Around New Year, it is traditional for the media to produce lots of lists. These may refer to the most “important” events of the year, or they may pick out the most “influential” people. I’m doing a list of the “worst” British people of 2013. By “worst” I mean “having done or advocated something utterly reprehensible” and by “people” I mean those in politics and the media.
Obviously, raping babies is considerably worse than opposing gay marriage, and many criminals and terrorists are more unpleasant than all politicians combined. But that’s not really open for discussion. Opposing pedophilia and murder is hardly unique to libertarianism. Specifically, this is a hall of fame for those who have promoted tyranny and/or idiocy this year.
So here is the worst of Britain, the most ignorant and/or spiteful anti-freedom campaigners of 2013:
Thankfully, this backbench MP is not especially influential or effective. However, he is responsible for promoting the reintroduction of conscription. His National Service Bill 2013-14 seeks to introduce forced labour for 18-26 year olds. It can be expected that this absurd proposal will fail miserably when put to Parliament, however the fact that, in this day and age, anyone would consider defending slavery is very upsetting.
In the past, Mr. Hollobone has advocated banning the burqa. This year, he was one of 42 Conservative MPs who advanced an “Alternative Queen’s Speech”, which included plans to ban the burqa. This platform did contain some good ideas (privatising the BBC, for instance) but was largely nauseating. Proposals included, bringing back the death penalty and stymying the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
As it is, Britain has pretty harsh anti-smoking regulations. We have the blunt smoking ban, and tax on cigarettes is significantly greater than any costs imposed on the NHS by tobacco related health problems. However, for some MEPs, this is not enough. Led by the vile Linda McAvan (a Labour MEP) a band of miserable puritans pushed nonsensical regulations through the European Parliament targeting flavoured cigarettes and small packets.
McAvan was also behind even stupider proposed motions as well, including banning slim cigarettes and attacking e-cigarettes. The latter cause no apparent health problems. At all. And they are a useful tool for giving up smoking actual cigarettes. Banning them would, if anything, cause more health problems as it would make it harder for people to stop smoking and would remove a healthier alternative for those considering starting. However, for puritans, health is never really the central concern. Control, and a hatred of pleasure, is the true motivation.
Fortunately, the attack on e-cigarettes fell flat on its face, however people like McAvan are still hovering around e-cigarette fans. And, in a few years, menthol cigarettes and 10 packs of cigarettes will be illegal thanks to these tools.
Over this summer, the government did something decent for once, and legalised same-sex marriage. Importantly, the Conservative Party (who were once responsible for the despicable Section 28) was largely behind the move. However, 128 Conservative MPs voted against liberalisation, along with some weirdoes in other parties (a homophobic socialist is a ludicrous and horrible concept).
Admittedly, with so many conservatives opposed to same-sex marriage (and gay rights in general), it seems unfair to single out one individual as being a particular figurehead for homophobia. However, David Davies does stand out as particularly noxious. In an interview a year ago, Davies claimed, “most parents would prefer their children not to be gay”. He attempted to prove that he wasn’t a homophobe by saying that he once had a fight with a gay man. Worst of all, through causing confusion with his similar name and them both being Tory MPs, Davies’ existence has served to undermine and discredit the civil libertarian, David Davis.
Owen Jones represents a particularly unfortunate trend in modern British leftism. His career appears to be built on a combination of being a professional northerner, encouraging the working class to feel victimised, championing nonsensical economics, fantasising about a fictional post-war social democratic utopia, masturbating over trade unions, and being generally obnoxious and sanctimonious. It’s almost like he has set out to be an obscene caricature of the left.
Jones is always spouting half-baked, clichéd soft-socialist measures, but 2013 has yielded a few highlights. These include, attacking the few positive aspects of our education system, championing Ed Miliband’s horrendous economic policies, equating criticism of religion with bigotry (only if said religion is PC sanctioned), and defending Labour’s ridiculous relationship with the unions.
I thought I liked Louise Mensch. I like the fact that she is a successful career woman, who has taken all of the right lessons from Thatcherism. I also like her individualist approach to feminism (not to mention her riling of traditional “feminists”), her defence of press freedom, and the fact that she speaks her mind and is not shy of controversy.
However, this year she appears to have become an authoritarian apologist. For reasons not understood to sane adults, Mensch has decided to become a cheerleader for bumbling heavy-handed security services everywhere.
Although she supported Edward Snowden’s leaking of NSA files, she has since decided that his avoidance of US custody amounts to him being a traitor. Likewise, she views Glenn Greenwald and The Guardian as criminals for publishing sensitive material about the GCHQ. It appears that she has been successfully manipulated by the state’s propaganda about said material constituting a security breach (and that she is unaware that trading liberty for security is not a good deal).
I don’t like having to put Russel Brand here. I think he’s funny and I like his original perspective on many issues (his appearance in front of a select committee discussing drug policy was fantastic). However, given a certain nonsensical outburst this year, Brand cannot be excluded.
In an interview with Jeremy Paxman, Brand decided to lie out his idiotic political manifesto. This included massively increasing taxes and letting socialism drag the economy down. He also declared, “profit is a dirty word”, despite being worth more than £15 million himself. Brand’s demand that people stop voting also makes little sense, seeing as most of the things he called for are in the Green Party manifesto.
Brand’s political illiteracy may not seem too important. It is hardly news that a celebrity has blundered into political matters with clichéd and ignorant views. However, it is still annoying when it happens and, given Brand’s admitted charisma and intelligence, he could prove to be more influential than the average celebrity “activist”.
David Cameron and ISPs
There are plenty of reasons to include the Prime Minister. In fairness, though, he does not entirely, or even primarily, shape most measures by the government. However, this particular policy appears to be a personal pet-project, so it seems fair to give him the “credit” for this draconian and petty measure. I am, of course, talking about the “porn filter”.
Even if this were only about its stated aim (limiting access to sites with extreme sexual material to those who “opt-in” to their usage) it would still amount to an unjustified assault on free expression and exchange. As it is, the filter is intended to block anything “objectionable”, a ludicrously vague category that is inherently subjective. Indeed, everything from violence, extremism, eating disorders, and drugs (legal and illegal), to esoteric material and “gay and lesbian material” (as in, material relating to homosexual sex education) has already been targeted.
If the government set out to have a flagship “appalling, discriminatory, useless, authoritarian, puritan, and nasty” policy, then they’ve done very well.
This list was not intended to have an order, however, there is one man who has to be given the number one spot. Peter Hitchens (not to be confused with his recently deceased brother, the wonderful Christopher Hitchens) is a grotesque cartoon of the logical conclusion of authoritarian social conservatism.
In particular, he has set himself up as the arch anti-drug warrior. He has personally led a committed assault on the idea that people can do what they want with their own bodies. In fairness to Hitchens, he is consistent and honest – he is very open about his absolute contempt for individual self-ownership.
Recently, rather than just defending the War on Drugs, Hitchens has started to make the bizarre claim that it does not exist. In the mind of Peter Hitchens, drug use is effectively decriminalised in Britain. His counter argument to the fact that people are routinely arrested for possession of drugs is that the police are actually looking for these people anyway, but for different crimes that cannot be proven. The sheer absurdity and imbecility of this argument is mind-blowing.
For Hitchens, introducing full-throttle draconian policies, which sadistically target possession and use, could solve social problems caused by drugs. The fact that the illegal drug trade exists only means that governments should spend more money and manpower (as well as more pure aggression and spite) on stamping out its existence through force.
When confronted with more complex issues, like addiction, Hitchens denies their existence, as he did in a “debate” this year with actor, and recovering addict, Matthew Perry. Like the War on Drugs, addiction is apparently a fiction created by the establishment to excuse the drug-fuelled orgy enjoyed by the decadent libertine degenerates of modern Britain.
Hitchens is a truly awful force in Britain. Although he claims he is a lone voice in the wilderness, he remains the spokesperson for all puritans and small-minded Little Englanders who cannot accept that they have no claim over other people’s private lives.
The eagle-eyed reader will have noticed that there are many obvious candidates for “worst British person of the year” who have been missed out. For several of these, I purposefully avoided them. I actually like Richard Dawkins, so he’s not on here. Sadly, Paul Krugman is not British, so he can’t be included. Ed Miliband is too pathetic and incompetent to be attributed any role in British politics. Likewise, Anjem Choudary and Godfrey Bloom are figures of fun first and problematic second. Katie Hopkins has been targeted so much that there’s little I could add. As noted, it goes without saying that nothing needs to be said about Ian Watkins.