Thursday, 23 May 2019

The whole British cabinet deserves firing

The attempts by  her party to get rid of Theresa May remind me of the honeymoon of King Zog of Albania. While the King and Queen Geraldine cruised the Mediterranean there were no fewer than thirty attempts to murder him on the part of agents of Mussolini. It sounds like a Marx brothers film. Finally he had to dismiss his cook, telling the Queen
"I love that man but he keeps trying to murder me."
Theresa May will go but her whole cabinet is complicit in her Withdrawal Agreement, at least up until the point yesterday when they learnt that the Bill included proposals to bind the UK into a customs union with the EU and to hold a second referendum. This had not been disclosed to the cabinet which is supposed to be running the country.

Confusingly, Mrs May and the government oppose both these things and Labour would be free to move amendments to put them in the bill, so it is very odd that the bill will include them so that they can be voted on. 

Since the whole point of Brexit is to return powers to Parliament even this is arguably not really a hill to die on, though Angela Leadsom has chosen to do so. Angela Leadsom makes up in ambition for what she lacks in brains but this was a no brainer on her part. She has helped her chances of becoming the next leader. 

In her letter of resignation she chose not pass over the fact that she is a mother. Mentioning that in an interview is the reason she pulled out of the leadership election in 2016 allowing Theresa May to become leader without a contest. I am not making this up.

The cabinet is not just complicit in Mrs. May's Brexit agreement. They are complicit in Theresa May's 1970s-style policies to put workers on the boards of companies and for quotas of women (what could be less conservative or more authoritarian?), to reduce the 'gender pay gap' (but is she taking account of the fact that married and unmarried women women often prefer to work in less well-paid jobs for all sorts of good reasons?), her intention to ban pscychotherapy that attempts to make homosexuals attracted to the opposite sex and her intention to compel energy companies to lower their prices. 

Her conservatism is not Toryism but dirigiste European Christian Democracy (though not traditionally Christian when it comes to homosexuality). Like Angela Merkel's Christian Democracy it's not really distinguishable from Social Democracy. 


The Tories always opposed any minimum wage under Edward Heath, Margaret Thatcher and John Major because it would destroy jobs (another and better reason is that it limits freedom of contract). Now a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer wants the UK to have the highest minimum wage in the world.  I am not making this up.

Theresa May's has been the most left-wing government since Harold Wilson's, which raised taxes, wasted money and bequeathed Britain anti-discrimination and hate speech laws. James Callaghan's, though it tried for pragmatic reasons to implement devolution, was more conservative than hers in many ways and certainly much less continental.

Fortunately the Tories did not win the 2017 election. Had they done so Theresa May might have remade the country in her joyless, hectoring, politically correct image but her successor may be as bad and Jeremy Corbyn would be much worse.

Boris Johnson is not joyless and not complicit in the Chequers Agreement because he was shamed into resigning after David Davis did the day before. Both men originally signed up to it though while sequestered at Chequers, after a very clear threat from the Prime Minister that they would have to walk several miles without their ministerial cars if they resigned on the spot.

Amber Rudd and Philip Hammond are particularly objectionable but so many of the cabinet are, especially Jeremy Hunt who pretends to be Leave when he campaigned for Remain and now wants to double defence spending against non-existent enemies. This tub thumping is in the true sense of the word populism, as are the silly poses designed to look good in the tabloids of Sajid Javid. He, by the way, was a Secretary of State for Culture who had never been to the opera.

Loyalty, Lord Kilmuir said, is the Tories' secret weapon but they showed ruthlessness when they got rid of Lloyd George, Edward Heath and Margaret Thatcher because the best interests of the party required it. On this occasion, Theresa May should have been despatched as soon as she lost the election she called unnecessarily and fought disastrously. The main reason why she wasn't is because most Tory MPs are Remainers frightened of a Brexiteer Prime Minister and leaving without a deal.

The past three years were a disastrous failure of cabinet government. The low point was when the cabinet was not permitted by the Prime Minister, backed up by the Cabinet Secretary whom Mrs May had brought from the Home Office, to vote on the Withdrawal Agreement. 

There was never real support in the cabinet for Mrs May's policy but the cabinet was too weak to overrule her.

The only possible reason for putting the latest version of the Withdrawal Agreement to a vote in the House is that it might pass with Labour votes, but this it never will. Labour will never agree to any Tory proposal that shares with them the responsibility for Brexit.

Now is time for a new Prime Minister, lots of new faces in a new cabinet and an end to Tory attempts to be Blairite or Wilsonian Labour instead of Tories. 

But deciding what policy they should pursue requires a really creative leader. 

One possibility might be the Norway option with free movement of Europeans, a border in Ireland and staying in the Single Market but not in a customs union. That might honour a not very large majority for Leave and get us out of the EU. If I had my way we'd at the same time resile from the ECHR and UN Convention on Refugees, to take back more control. Another possibility which I'd favour is leaving with no deal, if the House of Commons can be persuaded to agree - or, since they already have agreed, without putting the question to MPs again.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

How Farage outflanked everyone

'Future historians will point to how the liberal Left made two fateful miscalculations about Farage and indeed populism more generally. The first was to assume this was but a fleeting protest movement not rooted in deep structural shifts within our societies; they considered it a passing ‘blip’, a brief stop on the journey to a new liberal, pro-European and cosmopolitan world order. 
'This miscalculation, encouraged by some academics, has been devastating for the Left because it has prevented people from really interrogating the appeal of these movements. If politics is reduced to a waiting game, a conveyor belt, waiting for the old white people to die, then you do not need to engage with

European empire

"The world is developing into one not of nation states, but of empires. China is an empire. India is an empire. The US is an empire. We need to create a European Union that is capable of defending our interests."

Guy Verhofstadt talking to CNN yesterday.


“We got rid of them...We finally turned them [the UK] into a colony! And that was our plan from the first moment.”

One of Verhofstadt’s staffers recorded in a recent BBC Four documentary about the Brexit negotiations.

"Austria Hungary was a European Union that worked."
Helen Szamuely

“The day of small nations has long passed away. The day of Empires has come.” 

Quotations

"Moscow consistently favored the Nazis over the Social Democrats, whom it called ‘social Fascists’ and continued to regard as its principal enemy. In line with this reasoning, it forbade the German Communists to collaborate with the Social Democrats. In the critical November 1932 elections to the Reichstag (Parliament), the Social Democrats won over 7 million votes and the Communists 6 million: their combined votes exceeded the Nazi vote by 1.5 million. In terms of parliamentary seats, they gained between them 221, against the Nazi 196. Had they joined forces, the two left-wing parties would have defeated Hitler at the polls and prevented him from assuming the chancellorship. It thus was the tacit alliance between the Communists and the National Socialists that destroyed democracy in Germany and brought Hitler to power."

Richard Pipes, Communism: A History of the Intellectual and Political Movement (2003), p.96 

"Even as the Fascist leader, Mussolini never concealed his sympathy and admiration for Communism: he thought highly of Lenin’s ‘brutal energy,’ and saw nothing objectionable in Bolshevik massacres of hostages. He proudly claimed Italian Communism as his child."

Russia Under The Bolshevik Regime (1994) p. 252

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Quotations

"We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four, in which furious party cries will be raised against anybody who says that cows have horns, in which people will persecute the heresy of calling a triangle a three-sided figure, and hang a man for maddening a mob with the news that grass is green."


G. K. Chesterton

"We continue to understand how immigration is changing our country and how it will continue to change our country. We have learned that our country must be a country of immigration as well as of integration.”

Angela Merkel speaking to an NGO that offers help with careers to immigrants and their children, the occasion which she chose to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the German constitution.

Theresa May's unannounced sole appearance in the Euro election campaign, alongside despondent candidates



Theresa May launched her election campaign with a week to go in a small, private room with just 1 political journalist & 2 photographers. It's the kind of scene that normally comes before the end of a lost war, when a broken general sticks some medals on chests to boost morale.


I was reminded by that tweet of this picture, except that Adolf Hitler put a much braver face on things.
Image result for adolf hitler  1945 birthday

Friday, 17 May 2019

Could a new Prime Minister take Britain out of the EU without a deal? It's hard to say

The Conservative leadership election should take place as quickly as possible so that the new Prime Minister has time to do something before the extension of the time-limit for leaving the EU expires on Hallowe'en, even though I am sure the other EU leaders will persuade President Macron to agree to a further extension.


The strong card of Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab is that they resigned from the cabinet over the Withdrawal Agreement. Either of them as Prime Minister means a new start. The rest are a continuation of the Theresa May cabinet which was bound by collective responsibility to all the things she did and wanted to do.


But can either man persuade the Europeans to alter the agreement? Who knows? But if not that leaves the Withdrawal Agreement or leaving with no deal - which is back to where we are now.


Robert Peston of ITV who was sure we would be forced to leave with no deal now thinks a general election is needed to break the impasse but I disagree. An election would be far too big a risk for the Tories and at best would mean the same Tory MPs who cannot countenance no deal returning to their seats in Parliament.


No deal is the legal default and a vote of the House of Commons cannot change that. The Cooper-Letwin Bill, which became the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 [PDF] has not “ruled out” no-deal, despite media reports. It simply required the government to lay a motion in the Commons specifying a date by which an Article 50 extension should be sought, which the government did. That's it. 


So can Boris Johnson take the UK out of the EU without a deal? The Houses of Commons and Lords are opposed to it but backbenchers do not have the power to stop it unless they take over control of the order paper again and force through another Act of Parliament, as they did to pass the Cooper-Letwin Bill by a majority of one (the one vote being cast by a Labour MP who had just come back from the clink and has since been expelled). for Tory MPs to do that might bring down the new Prime Minister or force him to call an election that the Tories do not want.

Admittedly under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011 a defeat on a confidence motion is followed by a two week period for a new administration to be formed. In any case, the Sovereign never needs to call an election, simply because the Prime Minister asks for one, if he does not command a majority. But the threat of an election and the Brexit Party will inspire terror in Tory MPs.

It is all very murky.

Were I in Theresa May's leopardskin shoes I'd resign immediately, advise the Queen to appoint my ally and 'de facto deputy Prime Minister' David Lidington as caretaker Prime Minister and hope this would enable him to win the leadership election, to continue her policies or lack of them. I doubt being anointed by his predecessor would help him though. 

He has said that being close to the iron throne for three years he does not want the job and I believe him.


Thursday, 16 May 2019

The threat to Europe

Angela Merkel said yesterday that Russia, China and the US are forcing Europe, time and again, to find common positions. This is true, but a much bigger issue is the movement of people into Europe from Asia and Africa. 

A common position on the part of the EU on immigration would force member states to alter the make up of their populations to suit other countries. This is existential. But with free movement of peoples this happens anyway. The immigration laws of one country are effectively the immigration laws of all.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt was a Remainer, is now a Leaver and very much wants to be Prime Minister. He angered Theresa May (but her power has ebbed way) when he broke with government policy to say that the UK needs to spend twice as much on defence. 

That sounds Tory but it is not. It is nonsense on stilts. Where is the enemy against whom we are defending ourselves? 

The threats to Great Britain are grave indeed but not ones with which Nato can help. They are terrorists and those who sympathise with terrorism (though we made peace with the IRA), nationalists who want to break up the country (same caveat), France and Germany who want to make us subservient to the European Union and, much the biggest threat, unprecedented numbers of migrants and refugees who potentially will make our country into another country.

The British government talks about the danger from Iran instead. Iran is not a threat to England. It is not a threat to Europe or the USA or to anyone except the Sunni monarchs in the Gulf and to Israel - and not really a threat to them. We sell the Gulf states arms, which creates jobs for British workers, but we should not take up their quarrel with Iran any more than we get involved in their quarrel with Israel. Nor are Israel's interests ours.


There are not enough Shias in the world for the West to worry about. Our allies the Saudis who spend billions spreading Wahhabism, on the other hand, are a big problem, though not a military threat.

Europe certainly should keep out of Middle Eastern wars and stop taking in people from the Middle East who take sides in these wars. Otherwise the wars will spill over into London. In fact, they already have.

Britain should probably keep out of European defence entanglements, come to that. Why are we in Nato other than for prestige?

Europe feels, probably wrongly in my opinion, that it needs protecting from Russia. Donald Trump said that Nato is obsolete before he rowed back because he accepts (rightly or wrongly) that having an empire has many advantages for America. These are reasons for the USA and Europe to continue Nato but I am not sure why Britain or Canada are in it, to say nothing of Turkey.

The trouble is that nowadays people think values are worth fighting for but are not sure if nations are worth fighting for. The unspoken corollary is that all democratic countries are really the same country.

Nigel Farage is not going to be Prime Minister but Boris Johnson should be

Ignore what the British papers are saying. Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is most unlikely to win more votes at the next British general election than the Tories.

If they do win a lot of votes, which they might well, they will win few or no seats because of our first-past-the-post electoral system. 

What they will probably do instead is let in a Labour Scottish Nationalist coalition.

The biggest danger in the UK leaving the EU without a deal is that Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon come to power and make a deal that leaves the UK a vassal of the EU and permits free movement of people. 

The Withdrawal Agreement negotiated by Theresa May avoids the second of dangers but arguably not the first.


It is not true that the only choice now is between leaving with no deal, leaving with the Withdrawal Agreement that Theresa May has agreed and staying in. There are other possibilities. 

The Withdrawal Agreement plus a permanent customs union with the EU, as Jeremy Corbyn claims to want, is the option Conservatives and Labour are discussing. Something not very far from that is likely anyway. The Swiss or Norway options are possible options too. 

The Tories probably need Boris Johnson to lead them and the country, for all his grave faults,  one of which being that he is an adulterer, because he can credibly argue for Brexit.  I am reminded of WH Auden in 1940, safe from bombs in the USA, saying  that "the old bastard" Churchill was our best hope. But he cannot persuade the House of Commons to permit the country to leave without a deal and I do not see how he would settle Britain's relationship with the EU.  He might persuade Leave voters to keep voting Tory, but he cannot persuade the House to agree to leave with no deal even did he want to. 

Can he take the country out of the EU without a deal and without a parliamentary vote? I doubt it unless the EU decides we have to leave without a deal in October, which I am sure will not happen. Can he broker a deal with Europe? Could he even persuade the country to accept the Norway option, accept free movement of people and the Single Market and forget about having an invisible border in Ireland? That would free us from the political side of the EU which would not be a very bad way of implementing a fairly slim referendum majority. 

Theresa May has destroyed the Tories' reputation for competence but I admit that Boris is not the man to rebuild it. How difficult writing opinion pieces is. 

The departure of Theresa May is not very interesting. Who her successor will be is very interesting because the Gordian knot he or she will have to try to untie is horribly interesting, though in some ways horribly boring. My brilliant history master Dr White had an expression that I often find apt. 

'It is "interesting" in inverted commas.' 

Today The Daily Telegraph provides an 'Et tu, Brute' moment when Theresa May's former Svengali Nick Timothy, who persuaded her into an early election and a disastrous campaign, tells her she must go. 

In effect she did what he and his colleague Fiona Hill told her, at the Home Office and at No 10. He doesn't blame himself but blames her for mistakes made after he was fired, when she relied on civil servants.
If the Prime Minister had delivered a meaningful Brexit, she could have kept her party largely together and retained DUP support. She could have threatened Parliament as she now threatens her own MPs: vote for this true Brexit, she could have said, or face the electorate you betrayed.
In fact, a hard Brexit was not possible after the result of an election which he advised his boss to call. On his watch she ruled out a hard border in Ireland and started the Article 50 process without any plan, so he has a nerve criticising her. But this discussion is pointless. What does he suggest the country does now?

He does not say.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

May and Corbyn want the same Brexit - with a permanent customs union - but neither dare admit it

The truth is that most Labour and Conservative MPs want the same Brexit - with the UK in a permanent customs union. But neither side wants to say so and thereby lose most of their voters.

It's almost impossible for the two parties to make a deal. If they did I cannot see it passing the House of Commons. 

In the very unlikely case that it did pass the UK would leave the EU, stay in a customs union and forego the power to make trade freely with the world, but the rest of our relationship with the EU would still take years to work out. It will in any event.

I ask myself if this Brexit - with the UK bound into a customs union - is better than no Brexit. I am not well informed enough to be sure but I tend to think I'd prefer staying in and making trouble till they let us leave with a better deal - or leaving with no deal and taking our chance on what follows

But staying in would need another referendum, which Leave would probably win again.

And if Remain won it Leave would not go away any more than Remainers did after they lost the 2016 referendum. And they would be right - they would have witnessed the democratic decision of the people ignored.


If no deal can be made with Labour the Prime Minister's Plan B is for the House of Commons to hold a series of votes to decide which possible option has most support. That would include the Norway option, which I could live with at least for a while, but a permanent customs union almost passed last time. So we return to that. 

Except we don't because this time the Labour Party will refuse to co-operate with such votes.

David Cameron, if you remember, called the referendum to put an end to the fighting over the EU for good. I thought his lasting achievement would be cementing our membership of the EU forever or rather until it collapsed from the weight of its internal contradictions.

Any way you look at it the Brexit fight has many years left in it.

Something has to go and that something is clearly Theresa May. But who should replace her? 

Obviously not Amber Rudd who would be another Theresa May, only prettier and of a higher social class. Obviously not anyone who campaigned for Remain. 

I say this not because I am in favour of Brexit but because only a Brexiteer can hope to make the country believe in Brexit and since the Tories have to implement Brexit or die they have to do so with conviction. They are now the Brexit party avant la lettre.

Not even Michael Gove, who is at least as eloquent as Boris, will probably do because he has reluctantly signed up to Theresa May's deal. 

Dominic Raab might do but the best hope for the Tories now, and it is a slim hope, is Boris Johnson. I am reminded of WH Auden in 1940, safe from bombs in the USA, saying  that "the old bastard" Churchill was what we needed now.



This session of Parliament is the second longest in English history

'It is Day 300 of the longest parliamentary session since the English Civil War. MPs sat for a grand total of three hours and 34 minutes yesterday, before running out of things to talk about and going home. Today’s gripping schedule in the Commons features an opposition-led debate on the probation service, a backbench bill to protect hares during the breeding season, and a discussion of anti-social behavior in Stockton. There hasn’t been a proper vote in over a month. This is not so much a zombie government, as basically no government at all.' (James Blanchard today.)

Sessions of Parliament usually last a year. This one has lasted three years and is the second longest in English history


The longest was the Long Parliament that sat between 1640 and 1653 in one uninterrupted session without being prorogued, for the good and sufficient reason that it made war on the Sovereign whose prerogative prorogation is. In the end Cromwell got rid of it without worrying about niceties. Watch the Lord Protector do it here, played by Richard Harris. 

Even if you are not a republican, you may wish he'd come back to life and do it again. But dissolving parliament would mean a general election, much the same people would be returned again and we'd probably have a Labour - Scottish Nationalist coalition government. Better not.

Unusually long sessions took place in the past because of a lot of constitutional change. They were held after the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688-9, in 1893-4 to try and fail to legislate for Home Rule for Ireland, in 1992-93 to adopt the Maastricht Treaty into law and in 1998-99 in order to introduce devolution for Scotland and Wales. An exception was the long session of 1966-7 which did nothing anyone can remember.

What a great shame that Home Rule for Ireland didn't happen. Had the House of Lords agreed to it then the whole of Ireland would be part of the UK now. What an even greater shame about the Maastricht legislation - had it not passed England would not be in a crisis now and Europe would have been saved a world of pain. What a great shame about devolution too.  50.3% of the Welsh voted for devolution. The other side simply accepted the result.

About the Glorious Revolution different people have different views. The Duke of Bavaria is the Pretender and lives in Munich. He never comments on his right to sit on the English, Scotch and Irish thrones.

Society is intensely conformist and the media are the thought police

Nigel Farage was interviewed by Andrew Marr on the BBC on Sunday and was asked questions about his views on Vladimir Putin, giving very expensive AIDS treatments to foreigners at the taxpayer's expense, privatising the NHS and other things where he has taken positions disapproved of by the people who work for the BBC. 

Mr Farage complained that this had nothing to do with the subject at hand, which was Brexit and showed BBC bias against him. 

People who like him think he did very well to say so. People who dislike him think Andrew Marr did well.

The truth is that, as William Hague said today in the Daily Telegraph, interviews with major politicians should last longer, up to an hour, as they did in the days when Brian Walden (whose death yesterday I mourn) or Sir Robin Day interviewed Margaret Thatcher. In long interviews there would be plenty of time to cover everything. T
hings were better in the old days, even though the BBC was equally biassed against conservatism then.

Admittedly, the thought of an hour of Theresa May is more than flesh and blood could stand. I would guess that HM the Queen finds her weekly audience with the Prime Minister even harder going than with Gordon Brown.

Andrew Marr certainly did treat Nigel Farage very unfairly in at least one respect. This one.


Marr: So you accept you weren’t advocating no deal back then because you know . . .

Monday, 13 May 2019

Tbilisi scene

Image may contain: outdoor

Theresa May will go before she badly damages the Anglo-American alliance

American historian Arthur Herman in an article published this afternoon in Forbes Magazine, headlined Why Theresa May Must Go, makes a good point.
'If the U.S. decides it can’t share data and networks with British telecom carriers, then China will have driven the first important wedge between the US and the UK since the Suez crisis more than sixty years ago.'
I often dislike the way the UK slavishly follows the USA, but on Huawei the Americans are right. And even if they were not right, it would be very foolish for the British to lose the advantages of sharing intelligence with them. Not to forget the advantages of being close to Donald Trump at this delicate moment when we need all the powerful friends we can find, to help us resist the machinations of France, Germany and Brussels. 

Instead, Mrs May's evident distaste for his views on immigration are an abiding memory from his wonderfully comic visit to England. Like a schoolmistress who cannot keep order, she clearly thought that his behaviour was very bad but the least said about it the better.

Luckily the sand in the egg timer is finally running out for our wretched Prime Minister. 

Everything now turns on who succeeds her. 

Robert Shrimsley in The Financial Times:
"Having promised to go once a withdrawal agreement is in place, Mrs May faces her own no-deal exit. Hence the profusion of rivals in pastel shirts posing with kitchen appliances in the interviews suddenly littering UK newspapers. We may not know how the umpteen Conservatives who consider themselves worthy of the leadership would really resolve the Brexit crisis, but we know their choice of oven."
Parliament has nothing to do but wait. 

Last week the one important vote the House of Commons took was on the Second Reading of  the Wild Animals in Circuses Bill. Meanwhile this session of Parliament is the longest in English history since the Long Parliament, which Cromwell dissolved in 1653 with the words
'You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately. Depart, I say;
and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!'
Robert Shrimsley quotes a wise, anonymous Tory MP saying
'Whatever comes next is coming. We may as well get on with it.'
The next Prime Minister has to be someone who campaigned for Brexit. It should best be one who can get close to the Trump White House and sympathetic countries like Italy, for domestic political reasons as much as diplomatic ones. 

The friendship of France or Germany is more dangerous than the enmity of Russia or China.

But I doubt this is what the new Prime Minister will do. Only Boris might have the wit to do so, though while a very unimpressive Foreign Secretary his foreign policy resembled much more Hillary's than the Donald's. He has insulted both of course in his time. 

He and a hard or no deal Brexit is probably the least bad chance my country has now. 

It has come to that.


Friday, 10 May 2019

Master Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor

I took little or no interest in the birth of the Duke of Sussex's son, because he is only seventh in line to the throne, but the Guardian and Independent, which 25 years ago said they would not cover stories about the royal family (until the scandals about Diana forced them to change their policy), did so avidly. I wonder why.

Why is the boy to be christened Archie, not Archibald? And why Harrison? And why not four Christian names at least, one of which should be Louis or Arthur?  And, most of all,  why no courtesy title? 

I smell the influence of Woke America.

Someone in the Spectator said the name Boris would have made people sit up. Yes, indeed.

The upper classes in 1936 didn't mind Mrs. Simpson being divorced. They minded her being American. I do rather see their point.

Still, good health and a long life to Master Archie.

Apparently he is named after the Duchess's dog.

Why Timothy Garton Ash is wrong about Europe

Things become much clearer as years go by. I read Timothy Garton Ash all my adult life but only now, after the Brexit referendum forced us all to think hard about the EU, do I see how misguided and dangerous his ideas are.

He has contributed a 'Long Read' to the Guardian about the EU and it is tosh. It says nothing interesting or original - or even interesting and unoriginal.

He co-opts the fire in Notre Dame as a symbol of the danger Europe faces but by this he means the dangers to the EU and Eurofederalism. 


The danger to European civilisation in his eyes comes from people who are attached to nation states, from politicians who want to staunch the unprecedented flood of refugees and immigrants from Africa and Asia, not from the tidal waves themselves. 

This is Alice in Wonderland logic. Words like civilisation mean whatever Humpty Dumpty Ash wants them to mean.

He points to the True Finns party as an example of an extr
eme right party entering government but neglects to say that they were partners in the coalition that accepted, for the first time in Finnish history, large numbers of non-European refugees. Finland, Malta and Luxembourg had hitherto been the three almost all white countries in Western Europe.

Actually, I am being a bit unfair. Professor Ash strays into good writing in this one paragraph which deals with Europe's sharp decline, but he does not enlarge on the theme though it is the issue he should be discussing.
“With the European civil war that raged on and off from 1914 to 1945, once described by Winston Churchill as a second thirty years war, Europe deposed itself from its global throne. In act five of Europe’s self-destruction, the US and the Soviet Union strode on to the stage like Fortinbras at the end of Hamlet. Yet, Europe was at least still the central stage of world politics throughout the cold war that followed. Europeans made history once again for a brief shining moment in 1989, but then Hegel’s Weltgeist, the “world spirit”, moved rapidly on from Berlin to Beijing.”

The truth is that the World Wars do not explain why Europe thinks it needs the USA to defend it or from whom. I am not sure what the explanation is but I know that it is subjective, not objective, and relates to decadence and civilisational exhaustion. 


So do low birth rates and accepting unprecedented numbers of migrants. 

And yet while Europe is in unprecedented relative decline the continent has never been nearly so rich, so peaceful, so technically advanced or so comfortable and easy a place in which to live.

Perhaps rich, peaceful and comfortable are clues. 

Justifying Genocide: German attitudes to the murder of Armenians, from Bismarck to Hitler

I wrote this for me blog exactly three years ago and thought, after my recent visit to Armenia, that it was worth reposting.



This week's political scandal about antisemitism in the British Labour Party has put the Holocaust in the news, but then the Holocaust is always in the news (very much more so than in the 1970s or 1980s). I think it wise not to wade into the discussion about what the malign Ken Livingstone (a man I detest) said about the Haavath Agreement. If you want to know about it, Andrew Roberts assails Ken here, though my views are different from Andrew's. But I have already stirred the waters in this article and, anyway, the story bores me. 

However, surfing the net (my besotting vice), I came across this interesting synopsis by Stefan Ihrig of his book Justifying Genocide: Germany and the Armenians from Bismarck to Hitler, that shows how Germans came to terms with genocide via the Armenian genocide. 

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Could Nigel Farage replace the Tories and be a British Donald Trump?

Three of Britain's four biggest parties Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists launch their European election campaigns today, which is bizarre because there only a fortnight to go until polling day. 

The Conservative Party, on the other hand, will have no launch event and no manifesto. The Daily Mail's Jason Groves says a Tory official shrugged and asked the reasonable question, 
“What would we put in it?”
Almost no Tory activists will be canvassing. The Tories would have done better not to stand at all. 

What will be interesting is how big the win by the Brexit party is and how very badly the Tories do. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

"A nation is a group of people united by a common misunderstanding about their origins"


"A nation is a group of people united by a common misunderstanding about their origins." (Ernest Renan).
The current misunderstanding held by the English does not relate to Hengist and Horsa, whom no Englishman I speak to has heard of, but to the mistaken idea that they were always an immigrant nation.


Similar misunderstandings apply to France, which had very few immigrants till the twentieth century and then mostly Latin Catholic ones for the first half of that, Germany and many other Western European countries.


I wonder if people in Sweden tell the Swedes that they were always an immigrant nation.

The long, dark teatime of Theresa May's soul


And Nurse came in with the tea-things
Breast high 'mid the stands and chairs-
But Nurse was alone with her own little soul,
And the things were alone with theirs.
(Betjeman, 'Death in Leamington')


Theresa May has been given till teatime today by the Chairman of the 1922 Committee (the trade union of backbench Tory MPs) to say when she intends to resign. 

What a very British sort of ultimatum. The long, dark teatime of the soul, to quote the title of a novel by Douglas Adams.