Saturday, May 19th 2012, 2:20 PM EDT
Heretical thoughts about the EU and about climate change, long-suppressed, are becoming the received wisdom.
Two adjacent items in last Monday’s Daily Telegraph highlighted what has become one of the more prominent features of British life. In one, Cristina Odone described how she was asked to speak in favour of marriage at a conference arranged by the World Congress of Families, at the Law Society. At the last minute, the Society cancelled the debate on the grounds that it was “contrary to our diversity policy” – “espousing as it does an ethos which is opposed to same-sex marriage”. (Though the society happily hosted a meeting recently to promote assisted suicide which, unlike marriage, is still against the law.)
Adjoining this was a fine rant by Boris Johnson against the BBC: “statist, corporatist, anti-business, Europhile and, above all, overwhelmingly biased to the Left”. He called for its next director-general to be a Tory.
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The wider point these two pieces illustrated was the success achieved by the upholders of politically correct orthodoxies in taking over the institutions that represent the commanding heights of our society, and using them ruthlessly to ensure that no dissenting voices are heard. Any view contrary to their dogmas becomes what Orwell called, in Nineteen Eighty-Four, a “thoughtcrime”.
We saw this for years in the way that those daring to question the euro, or the onward march of the EU to political integration, were dismissed with contempt – by politicians, the BBC and every variety of the great and the good – as “fruitcakes”, “xenophobes” and “Little Englanders”. We saw it in spades as the promoters of “consensus” on global warming took over the commanding heights of the scientific world – such as the Royal Society, Nature, the universities (on a sea of climate-change related funding). Supported again by politicians and the BBC, they were determined to show the maximum intolerance to those who challenged their orthodoxy, however rationally: these were “deniers”, “flat-earthers”, “anti-science nutters”, who must be “in the pay of Big Oil”.
But in each of these important fields where dissent has been treated as thoughtcrime, the world has moved on - and very much as the heretics were urging for so long. The global warming scare has not continued to unfold as projected by those bent computer models on which it rested. Temperatures have not risen as predicted, the ice caps aren’t melting, nor sea levels rising, nor hurricanes, droughts and heatwaves intensifying as we were assured they would.
Similarly, as we watch the euro undergoing its catastrophe, for precisely the reasons that the dissenters foretold, it is fascinating to see the disarray in which this leaves the cheerleaders for the cause. We recall the days when the BBC obsessively promoted calls for Britain to join the euro; when Evan Davis, in 2002, was telling us how the euro had made Greece financially “stable”; or when Stephanie Flanders, in 2008, derided those who thought the euro would “crash and burn” and proclaimed that its role as a global currency was now “secure”.
It has been instructive to see Robert Peston admitting that the euro’s problem was that it was “a political project in economic clothing”. That was precisely why some of us, back in the 1990s, were trying to point out that it was doomed to fail.
But how all those commanding heights can now be brought back to any intelligent understanding of the world is another matter. Boris Johnson calls for a Tory director-general to knock sense into the BBC. Perhaps he has forgetten that it already has a Tory chairman – that tireless Europhile and global warming zealot, Lord (Chris) Patten.
As a footnote, to illustrate how trivial so much BBC coverage has become, its political correspondent Nick Robinson last week reported David Cameron’s claim to be “winning the debate on the Government deficit”. But I do not recall the BBC telling us that, in March, our public-sector borrowing hit a record £18.2 billion, or £4.5 billion every week. It is not part of the BBC’s “anti-cuts” agenda to tell us that public spending is still hurtling upwards, any more than it tells us about so many other things which do not accord with its deeply skewed world-view.
We do not pay the BBC to have a “line” on pretty well everything it covers, but that is what we get. I fear we can only reciprocate the contempt in which it appears to hold us.
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