Saturday, April 16, 2016

Matthew Parris, Brexit and MFT

For the background on Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) (Jonathan Haidt) start here.

The Conservative Right of the Tories

Matthew Parris writes a passionate opinion piece in The Times today, denouncing the Brexiteers in his own party as destroyers of the Tory Party and wreckers of Europe.
"My hunch is that there is a powerful correlation between those Tory MPs who want us to leave the EU, and those whom most people would describe as “right wing” more generally. There is no tick-box way of categorising a rightwinger: you have to look at a range of behaviours:

  • a strong and persistent interest in military matters; 

  • a marked admiration for Republican US presidents; 

  • social illiberalism (look at attitudes towards gay marriage, for example; or some of the church-fuelled reaction to what the rest of us might call progressive social policy); 

  • a certain lack of interest in the state’s role in protecting workers or the active promotion of healthy living; 

  • ... state intervention that such MPs would call “wishy-washy liberalism”. 

"All I can say is that in the Tory party you know a rightwinger when you meet one."

Compare that list of moral values with the standard conservative set I discussed yesterday.

Traditional conservatism - all boxes ticked, but moderately


The Liberal-Left of the Tories

I recall reading - I think in the Alan Clark Diaries - the consensus of the Thatcherite high command that for Matthew Parris, it was always going to be about Gay Rights.

And yesterday I also gave you the chart for the classic bien-pensant liberal, to which group Mr Parris is such an adornment.

This is broadly where Matthew Parris sits in the moral spectrum


I already wrote about Moral Foundations Theory (MFT) and Brexit here (scroll to the bottom).

Let me add that the Brexit camp combines three moral camps. As well as the traditional conservatives already mentioned - those well-represented in the conservative party - we also have:

The Libertarians

Matt Ridley, Mr Gove and the sole UKIP MP, Douglas Carswell. Here is their chart:

Libertarian Brexiteers dislike the dead hand of European oversight

The Authoritarians

The Nigel Farage wing of UKIP, and continental authoritarian nationalists like Marine Le Pen.

Brexit Authoritarians rally to a nationalist, communalist flag

Despite their preponderance in the media and the governing elite, there are only so many left-liberals. How to win over the others? Only fear of the unknown will do it. So Matthew Parris's column is full of fear and foreboding:
"It’s Project Fear that has turned us, and I don’t mind admitting it. Fear of the economic consequences of leaving. Distaste at many of the crew who want us out. Anxiety about the impact on our allies in Europe and worldwide if we kick this huge enterprise in European co-operation in the guts. Alarm at the rise of anger in the world. Shame that we British might come to be judged by history as vandals."
Fear has often been enough, when moral buttons are not being pushed too hard. But heaven help the 'Remain' camp if something bad (morally-speaking) happens EU-wise later this spring.

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