August 6, 2020 - 3:00pm

There’s no denying it. Many of our publicly-funded institutions have a problem with diversity — viewpoint diversity, that is.

They’ve become political monocultures, in which those who dissent from the prevailing orthodoxy (Leftist, liberalish and Remainery) may seriously damage their careers.

On Monday, Matthew Goodwin wrote about the problem in academia — citing the research that demonstrates it’s not just a figment of the Right-wing paranoid imagination. Not that such proof is needed. Cancel culture is just too blatant right now for any reasonable observer to pretend this stuff isn’t happening.

Therefore those who run our universities, broadcasters and arts bodies can’t dodge the issue any longer. They must either justify the ideological closed shops they preside over — or do something to challenge the groupthink.

If they opt for former, coming out loud and proud as activist organisations, then they must be funded accordingly — i.e. not from the public purse. If, on the other hand, they want to retain the privileges that come with their status as public institutions then they must show that they’re willing to reflect and respect the values of the whole nation, not just the metropolitan middle class.

The BBC knows there are limits to what it can get away with. The Corporation’s notoriously biased comedy output, for instance, now features some non-standard issue voices like Simon Evans on The News Quiz and Geoff Norcott on The Mash Report.

And yet, there’s a danger here of ‘Rightwashing’ — i.e. institutions pointing to a small number of licensed dissenters, hoping we won’t notice an underlying culture of ideological conformity. Don’t get me wrong — it’s not that Evans and Norcott are token presences. On the contrary, they’re the star turns of the shows they appear on. Which they’ve had to be. There’s no easy, PC clap-lines for them — they’re constantly skating on thin ice, testing and teasing young, liberal audiences with ideas that aren’t supposed to be heard, let alone enjoyed. That these performers do get laughs is testament to their wit and subtlety.

So, yes, of course, they get airtime — because why on Earth shouldn’t they? However, true viewpoint diversity will only be achieved when the broadcasters promote Right-wing comedians who are every bit as predictable and charmless as their least talented (and ubiquitous) Left-wing equivalents.

In a context where viewpoint diversity does exist, you not only get the best that each side has to offer but also the worst and everything in between. That’s collectively true of our newspapers and think-tanks, but not in academia, broadcasting, theatre etc where the Left enjoys a near-monopoly on mediocrity.

Peter Franklin is Associate Editor of UnHerd. He was previously a policy advisor and speechwriter on environmental and social issues.