.? You see you never actually need to be held accountable for your opinions. Only the children need suffer, but better that they should suffer than you should have to alter your world-view.

So you can continue you shout that it doesn’t matter if children either have no fathers, or different fathers every few years. If as UNICEF reports, Britain is the worst country in the western world in which to grow up as a child, well, it must be because of ‘relative poverty’ Always an excellent fall-back is placing the blame solely on Thatcher for creating a ‘culture of greed’ , (which admittedly has some truth but stops you from looking deeper) What about the fact that 80% of children have a TV in their bedrooms which is more than have a father present at home? Or that how in the midst of the 1930s depression was not a period of great ‘youth crime’ or crime of any kind? All these questions that you would prefer not to answer. Instead you ask CONSERVATIVES why you have not yet arrived at a moral dilemma, as though your opinons are obviously honest and well-informed!

24. cityunslicker

You refusal to really challenge Newmania just shows how weak the leftist arguements are.

There is another angle too. The multi-sexual household of 6 is not really representative of Britain as a whole is it? yet we should tailor laws to suit it because you would like them to be that way.

typical, selfish lefties dressing themselves up as moralists.

if as UNICEF reports, Britain is the worst country in the western world in which to grow up as a child, well, it must be because of ‘relative poverty’

Given that countries with far higher rates of fatherless children score higher than the UK in the UNICEF study, I’d be wary of using it to back up your point.

CityUnslicker – i agree completely.

Squealing like a puce faced Violet Elisabeth Bott and making an arguments are not the same thing chaps .

I wish I’d said that.

John – it would be a bit surprising if there was a perfect correlation between one factor and another (particularly when one of those factors is as subjectively developed as UNICEF’s measure). This is the real world, not a social laboratory! But the correlation is strong and implication (that couples should be supported) is hard to resist.

Take a look at this longitudinal table: http://www.childpolicyintl.org/contexttabledemography/table217a.pdf

Notice we have been close to leading the field in single parent families for some time and so would be more likely to witness the consequences. We have been caught up by Sweden and Germany recently, but Sweden has had some recent and quite sudden demographic changes that might explain part of the jump. We aren’t as bad as the US but they did pretty awfully in the UNICEF study too (second from bottom). And of course, living in a freer country is no-doubt a small benefit to children on average even if they are less likely to have two parents.

Al: Redpesto: A pedantic point I know, but an undergraduate cannot “struggle with tuition fees” by definition, because you don’t pay them back until you’ve started earning (15k+). Until very recently, tuition fees *were* paid up front, which was a terrible thing, but it is no longer the case today.

Okay, you got me – only that my point is that students (straight or LGBT) can’t really go through three years thinking ‘Don’t worry about all that debt – it can wait until after graduation’, especially if it means they have to take up part-time work at the ‘special’ minimum wage rate and juggle that with their studies. I mean what if you ran a banking and finance system like that….

PS: If couples are that good for kids, I’d assume that it would include same-sex ones?

PPS Cityunslicker – it is a key rule of the internet: ‘Do Not Feed The Trolls – It Only Encourages Them.

Stop insulting others, lefty bar stewards.

“Let’s not mistake gay – which is what the Conservative party has always secretly been – for queer, which it never will be.”

This conclusion is a tad too partisan for my liking.

When large chunks of the Democrat Party supported the Ku Klux Klan – to use an extreme example – very few would have imagined that they’d become a party of anti-racism.

“There is another angle too. The multi-sexual household of 6 is not really representative of Britain as a whole is it? yet we should tailor laws to suit it because you would like them to be that way.”

Er, which laws did Laurie suggest should be tailored?

Only the children need suffer, but better that they should suffer than you should have to alter your world-view.

But you don’t have to read any of it, and I doubt that any of you have or should wish to do so becuase it would call into question many of the shibboleths of liberal social policy for the last 50 or 60 years—beliefs that give you all a strong sense of moral superiority.

Apols. ‘n all, but it’s mildly ironic to deploy an emotivistic argument and then accuse others of adopting moral superiority.

Ben

“PS: If couples are that good for kids, I’d assume that it would include same-sex ones?”

Absolutely. Although there is some evidence that boys in particular could do with some specifically male input during their upbringing. I wouldn’t want to prescribe “father” for that when a close friend (perhaps within a poly household) or relative could fulfill that role.

But that is really a side point since those considerations don’t apply to most people’s orientation or desires.

“When large chunks of the Democrat Party supported the Ku Klux Klan – to use an extreme example – very few would have imagined that they’d become a party of anti-racism.”

Not really, anti-racism is merely racism’s polar opposite. The cool thing is that both of these poles are anti-semitic! While Democrat ideology has changed loads, one central policy remains from the KKK days: disarm black people!

Nick – Thanks for the article, interesting read. A couple of points:

“First, I would cut taxes and government spending by at least two thirds.”

What spending would be cut and how would that affect people? Remember we are talking about real people here who are going to suffer massively. I also note that the person proposing this seems to be rather well off by his own admission so no chance of him feeling the pinch. Also, having dumped so many people into poverty, how do we stop them eating the rest of us alive?

“I would repeal the Companies Acts and declare the directors of existing corporations the true owners with joint and several liability for their debts.”

Nothing revolutionary there, a lot of people have been asking for that for a long time. The problem is how do we implement it so that the rats won’t leave the ship, if you know what I mean.

You also make a good point about the relationship between Neo-Liberalism and Libertarianism breaking down at some point. In my opinion there was never a relationship in the first place. No offence, but I do believe Libertarians have been used and abused by Neo-Liberals for a long time now, even though they pretty much peruse totally different ends, just by appealing to their anti-statist feelings. Neo-Liberals don’t in essence want a smaller government, they want exclusive access to the government. They want the state to give up all its responsibilities towards the common people and wholly concentrate on them and their needs and interests.

Take Thatcher for example, apart from the fact that she was a vicious woman who happily ruined a lot of people’s lives just because she was too hung up on her ideology, she appealed to a lot of Libertarians, even though she was far from one herself, by promising less taxation and smaller government. Did she deliver? I have my doubts. She pretty much left the public finances and debt at the same level that she had inherited them. What she did manage to do was to shift the burden of taxation from the rich to the poor. She cut the higher levels of income tax and then massively increased the VAT. All that under the pretence of cutting tax and with a lot of support from Libertarians.

I don’t want to go into how I generally feel about idealists now but I think it would suffice to say that they scare the life out of me. I’ve learned not to distinguish between them. For me a Libertarian and a Communist are not much different. All you have to do to switch from one to the other is just change what you believe in. The religiosity remains on touched.

33. Catherine Brown

Some interesting points especially on the difference between queer and gay.

One thing that strikes me is that the current equality agenda – both labour and tory – is actually about the freedom to be just like them. Gay liberation used to be about the freedom to be ourselves, to live our lives as we chose and not be constrained by the conventional and sometimes dysfunctional straight “lifestyle”.

Labour or Tories are no more interested in sexual freedom / diversity than they are in farming Llamas in Croydon. What they ARE interested in is creating a generation of compliant, unquestioning worker consumers – be they gay, straight or whatever.

Soon – you make some interesting points and I am glad we can engage. Bear in mind when I am answering that I am not an advocate of Gabb, but I certainly enjoy his writing. In other places, when describing this sudden reduction in public spending, he suggests leaving welfare and the NHS intact, as he is acutely aware how many otherwise desperate people are relying on state support at the moment. Instead, he suggests dismantling university funding, save for a few scientific subjects, and making schools voluntary. Many of these institutions would continue, of course, but under different ownership. Thereafter, there is a huge network of quangos that really do precious little at the moment that could be abolished without the genuinely imperiled even noticing. I am not sure if Gabb can find all his savings there but it would certainly be a start.

In addition, believe it or not, I am not a settled ideologue either, moving between anarchism, libertarianism and a more mainstream classic liberalism quite freely. My experience and study leads me to believe that the state could be made a lot smaller than it is and, if done correctly, to the benefit of a lot of people. I don’t want to set an exact end to the state and society (it is hard enough for me to come up with my own ends) but I know roughly which direction I am in favour of.

“Labour or Tories are no more interested in sexual freedom / diversity than they are in farming Llamas in Croydon. What they ARE interested in is creating a generation of compliant, unquestioning worker consumers – be they gay, straight or whatever.”

I agree. Which is why it doesn’t matter so much exactly which politicians are in charge (they will only ever reflect some aspect of the establishment), so much as how much power they have.

Johnathan Singh.. wow. What a broadside.. abandon argument.. sinking fast.. women and ife partners and children in poverty first.

Well, speaking as a single parent (yep, that’s me, one of those who’s guilty of destroying the moral fabric of the nation, hi!), might I suggest that throwing around simplistic figures regarding “marriage”, children and families doesn’t really address the complexities of the situation?

A lot depends on the “how & why” single parents are..er…”single”, and what role the other parent has in child rearing. We’re not exactly a homogeneous mass, ya know. 🙂

Then there’s “marriage”.
Why, other than for supernaturally-derived reasons (aka dogmatic nonsense), is this such a sacred cow for some people?
So, research suggests that “stability” is better for kids? Really?? And have they succeeded in revealing the defecatory habits of ursines in forested areas?
But why should this be automatically linked to some 1950’s-style “golden age” nostalgia ? (warm beer by the village green, anyone?)

Now, Mr. Singh said:
“children are badly harmed by being deprived of the kind of stable, (if often flawed) family arrangement that most of them enjoyed for, say the first two thirds of the 20th century.”

Really? So what he’s arguing for is your basic “Breadwinner – Homemaker” model. Ah. Planning to change the economy to make this viable any time soon?

If anyone’s interested in a more nuanced, child-centred look at the (admittedly American) experience of changing family structures, there’s a nice PDF article by Kathlen Gerson here

(I’m not a “lefty”, or, indeed, gay, but if anyone’s looking for material for a strawman, I am Scottish, if that helps?) 🙂

Finally,

Nick,

“making schools voluntary”

The current school system has its problems, certainly – “teaching to the test”, discipline, etc,etc – but are you seriously suggesting that as a viable solution?

Nick – “In addition, believe it or not, I am not a settled ideologue either, moving between anarchism, libertarianism and a more mainstream classic liberalism quite freely.”

If I was going to draw a map of my ideal world it would probably be something mainly based on Anarcho-syndicalism. I’m not hung up on it though, there’s to much more “real” stuff to worry about than that and I certainly don’t know how we can get there.

“Instead, he suggests dismantling university funding, save for a few scientific subjects, and making schools voluntary.”

Believe it or not that’s is pretty much what is happening in a lot of universities right now. The problem with that is it will eventually lead to scientific stagnation. The industry provides a lot of funding for a lot of departments now but they are not interested in new science and scientific advance. They want universities to find new applications for old science, basically what their own divisions should be doing. They also sometimes wield the power they gain through funding to ill effect. I also don’t see how we can get enough funding for something like Human Ecology from private sources.

As for voluntary school, I think its important to look at why education was made compulsory in the first place. It had a lot to do with stopping child labour and I don’t see any guarantees for it not returning. BTW I too once thought education should be voluntary but I now think its the lesser of different evils.

Andy Gilmour – I too am a single parent and agree that “We’re not exactly a homogeneous mass, ya know“. But I agree with another commenter that financial burdens strain relationships and to have a system where being in a marriage makes you financially disadvantaged is just wrong. At least it should be a level playing field! As Newmania said “the government should at least get out of the way“. But they’re not. We are not all treated the same. We are socially engineered. And I’m not harking back to “some 1950’s-style “golden age” nostalgia“, but nor would I welcome being encouraged into being a state brood mare with existing sex-ed and current housing policy, my offspring in state nurserys then state school while I toil in a state approved call centre that has an approprite minority recruitment policy. I don’t agree with Tory education proposals but NuLab’s record in education isn’t pretty either. Social mobility depends on education and training. There will always be a number of unsustainable personal relationships. But securing housing should not depend on having one, if you were born here. There should be more employment opportunity and the government is key in providing an attractive environment for denovo investment in this country. Sadly succesive governments have squashed manufacturing, fishing and farming and the communities they sustained. You only had to look at a mining community after pit closure to see a broken society. so I agree with you “that throwing around simplistic figures regarding “marriage”, children and families doesn’t really address the complexities of the situation?“.

What exactly is wrong with child labour (within our 21st century labour market situation)? I am not saying that would be ideal either but it would be better than what a sizeable minority of children are getting forced on them in school today. If children from 14-16 are to perform difficult yet entirely unenlightening tasks, they might as well get paid for it! They may end up learning rather more.

You were talking about “voluntary education”, not “voluntary education for 14-16 year olds”. Sticking to your first point, I don’t see any guarantees that a such a system would not turn out to be more harmful to kids. After all if they don’t have to go to school, then they might as well feck off to work at the age of 6.

And as a side note, care to explain how will this “21st century labour market” will look like once we stop the government interfering with it?

“A lot depends on the “how & why” single parents are..er…”single”, and what role the other parent has in child rearing. We’re not exactly a homogeneous mass, ya know. :-)”

That is exactly what I have been arguing. Some single parents are so by choice (though a minority if you look at surveys), while some have just ended up in that position. And within that, there are some whose partners turned out to be unsuitable but others who broke up (or never committed) due to other reasons.

“After all if they don’t have to go to school, then they might as well feck off to work at the age of 6.”

That is an extreme situation that wouldn’t pertain even where it legal. Even before education became compulsory, some form of schooling (up to basic literacy) was becoming universal.

“And as a side note, care to explain how will this “21st century labour market” will look like once we stop the government interfering with it?”

It would look fine. Remember we are much richer now and people (including youths) would have better employment options than 200 years ago.

44. cityunslicker

troll, ha.

My blog is a lot more popular than this one.

;o)

45. Laurie Penny

@44: really? Because the only political blogs more popular than this one are Ian Dale and Guido. Are you outing yourself?

Nick:
‘It would look fine. Remember we are much richer now and people (including youths) would have better employment options than 200 years ago.’

You think? Actually, not everyone is richer now – especially not youths. The rise in wealth over the past 20 years in aprticular has been centred almost exclusively on the top 20% of earners, and mostly on the top 10%. Step off your fucking privilege chair and start talking about most of the people most of the time.

Con Home has to be far far bigger surely

I think there has been, under this appalling government, a small section of society that has become poorer in real terms although its hard to say when you take welfare into account . Wealth has broadly increased though in absolute terms and as for yoofs, well they have yet to do any work. The problem is that the cost of housing has increased at far more than the rate of inflation and since Labour took it out of the headline rate we have been suffering 10% inflation in living costs with wages under downward pressure from immigrant Labour (4x 97 levels ). Only 18% unionised who parasitize the rest of us with their jobs for life and pensions .
In the private sector and especially the single income family actual disposable income has very often reduced in real terms during a sustained boom provided by the very people who have got nothing out of it . This is part of the back drop of marriage coming under pressure and the growing sense that ordinary people are despised cash cows to New Labour

The phenomenon is intimately connected to housing inflation and part of the reason that the Labour Party has virtually disappeared from the South outside London. Brighton is an interesting exception . I doubt it will be for long

Not really, anti-racism is merely racism’s polar opposite. The cool thing is that both of these poles are anti-semitic!

Sorry, is nobody going to challenge this? Because I’ve just got out a jereboam of WHAT THE FUCK?, and I’m going to open it now…

The rise in wealth over the past 20 years in aprticular has been centred almost exclusively on the top 20% of earners, and mostly on the top 10%

I think you’re getting confused between “wealth” and “income”. But you’re wrong either way: everyone has a substantially higher income than 10 years ago except the poorest 10%, while wealth distribution hasn’t really changed.

The correct narrative for the UK economy (and indeed society) over the last 10 years is “everyone’s doing pretty damn well except the urban poor, who’re simultaneously fucked over and demonised by everyone”. The suggestion that the middle class (or even the working class, if by that definition you’re including people who have full-time jobs) have done badly is petulant whining bollocks.

(it does, semi-relatedly, occur to me that the comment “both of these poles are antisemitic” could probably be accurately made in a wide variety of contexts east of the Oder-Neisse line…)

(oh, and while #47 overlapped with Newmania’s ignorant rant, it also refutes it. Nicely done, me. Although I’ll add that anyone who thinks Labour *ever* had a significant presence in the southeast outside London is, ahem, not an expert psephologist).

97- SE excluding London

Con-1,817,343
Lab- 1,264,778
Lib Dem-1,012,418
Other – 247,069
Total -4,341,608

So Labour and Labour lite between them got a clear majority in the SE (ex London) and Labour had what I think anyone who is not a facile child might call a significant proportion. This regional result is certainly below average compared with English results for Labour ( and well above for Liberals) , it was , you might say , all to play for .It is now lost just as Scotland is closed to Conservatives .

Further analysis reveals that the John B makes prat of himself 100 % of the times he forgets to keep his flappy gob shut.

If anybody needs convincing re the troll look here…

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=35649541&postID=6322564353805730251

First of all, categorising the Lib Dems as “Labour light” in the southeast is ridiculous nonsense.

Second, taking the year when Labour were most successful in the south *ever* as your benchmark is dishonest.

Third, the polling data shows that Labour are only polling five points lower in the south than nationwide.

Fourth, go and fuck yourself, you ignorant prick.

“Actually, not everyone is richer now – especially not youths.”

Uhh, actually they are! For the last five years I have been living in two fairly depressed urban areas and the youth there are not suffering from malnutrition and usually have rather more expensive clothes on than I do. Even the (I can only assume, since I am not exactly a rich looking target) fairly desperate young man who tried to mug me at knife point a few months ago was wearing perfectly decent footwear and his tracksuit was perfectly clean and unworn. This compares materially well with the youth of 200 years ago, and a 100 years ago. I would say 10 years ago but what with food prices and inflation, I wouldn’t want to push it. While equality is far more contentious, in terms of sheer resources available to even the poorest, we are doing rather well compared with history. And that is all I need to argue to demonstrate my point.

““Not really, anti-racism is merely racism’s polar opposite. The cool thing is that both of these poles are anti-semitic!”

Sorry, is nobody going to challenge this? Because I’ve just got out a jereboam of WHAT THE FUCK?, and I’m going to open it now…”

Well thats obviously a bit of a side point, but there are solid lefties who I will cheerfully argue into the night about nearly everything else (we are not talking “Nick Cohen” lefties here) who are surprised by the number of open anti-semites turning up in their camp these days. I think a doctrine of “Non-racism” might be more productive and command a better consensus than current “anti-racist” politics.

john b,
of course he’s trolling, but you won’t beat him by becoming the same as him.

What’s interesting is that his kind of conservatism is dying even within the Conservative party as they educate themselves about facts beyond their experience.

So if you can stop yourself from sinking to his level you might actually end up making some converts.

Nick,
utterly unscientific I know, but the number of homeless people and beggars in my town and the size of the queues outside the local soup kitchen I pass every day has grown in the past decade.

Total real wealth (and therefore both mean and median averages) may have grown but this appears to be matched by increasing relative wealth disparities and a growing underclass. So I’m not sure your conclusion about wealth is strictly accurate, just as I am certain that a reduction is help to these people will not decrease their suffering.

Philipa:

“nor would I welcome being encouraged into being a state brood mare with existing sex-ed and current housing policy, my offspring in state nurserys then state school while I toil in a state approved call centre that has an approprite minority recruitment policy.”

Ah, that’ll be an entirely evidence-based, prejudice-free description of the UK, then?

🙂

Really ?
1-The Liberal party were joined by the SDP in 1988 this doubled their vote c. and in 97 they are still very definitely Labour –lite .They spent the next few years criticising’ New Labour’( a project designed to get them back in a sense ) from the left. The possibility if introducing PR so as to permanently exclude the Conservative Party was last discussed … about three months ago as reported in the Independent. Labour-lite seems a pretty fair to me and especially then

2 My example was when Labour won. Yours is when they are dead in the water. Its up to you but I think mine is more relevant than polling showing everyone hates them everywhere and not much else. I was not being misleading 97 is famous election and my point was exactly that being finished in the South is the end for Labour .

You have only confirmed I am right gimp.Nice job

BTW Do you stick your tongue out when you iron a shirt ? Read aloud ?….just wondering …

1974 General Election results. Labour won. Count the red in the south-east. Ooh, there isn’t any. End of.

“Nick,
utterly unscientific I know, but the number of homeless people and beggars in my town and the size of the queues outside the local soup kitchen I pass every day has grown in the past decade.

Total real wealth (and therefore both mean and median averages) may have grown but this appears to be matched by increasing relative wealth disparities and a growing underclass. So I’m not sure your conclusion about wealth is strictly accurate, just as I am certain that a reduction is help to these people will not decrease their suffering.”

Well a lot of things have happened in the last ten years that may increase the literal number of beggars. For example, an increasing number in my experience hail from Eastern Europe (obviously a tiny minority compared to those working in the UK) and we may be sharing some of the challenges of the rest of Europe due to more open immigration.

But the relationship between wealth, begging and public expenditure has been a little more complicated than you seem to contend and this has been known for some time (see Tocqueville’s Memoir on Pauperism: http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/Tocqueville_rr2.pdf ). In essence, if you pay for beggars, you will get more beggars. I am not saying there is an easy solution but rampant public expenditure is not it.

Au Contraire my tetchy little chum .You said South East, I said South and 1974 might as well be 1874 Labour polled significantly in 97 (which you wrongly claimed they did not ). Now they cannot. If they cannot, they also cannot attract the groups across the country they need to win. I frankly have no idea whether this was true in 1974 presumably not, but if what you are saying is that Labour does not care about anyone except their welfare citadels and subsidised regions well that might explain why they treat us like despised cash cows to be conned and stolen from which was my original point. Thankyou

1974 !!! Wilson and miners switching the lights off hung Parliament , Another world f f sake are you on the autism spectrum ? ……

Nick,
don’t get me started on attempts by right-wingers to reinterpret political theorists who oppose their conclusions as favorable. The Himmelfarb project to claim Tocqueville is distinctly distasteful in it’s blatant falsification for political ends (using outdated and discredited translations among other things). I see it’s successfully managed to suck you in.

Newmania,
we get that you are a partisan missionary for a Conservative hegemony, but some of us would prefer not to nail our genitalia to the mast so far out from an election when there is still much at stake. You might well be prepared to devote yourself slavishly without good cause, but you’ll come to regret it in the long run.

If the LibDems are Labour-lite and Cameron is Blair-lite, doesn’t that make the Conservatives just snobbish LibDems? Whatever happened to last year’s ‘liberal conservatism’, was that just a fad?

“You said South East, I said South”

Wrong – see your #50

“and 1974 might as well be 1874”

Hardly, 1974 featured the same three main parties as 2008.

“Labour polled significantly in 97 (which you wrongly claimed they did not )”

No I didn’t. But they only polled significantly in the SE/S in 1997; they won in 1974 and in 2005 despite not doing so.

You said South East, I said South”Wrong – see your #50
Nope -NM …Labour Party has virtually disappeared from the South outside London…( followed by).JB-..I’ll add that anyone who thinks Labour *ever* had a significant presence in the southeast outside London ….bla bla. Ie .- It was yoo hooo
Hardly, 1974 featured the same three main parties as 2008.
Now that’s funny I recall it predated both the Liberal Party becoming the Liberal Democratic Party via the addition of the SDP .The SNP as major Party ( major enough to scare Labour to death ) and you surely are not suggesting that NEW Labour is actually the same old turd in a chocolate coat as Labour ? Tsk tsk perish the thought . Wrong and tediously literal as well

You last point is not what you originally said is it ? No. It becomes a matter of degree. 2005 Labour lost in England and from that point so your underlying point is confused the place of Scotland is important and we re into the gerrymandering of the last few years with the boundary commission , and the Celtic fringe .
Basically I say Labour are dead in the South , you say they always were . I prove they were not always . Fact .You say well . um …errr they can do without it anyway in an increasingly wet way. I do not think 2005 proves this because Labour lost in England , and the long term removal of the Party from this region is not sustainable in a devolved UK and given the classes across the UK that are prominent in the South. ….

Yeah, well this partiicular post has been successfully jacked. The tories/trolls/shills are having a smirk

having a smirk

Is this a non smirking blog then ( Marathon marathon)*

* Conservative for snicker

Don’t even go into the renaming of Marathon bars – didn’t that happen under a tory gov’t tho lol

Smirking looks like what you guys are good at

Blogger Philipa said…

That was hilarious. I love the way you wipe the floor with them with such style 😉

6:03 PM

Blogger Little Black Sambo said…

Oh, I’m so glad I followed that link.

6:34 PM

Nice people. Now lets get back to the OP. Got anything constructive to say?

67. Laurie Penny

I’m frankly appalled by all of this bitching. Christs, just put them on the table and measure.

Meanwhile – does anyone want to talk about why queer politics might or might not be inherently radical? Anyone at all?

surely queer is inherently mainstream (and therefore not radical) these days?

‘Christ, just put them on the table and measure.’

Great suggestion – I’ll come and help you do the measuring. Can’t imagine we’ll need a very big ruler.

70. Laurie Penny

thomas –

the semiotic distinction I’m making is between ‘gay’ (which, as you say, has become fairly mainstream) and ‘queer’, which isn’t. Queer encompasses not only many gay people but bisexuals, transsexuals and transvestites, the ambi-gendered, polyamorous, kinky people and the intersex movement, and the politicisation of all of that.

Growing up in Lewes and Brighton it was interesting to see a distinction between settled, conformist gay couples and the ‘queer’ scene.

Blogger Philipa says: a well crafted argument is always a pleasure to read. When also woven with wit and humour it becomes a joy to read. But it was the inadequate writhing howls of protest to Newmania’s argument that were the most entertaining. Thank you.

Laurie, it’s no good lecturing habitual contrarians on queerness, I won’t register for that class. Anyway, if you had to be taught queerness before you could start teaching it yourself, you’ve never really known what it is: those who can, do… etc.

You should get over your adolescent obsession with sex, it’s wholly boring. I mean, do you think you invented it?

Growing up in Lewes and Brighton it was interesting to see a distinction between settled, conformist gay couples and the ‘queer’ scene.

I have found that rather interesting over the last year the first people I met in Lewes were a Conservative gay couple. Its not my fault that that silly John B cannot disagree without losing his temper .I must say having been told for hears by gays that it is given and a fixed thing I wonder how some of them will take the news that people can be sexually all over the place. Its awfully hard to understand if you \re not

Laurie, speaking as a “queer” by your rather broad definition, I can say that the very last thing I want is to have my sexuality politicised.

Thomas – “Nick, don’t get me started on attempts by right-wingers to reinterpret political theorists who oppose their conclusions as favorable. The Himmelfarb project to claim Tocqueville is distinctly distasteful in it’s blatant falsification for political ends (using outdated and discredited translations among other things). I see it’s successfully managed to suck you in.”

Could you point me to another translation of the Memoir (preferably online but I’ll seek it out elsewhere if necessary)? Tocqueville seems to gain rather a lot of interest on the liberal right but I am happy to see evidence of other interpretations.

Unfortunately, Nick I don’t think pointing you in the direction of alternative translations would be helpful to finding any fully adequate interpretation of Tocqueville’s work.

It is partly because he gained fluency in vernacular English from his travels that this problem arose when it enabled him to provide his own criticisms of the translations of his work (something which frustrated his publishers and has consequently enabled him to remain fresh and sill capable of controversy to this day).

He wrote to Henry Reeve (translator of Democracy in America) to say “Without wishing to do so and by following the instinct of your opinions, you have quite vividly coloured what was contrary to Democracy and almost erased what could do harm to Aristocracy,” which was followed by an interesting academic dispute over intended textual emphasis.

This dispute endures, so the best which one could say is that the original intention is now both lost in translation and lost in history. Which is perhaps a good thing, since when I first read his work (I started with the diaries of his travels) I thought the immediacy of the prose was not its universality, but it historicity – that’s to say it’s value is primarily historical, not theoretical.

Therefore any reading of his work should be done within the terms of it’s own historical framework and historical prejudices which led to the 1851 coup (ie particularly with reference to his thoughts on race). And in which case it is best not to approach any of his works without paying full attention to any introducing foreword or publishers notes.

Just so, he wrote to Beaumont in a somewhat prescient prediction, “style will seem almost as important as ideas and form almost as important as substance.”


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Gay Politics at The ThunderDragon

    […] they have a duty to vote Conservative.” Laurie Penny at Liberal Conspiracy objects, claiming instead that “queer politics are inherently radical”. Which is falling into exactly the […]

  2. It’s my duty to vote Tory « The Lay of the Land

    […] dare this millionaire Tory lesbian, who has been heard saying that she hoped her partner’s name, Jay, would be mistaken for that of a man by reporters, tell me what my duty […]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.