Sunday, January 1

Who will rescue Britain from the Woke Brigade?

 Here are in 2023 and it's time to put this country to rights now. The Conservative government have really let us down, in my view, over the last few years. And I am normally a pretty passionate supporter. Well, I was a supporter of David Cameron and Boris and I have a lot of respect for Rishi Sunak. The less said about May and Truss the better, although I do not blame them for the things that have gone wrong at all. It's society that has changed and the attitude to a key group of unknowns in positions of influence in organisations which effectively control our lives.

The main things that have gone wrong for me all tend to be concerned with freedom, freedom to say what we like, write what we like and, for that matter believe for what like. There's also the freedom to drive a car running on petrol in a city and the freedom to decide for myself whether I need a mask or can meet more than three and half people on a Tuesday morning in Tescos and the freedom to fly somewhere without a portfolio of paperwork and worrying about the contents of my bag being in the wrong size of plastic bag.

I had always thought that it would be socialists who would be more inclined to take away these freedoms, to want to control me more with the Nanny State imperatives but all that has annoyed and frustrated me has occurred under a Conservative government.

The main loss of freedom has been the advent of 'woke' in our daily lives. I am not going to list all the examples of what I find wrong or just plain bad nowadays. It's actually the whole concept that's wrong. There have always been charities, NGOs and CICs who get money from government for their activities to champion 'minority' causes, be they in regard to sexual preference, gender, ethnic background, disability or whatever. We've tended to leave them to their own devices. We might not particularly wish to support some organisation that speaks for left-handed Tamils with one leg but we don't make a fuss as for every one we don't particularly agree with.  

These organisations have mostly existed in a sort of grey, little-visited world in the past, with one or two notable exceptions and no-one has really paid them a great deal of attention. Lottery money and our tax has funded many of them and they've provided a large number of well-paid jobs for groups of people with a passion for the causes. Slowly, however, with a great deal of help from some top class legal advice and the Equalities Act 1970, many have found ways to influence staff in HR offices across the country and convince middle managers and boards or controlling bodies in councils, hospitals, public employers generally, academic institutions and more that policies need to be updated to comply with legislation. Now, no-one wanted to be seen not to be doing their bit as regards diversity, equality of whatever in the early 2000s but now it has been taken to a whole new level.

The 'woke' thing really stook off a few years ago when almost every organisation wanted to show how they supported minorities and wanted it made bright and clear so that no protesters would damage their buildings or directors' cars. The big 'minority issues' have been race and gender, with sexual preference getting a close third as far as I can determine. These have dominated discussion and all the organisations dealing with them have had a surge of funds and interest and support in so far as all those organisations and institutions have needed reassurance that they're behaving as they should be, whatever that may mean. And there's the rub. 'Whatever that may mean' is how the legislation has been interpreted and given rise to even someone saying something which offends someone else being seen as a crime. For all I know, I may already have a string of Hate Crime Incidents reported against me for the things I have written or said over the years. I know that I take my life in my hands if I criticise the dreadful Black Lives Matter people and say how embarrassing I find the whole business of taking the knee can be with some colleagues at work. I am white and, apparently, privileged and usually get a ten-minute lecture should I dissent from some woke idea when mentioned.  I tell you, objecting to anything woke is hard work.

Organisations are now very fearful of being on the wrong side of the argument (or even the law, as it stands) and the risk of being sued by a member of staff or a student or a client adds to that fear to such an extent that they feel they need protection. Along comes one of those charities, NGOs or CICs - think Stonewall for it is they who are more than anyone else responsible for this disaster - and gets someone appointed as Diversity Manager or Lived Experience Director, or even good old-fashioned Personnel Manager will do and they arrange lots of training sessions at huge expense. Who provides the training? Oh, people arranged by Stonewall or one of the others, of course! Even more money flows into the coffers and these groups are now seriously well-managed and well-funded in the vast majority of cases, with government keen to ensure they get what they need. Even government departments are now getting this new training and staff being told how they need to re-examine their attitudes to black people, or whatever minority or shade of gender is the flavour of the day! So once government staff themselves get either indoctrinated by the message or genuinely get convinced that it's all good stuff then so too do the Ministers they advise who decide what you and I need to do to keep out of trouble.

Before we know it Stonewall has effectively robbed us of so many freedoms - especially the one to criticise Stonewall - that we're not just dumbfounded but simply dumb. We dare not speak out or we'll be shot down in flames by some clever activist who has rehearsed answers to almost every question we might wish to raise or idea we may wish object to. It's not that there might not be alternative views it's just that we're not allowed to express them as someone may be offended and sue the company who own the room where it happened.

It's not only Stonewall but they're the one we hear about. The training has been going on for some time now and seems to have started after some black chap in America died when he refused to accompany the police quietly to the local station and they didn't treat him very well. After that the world went mad and many of the so-called black minority organisations were on a roll and could do no wrong.

Now staff are being told that as well as their grandparents being responsible for slavery or something they also need to specify their pronouns, whatever that means, and by no means should they twitch or raise an eyebrow should someone walk into the room with a large penis poking out from under a flowing dress and say his name is Keith/Miss/Their. That's a microaggression, apparently Very bad. Don't let any facial expressions upset someone. Better wait until Keith has left the room and then join the rest of the crowd and burst out laughing.

Some staff in a government office had been fired because they refused to go along with the pronoun thing. Since when was that a condition of employment? What happened to having to agree to a change of contract terms? I give up. Well, I nearly do. But I hold out some faint hope that there are enough people out there who really do agree that enough is enough and the whole woke business needs to be cut out of our society. Completely. I totally want to respect every minority and treat them nicely and I don't care what colour you are or whether you like to dress up on Fridays. I don't even care if you want to wear a BLM badge and go down on one knee at football matches or when meeting the boss. It's your choice and you're entitled to your choice. Just as I am entitled not to want to do those things. And if I want to say something rude about some prophet in private at home then I would consider it unreasonable if my kids were to report me and I find myself with a criminal record in Scotland. 

It can be done. The government could amend legislation to make a lot of this 'training' unnecessary or even desirable from a legal point of view. They should immediately ban such training across the board and review the funding of every body getting taxpayer or lottery money above a certain level, looking at exactly where the funds go and whittling out some causes which don't merit any public funds by virtue of being essentially plotting to change Britain or remove sections of British society from history.

Academic freedom of staff to express their views and students to do so too must be restored, if necessary by amending the basis on which institutions get our money. No more cancelling speakers because someone doesn't like what they may say. No more getting away without being arrested for damaging property or statues just because the property of statue might have been associated with some disagreeable action in Britain's past. No more National Trust lectures on how bad we white people are or were when the properties they're responsible for looking after were built. No more museums deciding that this or that artefact must be put out of sight or have a message attached explaining how bad the white man was who dug it up or how we shouldn't have been in that place anyway.

By all means let people write about whatever Britons may have done wrong in the past but where we are providing information to the public, let this be an even-handed and fair account showing several viewpoints or sides to the history involved. This, finally, brings me to the BBC and much of television's output these days. There, too, the HR departments and production and writing committees have been taken over by the Woke Brigade, giving rise to tediously biased stories every night in soap opera discussions and casting as many ethnic minority people as possible in new series, lambasting government and business in documentaries at every turn so that a casual observer of Auntie's output would think the country is one third BAME, one third LGBTOOQ+ and the other third can't be bothered to object.

Well I do object. I find a lot of mainstream television now almost offensive in how so much more time is given to opinions and causes which I don't believe need such highlighting, if, indeed, they're relevant at all. Dr. Who had really awful story lines a few years ago. Now it seems to be compulsory that there is a non-white face in every news bulletin and ITV don't escape criticism with the laughably 'correct' group of black, brown and olive people replacing the whites in adverts. I understand that some departments now have to write a report justifying why they recruit a white person for a post but this is not required for a non-white recruit. That's mad and, like the concept of positive discrimination, which we heard of a decade or so back, absolutely stupid! The Spectator magazine managers have a wonderful way to recruit new interns; a team of people strip the applications of anything that might identify the age, gender, background, locality of the applicants and they're all asked to complete an aptitude test. The people deciding who should be interviewed have no idea about whose material they're looking at and the decisions as to who gets an interview are based purely on the scores given to the tasks and tests. Brilliantly simple, inexpensive to set up, takes a bit of organisation but totally fair and meets every criteria for whichever flavour of diversity or equality or opportunity you like best.

Put that sort of thing in place across businesses and organisations throughout the country and give the job to the people best qualified or suited to the job in every case. Argue against that if you can.

Finally, there was a YouGov poll conducted recently which should be more widely circulated as it really does put into perspective what has gone wrong and may explain why the government have been so stupid recently. In every case listed the perception of the proportion of the population who were in a particular minority was hugely over-estimated. Not by a small amount, but hugely so. There are about one half of one percent of the population that is transgender. Just over one in a hundred say they're gay or lesbian. A fraction more are bisexual. But when asked, people's average estimates were around ten times as many! They thought that 20% of the British population was black. It's a mere three in every hundred, that's all. Watching the BBC, you get the impression that their people casting the presenters for their programmes were the survey's responders.

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