Tuesday 27 November 2018

Why We Hate Each Other

This is interesting and true.

'Mr. Sasse’s assertion that loneliness is killing us takes on even darker significance in the wake of the mail-bomb campaign against critics of President Trump and the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, both of which were perpetrated by isolated — and apparently very lonely — men. Mr. Sasse’s book was published before these events, but he presciently described what he believes lonely people increasingly do to fill the hole of belonging in their lives: They turn to angry politics.

Lord Salisbury: 'Defensive and troubled EU is out of date in a fast-changing world'

The Marquess of Salisbury is my favourite living politician, just as his great great-grandfather, the Prime Minister, is my favourite dead one. In an elegant article in a super magazine called Reaction he (the living one) argues that the EU is
an ancien regime faced with the transfer of global economic power to East of Suez and, with the exception of the United Kingdom, the relative decline of the intellectual power houses that enabled Western Europe to dominate the last three centuries.

Brexit may be a shambles, but need not be

'I still travel abroad a lot of my time, and I am very conscious of how the rest of the world views this country. Contrary to what many might think, most people overseas have taken the idea of Brexit in their stride, and it has not fundamentally changed what they think of Britain. But becoming a complete shambles is another matter.

'I don’t know what will follow a decisive rejection of the deal. It could be a constitutional shambles, a second referendum shambles, a no-deal exit shambles or a Corbyn government shambles. I just know that it will be an abysmal shambles whatever would happen next. People who say that the deal is the worst of all worlds haven’t understood how bad things might get.'

William Hague in the Daily Telegraph today, arguing manfully for Mrs. May's deal. I believe that people do not think worse of Britain because of Brexit and that they will think worse of us if the outcome is a shambles, but it is clear that her deal is a shambles. I think a worse shambles than no deal. certainly a much bigger one than the Norwegian, Swiss or Canadian models which we could have copied and probably still can.

The Overton Window

Unherd is something I subscribe to. It sends me emails with interesting political articles, from a range of viewpoints from left to right. It just invited me to a debate in London, between five people, none of whom are conservatives, entitled “Immigration and Diversity Politics: A Challenge to Liberal Democracy?”

All I want to say about this is that the debate was originally on the question “Is rising ethnic diversity a threat to the West?”, until last month when the title was changed. It was changed after what is called a Twitterstorm from people who said asking such a question was inadmissible and normalised racism.

Make of this what you will, gentle reader. I just thought it worth telling you.

Sunday 25 November 2018

Robert Tombs: ‘If Brexit is finished, then so is democracy’

Robert Tombs, who supervised me in my fourth year at Cambridge, was a handsome thirty-something then. I remember he gave me an odd look when I said I found Joseph de Maistre an attractive figure. 

For some reason, Dr Tombs now has grey hair and has retired, but history is the only thing you get better at as you grow older and he is on his best form these days. His The English and Their History is a masterpiece which, like Macaulay's History of England, replaced the latest novel on the dressing tables of fashionable young ladies. 

He is on great form in this interview with the post-Trotskyite magazine Spiked. It's so good that I cannot help ignoring the laws of copyright and quoting a lot of it. Please read it all here.

Atheist school

A letter in today's Sunday Times, commenting on an article last week by a humanist about British church schools.

Natural selection 
Why don’t Roberts and her humanist friends start a free school? It could have a statue of Charles Darwin in the hall and its motto could be “Survival of the fittest”.
John Davey, Worthing

"Can 'voluntary colonialism' stop migration from Africa to Europe?" It's a great idea but the answer is no

An item from the BBC:
A controversial proposal by a German minister that foreign powers acquire land in Africa to curb migration has been rejected by the African Union, writes the BBC's Dickens Olewe.

Thank God Theresa May lost the election

Thank God that Mrs May called her unnecessary general election last year, allowed seven weeks for campaigning instead of the usual three and a half, and campaigned so appallingly that the Tories lost their majority and are dependent on the Paisleyite Democratic Unionists.

If she had at her back the majority everyone expected, of 70 or 90 MPs, her (Olly Robbins' and the civil service's) deal would go through parliament.

I did not like Margaret Thatcher in her time but miss her very badly now. Every British Tory - even every British patriot - must.

Things hang in the balance in England this weekend, but thank God that there are signs that Mrs May's terrible deal will not pass the House of Commons.

If the deal that's been agreed does go through, and it still well might at the first attempt or second, the consequences would be fatal for Britain. As a Liberal Democrat Remainer political scientist friend said to me after her terms were announced, clearly no deal is now necessary. 

I agree with him, unless a third way can be found and one does.

A Catholic shift on divorce and very much else

Anyone who is interested in the way in which Pope Francis is changing the Catholic Church should read this brief excerpt from an interview with Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, the new Superior General of the Jesuits, a position that used to be called the “Black Pope”, in the days, before the Second Vatican Council, when Jesuits were known for their fidelity to the Holy See. 

After a long gap of almost fifty years Jesuits are ultramontanes again, faithful to the first Jesuit pope, who is a typical modern Jesuit, left-wing in politics and liberal in theology.

Q: Is it also possible to question the statement in Matthew 19:3-6: “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder”?
Abascal: I go along with what Pope Francis says. One does not bring into doubt, one brings into discernment. . .

Friday 23 November 2018


"My view is that if we had a second referendum tomorrow, Leave would win again. And not only would Leave win again, but Leave voters would say: what didn’t you understand about Leave the first time?" Diane Abbott, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary, talking to the Nick Robinson on the BBC today. She also thinks that Mrs. May's agreement will get through. I think I'd prefer another referendum.

“Don’t be afraid of those who tell us that we cannot run our own affairs, that we have not the ingenuity to mobilise our resources and overcome our economic problems. We can do that and save the freedom of our country at the same time.” Michael Foot, 1975.

Hillary Clinton: Europe must curb immigration to stop rightwing populists

Hillary Clinton in an interview in The Guardian today.
“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame. I admire the very generous and compassionate approaches that were taken particularly by leaders like Angela Merkel, but I think it is fair to say Europe has done its part, and must send a very clear message – ‘we are not going to be able to continue provide refuge and support’ – because if we don’t deal with the migration issue it will continue to roil the body politic.”
Historians of the future will tell readers after we are dead why the political elites took so long to understand and accept that electorates do not like mass immigration. After years

Wednesday 21 November 2018

Pope Francis: 'The wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all'. Is this true?

The Pope on Sunday preached
"Let us ask for the grace to hear the cry of all those tossed by the waves of life. The cry of the poor....It is the cry of all those Lazaruses who weep while the wealthy few feast on what, in justice, belongs to all. Injustice is the perverse root of poverty."
We ought to hear the cry of the poor and friendless and others that the Pope lists. Yes the wealthy few, who include everybody without money worries in Western countries, should give away their possessions to the poor, if they do not have dependents to look after or other obligations to fulfill. But do the belongings of the wealthy few 'belong, in justice, to all'? This is something else and, in fact, a strange doctrine.

Strange for Catholics, at least. As my mentor Mgr. Alfred Gilbey said, the Catholic Church, which preaches the voluntary renunciation of worldly possessions, has always been the firmest defender of property rights.

Tuesday 20 November 2018


I wish my father (who fought for a referendum on our membership of the EU) was alive today to witness the unbelievable irony of Heseltine, Major, Blair and almost the entire establishment campaigning for... a(nother) referendum on our membership of the EU.

In 1981, the year Ronald Reagan became America's 40th President, 44.3 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty (i.e., less than $1.90 per person per day). Last year, it was 9.6 percent. That's a decline of 78 percent.

"Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world."

Catholic bishops commemorate Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is the feast of my patron saint, St. Edmund, King and Martyr, the King of East Anglia and English Catholic hero who was martyred in 869 at the hands of infidels invading England - from Sweden. In 869 and for many centuries thereafter the Catholic Church took a strong line against invasions and infidel migrants.

I discovered today that the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have a collective Twitter account and prefer, rather than tweet about St. Edmund or other saints, to tweet about a secular feast called the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Blasphemy and free speech

I had no time to read the ECHR judgment on the case of an Austrian who insulted the (supposed) prophet Mahomet, but it is nothing to worry about and is not a precedent for other countries. It simply upheld an Austrian law in Austria that makes insulting religions illegal. There was nothing particularly draconian about the law, either, when you bear in mind the hate speech laws that obtain in most European countries. 

People suggested that it was a sad evidence of the islamisation of Europe were mistaken. A law professor friend of mine who thought so should have known better. Move along, nothing to see.

The future Pope Francis received a damning assessment report from his superior

"Since Father Bergoglio [now Pope Francis], as a Jesuit, would need a dispensation to be
appointed [a bishop], it was necessary to obtain a report from his order, for which
Cardinal Quarracino applied in 1991. It was provided by the Jesuit General, and it represents the most damning character study of Jorge Bergoglio composed by anyone before his election as Pope. The text of the
report has never been made public, but the following account is given by a 
priest who had access to it before it disappeared from the Jesuit archive:

Father Kolvenbach accused Bergoglio of a series of defects, ranging from habitual use of vulgar language to deviousness, disobedience concealed under a mask of humility, and lack of psychological balance; with a view to his suitability as a future bishop, the report pointed out that he had been a divisive figure as Provincial of his own order. It is not surprising that, on being elected Pope, Francis made efforts to get his hands on the existing copies of the document, and the original filed in the official Jesuit archives in Rome has disappeared. As regards the fairness of the report, we ought to allow for the hostility of the Jesuits who were in control in Argentina at the time, but in reality Bergoglio had been exaggerating this so as to pose as a martyr to Cardinal Quarracino (the phenomenon that Father

Kolvenbach may have had in mind when he referred to disobedience under a mask of humility). When due allowance is made, the Kolvenbach Report can hardly be read as the depiction of a model religious by his superior."

From The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy (Italian: Il papa dittatore)
by 'Marcantonio Colonna' (November 2017). On 19 March 2018, the author was revealed to be Henry Sire.

Monday 19 November 2018

Britons in Romania talk to an Austrian paper about Brexit

This article by Marlies Eder, published in the Austrian newspaper “Die Presse” last month, is reproduced by kind permission, translated by Frank Fisher. Like all newspaper articles about things one knows about, it contains fairly big mistakes, but in this case only three or four. 

“Go Back to Your Rainy Island”

Brexit. Around 2,200 [source? - some estimate a much smaller number - P.V.E.W.] Britons live in Romania, in contrast to 411,000 Romanians in Great Britain. A majority is against Brexit and are afraid that they may be forced to go back home. [I don't think anyone is afraid they may be forced to go home. P.V.E.W.]

Bucharest. It seems as though he provoked the seconds-long silence. Colin Shaw says nothing as he climbs into his 1996 green Land Rover. Obviously on the right side, not the left. He explains only when asked that he drove the whole way from Great Britain to Romania in the British all-terrain vehicle in order to transport tourists around the Carpathian mountains. But after more than 20 years he’s finished with it.


Jawdrop moment from the Sunday papers... "Dominic Raab was told by British diplomats that Martin Selmayr had boasted that losing Northern Ireland would be the "price" Britain has to pay for Brexit." The Beast of Brussels strikes again. And under the 'deal', he'll get his wish.

“There was a referendum in 2016, a majority voted to leave the EU, there are many reasons why people voted. I don’t think you call a referendum and then say you don’t like the result and go away from it. You’ve got to understand why people voted and negotiate the best deal you can.”

Jeremy Corbyn on Sky News last night

Sunday 18 November 2018

The revolution in the Catholic Church

Cardinal Cupich, the Archbishop of Chicago, talking about Pope Francis’ silence on Archbishop Vigano’s charge of disregarding credible accusations of paedophlia by prelates:
“The Pope has a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things—of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”
The Archbishop of Washington D.C., Cardinal Wuerl, who has since resigned:
“I don’t think this is some massive, massive crisis.”
Those predictions did not age well, to use a cliché. The crisis is a massive, massive one. 

Was there a bigger one since the Reformation?

I recommend this thought-provoking article by R. R. Reno, the editor of First Things, headlined The Populist Wave Hits the Catholic Church: How Pope Francis Triggered a Rebellion, though I think the headline is misleading. 

The article is not about rebellion, but about the Pope's teaching, and it seems to me that it is the Pope who is a populist, if a populist is someone who says things to appeal to the crowds and win popularity. 

Bloody, Cosmopolitan Sarajevo

After the two terrible world wars in which ninety or even a hundred million died, huge and very painful movements of people took place in Europe to try to straighten out Central and Eastern Europe's ethnic tangle, in order to prevent further wars. Nowadays, the people in charge in Western Europe (academics, journalists, clergypersons, civil servants, NGOs, politicians) have drawn the lesson that creating and enlarging new ethnic minorities is a way to eschew atavism and racism and prevent a repetition of the horrors of the recent past.

This conclusion is perverse, I think, and so does Will Collins, writing in an article in The American Conservative about Bloody, Cosmopolitan Sarajevo
. He says

NATO, the European Union, the memories of two devastating wars, and the Soviet threat have been variously credited for the decades of peace Europe has enjoyed since the end of the Second World War. The uncomfortable reality is that this enduring peace is also the result of the often violent resettlement of ethnic groups within coherent national borders. The cultural, linguistic, and religious fault lines that exploded into violence during the first half of the 20th century have been largely erased from the map, replaced by a series of uniform national blocs.
It’s no accident that the one place in Europe that wasn’t completely reorganized along these lines is still a tinder box. The Balkans erupted in the 1990s because Yugoslavia temporarily defied this pan-European trend of state building, thanks largely to Marshal Tito’s charismatic authoritarianism.

'The Brexit Deal Is Just Too Good for Europe'

I thought Leonid Bershidsky wrote an interesting article for Bloomberg. He thinks that by playing poker brilliantly there's a chance that Michel Barnier may have agreed a deal so bad for the British that the British Parliament will not accept it.
The problem, of course, with the documents being so good for Europe is that they’re so bad for the Brits. Guenter Verheugen, who served as a European Commissioner for more than a decade, wrote on Friday that playing to win every point in the Brexit negotiations wasn’t necessarily the best strategy. “Anyone who presses the British into an EU corset that is too tight today will lose any chance of their coming back voluntarily,” he wrote.

So tight is the corset that there’s an extremely high chance of May’s deal being shot down by U.K. lawmakers. Yet her deal would be nigh on impossible to renegotiate for any other British prime minister, given the EU’s position. As such, there’s still a real danger of no deal at all (unless the advocates of a second referendum score an unlikely victory). In a no-deal scenario, losses for European businesses would be immediate and brutal.

Life rushes by

I'm reminded of this line from the movie The Red Shoes: "Life rushes by, time rushes by, but the Red Shoes go on dancing forever." All of that applies to me, except for the red shoes part. Everything seems to be rushing by, and I'm floating above it all, reaching my hand out to life, but not quite grasping it, like waving your hand for a taxi that is clearly occupied. 

Jonathan Ames

Tradition and bigotry

What harm can it do saying that women don’t have penises? Quite a lot, actually, if my experience is anything to go on. After sharing a statement with that message on Twitter, along with a screenshot from a Spectator article, the backlash was swift. Less than a month after sending that tweet, I had lost my position as president-elect of Humanist Students as well as my role as assistant editor of Durham University’s philosophy society’s undergraduate journal, Critique. I was also given the boot as co-editor-in-chief of Durham University’s online student magazine, the Bubble.
Angelos Sofocleous

It is rather a curious coincidence that in every controversy in which I have been hitherto, I have always been entirely right.
G. K. Chesterton‏

Joseph Sobran‏ @joesobranquotes 
To liberalism, tradition, which Chesterton called "the democracy of the dead," is nothing but bigotry, and may be safely ignored. Liberals want to be open-minded about everything — except the past. They seem to think our ancestors got everything wrong.

Saturday 17 November 2018

Kerry: Europe is already crushed under transformation due to immigration

Former Democrat presidential candidate and Secretary of State John Kerry discussed climate change on Thursday, at a meeting sponsored by the Guardian at Central Hall in London: 
“We are heading for catastrophe unless we respond to some life-threatening challenges very rapidly. We have a climate-denying president that pulls us out of the the Paris climate change agreement at a time when literally every day matters. Europe is already crushed under this transformation that is taking place due to migration. In Germany Angela Merkel is weakened. Italian politics is significantly impacted."

There will not be customs inspections at the Irish border in any event

A Dutch official explains what a number of customs experts have explained, that even in the unlikely case of the hardest possible Brexit there would be no need for customs inspections at the Irish border. Not even of the cursory kind that I underwent on the train to Northern Ireland from Dublin in 1982.

Brexit tweets

  1.  I accept responsibility for many things, but not the outcome of the Brexit negotiation. It seems extraordinary that a group of Remainers could screw it up so comprehensively and then point at Brexiters and say, “See! We told you it would be impossible to get a good deal.”ore


“The idea of an integrated Europe is historically looking backward. We never belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, and we never belonged to the reactionary organisation after 1815. We have always looked outward, out to the New World, and to Asia and Africa.”

Clement Attlee, 1962

Brexit: things seem slightly less hopeless today

The mistake was putting a Remainer, someone whom David Cameron described as more Europhile than him or George Osborne, in charge of Brexit. 

For this mistake I blame Michael Gove, the only Leave candidate who could have led the country out of the EU when Cameron resigned. Instead he originally chose not to stand for the leadership but to back Boris Johnson, before deciding that Johnson was not up to the job and stabbing him in the front by standing. He did this to save the country from Johnson rather than in the hope of winning and he looked disloyal, Machiavellian and untrustworthy.

Theresa May did not get to where she is by brains. Nor by eloquence, charisma, likeability or intuition. She got where she is by luck, as most Prime Ministers do (Brown, Eden and Chamberlain were the exceptions in modern times), but mostly by persistence. 

I remember the pornographer David Sullivan saying in an interview that intelligence was

Friday 16 November 2018

British crisis

Laughable that all these Labour MPs are saying should step down because of today’s resignations. MPs passed a vote of no confidence in by 172-40 and he didn’t go anywhere.

Time to go ‘Cold Turkey’! Whilst I support a deal it is now time to go to WTO rules & negotiate one from that position as most other countries do

If I had been a Brexiteer, low chance but still, I would never have triggered A50, and instead used UK veto and other internal measures to disrupt EU functioning until it conceded Brexit by treaty as an alternative to its gangplank. A50 was their great mistake.

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Theresa May now thinks a bad deal is better than no deal

She always did, which is why no money was spent on preparing for no deal till far too late in the day. This told the EU that for her no deal was not an option. When preparations for no deal did start they were, in part, intended to scare the public and diminish support for no deal. 

You cannot win a negotiation unless you are prepared to walk away.

What an awful day this has been and what an appalling performance by the worst British Prime Minister since Lord North. 

That's a terrible cliche that has been used to describe a lot of Prime Ministers, including Sir Anthony Eden, Harold Wilson, David Cameron and should certainly have been used to describe Tony Blair. This time it is the sorry truth. This woman is even worse than Mr. Blair. Much worse than Lord North, for that matter.

This terrible deal, which means Britain has to accept the rules of the EU without any say in making them, is not the only possible deal apart from no deal or giving up on Brexit altogether. 

From David Fromkin's 'A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East' (1989)

It's a wonderful book that I recommend highly and, like John Buchan's Greenmantle, it's been very topical since September 2001.

“It has been estimated that the total of military and civilian casualties in all of Europe’s domestic and international conflicts in the 100 years between 1815 and 1915 was no greater than a single day’s combat losses in any of the great battles of 1916.”

"As soon as they began to plan their annexation of the Middle East, Allied leaders recognized that Islam’s hold on the region was the main feature of the political landscape with which they would have to contend. Lord Kitchener, it

Moment of decision at last: Brexit deal agreed by officials will be put to the British cabinet today

An old friend of Michel Barnier says Europe’s chief negotiator can’t believe his luck. He’s kept 27 EU countries united while the U.K. falls apart.

Theresa May is asking her Cabinet to make what might be the most fateful decision in UK history on the basis of a 500 page document they only get a couple of hours to read & that they have no chance to obtain independent analysis, scrutiny & commentary upon. They should say no.

Imagine being an EU official tonight. You must barely be able to believe your luck in finding a U.K. administration willing to sign up to being an indefinite rule taker, agree to let you run their trade policy, and give you £47 billion for the privilege


"Ordinary conservatives – and many people fall into this category – are constantly told that their ideas and sentiments are reactionary, prejudiced, sexist or racist. Just by being the thing they are they offend against the new norms of inclusiveness and non-discrimination."

Sir Roger Scruton

“While it may have been chauvinist of British officials in the 1920s and 1930s to say that Arab countries were not ready for self-government—which is to say, liberal democratic constitutional regimes with rule of law—evidence as of our own late date does not seem to prove them wrong. The Economist (April 3, 2004, page 47) is on record as saying that “The Arab League’s 22 states remain the most uniformly oligarchic slice of the world. Not a single Arab leader has ever been peacefully ousted at the ballot box.”

Tuesday 13 November 2018

The restaurants argument