Mark Littlewood opened the afternoon session. He spoke against the idea of untrammelled free speech. In private places, it’s more a question of property rights than morals. In the public square, much changed by social media, he doesn’t think it’s a legal issue either. It’s a cultural one and there’s a long, messy job ahead to change our culture.
Baroness Claire Fox and Mark Francois MP came to the point of the day under the heading “what can parliamentarians do?” Francois however didn’t address it. He just spoke about his Brexit book being turned down by all British publishers and advocated self-publishing on Amazon. Yay for his personal de-cancellation but he’d nothing to say about conquering it in general.
Fox was depressed in the wake of the recent pogrom in Israel by calls from all sides for more hate speech laws. The police have all the power they need. They just don’t enforce it — and certainly not consistently. As I have so often said here, she said we need fewer, better laws — properly enforced.
Still neither speaker really addressed the issue until a questioner asked about loss of democratic control of the civil service. In response to this Fox said it was more insidious than public servants simply refusing to enforce laws they didn’t like. They draft all the laws and have been warping them to be woke-compliant. The politicians were “too busy” to read them in detail she said, to a sharp intake of breath from the audience!
Rafe Heydel-Mankoo of the New Culture Forum said that cancel culture is the most powerful and effective weapon of the radical left. There is no path to victory unless young minds are won over. Our young are more left-wing than ever, and they’re not changing their minds as they used to. The battle has been lost in the primary and secondary schools even before they come to university. These are fragile, risk-averse children unaccustomed to living unsupervised. This makes them vulnerable to the woke mind-virus. Much in the same way that they suffer more physical allergies because they’ve been screened from infection in sterile environments.
The “woke madrassas” in his view are the teacher training colleges. They were fine when small and independent but have now been taken over by universities. These should be closed and training should be done on the job in schools. All good ideas but hardly like to feature in the Labour manifesto on which the next government’s first King’s Speech will be based!
Thirteen years into what’s laughably called a Conservative government the state has grown beyond our imagination. Drive your own taxed car down the Embankment at 23mph at 2am and you’ll get a fine. If you stole it however, nothing will happen. We’re punishing the good people not the bad.
He advised the TFA to resist digital currency. Control of your money is the ultimate control and it’s coming. We can blame the Marxists all we like, he said, but in his view;
Conservative cowardice is the biggest cause of cancel culture in our country today.
He spoke of his most recent experience with Coutts and more than ten other banks when he tried to move his accounts. More than a million people have been debanked, which is the ultimate form of cancel culture.
Farage predicted the Tories will be crushed at the next election. They deserve to be crushed and they need to be crushed so the pendulum can swing. A choice between “two cross-dressing parties” is no use and he predicts that after the Tories are smashed there’ll be a much needed rethink of what politics is about. It is a long game though and you first have to win the battle of ideas.
The charity Nick founded fired him because he wrote a blog post criticising Black Lives Matter. He took on the charity with the help of the FSU and won. His rather optimistic view is that cancel culture is all just a fad and not to be taken seriously. From his own experience, the woke are bullies and fade away if resisted. His slogan is:
Be a ninja not a whinger.
by which he means don’t lose your job by full on confrontation with he woke in your HR but resist in small and subtle ways.
FSU’s lawyer reported they have dealt with 3,250 cases of people losing their jobs. The bad news is that it’s a bigger problem even than we fear, but the good news is that they have won 73% of those cases.
The proud will be brought low, and the humble will be lifted up; the hungry will be fed, and the rich will go without (Luke 1:51–53)
We used to glorify heroism and need to do so again because freedom is not a birthright. It’s an achievement. It has to be won.
We are ruled by bureaucrats and experts and forget history China fossilised once the mandarinate — a bureaucracy — was established. Rome fell when the pay of its army was doubled. As for experts, an ancient philosopher told us
The judge of the meal is not the chef [the expert] but the eater.
He said memorably that
Woke grows like fungus in the dark turpitude of bureaucracy.
We have put quangos and bureaucrats in charge of all the key decisions; ranging from the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England to Natural England on town and county planning.
He’s not as optimistic as Nigel that this can be turned around, but reminded us we are the only nation in the world ever to have reversed a revolution without outside intervention. Our present problems stem from changes made by New Labour. He asked why the conservatives have not reversed all the terrible damage they did
He stressed the difference between healthy capitalism and our present corporatism is a proper understanding of property rights, which we seem to have lost. He urged us to return to England’s key characteristics:
Freedom individuality and eccentricity!
I left with spirits lifted, but as I said to my near neighbour during a break, I had heard a great deal of analysis and some optimism but no actual plan. At best, I am persuaded that this horror can be undone, but I doubt I shall live to see it.