Last night's edition of Question Time revealed a rather sad fact about our cultural climate. Not a single politician could name and recite a poem that had inspired them. The most pathetic attempt came from a government minsister who single-handedly illustrated the intellectual vacuum at the heart of the current regime. Only Peter Hitchens rose to the challenge, by reciting a poem by AE Housman. He spoke eloquently of the delight and privilege of retaining beautiful things in the mind and of remaining in contact with the thoughts and ideas of our ancestors.
We seem to be entering a new sort of Dark Ages. In forgetting the rich treasures that have been handed on to us by generations of poets, writers and philosophers, we are turning our back on a vast source of received wisdom. It is being replaced by inanity and shallowness. Many people in public life - even those at the top of government - have no concept of the eternal truths which can be most effectively encountered in poetry. It is a dangerous situation to be in. If we abandon the tried and tested values of our culture we have to replace them with something else. History shows that attempts to do this have devastating consequences.