What use is Cherie's degree to any of us?

Last updated at 16:58 13 November 2005

Do we need lawyers more than we need intelligent people in ordinary jobs?

Cherie Blair says she would have worked in a shop had she not gone to university. But would that have been so bad, either for her or for the country?

I often look back with a certain amount of shame on the privileges my undeserved university degree won for me in the Britain of the early Seventies. People far better than I - more experienced and wise in life, often better educated in important subjects - had been brought up to respect this inflated certificate.

In the days when very few had such an education there was reason for this. But after the great university expansion of the Sixties, the respect should have evaporated. I didn't really learn anything important until I had to go out and make my living.

My father's generation, and the one before, had no hope of going to university. They learned what they could at school and then worked. They stayed, in their attitudes and often in their lives, closer to home than my lot.

Yet I am pretty sure that they knew far more than I did, with my grand degree.

Their lives were full, literate and responsible. My grandfather, brought up in harsh Victorian Portsmouth, became a council school headmaster, a successful amateur football player and a founder of the National Union of Teachers.

What if he had gone to university? Would he, or England, have gained?

My father went through hard training to become a Naval officer and so was one of that great company who knew what to do when the guns began to shoot in 1939 and so quietly saved civilisation. If he had gone to university would he have been half so much use on the terrible Russian convoys?

His sister, who knew far more about English literature than most of today's graduates, was a superb nurse of the kind they don't have today, and taught others as a Sister Tutor.

Again, would a degree have made her better, or made this country better? I doubt it.

So much of our modern lives is froth, bought on credit by the over-qualified to disguise the emptiness at the heart of much of what we do.

And yet the real rewards of life well-lived - peace of mind, tranquillity at home, privacy, friendship, safety from crime and disorder, the time to explore our own interests - are harder and harder to obtain and often beyond price.

Orwell and Huxley, the true inspiration for New Labour

Nightmares come true daily. When I first read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984, I thought they were frightening fairy tales and warnings. What I didn't realise was that the people who now make up New Labour saw them as instruction manuals for a new society.

As we see daily, the future is now likely to be a nasty combination of the two, with a bit of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 thrown in, as TV destroys literacy and individual thought.

Computer and TV technology, combined with modern microphones, make the two-way telescreen possible.

The Thought Police already exist, enforcing political correctness with the threat of unemployment, fines and prison. A new Newspeak language is rapidly making it impossible to think and say things that the authorities dislike.

Death is generally hidden from us and the past has become a mystery to the young.

The destruction of the link between parent and child, and of private and family life, is incredibly far advanced.

If a parent cannot be told that her daughter is having an abortion, but the State knows, then parental authority has been abolished.

If tiny children are to be indoctrinated in state nurseries while their mothers and fathers toil to pay the taxes to finance this, then whose children will they be?

Totalitarianism is coming. This is how it comes. As James Madison warned long ago: 'There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power, than by violent and sudden usurpation.'

Chinese whispers as our police do Blair's bidding

During last Chinese presidential visit, police zealously persecuted protesters, almost certainly on the orders of our Government.

This time, they didn't do this. Oddly, Anthony Blair was able to predict on Monday that dissidents would be free to demonstrate. How did he know? Because the police, who used to serve the law, now serve the State - just as they did when they provided propaganda for the plan for 90-day detention.

By the way, can anyone tell me how smashing our liberties makes it easier to prevent terrorist acts? I don't see the connection myself and have yet to hear anyone make it. What use is Cherie's degree to any of us?

• Having been abroad, I have only just caught up with the new MMR report. It does NOT say definitively there is no risk. Nor does it end the argument. My view remains that a significant number of children may be affected by the triple vaccine and parents who want separate jabs should get them on the NHS. I'll change my mind when my doubts are dealt with, and when Anthony Blair and Gordon Brown say on the record if their own young sons have had the MMR.

They steal our liberty... yet wear a poppy

The rapid creation of a British police state has the support of the Murdoch Press and of public opinion. How strange that we as a people have lost so much backbone. Those who volunteered in their thousands in 1914 knew that they were free and that this, above all, was worth saving.

The idea that a British person could be locked up without trial, that an English copper could arrest them on a whim, swab, fingerprint and photograph them without proving anything against them, the idea that they could be arrested for an opinion, would have been astonishing to them. That was what happened in foreign countries. In Britain, the police arrested criminals and left everyone else alone.

Perhaps it is because so many of our best and bravest died in 1914 and in 1940, before they had time to have children, that we have become a nation made up increasingly of willing serfs on one hand and thugs wellqualified to be concentration camp guards on the other.

In my view, those who support these repellent anti-British measures should be too ashamed to show themselves at today's commemoration of those who fought and died for the liberties they wish to abolish. If these things happen, they died for nothing.

• Next Saturday the BBC will show an anti-EU programme, made by me, on its BBC4 digital channel. It begins in front of HMS Victory in Portsmouth. It ought to have begun on that wonderful ship's deck but we were denied permission to film there once Whitehall found out what it was about. I should have thought that Victory was national property, and that its ship's company fought and died precisely so I could say what I liked, there or anywhere else.