I start the week by going through my iPhone to delete the numbers of former friends. It sounds depressing, but it’s actually quite cathartic. I suppose it all started with Brexit. I’m not a confrontational person, so it was surprising to find so many friends turning against me over their newfound devotion to a neoliberal trading bloc. Since then, I’ve watched the ongoing curdling of rational minds with a growing sense of incomprehension. So many on the left appear to have surrendered to a collective fantasy in which the slightest point of political disagreement is interpreted as evidence of fascism. Someone I’ve known for more than a decade went all Mr Hyde on me in a pub one night, barking that I was a ‘Nazi’, which is about as antithetical to my worldview as you can get. Still, there’s something to be said for bigots outing themselves like this, and it does free up your social calendar.
The commentariat had a similar tantrum this week after the actor Laurence Fox had the temerity to express his opinions on Question Time. In the light of the threats and abuse that Fox has received since his appearance, it’s worth considering what he actually said. He urged everyone to be united in our condemnation of racism. He said that the word ‘racism’ should be reserved for racists. He pointed out that the fear of being falsely branded as racist can have catastrophic consequences, citing the revelations that police in Manchester failed to protect children from rape and violence due to concerns over race relations. He argued that the concept of ‘white privilege’ was unhelpful and generalising. Finally, he mocked Shami Chakrabarti’s suggestion that the Labour leadership should be decided on the basis of gender. On all of these points he happens to be right, but even if one takes a contrary stance I can’t see how any of this is especially controversial. Question Time is meant to be a debate, not a one-sided reiteration of intersectional dogma. This is one of the reasons I’m touring the UK with Douglas Murray later this year in a discussion show called Resisting Wokeness. We hope to open up some conversations that are badly needed.
This article is an extract from Andrew Doyle’s Spectator Diary, available in this week’s magazine.