James Delingpole

James Delingpole: What's wrong with being right?

28 September 2013

I’m trying to imagine what Britain would look like under a Ukip/Conservative coalition with Cameron as PM and Farage as his deputy. The idea fills me with horror.

I think, for example, of the runaway economic boom which would result from the sudden dash to exploit our superabundant shale gas resources; I think of the revolution which would occur in education were free schools freed to make a profit; I think of the rolling back of political correctness, the reinvention of the NHS on the Singapore model, the epic reduction in public spending, the cancellation of High Speed 2, the death of the renewable energy scam. It would be a nightmare, I tell you, a complete bloody nightmare. Whatever would there be left for people like me to write about?

Luckily, it’s not going to happen for at least three reasons. The first is that things you want to happen in politics never do happen: instead — which is why my old mucker Dave is more consummate a politician than I’ll ever be — it’s all about compromise, double–dealing and fudge. And the second is that Dave could never work as comfortably with Farage as he does with Nick Clegg because he’s not remotely right-wing — he’s a social democrat.

A few years ago, when we were still on speaking terms, I put this to Dave at the Spectator party. ‘Dave,’ I said. ‘How come you’ve turned into such a fucking lefty?’ I can’t remember what Dave’s diplomatic reply was. But what I do remember is that he made no attempt to dispute the premise. Even back then — not long after he’d become Conservative party leader — Dave had clearly made up his mind that not being thought right-wing was a stigma about which a potential Tory PM could afford to be intensely relaxed.

Which brings us to the third and most intractable problem with uniting the right: the ‘r’ word has been so successfully discredited by the left that even conservatives balk at it. It is synonymous with ‘crap taste in music; even worse taste in clothes; uselessness in bed; sexism; racism; a fondness for spanking, tarts dressed as French maids, water sports and semi-auto-asphyxiation enjoyed while masturbating with an orange in your mouth; insider dealing; nimbyism; wanton selfishness; environmental vandalism; philistinism; greed; stupidity; cruelty; mendacity; corruption; xenophobia; closed-mindedness; extremism; bigotry; adultery and round, unvarnished evil’.

Claim your gift

I wrote that list (in How to Be Right) in 2007 and all that has changed is that you’d now include Anders Breivik. But perhaps, now I think about it, there never was a time when ‘right-wing’ had favourable connotations. When you used to refer to someone as being ‘slightly to the right of Ghengis Khan’, it wasn’t to indicate that he was a fervent advocate of liberty, property rights and lower taxes, was it?

Farage, canny operator that he is, has sensed the danger, too. You rarely if ever hear him apply the ‘r’ word to his party’s policies and he is often at pains to point out that Ukip appeals as much to natural Labour voters as it does to disgruntled Tories. What he’s doing here, of course, is claiming the mantle of Margaret Thatcher, who — as Martin Durkin noted in his brilliant documentary Death of a Revolutionary — wasn’t really a conventional conservative at all but an anti–establishment radical who achieved all she did by pissing off the old high Tory hierarchy and galvanising the working classes.

‘I’d much rather be called Thatcherite than right-wing,’ Lord Bell told me the other day. ‘Being a Thatcherite is a badge of honour, whereas being called right-wing is too loaded and pejorative.’ For similar reasons, he advises Conservatives always to self–describe as Conservatives, never as Tories, a word that lends itself far too easily to being pronounced with a lefty sneer.

So does that mean, then, we should consign the word ‘right’ to the dustbin of history like some crap piece of Ratners jewellery? I’m beginning to wonder. I hardly ever refer to myself as right-wing these days, even in provocation, because I can’t help feeling it does the cause more harm than good. If, simply by association with the ‘r’ word, worthy goals like limited government, national sovereignty and fiscal restraint are made to seem cruel, fascistic and wrong, then clearly the term has long since outworn its usefulness.

With what, though, do we replace it? ‘Classical liberal’ sounds too technical — and is too easily confused with the other kind of liberal. ‘Free market’ sounds too buccaneering and callous. ‘Libertarian’ frightens too many conservative traditionalists. ‘Radical’ sounds too radical. Thatcherite is too freighted with cultural baggage.

Maybe, all things considered, we’ll have to stick with ‘right’ simply because it’s the least worst option. It’s not ideal, but I’m not sure we’ve got the time to sit around trying to dream up something better, because the time for action is now. This is where, for all our occasional differences, I find myself in absolute agreement with Toby Young. He’s a loyal Tory, I’m an out Ukipper, but ideologically we’re two peas in a pod and it strikes me as utterly insane that we find ourselves in parties committed to wiping one another off the map. Does it really have to be this way?

Well, of course Toby will no doubt argue that the Tories have no choice: not with Ukip now promising to contest every seat in the general election, and Farage making no secret of his loathing for Cameron. I’d counter that the natural conservatives in Ukip have no choice either: not with Cameron having so diluted the Conservative brand that it might just as well call itself New Labour.

So it’s going to be like the Civil War, then. Brother against brother; fathers against sons; husbands against in-laws and, at the end, years more misery under a bunch of hatchet-faced puritans. It didn’t need to be this way; it shouldn’t be this way; but it will.

Give the perfect gift this Christmas. Buy a subscription for a friend for just £75 and you’ll receive a free gift too. Buy now.

Show comments
  • anosrep

    Does Delingpole actually get paid to write this drivel?

    • disqus_JXTaH3N9kU

      Apparently. And I can just imagine what “misery” his life must be.

      • Francis P

        Is that your disquis password?

        • disqus_JXTaH3N9kU


          • Francis P

            Good luck with that.

    • Graeme McNeil

      One imagines that he pays the Spectator to publish his nonsense.

      • Smithersjones2013

        Why is it nonsense? It is clear that many use the terms ‘right-wing’ and ‘Tory’ as derogatory terms and as such it has a stigma with it these days. Whilst most of all it demonstrates the bigotry of those that use it in those terms it certainly has infiltrated our culture to some extent.

    • hereward

      anosrep . not happy with an alternative view ? You might be happier to watch Sky and the Beeb reviewing the dead tree press . The media talking to themselves , safe in their smug rancid bubble . Keep a sick bag close by .

      • tastemylogos

        bloody well said. death to the alternative view! ‘E’quality is what i demand.

        nuance? evil.

    • Britalianissima

      Do you?

    • rtj1211

      I’m sure he does. He’s very good at getting ‘Page Impressions’ which is what an online rag is all about. Just look at the number of comments he generates at the DT – in the thousands every time. The man has a following.

      Whether you think what he says is drivel or not, you can’t claim that he doesn’t have a following.

    • Smithersjones2013

      Well clearly they wouldn’t pay for yours……

    • Fergus Pickering

      Indeed he does. A quite high class drivel on the whole. The Grauniad is where you go for really ballsaching drivel. And, yes, the journalists are paid for it.

  • Ben Moss

    Most Ukip members certainly shun the ‘right wing’ label these days. There seem to be as many ex labour and ex lib dem members and voters within the ranks now. Or at least it’s going in that direction. UKIP is growing up and becoming a serious movement. I do however agree that there are many ideas that Lady Thatcher would recognise and positively approve of…UKIP members see the Conservative party as much a part of the Westminster / Brussels elitist establishment. In fact the three are termed the LIB/LAB CON.

    Perhaps those libertarians within the Conservative party need to consider whether the Conservative (In name only) party is still a party that merrits their support?

    • rtj1211

      UKIP’s primary role, like the SNP in Scotland, is to realign sovereign power to a particular level of nation. The SNP is traditionally seen as a party of the left but many believe that, should independence come, that Scotland will be governed by those more pro-enterprise than the current incumbents.

      Equally, UKIP emerged originally as a party of the right, but many believe that if UK independence returns, that UK government will be more toward the centre.

  • http://whenfallsthecoliseum.com/author/kwatson/ megapotamus

    Except I don’t think the Cavaliers are actually sharpening their swords. Pens, maybe but even that is anachronistic. We do battle with each other using electrons; tiny, massless, negatively charged particles. Or maybe waves. It depends on how hard you look.

    • Kevin Ronald Lohse

      …. tiny, massless, negatively charged particles….. I can’t think of a better description of the Left.

      • rtj1211

        And the right are positrons: tiny, massless, positively charged particles.

        When the two meet they cause an expulsion of energy and both disappear without trace.

  • drydamol1


    Cameron is totally out of his Depth.He struggled to win
    the Electorate over with an outright win at the Election which is the basis for
    a rocky start.He inherited Thatcher’s Reforms NHS,Bedroom Tax,Atos Assessments
    ,Dole Sanction,Workfare all quietly and slowly introduced by Blair who believes
    Life is a Popularity Contest. Cameron has tried BS ,Intimidation, squeezing our
    pockets,even going to the extent of trying to Privatise the Civil service to
    get his own Draconian way.

    A desperate man is a Dangerous one.

    He gave Immigrants free air tickets to go back home,they
    did for a holiday now there back in droves with many more on their way.He
    advocates the Unemployed working for their Benefits,he has achieved Working
    people receiving Benefit standard wages,so not long to go.He is negotiating with
    Clegg for an opposition Coalition.Promising 1st time buyers the
    earth.The man similar to ATOS is not fit for Purpose.BSB


  • Britalianissima

    The left-wing media in this country has always portrayed the right as being ‘nasty’ – e.g the Tories’ ‘nasty party’ label that Cameron wanted to get away from. Well done, he succeeded because it’s now just a poor imitation of New Labour. I have never understood why believing in limited government, personal responsibility, and hard work is seen as ‘nasty.’ That also goes for having our sovereignty trampled all over by bodies such as the EU. The left wing, especially the BBC, label anyone who isn’t pro-EU as being xenophobic, and a little Englander. The fact that the left are often authoritarian fascists who scream ‘racism’ whenever anyone on the right dares express an opinion about anything is never mentioned..

    • rtj1211

      There is a lot of truth in what you say, but unfortunately there are those on the right who behave in exactly the same way as those on the Left. Not all of you, by any means, but far too many.

      It is the preadolescent immaturity applied to politics, I’m afraid. It’s why this country is so obsessed by competitive sport: still pre-adolescent in its tribalism.

      I’m also afraid that there are those on the Right who believe in bleeding hard working, highly educated people dry. If that’s your kind of right wing nirvana, don’t be surprised if a lot of people find it repugnant.

      There are those of the right who are skilled electronic buggers. They work in finance, in the professions (including the law) and they see it as part of a way of imposing a tyranny. If you think that is part of being a Right Winger, then don’t be surprised if a lot of people find it repugnant.

      What those who talk of limited government must also address is what goes on in private worlds.

      If they say: ‘anything goes’, well don’t complain if someone burns your house down, if someone kills your kid or if someone steals your lifetime’s hard work.

      I don’t say anything goes and I do complain if people behave like that.

      But I”ve yet to find a corporation that will stamp on it on my behalf. Occasionally you can find a Government that will.

      • Ridcully

        This is a classic strawman response so often levelled at libertarians/classical liberals; where “limited government” is equated with “no government.” A totally disingenuous response as most, if not all, libertarians accept that the state has a legitimate role in certain functions of society, such as defence and maintaining law and order.

      • Littlegrayman

        Labour are equally culpable having had MP’s who profited from their own legislation e.g the Human Rights Act.

    • steffanjohn

      Seeing as everyone agrees that the BBC labels anyone who isn’t pro-EU as xenophobic and a little Englander, could someone please provide me with lots of links from their website or any programme that says this? It should be a very easy thing to do.

      Or are we in evidence-free mode here?

      • JackyTreehorn

        Just Google bias BBC, if you are prepared to read through pages of evidence you should find plenty. I write this without checking because if you have been following the news for the last few decades you would find it obvious in the slanted way it portrays anything to do with the EU.
        Even on a light hearted BBC programme on the UKs relationship with Europe they constantly associated people that were anti EU as preferring fish and chips to French cuisine or Margate to Tuscany so as to infer they were old fashioned or not cultured, they just could not help themselves, the EU is in their DNA.

      • JackyTreehorn

        Better still Google EU BBC bias.

  • Peter Stroud

    I am an aged, rank and file member of the Conservative Party; I am proud go be called a Tory. As with most true Tories, I agree with many of Ukip’s policies; but I will not vote for them. The probability of Ukip winning a single seat at the next GE is remote: yet, as we all know, votes for any party other than the Tories will increase Red Ed’s chance of entering number 10. Farage might claim as many converts from Labour as from Tory ranks; but I just don’t believe he has got that right.

    • Noa

      It’s shameful that voters don’t have the courage of their convictions and also a condemnation of the FPTP system.
      Even so, why would you vote for someone like Cameron? A man who has broken more promises than the County bigamist?

    • Smithersjones2013

      Oh for god sake enough of this prevarication. Cameron lost the election the minute he started fornicating with Clegg and half Clegg’s supporters upped sticks and joined Labour under Miliband. Whatever UKIP do or do not do doesn’t matter Cameron’s first act after the 2010 election doomed the Tory party to defeat.

      You are a member of a party that has been divided and dysfunctional for over 20 years. It stabbed its most successful leader ever in the back. What sane party does that?

      Your party is pretty much persona non gratis in Scotland, the North East, most urban areas, parts of Wales. 42% of the electorate will not even consider voting for you. It has virtually no chance of winning an outright majority in an General Election in the foreseeable future.

      For 7 years Cameron has told the world how outdated (needs modernisation) you are and how toxic you are (needs detoxification). Yet for 7 years he has singularly failed in his every attempt to address the supposed issues but has instead managed to emphasise them and in doing so validate every foul piece of propaganda that the left have claimed about the Tories. If the Tory brand was not irrevocably trashed before his leadership (and it was no doubt soiled to a considerable extent) then it is now.

      Not only that but he has achieved something that no other leader of the Tory party has managed. He has united the left and divided the right. He is probably the most politically inept leader I can recall (and I remember back to Wilson in the 60’s)

      Cameron holds your membership and people like you in particular in contempt. His close compatriots call you ‘swivel-eyed nutters’. Have you no pride? No spine? Are you a doormat that Cameron can walk all over you?

      Can you not see that your party is like a dog with rabies. Its only fit to be put down! Don’t leave it until it becomes truly rabid (and it likely will once defeated in 2015) because the damage then will be far greater. Until we are rid of the Toxic Tory Party there is little hope that we can put this country back on the ‘right’ path.

      • rtj1211

        I don’t think your flowery descriptions add weight to your statesmanship. You sound a pretty totalitarian fascist to me.

        Why would anyone vote for you, with contempt oozing from your veins?

        Are you really the horniest, brainiest, richest, most powerful, most faultless human being on the planet??

        Because unless you are, I’d vote for a slightly more humble, slightly more tolerant and slightly more grown up leader.

    • rtj1211

      I’m not sure I agree with you about the seats UKIP will win. It all depends whether the tipping point is reached where voters believe that UKIP can win or not. As soon as that happens, you can get a 10 – 12% shift immediately.

  • Ricky Strong

    Good article but I would suggest that we keep the term ‘right wing’. And if it conjures any connotations that the left find offensive then we should do what we always do when they speak, in one ear and out the other.

    • rtj1211

      You would do well to realise that your views are but a subset of those held in Britain. You have the right to hold them, but you may find that you don’t command a majority expressing them.

  • rtj1211

    The question you should ask about that kind of coalition is what would happen to Cornwall, Wales, the North of England and Scotland??

    The most likely outcome would be rabid house building in the SE, Crossrail II, a new airport expansion somewhere with associated infrastructure and no investment in the regions.

    I’d love to be wrong, but the likely distribution of seats under such a scenario mitigates strongly against it.

    • Fergus Pickering

      militates, my friend, though I can’t think why I bother. No lefty has any education at all these days.

  • Hugo Jenks

    The problem is that Cameron is pro-EU. The Conservatives need to replace him with an EUsceptic leader first, before any talk of pacts with UKIP can begin. The other point is that UKIP are picking up ex-Labour votes too, so it is a mistake to assume these votes would still be retained if there was such a pact. It may be that Labour will also promise a referendum, in which case what is there in such a deal for UKIP members?

    • rtj1211

      Commentators are already openly talking about Boris Johnson combining being an MP in Westminster with his final year as London Mayor.

      I don’t think he’s the right man myself, but many do. I think he’d be Churchill dropped into a 21st century 1945, obsessed with foreign policy and not enamoured by the ennervating job of getting this country firing on all cylinders again, which doesn’t necessarily need a full blown socialist government, but it does need a full-blown national effort of cooperating domestically to compete internationally. Boris should be a roving global Ambassador for Britain, British business etc. He’d be brilliant at that, assuming he could bat for Britain rather than just London and the SE. If he can’t do that, he certainly shouldn’t be Prime Minister.

  • Smithersjones2013

    There again of course the terms ‘leftie’, ‘socialist’, ‘left-wing’ etc
    also carry with them a considerable stigma (irrational, violent, destructive, disrespectful, parasitic, delusional, deranged, delerious, hysterical, hypocritical, prejudiced, bigoted, innumerate, cowardly, traitorous, disloyal, stupid, profligate, crooked, cheating, dishonest, sanctimonious, condescending, patronising, malevolent, malfeasant, extreme, bullying, browbeating, authoritarian, humourless, intolerant etc)

    Its no different to the terms of endearment regarding the EU. For every Europhobe there is a Europhiliac (well actually as it goes the latter seem to be almost extinct).

    • rtj1211

      You only need to read the columns of the DT and this rag to see the terms of abuse rained down on anyone not on the far right.

      You only need to read the Guardian and the Independent to see the terms of abuse rained down on anyone not of the far left.

      Neither inspire confidence in statesmanship, it has to be said.

  • John Smith

    You have to take peoples money, give them less back, charge them for the pleasure & do it with a smile, to be successful today

    • Fergus Pickering

      Oh I don’t know. You could write Downton Abbey or Harry Potter.

  • Susan Smith

    …..Yawn….ugly prat

  • Roy

    Without knowing the full extent of the article, it starts off correctly enough. It is one of those dreamlike suggestions that to come into reality would be half way to a better solution for the country. The Labour Party would be a serious disadvantage. The tory party would be a slide into oblivion, since they have lost their way, been cross fertilized, and know not what to do. So there is little left except Ukip. Since it seems remote it can gain full power, a merger with the conservatives would be an only live choice. I love the idea. So on to it.

  • jazz606

    The last thing right wingers should do is to Kowtow or trim their views in even the most minuscule way in order to to accommodate lefties. Stick it to them whenever possible and if they get upset, find a way to upset them even more.
    I do this at every opportunity, it’s very satisfying.

  • Littlegrayman

    I would prefer a UKIP Labour coalition with Farage as PM and Miliband as his deputy.
    The idea appeals just for Milibands discomfort.

Can't find your Web ID? Click here