BBBBC Interim Report
Here’s a link to UK Gov’s BBBBC commission & to a response survey. If you can, please do read & respond -
Here’s a link to UK Gov’s BBBBC commission & to a response survey. If you can, please do read & respond -
As August draws to a close, we are able to share with you a wonderful film with our 2019 Scrutopians. We would love to see you next year so please register your interest with Izzy in the office.
Roger Scruton has been reappointed as head of a government housing body after he was sacked in April following a magazine interview in which his views were misrepresented. The letter from housing secretary James Brokenshire, who fired Scruton, is published below:
Dear Sir Roger,
Thank you so much for our conversation about the next steps on the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission. As we both recognise, the publication of the Commission’s Interim Report provides an opportunity to consider next steps in finalising recommendations to Government to promote quality and beauty in the built environment. You have already been so influential in advancing this vision and I hope you will be able to play a leading role as the Commission embarks on the next phase of its work.
As we discussed, I would be pleased to see you re-appointed back to the Commission. It was helpful to receive your thoughts on this and what form this might take – including the suggestion that I consider appointing you as the Commission’s co-chair alongside Nicholas Boys-Smith. There is no doubt that Nicholas has done an incredible job in chairing the Commission over recent weeks and in achieving consensus with his fellow commissioners on the interim recommendations. I know we both have the highest regard for him.
In the light of this, I would be delighted if you would be willing to be re-appointed to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission as co-chair. I know that you still have so much more to give and hope this may also help to put things right after the regrettable events of recent months.
Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP
And here is Roger Scruton’s response:
Dear Secretary of State,
Thank you for your letter offering to bring me back on to the Commission. I think the suggestion that Nicholas and I be joint chairs is a very good one, since we work together well, and we could bring the job to a successful conclusion. And I am so pleased that all has been resolved in a friendly way and we can return to the matter in hand, which is so important.
The failure to stand up for conservative thinking is leading us into a new cultural dark age.
The intellectual scene always used to have room for great minds from the Right. Today they would be denounced for thought crime by a Left that cannot tolerate dissent.
This article was published on 20th July in The Telegraph - The full article can be read below
This is to report the good news that, in addition to the published apology from the New Statesman, Roger has now received an apology from the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, for the hasty decision made on the basis of a false and malicious report of The New Statesman’ interview.
The letter has been published by The Spectator (13/7/19) and it can be read here.
Here is the full text of the apology.
Dear Sir Roger,
As you will be aware, the interim report of the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission is due to be published today. I wanted to take this moment to thank you for the significant contribution you have made in helping to bring this about and for your leadership in promoting beauty in the built environment. I believe the Interim Report maintains the intellectual underpinning which you set out through your work with the Commission and provides a strong platform from which further work can now continue as we look towards the final recommendations.
I also welcome that the New Statesman has now published a correction to their original article of your interview with them which did not represent your views fairly and fully in the way that it should have. As you know, I regret that the decision to remove you from your leadership role within the Commission was taken in the way that it was. I am sorry – especially as it was based on a clearly partial report of your thoughts.
Following the publication of the Interim Report I am now considering the next phase of the Commission’s work. If you would be willing, I would like to invite you to meet to discuss this work and what part you might be prepared to play in advancing this important agenda which we both care about so much.
RT HON JAMES BROKENSHIRE MP
Press Statement from Sir Roger Scruton in response to the apology from The New Statesman 8 July 2019
Statement, Sir Roger Scruton: “I am pleased to have resolved my complaint against the New Statesman. They have apologised for how they misrepresented my interview on Twitter and accepted that their article in some fundamental ways did not accurately reflect what I had said. I am pleased that the words I actually spoke are now available (transcript) (audio). This experience was very unpleasant, not least on account of the rush to judgment by others in the media and in politics. I was particularly distressed by the behaviour of the Minister who sacked me on the strength of the NS article, without asking me whether it accurately represented anything that I had said. I was also astonished by the comments issued from Number Ten Downing Street, and by the fact that the Conservative Party made no collective effort to defend me. I am grateful to the New Statesman at least for this, that these distressing events have awoken me to the true moral crisis of the Party to which, despite everything, I still belong.”
Text of apology from The New Statesman
Sir Roger Scruton
The New Statesman interview with Sir Roger Scruton (“Cameron's resignation was the death knell of the Conservative party", 10 April) generated substantial media comment and will be readily recalled by most readers. We have now met with Sir Roger and we have agreed jointly to publish this statement.
In the interview, Sir Roger said of China: “They’re creating robots of their own people … each Chinese person is a kind of replica of the next one and that is a very frightening thing”. We would like to clarify that Sir Roger’s criticism was not of the Chinese people but of the restrictive regime of the Chinese Communist Party.
Sir Roger is quoted accurately in the article: "Anybody who doesn't think there's a Soros empire in Hungary has not observed the facts". However, the article did not include the rest of Sir Roger's statement that "it's not necessarily an empire of Jews; that's such nonsense". We would like to clarify that elsewhere in the interview Sir Roger recognised the existence of anti-Semitism in Hungarian society.
After its publication online, links to the article were tweeted out together with partial quotations from the interview – including a truncated version of the quotation regarding China above. We acknowledge that the views of Professor Scruton were not accurately represented in the tweets to his disadvantage. We apologise for this, and regret any distress that this has caused Sir Roger.
By way of rectification we provide here a link to a transcript of the interview and the original article so that readers can learn for themselves what Professor Scruton actually said in full. END
Reaction to the New Statesman article
The reaction to the New Statesman article turned quickly from condemnation of Roger to slow and steady acknowledgement that an injustice had been done: :
Wed 27th March, interview given to George Eaton in Roger’s own room in Albany
Wed 10th April Interview published online on The New Statesman with inaccurate and distorted Tweets which wholly misrepresented the interview.
Roger in Paris, civil servant from James Brokenshire MP’s department rings Roger’s home at about 3pm to say that in ten minutes time the government will announce he has been dismissed.
10th April onwards, many letters of support sent directly to Roger and many also sent to James Brokenshire, dismayed at his decision and lack of support for Roger. Douglas Murray and The Spectator start a campaign directed at George Eaton and the New Statesman to ‘Release the Tape’. Some Conservative MPs led by James Gray and Ian Duncan Smith call for Roger to be reinstated.
Roger writes articles where he is invited to do so giving his side: The Telegraph and The Spectator and Le Figaro; he is also commissioned by the Mail on Sunday although article only published later (links to articles below).
Friday 26th April The Today Programme releases the tape and in a high pressured interview, Roger has the chance to clear his name.
Audio tape published on Roger’s YouTube channel. That evening, the New Statesman publish a transcript of the interview. Some inaccuracies in the transcription.
Saturday 27th April The Spectator ‘The Scruton tapes: an anatomy of a modern hit job – How a character assassination unfolded on Twitter’ Douglas Murray.
Saturday 27th April James Brokenshire MP calls Roger for the first time.
James Brokenshire MP writes to Roger, letter dated 30th April. Both communications from Brokenshire refer only to the Twitter storm and a selected single phrase as justification for his decision. Roger not given right to respond.
Letters from supporters and European politicians to Brokenshire are not answered.
The Roger Scruton interview: the full transcript New Statesman
Full Audio of the interview on Roger Scruton’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCYqhfc1wn4
‘An Apology for Thinking’, Roger Scruton, The Spectator 11/4/19 https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/roger-scruton-an-apology-for-thinking/
‘Notre Dame de Paris’, Roger Scruton, Le Figaro 17/4/2019 http://www.lefigaro.fr/vox/societe/roger-scruton-notre-dame-calcinee-nous-rappelle-cet-heritage-spirituel-qui-ne-doit-pas-mourir-20190417
‘After my own dark night’, Roger Scruton, – The Telegraph 20/4/2019 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/04/19/human-stories-rebirth-redemption-vital-part-meaning-easter/
‘Diary’, Roger Scruton, The Spectator 20/4/19 - https://www.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/roger-scruton-should-i-forgive-the-journalist-who-got-me-fired/
‘The Today Programme’, BBC Radio 4 – 26/4/19
‘The Scruton tapes: an anatomy of a modern hit job - How a character assassination unfolded on Twitter’, Douglas Murray, The Spectator 27/4/19 https://www.spectator.co.uk/2019/04/the-scruton-tapes-an-anatomy-of-a-modern-hit-job/
‘Sir Roger Scruton battled the Thought Police behind the Iron Curtain as a young man. Now he says they've come for him in Britain after he was wrongly accused of making racist slurs’, Roger Scruton, Mail on Sunday 30/6/2019 https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7196653/SIR-ROGER-SCRUTON-battled-Thought-Police-Iron-Curtain.html
Peter Whittle talks to Sir Roger, the pair discuss politics, conservatism and of course the now infamous interview with the New Statesman magazine.
Watch the interview on YouTube here
SIR ROGER SCRUTON battled the Thought Police behind the Iron Curtain as a young man. Now he says they've come for him in Britain after he was wrongly accused of making racist slurs.
By SIR ROGER SCRUTON FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY. PUBLISHED: 00:27, 30 June 2019 | UPDATED: 00:28, 30 June 2019
In 1979, when teaching philosophy at the University of London, I responded to an invitation to address a private seminar in Prague. I travelled from Poland, already inwardly frozen by the eerie chill of Communism – and Communist Prague did nothing to raise my spirits.
I confess, I am an anti-communist.
During the 1970s and 1980s, anti-communists were shunned in the UK’s universities. After all, we were attacking the revolution that offered to liberate mankind from the world-wide capitalist conspiracy. Our professors admitted that the Soviet Union had gone wrong; but it was wrong in practice, not in theory. We apologists for capitalism were wrong in theory, which was far worse than the mere accident of causing 20 million deaths and the extinction of individual liberty across half the globe.
Dear Mr. Speaker,
Dear Madam President,
Ladies and gentlemen, Ministers,
but above all, Dear Professor, our distinguished guest,
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am delighted that I could today honour Mr. Professor with the Great Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland on a day that has a special dimension in the Republic today. Exactly 30 years ago, the first semi-free elections to the Sejm, the free elections to the Senate were held in Poland, but first and foremost - by breaking the current communist regime - the march of Poles to freedom took place.
I am saying this because in 1979, the Professor wrote an essay - obviously in Great Britain - which was entitled "What is conservatism?". Professor - an outstanding British philosopher and certainly one of the world's greatest thinkers - he presented there his prescription on how the policy should be implemented and what we aspire to.
You wrote about the necessity of moving away from ideology towards an idea understood as something that arises from the life and history of the nation, society and the state. In short: I think that it is best to sum it up to what is also my great idea, which accompanies me in my service for the Republic, for Poles - that politics is a rational concern for the common good.
That's when - in 1980, throughout the 1980s and in effect in 1989 - the Poles showed that they wanted to be free. They showed it as a society, as a nation, breaking communist ideology - against ideology, in words and in deeds, with the idea of freedom and true democracy.
I have no doubt that the views voiced by you, Professor, also contributed to the increase of courage in Polish society to do so. It was not the victory of the politicians of the then anti-communist opposition, it was a great victory for Polish society - people who defeated communism with the help of an election card.
Today we live in a completely different Poland than that - thanks to this courage, thanks to this great service of the idea of freedom and democracy. Today, Professor, Poland is different from the United Kingdom in 1979. And certainly the essence of concepts that we use today is also different.
Conservatism, liberalism, solidarity and socialism, surely mean something else for us now - but one thing is certainly permanent: that honest politics is about serving people, to listen to people, to listen to the needs of society, because that is real democracy. It is based on a sensible concern for the common good, or concern for an idea that - as I said earlier - grows out of the life and history of the nation, society and the state.
And this message, Professor, remains unchanged - also for us Poles. And for that we are hugely grateful.
Wystąpienie Prezydenta podczas uroczystości wręczenia odznaczenia Rogerowi Scrutonowi
Szanowny Panie Marszałku Sejmu,
Szanowna Pani Marszałek Senatu,
Szanowni Państwo Ministrowie,
ale przede wszystkim Wielce Szanowny Panie Profesorze – nasz dostojny gościu,
Wielce Szanowni Państwo!
Ogromnie się cieszę, że mogłem dzisiaj odznaczyć Pana Profesora Krzyżem Wielkim Orderu Zasługi Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej w dniu, który ma dzisiaj w Rzeczypospolitej swój szczególny wymiar. Dokładnie 30 lat temu w Polsce odbyły się pierwsze półwolne wybory do Sejmu, wolne wybory do Senatu, ale przede wszystkim rozpoczął się – poprzez przełamanie dotychczasowego reżimu komunistycznego – marsz Polaków do wolności.
Mówię o tym, dlatego że w 1979 roku Pan Profesor napisał esej – oczywiście w Wielkiej Brytanii – który nosił tytuł „Czym jest konserwatyzm?”. Pan Profesor – wybitny brytyjski filozof i z całą pewnością jeden z największych na świecie myślicieli – przedstawił tam swoją receptę na to, w jaki sposób powinna być realizowana polityka i do czego dążymy.
Pisał Pan Profesor o konieczności odejścia od ideologii na rzecz idei rozumianej jako coś, co wyrasta z życia i historii narodu, społeczeństwa i państwa. Mówiąc krótko: myślę, że najlepiej można to podsumować tym, co jest także moją wielką ideą, która towarzyszy mi w realizacji mojej służby dla Rzeczypospolitej, dla Polaków – że polityka to rozumna troska o dobro wspólne.
Wtedy właśnie – w 1980 roku, przez całe lata 80. i w efekcie w 1989 roku – Polacy pokazali, że chcą być wolni. Pokazali to jako społeczeństwo, jako naród, przełamując komunistyczną ideologię – przeciw ideologii, na ustach i w czynie z ideą wolności i prawdziwej demokracji.
Nie mam żadnych wątpliwości, że właśnie idee głoszone przez Pana Profesora także przyczyniły się do wzrostu odwagi w polskim społeczeństwie, aby to uczynić. Nie było to zwycięstwo polityków ówczesnej opozycji antykomunistycznej, to było wielkie zwycięstwo polskiego społeczeństwa – ludzi, którzy pokonali komunizm przy pomocy kartki wyborczej.
Dzisiaj żyjemy w zupełnie innej Polsce niż tamta – właśnie dzięki tej odwadze, dzięki temu wielkiemu służeniu idei wolności i demokracji. Dzisiaj, Panie Profesorze, Polska jest inna niż Wielka Brytania tamtego 1979 roku. I z całą pewnością inna jest też istota pojęć, którymi dziś się posługujemy.
Co innego na pewno znaczą dla nas konserwatyzm, liberalizm, solidarność i socjalizm – ale jedno jest z pewnością trwałe: że uczciwa polityka polega na służeniu ludziom, słuchaniu ludzi, polega na tym, by wsłuchiwać się w potrzeby społeczeństwa, bo to jest prawdziwa demokracja. Polega właśnie na rozumnej trosce o dobro wspólne, czyli trosce o ideę, która – jak wcześniej powiedziałem – wyrasta z życia i historii narodu, społeczeństwa i państwa.
I to przesłanie, Panie Profesorze, pozostaje niezmienne – także dla nas, Polaków. I ogromnie za nie dziękujemy.
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