Spare a moment for Liz Truss, minister for women and equalities, whose literacy and numeracy skills were apparently damaged by being educated about discrimination. “While we were taught about racism and sexism,” she claimed, reflecting on her childhood schooling, “there was too little time spent making sure everyone could read and write”.
It was a sentence that encapsulated the spirit of her flagship speech this week: misguided efforts to tackle entrenched bigotries against minorities hinder efforts to address the basic needs of the majority. It’s clear that the Conservatives intend to encourage resentment of those who advocate equality to further stoke a culture war. But there was another key takeaway from the speech: the chutzpah of a British right that has spent a decade stripping away social provision now claiming that the left is fixated on “identity politics” at the expense of class-based inequalities.
The thing being that there are rather a lot of us out here who think that class based inequalities aren’t of paramount importance. Even, that they don;t exist very much. And that a concentration upon them is indeed a culture war. Which, given that it is actually a culture war seems a sensible enough thing to believe.
Don’t forget, of the two miasmic horrors of the 20th century only one is unfashionable currently. A recommendation to invade Poland and turn people into soap will get you jailed these days. A recommendation to invade Poland and eliminate the bourgeoisie as a class gets you a book contract.
Quite seriously, I have a new book on my desk, from a major publisher, where a bloke recommends “environmental Leninism” and thinks “war communism for the climate” is a sensible idea. You know, invading Poland in 1920?
There is already a culture war going on and it’s not the conservatives – nor Conservatives – leading the charge.