Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Are British courts still politically neutral?

The broadcaster David Dimbleby covered the results of the referendum and tried not to show how badly he took it. Today he is covering the Supreme court hearing to decide whether Her Majesty’s Government gave the Queen acted in bad faith when they advised her to prorogue Parliament. 

He said:
“I lived through Suez, the miners’ strike, I lived through the poll tax debate and the trouble then. I lived through the Iraq demonstrations — I’ve never seen the country so divided as this. The next six weeks are clearly critical. I’ve never known the country so seriously riven by argument.”
But the Court has no window into men's souls, to quote the first Queen Elizabeth. Is lying to a Queen, though a very bad thing to do, illegal? And can the mixed motives of ministers, or anyone else, be pinned down and dissected satisfactorily? 

The answer to the latter question is obvious.

Former Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption, whose judgment seems to have been coloured by his strongly Remain views, which I suspect he shares with almost all the

Luxembourg Prime Minister shows ours contempt

I almost never despise anyone but I despise Theresa May, for so many reasons. The least of those is that, instead of broadcasting to the nation from her desk at 10 Downing St as Prime Ministers used to do (think Chamberlain in 1939 or, on TV, Eden in 1956), she chose to stand outside in front of journalists and then answer their questions.

Press conferences are an American custom and work over there. Like grey squirrels and many other things they should not be imported into England. They are not needed in a parliamentary system. They take power from the House of Commons and from the Government and give it to unelected pressmen and women. The press are not simply craftsmen doing their best to get the story. They write the story to suit their own ends.

This is why I regret that David Cameron took part in a debate on TV in the 2015 election and was very sorry that Boris took part in televised debates in the leadership contest. He has now received his come-uppance in the extraordinary rudeness he received form the Prime Minister of Luxembourg. Yes puny Luxembourg, which Englishmen died to free from Germany in the war.

Boris foolishly agreed to give a joint conference with the Luxembourg PM. A noisy crowd assembled to jeer at him made up of English Remainers living in Luxembourg but organised and led, curiously, by a Canadian opera singer. Boris asked to have the conference held indoors. 

Laura Kuenssberg of the BBC reckoned the press conference outdoors “would have been total pandemonium if it had gone ahead.” The Luxembourg PM however refused to move it indoors and addressed journalists alone.

That was fine but he did so with an empty chair for Boris which is not fine and then proceeded to make a mockery of his absent guest.

“I asked also Mr Johnson: I read in the papers a few days ago that it goes from ‘big progress’, to Hulk, to David Cameron proposing a second Brexit [referendum]. And Mr Johnson said there won’t be a second referendum, because I asked him: wouldn’t that be a solution to get out of the situation?”

The Daily Telegraph has a banner headline which gets it right: “Luxembourg laughs in Johnson’s face.” The Times says the PM was “ambushed,” the Sun says it was a “feeble stunt,” and the Daily Mail calls it “Le Stitch Up.” “No wonder Britain voted to quit the EU,” is the Express headline. Remain supporting Guardian has:

Boris Johnson humiliated by Luxembourg PM at 'empty chair' press conference

Xavier Bettel gesticulates at empty podium as British PM skips press conference amid loud protests

The Independent's pro-EU and Remain sympathies are not hidden. They rejoice in the Prime Minister's treatment.

Boris Johnson ‘chickens’ out of own press conference amid noisy protests, leaving empty podium next to Luxembourg’s PM

Brexiteers are fighting against the thereapeutic caliphate for liberty and the people’s will

American Christopher Caldwell is the best political analyst writing today. His latest article on Brexit is very good. 

These quotations are from an article about that articleby Greg Sheridan in the Australian, headlined 'Brexiteers fighting for liberty and the people’s will'.

The clash is between two conflicting world views. One is a postmodern, undemocratic, technocrat state in the service of what a German author calls the Therapeutic Caliphate, or what we might less exaltedly call the left-liberal crack-up, a la the EU, which has as its purpose the eradication of national identity and the transformation of human nature. The other is a civic vision that recognises the universal quality of humanity but puts the nation-state at the heart of democratic and civic loyalty, and which honours traditional sources of wisdom and authority, and traditional forms of democracy....
I couldn't agree more him or with Mr Caldwell, who gets to the heart of why it is important for the world that Britain brexits successfully. 
Cald­well argues that Remainers faithfully represent the modern European constitutional tradition. This is a tradition that empowers a technocratic elite, built on documents with plenty of abstract nouns that inevitably give great legislative power to judges. The pincer movement of bureaucracy, ruling-class ideological uniformity and judicial activism restricts the space for normal democratic decision-making.
He writes:
“These shift power from electorates and parliaments to managers of information, inside government and out. From thousand-year-old constitutional ideas to five-year-old ones, from habeas corpus to gender identity. Because it was Britain that did most to construct the ideal of liberty which is now being challenged, Brexit clarifies the constitutional stakes for the world as nothing else.”

Sunday, 15 September 2019

David Cameron's political religion is liberal internationalism

David Cameron may be a uxorious man. At any rate, the two most disastrous follies in his six years in power were the fault of his wife. She persuaded him to enact single sex marriage and to destroy Libya. It used to be called petticoat government.

His wife sounds very likable by the way, an upper class, hippyish art student who smokes and likes a drink, but she does not sound very Tory. Endearingly, she needed a gin and tonic at 9 a.m. on the morning after the referendum. 

The other Mrs. Cameron, his mother, tried very hard indeed to persuade him not to bring in single sex marriage but failed. It's a bit like the history of a royal court.

Mr. Cameron is a Tory of the Macmillan and Heath tradition and, despite his bringing his party back to power after thirteen years, on the whole is an argument against that tradition, which led to the authoritarian and even more left-wing Theresa May. 

Boris belongs to it too, but at least unlike her he dislikes the nanny state.

Had Mr. Cameron not been a convinced believer in the EU he could have campaigned to leave it, after his attempt to renegotiate our membership failed. Had he done so, he might have achieved a successful, very soft Brexit and be considered as memorable a Prime Minister as Margaret Thatcher. 

He might still be Prime Minister, though in his memoirs published in the Sunday Times today he says that he found the referendum campaign so draining that he could not have carried on as Prime Minister for more than two more years. He does not have Margaret Thatcher's stamina, her hunger for power or anything like her self-belief.

But though he and George Osborne seemed to have few very obvious principles

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Daniel Hannan

Everyone agrees that David Cameron made a terrible blunder by holding a referendum. Everyone except, you know, the general population.

God be with you, Balliol persons

Undergraduates and graduates at Boris Johnson's college Balliol are organising a petition to ban him from his old college, because he prorogued Parliament.

Miss Lester, who is the women's officer of the Balliol Middle Common Room, said: 
"The demographics here have completely changed since Boris Johnson was a student. He does not represent our views and we don't want this person to be invited in as an alumnus, or have power within the college."
Balliol is the left-wing college at Oxford, just as King's is at Cambridge, and for a hundred years has had a different demographic from the rest of the university: there were always more working class men and some non-white undergraduates, even a century ago.
When a cinema audience in Oxford watched a scene in the film Sanders of the River where black men paddled a canoe, an undergraduate famously yelled out
'Well rowed, Balliol!'
Boris is pledged to take the UK out of the EU because of the referendum. Another Balliol
Prime Minister, Edward Heath, took us into the EEC in 1973 without a referendum and

David Cameron is the perfect example of how the EU poisons roots

Another quotation from David Cameron's interview published in the Times last night.
"I think the issue of immigration plus that emotional argument was a winning combination for them. The argument about control, it resonated with people, and when you asked them, ‘Well, what is it we’re going to control?’ it was this issue of immigration.”

Some said he should have tried an emotional argument himself. 

“Well, when I tried to make the argument, which I believe very strongly, that the EU has helped to foster positive relations between countries who weren’t always positively inclined towards each other, it was written up as ‘Cameron predicts World War Three’. It just didn’t work.”
The fact that, even after thinking about the matter obsessively for three years, David Cameron does not understand why his fellow countrymen wanted to rule themselves shows how deeply the corruption went. He imagines that immigration is the only issue that made people vote Leave and one knows he thinks that means Leavers are xenophobes and racists.

It sounds very much as if he thinks Leavers are swivel-eyed loons, a description of Conservative party members widely attributed to, though denied by, his close friend and protégé, Lord Feldman, or the "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists" which was David Cameron's description of UKIP members.

This reminds me that I once discussed the EU years ago with a very clever Englishman in Bucharest and told him that I did not like England being ruled by foreigners. He replied
Isn't that racist?

Friday, 13 September 2019

When Boris decided to back Leave he said ‘Brexit will be crushed’

David Cameron, in an interview in the Times published a few minutes ago to plug his memoirs which are coming out this weekend, said that when Boris made the decision to back Leave he said, ‘Brexit will be crushed.’ 

It isn't clear from the interview if he said this to David Cameron but I presume so.

He complains that the Leave camp made much of Turkey joining the EU but this was very reasonable and right of them. Turkey is supposed to - although it will not happen while Mr Erdogan is in power. Mr. Cameron told the Turkish government that he was trying hard to achieve membership for Turkey.

The morning after the referendum, Mr Cameron rang President Obama and European leaders "repeating to each a short speech of regret that was not quite an apology". It sounds like it was close to one if you ask me. I don't like a British Prime Minister apologising for his actions to foreign powers and particularly not to President Obama.

Mr. Cameron would have favoured a “partnership Brexit”, co-operating rather than battling with Europe and cooperating with opposition parties. 

He might have a point. Theresa May handled things so badly. Now I'd settle for a partnership Brexit in the form of a Norway-style deal, but I'd much prefer a Canada-type

Thursday, 12 September 2019

The intrusion of Britain's judges in politics is increasing and is to be deplored

Richard Ekins, Professor of Law at Oxford, is appalled by the Court of Sessions' decision yesterday and demolishes it in the Spectator.
"In addition to seeming internally inconsistent, the Court’s ruling appears to be grounded in a novel elevation of very general constitutional principles into actionable propositions of law. So the Court’s summary refers to parliamentary scrutiny of the executive being ‘a central pillar of the good governance pillar enshrined in the constitution’. But there is no such free-standing pillar. What is the source of law for the claim that ‘good governance’ is legally actionable? The Court might answer that it stems from the principles of democracy and the rule of law. But the courts do not have free licence to uphold ‘democracy’ writ large and, save in special circumstances, they uphold the rule of law by applying settled law, not by departing from settled law in the name of some abstract principle.
"Today’s decision by the Court of Session is a mistake. It forms part of a continuing, worrying trend for politically motivated litigation to secure some success in our courts, a trend which it is to be hoped the Supreme Court will bring to a halt."
Judges are impinging on political decisions. Many other decisions are delegated to committees of experts or taken over by committees of international organisations, whose decisions become international law and are treated as if they have an almost sacred status. 

Members of Parliament are no longer independent men and women allowed to do as they please, to have jobs in the real world, if they choose, and to saunter into the House to hear and make speeches and chat. Instead they became social workers and bureaucrats and they too sit on committees and make reports. 

Politics becomes reduced to facts and figures and these are things about which experts are best equipped to make judgements. People who are interested in conservative ideas like the nation or sovereignty seem in this world at best rustic hicks, not very bright, at worst charlatans or demagogues.

Yellowhammer is not news and the Court of Sessions will presumably be overruled

The British political crisis lurches on.

Boris Johnson is already fighting an election campaign which consists of promising to take the country out of the EU on 31 October and promising to spend large amounts of money. The latter is not as bad as it might seem to conservative minded people, as borrowing money costs almost nothing and public spending is necessary to help buoy the economy when Brexit happens, if it does.

The PM will announce today that the Government will buy five new British-built Royal Navy frigates, but this is overshadowed in the news by yesterday’s Scottish court ruling that his advice to the Queen to prorogue Parliament was illegal and the publication last night of the government's Operation Yellowhammer document, forced on him by Speaker John Bercow’s procedural coup in the House of Commons and another lost vote.

Boris does not have the confidence of Parliament but he is not allowed by the House to call an election and he does not want to resign (that would mean Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, an idea that would not be quite as nightmarish, immediately after he takes office, as it is now). 

The Yellowhammer paper talks of "reasonable worst case assumptions": food price rises, reduced medical supplies and even riots on the streets, if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. This is not news, as the Sunday Times leaked this document on August 18th.

John Bercow is making up the rules as he goes along – he would say to strengthen the House of Commons against the executive, but is this sufficient justification? 

His critics point out that, though he has to be politically impartial, he has said that he opposes Brexit. He is a noisy scourge of racism and sexism and I am afraid It is not possible to imagine him so helpful to a House of Commons fighting the Government in order to restrict abortion or immigration.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Preventing prorogation is a very British coup attempt

In a big surprise the Court of Session in Edinburgh has ruled that proroguing Parliament was unlawful.

We don't know the full reading - we just have this note.

"The Lord President, Lord Carloway, decided that although advice to HM the Queen on the exercise of the royal prerogative of prorogating Parliament was not reviewable on the normal grounds of judicial review, it would nevertheless be unlawful if its purpose was to stymie parliamentary scrutiny of the executive, which was a central pillar of the good governance principle enshrined in the constitution."

As Ian Hislop once said, “If this is justice I'm a banana.”

I know the Scots have Civil not Common Law but how is this decision justified? Much more importantly will the Supreme Court in London confirm or overturn it next week?

Today's judgment may make sense in Scottish law, for all I know. Civil Law, starting from cloudy general principles not from knotty empirical details, is incomprehensible to Anglo-Saxons. This lack of comprehension is the main reason for Brexit - European law is Civil Law and Europeans start from first principles when they think. They and the English will never understand each other.

English barristers say it has no chance. Let's hope not for the sake of democracy. The High Court in London meanwhile has delivered its full judgement after rejecting Gina Miller’s anti-prorogation case last Friday, maintaining that advice to the Sovereign about prorogation is ‘non justiciable’. 

Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson ('the Prince of Darkness') advised Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs last week and helped put together the Remain alliance in Parliament that first passed the bill preventing Government taking the UK out of the EU without Parliament's approval and then prevented the Government calling an election in October.

We are seeing, to adapt the title of Chris Mullins' book, a very British attempted coup .

According an anonymous source quoted by Daily The Telegraph, "
Blair and Mandelson are

Monday, 9 September 2019


Many things the Bolsheviks introduced in the 1920s are our daily reality. Abortion on demand, for example. Divorce on demand. Married women forced to go out to work. The Bolsheviks criminalised anti semitic and racist discourse in the 1920s and there were many prosecutions. The Bolsheviks legalised homosexual acts before later making them a crime again. They taught that colonialism was wicked and that world history was the history of the oppression of the masses by the rich. 

They denigrated and persecuted Christians. This happens in a very much milder way in the Western world than under Lenin but it happens more and more. The Finnish Christian Democrat former Interior Minister quoted on Facebook St Paul's words (Romans 1:24-27) condemning homosexual acts, after the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland participated in a Gay Pride event, and is now being investigated by the police. 

Robert Mugabe: A Nation Mourns

I read stories everywhere about Mugabe being a hero who went wrong. Peter Hain is one person purveying this false idea. 

Mugabe was nothing of the sort. He was a Communist butcher and terrorist who plundered his country as was always predictable.

Had he been a man of the right how differently the media would write about him, but many journalists who are now conservatives thought Mugabe a hero during the war with Ian Smith. There was no reason for them to have taken Smith's side but liking Mugabe, even in one's teens, shows abominable judgment.

The Week in Westminster

I was delighted to discover that The Week in Westminster is still running on BBC Radio Four. Apparently it is the fifth longest-running radio broadcast on British radio, after the Daily Service (which began on 2 January 1928) but is the world's longest-running radio show. It started on 6 November 1929 four months after Ramsay Macdonald had become Prime Minister for the second time and shortly after young women (flappers) had been given the vote.

Saturday's edition was absolutely brilliant, without any pro Remain or pro Leave bias, and much better than anything else I read, heard or saw on the British political crisis. I rarely listen to the radio, or wireless as they called it in 1929, but I shall make a point of doing so. 

I wonder if it was as good about Mr. Macdonald.

BBC teaches children that there are over 100 genders

According to The Times, in a film made by the BBC to be used in schools to teach 9-12 year-olds the personal, social and health education (PSHE) curriculum (part of the National Curriculum in England and Wales) a young boy asks: “What are the different gender identities?” A head teacher praises him for asking a “really, really exciting question”.

The film cuts to a teacher called Kate Daniels, who explains to two other young children: “We know that we have got male and female, but there are over 100, if not more, gender identities now.”

She says that some people are “bi-gender” and feel that they are two genders at once. “And then you’ve got some people who might call themselves gender-queer, who are just like: ‘I don’t really want to be anything in particular. I am just going to be me.’”

The British Royal College of General Practitioners recognised six genders in a recent statement: male, female, gender-neutral, non-binary, gender-fluid and gender-queer.

Brexit insights

Sir, Daniel Finkelstein (Comment, Sep 4, and letters, Sep 5), while agreeing that the Leave vote should be honoured, writes that “it’s a legitimate and democratic position to argue that we should only leave when we have an acceptable deal”. Yet the EU has said that the deal it offers cannot be changed, and parliament has rejected that deal thrice — by larger margins than Tuesday’s vote. If an “acceptable deal” is simply not available, Finkelstein’s argument is undermined.

He also writes, of a no-deal Brexit, that “even if it comes out all right, it’s a hopeless long-term position”. But those serious commentators who advocate it, such as Martin Howe QC, are not proposing it as a long-term position. They see it as enabling the UK to negotiate new free trade deals, with the EU as well as with other countries. That is something virtually excluded by Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement and political declaration. One hears politicians denouncing no deal as if it were a nihilistic refusal ever to negotiate. In fact, both Mrs May’s deal and no deal are ways of entering the next phase of negotiations — with potentially different outcomes.
Sir Noel Malcolm
All Souls College, Oxford

Saturday, 7 September 2019

A literary joke

Cameron is a swot and a gurly who sa "hello clouds, hello sky". I diskard him.
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Sam Coates Sky
Exclusive - Sky News reveal what Boris Johnson said about David Cameron in private cabinet papers after obtaining an unredacted copy of documents disclosed to court