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Artillery Row

The slick glide through the institutions

When values are outsourced to third-party organisations, everybody suffers

I am not a philosopher. I don’t have the intelligence or patience to understand the complex origins of social phenomena, including the modern mania for all things “woke”. But seven years as a footsoldier in the culture wars has taught me why the childish inanities of social justice ideology have been allowed to persist in public life for so long.

My first foray into campaigning was Fair Cop, the organisation founded in 2019 to expose the police’s harassment of gender critical women for expressing perfectly legitimate views. Part of my work involved submitting Freedom of Information requests to all 43 constabularies to obtain their spending on Pride-related activities. We discovered almost every police force was signed up to Stonewall, paying upwards of £2,500 a year of taxpayers’ money to display the charity’s logo on their websites.

Well — I say “charity”. Stonewall long ago completed the journey from movement to business, to protection racket. Today it is more accurately “3PO”: a third-party organisation. And it is just one prominent star among a galaxy of 3POs advising public and private sector organisations on a diverse (ha!) range of issues.     

It was last summer I first heard the term 3PO, when I began volunteering for Don’t Divide Us, the organisation campaigning against the increasing racialisation of society. I helped promote its second report which examined the influence of 3POs in schools, and identified almost 50 organisations providing training, workshops, and teaching materials. 

Many of these “experts” promoted highly-contested ideas springing from Critical Race Theory, teaching children that they are inherently disadvantaged by the accident of ethnicity, and pushing classroom resources such as the “White supremacy pyramid”.

Until recently I thought 3POs were only found on the racial, sexual and gender battlefields of the culture war. I was wrong. 

As I’ve discussed in these pages, in recent months I’ve been focused on public procurement, investigating an obscure piece of legislation that requires suppliers to demonstrate “social value” in their bids. The lack of any statutory body to evaluate these initiatives means suppliers can deliver any old toss — including, in one instance, counting a school careers fair as an “educational initiative” — and claim that it somehow benefits society. 

The Social Value Act is a particular boon for 3POs, which give a veneer of respectability to any project claiming to be “socially valuable”. Theirs is a laughably simple business model: tell organisations they’re racist, homophobic, or transphobic; trouser a four- or five-figure sum for “training” them; then give ‘em a badge to prove they’re no longer bigots.  

The prevalence of 3POs and their capture of organisations are symptomatic of a collective, near-universal loss of moral confidence. Time was when the people running schools, businesses, and police forces rose to their positions of leadership because they were trusted to make tough decisions — especially on moral and ethical questions. 

They need the credibility, the “seal of approval” that only 3POs can provide

Today, no one in public life seems to have the gumption to tackle thorny questions about sex, sexuality, gender, or race. These are now outsourced to entirely unaccountable third parties, most of which have an axe to grind or an ideology to inculcate. Today, every brand is in a “virtue arms race”, competing not on product or price, but on proving their adherence to fashionable ideologies. They need the credibility, the “seal of approval” that only 3POs can provide.

It is organisations’ and their leaders’ reluctance to shed the aegis of 3PO morality that explains why the police, the CPS, councils, and even the Premier League are still harassing gender critical women long after the court victories of Maya Forstater, Harry Miller and many others. It’s the reason schoolchildren are taught appallingly divisive and racist ideas as incontrovertible fact against their parents wishes. It explains corporations promoting breast binding and other self-harm practices championed by discredited trans lobby groups like Mermaids. And it’s behind the scandalous waste of taxpayers’ money on unmeasured, unmonitored “social value” initiatives.

Yet none of this explains the near-total abrogation of moral leadership to 3POs. The simplest answer is that the grownups have lost the confidence to tell the children “No”. 

It started in the universities: from the Yale student yelling at her professor for not making the university a “safe space”, to the Evergreen mob shaming faculty members in scenes reminiscent of Cultural Revolution “struggle sessions”. In a victimhood culture, the tyranny of “lived experience” reigns; unless one shares their protected characteristic, one cannot gainsay special interest groups. It was inevitable that Oppression Olympians, having conquered the campus, would seek to infiltrate organisations, indoctrinate and intimidate employees, and misrepresent the law. Because they know no one will ever stand up and say: “No. Enough.”

This shirking of responsibility infantilises all of us. It sends the message that we are not thinking, moral individuals; that far from being informed citizens with developed consciences, we’re cattle to be driven in the direction of righteousness by self-appointed herdsmen.  

Almost exactly a year ago, Sue Gray resigned as the Cabinet Office Director of Propriety and Ethics to join Keir Starmer’s team. As Charles Moore commented at the time: “Ethics are a matter for every single human being and cannot be delegated to a priestly caste, often taxpayer-funded.”

Quite so. You don’t need a Master’s in Philosophy to know what’s right. Nor do you need one to see what’s going so terribly, terribly wrong. 

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