In his interview with Jonathan Derbyshire in this week’s New Statesman, Philip Pullman discusses the Labour government’s baleful record on civil liberties: “Civil liberties are under threat,” he says. The piece also mentions Pullman’s address last year to the Convention on Modern Liberty, in which he declared that Britain was sleepwalking towards “authoritarianism”. This video shows that speech in full. In it, Pullman sets out the conditions required for “a society fit for living in”.
Pullman has long been a fierce advocate of secular morality. With the recent publication of his fictionalised story of Jesus/Christ, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, Pullman addresses these values in the context of the Christian culture in which he was raised. He says in the interview that “Christians in this country today say they aren’t being respected. But the idea of demanding respect seems to me a profoundly un-Jesus-like thing to do.” At a time when former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey is doing just that, Pullman’s eloquent defence of secular values is very welcome.