Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer was the last lord of Felbrigg Hall, a stately home in Norfolk. He was a confidant of the writer Anthony Powell, he was a Justice of the Peace, and he was a Major in the East Norfolk Home Guard during the Second World War. He wrote biographies of William Windham, Horace Walpole, and Thomas Gray, and his last work was a historical portrait of Norfolk in the Civil War. He was also, the National Trust has recently decided to tell everybody, homosexual.
Making up for the fact that Lord Ketten-Cremer never publicly came out, his death being only two years after the ‘decriminalisation’ of male homosexuality, the Trust decided to ‘out’ him in a short film featuring Stephen Fry. This move was criticised by the godchildren of the lord but the National Trust were not content with stopping there. They also decided that the volunteers at Felbrigg Hall must wear pride badges and lanyards to mark his homosexuality, the discovery of which conveniently coincides with the anniversary of ‘decriminalisation’. When 30 volunteers, for a multitude of reasons, objected to this, the Trust decided that they should be banished to backroom work, away from the eyes of the public, until they either fell into line or the summer was over.
It is a pleasure to write that the National Trust have, as of August 5th, decided to reverse this policy. Such a U-turn, however, does not forgive their heavy-handed authoritarianism, which can best be described as bullying. One must never forget, as gay activists often remind us, that the pride badge does not symbolise the gay population’s annual piss up: it is in fact a political symbol. In other words: the volunteers were being told to implicitly endorse a political view …or else. Imagine the outrage if the Trust, suddenly in possession of a home linked to Margaret Thatcher, forced volunteers working there to wear a badge symbolic of the Conservative Party. We would not stand for it then, and people should not have stood for it in the case of a pride badge.
There is, however, a further issue at stake here. What this whole episode demonstrates is the power of the authoritarian liberal elite. These are the people who have simply nothing better to do with their time than being offended when anybody disagrees with their world view, which they simply know is correct by virtue of it being them thinking it. Such an attitude was seen most recently when the government announced their plans to make ‘changing’ one’s gender easier. Anybody who questioned the perceived wisdom of the idea that a man could simply fill out a form, and be seen as a woman in the eyes of the law, was labelled a bigot and a transphobe. Perhaps, this writer ventures, because they had no alternative argument.
One thing that characterises this group is their tendency to descend into a crude reductionism. The Trust here, in conjunction with Stonewall, reduced Lord Ketten-Cremer’s achievements to no more than his sexual orientation. We see this also with the obsessive focus on the sexuality of William Shakespeare, the focus on the ethnicity of certain poets, and the idea that schools should study more literature written by women simply because of the reality of their gender.
Such a belief completely eviscerates any meaningful sense of humanity. When we reduce people to their sexuality or race, we reduce the power and the strength of their ideas. Instead of focussing on what somebody thinks, or the achievements of a person now long gone, we are encouraged simply to think only of how this person identified. This means that when a man raises the question of male suicide, he is shouted down simply because he is a man (unless, of course, he identifies as either a feminist or – even better – a woman.) Alternatively, when studying Shakespeare’s sonnets, students are encouraged to look for hints towards the Bard’s sexuality rather than the strength of his construction. It is difficult to think of something more anti-intellectual.
James Delingpole, for The Spectator’s last edition of July, wrote an article that criticised the proposed laws for gender transition. Towards the end of this, he bemoaned that the barbarians were at the gate, and Justine Greening was waving them in. This writer respectfully disagrees. The barbarians are not at the gate: they came through the gate long ago, and they are slowly rotting the city from the inside. It is now the duty of us, those of us who value people as human beings far before anything else, to expel them.