Tuesday, 25 June 2013

"Anti-Establishment": now a virtue?

Longer ago than I care to remember, I explained in a milk round interview (which I failed dismally) that the student magazine I was then involved in editing was the local equivalent of Private Eye. “So you’re anti-establishment?”, snapped the formidable figure on the other side of the table.

Now there’s a term that has surely developed beyond recognition. Reaching for the dictionary, we find a definition that runs “standing in opposition to the conventional social, political and economic principles of a society”. The traditional pillars of the establishment once indeed included the Church of England, the monarchy, the aristocracy and the House of Lords. And they probably still do.

But what about the modern establishment? Look at a recent highly topical Conservative Home article by Mark Wallace on institutions taking a battering. The NHS, for a rotten culture that put cover up ahead of care. The Metropolitan Police, for an extraordinary attitude towards the Lawrences. The justice system, for double standards over phone hacking. The BBC and the Ministry of Defence, for turning a blind eye to reckless squandering and waste.

The list could have been expanded. How about the Met Office, for their woeful forecasting and the AGW obsession that drove it? In parallel with the Department of Energy, for driving fuel bills up and failing to ensure long term continuity of supply? And let’s not start on the EU and the political class.

In the face of all of this, looking at present day social, political and economic principles and where they have brought us, have we already reached the point where “anti-establishment” no longer carries stigma but has become a compliment?

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