Prince gives trendy dogma a smack

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The Independent Online
THE PRINCE of Wales delivered one of the most political speeches of his public life yesterday when he attacked 'fashionable theories' and 'political correctness', echoing John Major's 'back to basics' call to the last Conservative conference.

His tone, in a speech to regional newspaper editors at a lunch in London, was similar to that of the Prime Minister in October when he said Britain had 'listened too long and too often to people whose ideas are light years away from common sense'. Prince Charles said that 'fashionable theorists' peddling trendy dogma were undermining the very fabric of British society. And he urged ordinary people to have the courage to stand up to the 'intimidation' of self-

appointed experts and tell them they had got it wrong.

Like Mr Major, he attacked schools for abandoning the traditional reliance on good English.

He then outlined a deeply conservative world view: 'For what it is worth, I happen to be one of those people who believe strongly in the importance of well-tried principles, and of those more familiar things in life, which help anchor us in the here- and-now and give meaning and a sense of belonging in a world which can easily become frightening and hostile.

'The fashion for what people call 'political correctness' amounts to testing every aspect of life, every aspect of society, against a pre-determined, pre-ordained view.'

If something did not measure up to the pre-ordained view, it was rejected and people were intimidated into not daring to disagree for fear of being considered reactionary or old-fashioned.

Millions of ordinary people had shown their rejection of fashionable theories aimed at 'tearing apart' novelists, poets and playwrights by watching a television version of George Eliot's Middlemarch.

The tone of the speech infuriated left-wing Labour MPs and won the support of Tory backbenchers while the comments on schools and teaching divided the educational establishment.

The Prince defended parents' rights to smack their children, angering campaigners for children's rights. Dr Penelope Leach, a child development expert, said: 'I think it's rather sad to see someone as influential as the Prince of Wales so out of touch with public opinion.'

Speech and reaction, page 3