Letts is superb at investigating the mindset of people, particularly in politics but in many other walks of life too, who want to boss other people around, frequently unnecessarily. His investigation into how banning things almost always backfires is inspired, and his overall political philosophy – that good, solid British common sense can be trusted more than officialdom’s bossiness – is an uplifting one.
There is something almost Burkean in Letts’ statement, apropos of officialdom’s demand that everything must be licensed by government, that “knowledge is a right. When rights need a licence, they cease to be rights.” Because he writes in such an engaging way, Quentin Letts might be mistaken as merely an entertaining journalist. He is that, of course, but he is also a political philosopher whose message is needed now more than at any time in the past half-century.
The beauty of this book is that it doesn’t huff and puff and threaten to dob in anyone who thinks differently. We un-wokers must be careful not to veer into snowflake territory ourselves, and Letts refuses to clutch his pearls over the strip of grass placed on the statue of Churchill by the Antifa mob ... Elegant, muscular and witty, this book has a gorgeous line on every single page. But, still, that title. Seeing as how the future isn’t going to be, as Orwell predicted, ‘a boot stamping on a human face forever’ but rather a finger wagging in a human face forever, for the paperback might I suggest the altogether more mellifluous The Scold War?
Underneath the jocularity of Letts’s style is a lot of real anger. We are no longer allowed to be naughty, eccentric individuals. We have to “comply, conform, surrender” our humanity. If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, perhaps the tutelary genius of this jeremiad is Peter Finch in the film Network when he goes on air to say: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more.”