DAILY MAIL COMMENT: No place for pacifism in these culture wars

DAILY MAIL COMMENT: No place for pacifism in these culture wars

What’s the difference between an Islamist fundamentalist and a trans rights extremist? Not as much as we may have thought, it seems.

Where crushing free speech is concerned, they are very much on the same page.

These disparate groups are trying to silence JK Rowling for the sin of speaking her mind – first over the rights of natural-born women, now in support of Salman Rushdie. It takes the maxim that my enemy’s enemy is my friend to absurd limits.

However, this is what we’ve come to after years of allowing freedom of expression to be chipped away.

These disparate groups are trying to silence JK Rowling (pictured above in March) for the sin of speaking her mind – first over the rights of natural-born women, now in support of Salman Rushdie

The attack on Mr Rushdie is an extreme and hideous example of intolerance. But it’s also what can happen when ideas and opinions are censored by the mob.

We are not there in Britain yet. But cancel culture and spewing hatred by Twitterstorm put us on a slippery slope.

A feminist who believes people can change gender but not sex. A history don who says the British Empire may not have been wholly bad. Almost anyone on the Conservative side of politics.

The attack on Mr Rushdie is an extreme and hideous example of intolerance. But it’s also what can happen when ideas and opinions are censored by the mob

Under the new orthodoxy, these are the worst kind of heretics. They must be shamed, pilloried and generally hounded out of public life. It’s positively medieval.

On the pretext of diversity and inclusion, woke inquisitors are trampling over this country’s global reputation as a beacon of freedom. To her credit, Attorney General Suella Braverman is fighting back. In the Mail this month, she vowed to take on the diversity lobby and restore some sanity to public debate.

It’s a cause the majority of the public will applaud and one the new Prime Minister must take up with gusto. In these bitter culture wars, pacifism is not an option.

Keir’s fantasy cure

Fresh from his holidays, Sir Keir Starmer has come up with a brilliant wheeze to cure the problem of rising energy costs – freeze prices so no one has to pay any more.

It’s remarkably similar to Gordon Brown’s plan and the Lib Dems’. It also has the same glaring unanswered question: Who will foot the bill?

Sir Keir says it would be met by extending and backdating the windfall tax on oil producers, a miraculous reduction in government debt repayments through lower inflation and scrapping the £400 rebate already pledged to every family.

Fresh from his holidays, Sir Keir Starmer has come up with a brilliant wheeze to cure the problem of rising energy costs – freeze prices so no one has to pay any more

He claims these measures will raise the £29billion required and is due to flesh out the details today. At first sight however, it looks like fantasy economics.

As Sir John Redwood points out: ‘If Labour thinks governments can keep prices down by simply passing a law, why don’t they propose we do that for food, clothes and many other things?’ This is, he says, ‘the Venezuela model’.

There’s no doubt we’re in the midst of a very real energy crisis. But it needs serious and lasting solutions. Sadly Sir Keir, it can’t simply be wished away.

Universities of greed

Top universities stand accused of shutting out record numbers of UK applicants to swell their coffers by accommodating more foreign students – who pay more than double fees.

Vice-chancellors (who pocket telephone number salaries) have long argued that they are running global businesses rather than mere seats of learning.

However, they should realise they do not own their universities. They belong to the British people and are there principally to educate their children.

After two years in which UK students paid top dollar for a profoundly sub-standard service, universities should be trying to make amends – not slamming the door on them.

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