Chloe Westley: Jordan Peterson, not modern feminists, speaks for me

Peterson rejects collectivist doctrines, and instead emphasises the importance of the individual. This is why so many people say they have been inspired by his work.

Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

Much has been written about Jordan Peterson. The Canadian academic has been accused of being ‘sexist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘racist’ and worse of all – a ‘white man’. As a reaction to a recent interview with Peterson in GQ, Marina Hyde published a Guardian piece expressing concern that “Peterson (spent) most of the interview looking like he’s about to urinate out of his face. ”

It’s a wonder that these many compelling and thoughtful counter-arguments have so far failed to debunk Peterson’s academic work. Perhaps if more of his critics had the attention span to look beyond the fact that he happens to be a white man, and listened to what he is actually saying, we would take them more seriously.

For when Peterson challenges the idea of an imposed patriarchy he does so on behalf of women like me. I’ve been told my whole life by modern feminists that I should be resentful of men, that I should fear discrimination at every opportunity, and that the world will always treat me badly because of my gender. Whilst that may be true in some countries, particularly in the Middle East, it’s certainly not the case in modern Britain.

Young women in Britain are being misled by feminists. Take the stories over the weekend based on “Equal Pay Day”. We’re told that there is a “gender pay gap” between men and women, and that this is due to rampant discrimination. But this gap is simply a comparison of the average salaries of men and women: it’s not indicative of any kind of discrimination. Equal pay for equal work is guaranteed by law. It is illegal to pay women less for the same work if they are equally qualified.

The difference in average earnings are more likely down to women’s choices. The ‘pay gap’ between men and women aged between 22 – 39 is virtually non existent, it has fluctuated  between -0.8 per cent and 2.2 per cent during 2015-2017. What is a more likely indicator of the difference in average earnings is that women are choosing, at a certain stage in their life, to raise a family and opt for more flexible or part-time work.

And I don’t think that’s a bad thing. To say that it’s somehow wrong for women to choose different kinds of work to men implies that we are not fully entitled to make their own independent choices. What right do do feminists have to look down on women who prioritise family life over the pursuit of a higher salary at a FTSE 100 company? Feminism used to be about opportunity and choices for women. Now I fear their aim is to socially reconstruct society, regardless of the cost to the rights of the individual.

But whilst the media obsess over Peterson’s views on women and gender, they are actually the least interesting thing about him. His academic contributions are really about how human beings can live in the world with dignity, and without destroying each other.  He explores the history of human societies and theology in order to identify what it might mean to be human, and the best way to preserve human life and prosperity.

At nearly every opportunity, he argues passionately against the doctrines of Postmodernism and Marxism  – and almost any ideology which seeks to destroy and rebuild society in its own image. Marxists aspire towards an ‘ideal’ order of human life, in which unjust hierarchies are torn down and replaced with a utopia of fairness and equality. The only problem is that in order to overthrow the system you have to kill a lot of people. And in the end, you’re left with another hierarchy – one that is based on loyalty to the regime.

Peterson rejects collectivist doctrines, and instead emphasises the importance of the individual. This is why, I believe, so many people say they have been inspired by his work. Instead of seeing people as victims, he praises our potential for greatness and compassion.

But individualism isn’t just about the actualisation of the individual. It’s our defence against evil. Authoritarian regimes have relied on the abdication of individual responsibility in order to rise to power. Things go wrong when enough people absolve themselves of being informed citizens who are awake and capable of stating the truth.

And in order to have informed citizens who are capable of stating the truth, you must protect free speech. On BBC’s Question Time last week, Peterson warned against the dangers of a government regulating speech. There is no question of whether hateful speech exists. It does.

But who decides what to criminalise? In socialist Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro uses a ‘Law Against Hatred’ to imprison political opponents, who are accused of ‘promoting fascism, hatred, and intolerance’. Those who speak out against the regime in media outlets or on social media can be accused of hate speech, and put in prison for up to 20 years. Some of us may dismiss or laugh at ‘Social Justice Warriors’ in the UK, but their attempt to shut down debate and dismiss any opposing argument as ‘fascism’ should alarm us all. This isn’t just a phenomena on University campuses: even an elected politician has pathetically called for me to be banned from TV.

The ad hominem attacks on Jordan Peterson are lazy. He’s not interested in dividing society into group identities, and pitching them against each other: that’s the goal of the identitarian Left. Instead, Peterson offers a thoughtful defence of the individual, and warns against the tyranny of the collective.  It’s not a “patriarchy” that women in the west should fear. It’s Marxism.

WATCH: Hinds – MPs “need to think about what the alternatives are” to whatever deal May brings back

The Education Secretary tells Andrew Marr that “I’m very confident that the deal that comes back will be a good one.”

A betrayal of the Brexit vote by the establishment could leave the country ungovernable

“We need to be mob-handed out on Angel Hill.” This startling phrase has lingered in my mind since my most recent public meeting on the battle to save Brexit. It was uttered by a gentleman who, I would estimate, had certainly passed the age of sixty though seemed in fine physical health. And it was […]

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“We need to be mob-handed out on Angel Hill.”

This startling phrase has lingered in my mind since my most recent public meeting on the battle to save Brexit. It was uttered by a gentleman who, I would estimate, had certainly passed the age of sixty though seemed in fine physical health. And it was greeted with enthusiastic applause by many people in the room.

It was in the splendid surroundings of the Athenaeum meeting rooms in the middle of the genteel Suffolk market town of Bury St Edmunds, that my latest Brexit SOS meeting took place last Tuesday. Angel Hill, I should add, is the town’s most famous thoroughfare.

I replied to the gentleman that although I was as outraged as anyone by the apparent betrayal of Brexit by the British political establishment and would certainly consider innovative ways to protest – up to and including peaceful civil disobedience – if he was looking for someone to lead a mob then he had come to the wrong man.

In truth, I had arrived in Bury – my favourite town in the East of England – with a slight sense of trepidation. Suffolk had not, over the years, been the county that produced the biggest turnouts for the many pro-Leave events I have hosted. I was expecting an audience of maybe 40 people to show up – mostly UKIP diehards. I even felt a bit awkward in advance that my guest speaker, Suzanne Evans, might think it had been a long way to travel for a modest turnout.

But still, my research had earlier in the day confirmed my recollection that this was a county in which every MP had campaigned for Remain and yet every parliamentary constituency had voted Leave. So we had something to work with.

And as the clock approached 7pm, the meeting’s scheduled start time, the people just kept streaming in. Twice extra chairs had to be located and laid out. There were well over a hundred in the hall by the time we got going.

And considering this was Suffolk – the most laid-back part of my MEP patch – the most notable feature of the audience was how angry it was about the slow-motion spectacle of Westminster selling out on the referendum result.

There is a moment in the new film Peterloo, about the massacre of people protesting for democratic reform two centuries ago, where a character laments: “What is the use of a Parliament if it does not listen to the people?”

During my meeting this theme was reprised time and again. The most thunderous applause was reserved for those who argued that the spectacle of Brexit betrayal showed that the whole political system was rotten and in dire need of sweeping change to make it properly accountable to the people.

The biggest spontaneous applause I received was when I pondered whether many people might decide they were no longer willing to pay £150 a year on a TV licence in order to fund an organisation which has played a key role in disseminating a media narrative designed to help the elite avoid implementing what had been decided in June 2016.

So far, the level of anger among the 17.4 million who voted to Leave the EU has been the dog that has not barked in the protracted Brexit process. We have seen several hundred thousand anti-Brexit diehards marching through central London in their EU berets, noisily calling for Brexit to be abandoned.

But the pro-Brexit forces – bar an enterprising picket of a recent Cabinet meeting organised by the excellent Leavers of London group – have in general just got on with their lives and maintained a watching brief. Their quietness has even led some Tory MPs to consider the possibility that a wholesale sell-out of Brexit – keeping us locked in a customs union we cannot get out of, for example – will result merely in a containable bout of grumbling which will have played itself out well before the next general election.

I am convinced that is a major miscalculation. The quiet, watching brief of those oh-so-patient Brexit voters seems to me to be coming to an end. Many of them are indeed of mature years and do not correspond to anyone’s stereotype of a street protester. I am not going to make any blood-curdling predictions of how nasty things will get if the spirit of Brexit and restoring national independence is seen to be betrayed. That would not be responsible.

Indeed I still find it hard to visualise the folk of Middle England running amok on Angel Hill and equivalent streets in market towns across our country. But all those legislators who will soon determine the Brexit course – whether it is to be Theresa May’s impending sell-out, a full-on WTO ‘no deal’ Brexit, or even a pulling of the emergency brake and no Brexit at all – should not for a moment think that a corporate political failure to implement the referendum result will allow them to steer Britain back to the way things worked before (i.e. very nicely for them and less so for the populace).

And all those multinational CEOs who seem to have succeeded in turning Brexit into quasi-Remain via their noisy and well-funded lobbying about the non-negotiable status of frictionless supply chains will need to wake up to the difficulties of doing business in a country that has suddenly become ungovernable. The demons will indeed have been unleashed.

Had any been at my meeting and stared into the eyes of our would-be Angel Hill mobster, I think they would have found themselves asking the Dirty Harry question: Do I feel lucky? Sometimes in life it is better not to push it.

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Iain Dale: If we had a government with Cox and Balls

Plus: Crouch’s revenge. Islam’s departure. Brexit, May’s prospective deal and Labour’s internal agonies. And: Trumpety-Trump as the President claims victory.

Iain Dale is an LBC presenter, a commentator with CNN and the author/editor of over 30 books.

Oh, how the Prime Minister may regret crossing Tracey Crouch, who resigned last week as Sports Minister over gambling regulation.

Why? Because Tracey is writing the Prime Minister’s biographical essay for the second volume of The Honourable Ladies, a two volume book I am editing with Jacqui Smith, containing essays about the 491 female MPs elected since 1918. I’m sure that last week’s feeling of complete let-down by the Prime Minister will have no impact on the conclusions which Tracey will draw in her analysis of Theresa May’s career so far.

The main question we should ponder if whether she will have been restored to ministerial office by the time the book comes out next September. Or maybe it should be whether the Prime Minister herself will still be in office.

– – – – – – – – – – –

So farewell, Faisal Islam. He’s been poached by the BBC as their new Economics Correspondent, replacing Kamal Ahmed, who is taking on a new management role there.

Faisal’s departure from Sky News could well trigger quite a substantial lobby domino effect, depending on who is appointed to replace him. Beth Rigby, currently deputy political editor at Sky must fancy her chances, and I suspect that Sophie Ridge is a leading candidate too.

Another standout internal candidate would be Niall Paterson, who used to be a political correspondent at Millbank, then covered the defence beat and now co-presents the weekday breakfast show.

If they want to look outside their own team, I’d say Tom Newton-Dunn would be a strong candidate. He has been wanting to get into TV for some time and recently lost ou narrowly to Deborah Haynes for the Sky Foreign Editor job.

Of course, whoever gets the job will operate in the long shadow which Adam Boulton continues to cast. He is Mr Politics at Sky, and I suspect Faisal always found it quite difficult to make his own mark. Adam is a giant among political journalists, and there will be some who would happily make a case for him to return to his old job. He was brilliant at it.

– – – – – – – – – –

Those of you who have followed this column for some time will realise I have a slightly puerile sense of humour. So be warned, here goes.

It was pointed out to me yesterday that if Geoffrey Cox had been a member of Gordon Brown’s Cabinet, there would have been a Cox and Balls in the same government. Arf arf. And that if Geoffrey had been in Parliament in the 1980s when the Tories held Hayes and Harlington, not only would we have had Cox, but also Dicks – as in Terry Dicks.

And, of course, in David Cameron’s day we’d have had both Cox and Willy (Hague). There is also a very large Johnson on the backbenches. And as for Jeremy Hunt…  [More, more – Ed].

– – – – – – – – – –

Tonight, I am supposed to be having dinner with a Cabinet minister. However, I’m prepared for it to be cancelled just in case there is an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday morning. The speculation is that the Prime Minister has done a deal with the EU over Brexit, and that she will lay it before her Cabinet before putting it to a relatively quick parliamentary vote.

Who knows if these rumours are true? And as to the contents of this deal? Well, obviously I have no idea – but I suspect that it is a deal which no-one will particularly like, but that it will be one which we will all have to live with. I am not a flat earther on it, but I do believe that if we are to stay in the Customs Union beyond the end of the transitional period, it can only be described as Brexit in Name Only.

We have to be able to sign unfettered free trade agreements with countries all over the world. I interviewed Mark Regev, Israel’s Ambassador, on Tuesday, and he told me that scoping discussions with Liam Fox were already at an advanced stage. We need to be able to sign these kind of agreements on January 1, 2021. My suspicion is that there will be many countries who will think that it’s just not worth the candle if we remain aligned to EU regulations beyond that date. I hope I’m wrong.

– – – – – – – – – –

Assuming that the Prime Minister can get the support of her Cabinet for a deal – and I’d have thought that this is likely, – we can expect a vote in Parliament around the first week of December.

In the end, it may come down to how many Labour MPs will support any deal struck by May. Clearly, such an agreement wouldn’t meet Keir Starmer’s ludicrous six tests but, since Labour say that a No Deal Brexit is the worst of all worlds, you could argue that it could justify voting for the deal – and then tell voters that this is in the national interest.

I suspect that it won’t happen, but if Labour did go down that road I think they would garner an awful lot of support. My current bet is that the deal will go through because enough of its MPs will vote for it to counteract the Conservative MPs who vote against. That could trigger internal mayhem in the Labour Party.

– – – – – – – – – –

I predicted on Monday that if the Democrats won the House of Representatives, Donald Trump would still claim victory. Guess what? They, did – and so did he.

I’m not sure these results really change an awful lot. The Senate balance means that even if the House tried to impeach the President over the next two years, it would fall at the first hurdle.

Iain Mansfield: We must recapture the commanding heights of society from the Left

It has secured an overwhelming dominance. Until or unless this changes, the Right may win elections – but to limited effect.

Iain Mansfield is a former senior civil servant, winner of the Institute of Economic Affairs Brexit prize and a Conservative councillor candidate. He writes in a personal capacity.

A stark feature of the 2017 election was the emergence of an army of independent groups and organisations backing Labour, with very few backing the Conservatives. From ivory trading to welfare reform, school funding to tuition fees, influential groups were queuing up to support the policies of the Left. The election demonstrated that whilst the Conservative Party can still win more votes, the Left has secured an overwhelming dominance amongst those traditionally seen as opinion formers and societal leaders.

A poll held shortly before the election found that fewer than one in ten university staff members were planning to vote Conservative. Statistics amongst teachers are similar, with the BBC recently quoting a former Conservative teacher as saying, “Walking into a teachers’ room is like walking into a socialist convention.” The major charities, many of which receive the bulk of their funding directly from the state rather than from individuals, are vastly more sympathetic to Labour, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as other senior bishops, regularly criticise Conservative policies in the press. The civil service is a little more balanced, though the startlingly consistent views of former permanent secretaries on Brexit demonstrates that the broad church of conservatism does not appear to be well-represented at the highest levels.

It wasn’t always this way. The Church of England was once known as ‘The Tory Party at prayer’, whilst the Sir Humphreys of their day were stalwarts of conservatism. Academia has always had a Marxist streak, but as late as the 1950s it was credible for CP Snow to set a novel in a Cambridge college divided into left-wing and right-wing factions. The Left also had its strongholds, from the trade unions to the Fabian Society, which groups on both sides contributing to the public debate.

We cannot simply abandon entire swathes of society to the left. This is true not simply for the short-term goal of winning votes, but  because of the importance of such institutions in shaping society as a whole, including via the education of the young and the contribution to political and societal discourse. An important part to this is ensuring there are no areas of society where Conservative voices cannot be heard, as Sam Gyimah, Jacob Rees-Mogg and others are doing with their campus tours. But if we are to reclaim these institutions for conservatism, we must do much more.

A more positive approach to the public sector

As Conservatives, we rightly believe that the private sector can often do a better job than the public sector at delivering the outcomes that people want. It is important to remember, however, that this is for structural reasons: the incredible power of prices as signalling mechanisms, or the way that meaningful competition can unleash innovation and improvements in performance.

Too often when speaking on this subject, some Conservative politicians give the impression that they believe that people who work in the private sector are innately better, more capable or harder working – a conclusion that is not just wrong, as anyone who has spoken to a nurse or teacher will tell you, but which understandably alienates hard working public sector employees, driving them into the arms of our opponents. When championing the  private sector we must ensure we do so for the right reasons, and do not simultaneous denigrate the public sector.

Alongside this, as many Conservative MPs have already called for, we must take a more compassionate approach to public sector salaries, particularly for those on lower and middle incomes. The touch decisions taken by the Coalition to freeze pay and reform pensions were badly needed, but after eight years of pay restraint, salary increases in line with inflation are essential if we are to granted a fair hearing.

Strategically selecting Conservatives when making public appointments

Many of the most important public decisions in the UK are not made by government ministers, but by arms-length bodies. Ministers have little direct control over such bodies, but the principal power they do have is to appoint their leadership, typically including the chief executive, air and board members. Unfortunately, whilst Labour ministers typically appoint individuals who share their values, Conservative ministers have typically taken a more even-handed approach, meaning – as ConservativeHome has long recognised – Labour supporters are significantly over-represented in such positions.

Encouraging more applications is a good start; however, it is not sufficient. Conservative ministers must ensure that they actively select appointees who share conservative values. If necessary they must be willing to use their existing powers to overrule officials’ advice and insist either on reopening applications, or appointing an otherwise qualified individual.

I am not suggesting that every appointee must be a dyed-in-the-wool Tory. There are many excellent individuals for whom their political views, whatever they may be, do not significantly impact their professional outlook or decisions. There may also be some exceptions: foreign policy, for example, is an area where left and right often agree and which therefore may allow cross-party appointments, as illustrated in art by President Santos’s appointment of Arnold Vinick as Secretary of State, or in life by the superb recent appointment of Gisela Stuart as Chair of Wilton Park. But in the main, to hand over large swathes off our economic and social landscape to those who are open Labour supporters, active in the left-wing union movement, or otherwise opponents of conservatism does great harm to our cause.

Dismantle New Labour’s left-wing policy laws

One of Blair and Brown’s most insidious legacies is the number of laws that enshrine a left-wing bias in our policy making. Little known by the general public, and often included as part of otherwise worthwhile Acts, such clauses force civil servants to couch their advice in the language of the Left; not due to bias on their part, but through rightful, dutiful adherence to the law of the land.

The Human Rights Act’s commandment that ministers must consider the human rights implication of any Bill brought before Parliament; the ‘Public Sector Equality Duty’ in the (otherwise positive) Equalities Act; the so-called ‘fair access’ regime in university admissions; and the exclusion of the UK’s national interest from the International Development: these laws, amongst others, create a policy framework in which left-wing views find fertile fruit more readily than conservative ones. The systematic amendment of such Acts is a vital part of restoring the civil service’s ability to genuinely provide objective, impartial advice to ministers.

The commanding heights of society

When Tony Blair revised Clause IV of the Labour Party’s constitution, it was taken as a sign that he had renounced Marx’s instruction for the state to take control of the commanding heights of the economy. Not only was this judgement premature, as Corbyn’s return to fully-fledged socialism demonstrates, we overlooked the way the left was establishing its dominance across society. If the Conservative party is to thrive in the twenty-first century, we must act now to reclaim the commanding heights of society for conservatism.

Bob Seely: Hunt must face up to the harsh strategic realities facing Britain

Authoritarian regimes are rising, democracies are on the retreat, and our power to change that is less than we might wish.

Bob Seely is a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, and is MP for the Isle of Wight.

This week Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, has been giving some pointers for Global Britain – and a reality check for those who think that foreign policy should be about virtue signalling and moral posturing.

Hunt became Foreign Secretary three months ago when Boris Johnson resigned over Brexit. He may lack Johnson’s pazazz, but he is at least trying to understand the world and work out what ‘Global Britain’ means beyond the slogan.

Yesterday he outlined ideas for the future in a speech at Policy Exchange and in his first appearance before the Foreign Affairs Committee, which oversees the work of the Foreign Office. Hunt reminded us, in both his speech and his talk, that we need to understand some harsh global realities.

In 20 years time, China, a one-party nominally ‘socialist state’, may have the world’s largest economy. Democracies are regressing. Free and open states are in a global minority. The rules-based system is under threat. In short, the world is changing, not necessarily to our liking, and we don’t have as much power as we would like to change it.

Yet the UK needs to continue to defend an international order based on values. The alternative is a valueless and anarchic one based on hard power – plus the willingness to use force.

The Foreign Secretary rightly talked of expanding and reinvigorating British diplomacy. He is planning for 1,000 more staff: 335 new diplomatic posts overseas, 328 new roles in London, and 329 new locally engaged staff. In addition, he wants 12 new UK posts and a greater emphasis on language training.

He also talks of protecting media freedom. This is not a ‘nice to have’, but a critical element in defending freedom of speech and the core values of democracies. We have a Foreign Secretary who wants to support the BBC World Service and sees it as a critical tool in the UK’s arsenal of power. Whatever one thinks about the BBC at home, the World Service TV and Radio is critical to the future of global free speech because of its reach and what it represents – especially in the developing world.

More generally, he wants a more confident UK as a great power. This is all good. However, there are some ‘buts’.

Hunt is mid-way through his thinking. What we need to see from the FCO under his leadership is more strategic understanding about its role. Over and above the generic promotion of UK interests, what are our aims and campaigns? Can it really be right that Britain’s overseas policy is divided up between so many government departments – FCO, DfID, Defence, DExEU, DIT, Cabinet Office, not to mention Number 10?

There is a powerful argument for the UK to redefine the 0.7 percent it spends on aid rather than accept the sometimes confusing definition set by the OECD, which undermines the credibility of our aid budget and, on occasions, negates its affect. We need more ‘hard’ power in a more dangerous world.

Finally, there is the central question; what does Global Britain stand for? The blunt answer is that we don’t really know because the Government hasn’t done enough collective thinking on it – yet. We badly need to develop our national strategy post-Brexit.

This summer, the grand old man of US diplomacy, Henry Kissinger, told Hunt that the difference between a good foreign secretary and a bad foreign secretary was that a good foreign secretary thinks strategically.

It is early stages, but at the Select Committee Hunt was thoughtful, diligent, and decent. His problems are the limitations on the FCO, the lack of thinking about Global Britain, and the UK’s current obsession with Brexit. By next Spring we’ll need a better understanding of the Foreign Secretary’s strategic thinking about our future.