Melanie Phillips has become a hate figure, a person whose very name will get a cheap laugh on the increasingly smug News Quiz. Why do people dislike her so much? For some, she’s an apostate who’s moved from left to right. Some criticism is frankly anti-Semitic. I also suspect misogyny; after all, the late Christopher Hitchens expressed many non-PC opinions, yet was widely respected. Because they disagree with what she says, people call her ‘mad’, which is no argument at all, simply abuse. Looking for a wider audience for her views, Ms Phillips has now launched emBooks as a further outlet. This is what she says about the books.
“Melanie Phillips Electric Media LLC is Melanie's new media company. Its e-books division, emBooks LLC, publishes extraordinarily good e-books that can be enjoyed on fixed screens and mobile devices.”
"By publishing books about the ideas that matter to me, I hope that emBooks will please and delight passionate readers everywhere - and become a source of writing that they can trust."
She talks about emBooks here. Thanks to the nice people at NetGalley I’ve now read two of them: Guardian Angel, a political autobiography, and Islamophilia by Douglas Murray.
The first chapter of Guardian Angel, which deals with Ms Phillips’ childhood, is written in the third person. I found this off-putting, but it seems she needed to distance herself from what was not a happy time. School, Oxford and marriage are whizzed through in a few sentences and we get to the real meat of the book, an account of her years at The Guardian. I started reading the paper when I was about fourteen so this was all familiar to me; it’s revealing about the Fleet Street of those days as well as about her own dramatic career progress. Ms Phillips describes herself as a happy Guardianista for years until she found herself increasingly at odds with the paper’s policies and with her colleagues. This is all rather sad and I sympathise. It’s hard to have been on the left all your life (and for me that means long before many of my readers were born) only to find that you hate what the left is saying and doing, yet with your liberal, centrist views, don’t belong anywhere else.
I agree with a lot of what Ms Phillips says, especially about education and about the need for moral values derived from the Judaeo-Christian principles our society is founded on. I disagree with some of her other views just as vehemently (on civil contracts, for example). My main beef is that in her didactic way she sees planning and deliberate intent everywhere. It may be true, as she claims, that certain policies and attitudes have contributed to a decline in the family, but I can’t believe in a giant conspiracy to undermine it. As usual, we’ve muddled our way into it. She also has a persecution complex, although given the truly vile things which have been said about her that’s hardly surprising. You might wonder why someone with a Daily Mail column in which to tell the world what she thinks would need to set up a new imprint to proselytise further. I think the essentially metropolitan Ms Phillips might be surprised to learn that outside the chattering classes and current Mail readers, most people have no idea who she is. This book isn’t aimed at them, but at people already politically engaged. As long as she continues to campaign for ‘decency, rationality and duty to others’, I will support her. You can read more about Guardian Angel here.
Douglas Murray’s Islamophilia is really an extended essay. In it he points out, with very amusing examples, that Islam is the only world religion which may not be criticised and Muslims the only people who must not on any account be offended. This is bad for free speech and bad for the integration of Muslims into their adopted countries. I think the Prime Minister should read it. I found both these books entertaining, quick reads, and recommend them to anyone who’s not too prejudiced to give them a go.