Saturday, 22 January 2022

Why is the right unattractive to disenchanted leftists? Because of conservative nostalgia for the 1950s?

 

'What liberal or former liberal would want to find themselves in an ideological movement in which opposition to the right to abortion, opposition to no-fault divorce, and a nostalgia for the era before the invention of the pill are commonplace? This isn’t to say that the conservative movement in America should not make these arguments. They can make them as much as they want. But they can hardly be surprised if others outside of their flock refuse to join them as a consequence.

'At the heart of this lies a centuries-old tension in America between the worlds of politics and religion. It was always said that the genius of keeping religion in the background during the founding of America was that it allowed it to flourish in the foreground later on. By contrast, the centrality of the established church in England almost guarantees the obscurity of religion’s place in public life.'

From Douglas Murray's latest article, about American politics, yesterday in Unherd

I read that with great interest. It explained why I didn't think Margaret Thatcher ever did anything conservative. I had in mind the sort of conservatism he thinks former leftists find repellant, now called social conservatism. 

In fact I was wrong - her economics were an important part of conservatism, and restricting the power of the trade unions and governing without prices and incomes policies was a huge achievement which seemed quixotic in 1979. 

But the 1960s social revolution did some good things (legalising homosexuality, for example) but was mostly ghastly and very often malign. (It might be because homosexual acts were illegal then in the UK that Douglas Murray feels no attraction to the 1950s.)

Marxism contributed a great deal to the 1960s social revolution.

It's most memorable moment was students in West Berlin in 1968 demonstrating against America, protected from 'real existing socialism' by NATO troops. 

It began with the anti discrimination laws of the 1964 Civil Rights Act in the USA and continues up to today, now called Woke.

I am a conservative because I believe in freedom, tradition and, above all, my nation. Free market economics are a very important part of freedom. But the British trade unions were suppressed not by Norman Tebbit's legislation, which of course I welcomed, but by huge unemployment and the destruction of much of British industry.

Yes, religion is very powerful and yes, paradoxically, a state ('established') church allows the establishment, in the modern post-1960s sense of the word, to control it. 

The move a long way to the left among the clergy is one of the most powerful forces in post-1960 European history, despite fewer and fewer white people believing in Christianity and despite working class people since 1960 giving up on the left. 

Theology in its widest sense underlies everything.

Both the left and the Church of England fail to reach the masses and both are in decline but the decline of Christianity is much steeper. 

The fact that what the clergy present to people is largely liberal, worldly, often materialistic ideas (think climate change, for example) is part of the reason.

Friday, 21 January 2022

Criminals believe in private property

Almost all criminals are right-wing conservatives. The exception are serial killers who are quite often left of centre and take the Guardian.

The essence of Marxism and of the Woke anti-discrimination ideology is nihilism. Nihilism morphs.

Countries like people can go mad. America is having a nervous breakdown and infecting the rest of the Western world. Russia and China are immune - were they to ally they would be a formidable foe to Biden and the Swamp.


Marxism was always about destruction not economics. Marxism played a part in the American Civil Rights movement and the 1960s social revolution which continues now, but the desire for destruction which is the essence of Marx morphs into other left-wing ideologies such as Woke.

Boris told the House of Commons a whopping lie on Wednesday and nobody noticed

I watched Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday. Sir Keir Starmer was no good - he told two rehearsed, unfunny jokes and landed no blows - but some backbenchers did. 

Lloyd Evans in the Spectator was absolutely right.
Sir Keir turned into a self-adoring giggle-pot and spent the entire session smirking, laughing, rolling his eyes, tossing his head, and throwing up his hands in contemptuous disbelief. All done to humour his baying supporters. He’s over-excitable. No gravitas. Today he simply needed to do his ‘disappointed waxwork’ routine and let public anger fill in the gaps. Instead, he tittered and simpered like a teenage boy who’s just been kissed.
David Davis landed what might have been a killer blow when he told the Prime Minister:
“I expect my leaders to shoulder the responsibility for the actions they take.

“Yesterday he did the opposite of that.

“So, I will remind him of a quotation which may be familiar to his ear: Leopold Amery to Neville Chamberlain.

“You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. In the name of God, go.”

The Prime Minister replied with a whopping lie to the House:
“I must say to him, I don’t know what he is talking about.

“What I can tell him, I don’t know what quotation he is alluding to."
Everyone in Parliament except perhaps the most uncultured and ignorant Labour MPs knows that famous quotation. Boris, who wrote a book about Churchill, certainly does.

Actually Davis mumbled the line and it seems it had no great impact - he is not popular or respected. 

He would have done better to have saved it for next week.

Leo Amery was quoting Cromwell dismissing the Long Parliament but Cromwell did not use those words, which were put into his mouth by Thomas Carlyle.

One of the 2019 intake of Conservative members crossed the floor to join Labour just before Boris rose to speak and this paradoxically seemed to have made the Conservative rebels have second thoughts.

Boris should go this year, but not before Covid subsides and not when Russia might invade Ukraine and not over this scandal. 

Thank God the Remainer Jeremy Hunt didn't become PM. Or Michael Gove who is responsible for Teresa May being Prime Minister, argued for lockdowns incessantly and went along with Theresa May's awful mess of Brexit. 

Fraser Nelson today:

How surprised can we really be about Boris Johnson’s No 10 shenanigans? He has always been a rule-flouting, outrage-inducing politician – that’s why he managed to deliver Brexit, save the Conservative Party and win the biggest majority they’ve seen in a generation. Covid-19 restrictions are now being dropped because his vaccine programme (again) triumphed. He has arguably achieved more in 30 months than John Major did in seven years – and he gets kicked out because his staff held a few parties?

But then again, think of all that hypocrisy. No one forced him to send the police after those who broke lockdown rules, but he did so anyway.
Lord Frost and Cummings are the most impressive men of the last few years in British politics, but Cummings is obviously flawed. Sir Keir Starmer, who forced Corbyn to go for a second referendum, is the least admirable man of the last few years. A dull, wooden man with fewer principles than Corbyn. 

Sir Anthony Blair from his point of view played a brilliant game in trying to prevent Brexit, but failed badly. He could have engineered the Norway option.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

What people say

 

The Independent
Boris Johnson’s removal from Downing Street would be an opportunity to reconsider Brexit, Conservative grandee Michael Heseltine has said.



"Conservatism starts with the sentiment that good things are easily destroyed but not easily created."
Sir Roger Scruton
"...‘I knew Boris well and always liked him. Never had a bad experience with him. But of all the journalists I know he’s the one I’d least like to be Prime Minister!’
"[Robert] Harris thinks that Johnson will be gone well before the next election because of what he calls the ‘rolling chaos’ of the PM’s life that ‘will go on and on. He can’t change his essential character. If he survives partygate, something else will come along in the spring. On the other hand he’s clearly tough and will put up a fight. He won’t give up what he’s got that easily.’"
Interview with Robert Harris in today's Spectator


I suspect an awful lot of the Labour party’s anger is due to the sheer joylessness of its members. They cannot bear to see people happy, because that would be a betrayal of the cause. And so they are infuriated by drinks parties where people seem to be having a good time — much as their anger is invoked when they hear that the Prime Minister has gone somewhere nice for his holidays, rather than doing as Margaret Beckett was wont to do and spend a vacation sitting in a fold-up chair outside a caravan by a canal near Wakefield in the drizzle eating a ham sandwich with her spouse.
Rod Liddle in today's Spectator


Beauty fades but stupidity doesn't.Me

Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Covid mass hysteria



Deaths from all causes in England and Wales from 28 December 2019 to 7 January 2022 were below the five-year average.


(Thank goodness the British cabinet (not Boris) decided to ignore the scientists' recommendation to have another lockdown at Christmas.)

“I used to consider Radio 4 a lifelong friend. Now, I think it despises me.”

Allison Pearson in the Daily Telegraph today talks about a phenomenon which is taking place around the developed world.


Dear old Auntie has morphed into an aggravating niece, the kind that comes home from uni with a nose ring and three passive-aggressive tattoos. Convinced of her own virtue, this expensively educated vegan proceeds to lecture her lovely, tolerant parents (doing their best to get to grips with kale smoothies) on dismantling structural racism and suggests they “educate themselves” on BLM before borrowing the BMW to drive to join her Extinction Rebellion mates who are busy digging up the turf of her father’s old college. In short, an insufferable, sanctimonious prig.


Not long ago, I had a day at home and kept Radio 4 on after the Today programme. Oh, boy! (Oops… I meant “non-binary individual”!) An award-winning writer was given half an hour to bleat about this dreadful, institutionally racist country which had had made her so unwelcome that it festooned her with honours.


Next came Woman’s Hour featuring some hapless Government minister trying to explain why, although it was regrettable that the conviction rate remained stubbornly low, not all men could be jailed for rape without, you know, due process. Chauvinist b------! No, even worse, white chauvinist Tory b------!


Surely, I thought, they couldn’t manage to shoehorn their tedious, progressive ideas into programmes about pot plants or food or puppies? Oh, just you watch them. Hour after hour, it was like listening to a Wagnerian aria of fashionable grievances. In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell compared totalitarianism to “a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. Well, daytime Radio 4 is like being hit about the head with a copy of The New Statesman – forever. Until it’s time for Front Row, it’s a wasteland. To anyone of a vaguely Right-wing disposition (at least half the country), it is barely tolerable. The product, I suspect, of an echo chamber full of young, metropolitan, Corbynist producers whom Victoria Wood once nailed as “lives in Tufnell Park / With a cat called Muriel Spark”.


As one Telegraph reader said sadly to me: “I used to consider Radio 4 a lifelong friend. Now, I think it despises me.”


It wouldn’t be so bad if these narrow, aggressively righteous views were confined to radio, but they have spread to BBC television, a fungus of funlessness on a well-loved face. Increasingly, there are ghettoes where the white middle-classes (the majority of viewers) can see themselves reflected (Antiques Roadshow, Countryfile). Very occasionally, a posh, educated Englishman is allowed on screen, but only as a paedophile, or in an obituary on the news.


Eastenders always was joyless progressive propaganda from the day it first aired and Dr Who was PC avant la lettre. Harold Nicolson admitted the BBC's left-wing bias during the war. Then Hugh Greene refusing to mention Mrs Whitehouse....

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

‘China is the best implementer of Catholic social doctrine’

Damian Thompson, former editor of the Catholic Herald in London, wonders if China pays the Vatican and this is why the Pope cooperates with the Communist regime to the detriment of the previously underground Church in China. 

He also wonders if the Chinese blackmailed the Vatican using information form a homosexual dating app they own call Grindr - I do not think there is much that is shocking to come out about the Vatican, considering what we already know about corruption, egregious child abuse and cocaine fueled homosexual orgies.

Gentle Catholic reader, please do not believe the misinformation that being a good Catholic means liking lots of employment laws and regulations, an active state or left-wing politics. It does not.

Popes and bishops are not infallible, and in fact are not even authorities, on economics, politics (including immigration policy) or climatology. They are infallible when they teach what the Church taught at all times and in all places and, in the Pope's case, when he declares a new dogma, which he has promised he will not do

Because of the Pope's position his utterances are deserving of respect, if possible. Remember, before you take the Pope's teaching on social doctrine completely seriously, the words of Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the Argentinian chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, who said, back from a visit to China in 2018, that ‘China is the best implementer of Catholic social doctrine’.

The Dâmbovița this morning

 


Monday, 17 January 2022

Does Red China subsidise the Vatican?

Headline in the Daily Mail:

How Beijing uses its billions to buy political influence around the world

I asked myself if China gives money to the Vatican and buys favours.


The Telephone Palace at sunset today


 

You know where you are with Boris. He always lets you down.

More than 20 years ago, Boris Johnson was beginning to be famous. I was asked to appear in a documentary about him. He had recently been adopted for a parliamentary seat while editor of The Spectator, despite having indicated to the paper’s proprietor, Conrad Black, that he would not do this.

“How did Conrad Black feel about that?” asked the interviewer. In the funny way that sometimes happens when broadcasting, I could hear myself saying, “Well, I think he might have felt like David Niven, who said of Errol Flynn: ‘You knew where you were with Errol Flynn. He always let you down’.”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I felt I had been unfair to Boris and rang him to apologise. He was, not surprisingly, annoyed with me. It is not true that Boris always lets you down: he is capable of acts of great kindness. But I was not completely wrong either. The fairer way to put it would have been to say that Boris is reliably unreliable.
Thus begins an article in the Sunday Telegraph in support of Boris, by one of my favourite living Englishmen, Charles Moore. Edward Norman and Lord Salisbury are the others.

The miracle-working icon of St Anthony in the old town in Bucharest




Today is St Anthony’s Day in the Orthodox and Catholic calendars. 

Not having eaten lunch by half past three, I stopped to drink the always excellent fish soup at Dinescu's restaurant, Lacrimi și Sfinți. 

The restaurant was hidden by a very long queue of people waiting to kiss a miracle working icon in the church of St Anthony around the corner. 

The saint is devoted to orphans, the poor and unmarried girls, who pray on this day to find a husband. Orthodox tradition says that praying nine Tuesdays in a row to the miracle-working icon should lead to prayers being answered. 


More than anything else it’s the Orthodox religiosity and mysticism of Romania which make her such a wonderful country. 

Religion here is very Byzantine, has pagan roots, is mysticalm otherworldly and, as Eugen Ionescu said, means something very different from in Catholic or Protestant countries. It certainly means something very different from the polite, understated, mildly depressing religion of the Church of England. 

Very different from other Orthodox countries in the Balkans, which are becoming godless.

I imagine Catholic England was very like Orthodox Romania before Communism. 

I suppose Protestantism and Communism hijacked the countries in which they were imposed. 

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Sunny Saturday in January

Sunny morning. Statue of the martyred democratic statesman Iuliu Maniu in front of Central Committee of the Communist Party building, now the Romanian Senate. Ceaușescu spoke from the balcony and his helicopter took off from the roof. 

Iuliu Maniu began his career in the Budapest Parliament. During the Second World War he tried to persuade the dictator Antonescu to save Jewish lives and acted as a means of communication with England and America. Had the 1946 election been conducted fairly his party, the National Peasant Party, would not have won, according to Petre Țurlea, but they and the other democratic parties could have won enough votes between them to form a coalition. Instead the Communists rigged the election and the left-wing parties won. He ended his life in prison. 



This is the București cinema. I love the ancient, haunted cinemas in this odd, delightful town, but never enter them. One of them, now the (awful) Casa Doina restaurant, belonged to a firm in which James Joyce was a partner.


Quotations

"Civilizations die because they want to. Nations that live for the present and eschew a vision of their future do not take the trouble to raise children. Today’s demographic decline has precedents in the hollowing-out of Hellenistic Greece after the Alexandrian conquests, and the decline of Rome several centuries later." David Goldman in this essay.

“My supreme idea is to get on. I am prepared to thrust even love itself under the wheels of my Juggernaut if it obstructs the way.” David Lloyd George, writing to his future wife, Maggie Owen.

"Failure, so despicable in others, in oneself the only dignified thing." Claude Cockburn

'In this world it is essential always to be pushing, but fatal to seem so.' Benjamin Jowett


“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” William Faulkner

“Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you. What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.” Flannery O'Connor

The 20th May 2020 Downing Street party that the Johnsons attended was not illegal. They did not attend any of the other dozen parties.

Charles Utley is the son of the great Telegraph writer T.E. Utley and a barrister and my Facebook friend. What he has to say about the 20th May 2020 party that might bring down the British government has convinced me that it did not break the law.

(By the way I thought on Thursday that this would blow over, yesterday I began to think it would bring down Boris. In many ways I hope so. He is not up to the job by normal measures, he is a liar and hopelessly inattentive to detail but much worse are his plans for Carbon Zero, to settle a million Chinese or more in England and his war his ministry wages on fur coats to keep his new wife happy. Yes he refused to lock down in December because of Omicron but only because Tory MPs and his cabinet wouldn't let him. His enemies are so awful that I don't want them to win but a swift exit would be better than a prolonged agony. But who else is there? And is this the moment for a prolonged election?)

Over to Charles.

Was the 20th May 2020 Downing Street party illegal?

 

The media are sure the party was criminal, but most of the journalists who have come to that opinion have not bothered to read, or understand, the regulations in force at that time. They have simply grasped that the rules allowed people to meet one person outside in a public place who was not in their household and assumed that it followed from that that being in the 10 Downing Street garden with thirty or forty other people was a crime.

Friday, 14 January 2022

Droll. Acknowledgements Matt Williams

If Johnson is forced from power, it would be a political and personal failure unprecedented in modern British politics. Since ‘45, no other PM at this stage of the electoral cycle, having won such a majority, has suffered such a fall. It’s worse than Eden.


And Adam only picked a bit of fruit!

This morning


 

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

I suspended my news embargo for Boris receiving six of the best - he probably should go but Theresa May was far, far worse, and the next PM will be awful





Johnson’s sense of entitlement may grate, but it is the sense of entitlement within the public sector — and especially the higher echelons of the civil service — which is the real problem for this country. Martin thought a garden party would be a nice idea (and so, presumably did the 40 or so colleagues who turned up) at a time when ordinary people were barred by law from visiting dying or elderly relatives. It was a perfect expression of the divide in our country, between an endlessly entitled public sector which considers itself above the fray and a beleaguered private sector which pays for its existence.

Rod Liddle today.


It may be necessary for Boris to go. If not now it will be something else, possibly leaked by Cummings. He is in many ways not up to the job but this is something I wrote in September 2019 to remind you that his predecessor was an infinitely worse Prime Minister. His successor will be appalling too.

Theresa May was never anywhere near up to the job of Prime Minister - or up to her previous job

Winston Churchill's successor as Prime Minister Clement Attlee was famously a man of few words and unemotional about firing ministers. When one minister asked him why he was being fired Attlee tersely said

"Not up to the job."
Back in the 1980s, when I disliked Margaret Thatcher very much, I remember people telling me that there was no alternative (her phrase) because Labour leader Neil Kinnock was simply not up to the job of being Prime Minister. My reply was that no Prime Minister I ever heard of was not up to the job. The grace of office (Norman St John Stevas's fey expression) descended on them.

This was true except for Sir Anthony Eden, but the grace of office did not descend on John Major who was hopeless and much too small a man to be Prime Minister. The same is true of Gordon Brown and most of all the present incumbent.

Rafael Behr in the Guardian yesterday says her fellow European leaders realised this in September:

"The point of no return was the summit in Salzburg last September. May was invited to make the case for what was left of her “Chequers plan” to European heads of government. It was late. They were tired. There were other difficult matters to attend to. And instead of speaking candidly, persuasively, passionately or even just coherently, the British prime minister read mechanically from a text that was, in substance, no different from an op-ed article already published under her name in a German newspaper that morning. It was embarrassing and insulting. Many European diplomats say that was the moment when Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and others realised they were dealing with someone out of her depth, unable to perform at the level required for the job that needed doing."
It sounds as if the European leaders find her as embarrassingly dim  as did David Cameron and George Osborne in cabinet, which is why she did not offer the latter a job. She told him to get to know the party, which is the moment when satire died.

At the Davros conference in January 2017 when influential people wanted to hear her ideas about Brexit she made a boring and authoritarian speech, urging more regulation of social media companies, that she had made before. 

Her dullness and lack of imagination are not a clever act. They are the woman.

No Prime Minister leaves No. 10 Downing Street sane, they say. I am not sure that's true, though Eden didn't nor Heath. 

Wilson may have been suffering from incipient dementia and was an alcoholic, like Macmillan, but neither of them was mad. Nor certainly was Lord Home, the best Prime Minister of the last seventy years. 

Did Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair go mad? Many would say yes. 

Gordon Brown's mental extreme strangeness, which was known to Mr Blair and others, should have made them prevent him succeeding as Prime Minister. Mrs May too was always very odd, we can see. She now seems pretty clearly to be having a profound psychological crisis. Marina Hyde's column in the Guardian today has the headline:



For Theresa May, ‘I’m a tin-eared lunatic’ seems to be the hardest word

For her sake and her country's, but mostly for the country's, let's retire her.

She was never up to the job of being Home Secretary, a job she was given by David Cameron, on George Osborne's advice, simply to have a woman in one of the great offices of state. She is one of many great examples of the dangers of promoting people for diversity reasons.

A man I know who knew her in OUCA at Oxford remembers her as sweet, sly and not very bright. These qualities have not changed except that the sweetness is nowhere to be seen, but she has not been sly enough - or bright enough.

She also shows that we needed as Prime Minister a Leaver who believed in Brexit to sell Brexit at home and abroad and to convince the EU leaders that we might well leave with no deal unless they gave us a good reason not to do so.

Here is a link to a Telegraph article by Jonathan Foreman in the 2016 Conservative leadership election campaign headlined “Theresa May is a great self-promoter, but a terrible Home Secretary”, which was pulled after pressure from her campaign. 

"In general Mrs May has avoided taking on the most serious institutional problems that afflict British policing. These include a disturbing willingness by some forces to let public relations concerns determine policing priorities, widespread overreliance on CCTV, the widespread propensity to massage crime numbers, the extreme risk aversion manifested during the London riots, and the preference for diverting police resources to patrol social media rather than the country’s streets.


"There is also little evidence that Mrs May has paid much attention to the failure of several forces to protect vulnerable girls from the ethnically-motivated sexual predation seen in Rotherham and elsewhere. Nor, despite her supposed feminism, has Mrs May’s done much to ensure that girls from certain ethnic groups are protected from forced marriage and genital mutilation. But again, Mrs May has managed to evade criticism for this.


"When considering her suitability for party leadership, it’s also worth remembering Mrs May’s notorious “lack of collegiality”.


"David Laws’ memoirs paint a vivid picture of a secretive, rigid, controlling, even vengeful minister, so unpleasant to colleagues that a dread of meetings with her was something that cabinet members from both parties could bond over.


"Unsurprisingly, Mrs May’s overwhelming concern with taking credit and deflecting blame made for a difficult working relationship with her department, just as her propensity for briefing the press against cabinet colleagues made her its most disliked member in two successive governments.
"It is possible that Mrs May’s intimidating ruthlessness could make her the right person to negotiate with EU leaders. However, there’s little in her record to suggest she possesses either strong negotiation skills or the ability to win allies among other leaders, unlike Michael Gove, of whom David Laws wrote 'it was possible to disagree with him but impossible to dislike him'."
As Home Secretary she is to be congratulated on insisting that immigration should fall to the tens of thousands for the sake of preserving social cohesion. However, she presided over annual numbers of immigrants of over 300,000, though the numbers of people permanently settling in the UK were possibly less than half of that.

She is out of her depth but she is also malign, chippy, authoritarian, mendacious, insipid, an egalitarian and a statist, a centre left social democrat with no love for British traditional life. 

Had she led her party to a big majority in 2017 things would be much worse than they are now.