IF you’re having a bad day, may I recommend CBeebies. Borrow a toddler if you need the cover.

Start with The Clangers, so that Michael Palin’s narration may soothe your furrowed brow. Then try Apple Tree House, a gentle tale of friendship between a multi-ethnic group of children in a London housing block. Flip over to CBeebies Loves Shakespeare to see A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest – not some dumbed-down version, but the real thing. You could even try surreal bedtime show In The Night Garden (though this is not advised if you have been drinking).

CBeebies is quite ridiculously brilliant, which is why parents have leapt to defend it amid the recent talk of abolishing the BBC licence fee. In the never-ending debate about what-the-BBC-has-ever-done-for-us, apart from unsurpassed news output, incubating new talent, commitment to regional broadcasting and so on and so on, you can include CBeebies.

Why is it so popular? Because, I think, it supports positive parenting by encouraging kindness, tolerance and empathy while entertaining children so you can get on with the tea.

But perhaps above all it provokes strong emotions because of what it represents. With its emphasis on helping children understand each other, themselves and the world around them, on tolerance and openness, it projects the sort of ideal Britain most of us would like to live in.

Unfortunately, right now, it sometimes feels as if that vision of Britain, along with the BBC itself, is under imminent threat.

With the Government’s impatience to take a wrecking ball to stuff, whether the BBC or the immigration system or the courts or civil service, it feels as if a culture war is taking shape, one in which the Government seems determined to expunge all vestiges of the supposedly once all-powerful “metropolitan liberal elite”.

Of course, any serious definition of that term would have to include many Tory MPs, including Boris Johnson, but that’s a mere detail: it’s really shorthand for anyone decrying the populism that helped this Government win power.

The trouble for the Government is that there is rather a lot to be said for liberal values. Indeed, for many people both here and abroad, liberal values define what is good about Britain, as embodied in the inclusive agenda and independence of the BBC, or the pragmatism and tolerance of existing immigration arrangements.

Once Dominic Cummings has laid down his sledgehammer, however, there may not be much of those things left to feel proud of any more.

The BBC is totemic in this struggle.

There is a debate to be had about what should happen to the licence fee in the Netflix age. And not everyone who advocates changing BBC funding arrangements wants to destroy it.

But let’s not kid ourselves about the agenda behind Government moves to dump it. Tory ministers since forever have disliked the BBC operating outside the free market and have tended to see it is as a taxpayer-funded bastion of lefty liberalism (they point to the satirical output, as if there is something biased about comedians savaging the government of the day, while ignoring the remarkable number of senior BBC news journalists who have gone to work for the Tories). The real motivation emerged from a “Government source” at the weekend – “we will whack it” – followed by insistence that the corporation needed “massively pruning back”.

Unfortunately, Mr Cummings arrives to find the BBC’s gates largely undefended because its usual supporters are too busy arguing among themselves over perceived BBC partiality. I don’t intend to rehash those endless disputes here, but it is worth pointing out that when Labour, Tories, Leavers, Remainers, Scottish Nationalists and anti-independence supporters are all grumbling about BBC bias, they cannot all be right. The BBC makes mistakes but it is generally remarkable for its balance and impartiality.

Those who value having a well-funded independent public broadcaster need to stop fighting each other and defend it.

It’s not just the BBC. This week, a new immigration system was announced that sticks two fingers up at Remainers, the business community, care providers, the NHS, the Scottish Parliament and any person lacking residency rights who earns less than £25,600.This will supposedly force employers to improve productivity and increase wages to attract British workers.

One doesn’t wish to be cynical, but let’s just see how that works out, shall we, given that 87 per cent of Britain’s “economically inactive” are students, retirees, carers for children or elderly relatives and the long-term sick. In the absence of actual people, the care sector will presumably have to use robots to get people up in the mornings.

Let’s see this for what it is: a policy that no sensible government would choose to implement but which this one has boxed itself in with following a Leave campaign that was often xenophobic in flavour.

Soon, we will find out what the Government has planned for the judiciary, after it ominously announced a review of “how our democracy operates”. There are reasonable fears among judges that Boris Johnson would like to curtail their independence.

So far, these are threats and proposals. Mr Cummings may not get his way on the BBC and the new immigration system may prove more porous than it seems. But there is good reason to be worried.

Being British, if it means anything, is sometimes understood as being moderate and tolerant, shunning extremes in favour of pragmatism and common sense.

Successive governments have broadly complied with that, but, it seems, not this one. As the disgraceful Sabisky affair has highlighted, the outliers and weirdos are now being ushered into Downing Street simply for being outliers and weirdos, their disruptive influence valued above all else, including basic decency.

This is bracing, some might even claim exciting – what will Dom do next? – but it is also dangerous, so very dangerous, because at the highest level of government, there seems to be an almost allergic reaction against recognising what is good about British institutions and preserving those things.

If all these changes happen as the Government plans, then Britain is transforming into a very different beast.

What emerges at the end may not be so very likeable.