Introducing Russell Taylor: In praise of perspective

Bogpaper Towers has a new resident! Russell Taylor, a classical liberal who believes in low taxes and a small state, and holds the Left responsible for just about everything wrong in the world today.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.


My mother grew up in a rented two-up two-down in South-East London, with her sister, parents and two grandparents. By all accounts, it wasn’t an easy upbringing. Her grandfather was permanently ill, and rarely left his bed in the front room. Her grandmother was a hard woman, who worked in the Woolwich Arsenal during both World Wars. Her mother spent nearly four years in hospital with TB, returning home minus a lung, a virtual stranger. Her father, a D-Day veteran, worked tirelessly to support the household and satisfy his wife’s demand that her daughters should never suffer the grinding poverty she had known as a child. By modern standards, they were desperately poor. Yet they worked hard, stuck together, and gradually lifted themselves out of the mire.

Don’t worry, this isn’t the start of some misery-lit novel. The moving tale of my family laughing through the tears ends here. The truth is there was nothing exceptional about my family. Many of their friends and neighbours lived similar lives and went on to enjoy comparable, or even greater, success. But from a modern perspective, this story is baffling – not because it is unconventional, but because it runs contrary to the contemporary understanding of how people respond to their circumstances.

Members of the modern Left, who cultivated this outlook, would presumably find it hard to comprehend how folk such as my family coped and prospered without helping hand of the state. There was no welfare state to put money in their pockets, no council houses for them to live in, no NHS to tend to their ailments, and no experts to tell them how to live. Without today’s levels of state provision, life should have been intolerable. Never mind improving your lot, just staying alive would have been a challenge.

According to conventional wisdom, my family should have died in the street for want of state hand-outs and sound advice. At the very least, they should have been immobilised in poverty, prone to criminality, and praying for state salvation. Yet, people at the bottom of the pile survived and thrived. They were hard-working and determined. They were neighbourly and generous. They had self-respect and self-restraint in spades. They didn’t just hope for the best, they worked for it.

If the nostrums of the Left are correct, sixty years of state benevolence should have improved matters considerably. Generous benefits, comprehensive education and fairer laws should have made a positive difference. With the deprivations and prejudices of old assuaged, crime and incivility should have melted away. With the state serving as a focal point for society, a sense of community should have been fostered. The miraculous improvements experienced by my family should be known by everyone. This should now be a land of hope, opportunity and brotherly love.

Does this sound like modern Britain? Are riots, a sky-high crime rate, and protests over government cuts proof of a contented populace? Do millions of benefit claimants speak of a dynamic, self-reliant nation? Are the disadvantaged known for their resilient, can-do spirit, and their admiration for other people’s success? I’d say not. In fact, I’d say that the policies of Left have achieved the exact opposite of their intended aims. Increased state intervention has done little to improve people’s prospects or character. On the contrary, it has promoted fecklessness, dependency and a bloated sense of entitlement.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we’d be better off without any state provision whatsoever. I like the idea of a safety net for those who cannot help themselves, and I’d rather the nation was defended by the British Army than G4S Security. But a quick reflection the difference between now and then makes a mockery of the idea that current levels of state spending are better for the soul of the nation than those of ten, twenty or thirty years ago.

Historical perspective is useful for measuring the effectiveness of current policies. Perhaps that is why historical revisionists reside almost exclusively on the Left. To remember is awkward, to forget divine.

16 comments on “Introducing Russell Taylor: In praise of perspective

  1. dr
    February 20, 2013 at 8:30 am #

    Welcome to Bogpaper

  2. dr
    February 20, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    I think that one thing is that is worth noting about these transitions from a “resilient, can-do spirit, and their admiration for other people’s success” to “fecklessness, dependency and a bloated sense of entitlement”, is the ease at which they can occur but also a corresponding increase in what could be described as a “social entropy”.
    Consequently, if you attempt to reverse the process to make the feckless more resilient and more motivated you experience enormous problems, or even impossibility, if you attempt to proceed through the reduction of benefit levels. Consequently, it takes a huge input of political energy to restore the initial situation.

  3. Simon Appleby
    February 20, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    A good solid essay. Brits are very industrious and resourceful people when properly motivated. It takes catastrophic maladministration to make them otherwise.

  4. D Whitley
    February 20, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Good luck, I’d like to think you have a chance of success in reversing the tide but I am not optimistic. Probably the place to start is where the Left succeeded years ago, in the media, in universities and in fact in general education. Part of the problem is the complete thickness and lack of education/knowledge of the average UK citizen and that can only be reversed by improving education. Once people have an understanding of history and some proper knowledge they will be able to differentiate and debate issues rather than relying on others (especially feckless politicians) to do it for them.

    • Dick Droxford
      February 21, 2013 at 10:11 am #

      I completely agree. However, your last sentence reads as though you think it’s content may be a likely future. I cannot see that happening, as daily I meet supposedly well-read and intelligent people who would disagree completely and still hate the person they refer to as Thatcher, whom they blame for just about everything that they think is wrong in the UK. Education can only do so much. The sense of entitlement from the needy to the Guardianista is now in the genes.

  5. Belsay Bugle
    February 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm #

    Yes, quite right!

    But great (maybe irreparable) damage has been done to Britain (and Europe) by 60 years of the ever-growing state. I know what you say is true, but what do you advocate is actually done about it now?

    And I disagree that the left does it for the right motives. Their useful idiots swallow their justifications playing on people’s genuine concern for the poor and needy, but the purpose of the left’s all powerful state can’t be to help the people who need help, otherwise they would admit it has failed and do something else.

    But no, the ‘goodness’ of the state is an infallible article of faith which it is heretical to question.

    If you had the power to do good and try to reverse the appalling damage suffered by the nation and its people, what would your first step be?

  6. Belsay Bugle
    February 20, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    Part of the problem is that it is almost impossible to get people dependent on the state to vote to reduce its power and spending.
    And as more than half the nation lives directly or indirectly off the state – they are unlikely to vote for their own hardship.

    Even farmers, that once quintessentially self-reliant group, now make half their living from direct welfare payments, and the state has more influence on their business decisions than the little matter of making a profit by growing what their customers want.

    And doctors’ independence was bought by the last Labour government and they are almost wholly reliant on the state for their bloated income. In a decade they have gone from being responsible to their patients to being answerable to the state.

    Tax credits have distorted the link between work and income, and created a generation of people who can’t work more than a limited part of the week otherwise they will be worse off, and in many cases would not have enough to live on.

    Housing benefit has distorted the rental market by putting a false bottom into it, so that rents are too high for those people who actually try to work to pay their own rent. To the benefit of private landlords who have become rich on the back of the taxpayer – again dependent on the state for the continuation of their empires.

    And so on and so on…

    Everywhere you look the dead hand of the state has destroyed individual endeavour and self-reliance and distorted everything, turning things on their head, making virtue into vice and vice into virtue.

    How are you going to reverse that?

  7. Hilton Gray
    February 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm #

    I like, very much!

  8. jazz606
    February 20, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    The left really hate people who stand on their own two feet and aspire to some sort of independence. So they’re busy creating lots of the other kind.

    • dr
      February 21, 2013 at 7:14 am #

      It’s easier for the left to build their utopian visions if they have obedient citizens. Then the government can direct the population to behave in the way it wants very easily. “People who aspire to some sort of independence” do not fit well into the centrally planned vision.

  9. Virgilius
    February 20, 2013 at 11:44 pm #

    Firstly, welcome to Bogpaper.

    “Probably the place to start is where the Left succeeded years ago, in the media, in universities and in fact in general education. Part of the problem is the complete thickness and lack of education/knowledge of the average UK citizen and that can only be reversed by improving education. ”

    The task that lies ahead is huge and it is probably too late.

    The key is, perhaps, to start with the media and in particular the BBC.

    The BBC is the media instrument of the Left and until it is broken up and/or massively slimmed down, those of us who would like a return to sanity do not stand a chance. (It is a mystery to me why the Tories can not see this but it appears they are as much a part of the problem as those we would naturally consider to be of the left.) It should also be noted that whilst there is clear evidence of bias in BBC news reporting this is not necessarily the main problem. It is the BBC’s light entertainment and to a lesser extent its documentary output that causes the distortion of truth in favour of left wing ideology.

    Until the BBC is brought to heel it will be impossible to rebalance away from the state and towards self reliance. So if there is one area where individual effort could be concentrated for the greatest effect then pressure on the establishment to break up the stranglehold of the BBC is the place to start.

  10. jdseanjd
    February 22, 2013 at 9:12 am #

    Makes eminent good sense to me.
    You have identified the main problem in this country: too big govt fostering a client state with a bloated sense of entitlement which stretches from the richest bankers in the land, through both houses of parliament, bloated Whitehall & local authorities, our too numerous NGOs & “charities”, our crony corporations benefiting from a too close relationship with govt, down to the bottom of the heap.

    The bankers know this country has become dependent on them & their taxes: they have become “Too big to Fail”, so their profits are kept private in huge bonuses, while their debts are nationalised so the little man taxpayer can pay them off, as with RBS, Lloyds, Northern Rock etc.

    We see this particularly in Ireland, whose gargantuan debts have been nationalised to enslave generations to come to service them.

    Both Houses of Parliament are rife with corruption, expenses are still rampant, MPs, top civil servants, Bank of England staff etc vote themselves index linked pensions while conspiring to achieve an inflation each month which will nibble away at UK debts & gradually destroy peoples savings & pensions.

    Our dozy MPs have run this country at a deficit for 30 of the last 34 years, building up an unrepayable debt. Blair & Brown increased public spending by 50% creating such worthy jobs as nappy officers & fruit & veg officers. Amazingly, despite attacking the pay & pensions of our police & nurses & teachers & ambulance staff amid the much trumpeted “cuts”, & cutting forces numbers ( & dodging paying their pensions), relying on the TA, this “Tory?” govt’s spending is actually rocketing.

    The “Tories?” are on target to double the debt left behind by Labour’s 13 yrs in only 5 yrs. Effectively there are no cuts!

    A read of will give you some idea of how betrayed & demoralised our police are feeling.

    Our hospitals are killing people by the hundred & no one’s to blame because they’re govt run. The fabric of our society is being dismantled, & our debts are skyrocketing exponentially.

    And totally amazingly our MPs are pushing for a 32% increase.
    Truly we’re all in this together.

    The list of “charities” & NGOs living off the taxpayers pocket is too long to go into. I will name only one of my pet hates: The Royal Opera House. They are on the dole as surely as any sink estate slapper producing babies for benefits. The only difference is these ponces produce sounds.

    I note with dismay that their ex boss Lord Tony Hall will now run our communist & traitorous BBC for only £532,000 pa. Plus, no doubt, an index linked pension.

    Where do we start to chop this behemoth of corruption back?

    I would like to start with the purveyor of lies & propaganda: The BBC.

    Please see James Delingpole’s blog on this site: “Thank God for Jimmy Savile”

    Finally I would like to echo dr’s welcome to this site.

  11. Despairing Realist
    February 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    An excellent post Mr Taylor; agree with every word of it. One expects this from the Left; they will never face up to reality, however glaring the evidence. What is truly galling and depressing is the Right’s (the current Government, say) abject failure to tackle the malaise you write about.
    On Question Time last night Peter Hitchens pointed out that the refusal of any government to reform the NHS and the wider welfare state adequately, means that, rather than a temporary recession, we are actually in a state of long term national decline. I could only agree with him.

  12. Andy
    February 25, 2013 at 4:31 am #

    “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that we’d be better off without any state provision whatsoever. I like the idea of a safety net for those who cannot help themselves”

    This is precisely where you have muddled thinking and are thus destined to spend your life arguing over the correct amount of state intervention and thus control over your life. An argument you will lose bit by bit as all other similar thinkers have for how long now? Decades, centuries?

    Without the state there will still be safety nets but they will be friendly societies (i.e. self insurance) and charities. I have never yet met anyone who is not charitable to a certain degree. In this environment the old and disabled will be well cared for but a sixteen year old with child is unlikely to be given a free house.

    • jdseanjd
      February 25, 2013 at 8:10 am #

      I have another word for your friendly societies: Family.

      We have to rebuild the family. It is a basic strategy of the left to destroy the family unit, so the state can gain control of children.

      Google agenda 21 for dummies if you want to see what’s really afoot.

      • Andy
        February 25, 2013 at 9:35 am #

        You are correct.
        I spend a lot of time in Thailand and here, for the majority, your family is both your welfare safety net and pension. This does also encourage the better bringing up of children.

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