As a real, philosophical Conservative I cannot suppress a feeling of quiet satisfaction that someone has had the guts to put a spoke in the wheel of ‘progress’ that so many Establishment members think moves in one way – namely the way they want it to.
I don’t propose to discuss here the rights and wrongs of the ordination of women or the internal affairs of the Church of England, of which I am not a member. But I am concerned about the hysterical nature of much of the reaction.
We are led in the media and in politics by neo-Hegelians who can’t imagine that any sane person disagrees with their world view. Anyone who does disagree with it is evil, not ‘with the programme’ and must be suppressed, ridiculed and punished by Law. Thus the Prime Minister dares to say that the Church of England needs a kick in the pants or some such. And some of his parliamentary colleagues, like Frank Field, who should know better, are considering extending the Equalities Act to the Church to punish its lay representatives for exercising the freedom of conscience which is supposed to lie at the very foundation of our democratic society.
Only the other day we heard of a senior employee of Trafford Housing Authority who had been demoted at work for criticising gay marriage proposals on the internet. The action of his employer was not sustained by the Employment Tribunal to whom he took his case but the fact that he had to do this and that his employer had seen fit to act in this way should be a wake-up call to all who believe that we still live in a free country and can take that freedom for granted.
Sadly we can’t! I increasingly wonder how far, if at all, we can rely on our elected representatives to protect our freedom to say and believe things that threaten no-one but don’t entirely accord with current fashions or social mores.
‘Freedom’ says Winston Smith in 1984 ‘is the right to say that two plus two make four.’ In other words to speak the truth as one sees it without fear and without requiring the permission of the State to do so, even if it does involve disagreeing with David Cameron and Frank Field from time to time or with policies with they advocate in the name of ‘progress’ or ‘equality’.