The other night I had a look at the 18 Doughty Street internet-based public affairs TV programme. I quite like what Iain Dale and the others in that outfit are trying to do with internet TV: breaking into the arena now dominated by BBC, ITN and Channel 4, channels that are by and large infused with the meta-context of the liberal-left. 18 Doughty Street is unashamedly pro-liberty, pro-capitalism, pro-America and anti-Big Government in its thinking. My main doubt is whether it can keep going without being able to make hard cash. Anyway, it is also attracting guests from across the spectrum, and it is an appearance by a leftist blogger on the show the other night that got my attention.
Dale was interviewing three bloggers about events of the week, and one of the guests was Alex Hilton, the author of the blog Recess Monkey, a leftist site with a sense of humour that may or may not to be to one’s taste. He recently got into a bit of a pickle by posting the ‘news’ that Margaret Thatcher, whom Alex loathes, had died. She is, of course, very much alive. Iain Dale phoned up the BBC after seeing the ‘story’ and promptly Hilton had to retract and publish a rather grubby apology, albeit one with a fairly nasty sting in the tail. What a nob, I thought. Then I saw his appearance on 18 Doughty Street. Fairly boilerplate lefty, I thought, a bit cocky, not a bit ashamed of spreading an untrue story, in fact, denying that that the death of Mrs T. would be a ‘story’ at all (any newspaper editor would turn him down on the spot if he thinks that the death of a famous politician, however old, is not a story. I certainly would).
Anyway, the interview went on. I was interested in how Hilton described how he came to hold the views he did, which is always interesting, in my view. His family background is working class – printing and coal mining, two industries that succumbed to the crackdown on subsidy and the trade union closed shop thanks to the Thatcher years (I strongly support both such changes, naturally). Hilton is a reminder, however, that a lot of people experienced the hard side of those changes, necessary though they were. I was a bit disappointed that Dale did not ask the question, “So Alex, are you in favour of massive coal subsidies and the old print union methods, then?”, which was a pity. But at one stage we got a really interesting admission. Hilton was talking about leftist economics bloggers, and said it was a pleasure to come across such folk, because on the whole, “economics is an emotional issue for socialists”, or some such. I certainly remember the use of the word “emotional”. Bang. For a socialist to actually admit that their views on economics are driven, not by logic, factual evidence, by reason, but by “emotion” is a big admission. It is an admission of intellectual defeat if you do not say that you have reason as your main motivator. It is to run up a big, white flag in the battle of ideas. When Marx was writing about class and the rise of the proletariat, he did not present his arguments as “emotional” – though of course they were in many respects. He used the language of science a lot. The left used to talk about ‘scientific socialism’. Their posters had big pictures of factories, machines and aircraft on them, all waxing lyrical about technology and the power of reason. The left is now a very different, post-modernist beast. Reason is out. Emotion is in.
Socialism just took another little step towards its coffin on that show. Nice one Alex. Keep up the great work. Just do not try to kill off Britain’s greatest post-war Prime Minister ever again.