Andy McSmith's Diary: The face of anti-political correctness gone mad


Click to follow

The Tory MP Philip Davies has made the news twice this week, once for his confrontation with Jon Snow in the offices of Channel 4, after which he accused the veteran broadcaster of bullying him, and once when he suggested that sex education in schools is causing an increase in teenage pregnancies. On that subject, he challenged others to look at the evidence, something he had notably failed to do. The Office for National Statistics says that teenage pregnancies are at their lowest level since 1969.

During that same speech in the Commons, he made a proposal that there should be an “anti-political correctness” law, applying particularly to local councils. There was a famous piece of anti-PC legislation in the 1980s, known as Clause 28, which banned local councils from “promoting” homosexuality. It was repealed for being offensive, and David Cameron has apologised for it.

But homosexuality was not in Davies’s sights. He had in mind “politically correct” attitudes to race, for which he blames Rotherham council’s failure to tackle the sex abuse scandal. In 2009, when Davies was parliamentary spokesman for something called the Campaign Against Political Correctness, he wrote to the Equality Commission demanding to know why white police officers were excluded from the Metropolitan Black Police Association, why there was a Miss Black Britain contest but not a Miss White Britain one, and whether it was against the law for the Orange Prize for fiction to be for women only.

This perhaps is a pointer to the sort of thing that might be banned under a Philip Davies “anti-political correctness” law. In the same debate, Davies complained that “the Labour Party is known for its intolerance of other people’s opinions”.

Cat and Mouse Act

Anne McIntosh may be approaching the end of her career as an MP, after being deselected by her constituency party in Thirsk and Malton, but she has one political cause to fight before she goes. She has been campaigning for Parliament to adopt a pet cat, from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Parliament’s mouse population is “spiralling out of control” she claimed today, in the Commons. Actually, the last count showed that there were fewer mouse sightings on the parliamentary estate in 2013 than in 2012, but she would doubtless argue that even the reduced figure of 221 is way too high. There is also the issue of who would empty the parliamentary cat’s or cats’ litter trays, because – believe it or not – there are no cat flaps in the Palace of Westminster.

John Thurso MP, who speaks for the Commons authorities, added that the building is so large that they would need “a herd of cats” to remove the mice.

A betrayal of justice

It is a pity that the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and other Conservatives pursuing their Little Englander campaign against the European Court of Human Rights were not in Committee Room 1 in Parliament today to hear the Russian politician and journalist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who has spent years campaigning for free speech in Russia.

He told a committee of peers that it was “a very important judgment” when the ECHR recently condemned the Russian government for arresting a peaceful demonstrator. “The last resort we have to independent justice is the European Court of Human Rights,” he said.

And yet, disgracefully, British ministers are out to destroy the authority of this court. To do so would be a betrayal of fellow Europeans for whom the ECHR is the final protection against tyranny.