Eaton alive

This article is from the August 2019 IPA Review.

In its 12-17 April edition, the British political magazine New Statesman published an interview with the renowned philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, conducted by a journalist of considerably less renown named George Eaton. In advance of its publication, Eaton spruiked the interview on Twitter, claiming that Scruton had “made a series of outrageous remarks” about Hungarian Jews, Chinese people, and Muslims. What followed was a classic social media pile-on, first from the internet’s Jacobin fellow travellers but then, unforgivably, with even Conservative Party MPs Tom Tugendhat and Johnny Mercer and grandees like the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne throwing their bodies on the heap. Housing Secretary James Brokenshire sacked Scruton from his unpaid advisory position as chairman of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

Tugendhat, Mercer and Brokenshire all subsequently had to apologise to Scruton, and in the end, on 23 July, Brokenshire reinstated Scruton to the role. Why? Because, of course, it quickly turned out Scruton had said nothing particularly controversial, the left-wing activist posing as a journalist had distorted the truth, these quasi-conservatives had once more wet themselves ‘on principle’, and the internet is eating civilisation alive. None of which may surprise you. Even though this hit job failed, this incident is still noteworthy because these facts are rarely packaged quite so neatly.

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