John Hayes MP isn’t a widely known figure, especially as Minister of Transport.
But today he published an extrordinary speech.
Titled ‘The journey to beauty‘, the speech was delivered on Monday. But it was only made public today.
He starts off with off with this bold claim:
the overwhelming majority of public architecture built during my lifetime is aesthetically worthless, simply because it is ugly.
Ok, that’s certainly going to raise some eyebrows. But he has a point.
Then he says:
To respond in detail to these objections, we might draw on the great philosophers.
Plato, through Aristotle, Hume, Hegel and Burke; and as the battle I intend to wage may become bloody, I probably will.
For they have all affirmed beauty as a thing of universal human value.
But for all the intellectual paucity of the brutal, modernising so-called ‘progressives’ – the case for ugliness in architecture falls on one straightforward fact: people don’t like it.
They crave harmony.
Well, that was unexpected.
But he is absolutely spot on (something we don’t say regularly of Tory ministers).
He goes on to say that transport can offer a way of offering beauty in public architecture.
The second reason that new transport design matters so much is that it is an architecture of the people.
Our busiest stations are used by millions every day.Their design has a profound effect on the well-being of those who pass through.
All this is true. And well done to John Hayes MP for making this point.
He ends by saying:
So be warmed – or warned – when I speak next I will set out when and how. How we will change what is built and what is saved – roads, rail and beyond.
Some who did the damage to our country were crass and careless. But some wrought monstrous havoc knowingly, wilfully.
All of them Philistines.
Well now the Philistines have met their David.
There’s only one problem – this government is too obessesed with tightening purse strings instead of investing in transport infrastructure, as is much needed.
In addition to the Philistines Perhaps Mr Hayes should wage war on the Prime Minister too?