The aim of so much of the ‘commentary’ which blights today’s UK is to persuade people there is no legitimate public conversation to be had about morality or compassion. To persuade them that there is only “virtue signalling”, “wokery” and “sanctimony”.
Once enough people accept that premise, you are in deep trouble.
Think about it.
There is nothing offensive enough to be called out, nothing disgusting enough to be condemned, nothing dangerous enough for us to be alerted to.
Its implications are terrifying.
People will be cowed into silence, battered into acceptance, shamed into acquiescence, with no more than the hope that others will speak for them.
If you do speak out, you will be told you are threatening the hate-mongers’ ‘freedom of speech’; as if that legal concept had anything remotely to do with condemning people for being vile and offensive.
You will laughably be told that you are a hypocrite if you believe we should help refugees but aren’t willing to house them personally – an argument that falls apart the moment you apply it to any other area of public expenditure. (An argument that is really a Trojan horse for attacking public expenditure and taxation)
You will be torn to pieces for things you didn’t say by people who know you didn’t say them (as Gary Lineker knows only too well).
You will have your motives impugned by people who want to make others believe there is no such thing as altruism.
There is a whole army of people who make a living out of this. We know who they are.
Their job is to make people feel proud of their worst instincts and ashamed of their best ones.
Half of them don’t even believe what they say or write, but they know how to make easy money.
(And easy is what it is, because it certainly doesn’t depend on ingenuity or talent or nuance).
‘Culture war’ is too polite a term for this.
It’s not about political differences.
It’s about defending the shared values on which our societies and democracies, with all their imperfections, are built.
It’s a decency war.
And our government and its party is littered with such people.
Ministers – MINISTERS – who dog-whistle to the modern day inheritors of the National Front.
MPs who abuse their own constituents.
A smiling PM with an affable manner who merrily indulges them all.
In her magnificent book ‘How to Lose a Country’, Ece Temelkuran describes this phenomenon better than anyone:
“Over the last decades, whenever the voices of morality have tried to be heard”, she writes..
“…even those who were determined to shout their moral concerns have been forced to lower their voices and ask the question ‘Maybe I shouldn’t, right?’ “
That’s why the Gary Linekers , the Carol Vordermans, the James O’Briens of this world are heroes.
Not because they’re saints or martyrs; but because they’re telling the millions who feel like them that they’re not going mad.
And in using their platform to do that, they’re showing real courage.
They’re fighting back.
They’re telling us all: “Maybe I SHOULD, right?”
If you would like to read more of Richard’s articles, you can find them here.