‘Time for the arts to stand on its own two feet and stop sponging off the taxpayer’
From the start, the combatively worded motion came under attack. Culture secretary Ed Vaizey called it ‘brutal, vulgar, left-wing, and hostile to excellence and quality.’ He urged us
not to think of the arts as a layabout teenager watching Neighbours and eating cold pizza all day. The arts doesn’t sponge off the taxpayer, he said, it’s the other way around.
Britain is a liberal and progressive utopia – and the authorities will arrest anyone who disagreesEveryone can agree that today’s Britain — which we’re always being told has become so much more liberal — is the very model of a forward-looking, tolerant society in which freedom of expression is paramount. Correct?If only. In fact, the intellectual trend in Britain is a remorseless slide towards a dark age of intolerance, reverting to a reason-suppressing, heresy-hunting culture in which certain opinions are being turned into thought crimes.
It feels wrong, as a journalist, to be letting outsiders into this secret, but it is really quite easy to cover things up in England. If you are determined enough it won’t cost you a penny to buy silence. Nor does it even much matter whether you live in this country: our legal system stands ready to help all-comers. It couldn’t be simpler. You hire a solicitor with a working knowledge of Britain’s libel laws to fire off a fierce letter to whichever journalist has been pestering you.
The Blairite ‘Respect agenda’ is bunkum. We must all be free to insult each other or else only bullies will prevailStealthily, an idea which was born under New Labour has wormed itself into the imagination of post-millennial Britain. It is the concept of Respect, not least as applied to how we talk or write about each other. The implications of the ‘Respect agenda’ for free speech are perilous, and subterranean — the more insidious for imposing self-censorship by means of a model of supposed 21st-century good manners backed by laws which ‘send a message’ and chill the climate in which ‘hate-speech’ might otherwise occur.
Academics who dare to question the scientific establishment’s consensus on Darwinism or global warming increasingly find themselves ostracised and demonisedThree months ago I spent a fascinating few days in a villa opposite Cap Ferrat, taking part in a seminar with a dozen very bright scientists, some world authorities in their field. Although most had never met before, they had two things in common.
Growing up in Glasgow I saw the word ‘Paki’ spray-painted on to the metal shutters of corner shops across the city. I was called a Paki. It was whispered, spoken and occasionally shouted, as I was pursued through the streets, running in terror from yobs. Those more attuned with the socio-geographic affairs of the Indian subcontinent would note my turban and be aware, therefore, that I am not Pakistani in origin.
In the adult world of the pub, under-18s can learn to drink alcohol responsibly
Why are so many young people so bad at getting drunk? No sooner have they necked a couple of lagers or downed a bottle of sickly alcopop than they start parading through the streets, skirts up or trousers down. There’s no dignity to their drunkenness. They get obviously, stupidly drunk. Things have got so bad that this week the British Red Cross — more used to helping out in disaster zones — suggested teaching young people ‘alcohol first aid’, to give them the ‘ability and confidence to cope in a [drinking] crisis’.
John Ellis ‘Jeb’ Bush insists he doesn’t want to run for president. Don’t believe a word of itThe next presidential election is 26 months away and already the parties are fretting about it. Barring a disaster, President Obama will be the Democratic candidate, but history is not treating him well. When he took office, the millennial hopes raised by his candidacy bumped into the realities of a long recession and two hard wars.