« On irrational voters | Main | In defence of tribalism »

May 06, 2010


Luis Enrique

as a public school boy, I'll try not to take that personally.*

"The only good reason to vote is out of symbolic motivation"

nah, I think the "rationality" lens of seeing voting are silly (i.e. voting only makes sense if you are the swing voter).

It's well known from game theory that following "irrational" rules can make higher payoffs achievable, that is to say, people "doing the right thing" can make us all collectively better off, even if it is not atomistic rational, and following rules that lead to better collective outcomes qualifies both as a "good reason" and more than mere symbolism, in my book.

* yes, I know, I'll never be able to show my face in reputable left wing circles. 20 years later, and I'm still trying to live down the shame of this terrible social stigma

Luis Enrique

[mind you, I am sufficiently twisted with self-hatred not to want to cabal of public school boys in power either]


of course there are no public schoolboys on the Labour benches are there....what a crap argument!

E. Norfolk-Ingway

An more unkind person than I might accuse you of displaying a degree of - now, what's the word? Ah, yes - bigotry, as in "stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own".


All good reasons, but since that argument would apply under almost all circumstances, and regardless of New Labour (as you indicate in point 3), claiming some kind of symbolic 'rider' as one votes is all one can do every time (in Cohen's case it's 'Iraq'; with Toynbee it's 'Sure Start', and so on). On the other hand, one's patience may finally have run out with that argument after 13 years of New Labour, regardless of how odious the Tories are.


Hilarious you vote out of hate rather than reason. Typical Labour voter actually, in thrall to the bull that surrounds socialist politics, prefers the tyranny of people like Balls as long as it keeps their prejudices, petty jealousies and hatred warm at night.

Oh and one more thing: how many people in 13 years worth of Labour cabinets have had a proper job? Alan Milburn perhaps? He worked part time in a commie book store.

Voting Labour for the reasons you've given is simply pretty sad.


Well at least your reasons for supporting Labour are more cogent than your fellow Leicester-man Oliver Kamm. His justification seems to be to avoid Blair getting the blame for how shit Labour have been in office.


Liam - I suspect 'symbolic motivation' also applies to those voting Tory, even it simply boils down to 'I hate lefties, and welcome the idea of Eric Pickles sitting on a human face forever'.


And what experience of 'real life' has Our Leader Gordon had? 4 years lecturing on politics in Glasgow, and 3 years as a journalist on current affairs at STV. Wow he's really been out there outside the political goldfish bowl hasn't he?

More to the point how many of the 'Party of the Working Man' have ever done real days work in their lives, or even got their hands dirty? Very few I'll hazard.

I could respect the Labour Party of men who had worked down mines, and in shipyards, and on railways and steelmills. The Labour Party of political advisors, and lawyers and PR men, pah you can keep it.

The Silent Sceptic

This is a terribly disappointing post from an author I much admire. I don't object to your choice (although I won't replicate it), but the reasons for making it are appalling.

For a man so apparently wedded to rationalism to dismiss the entire population of public schoolboys (is Cameron a schoolboy?) as figures of hate, based on tribal prejudice, is pretty limp.

Neither of the other two reasons is much better.

The Silent Sceptic

And another thing...

...you seem to have ascribed to your vote an entirely different meaning (intellectual alignment, reason 3) than the one which it really possesses, and the meaning that will be ascribed to it in about 7 hours time. Needless to say, the extension of this characteristic to other areas of life would have disastrous consequences.

"But it needn't be. And it wasn't".
It might not have been, but that is precisely how it will be interpreted.


Finkielkraut would say it much better and shorter: by aligning yourself with the ones in the bottom, you feel morally on the top.

chris c

It's an endorsement of everything you said it's not because you just voted for it. You don't get qualitative votes, you know. It's all or nothing.

You sound like my dad.

James Bloodworth

Inheritance tax. Nuff said. Vote Labour.


I am astonished at the reasons you cite for your decision. This government has been the worst we have had for a long time - and my memory goes back a long way - to Winston Churchill! Labour always makes a mess and why anyone should vote for this particular Labour government is beyond my imagination. It's enough to make me think about cancelling my subscription to IC but more likely I shall keep it and merely skim over your future articles.....


A lot of people seem to think like this, it's only explicable as a reflection of the way the left has managed to convince a lot of people that politics is about morality, in other words they've turned it into a religion. So the Labour party has become like the Catholic church, corrupt and oppressive but somehow its devoted followers keep turning up to fill the pews/polling stations and have a limitless supply of masochistic patience in the face of constant betrayal and abuse. Well good luck with that, I'd rather the rest of us didn't have to suffer for your faith as well.


Now I feel sad. I enjoy your blog. But I get the impression that you would hate me.

There seems to be more hate on the left than on the right of politics. Yes, the move towards greater tolerance of identified minority groups has been largely a (welcome) triumph of the left; but in hating groups that are not marked out for special tolerance, and hating individually, the left often seems worse than the right. Perhaps it flows from all that metaphysical stuff about exploitation -- "exploiters" as the heretics of your new religion.

My optimistic side tells me that you are a relic of an old war. It was a war of crazy Marxists who wanted to tear down capitalism, not understanding that its triumph was the only way to create meaningful progress for mankind; and rabid capitalists who aspired to keep the spoils of our great advances for themselves. One can understand why each side would hate the other. But, happily, the war was won by neither side; it ended in a new synthesis whose fruits the British people now enjoy. Already your Marxism is unfashionable, and the last of your kind will soon die out. I hope that the rest of us can become ever more comfortable in our liberal-social-democratic synthesis, and that comfort will promote genuine tolerance.

Why did the capitalists lose? Because they lived in a time where economic development and technological development had given the masses a voice. Why did the Marxists lose? Partly because, in their economics, they were simply wrong. And partly because, in their ethics, they were primitive. It is primitive to delight in the degradation (and in Communist countries, the death) of an individual because he is part of a group you despise; it is the behaviour of human beings in the wild. It is civilised to treat all people with equal respect. And, happily, it turns out that civilised societies are stronger than primitive ones. The ethics of hatred undermine the society that promotes them.

My pessimistic side tells me that the drawing of distinctions between groups of insiders and outsiders is so natural to human beings that it will never be completely conquered. But the lesson I draw from that is that one should not be surprised to have to fight the battle for tolerance in every generation. That is what I try to do.

In that vein, I would say this to you. Culture and thought sit alongside nature in determining how we feel. It is possible not to hate people, or at least to moderate the impulse. Of course I have hated too -- but I would argue that not hating is superior to hating: those who have genuinely tried both tend to recommend the course of tolerance. I recommend that you try it: your life will be better if you manage it, and so will the lives of the people you presently despise.


I'm just glad you voted, Chris. It saddened me that you were threatening not to.


Chris - do you venture out of the house if you hate public schoolboys, living in Oakham, and being very near Uppingham, Oundle and Stamford?

john malpas

to satisfy your petty spite you are happy to endorse the suffering in the NHS created by your hero.


Yes, I know that practically it is also an endorsement of ID cards, Trident, Ed Balls, The Rt Hon Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham and his Digital Economy Bill, attacks on benefit claimants, racist immigration policy and crimes against freedom too numerous to mention.
But it needn’t be. And it wasn’t.

You're wrong. It is, and was. You voted FOR all those things, whether you like to admit it to yourself or not.

You don't vote for what you want a political party to be if everything was nice and roses and unicorns shat diamonds, you vote for what parties actually do (and what they promise to do in the future).

Mandy and the Digital Economy Bill got your vote. Cue slow clap.

David Jones

'and I hate public schoolboys, especially those with no experience of the wider world'

Take it you didn't vote for Blair then?

Devil's Kitchen

"I hate Tories, and I hate public schoolboys..."

A bigot votes for bigots shock. Colour me unsurprised.

Seriously, Chris, you let yourself down when you spout this crap.

"Yes, I know that practically it is also an endorsement of ID cards, Trident, Ed Balls, The Rt Hon Baron Mandelson of Foy in the county of Herefordshire and Hartlepool in the county of Durham and his Digital Economy Bill, attacks on benefit claimants, racist immigration policy and crimes against freedom too numerous to mention.
But it needn’t be. And it wasn’t."

Yes, it was.



I'm with DK on the public schoolboy comment- its a bit silly for a former investment banker Oxbridge student to come over all egalitarian because of hte name of his school twenty years ago. Grow up! If people should take your blog seriously and forget your job, then you should take them seriously and forget their schools.

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