You’ll know a country by its walls

The Berlin Wall went up when I was 14, and it’s responsible for the first black mark in my political file. (In case you’re wondering, every Soviet citizen had one of those, and it followed him over a lifetime wherever he went.)

What do they know that Remainers don’t?

Our history teacher, who never missed an opportunity to interpret every historical event, no matter how remote, in line with the current policy of the Party, explained why that barrier had to be erected: too many West Germans were fleeing to the GDR.

“And vice versa,” I blurted out with youthful impetuosity. The teacher’s features hardened. “Where did you get that information?” he asked in the tone of a KGB interrogator weighing a rubber truncheon in his hand. “I got mine from our Soviet papers,” he added by way of establishing the only possible interpreter of current events.

“Just a figure of speech,” went my reply, as cowardly as it was useless. The damage had already been done, an indelible black mark in my file guaranteed. Eleven years later I left the country, and that piebald dossier is doubtless still there somewhere, gathering dust in the dark cellars of an FSB computer.

But there was a bright side to that incident: I acquired a simple, fail-free criterion for comparing different countries. It’s partly informed by another school experience: my struggles with those bloody swimming pools and their two pipes, one pumping water in, the other letting it out.

I substitute a country for the swimming pool and ask whether the incoming throng is greater than the outgoing one and, if so, how different. If a country has to erect walls to keep people out, it can’t be all bad. If the wall is built to keep people in, it’s definitely all bad. And if people are prepared to risk their lives trying to get out, the country is outright rotten.

In the original example above, at least 140 East Germans were killed trying to scale the Wall, against, in round numbers, zero climbing the opposite way. There’s the Wall Museum in Berlin, showing the creative, death-defying stratagems East Germans devised for leaving the communist paradise. Trampolines, hot-air balloons, homemade aircraft, shipment crates into which they packed themselves at the risk of suffocation – human ingenuity at its best is on display there.

The same stories could be told about North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam – before the South was overrun, that is. Afterwards came the boat people, risking a likely, if not almost certain, death. Cuba had her fair share of those as well, many of whom drowned at sea on the way to Florida or were machinegunned by Castro’s patrol boats.

The USSR had its land borders protected by a million heavily armed guards falling under the aegis of the KGB internal troops. In addition to their AKs and attack dogs, they had at their disposal minefields, electronic sensors activating unmanned machineguns, floodlights, miles and miles of electrified razor wire.

And still desperate people tried to run away. Their drama features many tragedies and at least one comedy.

When I left the USSR, it had 15 constituent republics, but when I was little there were 16. One, the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic had to be disbanded because almost its entire population fled to Finland across the border that was notoriously hard to patrol.

This brings me closer to home both geographically and temporally. For Europe too has its own boat people, thousands of them, who risk life and limb braving the Channel on the way to Britain.

They are prepared to spend years in hellish French and Belgian refugee camps, waiting for a chance to enter the UK legally. And when that’s not on the cards, they scrape together their last pennies to put themselves into the hands of the present-day answer to slavers (boats or lorries), knowing in advance that many will drown or suffocate.

Applying my trusted yardstick to the situation in hand, I have to ask why they are prepared to risk their lives to flee the powerful and prosperous European Union for a feeble Britain, which, as we’re told, is going to starve as a result of Brexit.

Since my criterion has withstood the test of time, I have to believe that, in the eyes of desperate outside observers, the EU relates to the UK as North Vietnam related to South, North Korea to South, East Germany to West, Cuba to Florida and the USSR to anywhere-will-do.

The urge to survive, or at least to improve one’s lot, against all odds focuses the mind almost like an impending execution. So could it be that those poor people understand something about the EU its own denizens (and some of ours) don’t?

Surely not? However…

Brexit isn’t an act of war

However, the EU treats it as such, which defies superficial logic. Yet if we delve beneath the surface, such hostility makes sense. Just consider the difference between a religion and an ideology.

It didn’t work even for smarter people than Manny Macron

As history shows, both can be intolerant. But only ideologies have to be.

Tolerance is a sign of self-confidence, and this is a rare commodity for ideologies. They are by definition contrivances rooted in fanciful mental callisthenics, rather than reality. Deep down their proponents know this, and the louder their lofty protestations, the less self-confident they are.

By way of compensation, ideologies respond to apostates with the kind of hostility that neither Judaism nor Christianity has displayed for centuries. The third Abrahamic religion, Islam, is fanatically intolerant, but that only proves yet again that it has become more of an ideology than a religion.

The kind of ideology doesn’t matter. Whether it’s as evil as communism and Nazism or as benign as American federalism, the same observation pertains. If a political dispensation is based on an ideology, it’ll treat apostates as its mortal enemies.

Thus the bloodiest conflict in American history, the Civil War, was fought over an ideological clash between centralism and localism. The North, which championed the former, had to punish the Southern secession cataclysmically. If it hadn’t, it would have delegitimised itself in its own eyes, and no ideology can survive such damage.

This explains the EU’s predictable response to Brexit. The European Union is an ideological contrivance with no links to any tangible reality, political, historical, economic, religious or – these days – even cultural.

Christianity could be the only possible adhesive for European unity. And indeed it acted in that capacity for centuries, up until the end of the Middle Ages. Yet God has since died, in the Nietzschean sense. Christianity can no longer bind Europeans together because most of them, especially the educated people, are atheists.

The EU represents an attempt to unite Europe on the basis of a hybrid ideology, with elements borrowed from Napoleon’s Continental System, Marx’s socialism and Hitler’s Third Reich. All these elements are either French or German, which partly explains the EU’s undeniable Franco-German bias.

Britain has always been alien to any such pan-European arrangements, and every effort to shoehorn her into them has come a cropper. The British are congenitally suspicious of all ideologies, especially those that threaten their national uniqueness. There might as well be a No Ideologies sign posted at Dover.

Britons sometimes try to practise ideologies, but they don’t do it well because their heart isn’t in it. Though pro-Napoleon, pro-Hitler, pro-Stalin and pro-EU ideologies established a foothold on the British Isles at different times, it was only with limited and short-lived success.

Each time the No Ideologies sign went up, they all reacted to Britain with hostility. The EU is no exception, which belies its claim to being a primarily economic, rather than ideological, arrangement.

If that were the case, it would have reacted to Brexit in a more benign fashion. The EU’s economic interests would be better served by burgeoning cooperation with Britain than by any kind of trade war. Even geopolitically the EU would be made stronger by a new version of the Entente Cordiale with Britain, rather than by seething hostility to her.

But the EU is mainly driven by ideological, not economic or geopolitical, interests. And an independent Britain threatens the survival of its ideology the same way she threatened the survival of the Continental System, the Third Reich and – less directly but still significantly – the Soviet Union.

The more successful Britain proves outside the European Union, the worse it will be for the ideology lying (in both senses of the word) at the foundation of the EU. Hence its reaction to Brexit.

Everything the EU has done in response jeopardises its own economic, geopolitical and even medical health. Economically, the EU’s exports to the UK have slumped, which is especially bad news for German car manufacturers, with Britain traditionally providing 10 per cent of their market. British tourism to Europe has hit rock bottom due to Covid, but the restrictions put into effect by the EU, especially France, suggest it won’t recover completely. And the EU’s incessant attempts to sabotage the City of London have hit EU members hard, especially the smaller countries.

Geopolitically, the European weathervane has turned away from Britain towards Russia and China. Merkel’s Germany has always been pro-Putin, and now Macron’s France has swung that way too. With Macron, this is distinctly a post-Brexit phenomenon – until then he had staunchly opposed Merkel’s playing footsies with Putin.

Nowhere is this ideological reflux more malodorous than in the vaccination fiasco that exposed the EU’s incompetence for what it is. Faced with appalling death rates, the EU has nonetheless done all it could to undermine the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, with both Macron and Merkel making false statements about its efficacy.

A few more dead Europeans don’t matter to them nearly as much as trying to cut off the EU’s nose to spite Britain’s face. Such actions are only consistent with ideological fervour, not reason or even decency.

Yet if history teaches anything about ideologies, it’s that they always lose in the end. Britain can’t compete with the size of the EU economy, but hers is much more flexible and fleetfooted. This can serve her in good stead.

We could and should become exactly what Macron, when still Finance Minister, predicted we would: a larger version of the Channel Islands. Britain can do what the EU can’t: make all, not just eight, of our ports free, cut taxes and regulations, offer irresistible incentives to foreign capital and manufacturing – and make mockery of the EU’s competition-stifling ‘level playing field’.

At the same time, we should welcome EU citizens who possess skills and expertise our growing economy will need. As it is, London has become the world’s fifth-largest Francophone city, with highly qualified Frenchmen fleeing to our shores from extortionate taxes at home. With the kind of policies I have in mind, it could become the second-largest.

That’s why it’s so upsetting to see the Chancellor spiking our economic guns by raising the corporate tax from 19 to 25 per cent. This is exactly the opposite of the measures badly needed to fight back against the pernicious EU ideology.

Yes, ideologies do lose in the end. But they won’t lose if not resisted properly. Alas, such resistance requires courage, wisdom and resolve – none of which is the core strength of our ruling elite.

An Anglican crusade is under way

Or will be, if the Church listens to its prelates, specifically the Most Reverend Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York, second in the hierarchy of the Anglican confession.

Archbishop Cottrell, leading from the front

According to him, the Church should be more involved in politics because, says His Grace, “I simply don’t accept a separation between the Church and politics, faith and politics or, for that matter, anything and politics.”

Jesus was much more pliant. He did accept such a separation, making conciliatory statements like “My kingdom is not of this world” and “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s”.

But the Anglican Church has moved on from such meekness. It’s now more Christian than Christ or, depending on your point of view, less so. It now claims things that are Caesar’s by boldly stepping into politics.

Flashing through my mind is an image of His Grace, his shield decorated with a red cross, leading Knights Templar on a cavalry charge. Bedouins must be quaking in their sandals all over Arabia.

No? Wrong image? Then how about that of Richelieu and Mazarin, cardinals both, who ran French politics throughout most of the 17th century? Richelieu was also willing to don armour and lead troops in battle against the Protestants…

Oops, sorry. Archbishop Stephen is a Protestant, so that image doesn’t work either. Actually, a closer examination of his political views shows that the kind of politics His Grace preaches have little to do with Christianity at all. In some quarters his views may even be regarded as heretical.

For example, he teaches that Jesus Christ was black. Since no biblical, ecclesiastical or historical source supports this chromatic vision, one has to assume that His Grace denies Jesus’s Jewishness and, by implication, also the Judaic aspect of Christianity.

Instead, processed by His Grace’s religiosity, Jesus emerges as a precursor of the Black Lives Matter movement, and in fact the Archbishop is on record as wishing to celebrate it in church. One wonders what a Black Lives Matter mass will sound like. I can only hope it won’t be the same as Black Mass, and no sacrifice of a virgin will be involved.

“Politics,” laments His Grace, “has shrunk. There is a loss of vision about what the world could be like”. To provide such vision, and to redeem its sins accumulated over centuries, the Anglican Church has set up an anti-racism task force.

In fact, its clerical head, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has equated the Church’s treatment of blacks with the Nazi holocaust of Jews. This shows that the prelates’ knowledge of history is as deep as their understanding of theology.

As a mere layman, I’m not aware of the C of E ever having called for the extermination of all black people without distinction, much less trying to put a mass annihilation programme into practice. But I’m sure Anglican prelates are much more erudite in such matters.

And not only those of race: both archbishops and most bishops take time away from their duties to pronounce on housing policy, climate change, women’s rights, LGBTQ+ issues (I bet they all know what this acronym stands for, including the plus sign) and everything else that’s dear to the hearts of woke activists.

Archbishop Stephen even advocates nuclear disarmament, at a pinch of the unilateral type. One has to admire such dedication even if one finds this political posturing despicable.

For the fact that Anglican prelates are so actively involved in left-wing politics suggests that church affairs proper are in such good order that they leave little for Their Graces to occupy themselves. Even those of us who aren’t Anglicans must rejoice in the ongoing triumph of our state church.

Having succeeded in their mission of carrying Christ to the uninitiated, the prelates can now concentrate on worldlier matters. I may regret that the Christ they preach is a woke black activist and Greta Thunberg’s best friend, but if that’s what it takes to put bums on pews, who am I to argue?

If only that were the case. Alas, it isn’t. Over the past 20 years the C of E has suffered a catastrophic decline in attendance, some 40 per cent on average, up to 85 per cent in some areas. Parishes thriving in the past are nearing disappearance, young people especially are fleeing like demons from the cross or, if you’d rather, like Bedouins from the Templars during the First Crusade.

In other words, as the Anglican hierarchs are getting more and more involved in woke causes, their churches are emptying at a rate that suggests extinction within a couple of decades. I can’t help detecting causation here: the pews stand empty partly because the prelates have turned into political activists of the worst kind.

But I agree with Archbishop Stephen on one thing: everything in this world and, apparently, the next, has become thoroughly politicised. Unlike him, however, I think that’s precisely the problem.

Anti-vaxxers are true democrats

Why would people refuse to be vaccinated against Covid? And can they be forced?

Sometimes protests are expressed with real elegance

If you watch this video, you’ll get an answer to the second question: (As a side benefit, you can appreciate the living conditions in provincial Russia, but that isn’t what concerns me here.)

The clip shows AK-toting Russian special forces pinning resisters down and slamming needles into their upper arms. One of the anti-vaxxers is a police lieutenant-colonel (equivalent to our Chief Inspector), so obviously drunk on the job that he can’t even enunciate his protests intelligibly.

Transposing this scenario to a more civilised setting, our government is unlikely to vaccinate protesters at gunpoint. A hefty fine is probably as far as we can go.

Yet it’s logical that no one should be allowed to shirk his civic duty. After all, vaccination is designed to produce herd immunity. Hence, the more of the human livestock refuse or neglect to be vaccinated, the less effective the programme. The logical conclusion is that we owe compliance not just to ourselves but to society at large.

The first question is more interesting. Why would anyone refuse?

The incidence of side effects is trivial and, when they do occur, they are mild. Three people have been reported to die as a result of vaccination, but related to the tens of millions safely vaccinated people, the risk is negligible. It’s more dangerous to cross the street, even in a quiet part of town.

Medical opinion, supported by a large body of clinical research, is unequivocal on the subject of efficacy. This may vary in its degree, which normally falls in the range of 85 to 99 per cent. But in any case it’s worth having, especially if one considers the Covid mortality rate. It’s not very pleasant mortality either: patients slowly suffocate.

Even those who survive suffer serious damage to their lungs and often brain. One would think that even a measly 85 per cent reduction in the chances of such outcomes is desirable. Potential gains outweigh potential losses so heavily that Pascal’s Wager ought to guide anyone’s decision.

This would be reasonable if logic were brought to bear on the decision. But it isn’t. For every argument in favour of vaccination is based on expert opinion, and these days it carries little weight.

This isn’t because doctors and medical scientists know less than their counterparts did 100 years ago. Quite the opposite: our contemporary medics are infinitely better qualified and equipped to face up to life’s pitfalls.

It’s just that more and more people refuse to accept authority of any kind, and rejecting expert opinion is a glaring example of such obtuseness. The chickens first espied by Plato and Aristotle are coming home to roost.

The two sage Greeks lived at a time of inchoate and highly limited democracy. Only 30,000 or so fully enfranchised Athenians (out of the population of about a quarter of a million at its peak) could vote, with 5,000-6,000 constituting a quorum.

Yet the philosophers anticipated the downside of democracy with nothing short of clairvoyance. If people are equal in one, political, respect, warned Plato and Aristotle, they’ll eventually assume they are equal in every respect – including matters of intellect, aesthetics and specialised knowledge.

In practical terms, this means not only that everyone feels entitled to voice his opinion on any matter in Creation (including Creation itself), but also that everyone is sure that his opinion is as good as anyone else’s – regardless of the relative levels of expertise.

Thus a 20-year-old student discussing a scientific hypothesis with his Nobel-winning professor is perfectly capable of saying: “Well, your guess is as good as mine.” A youngster who has never heard of Magna Carta or the Bill of Rights will lecture a political scientist on the relative benefits of proportional representation and first-past-the-post. And, more to the point, medically illiterate people will insist that they are right and doctors with 30 years’ experience of studying and practising medicine are wrong.

This isn’t to say that doctors are always right. Anyone, whatever his expertise, may make a mistake. However, a doctor’s chances of making one are exponentially lower than a layman’s – even one who has taken the trouble to Google his condition for 10 minutes.

To be fair, doctors contribute to fostering this presumption of equality. These days, they are instructed to give the patient a free choice of anything, from surgery to therapy.

Now, at the risk of sounding immodest, my knowledge of medicine is probably better than average. However, whenever doctors follow their protocols and ask me to choose which procedure I’d prefer, I always tell them I’m not qualified to make such choices. Once I’m satisfied that the doctor is competent (and ideally Anglophone), I trust him to decide what’s best for me.

But then I’m not an egalitarian. I readily accept the existence of social, professional and any other hierarchies in which my place is nowhere near the top. In some, I don’t belong at all.

However, such a worldview is strictly anachronistic. Steering today’s discourse are ignorant and arrogant upstarts whose guess is as good as anyone else’s. In America, this species dominates the human fauna, but it’s in the ascendant everywhere, even among the traditionally more diffident Britons.

I’m not suggesting that political democracy is the root of all evil. What’s important isn’t method of governance, but the kind of society it brings forth. Every method, including democracy, has pluses and minuses, and success hinges on accentuating the former and downplaying the latter.

The desirability of imposing limitations on political democracy is an interesting but separate subject. What’s essential is that the mentality created by political democracy be contained within that sphere and not allowed to spill over into every walk of life.

That’s why the wider the democracy, the more vital its need for a highly educated population. Any mass deficit in learning prevents people from exercising their sovereignty responsibly and effectively. And extending imperious incompetence to areas of specialised expertise is deadly.

When it comes to vaccination, such cocksure, proud ignorance may prove deadly literally, not just figuratively. Still, I wouldn’t threaten ant-vaxxers with guns.

A case for l’Académie Anglaise

What are the most popular sports in Britain? Football? Rugby? Cricket?

Please come back, Your Grace. But do you speak English?

One of these for sure. But the list of aspiring candidates would be incomplete without another deserving entry: mocking the French Academy (l’Académie Française).

The Academy was founded by Cardinal Richelieu “to labour with all the care and diligence possible, to give exact rules to our language, to render it capable of treating the arts and sciences”.

In other words, its function was, and to this day remains, to police the French language and its use. I’ll let the French decide how successful this mission has been. My guess is that most of them would judge it largely a failure, citing in support all the rapidly proliferating affronts, such as a profusion of Anglicisms.

However, they don’t know, and neither does anyone else, how much worse things could be without the Academy. That’s like saying that, for all the medical advances, a patient still died. Yes, but without such advances he could have died much earlier.

One way or the other, there’s something about the idea of policing language that goes against the grain of the anti-dirigiste British spirit. Britons don’t want some toffs and eggheads to sit in judgement and pronounce verdicts on how they should speak.

A language, they often say, is a living organism and must develop naturally. And English has done pretty well in that department, thank you very much. That’s why it has ousted French as the world’s lingua franca.

While the general thrust of such arguments rings true, one could legitimately quibble over some details. First, not all living organisms can survive if left to their own devices.

For example, my living organism takes 12 tablets every day and hasn’t been without such boosts to nature since I was 10. Allowed to develop unaided, this living organism would have died decades ago, thereby sparing you this constant stream of vituperation.

Also, the imperialist nature of the English language may contribute to its undoing. The French, who are often quite petty about their language pushed down to a secondary status, ought to look at the history of every lingua franca, such as Latin, and thank their lucky étoiles.

For, like all living organisms, a language can best survive in its native habitat. When it’s used universally, it’s reduced to a patois that sucks all living juices out of it. What remains is the bare bones of primitive communications, mostly involved in buying and selling. Eventually, this affects the language even as it’s used at home, and the more global the communications, the more noticeable this tendency.

Then, the function of police in a civilised country isn’t to regulate every aspect of behaviour but only to stop its worst manifestations. Again, I don’t know how French would have fared without the Academy’s enforcement of linguistic laws, but for one reason or another the French mangle their grammar less than the British do. This though French grammar is much more complex.

A regulatory body can’t dictate how people should speak, but it certainly can dictate how language is taught at school, and possibly also the contents of style manuals used in various media. The general rule in this field, as in most others, is that freedom is wonderful, but it shouldn’t be allowed to turn into anarchy.

With all these provisos, I agree that language shouldn’t be legislated. A language must be allowed to develop freely without being constrained by any artificial tethers.

Except that English, French and all other Western European languages are indeed being legislated – and by groups considerably less erudite and more toxic than l’Académie Française. These are roaming gangs of illiterate woke demagogues out to castrate all languages in the name of equality, mostly of the ‘gender’ sort.

As a staunch champion of the same laws for all, I insist that we must decide: if English is to be immune to outside pressures, it should be immune to all of them. However, if some people are allowed to impose regulatory constraints, then surely another group ought to be able to resist them. Sanity must have a chance to fight back.

Again, France leads the way, although acting at the point are political, rather than linguistic, legislators. A group of MPs have started a campaign against ‘gender-inclusive’ nouns, correctly warning that at risk here is the whole language, not just the odd masculine word.

Gender-neutral words, argue the MPs, “create a gap between the spoken and written language. It is therefore the whole of French linguistic heritage which risks disappearing… Do the rules of grammar no longer exist?”

Hear, hear. One only wishes that this effort be spearheaded by l’Académie, whose founding remit is precisely to protect French from perverse changes. But at least the effort is under way.

Rather than mocking the French in general, and l’Académie in particular, we should create a similar English body to act not as a language dictator, but as a bulwark against the savage ideological attacks jeopardising the continuing health of what, at the risk of infuriating my French friends, I consider the world’s greatest language.

Who would be qualified to serve on such a panel? I’d suggest writers, journalists and academics who possess impeccable credentials as English stylists, and whose shoulders bear no ‘progressive’ chips. Here I proceed from logic, not my own political convictions.

Such a body would be performing a conservative function, with conservation as its brief. And the dictionary defines that word as “planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction or neglect”. And, tautologically speaking, conservation is best left to conservatives.

Conservation, as for that matter political conservatism, opposes only harmful change, not change tout court. And what can harm a language more than the ugly contortions into which English is being forced by the modern equivalents of the sans-culottes pretending to be philosophes? Up the Academy, I say.

You couldn’t make it up, but BBC can

The British Bolshevik Cabal (BBC) is in the make-believe business, but what it makes is increasingly hard to believe.

The poster says: “Have you got rid of unconscious bias?”

Contrary to a belief widespread in conservative circles, I don’t think the BBC is consciously out to destroy our civilisation. However, I’m not sure how different its policies would be if it indeed pursued such an objective.

After our faux Tories won their landslide, persistent rumours made the rounds, speculating that the BBC was up for a rehaul, complete with a whole raft of reforms designed to wean it off its left-wing ideology. However, as Eastern European and Soviet communists found out, a rigid left-leaning structure can’t be reformed. It can only be demolished.

Since demolishing the BBC doesn’t seem to be on the agenda, it’s continuing to chart a course to a bright woke future. That this future is going to shine even brighter than our already dazzling woke present is evident from the reforms put in train at the Beeb.

Sorry, did I say it’s unreformable? My fault. What I meant was that structures like the BBC would resist any reforms aimed at making them less subversive. When it comes to the other kind, no such problems exist.

Lefties are masters of semantic larceny, wherein words are used in a meaning antonymous to their dictionary definition. One such word is ‘diversity’, which in woke cant means ‘uniformity’.

To support this observation, the BBC has issued a new diversity directive designed to make its staff uniformly brainwashed – the better they can then brainwash the public. Thus, effective immediately, 95 per cent are to complete ‘unconscious bias’ training, an initiative I find perplexing.

If the bias is unconscious, it’s so deep-seated that those hacks must be unaware of it. So first that bias must be extricated from the lower depths of their subconscious and brought up to the surface. “For nothing is secret that shall not be made manifest” seems to be the motto of this programme, although its authors can’t possibly know the provenance of this saying.

I wonder what the training will involve. Hypnosis? Electric shocks? Waterboarding? Perhaps Pavlov’s experiments on dogs, humanised to include word association, could serve as the model.

Electrodes could be attached to the sensitive parts of the employees’ anatomy, as they watch images flashing on the screen. If, for example, one such image is of Nelson Mandela, and the employee blurts out “banana”, he’ll receive a painful shock to his privates or, if he says “necklacing”, two shocks.

That way the bias will first become conscious and then, when the conditional reflex kicks in, expunged – or rather expertly concealed. Job done? Don’t be silly. We haven’t even started.

But before we go on, why just 95 per cent? Does this mean that five per cent of our cherished national institution will be allowed to remain racist, homophobic, transphobic, misogynist, Tory-voting global-warming deniers? A speedy reply is imperative: the public has the right to know.

The next part of the directive is even more permissive: a mere 80 per cent of Beebers will be required to declare their social class. I don’t know about them, but I’m confused.

One would think that all those people are broadly middle class, if such categories are defined in strictly economic terms. If defined in any other way, then those both below and above middle class should be instantly identifiable by their accents, clothes, manners and so on. And if they don’t bear such stigmata, then all class distinctions have been erased. In any case, a declaration of class seems redundant.

Or do they mean one’s class at birth? If so, that would be consistent with socialism. Its founders divided all people into ossified classes, correctly assuming that, under socialism, no upward mobility would be possible. Everybody would be a proletarian – completely, equally and irreversibly.

The BBC’s ideological ancestors in Soviet Russia solved the problem of class with an elegant simplicity that always marks greatness. They summarily shot anyone who a) came from an aristocratic or gentry family, b) had a university degree, c) didn’t have calluses on his hands, d) enunciated long words in refined accents, e) didn’t like the Bolsheviks.

Alas, this must remain a nostalgic memory for time has moved on. Very few Beebers have a noble pedigree, most have been to university (who hasn’t these days?), only the tennis or golf players among them can ever develop calluses, practically none speak in refined accents, although almost all misuse long words, and they all adore woke modernity.

Hence the BBC has its work cut out, and I’ll be curious to see how it’ll solve those problems. But, as Lenin said, there are no fortresses Bolsheviks can’t storm. Onwards and forwards, comrades.

Another new requirement is that 50 per cent of LGBT employees must come out of the closet. That’s another surprise. Does it mean that half of them are currently concealing their predilections even though such ‘lifestyles’ can only turbocharge a career?

Also, one would think that, for the T part of the acronym, any outing would be superfluous. If I were to undergo certain procedures to stop being Alexander and become Alexandra, you’d notice the metamorphosis without my explicit declaration to that effect.

Then of course there are a raft of measures aimed at making the BBC staff reflect the demographic makeup of the whole population. In addition to ensuring an even male and female split, the Corporation will launch a “staff census… that will for the first time capture non-binary or non-conforming identities”.

Anne Foster, BBC’s head of diversity and inclusion, said: “I am passionate about working to create a BBC that reflects the diversity of the UK and is somewhere people feel proud to work. Every aspect of our plans are shaped by extensive consultation with staff to ensure we can lay a strong foundation for a modern, transsexual BBC…” Oops, sorry, my lapsus manus. She actually said ‘transformed’, not ‘transsexual. Still, it’s good to see that Anne leads the way in mastering diversely universal grammar. 

The directive also calls for commitment to “identify and champion 100 diverse role models”. I’m secure in the knowledge that neither I nor any of my friends will be among those 100.

Come the revolution, we’ll probably be liquidated. For the time being we just know better than to apply for jobs at the British Bolshevik Corporation.

Death and taxes are sometimes the same thing

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had a Conservative government? What, we already have one? Could have fooled me.

The Chancellor’s quandary: How can I hurt the economy today?

This Tory government is a dead ringer for the Labour administration of Tony Blair, although admittedly it’s less catastrophic than Jeremy Corbyn’s administration would have been.

Johnson, Sunak et al. enforce every plank of the woke agenda, with Dominic Raab’s refusal to take the knee the only conservative gesture any of them has made. As for conservative policies, they are following the trail left by flying pigs.

This emphatically includes HMG’s treatment of the economy, currently playing a dirge on the doldrums. Yet the Chancellor refuses to change his tune on taxing and spending.

So-called Tory governments have form on that: over the past 10 years they have hit the economy with 1,000 tax rises. That would be pretty good going even for unapologetic socialists.

At least this time HMG has an excuse for profligate spending: Covid. Still, with the national debt going over the two-trillion mark, and the deficits soaring at 300 billion a year, even socialists must see that such fiscal promiscuity is unsustainable.

The current situation is likely to change in the next few months, both for the better and for the worse. The better part is that Covid seems to be on the wane. The worse part is that inflation is going up and interest rates are bound to follow suit.

The only mitigation for going crazy with the printing press and IOUs is that the interest rates have for many years been lower than at any time since Charles II was king. If they rise sharply, which is likely, such policies will cross the line separating imprudent from suicidal.

So how is HMG preparing for new challenges? How is it planning to pull the economy out of the mire? Remember that in addition to Covid, there’s also the issue of redirecting the economy away from the EU and towards an independent trade policy.

In response, the Chancellor is about to unveil a set of new policies – each the exact opposite of sanity, each likely, nay guaranteed, to send the economy into an irreversible tailspin.

I’m not going to blaze any new trails in economic thought. Thankfully, none is required. Modern economies have been functioning around the world for so long that we know for sure what works and what doesn’t.

Examples of remarkably successful reversals in economic fortunes are helpfully provided by post-war Germany and, later, the ‘Asian tigers’: South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong. All of them started from a nadir and quickly reached the zenith. An example of languishing at the nadir for decades is closer to home: post-war Britain.

The successes were scored by governments who realised that a state can only affect an economy positively by not affecting it negatively. They drastically reduced social spending, taxes and their own slice of the economic pie. That unleashed the people’s initiative, enterprise and creativity, of which, as it turned out, there was a vast, if hitherto dormant, supply.

Even chaps unencumbered with Nobel Prizes for economics have to conclude that any policies that have such a liberating effect are always at a premium, but especially when the economy is in dire straits. Conversely, measures that have the opposite effect are guaranteed to run the economy aground.

In that light, let’s look at some of Mr Sunak’s proposed policies.

He is planning to launch a tax raid on online business, including a ‘green’ tax on deliveries. In addition to kowtowing to the climate hoax, that means consumers will be buying less, which, in a consumer economy, is bound to have a knock-on effect on the producers. Result? A slow-down at a time when the economy is already at a crawl.

Mr Sunak also plans to hit the self-employed with new taxes, essentially putting them in the same category as wage slaves. However, self-employment involves taking entrepreneurial risks, while full-time employment is considerably safer.

The incentive to take such risks will diminish, and so will the number of small businesses that are the principal drivers of the economy. Result? A shrinking tax base, most likely delivering lower tax revenues. Also, a more static economy – in a situation begging for dynamism.

The Chancellor is also going to play fast and loose with income tax bands, pushing between one and two million people into a higher one. This is what some economists call ‘bracket creep’, and others ‘stealth taxes’. Whatever you call it, it discourages hard work and ambition. Result? As above.

Mr Sunak also wishes to increase the corporate tax rate from its current rate of 19 per cent to  25 per cent. This at a time when most corporations are already half-dead due to Covid.

Hitting them with new taxes is tantamount to delivering a coup de grâce. Result? Massive job losses, bankruptcies, higher prices (corporations tend to pass tax increases on to customers) and – possibly most deadly – turning foreign companies away from Britain when attracting them is crucial.

Also planned is another ‘stealth tax’, on wealthy pensioners. Seemingly, this will affect only about 10,000 people who’ll have to pay an extra £22,000 by 2024. But they don’t call such taxes ‘stealth’ for nothing. This one will also hurt millions of young achievers who’ll get into the higher band by the time they retire.

Rather than investing in their future, people will be thus encouraged to mimic HMG’s thirst for spending and borrowing. This is an example of how a government can damage the economy by encouraging ruinous economic practices and discouraging sound ones.

HMG must have played truant when the lesson of 2008 was taught. Result? A rich potential for crises and a negligible one for higher tax revenues.

There are two ways of filling budget holes: reduced spending or increased taxation. The former is well-nigh impossible for a spivocratic government that fears oblivion if it can’t bribe voters with handouts. In this, all governments are similar, regardless of their party affiliation.

But at least Tory governments used to know that high tax rates don’t mean high tax revenues, quite the opposite – and that, while lower taxes invigorate the economy, higher ones may well kill it. That’s why I’m so sad that we don’t seem to have a Tory government at the helm.