Douglas Murray has written an interesting piece for the Times today about what he refers to as “Britain’s new elite”. Who are they? He starts by considering a recent spat between Andrew Neil and Charles Moore in which each accused the other of being part of the “the Establishment”, while, as Douglas says, neither really is – not really. Here is the key passage in which Douglas identifies the people he thinks comprise the current Establishment.
So who is in charge today? What might the elite be right now? Charles Moore addressed himself to this question in his response to Andrew Neil. The new establishment, he suggested, is largely “a public sector affair”. As he said, they run almost everything that comes from the largesse of the state. They are in control of the universities, museums and oversight bodies. They are in charge of the BBC, quangos and all the major charities that receive money from government while also lobbying government.
The fact that this establishment exists can be discerned not least from the private language they have come to employ. These are the people who speak the present-day equivalents of Nancy Mitford’s U or non-U. The “U” of the past used to be about saying “loo” rather than “lavatory” or “sofa” over “couch”. In the present era the elite language signals come from the people who talk about “diversity”, “inclusion” and “sustainability”. They are the people who hold lockstep views on Brexit, LGBT issues and gender fluidity.
If you doubt this then consider for a moment if you can think of anyone who heads — or even sits on — any major public body who holds any of the “unacceptable” views on the questions of our day. Is there anyone in charge of our major institutions who believes that the UK must have a restrictionist immigration system and that the government should enforce the laws of the land when it comes to such matters? Has any one of these people ever spoken out in support of such policies?
What about the grinding intersection that clearly exists at the meeting place of trans rights and some women’s rights? Would any of the women who have spoken out about these matters, from Kathleen Stock to JK Rowling or Julie Bindel, ever be offered the chancellorship of a university in this country, the head of a government body or the chairmanship of a museum? These might sound like rarefied institutions and hardly the sorts of places where the moving and the shaking in the land occurs. And yet that would be wrong. The cultural weather of the country is precisely controlled by the people who control this country’s institutions. And while they are not of any one political party, the people in charge of nearly all such bodies in Britain today are people who have signed up to the exact same set of approved orthodoxies. To step outside these orthodoxies would be to commit a type of heresy.
For all elites have their rules and standards. And the rules and standards of the current establishment are to hold exactly the views that you are meant to hold on issue after issue. Run for a post at such an institution while saying the government’s net zero ambitions are fantasy or that governments across the West need to turn to coal, nuclear or fracking as energy solutions and you will find the coolest reception imaginable. And no job offer at the end of it.
That is the point that Moore made after his bruising doing-over at the hands of Neil. Neil believes Moore is part of the establishment, while Moore clearly believes Neil is. And while both of them are part of something, nobody could say it is the absolutely dominant elite of our time. For while both are masters of robust journalism, neither has the god-like right to cast people out of what passes for society in 21st-century Britain. Moore or Neil might duff an interviewee up and leave them wounded. But they cannot unperson someone. They cannot denounce them as a heretic and ensure that the life work of the opponent is reduced to a radioactive husk.
Worth reading in full.