The Significance Of That Bizarre Eddie Izzard Appearance On Question Time

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While it was infuriating to watch at the time – I actually had to put down my iPad at times to stop myself tweeting things which I might later regret – Eddie Izzard’s tour de force of ignorance and condescension on BBC Question Time last night will have been a great boon to all Brexiteers.

Here, in one man, is embodied the distilled nature of the entire Remain campaign argument – a child’s level of understanding of the European Union’s history, what it does and how it actually works coupled with an unjustified level of arrogance and assumed intellectual and moral superiority which somehow makes them come off as smug, arrogant, condescending, pitying and self-aggrandising all at the same time.

Eddie Izzard’s strategy for the programme was clearly “Take Down Nigel Farage In A Blaze Of Glory”, and the comedian went at the UKIP leader from the outset. He would have been far better to focus his fire on the others. Nigel Farage is a man who has easily dispatched stageloads of Britain’s leading politicians in a single debate and twice bested Nick Clegg in one-on-one encounters. Coming at him with a paper thin case and the debating style of an over-excited sixth former is never going to work. It certainly didn’t last night.

The shriller Eddie Izzard became, the more he cut across Nigel Farage and make his grandstanding appeals to the audience, the more Farage looked like the adult in the room. As Izzard’s plea for more ice cream became ever more desperate, Farage leaned back in his chair with a look of bemused resignation. Considering that one of the Remain campaign’s key aims is to demonise Farage and then inextricably tie him to the Leave campaign, this was a huge unforced error.

But more than that, it showed the vacuity at the heart of the Remain campaign. Sure, there are a few honourable die hard euro federalists out there – my friend Paddy Briggs is one – but you will scarcely hear from them in this campaign. The only people with a coherent and honourable case for Britain remaining in the EU (and indeed deepening our participation) are shoved in the closet, the Remain campaign’s dirty little secret as they pretend to the rest of us that We Are All Eurosceptics Too.

The rest of the campaign is built on ignorance and fear. Yes of course large swathes of the Leave campaign are little better. But once Remain have dispatched with their meaningless pleasantries about “staying in Europe to reform it” and the importance of “cooperation” (which in europhile land can only take place between countries when facilitated by a supranational political union, for some reason), all they have left are their Armageddon stories about how Brexit would bring us all to economic ruin, or how the supposedly benign and friendly EU would behave like an abusive spouse to a departing Britain.

Pete North agrees:

We’ve heard all the europhile fluff. All the sanctimonious cliches about “not walking away from the table” and “getting in there to make it work better” and “respecting the rules of the club” and when you’re dealing with someone of great charisma it’s hard not to want to buy into that.

These are all positive and constructive sentiments reinforced with words like “cooperation” and “unity”. But sentiment is all it is. Contrivances. And if you hold only a superficial notion of what the EU is, how it works and the actual consequences of it, then that leap of faith is easier to make.

And this perhaps explains the gulf between age groups and voting intentions. Those who have wised up to the EU want out. The youthful ideologues lack the maturity and historical context to see through the veneer of shallow and meaningless rhetoric. This is what the remain camp is banking on.

And this is why I can muster a venomous contempt of Eddie Izzard. Think what you will of him and his politics but he is not a stupid man. Fatuous maybe, but not stupid. He has always been a true believer. He is a europhile to the core. And while they are capable of an extraordinary self-deception one thing europhiles do without exception is lie through their teeth. Up becomes down, black becomes white, dog becomes cat. No lie is too big and any lie will do.

Being a comedian and habitually attuned to audiences accepting a flawed premise in order to relate to the material, Izzard is able to lie with no self-awareness at all. It’s what permits him to lie as often as he does to an extent that even professional politicians would hesitate.

And this is what has characterised the European Union debate for as long as we’ve been having this debate. The attempt by europhiles to frame this as though it were a generational stand off between young progressives and old reactionaries. For one to be against the EU, in the mind of the europhile, one must naturally be a xenophobic, little Englander who could only possibly have selfish motives. This is the deceit that they wish to impress upon those new to the debate.

And this is actually what drives the blood curdling hostility between the two camps. We have a broadly europhile media class. A set of self-regarding luvvies largely culturally and financially insulated from the consequences of EU membership, believing themselves to be the living embodiment of virtue.

People wonder how the country will knit back together after this referendum. I’m not sure that it will. Pete North is certainly convinced that it will not. One thing is certain – there will be no magnanimity from the Remain side if they win.

Sure, a smiling David Cameron might come out of 10 Downing Street and make a little speech about his “renegotiation” just being the start, and how he will continue to fight for change in Europe. I can write the speech in my head already. But it will mean nothing, just as every single one of David Cameron’s convictions is built on sand. The Remain camp will take their gruesome little victory lap and crow about having defeated the forces of “xenophobia and isolationism”, and that will be that. A reconciliation reshuffle? That means nothing.

But the intellectual case for Brexit and the moral case for democracy will not have been defeated. What’s more, those of us who are custodians of these high ideals will not easily forget what has been said about us by sneering, grandstanding, virtue-signalling oiks in the Remain campaign, and their spokesperson Eddie Izzard.

Call someone wrong and they may be angry for a time. Call them morally deficient in some way (as Remainers do with their claims of boomer selfishness etc.) and it will wound a lot more. But call someone stupid and publicly mock them to their face, and you will nurture a resentment and antipathy which are almost impossible to undo. Over the course of this referendum campaign, the Remain camp have done all three.

Fortunately for Brexiteers, the glibness and shallowness of the Remain case become more exposed with every passing day. There is no new layer of complexity once one overturns their false assertion that Brexit means leaving the single market, or that all of the cooperation and partnership they seek can be accomplished just as easily outside of our current political union. The Remainers can hardly wheel out the hardcore euro federalist brigade to make their impassioned case – they would alienate far more people than they could possibly attract with their creepy, dystopian vision.

By contrast, a greater depth to the Brexit case is finally starting to emerge, as more and more influencers in the media pick up on the interim EFTA/EEA (Norway) option as an attractive first step in the Brexit process. Though it has taken an age (and may in fact still have come too late) at least the only thorough, comprehensive and safe plan for achieving Brexit is now finally starting to get a public hearing and an opportunity to allay the concerns of undecided voters.

I still feel that the odds of victory very much favour Remain, no matter what the opinion polls may say two weeks out from Referendum Day. But it is also undeniable that the broader Leave campaign has finally gained some traction – despite, rather than because of Vote Leave.

And if the Remain campaign continues to respond to these turns of events by wheeling out people like Eddie Izzard – who I think probably created a thousand new Brexiteers for every minute he had the floor on last night’s Question Time – then this might be a much more closely run thing after all.


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Flexcit And The Interim EFTA/EEA Brexit Approach Reported On Newsnight

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Having finally analysed every possible facile, gossipy and shallow angle on the EU referendum in breathtaking detail, finally the media get round to examining the ideas laid out long ago in the only existing comprehensive Brexit plan

Well, it had to happen eventually. Tired of adjudicating shrill and pointless contests in unsupported assertions and lying by omission from Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe, some in the media have finally started paying attention to the safe, stable Brexit option which was there all along.

Tony Edwards of The Brexit Door blog marks the occasion:

The Liberal Case for Leave, written by Roland Smith for the Adam Smith Institute, is based on the Flexcit plan. Roland is one of a number of us who have coalesced around this idea, proposed by Flexcit author Dr Richard North of the EU Referendum Blog, that Brexit should be a multi stage project. To avoid shocks, and to escape diplomatic impasse, we must take each stage in a safe and ordered manner. This not only avoids economic pitfalls, but reassures the people that will not vote to leave the EU, or would like to but are risk averse, that they are not being forced into some great leap of faith, that there is a sensible route to full democratic freedom.

And now, in the last week, Flexcit as a plan has finally broken cover and its first stage is being discussed openly by members of Parliament, Talk radio, the BBC, the Telegraph and today the rest of the print media  (although sometimes not by name).

Tony goes on to point out an important point which is overlooked by many detractors on the Brexit side – that the EEA/EFTA arrangement is transitional, the departure lounge from the EU rather than the ultimate destination:

What is not always being heard in the public domain, and what Roland Smith explained last night, is that the EEA stage of Flexcit is transitory. It will last for a number of years for several reasons, but will not be the end point for a post EU membership UK.

Firstly, while we will want to build trade links with the rest of the world, we will also want to preserve our current markets while we do this. EFTA has been very good at negotiating FTAs, and while in EFTA there is no impediment for the UK in seeking deals within and without the group. We lose no competence in this area to EFTA as we do to the EU – that’s a massive difference in the level of freedom of action the UK will gain immediately.

While Pete North celebrates:

Thanks to Roland “White Wednesday” Smith, our comprehensive Brexit plan made a bit of a splash these evening having been announced on Newsnight as the plan under consideration by the civil service. As ever Newsnight managed to make a pigs ear of it without expanding on the critical details but it’s free publicity.

Lost Leonardo of the excellent Independent Britain blog is pleased, but unimpressed by cynical efforts underway by assorted Remainers to slander the interim EEA/EFTA (Norway) Option as some kind of betrayal of a vote to leave the EU, when it is no such thing:

With the legacy media finally turning its attention to the realities of Brexit—even Newsnight is now name-checking Flexcit—now seems like a good time to look again at the great vistas of opportunity that await a post-exit Britain.

First of all though, one has to address the “criticism”—if one can really call shouting, stamping of feet and pulling of hair critique—that adopting a phased approach to EU exit has elicited from a portion of the legacy media and the oh-so-tedious legacy campaigns.

It scarcely needs saying, but the Remainers’ feigned concern for the most belligerent voices in the “leave” camp is beyond cynical. The same people who have spent weeks, months, even years, verbally abusing anybody who has expressed the view that immigration is a bit high are now saying that it would be a “betrayal” for the UK government, supported by the House of Commons, to insist upon using the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement as a staging post for disengaging from the EU’s political and judicial union without any of the economic after effects that David Cameron and George Osborne have so irresponsibly exaggerated. Give me a break.

The hysterical reaction of Vote Leave and its associated sycophants is particularly loathsome. That organisation has done everything in its power to prevent the idea of a pragmatic, practical and non-hostile Brexit plan, which addresses the political realities as we find them not as we might like them to be, from taking hold in the public imagination.

This is a point which this blog also hammered home:

There is nothing on the paper whatsoever about the European Economic Area or “single market”. A vote to leave the EU is a vote for Britain to do exactly that – to leave an explicitly political, ever-tightening union of European countries all embarked on a journey to one day become a common state (as the EU’s founders and current leaders happily admit).

Many people are rightly now coming to the conclusion that the best way to achieve Brexit with the minimum of political and economic disruption is to exit to an “off the shelf” interim solution which already exists in the form of the EFTA/EEA membership enjoyed by Norway. This is why David Cameron has suddenly started talking about “a vote to leave the single market” over the past few days – it is a tacit admission that if we vote to leave the EU but remain in the EEA, every single one of the Remain campaign’s arguments are instantly negated.

Hence the [eagerness of Remainers] to do everything possible to slander the interim EFTA/EEA option, painting it as some kind of unconscionable scam when in fact it is an utterly pragmatic and realistic way of leaving the European Union while completely avoiding all of the apocalyptic economic scenarios which the Remain camp love to throw around.

The official Leave Alliance blog takes a deserved mini victory lap, while warning of the newfound hostility to the plan among Remain supporters and some unreconstructed Leavers. Proclaiming that reality is finally sinking in, Ben Kelly writes:

One of the most crucial elements of The Market Solution [..] is its aim of de-risking Brexit and neutralising the economic uncertainty associated with a vote to leave. We offer several scenarios that would minimise disruption and protect the economy and the most optimal of those is the EFTA/EEA route a.k.a the “EEA option” a.k.a the “Norway option”.

Leaving the EU will be a staged process; the EFTA/EEA route facilitates our transition from an EU Member State to an independent nation by protecting the economy, simplifying secession negotiations and providing us with a soft landing and a decent perspective of what “out” looks like for the near future. One of the key aims of The Leave Alliance was to disseminate this Brexit scenario amongst influential opinion formers; we were rebuffed by Vote Leave and, but we are now having great success late in the day as the EEA option is becoming potentially pivotal.

Due to the fact that it means leaving the EU in an economically secure way it has been the source of much fear for remainers, hence why they do everything they can to smear it. Many on the Leave side can’t get past the fact it means retaining freedom of movement, but their folly is to assume that controlling our borders is simple and abolishing free movement is a silver bullet. They are unreasonably uncompromising in refusing to accept the necessity of a transitional arrangement; we cannot leave the EU in one fell swoop.

Overall, a positive development, though we may wish to recall the words of Winston Churchill: “We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead”.

Suddenly, at long last the interim EFTA/EEA option is being discussed seriously at the highest levels in politics and the media. It took an extraordinary effort to make it happen – involving the tireless work of many of my Leave Alliance colleagues, and more than a little subterfuge here and there to ensure that the Great And The Good of British political life actually took it seriously rather than summarily rejecting it as the work of mere citizens, but here we are.

But with little more than two weeks to go until we cast our votes, is there enough time to establish the right narratives about the Norway Option and rebut the desperate smears of the Remain campaign? Or will it be too little, too late?


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Labour Blames Its Own Supporters For Failing To Enthusiastically Back Remain

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Don’t blame Jeremy Corbyn for the ambivalence verging on hostility toward the European Union seen in Labour Party strongholds

Hilariously, the Labour Party is finally waking up to the fact that their leader’s (at best) ambivalence about the Remain campaign might be harming their slavish desire to remain in the European Union at all costs.

This vignette from the BBC provides a telling insight into the hive mind of pro-EU Establishment Labour (my emphasis in bold):

Comparatively unnoticed, cast into shadow by the pyrotechnic light-show in the Tory party, the Labour Party has come to realise it is losing the argument, and may be in real danger of losing the referendum for the Remain campaign.

This morning, Labour’s shadow cabinet agreed the party needed to “up its game” and to do so urgently. Alarmed backbench MPs have been excusing themselves from parliamentary duties to kick-start what they describe as the near-torpid campaigning in their constituencies.

MP after MP has returned to Westminster with depressing tales from their home turf; of door-knocking in staunchly Labour areas where apathy towards the EU question has given way to rank hostility. One former minister contacted dozens of local Labour councillors urging them to mobilise behind the Remain campaign. To the MP’s fury, the appeal elicited one single reply.

To be clear: the Labour former minister’s response, upon realising that none of their local councillors were interested in helping the Remain campaign, was one of fury. Not surprise, or shame, or introspection – wondering why so many people in the Labour Party have no interest in spending the next couple of weeks singing hymns of praise to the European Union. No. Just fury.

This is the arrogance and entitlement of the Labour Party establishment. To be sure, many Corbynites – at least the virtue signalling middle class clerisy brigade – are little better. But it would take a considerable effort to surpass this former Labour minister quoted by the BBC, who believes that he/she and the Remain campaign deserve and are somehow entitled to the support of grass roots Labour supporters.

This is the arrogance of a class of Labour politicians who have forgotten that it is still their job to make the case, and to persuade people. And thus far, the Remain campaign has been an endless parade of miserabilist, declinist, pessimistic drivel, simultaneously talking down the prospects of the country of which many Labour supporters are justifiably proud while simultaneously painting a childishly naive picture of the European Union (puppies and unicorns) which almost nobody believes to be true.

In this context, the anonymous Labour former minister should be grateful to have received even one positive response from a Labour councillor – they were lucky to avoid a torrent of justified verbal abuse.

Once again, the Labour Party has absolutely nothing to say to those working class communities utterly unmoved by the woolly Fabianism of Ed Miliband or the edgy, student-friendly activism of Jeremy Corbyn. With no real debate over whether or not it was the right move, the party swung unthinkingly behind the Remain campaign because doing so is the instinctive response of many Labour elected representatives and donors. Too few Labour MPs – Kate Hoey, Graham Stringer, Frank Field, Gisela Stuart, Kelvin Hopkins, Khalid Mahmood and Roger Godsiff for a total of seven – have been willing to challenge the groupthink and articulate a different position.

And even now, with polls tightening and the discovery of a vast sea of apathy toward the EU throughout the Labour heartland, all that the party bigwigs can do is rage against their own supporters for failing to unquestioningly support the party’s Remain position, handed down to them from on high with no consultation and no fresh analysis since Labour became staunchly pro-EU in the late 1980s.

So if Labour bigwigs are casting around for someone or something to blame for their party’s weak contribution to the Remain campaign, they shouldn’t blame Jeremy Corbyn and they certainly shouldn’t blame their own supporters. The fault lies with their own arrogance and often disconnection from their communities.


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When Deciding How To Vote In The EU Referendum, Do Your Own Research – All The Information Is Out There

It is becoming fashionable among the undecideds in the EU referendum campaign to complain about the supposed lack of available facts in the debate. But they don’t want facts – they want to be spoon-fed opinions and simultaneously reassured that these answers are unbiased

There is a rather nauseating new trend among those people who have somehow not yet come to an informed opinion on whether or not Britain should vote to leave the EU, whereby they blame their inability to reach a decision on the supposed lack of available facts handed down to them from on high.

We even see this cropping up in Question Time, as the Independent reports:

With 113 days until the EU referendum – that’s more than 15 weeks away – levels of stamina among the public for the flow of information being directed at them seem to be waning.

And when the opening question of BBC’s Question Time was on how much the referedum’s outcome would depend on “which side could scare us more”, one audience member put the problem laid before the country in very clear terms.

A young man said the decision to continue or terminate the 40-year relationship all rested on wondering who could be trusted to give impartial, accurate information.

“With all this scaremongering that’s going on in the media about this, I don’t see how us as the general public can make an informed decision,” he said, prompting nods from those around him.

[..] In the light of such risks, the audience member seemed to be concerned that he was given little information with which to make a safe and long-term decision.

“It’s just all sides saying different things and you just don’t know who to believe,” he said.

Boo hoo. It’s so difficult for undecided voters today, bombarded with passionate (but often fact-free) arguments from both sides. How can they possibly be expected to vote when the government and the meejah don’t give them a clear and unambiguous signal?

The amusing thing is that the young Question Time audience member asking the question would probably have absolutely no difficulty using the internet to research a complex and technical query relating to his malfunctioning Playstation or home cinema system. He is likely adept at finding YouTube tutorials which show how to disassemble and repair household appliances, and if he has a favourite sports team, band or celebrity he can quite likely find all manner of information about them online with no difficulty at all.

But when it comes to the workings and operation of his own country and the European Union which influences so many aspects of his life, it apparently does not occur to the questioner that he can use exactly the same skills he honed researching his fantasy football team to turn up some relevant, unbiased facts about the EU. The thought simply does not compute. When it is something glitzy and fun, he is more than willing to spend five minutes consulting Google and a few hours reading through the results that his search throws up. But on “boring” matters like the governance of the EU, what the European Union might look like in the future or how Brexit might actually be accomplished, he loses focus before he can finish typing a query into the Google search bar.

Of course he is not getting unbiased information from the media. Playing the role of high-minded, neutral arbiter has not proven to be very successful for most media outlets, nearly all of which instead churn out content which plays to the gallery of their readerships. That’s life. But it does not mean that the primary information needed to reach an informed and independent opinion is unavailable. It just means forsaking Monday Night Football or the Great British Bakeoff for one night and using the internet or local library to make oneself a more informed and engaged citizen.

EU referendum blogger Pete North has by far the best response to these aggrieved undecided voters who flaunt their ignorance of the debate as though it is an injury inflicted upon them by evil external authority figures withholding “the facts”:

I watched Question Time last night. I heard that whining bovine complaint once more “I just want to be given the facts”, expecting that it’s the government’s job to spoonfeed them with information, under the assumption government can and will. Could they be any more bovine?

As it happens, the facts are available insofar as anything is ever truly a fact. On something as comprehensive as the EU there is all the information you could possibly want. And while you can say a lot of bad things about the EU, one thing we can say is that it is transparent. It publishes most of what it does, the schedules, the regulations, the meeting minutes, the agendas and the agreements. It’s all there if you can be bothered to look for it. I didn’t learn what I know by reading John f*cking Redwood.

And when it comes down to it people say they want the facts but they don’t. You can give them the facts but it’s always “tl;dr”. So they want a digest version of the facts. So you provide them with that and it tells them things they don’t want to hear – and so they stick with their ridiculous notions that either we can pull out overnight and comes the dawn of a new utopia – or on the other side the europhiles pretend the European Union IS that new utopia.

What people mostly want is to be told what to think. To have someone else make the decisions. To not let the complexity of life disturb their comforting ignorance. It’s the “I pay politicians to do the politics” attitude. THAT is how we get in these messes to begin with. Politics is too important to be delegated to these bozos and if this referendum has revealed anything it is that most of our elected representatives are intellectually subnormal and know f*ck all about nine tenths of anything.

In the end, to have a proper democracy participation requires more than just turning up to vote. It requires that you educate yourself, keep yourself informed, keep yourself up to date and find the facts for yourself – and especially that you do not rely on the media – after all our media are very much part of that political class with even less clue than the morons we elect. If you can’t be bothered to engage on that level you really do deserve everything you get from your “leaders”.

It is a lazy, naive idea that we can outsource the running of our country to elected politicians and only perk up and pay attention once every five years or so when there is a general election. As Pete North rightly says, that is how we got into this mess in the first place – people failing to hold their leaders to any kind of account, while the politicians did as they pleased.

If you want to be told what to think by the government or those in authority, don’t complain when David Cameron comes back with a one-sided, pro-EU propaganda leaflet costing the taxpayer over £9 million to produce and distribute. That’s what you get for outsourcing your decision-making processes to people with vested interests.

But at least if you do so, you are in plentiful (I won’t say good) company. Neither the official Remain or Leave campaigns are exactly brimming over with deep expertise on the workings of the European Union, in which direction the EU will travel or the logistics of achieving Brexit.

Fortunately, there are those who stopped watching television for long enough to educate themselves on this important subject. A number of them have become experts in the subject, certainly far more so than the Westminster media with its superficial grasp of the facts, all while holding down day jobs. They are the the bloggers of The Leave Alliance, and the plan they promote for leaving the European Union in a safe, orderly and non-disruptive way is called Flexcit, or the market solution.

Start with that. Or start with the European Union’s own websites – as Pete North says, much of this information is “hidden” in plain sight. Begin your search for facts in any number of places, just don’t repeat the whiny, false complaint that there is no factual information available.


Postscript: The irony is that facts and figures supporting either side are not the most important thing in this referendum, while economic projections are particularly unreliable to the point of being pure fiction. This blog contends that the EU referendum comes down to more qualitative factors like democracy, sovereignty, governance and constitutional reform, which simply cannot be calculated in an Excel spreadsheet.


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BBC Daily Politics: If Students Need Safe Spaces, They Have No Business Voting

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Today I will be a guest on the BBC’s flagship Daily Politics show, discussing the worrying and accelerating infantilisation of today’s university students and asking whether young people who need the protection of trigger warnings and safe spaces can possibly be trusted to responsibly exercise their democratic right to vote.

Last year, in response to a brilliantly provocative column by American law professor and political blogger Glenn Reynolds – in which he argued that today’s generation of coddled, micro-aggression fearing students have utterly failed to earn the right to vote – I went along for the ride, agreeing:

It is ironic that at the same time there is a push to lower the voting age in the UK – the Lords recently voted to allow sixteen and seventeen-year-olds to vote in the coming Brexit referendum – people only slightly older and now at university, who already have the vote, are busy regressing back into emotional childhood.

[..]  Given the increasing number of campus incidents of precious snowflake students demanding that the authorities curtail their liberties for their own “safety” – and the fact that increasing age is the last, best hope of gaining wisdom – the idea of raising the voting age does start to feel awfully tempting.

Response written, I then didn’t think much more of it. That is, until the other week when I was contacted by the BBC and asked whether I wanted to state the same case on their flagship political programme, the Daily Politics.

The context of the issue is known well enough, and I have blogged extensively about the worrying and absurd rise of calls to outlaw clapping and booing, tearful temper tantrums about dress codes, stifling ideas by labelling them ‘problematic’, the tedious insistence on “safe spaces” and mandatory sexual consent workshops, all of which are flourishing on British and American university campuses.

Now, do I really want to stomp around like a little authoritarian, summarily revoking the franchise from every group of people who happen to rile me up? Well, as readers of this blog already know, I would generally rather leave the screeching, sanctimonious authoritarianism to those who do it best – the student activists busy cocooning their young minds in an ideologically homogeneous bubble, and purging any dissenting viewpoints which threaten their “mental safety”.

But I couldn’t resist the opportunity to make the urgent case that if things continue on their current course – with children being raised to believe that “sticks and stones may break their bones, but words will kill them stone dead”, and growing up to become intolerant students intent on purging anybody who fails to fawn deferentially over their delicate sensibilities – then before long, none of us will possess the intellectual and social robustness required of an engaged citizenry. And none of us will make good voters.

I want to stop the rot before it gets that far. But doing so will require confronting some difficult truths. And among these truths are the fact that the world of academia (particularly in the US – but where America goes, Britain already follows) has become infected with a virus which produces legions of what can only be described as adult babies – people who are physically mature, but with the emotional and psychological resiliency of a toddler.

The extent of the rot was laid bare in Spiked’s 2016 university free speech rankings, which forensically detail the extent to which free speech is curtailed at every university campus and students union in the country.

To give just a few examples, at present there are 30 students union which have banned newspapers (no prizes for guessing which publications), 25 which have banned mainstream hit songs for being “offensive” and 20 which have banned clubs or societies. But they only take their cue from the universities themselves, nearly half of which enforce “No Platform” policies against controversial speakers and a fifth of which have already moved to import American-style “safe space” policy onto their campuses.

I’m due to debate with Conservative MP and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, as well as Labour MP Kate Green. It will be very interesting to see whether I am able even to extract any acknowledgement that there is a problem which needs to be tackled. However, with the Conservative government leaning hard on universities to protect the fragile minds of their students by banning extremist speakers and Labour poised to benefit disproportionately from the authoritarian student vote, I’m not expecting a tremendously sympathetic hearing.

Watch this space!

Watch me debate on Wednesday’s edition of the Daily Politics, broadcast on BBC Two at 11:30 for the start of the programme (and PMQs), and at 12:20 onwards for my segment.

Alternatively, watch live or catch-up on BBC iPlayer.

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