Sunday, 8 December 2019

A fair question

A vote for the British Conservatives is a vote against Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Amber Rudd, the BBC, 92% of university lecturers and the Anglican and Catholic hierarchies. Put like that, how can anyone hesitate?

There was never so dishonest an election in Britain, since the last one

I have followed British politics closely since I was in short trousers (we wore them at my junior school) and there was never an election with so many lies told, by all sides. 

Boris is not going to let Donald Trump do something malign to the NHS but his promises to cut taxes and increase spending are implausible and he has played fast and loose with the truth a lot. He told someone he had given up drink till Brexit happens, but continues to drink.

Messrs. Corbyn and McDonnell lie when they say that they want to remain in the EU and Nato. We know they would prefer to leave. Boris said they want to leave Nato and disband MI5 but this is no longer their intention, though it was 4 or 5 years ago. It was not a lie, but misleading. 

I do not think Corbyn is an antisemite (because he is a Marxist and Marxists ipso facto cannot be racists). Stephen Pollard, Editor of the Jewish Chronicle, told me on Twitter that he didn't think he was an antisemite, last year. However, Jeremy Corbyn backs Hezbollah or Hamas but does not choose to admit it.

I have been compared to Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham!

This is a nice compliment from Kathy Gyngell,the Editor of Conservative Woman, a good website where I have started sending some of my articles. 

She has awarded me her weekly prize, for my account of last weekend in Paris, in preference to other writers including James Delingpole.
'The prize goes to Paul Wood for his quite wonderfully written essay on France’s migrant revolution, which in my opinion had its way paved by those earlier soixante-huitards student revolutionaries. His evocative comparison of the past Paris with the Paris he has just revisited in its new Muslim incarnation took me back to those past geniuses, Graham Greene and Somerset Maugham, that so few today have the education, let alone the ability, to reproduce. Do read and appreciate.'



A politician divides mankind into two classes: tools and enemies. Nietzsche

Stupidity has a knack of getting its way. Albert Camus

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the Climate

I blogged today about the new religion of human rights. A perfect example of the adherents of the new religion is one Stuart Basden, one of the founders of Extinction Rebellion, who has long hair and who penned an article from which I quote headlined

Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the Climate

'...I’m here to say that XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system of that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life. This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence (especially) over the last 600 years of colonialism, although the roots of the infections go much further back.

There is not much diversity in British academia

This week's Times Higher Education survey of the voting preferences of British university lecturers: 

54% Labour 
23% Lib Dem 
8% Conservative

Over half want Jeremy Corbyn to be Prime Minister and they are forming the more intelligent half of the British people of the future. This is the Jeremy Corbyn who backed Sinn Fein IRA and who responded to the fall of the Berlin Wall by running an article in the newsletter he edited headlined 
'No cheers here for a united capitalist Germany'.

Pius XII was not Hitler's Pope

A recent article in the Catholic Herald explains the large part Pope Pius XII played in saving the lives of Jews in the Second World War.

The untrue idea that he ignored their plight is the fault of The Deputy, a play produced in 1963 by a previously unknown German, Rolf Hochhuth, which blamed Pius XII for the Holocaust. 

We know from the memoirs of Ion Mihai Pacepa, the Romanian Securitate general who defected in 1978, that the KGB had supplied Hochhuth with false information and his play was rewritten by Erwin Piscator, a famous producer and communist agent of influence. 

The Soviets’ aim was to derail the improving relations, after the Second Vatican Council, between the Church and Judaism.

The dangers of diversity

A Free Left Blog is written by Ben Cobley, a Labour supporter or former Labour supporter and the author of 'The Tribe: the liberal-left and the system of diversity', which criticises the British state's diversity ideology. I quote from it here partly to bookmark the blog for myself and for you and also to quote a good article on immigration, that in turns quotes 'development economist' Paul Collier on Radio 4 in 2013:
“Some diversity is good. It gives the society more innovation, gives it more variety. But if you have too much diversity, trust starts to erode; cooperation erodes; generosity erodes. And so there is a right amount of diversity. I can’t tell you how much the right amount is, but that’s what every society’s got to antagonise about.”
I'd have thought that was a truism but in England among the people who rule England, from the schoolmasters upwards, it is not.

Ben Cobley writes well about the diversity ideology here. He says the power of identity

Why is there more intellectual freedom in Bucharest than Cambridge?

Several people sent me this Spectator article recently about how much more intellectual freedom there is here in Romania than at my university, Cambridge. The writer, a Romanian student at Cambridge, tells how he wanted to speak to a political society about 
‘The classical liberal case against the EU’ –and was asked not to do so.

‘The problem is… we’re looking for something a bit more mainstream.’ Mainstream? But this is broadly the view of 52 per cent of the UK population! ‘Right. It’s just that we had a pro-Brexit speaker once and it all got a bit uncomfortable, a bit… controversial.’ Controversial ideas? At a university? Whatever next?

Hitler, the new human rights religion and the fall of the West

The history of the Western world after 1945 is essentially a meditation on Nazism and Hitler. 

The history of Eastern Europe is not. It is a meditation on the nation, freedom, Marxism, Christianity, what Unamuno called the tragic sense of life, on many things but not on Nazism or Hitler.

This is why a highly intelligent Romanian woman from an old boyar family recently complained to me 
I am tired of hearing about the Holocaust. It was 70 years ago.
The reaction against Nazism after 1945 is the theme of Return of the Strong Gods: Nationalism, Populism, and the Future of the West by R.R. Reno, Editor of the wonderful First Things MagazineI have so many books I must read and this is another for my list.

He writes,
"The violence that traumatized the West between 1914 and 1945 evoked a powerful, American-led response that was anti-fascist, anti-totalitarian, anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist, and anti-racist. These anti imperatives define the postwar era."

Friday, 6 December 2019

Boris Johnson: 'To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction'

Delightfully, both Boris Johnson and his opponent Jeremy Corbyn have thought aloud for decades and said things which are much more interesting than anything party leaders normally say or want brought up in election campaigns.

Jeremy Corbyn's record abounds with demands to abolish MI5, leave Nato and give up nuclear weapons. I agree with him about Nato. He referred to 'our friends in Hezbollah' which gets many people worked up, though I am not quite sure why. He always sided with the Palestinians against Israel, which is what you would expect of a left-wing socialist. (Nowadays. It was different in 1948 when Stalin was the first world leader to recognise the Jewish state, which he probably assumed would be Communist.) Corbyn was right always to want the UK to leave the EEC/EC/EU and to want to avoid the second Iraq war and disastrous interventions in Libya and Syria. I wish Boris had been as wise.

The quotation below is from an article written by Boris three or four days after the massacre of people on the London tube by Muslim zealots in 2005. 

He makes some good points, though there is plenty in the Muslim critique of modern 'British values' that any conservative should agree with.
'To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers. As the killer of Theo Van Gogh told his victim’s mother this week in a Dutch courtroom, he could not care for her, could not sympathise, because she was not a Muslim.

'World’s Finest Byzantine Icons At Risk After Erdogan Court Win'

Since a friend first took me to the Chorea Church/Museum I visit it every time I visit Constantinople. I stay next door, in the very charming Kuriye Hotel, and love to walk from there through the working class Fatih district. There I stumble across beautiful but largely forgotten mosques, completely forgotten churches and Roman pillars which stand ignored in busy streets. This is how travel should be, free of tourist kitsch, free of people from Idaho. 

I didn't know until I read a post on the blog of a Greek-American that the Chorea mosaics were the best Byzantine mosaics in the world. Nor did I know that Turkey’s highest administrative court ruled last month that the 1945 cabinet decision that made the mosque into a museum was unlawful because a mosque “cannot be used except for its essential function”. President Erdogan is expected to implement the court’s decision.

Will the Hagia Sofia be next?

In the nineteenth century Russians expected one day that High Mass would be celebrated in the Hagia Sofia. After the Ottoman Empire lost the First Balkan War it seemed possible one day, but it never happened. Now it is easy to imagine that it might become a mosque again.

The old landmarks are disappearing, or perhaps I should say they are re-emerging..

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Evelyn Waugh might have invented mass murder at a conference on “reducing reoffending”

I was in Paris and busy when another Islamist atrocity partly on London Bridge took place in the middle of a British election, as happened in the last election. I am pleased that the parties did not suspend campaigning for a day or the BBC suspend political programmes,
as absurdly happened in 2017.

A young Cambridge man, 
Jack Merritt, was murdered foully, stabbed to death, and I offer my condolences to his loved ones. The killer, Khan, whom he had mentored, had hours earlier given a talk about reforming prisoners at an event Jack Merritt helped organise. He bravely tried to disarm him and died doing so.

He worked at the University of Cambridge’s criminology department. The event held at Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London was called Learning Together and an attempt at “bringing students in Higher Education and Criminal Justice institutions together in transformative learning communities”.

The aim was to form connections that “make society more inclusive and safer by reducing reoffending”. Khan, however, wanted to reoffend. W
ith the mirthless sense of humour of a psychopath he used the occasion to go on what the tabloids call a killing spree. He stabbed to death another Cambridge graduate, Saskia Jones, and injured more people.
Mr Merritt’s grieving father David described his son, a Labour supporter, as “a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog” and who believed deeply in the concept of prisoner rehabilitation.

On Twitter he said: ‘My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.” 

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

There are plenty of people out there nasty enough to vote Tory

'When he was an eight year old, the fable goes, Boris Johnson declared his ambition to be “king of the world”. He won’t be far off it as he prepares for a five-year term in which he can wreak revenge on the EU, the courts, the Commons, the BBC, Channel 4 and anyone else. Be afraid.

'Tactical voting, the Remain Alliance, the youthquake, the remaining TV debates, Andrew Neil, Jeremy Corbyn’s superb campaigning skills, Lord Buckethead, Nigel Farage, the Russians - forget them. Even the brilliant Nicola Sturgeon, penned in up in Scotland.

'Progressives: Do not delude yourself. Do not entertain false hope. There are plenty of people out there nasty enough to vote Tory, and mean it. Even if you don’t know any.'

A savage indictment of Pope Francis by recent editor of the Catholic Herald

The decline (and fall?) of the Church concerns not just Catholics or even Christians. It involves the decline of Western civilisation, as economic and political analyst David Goldman recently said. He is an observant Orthodox Jew. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee. 

For many years I was annoyed if people spoke of Catholic priests as child abusers and pederasts, wrongly thinking the numbers of guilty men were tiny. Most priests are good, selfless men, of course, but the numbers who are wicked are not tiny at all. 7% of priests in Australia, a Royal Commission was told, allegedly abused children between 1950 and 2010.

The Church is in as gravely corrupt a state as in the early 16th century, before Luther nailed his theses to the wall. The hierarchy and the College of Cardinals are riddled with depraved men and with men who protect the guilty. Damian Thompson, who was Editor of the Catholic Herald in London until he resigned recently, says the Pope has repeatedly protected guilty men and names lots of names. 

Meanwhile, he asks us to confess to 'ecological sins'.

Monday, 2 December 2019

Paris in the wintertime

“For years, every year during the summer, he would go to Paris. It was automatic with his wife and his family. Hadn’t seen him in a while. And I said, ‘Jim, let me ask you a question: How’s Paris doing?’ ‘Paris? I don’t go there anymore. Paris is no longer Paris.” — Donald Trump, May 2017
I spent this weekend in Paris to celebrate my birthday with some friends. I hardly know the city and saw the Leonardo exhibition, walked around St Germain in the beautiful, very cold sunshine, ate four wonderful meals in exactly the kind of good, characterful restaurants you imagine, enjoyed the late 19th century Parisian atmosphere and succeeded in navigating the baffling Châtelet–Les Halles overland and underground railway hub to find the train to take me the ten minutes to Saint-Denis. Everything in French stations is endlessly difficult and I think this helps explain why England voted to leave the European Union.

In Saint-Denis stands the basilica where most of the French kings and queens are buried, from King Clovis I (481-511) and the Merovingian rois fainéants to King Louis XVIII, the last French king not to be deposed, who died in 1824.

A necropolis is an odd place to visit on one's birthday, I suppose, a sort of momento mori. 

Remember you must die, as a Roman celebrating a triumph was reminded by a slave sitting beside him. Not that I consider my life so far exactly a triumph. Still, as the Abbé Sièyes said when asked what did during the French Revolution, I have survived.

But countries die, as well as men. 

Christianity and the Decline of the West

Catholic Mass attendance in Great Britain overtook Anglican attendance around the turn of the century. A bigger proportion of the population in Great Britain attends Catholic Mass than in France. 

But Catholicism in Great Britain is also in steep decline and many Mass goers in England are Poles, Slovaks, Lithuanians and other foreigners, of course. Damian Thompson, until he recently resigned editor of the Catholic Herald, says that by mid-century mosque attendance will overtake church attendance in the UK.

Meanwhile, stranger and stranger things happen in Catholic churches. Catholicism, which, until the present Pope ascended the throne, seemed rock-like and unchanging now seems to change. 

Here is a quotation from a letter that Archbishop Vigano wrote yesterday to Alexander Tschugguel. He is the young man, 26, who, during the Amazon Synod, seized several “Pachamama” statues from a church in Rome and threw them into the Tiber. On Saturday


Les Murray

'God is in the world as the poetry is in the poem.' 

St. Pius X in his motu proprio Fin Dalla Prima Nostra, articles I and III:

“Human society, as established by God, is composed of unequal elements, just as the different parts of the human body are unequal; to make them all equal is impossible, and would mean the destruction of human society” and, further, that “it follows that there are, according to the ordinance of God, in human society princes and subjects, masters and proletariat, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, nobles and plebeians, all of whom, united in the bonds of love, are to help one another to attain their last end in heaven, and their material and moral welfare here on earth.”

News item in The Tacoma News Tribune, April 11, 1953.

There'll Be No Escape in Future from Telephones

Mark R. Sullivan, San Francisco president and director of the Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Co., said in an address Thursday night:

The decline of Christianity is closely linked to the decline of the West

"Whenever I try to raise the topic of persecuted Christians in EU minister's meetings everybody says: 'Peter, better say 'religious minorities'. Well I WANT to say 'persecuted Christians'.." Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Sziijártó at the International Conference on Christian Persecution that took place recently in Budapest and was ignored by the press. 

"Finally, on hearing about the persecution of Christians, the greatest mistake Europeans can ever make is to say that this could never happen to them in their own country. Many
people share this delusion, even though Europe has been repeatedly struck by terrorism.

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

The new fanatical religion of human rights

Toby Young writes well about fortieth anniversary of The Life of Brian, considered blasphemous by many, including my schoolboy self, in 1979. The song from it, 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life', sung on the crucifix, formed part of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics. (I was invited to attend and foolishly turned the invitation down, damn!) That opening ceremony was a homage to an idea of Britain, shorn of its conservative aspects, that sophisticated, highly educated Londoners could admire. Presumably its mockery of religion is considered central to an idea of Britishness that the centre-left can respond to, along with immigration and the National Heath Service.

He says:
"Turns out, the Pythons were naive in thinking that mankind’s yearning for religious faith was an aspect of our nature we could outgrow. The ebbing away of the Christian tide has left a God-shaped hole in the Anglosphere and it has been filled with something more sinister — a constantly mutating moral absolutism. Its latest manifestation is Extinction Rebellion, but no doubt it will be something even more fanatical and millenarian in a few years’ time. These quasi-religious movements resemble Christianity in its fundamentalist, pre-Reformation period when believers were less willing to forgive heretics and sinners."
The whole article deserves to be read.

As I try to understand the madness of our times, the only explanation I can come up with is that we are living through a period of religious frenzy, the religion being the malign religion of human rights, to which is spliced the religion of climate change.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Lam to the Slaughter

HONG KONG Pro-democracy candidates have swept the board in elections to Hong Kong's local councils, winning 17 out of 18 councils in elections seen as a de facto referendum on Hong Kong's protest movement and the leadership of chief executive Carrie Lam.

Lam to the Slaughter is a great headline. The above is a quotation from a daily email I receive from the New Statesman, but I see on the net that several sources use it, including the Economist.

But it pales beside this one. When Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looked likely to fall from power because his daughter submitted documents to the Supreme Court dated before January 31, 2007 and typed in Calibri, a font which only became available on that date, it occasioned the best headline I ever saw:

Saturday, 23 November 2019

A Simple Guide to Ukrainegate, for people who are not interested in the subject

I don't imagine you are following the attempt to impeach Donald Trump too closely, gentle non-American reader. 

There seems little point, as the U.S. Senate will not vote to remove him from office.

So what's it all about and who is in the right?  

Obviously, at first sight, Hunter Biden appears in a bad light and so does Donald Trump.

This is what distinguishes the Ukrainian story from the Russian story, the allegation that Mr Trump was being blackmailed by Vladimir Putin and was a danger to American national security. 

It was pretty obvious from the start that that story had no substance. The people who appeared in a bad light in that story were the CIA, FBI and MI6.

Some people said that the investigation was an attempted coup by the deep state and other people reacted with irrational fury to the suggestion, but it was the administration trying to get rid of Donald Trump. The word 'coup' and the phrase 'deep state' are a case of de gustibus non disputandum.

Friday, 22 November 2019

Boris is Just William

View image on Twitter                                                    

Yesterday I quoted Henry explaining political parties to the Outlaws in Richmal Crompton's William, Prime Minister, a fine story. Today I recalled that my friend Ruth Dudley Edwards aptly compared Boris to William Brown when he (Boris I mean) became Prime Minister. 

I looked it up on the net and found a very good essay by her on the theme
Michael Deacon had also made the analogy last year, comparing Emily, Lady Nugee with one of the female battleaxes with whom William often battles. I quote from Ruth.

'Like so many others, I’ve spent all too much time recently weighing up the qualities and deficiencies of Boris Johnson and the pros and cons of having him as Prime Minister. That involved reading innumerable articles asking who the real Boris is. It made me little wiser. Much like Boris before the referendum, I dithered about whether we should take the risk.
'Which is why I was surprised last week at how joyful I felt when I watched him standing outside number 10. Illumination didn’t strike until the following day, when I heard that he had appointed Dominic Cummings and Michael Gove to implement revolution, and I realised that the real Boris is, of cours
e, the 11-year-old William Brown, of Just William fame, who is leading his gang, the Outlaws, to take on Brussels and win. I haven’t yet decided which of

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Quotations for today

The discipline of the written word punishes both stupidity and dishonesty. 
John Steinbeck

We like someone because. We love someone although. 
Henry de Montherlant

Serious-minded people have few ideas. People with ideas are never serious. 
Paul Valéry

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

Free speech in England is a memory

Former English policeman Harry Miller has taken the College of Policing and Humberside Police to court after he was contacted by the police in January, following a complaint over allegedly 'transphobic' tweets.

The court heard that the police told him that he had not committed a crime, but his post was being recorded as a "hate incident".

The counsel for the College of Policing said: 

"While the claimant now expressly disavows having any personal hostility or prejudice towards transgender people, his social media messages speak for themselves."
In one tweet, he said, Mr Miller posted: 
"I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don't mis-species me. F**kers."

TV journalists fight for political power

Last night's television debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn sounds like it was a waste of time. It was not really a debate at all and the candidates were given little chance to elaborate arguments.

Had each been interviewed by Andrew Neil it would have been worth watching.

Or a debate like the one between two candidates for Austria's presidency, without a moderator, would be exciting.

Still, I am very sorry that we have television debates in the UK. They belong in America but not in a Parliamentary system like Britain's.

Apart from their being uninformative, they concentrate too much power in the hands of television companies and television journalists.  They anyway have far too much power, despite the existence of social media.

They are very hungry for power over politicians and politics, partly to make money and partly to control the political agenda. We all see clearly now that political journalists are political actors.

Ask poor, ill advised Prince Andrew what he thinks about the power of the mainstream media.