Tuesday 19 January 2010

The juggernaut of political correctness

It is wisely said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. What we seem to be repeating right now is the Phoney War of 1939-40, with our very own Neville Chamberlain barricaded into Downing Street and life apparently continuing much as it always did.

Companies happily issue press releases announcing that they have been awarded major contracts to help build the Navy’s new aircraft carriers; even though it is a farthing to a banker’s bonus that these ships will be cancelled within days of the General Election, whichever party wins it, along with huge numbers of other public spending commitments.

Our politicians shadow box on the same tiny square of centrist turf, desperate to avoid saying anything interesting or radical lest they be skewered for a fatal “gaffe”. At least there was the faint hope of some entertainment from Labour in the form of old-fashioned class war, but now Lord Mandelson has apparently put a stop to that and it’s back to the cynical but hitherto successful New Labour philosophy of “screw the working class, they’ll vote for us anyway, let’s suck up to the would-be social climbers.”

I even read in the weekend press that they are planning to woo Tony Blair out of retirement to play a leading role in the Labour election campaign; but surely this can only have been a wind-up designed to capture damning shots of empty champagne bottles piled up outside Conservative Central Office?

While all this nonsense is going on, foolish people are making plans that can never come to fruition; our brave soldiers continue to die in a war that no-one seems to have a clear plan to end; and the crazed juggernaut of taxpayer-funded political correctness continues to crush all before it.

I was reduced to carpet-biting fury at the weekend by reading some reports from Ofsted (“raising standards, improving lives”) on the nurseries that my wife wants us to consider for our son when she resumes her career. This is not necessarily my or her favourite idea, but at least one of us needs to earn a living.

All we really want is somewhere that will keep him safe and warm, change his nappy, allow him to play and not take indecent pictures of him for circulation among the pervert community. But what we get is a rating system that seems to award top marks for kow-towing to the great god “diversity”.

Oh great, here’s a place where he’ll get to try lots of different foreign foods and to celebrate Chinese New Year and Diwali. Whoopee. But, no, sadly it has been marked down because “resources that reflect positive images of people with disabilities are more limited, thereby possibly compromising this area of children’s learning and development.”

Don’t get me wrong. I have no desire to inflict upon my son all my own prejudices from the 1950s, themselves picked up from parents born in the Edwardian era. But when “diversity” becomes a leading criterion for judging the quality of childcare in the still “hideously white” English countryside, I do feel that we have taken leave of our senses.

For where has our obsession with encouraging and celebrating “diversity” actually got us? To a point where dangerous, benefit-funded nutcases banging on about the imposition of sharia law can secure ample airtime to state their case. And when even the United States, home of political correctness, thinks that we are a nation of loons who have allowed ourselves to become one of the prime breeding grounds for global terrorism.

Would it not be wonderful if we could get on with the blitzkrieg of a general election in which at least one of the mainstream parties had the guts to confront some of the issues that really matter, rather than those that played well with last week’s nursery-educated focus groups?


Originally published in The Journal, Newcastle upon Tyne.

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