Things will improve after Boris Johnson’s ‘merry little Christmas’ – Bernard Ingham

BORIS Johnson’s “merry little Christmas” gets smaller and smaller. But I bring you tidings of great joy amid a more infectious pestilence and yet more lockdowns. Things can only get better.

The winter solstice is behind us. The days are lengthening. Saturn and Jupiter are in alignment over Bethlehem for the first time since 1623.

Our saviour – a Covid-19 vaccine – is being administered. Already my friends are planning a “jabs party” – suitably distanced, of course.

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And – with luck – only eight more days to Brexit. Our cup runneth over.

Are there any reasons for Boris Johnson to be cheerful? Bernard Ingham thinks so.

But that is not the end of it. At last the fightback for freedom of thought and responsible expression is under way.

In fact, Brexit is part of the recovery of freedom not only to govern ourselves but to think and speak freely. No more obeisance to the dictates of bureaucratic Brussels. There is now nowhere for our politicians to hide.

Accountability to a free-voting populace is a vital element of democratic freedom. It is why the Northern Red Wall voted Blue. The North struck a great blow for liberty in the general election a year ago.

You may think it ironic that I am writing this amid unprecedented peacetime restrictions on free association.

Boris Johnson is facing a confluence of events over Covid, Christmas and Brexit.

But even the most prejudiced must acknowledge that they have been imposed reluctantly. Our Prime Minister is nothing if not a libertarian and we can be confident he will lift the restrictions as soon as he feels able.

But there is not a blind bit of use recovering our freedom of movement and association if we are still unable freely to give vent to our opinions without the wrath of the woke, politically correct and snowflakes everywhere being visited upon us.

Not that this sanctimonious chorus affects me. I have been called all the names in the sun in my time and a few more won’t hurt.

In fact, I am immune to the anti-social media because I have no truck with it.

Lorries queue to enter the port of Dover in Kent. Christmas stockpiling and Brexit uncertainty have again caused huge queues of lorries to stack up in Kent.

But others far more exalted than me are regularly put in the dock.

Now the great news is that the censorious are not getting it their own way. Let me cite three immensely welcome instances of the counter-offensive.

First, the Appeal Court has ruled that people have the right to offend and even abuse each other without facing a police investigation. “Freedom to speak only inoffensively is not worth having,” the judges said.

I now look forward to the demise of our thought police who have recorded 120,000 “non-crime hate incidents” in England and Wales over the last five years.

Perhaps they will now devote their time to catching criminals.

I would also hope that the Government builds on this by bringing the internet’s anti-social media to account.

It is intolerable that there should be one defamation and pornography law for press, radio and television and another for the web.

It is bad enough that internet companies contribute little in tax to the economy.

The second blow for freedom has been struck by Liz Truss, our industrious International Trade Secretary.

In between concluding post-Brexit trade deals with 58 non-EU countries she, as the Equalities Minister, has turned to liberating the neglected white working class as part of a campaign to “level up” the country.

She wants the drive for equality to be led by facts and not by the latest social and societal fashions.

Finally, the Civitas think tank has blown the gaff on the threat to freedom of speech in our universities. Of our 137 universities, 93 have known controversy over censorship, including sackings, jeopardised careers, “no platformings” etc.

And among the worst are Oxford and Cambridge, though to be fair there has just been a revolt against official woke dictats in Cambridge.

What a blot on the escutcheon of institutions that are supposed to exist to promote inquiry, free-flowing ideas and debate!

In my experience, ridicule of the precious – i.e. woke, politically correct and obsessive – is a potent form of medicine for the afflicted.

They don’t like it up ’em. I trust society will build on these moves to create a more open, confident public dialogue.

My last bit of good news is evidence of the Government taking the Soviet threat to our freedom seriously. General Sir Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, says the Russians are “flexing their muscles in our backyard” – notably the North Sea. They are trying to break our willpower.

The fightback for freedom could not have come soon enough. Have a merry and optimistic Christmas. Things are looking up.

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