Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Let us hope Boris knows how to dance - as Mr Blair did and Mrs May did not

Politics is not chess, or even poker, but dancing. Tony Blair danced beautifully but was never faced with a challenge like this. Boris has to do something terribly hard, to dance us out of the EU.

The boss of Aston Martin that makes the cars that James Bond drives, Andy Palmer, says he prefers Great Britain leaving the EU without a deal to continued uncertainty, even though the car industry will be very badly affected by leaving the Single Market.
“Every time we have to prepare to leave it ties up working capital and brains on something that may or may not happen. First and foremost, I think we now need certainty. I think business was pretty clear that it would prefer a deal with free trade with Europe, and it is true we are looking at a cliff edge without one but at this stage a decision is better than no decision.”
Unfortunately uncertainty will continue for many years whatever the UK does.

Still a decision of some sort has to be taken. 

It has been three years since the referendum, the event that an Independent writer said meant the UK ceasing to be a liberal country. I do not know why being outside the EU is incompatible with liberalism (think Norway) or why being a liberal, as opposed to a conservative, country is a good thing. 

I see no signs whatever that Britain will be any less liberal for the time being. I see even Nigel Farage as in some respects a nineteenth century liberal, but in the future I think liberalism will be destroyed by its internal contradictions.

It is a relief to know we shall shortly have a politician taking power with energy, new ideas and who knows how to seduce the right-wing half of the electorate. In these respects, though but not in many others, he resembles Donald Trump. 

Theresa May submitting the same proposal over and over again to the House of Commons, while making speeches that no human being could bear to listen to, had a strange nightmarish quality. We cannot go back to that. Let's hope that Boris will finesse things and pull off a conjuring trick.

Boris Johnson told a hustings organised by the Sun newspaper last night when asked if he would accept a time limit on the Irish backstop.

“No, is the answer. No to time limits, or universal escape hatches, or all these kind of elaborate devices, glosses, codicils and so on that you could apply to the backstop. I think the problem is very fundamental.”

I had thought he would make a deal with the EU about the backstop and still think it possible.  But the backstop is not the main problem with the withdrawal agreement Mrs May tried to foist on her country. In fact the backstop itself has certain advantages, like staying in the customs union without paying.

Mr Johnson has other red lines — Great Britain leaves on October 31; no second referendum; and no general election before Britain has left the EU.

Leaving without a deal looks very possible. Not the 1000 to 1 chance Boris said.

The Times reports a meeting last week between the Secretary of State for Brexit and Boris ally Stephen Barclay and Michel Barnier. According to an EU panjandrum who was present, it

"left Mr Barnier, the EU’s lead negotiator, astonished and dismayed. He told Barnier that the withdrawal agreement was dead — not once but five times. If this is what is coming then we will be heading for no deal very quickly.

Mr Barclay held the private talks … without the usual team of British negotiators and — according to various sources — took an approach described as brutal, bullying, bad tempered and confrontational. One senior diplomat close to the negotiations said it was the most hostile encounter in three years since the Brexit referendum, adding that Mr Barclay had seemed to ‘tear up the previously constructive approach taken by Theresa May.'” 

This is what Queen Victoria called taking a high tone and of which she approved, somewhere between high-handed and high horse. I wonder what Michel Barnier thought. Perhaps that the Withdrawal Agreement, that seemed his great achievement, will hang round his neck for the rest of his life as a disastrous failure if we leave without a deal.

Ship without sailors

On 7 May, customs officers in Ostend in Belgium received a box of oysters from West Mersea in the Essex marshes, in England, in case you don't know where my native county is. It came to them across the North Sea, delivered in a 39 foot (12 metre) boat with an aluminium hull and nobody on board. This was the world's first unmanned commercial voyage.

'Yes, we could have a bright no-deal future, but not with this Parliament'

Everything changed in the developed world when the 2008 financial crisis happened and everything will change in the UK again after Brexit.

In his weekly Telegraph article, William Hague argues that a no-deal Brexit, which is a very real possibility, would have to be followed by a general election. It's worth reading. He always is.
'This is actually the biggest problem with a no-deal Brexit: that it would not be possible, without a new and very different parliament, to do what was desperately needed afterwards.'
A no deal Brexit looks more likely today since Boris said yesterday that the backstop had to go completely, not just be limited duration.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Donald Trump trolls the Democrats and Theresa May

Image may contain: 3 people

24 hours ago Donald Trump tweeted,
"So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!"
I smiled in admiration at the way he uses his opponents' strength against them and they don't see it, ever. 

He inevitably rouses the Democrats to over-the-top outrage, which makes millions voters in middle America side with him faute de mieux

Will his tweet play in Peoria? I don't know where Peoria is, but I imagine it will.

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Boris and the Donald are very masculine - Mrs May is sexless, lacks not just colour but vitality

Freddie Gray writes in this week's Spectator:
 “Unlike Theresa May, Boris has long appreciated the possible upsides of a Trump presidency. He once told a Cabinet minister that he saw Trump as a ‘lifeboat’ that could rescue Brexit. He has also apparently been receptive to the idea — put about by some of Trump’s circle — that after leaving the EU, Britain might join NAFTA. Boris’s ideal scenario would be to persuade the EU that, unless it offers Britain a reasonable deal, Britain stands ready to form an alliance with America.”
Whatever you think of him and whatever you think of Brexit, you have to admit that Great Britain was remarkably lucky that Donald Trump became president of the USA. Mr. Obama said we would be "at the back of the queue" for a trade deal (albeit because David Cameron asked him to, whence the word "queue" not "line") whereas his successor wants one urgently and thinks Brexit a great idea. 

Since Brexit is going to happen this is our great good luck. And yet Theresa May showed no sign of recognising this. Boris will not be such a fool.

Is Boris King Charles I or II?


ir John Major spoke on the Today programme last week about the evils of proroguing parliament. It would be, he said, the first time since Charles I that such an abomination was perpetrated, with civil war the outcome. Those who make eager use of historical analogies are rarely exact in their grasp of the past. The last time parliament was prorogued to get a government measure through was in 1948, during the premiership of the sainted Clement Attlee – a less spine-chilling example, if Sir John had been aware of it.
At various moments in our history, parliament has been treated rather – shall we say, cavalierly? – by governments when it tried to obstruct change. The


Asked on television by Sir Robin Day, after her 1983 election victory and cabinet reshuffle, whether she was a “good butcher”, Margaret Thatcher replied, 

“No, but I have had to learn to carve the joint”.

Chris Arnade, 'Dignity: seeking respect in back row America':

“We have said that education is the way out of pain and the way to success, implying that those who don’t make it are dumb, or lazy, or stupid. This has ensured that all those at the bottom, black, white, gay, straight, men and women, are guaranteed to feel excluded, rejected, and most of all, humiliated.” 

We need someone with the temperament to drive full speed towards No Deal without any thought of using the break. The person most suited to this is Boris.

I see that Bergoglio is having a go at seafarers and fishermen now.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Pope Urban II on Muslims in 1095

"They [the enemies of God] inhabit Asia, the third portion of the world, as their native soil... They hold Africa also, another quarter of the world, already possessed by their arms for more than two hundred years; which, on this account, I pronounce derogatory to Christian honour, because that country was anciently the nurse of celebrated geniuses, who by their divine writings, will mock the rust of antiquity as long as there shall be a person who can relish Roman literature; the learned know the truth of what I say. Europe, the third portion of the world, remains, of which how small a part do we Christians inhabit, for who can call all those barbarians who dwell in remote islands of the frozen ocean Christians, since they live after a savage manner? Even this small portion of the world, belonging to us, the Turks and Saracens oppress. Thus for three hundred years, Spain and the Balearic isles being subjugated to them..."

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Say not the struggle naught availeth

"" ‘Britain not ready for no-deal crash-out, claim experts.’ That was a newspaper headline I saw a couple of weeks ago. It unconsciously encapsulates the Remain mindset. You cannot, by definition, be ready for a crash-out: if you were, no crash would be involved."
Charles Moore in today's Spectator.

So far Boris who should have saved us from Mrs May and a world of pain three years ago seems to be clear sighted. We need to stick close to Donald Trump, of whom she so clearly strongly disapproved. 

We also need close friendships with Italy, Poland, Austria, Czechia and Hungary.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Sir Kim Darroch resigns, which reminds me of two jokes

In the past few minutes, Sir Kim Darroch resigned as British Ambassador to what Michael Wharton would have called the American rebels.

Of course, he did nothing wrong. Of course, it is very unfair. 
Of course, he did the right thing by resigning. Of course, Boris Johnson was right not to make a foolish promise not to move him. Relations with Mr Trump are far too important. Of course, journalists who know little and who hate Boris and Donald Trump are humbugs. Of course, television debates are an awful idea at a moment as perilous as this for Great Britain or England or whatever you call my country. 

Four times during last night’s televised debate Johnson was asked to confirm that Sir Kim would keep his job until he was due to leave it in six months' time. Why do TV presenters think it acceptable to badger privy counsellors in this way?

Remember this?

By the way, Boris Johnson whose opinions on all sorts of things are on record going back decades, once accused Mr Trump of a “stupefying ignorance” that makes him “frankly

Monday, 8 July 2019

Boris and the great cause of cheering us up

If he succeeds, there will never have been a party leader who has expressed an opinion on so many things over such a long period of time as Boris Johnson. Except, interestingly, Jeremy Corbyn.

Lord Finkelstein in The Times

"Do you believe in anything? Do you, in fact, have any convictions at all, Boris?"
“Only one — for speeding, but a very long time ago”.

Sonia Purnell in her biography, Just Boris, quoted by Lord Finkelstein

“However ludicrous it may seem, religion sets boundaries, it suggests to bad and loveless people that they are loved. It provides a framework.

"My own faith is a very feeble tinsel object. I sometimes think there might be some kind of celestial radio signal but it is about as intelligible as Radio Tirana.” 

Boris Johnson, November 2006


Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.

Gustav Mahler, who misattributed it to Thomas More.

The important thing is never to let oneself be guided by the opinion of one's contemporaries; to continue steadfastly on one's way without letting oneself be either defeated by failure or diverted by applause.

Gustav Mahler

Life isn't about finding yourself or finding anything, life is about creating yourself.

Bob Dylan (sometimes misattributed to Shaw)

Saturday, 6 July 2019

R.I.P. Christopher Booker

I was saddened by the death of the great contrarian Christopher Booker, the puppeteer who pulled Dave Spart's strings, the first British journalist who argued for leaving the EU and the most uncompromising of climate change sceptics. 

As an undergraduate at Cambridge, Christopher Booker said his ambitions were to edit a magazine, be on television and marry a duke's daughter. On graduating he became the first editor of Private Eye, a writer and occasional performer on the iconic 1960s satire programme That Was The Week That Was and married the Honourable Emma Tennant, the daughter of Lord Glenconner. None of these things lasted. He wrote a very interesting book called The Neophiliacs.

He thought ‘climate change’ was the biggest scam in the history of the world. James

'Who whom?'

Lenin is supposed to have said at the second All-Russian Congress of Political Education Departments on 17 October 1921, 

"The whole question is—who will overtake whom?"

It was Trotksy and later Stalin who shortened his question to two words 

'Who whom?'

but it is the important question.

Carl Benjamin, blogger (Sargon of Akkad) and UKIP candidate, was visited by the police

during the Euro-elections this year for having in 2016 said of a woman that he “wouldn't even rape” her and then thinking aloud that there again he might. Jo Brand, one of a number of left-wing comics who have never been funny in their careers, said she wanted acid thrown at Nigel Farage instead of milkshakes. Some people complained, but she was

Fiona Hill returns

Theresa May is a weak person who, like most weak people (such as Tsar Nicholas II, for example) is very stubborn. She came completely under the control of two advisers, Nick Timothy and Fiona Hall as Home Secretary and then as Prime Minister, until she lost her majority in the election they egged her on to call and was required by her MPs to fire them.

They were much more powerful than cabinet ministers, whom they addressed with four letter words. Referring to Theresa May's continual talk about eradicating slavery and looking at her and her two advisers Boris Johnson said "That's modern slavery right there." 

They were doubly disastrous. 

Friday, 5 July 2019

The Eccentricities of Cardinal Parolin and Archbishop Peña Parra

Matteo Salvini, the Italian Deputy Prime Minister, is the European statesman who gives me most hope, but the Pope and the Catholic hierarchy loathe him, despite his disapproval of single sex marriage and abortion, because he does not want Italy to take in people from the Maghreb who claim asylum. 

An article in the New York Times headlined 'How the Catholic Church Lost Italy to the Far Right', talks about him and mentions that Cardinal Parolin, the Cardinal Secretary of State, has rebuked him for 'invoking God for his own sake'.

This is the same Cardinal Parolin whom, we learnt yesterday from a scoop by Lifesitenews, Archbishop Vigano has condemned for not questioning the appointment of Archbishop Peña Parra as his deputy, despite the existence of a file of very serious allegations against the latter involving boys.

"In Britain Pope Francis would face questioning by the police"

Damian Thompson, one of my favourite journalists, resigned yesterday as editor of the Catholic Herald, the leading and until he went there very dull British Catholic weekly newspaper, which he turned into a must-read. He left voluntarily, he said, after  disagreements with the owner. 

Last night, a free man after a long time, he tweeted
"The list of suspected sex abusers and their accomplices whom Francis has protected or promoted is growing by the day. In Britain he would face questioning by police."
He was referring to a hitherto unpublished section of the recent interview given by Archbishop Viganò to the Washington Post, which yesterday was published by LifeSiteNews, in which the Archbishop said that Pope Francis ignored a file created in 2002, detailing allegations against Archbishop Peña of interference with boys, when he recently appointed him to the position of Deputy Secretary of State. 

The media have not mentioned this story. Imagine if it concerned not a liberal pope but Pope Benedict XVI. Or Donald Trump or - save the mark- Boris Johnson.

In this interview a week ago Damian Thompson criticises a lot of things that liberal Catholic bishops are doing and eviscerates the English bishops for their very muted reaction to a court decision to force a girl to have an abortion against her and her mother's wishes.

Some leaders are losers. Hitler, Stalin and Enver Pasha come to mind. Theresa May is, of course, another.

There are losers and winners in life. Some people who become leaders of their country are losers and in those cases their countries lose with them. Examples abound but Adolf Hitler, Stalin and Enver Pasha come immediately to mind. Theresa May is, of course, another.

Looking back at what might have been is a character flaw, but it does illuminate the way history happens by accident, more than because of large historical tendencies.

With Brexit the large trend is that most British people, unlike people in the other member states, never liked or believed in the EU. At least not until the referendum, when some discovered that they loved it. The smaller picture is that politicians, to use a rugby expression, fumbled the ball.

After calling an election in which she lost the majority that David Cameron and George Osborne had won Theresa May said,

"I got us into this mess, and I'm going to get us out. ... as leader "
She did not get us her party out of the mess. It was obvious that she couldn't and she should have resigned in favour of Boris or Michael Gove or anyone then.

David Cameron promised that if the referendum was won by Leave he would stay to implement the decision. He should have said on the morning after the referendum
 "I got us into this mess [for he thought it was one], and I'm going to get us out." 
He should many months earlier have instructed his civil servants to have a contingency plan ready - instead he ordered them not to do so. 

That plan could have been the Norway or Canada options. Both were off the peg solutions. We would have had the initiative and a deal would have been made by now. 

The Tory party would probably be in a strong position now in the polls.

This, not the referendum itself but not preparing a Plan B, is why David Cameron has done his country immeasurable harm.

I hope Boris is a winner and think he probably is. We shall see.

Boris surprised the day-long cabinet meeting at Chequers, the Prime Minister's 'grace and favour' official residence, by his reaction to Theresa May's deeply disappointing deal. He said, using a rude word he is fond of, 
“Anyone defending the proposal we have just agreed will find it like trying to polish a turd. Luckily, we have some expert turd-polishers in this Government.”
Later, over dinner, he seemed to be cheerful. It was David Davis resigning the next day that made Boris resign the day after that, for self-interested motives. Had he not done so David Davis would have become leader of the Brexiteers. 

By resigning, Boris made it inevitable that Mrs May's eventual withdrawal agreement, worse even than Chequers, would not pass the House. So at least thinks the streetwise George Osborne. David Davis's principled resignation was therefore a lucky thing for Boris.

David Davis might have saved his country a world of pain had he toppled Theresa May after the last election, even though he was a useless Brexit Minister. He backed Dominic Raab, not Boris, to be Prime Minister.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

4th July question - what is America?

Today is the 4th of July when Americans celebrate their rebellion. A friend sent me this quotation from my beloved Dr Johnson.
To a man of mere animal life, you can urge no argument against going to America, but that it will be some time before he will get the earth to produce. But a man of any intellectual enjoyment will not easily go and immerse himself and his posterity for ages in barbarism.
He of course was talking about the America of his day, largely savage. 

A.J.P. Taylor said we visit countries for architecture and food and America has neither. Again be understanding, gentle American reader. He meant, of course, old buildings and a national cuisine. He also speculated that if

US Southern border has become a party advertised on Facebook

Lionel Shriver is a very good writer. In today's Spectator she (Lionel can be a girl's name in the United States, just as Beryl and Dana can be men) informs us that the US Border Patrol now apprehends 4,200 migrants at the southern border daily, 610,000 a year. 

She thinks, and is probably right, that the Democrats cannot win if all their candidates want to stop deporting illegals but to give them free health care instead. Yet this is the policy of Democrat candidates in their recent debate. She says,
'I felt as if I were watching a 2020 Trump advert, in which these lavish displays of generosity and love for all humankind at American citizens’ expense are certain to feature. 

'You don’t need a PhD in political science to decode that if you never arrest the uninvited, you almost never kick them out, and you throw in free health care to boot, you’re advertising the kind of over-attended, more-the-merrier party that gets so many young people in trouble on Facebook when their parents leave town. Along with Democratic support for immigrant amnesties and pathways to citizenship, these positions amount to an open borders policy. Guess what? Eight out of ten Americans oppose open borders. Some of those folks even vote.'

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Jeremy Hunt's Canadian option plan should be implemented by Boris

Jeremy Hunt supported Remain in the referendum campaign, after the result thought a second referendum would be needed, came round to believing in leaving but warned that leaving with no deal would be a disaster. Yesterday he announced his 10-point plan for leaving with no deal on October 31 and yet it is Boris who is accused of being unprincipled.

 “We took the decision on Friday to go ‘alt-right,'” someone in the Hunt campaign told Politico's Playbook 'jovially', on the assumption that Mr Hunt's Remainer supporters will continue to regard him as a lesser evil compared to Boris. In any case, Leavers are a big majority among Tory members, especially since large numbers joined the party to have a vote. I meant to, but left it too late.

Journalists are furious that Boris keeps avoiding them and their proposals for debate, which are attempts to take over the political agenda. I miss the days when these things were decided among MPs behind closed doors. 


When Sir Max Beerbohm received an invitation to lunch with Swinburne at his home at The Pines, No 2, Putney High St, he felt as if he had been asked to meet Catullus.
No. 2—prosaic inscription! But as that front-door closed behind me I had the instant sense of having slipped away from the harsh light of the ordinary and contemporary into the dimness of an odd, august past. Here, in this dark hall, the past was the present. Here loomed vivid and vital on the walls those women of Rossetti whom I had known but as shades. Familiar to me in small reproductions by photogravure, here they themselves were, life-sized, "with curled-up lips and amorous hair" done in the original warm crayon, all of them intently looking down on me while I took off my overcoat—all wondering who was this intruder from posterity.
Beerbom was an intruder from posterity, but now his world seems one with Babylon and Ninevah. 

Thomas Jordan was the official City of London Poet, but reminds me of the Cavalier Poets, who were the antithesis of the City men. In him and them you hear the last faint echo of the Elizabethan lyric tradition. His contemporaries rightly accused him of vulgarity, but compared with Lord Rochester he is an altar boy.

He died in 1685. This is from his anthology piece, Coronemus nos Rosis antequam marcescant.
Your beautiful piece, who has all eyes upon her

Who, her honesty sells, for an hogo of honour,

Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt drink a toast

From War Diaries 1939-1945 by Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, p. 487. The date is November 30, 1943. The occasion is a banquet at the Teheran Conference.
"It was a wonderful evening, full of the most witty speeches on the part of Winston, President [Roosevelt] and Stalin. On one occasion, when Winston was referring to political tendencies in England he said the whole political world was now a matter of tints and that England could be said to have now quite a pink look. Without a moment's hesitation, Stalin snapped back "a sign of good health!" The President finished up by returning to the tint theme and said that the effect of this war would be to blend all those multitudinous tints, shades and colours into one rainbow where their individuality would be lost in the whole, and that this whole represented the emblem of hope! It was a fine idea and far better put that I have. Finally by 1:30 am I was able to escape to bed." 

Monday, 1 July 2019

"Immigration controls are inherently racist in that they are based on the crudest of all nationalisms — namely the assertion that the British have a franchise on Britain."

Immigration controls, according to Steve Cohen,
“are inherently racist in that they are based on the crudest of all nationalisms, namely the assertion that the British have a franchise on Britain."
You may want to read that again slowly.

Steve Cohen was described on as 
"one of the giants of immigration law"
and wrote a book called No One Is Illegal. 

He sounds like he was invented by Michael Wharton (Peter Simple long ago in the Daily Telegraph) but he was real. 

He is not someone you have heard of and died in 2009, but is representative of an important element of left-wing and liberal thinking. 

No doubt his books still are influential in the Labour Party, NGOs and among people who are concerned about migrants. 

According to his obituary on a left-wing site, he
dedicated his life to anti-racism and anti-Semitism, particularly the welfare of immigrants and refugees and those seeking the right to remain in the UK. Educated at Oxford University, Steve became a human-rights lawyer in Manchester, founding a Law Centre and creating the Immigration Aid Unit. He was politically opposed to immigration controls in their totality and took part in many anti-deportation and immigration campaigns both as a lawyer and a campaigner.
He was a Trotskyite, as are Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnellwho probably share his views on open borders. I wonder if they share his views on antisemitism.

In 1984 he wrote a book called That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Antisemitic, on the subject of left-wing antisemitism. The online version was tweeted in January of this year from the official Twitter account of Momentum, the hard left group that backs Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and their gang.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Liberalism is thankfully dying

Theresa May wastes British taxpayers'  money attending things like the G20 summit when she is no longer the British leader. Had she resigned in time Boris could have been there, which would have been useful. She took time to berate Vladimir Putin, but no-one cares what she says.
"Name dropping, I think Mr. Putin is probably the nastiest man I ever met and I have met him on about a dozen occasions."
Lord 'Chris' Patten said this on Jonathan Dimbleby's last 'Any Questions' programme on BBC Radio Four last night. Lord Blunket, who is blind, then said that his dog started barking when he met Vladimir Putin at a reception. He said he hoped he was not breaching a confidence when he said 
"I said to the Queen, 'I'm sorry, your majesty' to which she replied  'Dogs have interesting instincts, don't they, Mr Blunket?'"
The dog was right. Vladimir Putin is a very unpleasant man indeed, a street thug, the man who invaded Ukraine and provoked several proxy wars in defence of what he saw as Russian interests. He seems unrepentant about the attempt by his secret service to kill a former Russian spy on English soil in Salisbury, a very mysterious story.

He attacked liberalism in an interview with the Financial Times just before the summit. I quote from it.
"One can criticise Trump for his intention to build a wall between Mexico and the US. It could be going too far. Yes, maybe so. I am not arguing about this point. But he had to do something about the huge inflow of migrants and narcotics. Nobody is doing anything. They say this is bad and that is bad as well. Tell me, what is good then? What should be done? Nobody has proposed

Back in the jug agane!

Back to my home town, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, decades after leaving.

Southend now has a small and human scale international airport, which conveniently even has its own railway station, a stop between my native place, the charming country village of Rochford, and Prittlewell which is part of Southend.

From the airport station platform I can see the hulking, sinister chimneys of the Rochford Maternity Hospital where I was born in 1961. They make me think of Auschwitz. 

I take a train in the other direction, a £3.50 single to Southend Victoria that takes ten minutes. I get talking to two nice sixty-something American tourists who have been all over Great Britain and tell them of my reservations about meeting the people from my grammar school after 39 years. 

'Well you will be the only one who lives in Bucharest', says the woman sweetly. This was exactly the right thing to say.

Kenneth Clarke: "And what is going to happen about Brexit? I haven’t a clue."

I always liked Kenneth Clarke and am reading his autobiography. I was interested to learn that he was a working class Nottinghamshire boy. 

Understandably he thought in the 1950s that the Labour Party was hopelessly out of date. This was a common and accurate view among manual workers then as now.

I used to consider myself a left-wing Tory, despite agreeing with most of what High Tory Cambridge dons like Edward Norman, Maurice Cowling and John Casey wrote. I agreed with everything Charles Moore said until he talked about economics or attacked the EEC.

Sir Roger Scuton said Margaret Thatcher offered nothing to conservatives like him and nor did she to me. She seemed simply to be about free market economics, but I was mistaken. 

Her Toryism was not exhilarating or romantic and seemed to be the Daily Mail made flesh. She did not express or seem to feel concern for the working class, but she was a patriotic Tory of an unrefined sort. She was certainly no social conservative, but at least she was not a social liberal. Liberal Toryism is a direct descent from Edward Heath, via Cameron and Osborne (the late Frank Johnson said they sounded like upmarket wallpaper-makers) to Theresa May's and Amber Rudd's horrible left-of-centre authoritarianism.

People said that the Tories were stupid not to choose Ken Clarke as their leader and in hindsight they were, but even by 2001 I found myself wondering if there was much difference between him and Labour. But it turned out that there was a big difference over Iraq.

Jonathan Portes: Boris's immigration policy is vacuous - the UK must open its arms to migrants

Jonathan Portes is one of the most important people in recent British history. He was a very senior British civil servant until 2011 and very influential in persuading Tony Blair's government that mass immigration was a good thing, something to celebrate not worry about. He has made a career out of this since leaving the civil service and becoming an academic. 

He regards Sir Roger Scruton and Douglas Murray as very wicked, though he is careful not to use words that would enable them to sue him

In the Guardian two days ago he says Boris's immigration policy is vacuous and the UK must open her arms to migrants.

He remembers that a “tough new Australian-style points-based system for immigration” was announced by Liam Byrne, immigration minister in the Labour government in 2007. 
'I was a civil servant then, and I complained to a special adviser colleague, more in sorrow than in anger, that what we were proposing had little or no resemblance to the Australian system – and wasn’t even really a points-based system. “Of course, I know that perfectly well,” he said. “But the focus groups love it.”'
Copying the Australian point system was a scam then and he thinks Boris's announcement that he will implement one is a scam now. 

I agree with him completely.

He says he hopes the departure of Theresa May will enable Sajid Javid to make immigration easier. It will.

Thursday, 27 June 2019


'It may be said, however, that even if the theoretical book-trained Socialist is not a working man himself, at least he is actuated by a love of the working class. He is endeavouring to shed his bourgeois status and fight on the side of the proletariat–that, obviously, must be his motive.

'But is it? Sometimes I look at a Socialist–the intellectual, tract-writing type of Socialist, with his pullover, his fuzzy hair, and his Marxian quotation–and wonder what the devil his motive really is. It is often difficult to believe that it is a love of anybody, especially of the working class, from whom he is of all people the furthest removed. The underlying motive of many Socialists, I believe, is simply a hypertrophied sense of order. The present state of affairs offends them not because it causes misery, still less because it makes freedom impossible, but because it is untidy; what they desire, basically, is to reduce the world to something resembling a chessboard.'

George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

The Tory leadership contest is a disaster

As I predicted, the Tory leadership contest is a disaster, wasting time, dividing the party badly and forcing Boris to adopt positions which he might later want or need to abandon. 

I wonder if Jeremy Hunt can sit in Boris's cabinet after what he has said about him. 

People like Messrs Gauke and Stewart have already said they won't. 

Philip Hammond must be for the old heave-ho. I hope against hope that the appalling Miss Rudd does not get a job, but bet she does. 

The trouble is that, even with the DUP, the Government only has a majority of three, and after the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election on August 1 it will probably be two, so discontented former cabinet ministers are going to be a big threat to a Boris government. 

i (the name of a newspaper) has been told that up to 20 Conservative MPs could be

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Boris campaigning against Sky News, Channel 4 and the BBC

The only knowledge of psychology that a historian needs is that all men seek power. 

It is not quite true (the eighth Duke of Devonshire turned down the premiership three times, for good reasons) but it is true enough and it applies to the media too.

British broadcasters, most of them ardent Remainers, worked very hard to get debates between candidates in the first round of the Tory leadership election, in which only Tory MPs voted. That round would have been better conducted behind closed doors but debates and interviews on television and radio let the media set the agenda, for the country as well as for the programme. 

Now in the final run-off, decided by Tory members, the media are trying to pin down Boris (hard to do, more because he is chaotic than devious, though he is both). They will limit his freedom to find a creative solution to the Gordian knot of Brexit.

TalkRADIO’s Ross Kempsell  won plaudits from other journalists for eliciting Boris Johnson’s assertion that the U.K. will leave the EU on October 31, with or without a deal, “do or die,” something Johnson said when repeating Mr. Kempsell’s question about no deal back to him. A transcript of the interview is here.

Mr Kempsell also got Boris to reveal that  he makes toy buses out of wine cases in order to

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Everything you need to know about Boris Johnson

Life is short and we all have a lot of things to do. Even if you are interested in politics, there are a lot of things to read. However, the one thing you should read this year about world politics is this very funny account by Jeremy Vine of how Boris Johnson turned up at an awards ceremony four minutes before he was due to speak, unaware that he was due to speak and completely unaware of the subject about which he would speak.

Boris had the look of a man who had been dragged out of a well by his ankles. His blond hair seemed to spring vertically from his head as he embarked on some opening remarks, where the occasional word, not always the obvious one, was shouted at double-volume.

‘…errrrr, Welcome to THE International. Errrrr…’

The catastrophe had happened. He did not know, could not remember, what event he was at. This is one of the biggest fears any speaker has, forgetting where they are.

Johnson then did a crazy thing. To find out where he was, he very obviously turned around and looked at the large logo projected at the back of the stage.
‘…to the International SECURITISATION Awards! YES!’ he cried triumphantly, and to my amazement it brought the house down. There was a huge cheer. Everyone realised this was not going to be a normal speech. The chaos had descended on us, we were in it, and we were going to enjoy it.

He even managed to forget the punchline to the story about George Brown and the woman in the red dress and it didn't matter.

There is always one anecdote that tells you everything you need to know about a historical figure. With General Franco it is the story of his signing death warrants while talking to the Italian Foreign Minister Count Ciano by the fireside in his snug, occasionally scribbling the word 'Garotte' beside his signature. 'I can come back later if you are busy.' 'Oh no, this is just routine.' 

With Boris this is the story you need to keep in mind. Please make sure you read it all the way to the end and don't stop reading after the end of the account of the first awards ceremony. 

Boris is the necessary man

An argument with his girlfriend over some wine he spilt on her white sofa seems an insubstantial reason for thinking Boris Johnson unfit for high office but the anti-Boris press has used the wine stain artfully to try to destroy him. 

The Sunday Times published an interesting character assassination of Boris Johnson by Sonia Purnell, who was his colleague on the Daily Telegraph, and a good case for the defence by his biographer, Andrew Gimson.

Once leaving his wife for a girlfriend could have been fatal to his chances but Tories seem not to care about that any more. Nigel Lawson, Douglas Hurd and many other Tories even in the old days did this. The return of Alan Clark to the House as a Tory MP, after he had published in his diaries his relations with a married woman and her two daughters, in one bed, marked the absolute end of the era of Tory sexual morality.

In any event, Mrs. Johnson, née Marina Wheeler, was Boris's girlfriend when he was married to his first wife.  

Ed Miliband lived with his girlfriend when he was expected to become Prime Minister in 2010 (what a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then), as did a number of European leaders. Once, not long ago, being a lesbian and mother of a test tube baby would have ruled out the Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, from a career in Tory politics.

Boris lied about his love affair with Petronella Wyatt and was therefore sacked by Michael Howard from the front bench, which meant he was unable to take part in the next leadership election and perhaps become Michael Howard's successor. He was at the start of his career fired by the Times for making up two stories. He has one or two (or how many is it?) illegitimate children and cheated on both his wives. 

However there is no alternative, at least now that Michael Gove and Dominic Raab failed to make the cut. 

Michael Gove anyway lost his chance by not resigning over Theresa May's Withdrawal Agreement and Dominic Raab, who did resign, does not have magic. 

Magic is needed.

Boris is the best, perhaps the only hope for his party and his country.

Jeremy Hunt, who Alison Pearson accurately said looks like a frightened gerbil, was in favour of Remain and, after the referendum went the way he didn't like, wanted it to be held again. Later he decided he wanted to leave the EU after all. He is a manager, not a leader. He would be Theresa May 2, though not quite as dull.

He should step down and let Boris come to office and try to sort out the crisis. No-one imagines, spilt wine or not, that Jeremy Hunt will win the hearts and minds of Tory members.

George Osborne, who was clever to accept the job of editor of the Evening Standard but should have combined it with staying in the Commons, endorsed Boris Johnson for leader of the party in an editorial. 
‘If Mr Johnson governs as the “modern Conservative” he promises to be today he can put his party, and country back on track.
That’s why we believe if there’s one of these candidates who can give Britain back its mojo, it’s BoJo.’
This is a reminder that Boris Johnson a social liberal who is very easy-going on immigration once argued for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. This is very unfortunate, as halting Third World and inter-European immigration is an existential matter, much more important than leaving the EU. 

Despite this, and despite (for now) having a half Indian wife, he is assailed by accusations of being a racist.

Young people in the media hate Mr Johnson as much as they hate Mr Trump. Mr Johnson having met Steve Bannon, who wrote Donald Trump's inauguration speech, is treated by the Sunday Times as evidence of a far right connection. (Far right used to mean Sir Oswald Mosley and General Franco - is Donald Trump far right?) 

George Osborne took the opposite line in his editorial:
‘Ask yourself which of these potential Prime Ministers is most likely to persuade the Conservative Party to vote for a repacked version of the existing deal? The one with the greatest credibility with hard Brexiteers.’

After the referendum some Brexiteers warned that if Boris were Prime Minister he would go for a soft Brexit, like the Norwegian model. Jeremy Hunt argued for something similar. This might be the best solution for now at least. 

Otherwise we have to leave without a deal.

Monday, 24 June 2019


“One can never successfully lie to a fiction writer, because we know all about making things up.”

William Trevor

"People are of immense importance but the relations between them are not."

E.M. Forster

"There's something about a 'varsity man that distinguishes him from a cad:

You can tell by his tie and blazer he's a 'varsity undergrad,

And you know that he's always ready and up to a bit of a lark,

With a toy balloon and a whistle and some cider after dark."

Sir John Betjeman

"Drugs are instead of people."

Eric Berne

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. He looked 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


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.