Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

It's in the eyes


In 1997 the Tories used a now infamous poster caricaturing Tony Blair as having a demon's eyes. This was so over-the-top that it probably backfired.

Yet two years later I was asking friends if they thought Blair was mad. They looked at me as though I was; though perhaps they see things differently now. He was the reason that for the first time in my life I voted Conservative in the 2001 General Election - not that I expected it to make a difference in a rock-solid Labour constituency, but I had to make my little Horton-hears-a-Who squeak.

Such was the grip of New Labour on the media that it was years before I discovered that the adulating multitude waving Union Jacks outside Downing Street the day after the 1997 landslide were handpicked Labour Party workers and supporters corralled inside the security gates. It was a PR fake and I fancy you can see a slightly embarrassed tightness in the smile as Blair waves to No One.

Nowadays his blue eyes have a frosted quality, a defence against our using the 'windows of the soul' to peer into his mind. Clarissa Dickson Wright, who knew him when they were both young barristers said ''He has psychopath eyes. You know those dead eyes that look at you and try to work out what you want to hear?'

His gaze had the inward absorption of someone on a mission; and what a mission it was! Peter Hyman, one of Blair's former aides, told Peter Hitchens that the New Labour 'project' was 'infinitely more revolutionary than anything proposed by Jeremy Corbyn'; another said 'You have no idea how extensive this project is.'

It's not yet complete and if Hitchens is right Sir Keir Starmer is here to finish the job. Starmer has a similarly abstracted look, that of a man driven by a plan. He will say anything and its opposite, in order to get his hands on the levers of power; only then will we see his true intent. It may be that he himself does not understand where the Project is taking us, what is the final stop on the line.

Russian philosopher Aleksandr Dugin thinks he knows. Talking to Tucker Carlson, Dugin views the West as on a journey towards extreme liberalism, systematically cutting us off from any form of collective identity. The latest binding thread to be severed is gender; next is human nature itself, as (according to Noah Harari) technology helps homo sapiens evolve into homo deus.

What for? What will it help us if we know everything except who we are, and our society collapses into chaos, a Bedlam of squabbling minorities and individualists?

Once ultra-freedom has atomised us we will be nothing - and be treated as such. An all-powerful State can dispose of us wholesale in the pursuit of grand plans - think of Stalin's mass deportations; and inhuman ideals - when Chairman Mao was told a nuclear war would kill a third of humanity he replied 'Good, then there will be no more classes.'

Anyone who thinks ruthless fanaticism could not take hold here needs to read about Cromwell's Protectorate; or indeed the wars of religion, in which sects wore their beliefs like rival football hooligans, forgetting how Christ himself summed up all the Law and the prophets in two sentences about love.

The same insane combativeness has characterised modern politics, so that New Labour reportedly saw unrestricted immigration as a way to 'rub the Right's nose in diversity' without considering the consequences. One of them is to have introduced a rival for the Left's universalist nihilism in the internationalist religiosity of Islam, whose adherents in this country, though largely peaceful at the moment, are a gathering underbrush awaiting some spark to cause a conflagration. We shall see whether Gaza is enough to split Labour's vote even as the backlash against Tory Party treachery threatens to destroy most of its MP base (leaving, one fears, the wrong rump in Parliament.)

We do not need fiery, fully-articulated philosophies that threaten to divide and harm us. Such peace and prosperity as we enjoy today depends on not miring ourselves in great controversies. We cannot right the whole world but we can tend our own country like a garden, planting practical improvements and weeding abuses without submitting all to a destructive big-picture buzz-cut. If we can turn from dogmatism to the Confucian principle of 'jen', human-heartedness, we can look at each other with clear eyes.

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Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
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Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames