There’s plenty for UKIP to be outraged about. Their policies are little different from those of the Conservative Party 7 years ago and this kind of heavy handed concern would probably never be shown to fosterers who are members of the Socialist Workers Party (even though they could very well expose their kids to a dangerous mix of outright lies and boredom). That said, foster parents should be properly vetted and it’s important to wait for the full facts of the case to be disclosed before rushing to judgement. Nor is social work only the past time of pernicious surrealists – the vast, vast majority of them are decent people doing a difficult job under almost inhuman circumstances. The most thoughtful and intelligent statement made about the case so far came from the British Association of Social Workers, who wrote, “A willingness on the part of foster parents to respect the culture and background of a child is extremely important, which is why UKIP's reported position on multiculturalism appears to have been a cause for concern in this case. However, membership of UKIP should not be considered, as an isolated factor, sufficient reason to dismiss the suitability of a parent or parents, which is why, given the limited information available, this decision is difficult to fully understand.” Amen to that.
The case will probably be treated as an isolated example of incompetence, but it actually speaks to a troubling development within liberalism. This is how it all ends, with liberals “protecting” children from “illiberal” ideas – and, in the process, destroying liberal democracy.
The greatest historical strength of liberalism has been its respect for free thinking, the rights of the individual and cultural diversity. Yet in recent years liberals have begun to confuse ends and means, presuming that in a liberal society everyone will make the choice to think and live as a liberal. The reality is that some parts of a liberal democracy will always reject the tenets of liberalism (more fool them), and if you are a true liberal then you have to suffer that sad fact. Alas, contemporary liberals seem to think that tolerance of intolerance poses such a challenge to democracy that it must end. Their clampdown on bad thought has begun on the margins but is slowly working its way towards a new censorship of mainstream political thought. “First they came for UKIP” ... then they came for the rest of the golf club. Before you know it, they’ll be arresting people who vote for Rylan Clark.
Bond is back, sadly...
Having written two negative reviews of a movie I’ve never watched, I finally bit the bullet and went to see Skyfall. Sorry kids, but it’s a dull dud. Running at 2 and 1/2 hours, you’d think they’d find time to fit in a death ray, but no. It’s just Daniel Craig running around looking thoroughly miserable, breaking everybody’s ribs. The movie’s only highlight is Javier Bardem as the evil Raoul Silva. With a mop of blonde hair and a girly laugh, he was a delicious throwback to the campery of yesteryear. In fact, Bardem should’ve played Bond and Craig should’ve played the villain. Then we might’ve at least got a ski chase and some hanky-panky in an airplane. “Any higher Mr Bond and my ears will pop!”
One serious complaint: this was one of the most misogynistic movies I’ve ever seen. Bond meets a woman who has been a sex slave since she was twelve. Desperately seeking a hero to rescue her from her pimp, Silva, she tells Bond to meet her aboard her yacht. Later that night the poor woman is taking a shower and, low and behold, a naked Bond appears from nowhere and starts mauling her neck. If Jimmy Savile had done that, we’d rightly be outraged. But Craig seems to get away with this kind of “no questions asked” sexual advance because the audience is primed to think that it’s just “Bond being Bond.” Later, Silva captures the girl, balances a glass of whiskey on her head and, in a mockery of William Tell, purposefully shoots her dead. He asks Bond what he thinks of his sadism. Our hero replies, “What a waste of a good Scotch.” What a schmuck.
How I miss the good old days of Sean Connery and Roger Moore, when Bond was basically Are You Being Served? with guns. As if it had been commissioned by an old fashioned department store, every movie was just another advert for more nice things: velour tux, cigarettes, golf jumpers and Martinis. Even the henchmen had uniforms. Did every villain have an HR department to design and assign them? I can imagine the board meeting on the first day of building the underwater nuclear base. “Item Six: Uniforms. Have you had any thoughts on this Mr Humphries?” “Yes I have, Captain Peacock. I’m thinking pink for the scientists, blue for the torturers and a nice bright orange for the henchmen.” “And for Mr Blofield?” “A serge uniform with gold braiding – and Mrs Slocombe’s willing to give him use of her pussy on Mondays and Wednesdays.” A better time.