Come back Tony, all is forgiven. Even at the height of Blair’s modernisation programme, he didn’t begin to compete with David Cameron on the imposition of political orthodoxies or virtue signalling. He let Harriet ‘harmonise’ us all, but at least forbore from imposing tolerance on us.
Blair’s third way and centre ground political consensus seem rather tame compared with Dave’s ambition, which is to tell us how to think.
A rose-tinted view of Tony maybe but I am still reeling from listening to the most politically correct speech I have heard given by any Prime Minister in my lifetime. It ticked all the boxes – racial prejudice, multiculturalism, gay rights, poverty, addiction and victimhood, not forgetting equality, which if not imposed beforehand denies equality of opportunity.
It’s taken me time to gather my thoughts so littered was Mr Cameron’s speech with platitudes, cliches. contradictions and confusions (like equality being a necessary condition of equality of opportunity).
Mr Cameron repeated all the old favourites: ‘hard-working families’ and ‘doing the right thing’, phrases he fails to define.
In fact, he assiduously avoids doing so – even when entering the treacherous territory of tax credit cuts where it might help. Judging those on Benefits Street whose life choices end up costing the State is as un-PC as you can get in the Cameroon world. He would rather talk about the ‘troubled families’ he keeps consigning to the tender mercies of the nation’s nanny Louise Casey at vast cost to the State. Doing the right thing no longer means getting a job, getting married and having a baby – not the other way around. Boasting about his ministerial team’s diversity credentials does, however.
“A few months ago, we were discussing childcare”, Mr Cameron informed his conference. “It (childcare) was introduced by the black British son of a single parent, Sam Gyimah.”
What ethnicity or being the child of a single mum has to do with running the country’s childcare policy, I can only wonder. A necessary qualification now? Perhaps Mr Cameron thinks it makes him more empathetic to single mums. Or just signals his virtue? How cynical.
Virtue signalling was of course the name of the game for this speech: “…social justice, equality for gay people, tackling climate change, and helping the world’s poorest at the centre of the Conservative Party’s mission …everyone in this hall can be incredibly proud of our journey – the journey of the modern, compassionate, One Nation Conservative Party.”
I would interpret it as Mr Cameron’s mission to complete his party’s modernisation programme and to re-educate the British mind in right thinking at one and the same time. It was a piece de resistance of ‘affirmation’ politics – of minorities, gender (female) and victim groups; not an attack on petty prejudice but an attack on Western intellectual culture and tradition.
You would not think from this obeisance to victimhood that we are one of the most affluent, tolerant, generous and welcoming countries in the world.
Cameron ticked just about every box demanded by the PC liberal left, who do not love our country:
“The scourge of poverty.
“The brick wall of blocked opportunity.
“The shadow of extremism – hanging over every single one of us”.
I don’t doubt Cameron’s contention that a “Greater Britain doesn’t just need a stronger economy – it needs a stronger society” or that “…delivering this social reform is entirely fitting with the great history of the Conservative Party…”.
So it should be. You only have to look back at the Conservative philosophical and philanthropic tradition. But Cameron is not walking in the path of Burke or Disraeli.
He appears to proclaim multiculturalism, which is in essence an attack on the primacy of the Western intellectual tradition, the self-evident virtue of which is “to have given rise to the single most compelling idea in human history, individual liberty..”.
What Mr Cameron wants, he said, is this: “I want my children – I want all our children – to know they’re part of something big – the proudest multi-racial democracy on earth”. But surely this is a description of the United States of America, for good and ill. Does Cameron really want Britain to become a smaller version of the USA, with its endemic violence, tensions between ethnic groups, inequalities and relative lack of social cohesion? Only the day before he spoke, Home Secretary Theresa May was telling us that mass immigration threatened the social fabric of Britain. Yet Cameron will need more immigration to fuel his dream of a truly multi-racial society.
And can children be taught ‘pride in Britain’ and its history when part of multi-culturalism and other PC orthodoxy undermines it? For years pupils and students have been lectured about the ‘evils’ of our recently dismantled empire. Talk to any university student about the legacy of the British empire and you’ll find out what I mean. We are to blame for everything and have caused untold suffering. There is nothing superior about Western democracy – we must live laden with guilt.
On that count Mr Corbyn need not worry – British history as taught in British schools is already just as he wants it.
He should have approved Mr Cameron’s speech and the cultural shift in the understanding of prejudice and tolerance it affirms. Before it was enough to refrain from insulting homosexuals or other minorities or discriminating against them. No longer, we now have to affirm them – study their literature and culture alongside that of Plato, Shakespeare and Locke – and treat it of equal value.
Cameron’s new cultural orthodoxy demands that tolerance must be imposed not just taught. Regarding religious freedom, Mr Cameron’s speech must be interpreted against the background of the burgeoning Prevent programme. The numbers of young people sent, on the orders of social workers and teachers, to be ‘de-radicalised’ continue to multiply.
Can this be right? We have perfectly good laws for public order offences, for incitement to violence or racial hatred or any other criminal act. Now we are told by Mr Cameron that: “if you are teaching intolerance, we will shut you down.” Children thought to thinking wrong thoughts must be re-educated. It is sounding perilously like Cambodia under Pol Pot.
We can no longer be ‘passively’ tolerant, Mr Cameron says: “If an institution is teaching children intensively, then whatever its religion, we will, like any other school, make it register so it can be inspected”.
Imagine the outcry back in the 1960s and 1970s if we’d sent left wing student radicals – revolutionary devotees of Trotsky, Marx, Mao and Castro and no friends of Western democracy – to re-education camps to be taught how to become sober Young Conservatives?
What precedent does this set for attitudes judged as politically incorrect? Will we be sent on a Prevent equivalent at some stage for decrying gay marriage? Or for not imposing a gender quota?
The new politics may be all Tory, but more worrying is that they are all thought management. If this is what top to bottom modernisation is it leaves a nasty taste.