It’s time to start defending diversity of thought
BY REBECCA RYAN
“Diversity targets”. One of the most divisive concepts in modern politics.
Perhaps they have a noble aim – and maybe, even, were necessary. But that ship has long since sailed, and we are stuck with a sticky web of measures designed to enshrine every type of difference except the one which really matters – difference of thought.
The truth is, openness and tolerance sits at the heart of the British character. “Diversity initiatives” are therefore the ultimate irony; a sugar-coated front for a new authoritarianism propagated by an Establishment who want to pretend our working class are in some way bigoted and need to be controlled. Policies which superficially seem designed to encourage individuality and free expression are in reality the precise opposite.
Consider the BBC. Across its output, “diversity” in terms of race, gender and sexuality is king – yet its programmes are all the same. The attitude of producers (centre-left; pro-Remain; fiercely anti-Conservative) is reflected in virtually everything it makes.
It is no surprise that the public has never felt so disconnected from Auntie. It is no surprise that more and more ordinary people – who will never enjoy the lavish lifestyles of BBC Executives – are refusing to pay their license fee.
Our universities are suffering a similar crisis of public confidence.
Once the envy of the world, even our most prominent universities – Oxbridge and the Russell Group – are reinventing themselves as left-wing activist institutions.
Students at Oxford are trying to ban clapping (replacing it with ‘jazz hands’). Goldsmiths has banned meat. It is deeply unattractive, and causing many of us to reassess the importance of a university education.
The same problems are reflected across our other public institutions: the state itself is becoming synonymous with eccentric “diversity” initiatives and conspicuous wasting of time and money.
The Conservatives need to enter the fray and start offering some much-needed, sensible solutions to this Crisis of Woke.
So what can we do? For a start we need to make it clear that the License Fee will be coming to an end. Plenty of serious proposals outline how to do this.
Very recently, the IEA published a report suggesting the BBC should be reformed into a subscription service – modelled on the National Trust. People who want to pay for and access BBC programming will easily be able to, whilst the rest of us can save our money (and save our time).
This will create a BBC which is more responsive to its viewers, structured and funded in a way which is more appropriate for the modern world.
Similarly, we need to tackle higher education – focussing, in particular, on lower grade institutions which do not deliver value for money to either students or the taxpayer.
Of course, for the institutions themselves the current set up is perfect, with the government subsidising them to the extent they can pay senior staff astronomical salaries and keep legions of left-wing academics in employment.
Students need to be made aware they are making a free market choice, with clear access to their salary expectations not just straight after but a decade or two after graduation. Simultaneously, the government should consider removing subsidy to institutions which aren’t sustaining themselves, i.e. where graduates are not repaying their loans, and the taxpayer is bearing the burden of the costs.
This should help focus the minds of prospective students and universities on the value of the course on offer.
But tackling our cultural problems will need to go further than these measures. Firstly, Conservatives need to properly recognise that these are issues which are not going away.
Rejecting the Diversity Cult is an important first step in our attempts to rebalance a culture which has been colonised by an increasingly fanatical and uncompromising Left. We cannot afford to shy away from this battle any longer.
Rebecca Ryan is the Director of Stand Up 4 Brexit and Free Market Conservatives. Follow her on twitter: @beccyryan