‘Standpoint’ and the craven capitulation of “respectable” conservatives

November 30, 2016 at 7:19 pm (apologists and collaborators, capitulation, conspiracy theories, Europe, fascism, Jim D, populism, Putin, Racism, Tory scum, Trump, UKIP)

“Heil Trump!” This is what “respectable” conservatives are kowtowing before

“Everywhere you look you see conservatives sniffing the air and catching the scent of the radical right. It tempts them with the most seductive perfume in politics: the whiff of power. Populists are rewriting the rules and conservatives have seen they can break the old taboos, assault the constitutional order and lie with ease. Their suppressed thoughts now look like election winners.”

On the principle of avoiding living in a political echo chamber, I’ve been a subsciber to the right of centre UK magazine Standpoint since shortly after its launch in 2008. Although I’ve never agreed with its editorial ‘line’ (broadly neo-Conservative) it was well-written, intellectually challenging and contained some excellent coverage of literature and music as well as politics. But it’s become noticeably more stridently right wing over the last couple of years. It went seriously down in my estimation when it backed Brexit. The present (Dec/Jan) issue urges readers to give Trump “the benefit of the doubt“.  This is a step too far even for me.

I’ve even taken the trouble to send the editor my thoughts:

So, Standpoint urges us to give Trump the “benefit of the doubt”; so much for all the dire warnings about the Putin threat and Obama and the “EU elite”‘s reluctance to confront him. So much for the evocations of “Western civilisation” and basic democratic norms. What a craven sell-out, apparently because “several American contributors to Standpoint … are close to or even part of the new administration.” I note that your execrable pro-Trump editorial closes with an appeal for funds. You will not be receiving any from me. In fact, please cancel my subscription.

For intelligent right wing commentary I’m switching to The Spectator. It would be excellent if some of Standpoint‘s less craven/swivel-eyed contributors (eg Nick Cohen, Julie Bindle, Maureen Lipman) walked out over this.

I’m hoping Cohen, at least, will walk, given his excellent piece in last Sunday’s Observer (from which the quote at the top is taken),  on the capitulation of “respectable” conservatives to the radical right. Theresa May and the Daily Mail are two obvious examples. Standpoint is another.


  1. februarycallendar said,


    Whatever you think of the tradition the Mail and Express come from, and the different (though related) tradition the Telegraph comes from, they were all *prevented*, for most of their history, from seeming as unhinged and hysterical as they seem now by their very conservatism. Of course, “seeming” was often the operative word. But still.

    Tragically, it is quite different now. Look at the digital archives of all of them and they seem positively restrained even as recently as Thatcher & Major’s time compared to the demagoguery they have jumped aboard now. This isn’t conservatism. You don’t have to have any feeling or even empathy for the traditions involved to recognise that they could and should have better representation than this. But do they deserve them, now?

  2. Glasgow Working Class said,

    Lefties used to make the clenched fist sign similar to the Nazis. Potential dictators all. And what do both have in common! Oops dem Jews.

  3. Saul Sorrell-Till said,

    I’ve been a fan(with certain large caveats) of Douglas Murray for a while now so it’s disappointing to see him equivocate about and make excuses for Trump. He’s incredibly sharp and perceptive when it comes to the illiberal left and its coddling of conservative Islam, and he’s excellent when dealing with the left-wing slow suicide of identity politics, but when called on to evaluate the most repellent, dangerous candidate in American political history his spine disappears. This is exactly the phenomenon you identify. After however many decades of a left-liberal ideology dominating in the west the first sniff of its weakness and so many right-wingers will throw their lot in with its opponents. Doesn’t matter if they’re the white, western equivalent of the Islamofascists people like Murray have been going after for years. Spineless. There are a few conservatives who I respect, like Andrew Sullivan and that Frum chap in America, but on the whole it’s been an utter cakewalk for the hard and far-right to inveigle their way into the general political discourse.

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