Search This Blog


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

"The content of their character"

The most ringing sentence of Martin Luther King's 1963 Lincoln Memorial speech concerned his children: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character."

Liberal opinion was agreed on one thing at the time. That it was as wrong to judge people on the colour of their skin as it was correct to judge them on the content of their character. Richard Rees used this as a stake in the ground in a penetrating Analysis on Radio Four. He looked at how since the 70s the political class has either avoided the character issue altogether or treated it as a bourgeois invention. And what's more he gets people to actually voice the idea that they were never happy talking about character development.

"It's because of the unresolved class conflict of British society," says Matthew Taylor, a former strategy adviser to Tony Blair. I bet Matthew, who's the son of Professor Laurie Taylor and Anna Coote, got plenty of character building at home and at Emanuel School. The notion that he and other expensively-raised apparatchiks of all the parties thought that this was stuff that somehow didn't apply to the working class takes your breath away.