We’re written here before many times about the growing and deserved renown of Sir Roger Scruton, and today we have some important news about Sir Roger. Back in April the New Statesman magazine ran a scurrilous attack on Sir Roger that was shabby even by the low standards of the British political press. The New Statesman deliberately quoted Sir Roger out of context and/or incompletely in a ham-handed effort to smear him in the usual leftist way—as racist, homophobic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic to boot.
To cast this grotesque distortion the New Statesman’s George Eaton produced passages such as this:
“Anybody who doesn’t think that there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts,” [Scruton] said, heedless of the anti-Semitic portrayal of the philanthropist George Soros as a Jewish puppet-master.
Now I’ve spoken with Sir Roger directly about Soros’s presence in Eastern Europe—more than once in fact—and this passage does not at all convey Sir Roger’s attitude about Soros.
There was also a lot of excitement and outrage about this passage:
Perhaps most remarkably, he commented of the rise of China: “They’re creating robots out of their own people… each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.”
The result of this hit piece was Sir Roger’s dismissal from his post as the head of the government’s new Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. This, at the hands of a Conservative government, which ought to know better.
Douglas Murray offered the best complete account of this hit job in The Spectator, but this week there is a new development. The New Statesman, perhaps having an ounce of shame perhaps combined with fear of losing a libel suit if Sir Roger decided to bring one under Britain’s more favorable libel laws, has “corrected” its story as follows:
In the interview, Sir Roger said of China: “They’re creating robots of their own people … each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing.” We would like to clarify that Sir Roger’s criticism was not of the Chinese people but of the restrictive regime of the Chinese Communist Party.
Sir Roger is quoted accurately in the article: “Anybody who doesn’t think there’s a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts.” However, the article did not include the rest of Sir Roger’s statement that “it’s not necessarily an empire of Jews; that’s such nonsense”. We would like to clarify that elsewhere in the interview Sir Roger recognised the existence of anti-Semitism in Hungarian society.
After its publication online, links to the article were tweeted out together with partial quotations from the interview – including a truncated version of the quotation regarding China above. We acknowledge that the views of Professor Scruton were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage. We apologise for this, and regret any distress that this has caused Sir Roger.
Here’s the complete timeline of the saga:
Wed 27th March, interview given to George Eaton in Roger’s own room in Albany
Wed 10th April Interview published online on The New Statesman with inaccurate and distorted Tweets which wholly misrepresented the interview. Roger in Paris, civil servant from James Brokenshire MP’s department rings Roger’s home at about 3pm to say that in ten minutes time the government will announce he has been dismissed.
10th April onwards, many letters of support sent directly to Roger and many also sent to James Brokenshire, dismayed at his decision and lack of support for Roger. Douglas Murray and The Spectator start a campaign directed at George Eaton and the New Statesman to ‘Release the Tape’. Some Conservative MPs led by James Gray and Ian Duncan Smith call for Roger to be reinstated.
Roger writes articles where he is invited to do give his side: The Telegraph and The Spectator and Le Figaro; he is also commissioned by the Mail on Sunday although article only published later.
Friday 26th April The Today Programme releases the tape and in a high pressured interview, Roger has the chance to clear his name. Audio tape published on Roger’s YouTube channel. That evening, the New Statesman publish a transcript of the interview. Some inaccuracies in the transcription.
Saturday 27th April The Spectator ‘The Scruton tapes: an anatomy of a modern hit job – How a character assassination unfolded on Twitter’ by Douglas Murray.
Saturday 27th April James Brokenshire MP calls Roger for the first time. James Brokenshire MP writes to Roger, letter dated 30th April. Both communications from Brokenshire refer only to the Twitter storm and a selected single phrase as justification for his decision. Roger not given right to respond. Letters from supporters and European politicians to Brokenshire are not answered.
And some relevant links, as an archive for this media mendacity:
The Roger Scruton interview: the full transcript the from New Statesman
Full Audio of the interview on Roger Scruton’s YouTube channel.
‘An Apology for Thinking’, Roger Scruton, The Spectator 11/4/19
‘Notre Dame de Paris’, Roger Scruton, Le Figaro 17/4/2019
‘After my own dark night’, Roger Scruton, – The Telegraph 20/4/2019
‘Diary’, Roger Scruton, The Spectator 20/4/19-
‘The Today Programme’, BBC Radio 4 – 26/4/19