Peter Hitchens
Mail on Sunday

But at least Charles still has a mind of his own
12:30pm 21st November 2004

Prince Charles is right. Our schools and trash culture encourage children to think they can rise to the top without effort or talent.

This is because comprehensive, mixed-ability teaching, combined with indiscipline, crushes talent and punishes effort. The result of this is deep disappointment and often failure.

This leads to the pathetic adulation of footballers, rock singers and film stars, our new aristocracy. They are worshipped because, in many cases, they have become rich and famous without any educational attainment at all - the impossible dream of millions of others who will never have the same luck.

One of the ideas that can no longer be openly challenged in Britain is the ridiculous belief we are all equal. Of course we are not, and never can be, and a society that pretends that we are will never work properly. The best will be prevented from being fully themselves while others will be filled with longing for wealth and fame that can never be theirs.

Those born with more skills, gifts and talents are obliged to help those born with fewer of these things, a tough duty most of the new elite prefer to shirk by pretending we are all the same when they know it's not true.

Instead of doing anything personally for the less fortunate, they strike poses about how egalitarian they are while being careful to keep a firm hold on their own advantages.

All societies based on the idea of equality are fantastically unequal in practice. Their privileged classes keep their luxuries and advantages secret and so hang on to them. When I lived in Soviet Moscow, the elite dwelt in luxurious flats and country houses, had access to special hospitals and could get their children into the best schools and colleges. But officially they were all equal.

Does this remind you of anyone? It reminds me a lot of Mr Blair and his friends, pensions, mansions, expenses and all. They know Charles has a point, which is why his remarks - in a private memo, not a public speech - have opened stage three of New Labour's slow-motion coup d'etat, an outrageous direct political attack on the heir to the throne.

Charles is one of very few people in public life to dare to be unfashionable. If he'd had to be 'elected' - picked by a tiny elite of party activists for a safe seat - he would have had all his independence squeezed out of him long ago.

But, immune from the seedy process we absurdly call 'democracy', he has been able to keep a mind of his own. And, while he may not be a genius, he deserves enormous credit for his seriousness and willingness to think.

New Labour regards this as dangerous heresy, which is why its vigilant musclemen, the former(?) Marxist Charles Clarke and the former(?) Communist John Reid, have breached the constitution, rubber truncheons swinging.

Remember, Charles never said any of this publicly. What angers these intolerant brutes is that he thinks it. They aim to put a stop to such things - and anyone who gets in their way had better watch out.

Columns Archive July-December 2004