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Think Tank Wank

Neil O’Brien, in his own words, is the Director of Policy Exchange, an independent think tank working for better public services, a stronger society and a more dynamic economy. He also thinks he knows what makes people tick politically. What do you think?

I’m going to assume that you’ve just  ploughed your way through several paragraphs of risible punditry so that I can move on to his right vs left questionaire.  You are asked to chose between what O’Brien classes as “right” and “left” and he breaks the choices down into four categories.  The choices on the left are what O’Brien classes as conservative.

Traditional Social Structures

1)   Traditional institutions & monarchy v. Republicanism

Lemme see.  The prospect of a royal parasite like King Jug-ears or a political parasite like Blair, Brown or Cameron.  I choose neither option, Neil, so that buggers up your attempt to pigeonhole me right from the get go, doesn’t it.

2)   Traditional British history v. Unbiased view of our colonial past

Well I never!  A loaded question with a distinct leftist slant.  Chose the former and you are a biased Tory.  Chose the “unbiased” socialist option and your kids grow up concentrating on the sins of their great-grandfathers because absolutely nothing positive came out of British colonialism whatsoever, did it.  High time “independent” partisan idiots like you were made history, Neil.  I hope the taxpayers aren’t funding this wank because frankly, that would make me very annoyed.

3)   Pro-family policies v. Neutral view about different types of family

I’m a right-winger who doesn’t possess a polemic view on how people should form relationships and build family units so long as they are happy and harm no one.  That’s another one of your questions I find irrelevant.  How am I scoring so far, Neil?

4)   Patriotism v. Internationalism

I’d vote “No” to the EUSSR in a flash. And do you know what, Neil?  I can tick the “No” box without draping myself in a St George’s flag and chanting moronic slogans with a drunken slur.

5)   Personal responsibility* v. Needs-based welfare, universal and unconditional

Hmmm.  Personal responsibility or the unconditional handing out of other people’s money to feckless types with an outrageous sense of entitlement.  Yes, I’m going to have to think hard about that one…

6)   Opposition to immigration v. Anti-Racism, freedom to migrate

Opposition to mass immigration isn’t racist.  I’m quite happy to accept genuine asylum seekers and people with desired skills or the ability to support themselves.  What I take exception to is people flocking to these shores in the hope of a free ride and then refusing to integrate and dictating how we should behave if we say something they don’t like.  Feel free to migrate any time you like, Neil.  The sooner the better.

Traditional Morality

7)  Anti-gay rights, gay marriage v. Pro

Gay militants do more damage to their cause than any Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells ever could.  As for me, what people do with each other in intimate privacy is no business of mine.  If they want to put their relationships on a legal footing then so what?  I couldn’t give a stuff either way.

8)  Anti-Abortion/Pro-life v. Pro-choice

I stand with the individuals who opt for an abortion on valid medical or social grounds, but not as a means of contraception because they were too lazy to bother before they opened their legs.  So, I’ve got a foot in both camps there, Neil.

9)  Anti-stem cell research v. Pro

FFS!  Anti-science is a full-on right-wing concept is it?  Tell me, Neil, do you work for the BBC or the Grauniad by any chance because you’re coming across like a regular frigging Moonbat.  You seem to be getting the majority of secular conservative voters and religious conservatives seriously (deliberately?) mixed up here.  Why don’t you call us all deniers?  I suspect you want to.  Your leftist bias is beginning to grate, Neil.

10)  Anti-Drugs v. Pro-liberalisation

Er…wasn’t it Alan Johnson who sacked Professor David Nutt for daring to suggest ecstacy and LSD were less dangerous than alcohol?  Funny kind of pro-liberalisation, don’t you think, Neil?  Actually, as I work through this specious bullshit questionaire, I’m rapidly reaching the conclusion you might not do much thinking beyonf socialist bias, period.

11)  Anti-Prostitution v.Pro-liberalisation

I’m against sex slaves and enforced prostitution.  Women who take up prostitution as a business opportunity I don’t have a beef with.  Oops!  I fell through the gaping crack again, didn’t I…

12)  Anti-Premarital sex v. Pro

Dunno about you, Neil, but I reckon there’s an awful lot of conservative types who enjoy shagtastic, premarital sex.  Religious conservatives, on the other hand, would rather pretend they don’t indulge.

13)  Anti-Euthanasia v. Pro-choice

I’m all for sufferers who decide upon a swift and dignified exit from life and who make a personal choice to do so.  Doctors (talking about the Liverpool Care Pathway here) dehydrating the elderly and terminally ill to death over a period of time isn’t euthenasia, it’s drawn-out cruelty.  Not doing well, am I?

14)  Coarsening of the culture & swearing, violence and sex on TV v. anti-censorship, free expression

Is it just me or does choice 14 not make any fucking sense whatsoever?

15)  Fear of “political correctness” v. Anti-racism, anti-homophobia

Well you see, Neil, here’s the rub.  I don’t grok the special minority interest thought police crap.  If someone calls me a bad name then so what?  I learned to get over crap like that in primary school.  And what’s this “fear” shite?  I’m not afraid of political correctness.  Every place I see it I’ll treat its nasty fascist arse with the contempt it deserves because I don’t need the State or any kind of groupthink  to tell me how I should think and express myself.  If I want to call a spade a shovel I will.

16)  Pro-faith schools, large role of Christianity in public life v. Secularism

Because all Church schools breed foaming at the mouth religious bigots, right?  Well you’re wrong.  I went to an Anglican school and so did my son.  Both of us are as secular as can be.  Why is this?  Because Church schools actually educate kids and teach them responsibility and how to think for themselves rather than religiously indoctrinate them.  Or at least they used to prior to 1997 and the onset of undiluted Fabian social engineering.  I notice you didn’t mention the “I” word when it comes to faith schools.  How come?

A Strong State

17)  Tough punishment, longer prison sentences v. tackling the social causes of crime (poverty, racism)

Time to kick the blame culture into touch and make people responsible for their own actions, don’t you think?  The “soft” option clearly doesn’t work no matter how hard the State tries to fiddle the statistics and makes excuses for granny-bashers and other nasty malcontents.

18)  Strong armed forces v. de-militarisation, disarmament

Because we’ll never have to fight another war, will we.  Oh wait…

19)  National security, control orders, DNA database v. Civil liberties*, liberal judicial activism

I think you’ve got that one arse about face, Neil.

Freedom From the State (Freedom “From” Rather Than Freedom “To”)

20)  Fox hunting v. Hunt ban

Yes, in order to stick it to traditional conservatives let’s let the poor little foxy-woxies be shot, gassed, poisoned and have their skulls bashed in rather than give them a head start.

21)  Anti-nanny state, anti-“elf ‘n safety” v. Safety at work

Because of course there is no difference whatsoever between an oppressive, precautionary agenda that prevents kids playing football in the playground in case someone skins a knee and safe practices in the work environment that are designed to prevent injury or death.  As much ninny state as nanny state, eh Neil?

22)  Opposition to the smoking ban, anti-drink and cigarette taxes v. Public health

What, exactly, has enjoying a fag and a pint in a pub got to do with public health?  Public health is about environmental matters such as adequate sewerage, safe drinking water and regular waste collection.  It is not about interfering in people’s personal recreational choices.   You really are a biased twerp aren’t you Neil.

23)  Opposition to “political correctness”, quotas, equalities legislation, v. Equality, positive discrimination, anti-racism

All people are supposed to be equal under the law so why the hell should special interest groups have special considerations just because someone called them names and hurt their oh so fragile feelings?  Certain types get off calling people like me a “denier” and that I should be locked up for being a “climate criminal” but I don’t go whining to the police because I feel insulted and threatened.  Quotas restrict the market and force prices up which impacts on the poor.  Maybe you should have a word with deep green lefty Caroline Lucas about energy quotas and why it’s bad that the poor and elderly are at risk of freezing to death in order to save the planet from mythical CAGW.  As for positive discrimination and anti-racism, when I see secular homosexuals teaching militant alternative lifestyle choices in madrassas across the country we’ll talk, okay Neil?  Until then you can stick your divisive discrimination where the sun doesn’t shine because you see, I don’t condone discrimination of any kind, especially political fucking correctness.


  1. Ross says:

    I love the way he phrases the questions, the “unbiased” view of history is probably the most jaw dropping.

  2. john in cheshire says:

    I think Mr O’Brien misses the point completely. If it is actually possible to divide people into two types then it is leftwing versus normal. And what really distinguishes them is that us normals might not approve of a lot of what people think, say and even do, but we don’t conspire to introduce laws to prevent people from thinking, saying or doing it. Whereas the first reaction of a socialist/communist/marxist/leftwinger, when confronted with something that they don’t like, is to seek to prevent it by law and then lie about the reasons for doing so.

  3. You’ve probably given this more attention than it deserves! The whole thing is built on such presuppositions and givens, that it makes little sense to anyone outside a very narrow spectrum of statists.

  4. Policy Exchange have been fast going downhill in the past year or two, so not too surprised at this guff.

  5. Ian F4 says:

    Great piece of fisking, somebody needs to check out the Nolan Chart as a good example of multi-dimensional political assessment, it’s only been known about for 40 years or so.

  6. RAB says:

    Fine piece again Lynne.

    I can’t help thinking that “Thinking” isn’t Neil’s forte.

    I could have answered in the affirmative to well over half of those questions, on both sides of the arguement, so wooly were they worded.

    I just dont do Left and Right wings, I never have. If I had fuckin wings I could fly right?

  7. NickM says:

    Excellent Lynne!

    “Traditional British history v. Unbiased view of our colonial past”…

    … is beautiful. The geezer sets up a dichotomy and says one side is biased and the other isn’t. I don’t think I don’t think I have come across a more obviously leading question for the obvious reason that I can’t answer that. Nobody and I mean nobody admits to being “biased” so… My view. Yeah, an unbiased view of the British Empire is fine but I mean my unbiased view and even if your view or Uncle Tom Cobley’s view differs you’ll still think them unbiased. The smart money is on everyone having a bias and the even smarter money is on everyone seeing it as so. I reckon, whilst playing Monopoly, if I get the light blues and the oranges I’ve won but there is no such Monopoly on truth over such a staggeringly large thing as the British Empire. To reduce it to such a ridiculous (and leading) question is insane.

    More generally… Well we have all had debates with people about stuff. Now there is such a thing as an honest debate in which both parties disagree on an issue but both also see that disagreement as being an artefact of their respective world-views. A matter of perspective or perhaps scale. A dishonest debate starts from the premise of objective “rightness” or in the context here “correctness” might be more accurate.

    To return to the question in hand. Note it is doubly misleading. What after all is “Traditional British History”? Is it that terrible racist Kipling (he wasn’t) or what? “Traditional British History” is as much a construct as the “unbiased view”.

    We are all biased. The realisation of that is in many ways the nullification of it. I live in Cheshire and Manchester United and Manchester City (even Liverpool) are not far away but I continue to support NUFC out of what could easily be seen as perversity.

    Mainly because it is. But I know it and therein lies the difference.

  8. Sam Duncan says:

    “16) Pro-faith schools, large role of Christianity in public life v. Secularism”

    Kinda-sorta following on from my last post, I assume he’s aware that here in the frozen wastes of the north, the Correct stance approved by the Mystic Lords of the Left is to support faith schools and denounce anyone who dissents as “bigoted”? (Stemming from the fact that the only faith schools we have up here are Roman Catholic, therefore anyone who objects to taxpayers’ money being spent running schools for a church not exactly noted for being a bit short of cash must be a swivel-eyed, bile-spewing, fully besashed orangeman. Neil would understand the way of thinking, I’m sure.)

    I’ve often said that while there is a Left, self-defined, there is no “right”; the world outside the cozy Leftist corral contains many viewpoints and ideas, often utterly and mutually contradictory, which makes the left-right dichotomy a false one. But what this shows is that there isn’t really much of a Left either. It is, as they say round these parts, aw pish.

  9. freedom says:

    Odd this. I couldn’t find the one I expected:

    “Having thought about things and formed your own opinions v Wildly abandoning any intellectual process, being brain washed by narrow-minded pressure groups and accepting any junk so you can pretend you have brains.”

  10. Paul Marks says:

    A good reply to Neil O’Brien, Lynn.

    His whole test is stupid.

    For example, the death-to-the-British view of the Empire has been the dominant way the subject has been taught for DECADES now.

    So it is the “traditional” view – and it is hardly “unbiased”.

    Real history (Ludwig Von Mises Institute please note – after all the real Lu Mises understood the matter perfectly well) is NOT a choice between a perfect society and Britian or Uncle Sam.

    Compared to perfection neither Britain nor Uncle Sam do very well (as Murry Rothbard gloatingly noted as he listed all our imperfections).

    However, it one take a good hard look at the ALTERNATIVE in a particular time and place…

  11. How about:

    roast beef and Yorkshire pudding vs vegetable korma

    @ Paul Marks,

    “Real history … is NOT a choice between a perfect society and Britian or Uncle Sam.”

    Whoever said it was? Surely not the Ludwig von Mises Institute, and although I’m sure you are right that the teaching establishment in the state schools are quick to criticise the British Empire, I’d be (pleasantly) surprised if they did so from a Rothbardian perspective.

  12. efgd says:

    23) Opposition to “political correctness”, quotas, equalities legislation, v. Equality, positive discrimination, anti-racism

    I was involved in positive discrimination once, bloody hard work, as those ‘we’ wanted to positively discriminate for, as opposed to discriminate against, did not want to be part of the ‘organisation’ in the role ‘we’ thought they should be ‘positively discriminated against’ to get involved in. ‘Tis all true.

    As for suggesting that opposition to PC, quotas, equalities legislation is opposite to equality, positive discrimination, and anti-racism that’s nonsense. Just because I am anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-homophobic and anti-morons, that does not mean I have to be for “”political correctness”, for quotas, for equalities legislation. That is the problem with the thinking it is this or that and no in-between. I do not agree with PC as a means to an end, it becomes ridiculous and superficial, I do not agree with quotas, it builds stagnation and prevents the best for the post situation; been there done that seen the result, I agree with equalities legislation; been there, done that, seen the result.

    5) Personal responsibility* v. Needs-based welfare, universal and unconditional

    I presume the asterisk means something so I will go and have a look after my comment. Why does there have to be a personal responsibility v needs welfare? I am responsible but sometimes I might need some help to continue being responsible. Universal, does that mean it is open for any and everybody to access it, or does it mean that it is universally available to everyone, though it might cost some people more than others if their needs are met, a means tested universalism – an oxymoron or not? Unconditional is lumped in as always as if universal needs defining by the word unconditional. That is the point for me – if you do not take responsibility, be proven and to be seen not to take responsibility, for your actions then you should not get unconditional welfare; nothing to to with universal or means-tested. Being responsible and initially accountable is a better thing than being stagnant and lethargic in thought and action.

    14) Coarsening of the culture & swearing, violence and sex on TV v. anti-censorship, free expression

    Pardon? I have taken this one away for further thought, as you said Lynne, it does not make sense.

    Great blog. Cheers.

  13. NickM says:

    Interesting efgd.

    If I may I’ll just pick up on 5). That is so vague as to be almost meaningless. You are right to pick up on it. If I make a punt I think O’Brien was reffing child benefit. I don’t think a means tested universalism is oxymoronic. If we take the example say of the NHS that could be interpreted as saying, “If anyone needs treatment then…” I’m not about to demand a hip replacement just for jollies any more than a multimillionaire ought to demand the right to a few quid a week to raise their children. Having said that I have been moderately impressed by arguments for a citizen income – mainly due to the appallingly Byzantine, regularly cheated and deeply inefficient welfare system we have.

    Come gain ;-)

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