on 15 July 2010
This is a very enjoyable read. There are many issues I disagree with Peter on, notably on foreign policy and religion but I think anyone who doesn't read this as a persuasive argument for a more classically conservative government is doing themselves a disservice. It is worth pointing out though, that typically Peter makes no effort to mince his words and does sometimes sound like the over-the-top paranoid 'Red under the Bed' conservative that he is often accused of being. This is isn't necessarily a bad thing, but many readers who aren't die-hard Christians for instance may feel at times alienated from some of his arguments.
The book was originally entitled the Broken Compass, which I think was a better title as the new one seems to imply a more populist polemic on the idiot David Cameron rather than a study of the wider forces at play in British politics. On that point one would think this would focus on the history of the conservative party. As it happens the book is structured by laying out what mostly left-wing governments have done since the second world war, while highlighting the failures of the Conservatives to do anything about it before or after such changes has taken place.
It also worth noting that the book is less of a narrative history, but reads more like a collection of essays with chapters broken down into topics such as education and privatisation etc. It is further worth emphasising here that despite the 200 page description the book is written with much larger print than a normal book this size, and was devoured by myself in a matter of hours. This didn't detract from the book, but is something that future purchasers might wish to know.
In particular it is worth noting the passionate and excellent chapter on education, but I also found it surprising how little immigration was touched upon in this book. Finally I often see it mentioned on Amazon reviews that readers have noticed poor editing, and am always surprised as someone who never sees errors in published books. This was one of the first times that I read a book where a good handful of grammatical errors were missed that popped up at me.
In conclusion even if you aren't a die-hard Hitchens fan like the reviewer below, and you are willing to push through some of the over the top dialogue in the introduction you will find some brilliant and persuasive arguments that should at least make you reconsider some of the mainstream political opinions.
on 25 October 2013
This book is written with a light touch, for such a serious range of topics. It is reasonable, not hectoring, and offers the political insights which are so elusive to members of the public, in a readable and informative manner.
The thoughts are those of a mature observer, who has been in the front line.
Everyone who feels any warmth for their country should read it, and maybe everyone who can vote should read it.
on 6 April 2010
If you are familiar with Hitchens' writing you'll know what is happening. A liberal-Left 'consensus' has seized the commanding heights of power in Britain. It controls politics, the media and most of public life. It is using lies, coercion and political correctness to impose its lunatic Utopian dreams on the British people. The will of the electorate has been subverted by these powerful forces as all three major political parties in Britain now subscribe to the same Fabian socialist ideology and the voters have no choice but to vote for one or other of the New Left Marxoid clones being imposed on their constituencies by the party leaderships. Effectively, in modern Britain, democracy has already been abolished.
How did it come to this? What happened to the old ideas of 'Left' and 'Right'? Why are the supposed 'left-wing' Labour Party in agreement with the supposed 'right-wing' Tory Party about almost every single issue you care to name and why does the so-called 'centre party' - the Liberal Democrats - agree with them both on nearly everything? Why has Britain's political compass become stuck pointing towards an authoritarian, socialist future? In this book Hitchens makes a heroic attempt to explain what has gone wrong with Britain's political compass, its political and media class and the kind of future we're headed for if we don't change direction soon.
The book covers some very interesting ground. In Part One "The New Permanent Government of Britain" he provides an insider's guide to the world of political journalism, exposing how it operates and how the media has become nothing more than a channel for state propaganda. He also explains how opinion polls are used to manipulate public opinion rather than reflect it. In Part Two "The Left Escapes to the West" he takes us on a fascinating journey through 1970s and 1980s communist Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union where he spent years living and working under 'real existing socialism' - a depressing, yet eye-opening, experience that converted him from a student revolutionary Marxist into one of Britain's foremost social, cultural and moral conservatives. He recalls with horror that on returning to Britain after years of working overseas he found that the very same socialism he had just witnessed being overthrown in the East had now taken root in the West. Part Three "Britain through the Looking Glass" is a harsh polemic against the kind of poisonous, Gramscian political correctness and radical anti-family, anti-Christian ideology he feels is being used to deconstruct British society.
Throughout this book Hitchens' loathing of New Labour and his hatred of the Tories is plain for all to see. Even the title of the book "The Cameron Delusion" [the hardback version was published as "The Broken Compass"] is a deliberate attempt to do as much damage as possible to the Tory's election prospects between now and the General Election. The Tory Party, he suggests, are power-mad, bereft of ideas, politically naïve, traitorous and utterly unprincipled in their pursuit of office. They are as beholden to big business, the anti-democratic EU and outdated Fabian claptrap as New Labour. According to Hitchens, a Tory government under David Cameron's leadership offers the country five more years of the same kind of worn-out and discredited policies that have already done so much damage to the country.
Hitchens' free-thinking opinions are now so counter-orthodoxy that he is one of most radical journalist commentators around. If you can find the time to read this book between now and the election then I'd recommend you do so.
on 27 May 2015
I finished reading this book a few days after the 2015 General Election. David Cameron's Conservative Party had just won a shock majority. Outraged 'left wing' types were out on the street furiously protesting the result.
I suspect none of them were as disillusioned at the outcome as Peter Hitchens.
The title of the book is The Cameron Delusion (changed from The Broken Compass before the election in 2010 as a last ditch attempt to thwart the Tories) but actually it spends very little time on Cameron specifically. That's probably because The Conservative Party is full of Blairite politicians interchangeable with Mr Cameron and he's a symptom of the problem rather than a cause of it.
One of the things that I liked most about this book is that we get another glimpse into Peter Hitchens' personal story and how he transitioned from a Trotskyist revolutionary into a Christian conservative. Even if you disagree with his politics, isn't that in itself an interesting story? Doesn't it make you pause and think that someone who's been on such a journey might have something worth at least listening to? It did for me. As Hitchens went into a bit of his backstory, I'll allow myself to do the same briefly. Up until about 18 months I was interested in politics in a very general way. I wasn't strongly in favour of any political party, but I enjoyed the debate. My opinions were broadly 'left wing' (although the hypocrisy and tolerance-in-theory-but-intolerance-in-practice of many of the left wing people I'd come across made me sceptical), which I suspect is the default position of anybody who hasn't thought hard enough but such issues. I was watching videos on youtube one day (I think possibly of Christopher Hitchens) and one of the links that came up was for one featuring Peter Hitchens, the specific video forgotten to me now. I clicked it. Maybe I was bored. I'd seen Peter Hitchens on Question Time. His opinions were simplistic, old fashioned and nasty. As I say, the content of the video is lost to me now, but whatever it was, it must've done enough to throw my received wisdom into at least a bit of doubt. I watched another video featuring him. And then another. Every video I saw made me feel uncomfortable, but in a good way. I'm one of those (I think) rare people who likes to be challenged in my beliefs. I love that feeling of discovering a viewpoint that makes you question what you thought you already had worked out, and then the world looks different afterwards.
After 18 months of regularly reading his blog many of the arguments in the book were familiar to me, but that doesn't make them any less impactful. There were a few subjects that I'd seen him touch on before, but wasn't aware of his deeper arguments behind them, which are explored in full here. The chapter on trains, for example, sets out not only why the decisions taken about them were mistaken, but also the impact that it had on many areas of people's lives and on the country as a whole. The picture set out is beautiful and tragic at the same time.
This is also the most detail that I've seen him go into about the relationship between the media and politicians and what goes on behind the scenes. In that regard he's a bit like one of those magicians who reveals all the secrets. Except in this scenario the tricksters don't get upset because not enough people will have read or reviewed this book to make a difference. It should be us getting angry. Not angry in the sense of the left wing protestors mentioned at the beginning of this review, who think this Conservative government is too right wing and who, like me until very recently, have no real understanding of what actual conservatism is.
But we don't and won't get angry. Things won't change. The Conservative Party have just been elected with a shock majority, after all.
on 28 February 2014
Peter Hitchens is a good writer and "The Cameron Delusion" is highly readable, informative and adds to our understanding of the direction our society has taken while giving us an inkling of what awaits us if we carry on on the current elite-prescribed course.
The book is particularly critical of Fabianism which the author correctly identifies as the origin of New Labour's dogma and I fully agree with his view that non-Fabian (non-socialist) parties like the Conservatives must either oppose the Fabian dogma in thought and deed, in which case they will need to be dogmatic about what they prefer to it, or they must accept the arguments of their opponents - which, unfortunately, is precisely what they have chosen to do.
I am also with Hitchens on most of the facts he points out, like the "similarity between Communists using power and Fabians seeking it". And this is why I can't avoid the feeling that he could have expanded on the role played by the Fabian Society in all this, as well as on its links to key figures in the Labour Party and elsewhere.
The Fabian Society is only mentioned in connection with its refusal to publish a pamphlet by Labourite Stephen Pollard. Blair's connections to the Fabian Society are overlooked and New Labour architect Peter Mandelson is described as a member of the Young Communist League but not of the Young Fabians, the Fabian Society's under-31s section that grooms Fabians to become Labour MPs.
Another key piece of information that is missing is the leaders of international finance (e.g., the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers) and their support for Fabian projects like the London School of Economics (LSE) and Policy Network without which Fabianism wouldn't be in the position of influence and power it commands. Mandelson's connections to the Rothschilds and Blair's connections to the Rockefellers are neither accidental nor inconsequential.
In 1993, Blair (a long-time Fabian Society member) joined the Global Leaders of Tomorrow group whose members pledged themselves to advance the agenda of the World Economic Forum - an outfit controlled by the Rockefellers and associated oil and banking giants - and later became chairman of the Rockefellers' J P Morgan International Council, all of which would go a long way in explaining his behaviour both in and out of office.
On the Conservative side, a classic example of successful leftist infiltration in operation may be found in Oliver Letwin, a former Fabian Society member who served as Rothschild director as well as adviser to the Conservative Party since the days of Thatcher.
Any narrative that ignores the strong links between the system's Fabian-engineered leftward progression and subversive money interests (as if the Fabian project was financed by Santa Claus) must get bogged down in generalities while failing to address the central issue.
For reasons only known to himself, Hitchens isn't any more forthcoming in his online blogs on the Fabian Society or, for that matter, any of his other writings.
While "The Cameron Delusion" may be recommendable on its own merits, those who wish to take their study of the topic further - and I strongly believe that Fabianism should be made the subject of serious critical study - should read Ioan Ratiu's "The Milner-Fabian Conspiracy" and Rose Martin's "Fabian Freeway".
on 25 October 2010
In this exciting book, journalist Peter Hitchens examines the modern Conservative party. He attacks the `thought-free, obsolete idea of Left and Right' and notes that our MPs now represent the state to the people, not the people to the state.
He denounces NATO as `the military arm of the new interventionist idealism' and exposes the `New Cold War' lie - "the invented threat abroad is used to justify a stronger state at home." He opposes the war on Iraq and the `war against Terror', which, like the Cold War, is a permanent war supposedly justifying a permanent state of emergency.
Hitchens attacks the Tories wrecking of our railways and our locomotive and carriage works industry. He points out that the Tories asked for the Beeching report and implemented it and that, decades later, they chose `a particularly damaging form of privatisation of the railways'. He notes that the EU `imposed the privatisation everyone decries as wrong'.
He comments, "The Left are right to put part of the blame for the current riot of selfishness on the shoulders of Lady Thatcher. ... they are right to perceive a moral emptiness in her government, which showed no interest in moral or cultural issues ..." He writes, "I couldn't identify with the car-obsessed, pinstriped, market-worshipping, greedy supporters she attracted."
He reminds us that the Tory party "enthusiastically took Britain into the Common Market, negotiated the Single Market and the Single European Act and the Treaty of Maastricht, repeatedly giving away vetoes, fishing grounds and chunks of independence. It is the party which, after two years posing as `sceptical' and dishonestly promising a referendum on the issue, last November accepted the European Constitution as a fait accompli. ... his [Cameron's] promises of safeguards against further EU advances were meaningless and politically illiterate."
All three parties, and the `left', insult the British people when they deride as xenophobes those who want to leave the EU and those who oppose mass immigration: 47 percent of the British public want us to leave the EU and 70 per cent oppose mass immigration.
on 9 December 2013
I first cottoned onto the journalism of Hitchens from Question Time. His article in the Mail on Sunday is always the common sense perspective and this book does not disappoint on that front. You may not agree with it all but in general he speaks the truth.
on 7 August 2010
I recently read "The Abolition of Britain" and I began to understand why my life was not like my parents life. "The Cameron Delusion" added greatly to my understanding.
I for one and delighted there is a person like Peter Hitchens capable of writing such a magnificent book.
I tell everyone I know to buy both books
on 29 August 2014
Disclaimer: This review is essentially for "The Broken Compass" which I'm led to believe is the same book bar 1 additional chapter.
This book is one of the most eye opening books I have read. Peter Hitchens writes with superb clarity, intelligence and wisdom, arguing how the mainstream political parties have grown farther away from there core voters beliefs and affiliations to such an extent that they represent them in name only. He delves into the collaborations with the media and politicians, the erosion of education in the fall of meritocracy, and even gives an autobiographical entry of his time as a foreign correspondent in the last days of the soviet union and his time spent working as a socialist industrial journalist, plus how he gradually changed his mind to the views he held back in the 60s/70s to what he holds today.
on 18 November 2015
Hitchens is an interesting fellow, although after reading this mostly enjoyable book I am only left with the feeling that there is something slippery about him that eludes explanation.
Anyway, the main point made in this book is that the political process has become focussed upon a narrow band in the centre ground - so politics as we have known it, built upon intelligent debate between parties with bad blood running between them, is now dead, and an unquestioning narrative has replaced it.
Peter Hitchens is maverick enough to challenge this narrative. He comes across as particularly credible in the earlier chapters, particularly when discussing the Westminster world, the BBC, the fall of communism, foreign policy, railway privatisation and immigration.
The chapters lumping the left with feminism and treating it as some kind of monolithic movement made him look less wise in my opinion. 'The fall of meritocracy' was a chapter I was looking forward to - the excellent point is made that since grammar school abolition, good state schools have created a rise in house prices in their catchment area so that poor people are excluded from them. This chapter dragged though, and I found it turgidly detailed for the one point it was actually making - the top 10% of working class kids need access to what the public school kids are getting and they don't anymore. The massive remaining 90% don't feature in the discussion much.
He is accurate in his understanding of how the left and right, in both the UK and US often overlap over issues such as Islamic fundamentalism, and explains particularly well how the left - which he admits has achieved some great things, got ( and still gets ) Islam completely wrong - and uses the term 'extremism' to maintain its multicultural position whilst exonerating itself of any blame for the outcomes of the religion in question. I'd have preferred it if the chapter hadn't been focussed around lengthy repeated quotes by one or two journalists though, which seems a bit petty.
Overall I like Peter Hitchens, even though the society off which he laments the passing was no doubt great.......for him! It wasn't for everyone and I can see why some things needed to change (eg 'The left mistrust the police' writes Peter disparagingly - clearly he has limited experience of how the ''good old bobbies might have behaved towards someone that they perceived as not being in the 'dominant identity' ). However he is bang on with most of the points he makes, even though I still can't quite make my mind up about his agenda.
Favourite quote: 'Idealism and dogma are easier to maintain in University Campus than anywhere else....surrounded by arrogant and self righteous people in their late teens who think they have discovered sex and idealism for the first time in the history of the human race'.
In summary, this book, when it sticks to the political arena the title suggests, is a good read for those of you interested in some of the events that have shaped Europe over the last 50 years or so and led us to the political system he describes us as having now in the UK.