Not Bright's Blog II

Martin's second guest blogger of the week is Sunny from Pickled Politics

You have to give it to the Conservatives in America - they have balls. At least they are willing to go out on a limb and prove their big cojones. The latest such contender is the author Dinesh D'Souza with a new book called The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11.

Straight from the Ann Coulter camp of provocatively titled books that leave no doubt about their slant, he is in no doubt that liberal America's crusades in favour of abortion, feminism, adultery and a breakdown of family values has led to, erm, Osama Bin Laden and his crew.

In her view for The Nation, Katha Pollitt states:

Muslims fear the West is out to foist its depraved, licentious, secular "decadence" on their pious patriarchal societies. And, D'Souza argues, they're right. Working mothers! Will & Grace! Child pornography! Our vulgar, hedonistic, gender-egalitarian, virally expanding NGO-promoted values so offend "traditional Muslims" that they have thrown in their lot with Osama and other America-haters.

You may consider D'Souza to be slightly loopy but he isn't alone, even on this side of the pond. Only a few months ago the writer Melanie Phillips published Londonistan, making a similar claim that Britain's moral and cultural decay contributed to the growth of Islamism, and blamed an unholy trinity of "militant gays, feminists or ‘antiracists’".

Coming back to D'Souza's book, a review in the New York Times wasn't so favourable either. Alan Wolfe says:

D’Souza has fallen on hard times lately. Political correctness and affirmative action — the issues he has addressed in inflammatory ways in the past — no longer inspire the same passion. “The Enemy at Home” is clearly designed to restore his reputation as the man who will say anything to call attention to his views; charging prominent senators and presidential candidates with treason can do that.

Ouch! If you want a more amusing and simplified put-down, you could watch him being interviewed by Comedy Central's rising star Stephen Colbert.

But at least D'Souza is consistent when he says, "American conservatives should join Muslims and others in condemning the global moral degeneracy that is produced by liberal values."

It has always been a great source of amusement to me that British and American conservatives, for reasons of political expediency rather than rational consistency, have constantly scare-mongered about Muslim values even when they so closely mirror their own (a point Sarfraz Manzoor alluded to earlier in January). I wonder how long it will take for the Daily Mail to come to its senses. Paul Dacre could always read Dinesh D'Souza's book.

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PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn turns "the nasty party" back on Theresa May

The Labour leader exploited Conservative splits over disability benefits.

It didn't take long for Theresa May to herald the Conservatives' Copeland by-election victory at PMQs (and one couldn't blame her). But Jeremy Corbyn swiftly brought her down to earth. The Labour leader denounced the government for "sneaking out" its decision to overrule a court judgement calling for Personal Independence Payments (PIPs) to be extended to those with severe mental health problems.

Rather than merely expressing his own outrage, Corbyn drew on that of others. He smartly quoted Tory backbencher Heidi Allen, one of the tax credit rebels, who has called on May to "think agan" and "honour" the court's rulings. The Prime Minister protested that the government was merely returning PIPs to their "original intention" and was already spending more than ever on those with mental health conditions. But Corbyn had more ammunition, denouncing Conservative policy chair George Freeman for his suggestion that those "taking pills" for anxiety aren't "really disabled". After May branded Labour "the nasty party" in her conference speech, Corbyn suggested that the Tories were once again worthy of her epithet.

May emphasised that Freeman had apologised and, as so often, warned that the "extra support" promised by Labour would be impossible without the "strong economy" guaranteed by the Conservatives. "The one thing we know about Labour is that they would bankrupt Britain," she declared. Unlike on previous occasions, Corbyn had a ready riposte, reminding the Tories that they had increased the national debt by more than every previous Labour government.

But May saved her jibe of choice for the end, recalling shadow cabinet minister Cat Smith's assertion that the Copeland result was an "incredible achivement" for her party. "I think that word actually sums up the Right Honourable Gentleman's leadership. In-cred-ible," May concluded, with a rather surreal Thatcher-esque flourish.

Yet many economists and EU experts say the same of her Brexit plan. Having repeatedly hailed the UK's "strong economy" (which has so far proved resilient), May had better hope that single market withdrawal does not wreck it. But on Brexit, as on disability benefits, it is Conservative rebels, not Corbyn, who will determine her fate.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.