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“The Benign Prerogative”

I went on a march many years ago. A few actually. I wish I could remember which ones, but that would be to miss the point. It was a march, protesting about something, and we on the left were duty bound to attend.

That was all a long time ago. But it was brought to mind today as an anti-austerity event got going in London, and in other cities around the UK. There were even placards in Whitstable, outside homes on Island Wall.

One thing a march will reaffirm is that it’s a lot more fun to shout how angry you are than to set about the difficult work of fixing things. As former Democratic Congressman Barney Frank put it, the Left are:

“…prone to do things that are emotionally satisfying and not politically useful… If you care deeply about a cause, and you are engaged in an activity on behalf of that cause that is great fun and makes you feel good and a warm and enthusiastic, you’re probably not helping… political work is much tougher and harder.”

For many conservatives the “austerity” protests are rooted in this unreality. Being conservative is hard, because it means turning your back on quick fixes and accepting difficult truths. And by nature conservatives would rather not have to shout about it. Or mention it politely for that matter.

You’re on the left? In which case you can retweet people comparing those behind the “austerity” (people like me that is) to Nazis. Or attacking the police – otherwise preoccupied guarding the cenotaph – for keeping the peace.

But anyway. I’ll carry on listening to everyone’s views and try to understand those who oppose mine, because I still think we’re more likely to improve things by talking.

Because at the heart of all of this theater are real people getting by. The Conservatives have got more people back into work, freed more people from the shackles of welfare, and made “aspiration” a word that can be spoken in every home. I’m glad to be a part of that, because solving the problems of today require more than just money.

But concentration camp references? Really?

I remember the same placards in my protest days, calling for “class war”. Well, that’ll require some on the other side to have some.

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