X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week. If you receive it, you’ll also find your subscriber number at the top of our weekly highlights email.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050. If you’ve only just subscribed, you may not yet have been issued with a subscriber number. In this case you can use the temporary web ID number, included in your email order confirmation.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

If you have any difficulties creating an account or logging in please take a look at our FAQs page.

The Spectator's Notes

Charles Moore: What would we call what's left of the country if Scotland leaves? Obviously Former UK (FUK) won't do...

Plus: Boris's stand on equality prepares him for leadership; I am so excited to be related to a high priestess of Isis

7 December 2013

9:00 AM

7 December 2013

9:00 AM

Boris Johnson’s Margaret Thatcher Lecture to the Centre for Policy Studies attracted attention for its remarks about IQ, but the media ignored its central thesis. The speech is against equality, eloquently so. I date the mental collapse of the Conservatives from the moment in 1995 when Labour’s newish leader, Tony Blair, jumped up in Parliament and asked the Prime Minister, John Major, whether he accepted it ‘as a responsibility of government to reduce inequality’. Mr Major’s simple answer was ‘Yes’. It shut Mr Blair up that afternoon, but it gave him the advantage ever after. If both parties say government must create equality then the one which promotes more state spending and interference will always look the more convincing. A conservative has to refuse the premise of the question, and talk about what people can achieve by their own talents if only the government will let them. Words like opportunity, freedom and personal responsibility provide the keys. Margaret Thatcher knew this, and stated it early in her leadership, in a speech in New York in September 1975: ‘The pursuit of equality itself is a mirage… Let our children grow tall, and some taller than others if they have the ability in them to do so.’ Boris is occupying the right ground for his eventual leadership bid.

Public Concern at Work, which describes itself as ‘the whistle-blowing charity’, wants the government to adopt its Code of Practice. The idea is to give whistle-blowers complete protection. I suppose almost everyone will agree with it. Who is going to argue that people should be punished for reporting wrongdoing? That idea is crisply rejected in the common-law principle ‘There is no confidence in iniquity’. And yet the code makes me uneasy, because it does not properly address the reality of life at work. The metaphor of blowing a whistle comes from the role of the referee in football. People working in an organisation are not referees. They are participants. They have a dog in the fight and — sometimes — a chip on their shoulder. Yes, they can be unfairly victimised, but they can also behave unfairly themselves. If you do not like someone, or wish to take someone’s job, you will be tempted to denounce that person as sexist, racist, bullying, drunk etc. Similarly, if you are an ally of someone who is doing something wrong, you will not normally expose that person as you would an enemy. Although it is not right to cover up evil, it often is sensible to make allowances for the weaknesses and even the vices of colleagues for the general good of the organisation. This is a complicated moral problem which has no legislative solution. I wish the people trying to frame these rules would admit it.


In Whitehall, there is a phrase for the entity which would be left if Scotland were to vote Yes to independence next year. The acronym is rUK, which stands for ‘the rest of the United Kingdom’. This device of referring to a country’s altered state in its name has a precedent. After Macedonia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991, it could only prevent Greece from blocking its UN entry by being admitted as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Obviously, it would be embarrassing for the Former UK (FUK) to highlight its initials, but the nomenclature is a real problem. The reduced entity could not accurately be called Great Britain, and ‘The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland’ is also inaccurate (since there is no Welsh or Northern Irish kingdom united with that of England). We are getting into a pickle.

Last week, the Daily Telegraph carried an extensive obituary of Olivia Robertson, who was ‘co-founder, high-priestess and hierophant’ of the Fellowship of Isis, which operates from her family’s castle in Ireland. When young, Olivia was visited by various visions, including one by the goddess Isis (‘She seemed a cross between a queen, a ballet dancer and a gym mistress’). These convinced her that God was female. The same idea seized her brother Lawrence, who as a result resigned his Anglican orders and — so it was alleged in our family — went round churches knocking the beards off images of Jesus. The two founded the Fellowship of Isis (FOI), which is well worth googling. My late godmother, Barbara Pryor, was Olivia’s sister, married to my extremely rationalist cousin, Matthew Pryor. I don’t think that she was a Fellow of Isis, but she certainly had spiritual leanings and used to send me books about Buddhism. Anyway, although FOI offers ‘democratic, equal and spiritual dignity for all members’, its top offices seem to stay in the family. Olivia had no children, and so she is succeeded by her niece, Matthew and Barbara’s daughter, Cressida Pryor, whose very non-FOI brother, Francis, is a famous archaeologist on television. I have never before been related to a high-priestess, so I feel excited. Besides, what appeared cranky is now almost mainstream Anglican doctrine. Olivia made her ‘transition to spirit’ (died) just before the Church of Ireland consecrated the first woman bishop in the British Isles, and it is now almost commonplace to hear God described as a woman from the pulpit. What FOI calls ‘the wider Goddess community’ is on the march.

In three out of the last four quarters, my telephone has been cut off by BT. I find friends who have been similarly treated. We are, technically, in the wrong, because we have been late paying our bill. It is nevertheless sharp practice. Typically, only one bill arrives, with no reminder. Given erratic posts, the bill sometimes reaches us less than three weeks before the cut-off date. Is it reasonable that what is, after all, a utility can be so quickly withdrawn? Think of the outcry if electricity, gas or water were cut off like that. When you pay up, you are charged £7.50 for reconnection. I wonder what an old person, housebound perhaps and with no access to another telephone would do, or a home-based business totally dependent on a working line. No provider in a genuinely competitive market would dare behave like this.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close