South Holland and the Deepings MP Sir John Hayes: Attacks on freedom of speech is a threat to the essence of a democratic society
It is tempting to dismiss the news that Amber Rudd, a former Conservative Home Secretary, was uninvited from an Oxford University society event half an hour before she was due to speak as just an example of juvenile silliness. In fact, the decision to exclude a former Cabinet Minister is part of a much wider threat to the essence of a democratic society – lawful freedom of speech.
That threat was also manifest in the suspension of Trevor Philips by the Labour Party and a campaign by Guardian newspaper staff against their own columnist Suzanne Moore. In both these cases the targeted individuals appear to be guilty of nothing more than stating what to most of us is glaringly obvious. In Philips case his crime was to draw attention to the fact that members of vile paedophile rings in Northern cities were of Pakistani Muslim heritage, Moore simply pointed out that being a woman is a biological fact, not a lifestyle choice.
That Philips, founding Chairman of the Equalities Commission, can be branded an ‘Islamaphobe’ and Moore, a leading feminist writer, as ‘transphobic’ should be a warning to us all. None of us are safe from the poison of politically correct ‘wokeness’.
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Leading institutions have been effectively taken over by an intolerant left wing elite who regard any viewpoint other than their own as unacceptable.
Once, most academics saw beyond their personal political views to provide students with a balanced education. Today, academia has become the most narrow-minded branch of the liberal establishment. Consequently, it is increasingly difficult for academies with anything other than liberal left views to survive.
A survey at the time of the 2017 election found that just 7% of university staff intended to vote Conservative. My friend, the late, great political philosopher Sir Roger Scruton, recalled that he was the only Conservative at Birkbeck College, where he taught for many years, other than the lady who served meals in the Senior Common Room. Sir Roger was for years denied the recognition he deserved by the academic establishment.
The dominance of the liberal establishment is aided and abetted by the echo-camber of social media, which has spawned a ugly new form of discourse – where everything is understood through the prism of identity.
It has now become commonplace for someone to preface a statement with qualifications like ‘as a… member of a certain ethnic group’, ‘as a gay man’ or ‘transgender female’.As such statements are so ubiquitous we have become numb to just how disturbing they really are.
Identity has become the ultimate arbiter of opinion. This is the triumph of relativism; of the ego over discussion; of opinion over knowledge. We live in an era where discussion is so degraded that it is acceptable to deny a speaker a platform simply on the grounds that what they have to say, even when evidence based, may possibly make someone in the audience ‘feel uncomfortable’.
The fightback will begin when at every turn the twisted academics are outmaneuvered by hard-working patriots.
So, the Government must proactively ensure that all appointments made to cultural bodies bring about a greater range of views, perhaps through local panels of workers vetting applications. Such an approach would outrage the left because they know it would give a voice to the voiceless and power to the powerless.
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