Magazine article The Spectator

A Plague on the New Puritans

Magazine article The Spectator

A Plague on the New Puritans

Article excerpt

From Lawrence James Sir: Tories beware! Roundheads are infiltrating the party of the Cavaliers. The six new MPs (Letters, 13 August) who issued a tirade against contemporary decadence claim to be 'unencumbered by the political baggage of the past'. They are not, for they sing an old song. Their proposed new moral order is full of the dire warnings and prohibitions dear to the heart of Cromwell and his Puritans. Nothing less than a return to the bleak years of the 'Rule of the Saints' is proposed.

New moral gendarmeries succeeded the Puritans, all self-appointed moral elites who assumed the right to tell others what to do, read and think. The Society for the Suppression of Vice sniffed out licentiousness in Regency Britain, and Thomas Bowdler purged Shakespeare of anything that might bring a blush to a maiden's cheek. Victorian purity campaigners patrolled the music halls, bishops predicted that a decadent Britain would go the way of Rome, and local councillors censored 'naughty' postcards and deplored diminishing swimwear.

Now the killjoy sextet has embraced the tradition of meddling with and curtailing the pleasures of others. They should be ignored. Rather, the Tories should revive their cavalier spirit and offer themselves to voters as the party that will leave them alone to enjoy themselves in whatever ways they choose. It will have better fortunes as the party of Squire Weston than that of Mrs Grundy.

Lawrence James Balmerino, Fife From Revd Fraser K. Turner Sir: The letter penned by Messrs Binley, Bone, Burrowes, Davies, Goodwill and Harper concerning the abject liberal concepts that dominate this nation's politicians with the appalling consequences witnessed daily is in some ways refreshingly bold. The fact of the matter is that Bible-believing Christians have been critical of liberal policies for decades, but are marginalised and ignored and spoken of in pejorative terms.

Is it not time that consideration is given to the conservative moral views of this 'native ethnic minority' for a change?

Fraser K. Turner Inverness From William Packer Sir: It is hard to know which is the more depressing: the woolliness of the thinking of John Hayes ('Muslims are right about Britain', 6 August) and his young acolyte MPs or the woolliness of their language.

Words matter, and the unthinking elision of the liberal with the socialist Left is as mistaken as it is dangerous. There is nothing liberal about socialism, and there never was. High-minded egalitarian ideals are all very well, but in a free society they can only be achieved by social engineering of the most illiberal kind. …

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