Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Lending votes to kill Michael Gove

If they have any sense, which they have, Team Boris will lend votes to Mr. Javid or Mr. Hunt, equally useless politicians, to make sure that Michael Gove, who is very substantial indeed, is not in the last round with Boris.

Whoever it is should promptly stand down and let Boris get down to work as Prime Minister.

The media are trying to kill Boris

Rory Stewart, the Tory candidate that people who are not Tories like, is out. 

He was very impressive, but the joke had worn thin.

Boris's managers lent votes to Jeremy Hunt last time, because he is a weak candidate, and may have lent some this time to Sajid Javid, another weak one, to get rid of the vexatious, not very Tory Rory.

Or maybe they lent votes to Rory Stewart to delete Dominic Raab.


The London media class and a large part of London graduates, especially ones from Oxford and Cambridge, liked him because they hate Brexit and hate Boris Johnson, just as the same class once hated Margaret Thatcher. Reader I, though a Tory in theory, was one of them.

Their equivalents in New York hate Mr. Trump. In Budapest the same sort of people hate Mr. Orban, in Milan they hate Mr. Salvini and in Warsaw....

So it was very stupid of Boris to have agreed to take part in a BBC debate, especially one over which Emily Maitlis presided. She struggled to contain her annoyance at him for refusing to let her interrupt him.

if you want to see her politics, click on the extraordinarily hostile and outrageously rude grilling she gave the Hungarian Foreign Minister, who had the temerity to say to her
“We want to keep Hungary a Hungarian country and we don’t think that multiculturalism is by definition good.”
Sky News is as bad. Sky’s political editor, Beth Rigby, said to Boris (note they were statements not questions):
“You brandish your Brexit credentials, but many of your colleagues worry about your character.

“You brought shame on your party when you described veiled Muslim women as letterboxes and bank robbers. 

“People who have worked closely with you do not think you’re fit to be prime minister.”
Scarcely impartial. She then pinned the tweet to her Twitter feed (meaning it stays at the top of her tweets).


The interviewer on Radio Four this morning attacked the Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi with real and prolonged fury because he had moved from supporting Dominic Raab to supporting Boris. 

The interviewer complained that Boris had scarcely allowed himself to be interviewed. No wonder.

No-one who hear it could have failed to see that in England many in the mainstream media are activists rather than journalists. This is much more true in the USA than in Great Britain, but true in my country too.
It is very stupid of the Tory party to allow this divisive election to drag on for weeks when speed is vital. And stupid of Sajid Javid to let some plant in the audience bounce him into calling for an investigation into lslampohobia in his party and this look like an identity politician and therefore not a Tory.

This is now about the media versus Boris. But it is also about the astonishing power of the media. Journalists like passionate globalist Robert Peston, and all the rest, use it to force the candidates to take positions on issues, like the Irish border for example, which should remain constructively ambiguous if a negotiated outcome is to be possible. 

Monday, 17 June 2019

Borisophobia and a debate that should not have happened

"Think of it as Westminster’s answer to the World Cup third-place play-off." (Charlie Cooper in Politico)
The mainstream media is in steep decline in many ways, thanks to the internet which provides a sort of free speech and makes publishing virtually free. This is a good thing, obviously. On the other hand, the legacy media's power to coerce people was never greater. In Britain at least.

I was angered by the way in which the BBC, Sky News and the papers have criticised and ridiculed Boris Johnson for not taking part in the debate on (the notoriously left-wing) Channel Four yesterday.

Channel 4 left an empty lectern in the middle of the stage, which is not really the way an impartial publicly funded channel should behave. But the media has a tremendous feeling of entitlement.

I completely agree, for once, with James Cleverley, the Conservative Party Chairman and himself a candidate who stood down, who tweeted

This #C4Debate is geared up to encourage @Conservatives leadership candidates to knock chunks out of each other. That’s not how this campaign should be conducted.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Lukewarm about climate change

In the 1980s I detested Margaret Thatcher and in the 1990s disliked the Thatcherites. That's why I sort of accepted John Major's arguments in favour of the Maastricht Treaty. 

Naturally I am ashamed of this mistake but I also find that, nice though Ken Clarke and Rory Stewart are, they have very mistaken opinions on a huge number of things. While 'the bastards' as John Major called his three opponents in the Cabinet, are right about many things. 

Lord (Peter) Lilley was one of those three, along with John Redwood and Michael Portillo, who, a Lib Dem friend recently said to me, would make a good Prime Minister now. 

Peter Lilley was among just five MPs to vote against the Climate Change Act in the House of Commons in 2008. He says in the most recent Spectator podcast that climate change is happening, human activity contributes to it, but its effect will be to raise world temperatures by half a degree, which is negligible. The melting of the polar ice caps is a huge thing, but is not expected to happen for millenia.

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Boris looks headed to No 10 - maybe Andrew Neil should be drafted in

Boris seems overwhelmingly the choice of Tory MPs, winning the votes of 141 MPs. Jeremy Hunt, a Remainer who has flip-flopped so many times over Brexit, won 43 votes, and Michael Gove, despite the cocaine, 37.

27 votes apiece went to Dominic Raab, a reasonable man who resigned from the cabinet over the way Mrs May misled it and Sajid Javid, who is so boring and who is playing the class and race cardsThey should drop out now. 

Shocklingly, 20 people voted for the gormless Matt Hancock, who should have been dropped from the government after his hilarious humiliation at the hands of Andrew Neil. 

Perhaps Andrew Neil should be the next Prime Minister. He is cleverer than any of the candidates, a Tory and a Brexiteer.

The selfishness and vanity of Theresa May have postponed the Tory election, at a time

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Eulogy

I remember that when one nobleman and politician died in the period before 1914, another peer praised him for his faithfulness 'to his wife even though she was a woman of no great physical attraction'. These were Hansard's words. What the noble lord said was 'Even though she was a d-ned ugly old bitch.' I wish I could remember who said it of whom - I think both were former cabinet ministers.

Popes speaking impromptu is a very new thing

An interesting article in the Catholic Herald says that, well into the reign of Pope St John XXIII, the Vatican's official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, would report that a statement had been “gathered from the august lips of the Supreme Pontiff”. 

The habit of popes answering questions from journalists is a new one (but so is the habit of journalists questioning British ministers or intruding on Tory leadership elections). Pope St Paul VI occasionally made extemporaneous remarks, Pope St John Paul II started the

From an interview with Jean-Claude Juncker published yesterday

"I’ve had the impression for months now that the main interest of British politicians was to find a way to replace Theresa May, not to find an agreement with the Europeans.”

"I will not repeat that everybody understands English, but nobody understands England.”

Catholic priests interfering with boys and, much more rarely, girls

I recently mentioned a German professor who is being prosecuted for making a link between paedophilia and homosexuality. 

I wrote about him out of concern about free speech, rather than interest in paedophilia, but on the subject of paedophilia it might be useful if I mentioned the 2004 'John Jay report' by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, based on surveys completed throughout the United States. It came to this conclusion about incidents of priests interfering with children:  
"The largest group of alleged victims (50.9%) was between the ages of 11 and 14, 27.3% were 15-17, 16% were 8-10 and nearly 6% were under age 7. Overall, 81% of victims were male and 19% female. 

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Boris Johnson talks about God, women and multiracial London

Boris Johnson in an interview in Time in January 2015 said he was not a serious practicing Christian but thinks about religion a lot. He said his faith comes and goes like coverage of Magic FM (a radio station) in the Chilterns.

I thought that this clever remark was made by David Cameron, and so it was, but he was plagiarising Boris.

No period is more forgotten than the recent past. Back in January 2015 Boris said

“I think Brexit is possible ... [Britain] would very rapidly come to an alternative arrangement that protected our basic trading interests. I must be clear. I think there would be a pretty testy, scratchy period ... [but] it wouldn’t be disastrous.”
He said he does not miss monochrome 1970s London.

Monday, 10 June 2019

No deal

"Although no-deal is now the only realistic way to deliver a proper Brexit, British politics has become so warped that even success risks destroying the PM. The stone cold truth is that while it is possible to make no-deal a success, it is impossible to make it a political success. The entire corporate establishment and metropolitan elite, and vast majority of MPs are against it. Being proved wrong willonly make their opposition to the government more vindictive. They will seek to wash away the embarrassing inaccuracies of their Domesday premonitions in a spitting megastorm of autocratic fury and apoplectic pessimism, the likes of which this country has never witnessed.

"Only a Trump-like figure whose whole identity is anchored in taking on the establishment could weather such a supercyclone of ruling class outrage."
Sherelle Jacobs in today's Daily Telegraph.  

She is right, though leaving with no deal has big dangers. But if anyone can be Trumpian it is Boris. And he says he will play our strongest card, which is a very strong one, the hard border that no deal makes unavoidable in Ireland, unless the EU makes useful concessions.

Why can't they let us have the Norway option, but with no more free movement for Europeans? 

Though it is non-European immigrants that are the big issue, on which the future of Europe hinges.

German professor prosecuted for alleging link between paedophilia and homosexuality

Der Spiegel the German newspaper has the story that at a court in Kassel, Ulrich Kutschera, Professor of Biology at Kassel University, is being tried for slander for comments he made on a Catholic website about homosexual relationships, the unfitness of homosexuals to adopt children and links between homosexuality and paedophilia.

According to a statement by the public prosecutor's office in Kassel, the university teacher allegedly accused homosexual persons of a fundamental tendency towards sexual abuse of children in an interview. The professor is said to have defended his statements as based on biology.

The Lancet argues for LGBTQ rights and abortion, opposes Italy's refugee policy

The Lancet is perhaps the world's most authoritative general medical journal. It informs doctors of medical developments but now it has widened its scope. Writers it publishes argue, for example, for a 
"progressive agenda that demands gender equality for girls and women and gender norms that promote health and wellbeing for all, including gender minorities.”
They also speak in favour of what they call reproductive rights, which means abortion, even though doctors by their Hippocratic oath swear not to perform abortions. 

Even further removed from medicine, an article by Raffaella Casolino in the latest issue of the journal attacks the Italian government's immigration policy and tells the physicians of Great Britain:
“Italy has been witnessing a rapid escalation towards racism and xenophobia since the new government came into power in June, 2018."

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Quotations

“A person's life isn't orderly ...it runs about all over the place, in and out through time. The present's hardly there; the future doesn't exist. Only love matters in the bits and pieces of a person's life.” 
William Trevor

"False happiness is like false money; it passes for a time as well as the true, and serves some ordinary occasions; but when it is brought to the touch, we find the lightness and alloy, and feel the loss." Alexander Pope

“Whether a belief is considered to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people subscribing to it.”
Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay: A Study of Gurus

More fake news about Syria

I wrote on Tuesday about biassed and unreliable reporting from Syria, which makes understanding the situation so difficult. 

I, like you, am too busy to do deep research into the subject, but via the redoubtable Peter Hitchens I read this blog post by a distinguished British expert on the Middle East, Helena Cobban, which sets things straight. 

I wrote about a misleading article in the W
ashington Post, which said it was unsafe for refugees to return to Syria. Helena Cobban takes apart a May 30 piece in The New York Times, jointly written by a journalist in Turkey and one in Lebanon, about the humanitarian crisis in Idlib. It does not make the obvious point that the inhabitants are being effectively held captive by the rebel fighters, who are also in charge of distributing aid. The article fails too to mention the rebel forces are strongly dominated by the Al-Qaeda affiliate known as Hai’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies, or
...that under the September agreement Turkey expressly agreed to intervene in Idlib to pull HTS and its allies back from the frontline and eventually from the whole of the enclave. Russia agreed, in return, to hold its Syrian allies back from attacking the rebel positions in Idlib. Turkey has not done what it promised. In early May, Turkey’s non-performance of the agreement prompted Syria and Russia to resume their attempts to reassert Syrian government control over Syria’s national territory in Idlib through military means.

The article, and all the articles I read in the newspapers, seem to be based on information provided by rebel activists, for the good and sufficient reason that the HTS and its allies have killed too many journalists.

Articles like these - and there are so many - are more than shoddy journalism. They are perhaps the most scandalous thing I can think of, as they inform public policy and the desire of people like Hillary Clinton and Boris Johnson to intervene in Syria on the side of Al Qaeda to remove the Syrian government. All that is needed is some intelligence and integrity from the newspapers in question to report in a fair way.

Boris Invictus

John O'Sullivan described the Tory leadership election with the wit of his 1970s Commons Sketches in the Telegraph, my teenage reading over breakfast.
'The appropriate response to these candidates is Ray Clooney’s:
“Sergeant, arrest some of these vicars.”
'My main impression of the Conservative leadership race so far is of a repertory theatre that has advertised the wrong play: a small audience has turned up for a serious drama but a very large cast of actors is performing a light farce.'

I really hate British party leadership campaigns taking place in public. Leadership campaigns used to happen among MPs in private. The campaigns we are watching illustrate the decline of the House of Commons as a clubby organism, the increase in the power of the legacy media and the Americanisation of British politics. It's becoming a semi-presidential system, which is why people ask why the electors cannot decide who the next Prime Minister should be.

I detested Tony Benn for publishing his manifesto for the Labour leadership in 1976, but they are all at it now. 

How much better had the MPs made their minds up in five days a week or two ago. Boris might have been Prime Minister in time to meet Donald Trump, as the number two candidate would probably have dropped out. 

Boris Johnson is pretty sure to be the next British Prime Minister and for all his faults there is no-one else. 

'This isn't the Britain we fought for’

I wish I had spoken to my father, who signed up for the army on 1 September 1939 (he was in the Territorials and was called up two days before everyone else) about whether England was the country he went off to fight for. He is not here, unfortunately, to ask, but it is very clear that the country his contemporaries fought for has been lost. I hope Brexit undoes some of the damage but most is irremediable.

Nicholas Pringle three years ago sent letters to local newspapers across the United Kingdom asking people who lived through the war to write to him with their experiences and asking
'Are you happy with how your country has turned out? What do you think your fallen comrades would have made of life in 21st-century Britain?'
He has published the articles in a book. 


One writer said Britain was still the best in the world, which is true. Another said that living standards, educational standards and opportunities for women had enormously improved, which is also true. At least one spoke favourably of the EU, but almost all were bleakly disappointed.

Saturday, 8 June 2019

The lessons of D-Day

The 40th anniversary of D-Day was celebrated on a very big scale because by the 50th anniversary many veterans would have died. It took place the summer I went down from university and seems very recent to me. Mrs Thatcher, Reagan, Mitterand and Pierre Trudeau, who took part, did not seem big figures then, but do now. They have been lucky in being followed by much lesser men and, in the case of Theresa May, a much lesser woman. In Trudeau's case by his very much lesser son.

People said it was unusual and pleasant to see the American, British and French leaders without Helmut Kohl being there. Nor were the Russians, who won the war, invited.

Russia dismissed the ceremonies as a ''pompous propaganda campaign''. Izvestia, the Soviet newspaper, had recently carried an article saying that Hitler and President Reagan shared the ''distorted consciousness of a maniac killer.''

Mrs Thatcher, whatever one thinks of her economic policies, which I opposed at the

Getting through the red boxes

Theresa May wanted to know the detail about all sorts of government policies, which at first made her cabinet happy, until they realised that issues went to her and stayed in her inbox. She prevaricated and postponed decisions. 

She found it very hard to get through her red boxes, unlike the Queen who always gets through hers speedily. I read that David Cameron always cleared the contents of his red box before his first meeting in the morning and that Foreign Office mandarins were surprised that Boris always mastered his brief. The Prime Minister who was best of all at this was the diligent John Major.

Theresa May was never up to a cabinet job - and it is partly a question of intellectual capacity, partly of character (lack of self-confidence and qualities of a leader). Why was she not pushed out of office by her party after the 2017 election?

Harold Macmillan found time to read Miss Austen and Trollope in the afternoons, or so he

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

1.5 million Syrian refugees returned last year, so it must be fairly safe to do so

Louisa Loveluck's story in the Washington Post is behind a paywall so I can't read it (part of it is here). She says, based on what refugees and 'activists' told her, that refugees returning to Syria are in danger from the regime.
Hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested after returning home as the war they fled winds down — then interrogated, forced to inform on close family members and in some cases tortured, say returnees and human rights monitors.
I am sure, unfortunately, that some opponents of the Syrian government are mistreated or tortured, and especially if they were active on the rebel side, but according to UNHCR almost 1.5 million refugees returned to Syria in 2018. This is not a small number and strongly suggests that in general returning is not so dangerous. 

I know very well that the Assad regime is very cruel but also know that press repeats rebel propaganda and the CIA line, as with the fall of Eastern Aleppo. 

I'll try to find out more but it is very hard to discern the truth about the Middle East in the Western press. 

This story and others like it seem clearly to have a purpose. Miss Loveluck says that she spoke to activists and I assume that the genesis of the story came from activists, as did the false stories CNN and the Economists told about Syrian soldiers going from door to door shooting people after the fall of Aleppo. David Miliband, who thankfully never became British Prime Minister, repeated that one.

Bishop Tobin has outraged a lot of people by saying Catholics should not celebrate 'LGBT Pride'

"Catholics should not support or attend LGBTQ “Pride Month” events held in June. They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals" 
You might think Bishop Tobin's tweet an uncontroversial statement of the obvious, but it turned out that the opposite was the case.

It provoked a huge outcry on Twitter, including from famous moral theologians like Mia Farrow. 

The Boston Globe likened him to Donald Trump, which it did not intend as a compliment. 

The Guardian reported that the Bishop apologised, which he did not. He politely said he was sorry to have caused offence, which is a different matter. He retracted nothing and said: 
"As a Catholic Bishop, however, my obligation before God is to lead the faithful entrusted to my care and to teach the faith, clearly and compassionately, even on very difficult and sensitive issues."
On the other hand, he did say
"I hope that the event will be a safe, positive and productive experience for all."
This is hard to understand and mealy-mouthed. How can he think it could be positive, given that he says it promotes a culture and encourages activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals? 

The Bishop is also called 'homophobic' in the press, but this neologism means bearing malice to homosexuals whereas - obviously - the Bishop is inspired by love for them and wants to save them.

This might be false outrage but it actually seems genuine. Yet everyone knows what the Catholic Church teaches on the subject of sex, so why outrage?  


Because, I suppose, as it was bound to be, homosexuality is the place where traditional Christianity and the new quasi-religion of human rights conflict. Other conflicts, over feminism or abortion for example, are less clear.

What would Jesus have thought? Some years ago I finally got round to reading historian Robin Lane Fox's Pagans and Christians, a good account of religion in the Roman empire,

Sunday, 2 June 2019

'Catholics should not support LGBTQ “Pride Month”'



15,000 people liked the Bishop's tweet above. 4,500 people retweeted it but I do not know how many did so with hostile comments. It got 67,000 comments. Most of the ones I saw were very negative, though someone who looked at them said about a fifth of them were positive. 

Among the positive comments were these from the brilliant historian Professor John Charmley. 

The Bishop of Liverpool is a preposterous ass

The Anglican Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes is an ass. On BBC Radio Four today he criticised Donald Trump, on the ground that 
“I don’t think it’s right to build walls."
Yes. He thinks walls are bad.
“He says he is a Christian but Jesus said you know people by their fruits. And this is a guy who seems to me to be saying walls are good, people from other cultures are bad, we must not welcome people, we must exclude them – I don’t believe these are Christian positions.”
Unfortunately, among the shrinking numbers of Anglicans many, especially young ones, still take their cue from bishops and think this sort of nonsense is Christian doctrine.

Bishop Bayes went on to say he was not comfortable with Mr. Trump being described as leader of the free world. (Has anyone done so?)
“I think the free world by definition does not need to be led in an authoritarian way."
How do people like this get promoted? By saying these sorts of things, unfortunately. 

Donald Trump has many very obvious defects, but he is not an authoritarian - or at least very much less of one than Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel. 

I wonder whether the Bishop's dislike of authoritarianism extends to admiring the US First Amendment which protects free speech and prevents hate speech laws.

Mr. Trump's state visit is going to be a comedy of the highest order, I expect, like his last visit. Gets popcorn, as they say nowadays.

The British army is suspicious of patriotism

The leaflet, titled “Extreme Right Wing (XRW) Indicators & Warnings” alerts senior defence staff to the signs of extremism 



A leaked confidential British military document from 2017, entitled “Extreme Right Wing (XRW) Indicators and Warnings”, tells officers how to spot extremists in the ranks. Soldiers who describe themselves as patriots are suspicious, as are men who “use the term Islamofascism”, make “inaccurate generalisations about the Left” and talk about "threats to so called national identity”, as well as people sporting tattoos with “overt and covert XRW iconography”. Adding -istan to place names as Melanie Phillips did long ago with her book Londonistan, is a sign. Referring to political correctness as a left-wing or Communist plot is another, even though it is. 

Dia Chakravarty, the British Bangladeshi Brexit Editor of The Daily Telegraph comments on this:
It is interesting that the Conservative candidate who felt able to simply state “I love my country” in his leadership pitch was Sajid Javid, the son of Muslim Pakistani migrants. Whether any of his non-BAME rivals would get away with such a declaration without courting controversy is, amazingly, not an unreasonable question.
I met a nice young upper class lieutenant in Edinburgh last August, giving out leaflets to try to win recruits for the army. I told him how nice it was that in modern Britain the armed forces were the one institution that still embodied hierarchy and the class system. He replied, apologetically, that they were trying hard to be more diverse.

The way we live now

Marina Hyde’s politics are very different from mine. I think her views on most things are appalling, but unlike most left-wingers she is funny. She is very amusing here, discussing the Tory leadership election. She likens Mr Raab to a murderer trying to bury his wife's body out of sight, in a copse beyond the golf club. She thinks
Rory Stewart everyone’s favourite outsider. He is certainly to be commended for an absolute refusal to admit that the target voter in this particular election is a 73-year-old woman from Beaconsfield who wants to bring back hanging and describes Aids as “nature’s way”.
That said, the Tory membership are easily sophisticated enough to get that there are two kinds of class A drugs: the ones you take out of politeness 14 years before being appointed prisons minister, and the ones that get you sent to prison, where they’re just as easy to get hold of, unlike any sort of a job once you get out. Make sure you take the right kind, kids!
She is contemptuous of Esther McVay for taking the side of Muslim parents who do not want their FOUR YEAR-OLD children taught in state schools about homosexuality. 

Miss Hyde calls this 
the grimly regressive row about LGBT teaching.
Four year-olds?  Children should not know about sex until their parents tell them at an age certainly no younger than eight or nine. I hadn't heard of homosexuality till I learnt about it vaguely in the grammar school playground aged eleven, where I also heard my first four letter words. James Callaghan didn't learn about homosexuality till he was in his thirties and he was a sailor.

The only sex education we had at school was one 45 minute lesson at the age of 15 or 16 where we were told, very truly, that the best contraceptive is the word no. But now I begin to sound like an old fogey in an armchair in a club. That lesson seemed as archaic to us as it does to you, though now I see it differently.

All politics is really theological. The arguments over homosexuality and transgender are very obviously so. We are talking about the future of Christian civilisation and this matters as much to people who are not Christians as to those who are. 

Justine Greening, who was Secretary of State for Education and who resigned from the cabinet last year, has rebuked Miss McVay telling her 
You can't pick and choose on human rights and equality.
The present Conservative Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds has written to head teachers saying they are encouraged to teach children about LGBT issues. Heads should consult parents but reassured them that parents had no right to veto what was taught.

This is modern conservatism. 

I'd say it clearly shows England moving from being post-Christian to being anti-Christian and even anti-theist. 

But it also shows how authoritarian and ruthless the human rights ideology is. 

Conservatives are not supposed to like the word or concept equality, except in the sense of equality before the law which means fair trials and has no connection with other political uses of the word. But if we are to talk the French revolutionary language of human rights, where are the human rights of the parents or the children?

I remember England being forced to ban caning in schools in 1990 because the ECHR ruled that parents had a right not to let their children be caned. They do not, apparently, have a right to withdraw their children from classes where they are taught that something is morally neutral which is contrary to the tenets of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism or (traditionally) Christianity or Judaism.

Gentle Romanian reader, years ago I met a British schoolmistress who told me she went around teaching children in Romania 'human rights lessons'. She told me, when I asked, that these included a lesson on homosexuality. I don't know how old the children were but I am sure parents were not allowed to have their children excused from it. 


Why does it matter? Partly because the state should keep out of people's lives and partly because, if modern liberal views on sex are right, neither the Orthodox nor the Catholic Church is the infallible guide to morals that they claim to be. And that, dear reader, is absolutely fundamental to the Catholic or Orthodox religion.

The same probably goes for Islam and Judaism, etc.

Or, in other words, modern liberalism is itself a religion and not one that can compromise with traditional religions.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Quotations

Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Strictly I should define loyalty as that devotion which is due when the moral debt is infinite. To God, to his parents, to his country, no one knows what he owes.
G.K. Chesterton


Whether a belief is considered to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people subscribing to it.
Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay: A Study of Gurus

False happiness is like false money; it passes for a time as well as the true, and serves some ordinary occasions; but when it is brought to the touch, we find the lightness and alloy, and feel the loss.
Alexander Pope

America, a nation of immigrants

"Speaking of America as a “nation of immigrants” encourages contempt for our common culture, which originated with the English colonists and was spread across the continent by conquest, trade, and settlement. Those who derogate this great, though imperfect, inheritance imagine they are rebelling against the WASP establishment. In fact, they are conforming to one of the deepest WASP impulses: the Emersonian desire to reject one’s own birthright, the Thoreauvian impulse to rebel against even just authority. Burke wrote of America:
'The people are Protestants, and of that kind which is the most averse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion. . . . All Protestantism, even the most cold and passive, is a sort of dissent. But the religion most prevalent in our northern colonies is a refinement on the principle of resistance: it is the dissidence of dissent, and the protestantism of the Protestant religion.'"
Matthew Schmitz, in an article in First Things, June 2019


“We want to become a multiracial, multiethnic society. This will arguably be the third great revolution ... to prove that we literally can live without ... having a dominant European culture." 
Bill Clinton June 1997

Money

'Sir, all the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil, show it to be a great evil. You never find people labouring to convince you that you may live very happily upon a plentiful fortune.'

Dr. Johnson

'Those who have some means think that the most important thing in the world is love. The poor know that it is money.'

Gerald Brenan

'There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.'

Robert Graves

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

The real Azerbaijan is not pretty

I am ashamed that I do not research countries that I visit properly. Azerbaijan, where I spent three days this month, for example. Read what Peter Oborne writes here today about how disgusting the Azerbaijani government is. 

He went to a beano in Baku paid for by the (pretty morally bankrupt) European Parliament and met a very brave journalist called Khadija Ismayilova who has broken many stories about the corruption of the regime, in a country where journalists are murdered.
In Azerbaijan, being an investigative journalist means leading a life under constant threat. As Ismayilova developed a reputation for producing stories which upset important people, someone installed secret cameras in her bedroom, which filmed her having sex with her boyfriend. When she refused to submit to blackmail demands, the perpetrators of this violation not only published the video, but also sent pictures to her brother. 

Azerbaijan is a traditional country. Women are not expected to have sex outside marriage. Armed with a knife, her brother arrived at her house, with the intention of killing her. Thankfully, a colleague was with her at the time. This saved her life.

We, of course, just hear about the faults of Russia and Iran. Never those of America's allies.

I recently read an article by an American neocon called Jacob Kamaras, praising Azerbaijan's economic success and scorning Armenia for her poverty, without mentioning that Azerbaijan has oil. Jacob Kamaras attacks Armenia for being on good terms with Russia and Iran, as if there were an alternative. 

He made me feel very sick. I hoped President Trump would fling out the neo-cons, but they are back.


Today Mrs May has been Prime Minister for as long as Gordon Brown and is about to overtake the Duke of Wellington

Today Theresa May has been Prime Minister for as long as Gordon Brown. 

Prime Ministers care about such things. Churchill was careful to make sure, when he resigned, that he had held the office for a few days less than Asquith, to whom he owed so much.

Mr. Brown was a disaster in so many ways, most of all because he presided over astronomic levels of immigration, but he did one thing to earn his countrymen's undying gratitude. When he was Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister) he saved the country from the euro. 

Had we joined the Euro, Brexit would have been impossible. Had he permitted a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon it would not have been necessary.

Theresa May will overtake the Duke of Wellington, another failure as Prime Minister but not nearly as bad as her and a very great man, later this week. 

In July, she should overtake Neville Chamberlain, who was a very able man in a terrible spot. 

No-one can say that of her, and not just because she is a woman.

Will her successor last as long as she did? It's not certain at all.

Charles Greville, the diarist, records that when Lord Melbourne, the most languid Prime Minister we ever had, was offered the job he said to his secretary, Tom Young:
"I think it's a damned bore. I am in many minds as to what to do." 
To this Young replied:
"Why, damn it all, such a position was never held by any Greek or Roman: and if it only lasts three months, it will be worthwhile to have been Prime Minister of England."
"By God, that's true. I'll go!"

Theresa May marks this milestone by attending the EU summit. And yet despite the humiliation of attending as a powerless cypher and meeting people who comprehensively destroyed all that she tried to achieve, she is desperately sad that she cannot continue in the job. 

I wrote here about how she compares with other terrible Prime Ministers like Edward Heath and Lord North. Plot spoiler: badly.

Were the Euro-elections in the UK a second referendum?

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, formed from scratch six weeks ago, did very well in the European Parliamentary elections. They won by far the most votes of any party in the UK, 31.6% of the total, well ahead of the second-placed Lib Dems’ 20.3% and the Conservatives' 9%. Brexit is the largest party in the toy parliament, but they did less well than the 37% that one opinion poll had suggested.

In a sense their showing told us nothing we didn't know.


35% of voters voted for parties comfortable with leaving the EU with no deal (the Brexit Party and UKIP). 35% backed the parties (Lib Dems, Greens and Change UK) that supported a second referendum.

A dead heat then?


Not necessarily. The Guardian points out that if you add the votes for the DUP to the Leave total and the Scottish, Welsh and Irish nationalist votes to Remain, 5.9 million voted unambiguously for pro-Brexit parties and 6.8 million voted for Remain parties.


But you can't really usefully add up votes like that. The nationalist votes have their own dynamics.


People vote SNP, for example, because they want an independent Scotland.


About a third of Scottish nationalist voters voted to leave the EU in 2016, according to the SNP's former leader Gordon Wilson. The SNP, the Welsh Nationalists and Sinn Fein used to be opposed to membership of the EEC (like Labour) and plenty of their voters still are. They are nationalists, after all.


The increase in votes for the Alliance in Northern Ireland is doubtless thanks to the Alliance being pro-EU, but plenty of DUP voters want to stay in the EU, including Ulster hill farmers who benefit from EU membership (and, incidentally, would benefit from the backstop).


The Conservative party's policy was unambiguously to leave the EU, so their 1.4 million votes might be added to the Leave total, even though plenty of loyal Conservative supporters who voted for the party had voted in 2016 to remain.


Deborah Mattinson of Britain Thinks suggested 80% of Tory voters were pro-leave but what is more important in my view is that 100% of them voted for a party pledged to take the UK out of the EU.


She thinks 60% of Labour voters were Remain, but Labour's policy on the EU was studiously ambiguous, though they were swinging round to wanting a second referendum before the vote. The Labour vote tells you nothing really about Brexit.


The main conclusion to draw from the election is that the country is still fairly evenly divided and that in an election where the only issue was Brexit many of their voters preferred to make their feelings about Brexit clear by voting for parties whose feelings were clear. 

What few mention is that three million foreigners were eligible to vote in these elections. Their votes were presumably mostly (but not always) for Remain parties and make the result less like a second referendum.


But what matters now about the results is not how they look sub specie aeternitatis but what politicians and the media convince us they mean. 


The opinion polls persuaded the Tories to change leaders before the votes were cast. Now the candidates are using the results for their advantage. The Remainers in the Labour party will use the election results to make a second referendum party policy.


The authority of the 2016 referendum result is diminished day by day but these elections confirm that
, after all we have learnt since 2016 about how difficult Brexit will be, almost half the country is still in favour of leaving. This is not what I should have expected. 



Sunday, 26 May 2019

Quotations

Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Strictly I should define loyalty as that devotion which is due when the moral debt is infinite. To God, to his parents, to his country, no one knows what he owes.
G.K. Chesterton


"False happiness is like false money; it passes for a time as well as the true, and serves some ordinary occasions; but when it is brought to the touch, we find the lightness and alloy, and feel the loss."
Alexander Pope

“Whether a belief is considered to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people subscribing to it.”
Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay: A Study of Gurus

Even the loss of freedom after an honourable and bloody battle secures the rebirth of the people.
Clausewitz

Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law.
Pope Pius IX in 1866

What we have in this country today, then, is both anarchy (the failure of the state to enforce the laws) and, at the same time, tyranny—the enforcement of laws by the state for oppressive purposes; the criminalization of the law-abiding and innocent through exorbitant taxation, bureaucratic regulation, the invasion of privacy, and the engineering of social institutions, such as the family and local schools; the imposition of thought control through “sensitivity training” and multiculturalist curricula, “hate crime” laws, gun-control laws that punish or disarm otherwise law-abiding citizens but have no impact on violent criminals who get guns illegally, and a vast labyrinth of other measures. In a word, anarcho-tyranny.
Samuel Francis 

The unforced, fatal mistakes that Theresa May made

Whoever had been British Prime Minister after the referendum would have had a terribly difficult job - no one disputes that. But Mrs May brought to the job very low self confidence, very little imagination, no leadership skills and a second-rate mind. She made things very much worse for herself and her country than they need have been.

Tim Shipman in the Sunday Times writes today about the five crucial, unforced, strategic errors that everyone agrees Theresa May made: setting unnecessary red lines and then saying they were not red lines; triggering Article 50 without any plan; fighting the election abysmally badly; lamely agreeing to settle the EU divorce settlement before settling anything else; and making the withdrawal agreement with the EU in secrecy from not only the cabinet but even her Brexit Secretary. 

I would add a sixth, the biggest mistake of all: promising Enda Kenny within days of becoming Prime Minister that there would be always be a frictionless border in Ireland.

She should have resigned immediately after the 2017 election - if necessarily forced out by her MPs and cabinet. They were supine. Eunuchs.

Instead, before the election she did what Nick Timothy (a Leaver) and Fiona Hill told her, afterwards what three Remainers told her: Olly Robbins, Gavin Barwell and David Lidington

After the resignation of Boris Johnson her deal probably had little chance (George Osborne thinks none), but there was still a hope for it had something been done about the Backstop, which Olly Robbins had persuaded Mrs May to accept. 


He, as a civil servant, did not know what the House of Commons and Tory MPs would accept. That was her job and she had no idea. How could she? She lived inside herself.

The new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab was sent to reopen negotiations with Brussels.

According to Tim Shipman,

'He says that in his first talks with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, he made the case that Britain needed a way to leave the backstop. Barnier replied: “I understand that it needs to be short.”

'Government lawyers drew up two proposals. May’s Brexit war cabinet agreed that the UK should demand option two, which would give the UK the unilateral right to leave the backstop. But Raab says: “I was undermined by others in government. There was a huge opportunity there, but we were not robust or resolute enough.” In private he has told friends this was a “sliding doors moment” when the course of Brexit changed.

'May, who had lost her political consiglieri — Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill — after the general election, did not authorise her civil service negotiator Oliver Robbins even to demand a unilateral exit clause.' 
Please may Olly Robbins be sent to govern an island somewhere, immediately, without a knighthood or gong. Barwell, who is a spad since losing his seat, can be left out of the next government completely.

Theresa May will rank as the most incompetent Prime Minister England ever had though, in terms of results achieved, Sir Edward Heath and Lord North were even worse. 

Neville Chamberlain was a very good, highly competent Prime Minister at the wrong time. Everyone agrees that Gordon Brown was not up to the job but he did much less harm than Neville Chamberlain or Theresa May, despite being a social democrat and a liberal. Most of what he did was bad (his lax immigration policy worst of all) but he saved Britain from joining the euro. Had he allowed the UK a referendum on the Treaty of Lisbon, Brexit would not have happened. 

That was the genesis of the Brexit referendum.

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Theresa May's malign legacy

After making her speech promising to resign in two weeks' time as Tory Leader (why not instantly since she no longer has anyone's confidence and the country is in a hurry?) Theresa May went back through the door of Number 10 and was greeted by a round of applause from the staff.

In tears, she said: 


"I'm sorry."

According to the Sunday Times her political adviser Gavin Barwell said: 


"It's not you who should be apologising, Prime Minister."

Who should, if not she?

Her tears were for herself, not as the Express headline risibly said for her country.

Much is said of her sense of duty. She was no more dutiful than any other Prime Minster, just much duller. 

She stuck to her job not from duty but because, as she said herself, she loved it - had she had a sense of duty she should have seen that she was incapable of discharging it. A dutiful person would have resigned after losing her majority in the last election.

Theresa May is useless and also not a conservative. Her valedictory speech showed that, with its un-Thatcherite call for consensus and 
its un-Tory attack on “the privileged few”. 

She also talked about her pride in combatting climate change. 

She copied Ed Miliband's derided promise in the 2015 election to cap energy prices set by private companies. She wanted to have quotas of women on boards of directors, took pride in gender pay reporting and ethnic pay audits, even mentioning the latter in her lachrymose final speech. She thereby greatly contributed to the identity politics and politics of victimhood that are the one of the biggest evils of our age.

Friday, 24 May 2019

Talking about "a mythologised experience of immigrant suffering" is blasphemy

I follow the liberal Catholic theologian Massimo Faggioli on Twitter because he makes me angry and I enjoy getting angry. His name means big beans and he is a bit like a Catholic version of Michael Wharton's Dr. Spacely-Trellis, the go-ahead Bishop of Bevindon.



Writing about "a mythologized experience of immigrant suffering" in 2019 strikes me as blasphemous, especially coming from a Catholic. No wonder there is so much hate for pope Francis in those circles.

This time I found, by googling
that he is commenting on a fairly interesting article in the American Catholic magazine 'First Things'. I learnt from it that describing America as a nation of immigrants is a fashion that only started with President Kennedy.

Here is the innocuous enough context of the words Professor Faggioli thought blasphemous.
A century ago, Teddy Roosevelt insisted that my ancestors become “unhyphenated Americans.” If we judge this demand cruel, it hardly seems kinder to demand that their hopelessly assimilated descendant hyphenate himself. Certainly “German-Americans” have historically suffered prejudice. On August 5, 1855, a mob lynched twenty Germans in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1919, Nebraska, my home state, enacted a law designed to end all instruction in the German language. But I identify with, not against, American culture. I refuse to distance myself from its triumphs and its failings by dwelling on a mythologized experience of immigrant suffering.