News, Culture & Society

PETER HITCHENS: End this crude smear against conservatives

The real problem with Gary Lineker is that he knows as much about politics as I know about football. But, while you will never catch me giving my opinions on soccer, Mr Lineker thinks his TV and advertising fame qualifies him to discuss politics and history.

Actually, it is amazing how little so many people know about these things. Although modern school history seems to cover nothing apart from the wives of Henry VIII and Hitler, nobody seems to know one crucial fact. The Nazis were very Left-wing.

They hated Christianity and deliberately set children against their parents. They imposed penal taxes on the middle class and attracted Communists to their ranks. They wrecked Germany’s schools, insisting (sound familiar?) that they taught mad dogmas instead of proper knowledge.

Like all bad Left-wing causes, they were very popular with students. If you take the forest path up from the pretty university town of Heidelberg, you will find, half lost among the trees, a large, disused Nazi amphitheatre where the students used to hold torchlight rallies and sing their hateful songs.

The Nazis even combined with the Communists to organise a joint tram strike in Berlin and they happily entered into an alliance with Stalin in 1939, holding a joint Nazi-Soviet victory parade in the conquered Polish city of Brest-Litovsk.

 The real problem with Gary Lineker is that he knows as much about politics as I know about football

About the same time the secret police forces of the Communist USSR and Nazi Germany engaged in an amicable prisoner swap. The Nazis hated German conservatives, and they hated democratic German socialists.

An amazing fact emerges from Julia Boyd’s superb recent book Travellers In The Third Reich. She describes how a Swiss academic, Denis de Rougemont, lived for some time in Frankfurt in the Nazi era, with the advantage of speaking and understanding German perfectly. This allowed him to have the private conversations with ordinary Germans which most foreign visitors could not.

He began by thinking that Hitler’s regime was Right-wing. But, as Julia Boyd writes: ‘What unsettled him was the fact that those who stood most naturally on the Right – lawyers, doctors, industrialists and so on – were the very ones who most bitterly denounced National Socialism. Far from being a bulwark against Communism, they complained, it was itself Communism in disguise.

‘They pointed out that only workers and peasants benefited from Nazi reforms, while their own values were being systematically destroyed by devious methods.

‘They were taxed disproportionately, their family life had been irreparably harmed, parental authority sapped, religion stripped and education eliminated. A lawyer’s wife complained to him, “Every evening my two children are taken over by the Party.”’

And those of you who have noticed the stripping of patriotism and Christianity from the Scouts and Guides, Cubs and Brownies over the past 20 years might note that this attack on old values through schools and children follows a carefully devised pattern in both the Third Reich and Stalin’s police state.

As Hitler said, sneering gently: ‘When an opponent declares “I will not come over to your side”, I say calmly, “Your child belongs to us already… What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community.” ’

No doubt someone will point out that the Nazis were also appalling and murderous racial bigots. This is true. But so was Stalin, who was preparing an antisemitic purge just before his death in 1953.

Several Communist countries did hold anti-Jewish purges in the early 1950s. Karl Marx, himself a Jew, was famously antisemitic. Much of the modern Left is suspiciously hostile to Israel, for sins which they overlook in other countries.

I would say we should always be on the lookout for dangerous fanatics from all directions.

But the assumption, common on the BBC and in schools and universities for 50 years now, that conservative politics is a form of Nazism, and that a desire to control immigration will lead directly to the death camps, should be rejected by any thinking, knowledgeable person. Relax, Gary. That doesn’t include you.

Changing face of Britons abroad

I remember when the Briton abroad was an object of wonder to foreigners – stiff upper lip, tightly-folded copy of The Times, probably going to bed in tweed pyjamas. Not anymore.

As the new drama of The Diplomat on the Alibi channel shows, our image has been transformed, so that the words ‘British citizen’ are more likely to make people think of heavyweight lesbians from Merthyr Tydfil on hen parties, than of tall, reserved gentlemen with polished brogues.

The series, starring Sophie Rundle, as a British envoy in Barcelona, is rather clever. I wonder why the BBC, whose BBC Studios arm helped to make it, is not showing it?  

Sophie Rundle as Laura Simmonds in The Diplomat

Sophie Rundle as Laura Simmonds in The Diplomat


Find local lawyers and law firms at