"As a university-educated young woman with hippie-style hair and an attitude, I, too, generally toed the standard Leftist line in the late Seventies and early Eighties.
Poverty was bad, cuts in public spending were bad, prison was bad, the Tory government was bad.
The state was good, poor people were good, minorities were good, sexual freedom was good.
And pretty soon I had the perfect platform for those views when I went to work as a journalist on The Guardian, the self-styled paper of choice for intellectuals and the supposed voice of progressive conscience.
The paper and I fitted each other perfectly. If I had been a character in one of the Mister Men books, I would have been Little Miss Guardianista.
Those of us who worked there had a fixed belief in our own superiority and righteousness. We saw ourselves as clever and civilised champions of liberal thought.
I felt loved and cherished, the favoured child of a wonderful and impressive family.
To my colleagues, there was virtually no question that the poor were the victims of circumstances rather than being accountable for their own behaviour and that the state was a wholly benign actor in the lives of individuals.
It never occurred to us that there could be another way of looking at the world.
Above all, we knew we were on the side of the angels, while across the barricades hatchet-faced Right-wingers represented the dark forces of human nature and society that we were all so proud to be against.
But then Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979; and although at The Guardian it was a given that she was a heartless, narrow-minded, suburban nightmare, I found myself listening, despite myself, to a point of view I had not heard before.
These Thatcherites were not the usual upper-class squires, but people whose backgrounds were similar to my own.
They were promoting the values with which I had been brought up in my Labour-supporting family — all about opportunities for social betterment, hard work, taking responsibility for oneself.
I always believed a good journalist should uphold truth over lies and follow the evidence where it led.
Trudging round godforsaken estates as the paper’s special reporter on social affairs, I could see the stark reality of what our supposedly enlightened liberal society was becoming.
The scales began to fall from my eyes. I came to realise that the Left was not on the side of truth, reason and justice.
Instead, it promoted ideology, malice and oppression. Rather than fighting abuse of power, it embodied it.
Increasingly, I saw how journalists on highbrow papers write primarily for other journalists or to impress politicians or other members of the great and the good.
They don’t actually like ordinary people — especially the lower middle class, the strivers who believed in self-discipline and personal responsibility.
They dismiss them as narrow-minded, parochial and prejudiced (unlike themselves, of course).
But I always wrote with ordinary people in mind.
Just as they were sceptical of intellectual abstractions, fantasies or Utopian solutions, so was I.
Bit by bit, I saw through the delusion of the Left’s supposedly ‘progressive’ politics.
Increasingly, I turned away from their stupidity, hypocrisy and moral blindness.
They, of course, dismissed me as contemptibly ‘Right-wing’, as if that was sufficient to destroy my argument.
But I am not ideologically driven. I hate the way political debate has been polarised into warring camps, with each side circling its wagons and striking ever more inflexible, dogmatic and adversarial positions.
My battle with the Left has never been from ‘the Right’, despite what they say.
How can I be ‘Right-wing’ when I am driven by the desire to make a better world, stand up for right over wrong and look after the most vulnerable in society?
Rather, I fight the Left on its very own purported moral high ground, which I once believed we all shared, but which I came to realise it had most cynically betrayed.
The defining issue for me — the one that launched me on a personal trajectory of confrontation with the Left and with my colleagues and friends — was the persistent undermining of the family as an institution.
By the late Eighties, it was glaringly obvious that families were suffering a chronic crisis of identity and self-confidence.
There were more and more divorces and single parents — along with mounting evidence that family disintegration and the subsequent creation of step-families or households with no father figure at all did incalculable damage to children."
It's a long article, but well worth your time.
I have afew points to add. First, it turns out that Mrs. Phillips is yet another influential former Lefty who at some point 'saw the light'. She is thus an exemplar of that small but nevertheless not-negligible group of high-profile converts, such as Jean-François Revel or Ronald Reagan. You will forgive ole Outlaw some smirking since me, myself and I NEVER went through an ideological flip: all my life, I've been rightwing. Center-right when I came of age, solidly right at present. If anything, I have only shifted more and more to the right. I think I have come to a standstill in that regard, since I have no intention of becoming an "extreme rightwinger". FYI, I don't believe in the current defintion of 'extreme right': in my opinion, an extreme rightwinger is somewhat with very strong libertarian views AND ethically conservative. Off the top of my head, I can only think of one person who would, from a distance, fit those criteria: James Delingpole. The popular conception of 'extreme right': black leather-clad idiots favoring the Hitler salute is bogus. I piss on that filth. They are extreme LEFTWINGERS who happen to be in the grip of an atavistic fascination for Germany's military prowess during WWII, and their intellectual foundation is as thin as carbon paper. Thinner. But I digress.
Second, I don't follow Melanie when she writes "How can I be ‘Right-wing’ when I am driven by the desire to make a better world, stand up for right over wrong and look after the most vulnerable in society?" As if not striving for a better world, fight for good to prevail over bad and caring for the downtrodden of this earth could never be sincere rightwing aspirations. It's just that we have a firmer sense of what is reasonably possible, that we do care about, say, the environment but are not prepared to go back living in caves, and generally want to see justice done as much as Mrs. Phillips does.
Lastly, several assertions in her story confirm what has become ever more clearly to me over the years, especially the last decade: the Left is NOT INTERESTED IN HONEST DEBATE. It just wants you to SHUT UP if you disagree with them. And the more well-founded your POV is, the more they will be inclined to take that 'shutting up' a step farther: to the courtroom at least, and to jail if possible.
This was Outlaw Mike from The Kingdom of Belgistan, over and out.