The Orwellian nightmare is with us. Rotherham’s UKIP witch-hunt is the shape of things to come
George Orwell got it wrong. He should not have called his futuristic novel 1984 - it should have been 2012.
The message is clear. Unless you subscribe fully to official equality and diversity policies and conduct your lives in like the most precious of Guardian columnists, you can forget about getting a pass grade.
In recent times, we have witnessed a string of court cases in which devout Christians who have run slap-bang into the secular orthodoxy. Wearing a cross to work, refusals to conduct same-sex civil partnership ceremonies or preside over gay adoptions and denying bed and breakfast accommodation to gay couples have all led to legal disputes. Even offering to pray for the sick can land you in hot water.
But this looks like being just the beginning of an Orwellian witch-hunt pitting the equality police against 'oldthink'. As Aidan O'Neill QC, a human rights barrister at the impeccably progressive Matrix Chambers, has warned, the legalisation of same-sex marriage will spawn a raft of new, corrosive disputes between those holding traditional beliefs about marriage, sex, gender and religion and the high priests of the equality crusaders.
Chaplains working for state organisations such as the NHS, the armed forces and schools and teachers will face disciplinary action, even the sack, if they question gay marriage.
Britain was once famed for its love of eccentrics and its tolerance of competing beliefs and ways of life. But with the Harriet Harmanisation of our official culture, all this seems to be coming to an end. The Left's 'long march through the institutions' is reaching the summit.
There was also a time when the Conservative Party could be expected to act as a voice for common-sense and as a defender of traditional values. The Tories may not have often succeeded in turning back the clock, but at least they acted as a brake on the loonier ambitions of the Left's cultural commissars.
Not now. David Cameron has acceded to gay adoption and is actively driving through the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the teeth of opposition from at least 120 of his MPs and the public.
He has not so much surrendered in the culture wars as turned his guns on his own side.