An author who claimed that free speech and public life in Britain were being destroyed by "political correctness" was accused yesterday of being in the grip of "political incorrectness gone mad".
A book published by the think-tank Civitas described political correctness as "soft totalitarianism" and suggested that it was to blame for the bomb attacks on London on 7 July, excessive house building in rural areas, the spread of HIV, and for the deaths of NHS patients who could have been saved by a more efficient health system.
The author, Anthony Browne, a journalist for The Times, claims to have been prevented from appearing on the radio to make the "factually correct" but "politically incorrect" statement that the increase in HIV is caused by immigration from Africa. "The result of that conspiracy of silence is the Government follows a policy that does absolutely nothing to combat the growth of HIV," he wrote.
He also claimed "political correctness" had "allowed the creation of alienated Muslim ghettoes which produce young men who commit mass murder against their fellow citizens" and public debate on how to provide better health care had been suppressed because "the NHS is one of the few organisations that actually runs on the principle of political correctness". Mr Browne said: "Political correctness is literally killing people. If someone is poor because they are lazy, ill-disciplined, addicted to benefits and resentful of those who aren't, then encouraging them to blame others rather than emulating them will in fact just perpetuate their poverty."
Most of his criticisms were directed at institutions, including the Government, the BBC, The Independent, The Guardian, the National Lottery, Amnesty International and the Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE). The Labour MP Stephen Pound, one of the few individuals named in the 100-page booklet, was accused of practising political correctness because of his comment "the people have spoken - the bastards", which he made after listeners of the BBC's Today programme voted in favour of allowing homeowners to use force to protect property. Mr Pound dismissed Mr Browne's book as "political incorrectness gone mad".
The CPRE was accused by Mr Browne of being afraid to speak out on what is causing the pressure to build more houses in the country. Nick Schoon, of the CPRE, replied: "Population is rising. That's largely due to immigration. Average household sizes are shrinking. That is connected with 'lifestyle choices', with increasing divorce and separation - but we're not going to divert resources into campaigning against small households or against immigration."Reuse content