Sunday 28 April 2019

Azerbaijan journey

I just remembered that I was in Hungary when the Russian army left. People from Victor Orban's Fidesz held up a placard saying
'Farewell! Sunny Azerbajan awaits you!'
He and they and I have been on a long journey since then. 

We are none of us the same and nor is Azerbaijan, which is rich beyond imagining thanks to selling oil on the free market and concluding a so called 'deal of the century' with Western oil companies shortly after independence. 

As usual, oil money is a curse and keeps in power a despotic, corrupt government. It might
be a benign despotism. I really have no information about that. 

Frank Sinatra and Andy Williams are playing in Cafeteria in Baku's old city. A daughter of the nomenklatura three months ago opened Cafeteria in her beautiful eighteenth century childhood home which looks as if it belongs in a nineteenth century lithograph. I recommend the capuccinos and cakes and the 'national breakfast' . 

The end of communism when it finally came was a management buyout.

And what is Azerbaijan like? 

Azerbaijan is really Persia, which is where most Azeris live, but Azeris are really Turks. But Turks who are Shia. 

Saturday 27 April 2019

Internationalism is a global threat

Azerbaijan, where I spent the last three days, takes pride in her tolerance towards ethnic minorities but her Armenians long ago fled. Before 1991 and the end of Communism, I was told that Azeris were a minority in Baku and there were large Russian and Armenian communities.

No Azeri argues for importing ethnic minorities so that Azeris become a minority in the country. On the contrary, despite 70 years of being told in schools and by their leaders that nations and ethnicity were examples of false consciousness, they and the Armenians fought each other because neither wanted to be ruled by foreigners.

Why is this surprising? Human beings  have a need to belong to groups and the most important groups are the family and the nation. In the Eastern hemisphere nations have, at least in modern times, usually been literally extended families based on ethnicity. In the 20th century nation states were made with enormous pain but unmaking them will cause greater pain. Churchill said that the wars of the peoples will be crueller than the wars of the kings and so it has proved. But we ain't seen nothing yet if we go on dismantling nation states.

And yet Western Europe is ruled by people who do not understand about nations and why they are all important and Western universities churn out an academic proletariat who thinks nations are rather wicked. 

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Theresa May must go now, today

Richard Litteljohn says Britain needed a coalition of Brexiteers from all parties in 2016 including Kate Hoey and Nigel Farage.

"Who would you rather have speaking for Britain in Brussels – Farage or May? Contrast his magnificent public putdown of the EU’s Herman Van Rompuy – “You have the charisma of a damp rag”, etc – with May’s pitiful, supine, grovelling, on-all-fours crawling to Barnier and Drunker. She approached the talks with all the dignity of a beggar sitting outside Westminster Tube station, yet still seems bewildered as to why they treated her with such overt disdain.
‘In the process, she has repelled millions of traditional Tory voters, brought her own party to the brink of electoral extinction, and put Britain’s fate in the hands of nonentities such as Pixie Balls-Cooper and that pipsqueak poison dwarf Jean-Claude Bercow."

Yes. Agreed. But she was dealt a terrible hand by history. Could someone else have done better?

Yes, had we had someone who reached out to form a coalition, who was unafraid of a hard Brexit and a hard border in Ireland. In other words a sceptic not an unimaginative, suspicious and secretive woman who needs to be told what to do by people with better brains.

A statesman is someone with commonplace opinions and uncommon abilities, said Bagehot. Her abilities are commonplace. Her opinions, like wanting to legislate to require more women on the boards of private companies and her wish that the Church of England should conduct single sex marriages, do not even have the great merit of being commonplace.

I could go on, but the important thing is that she doesn't.

As for Richard Littlejohn, I usually am allergic to him. For one thing he is faux right wing. I don't like faux people. And he is not as fun as his namesake in Robin Hood. But an old school friend, who I'm sure is a Tory, recently told me that Mr Farage and Ukip are vile racists. I was interested that Richard Littlejohn disagrees. 

Tbilisi and Yerevan and existential threats

I wonder how people blog. They use laptops, of course, which I find heavy to carry around, but I wonder how they find the time and manage not to waste it on the net. But how do they find time to get appointed to the cabinet or marry lovely women? Here I have 9 minutes as I sip a Campari in the Mercure hotel Tbilisi.

That's it, really. They have a Mercure and a Sheraton. They had just built the Marriot when I was here before but I lucked out and got to Tbilisi in 2005 or 2006 before tourism did. Now it's the jolliest and most enchanting city you'll ever visit but thronged with hotels and restaurants and wine shops. And a cable car that swoops down every few minutes, save the mark. Yerevan does not have this for a good and sufficient reason. Yerevan is a grey Soviet city, charmingly squalid.

I hate organised tours of course but they have many elegancies. I recommend Envoy Tours in Yerevan and Tbilisi (and oddly Phnom Penh). I have become bourgeois, which I said would never happen, and stay in hotels, but have decided to go back to private rooms in youth hostels. Apart from being cheap you meet interesting and intelligent people and find good tours. And they have desktops on which you can blog.

In 2006 I stayed somewhere expensive in Tbilisi filled with very boring people working for UNDP whose hotel bills were paid for by the poor. In developing countries avoid places where UNOcrats throng, on expenses. They are dull. No fun. They read reports at breakfast.

If you have not been to Tbilisi do come here. If you have, you probably should not come back but explore the rest of the country or the monasteries of Western Armenia - the western part of modern day Armenia, that is, and the Armenia that is now in Turkey.

The Armenian monasteries are not without some tourists but they are protected by their inaccessibility. They are eerily beautiful and very strange. Pure Romanticism. Gothick. Mrs. Radcliffe on cocaine. Do go.

The news is about Christians slaughtered in Sri Lanka and Nigeria and some time ago Muslims were killed allegedly by a white Anglo-Saxon wanting to avenge the Muslim conquest of the Balkans. 

I knew 1990 was not the end of history but now is a return to a history that was never finished. A return to history especially in Armenia, the oldest Christian country, and Muslim Azerbaijan. A sort of hot or cold war waged for centuries in the Caucasus, which was partly ethnic and partly religious, until Russia succeeded in stopping it for a time. The two countries are still in theory at war.

The Whigs of the 18th century put something they called religion into a box and pushed the lid down, to prevent the religious wars that had disfigured the 17th century but you cannot stop people killing for religion. You can't because religion means anything a group of people consider sacred. It includes Marxism, patriotism, human rights and even climate change. And anything sacred tends to move people to shed blood for it, though there have not been climate change martyrs yet.

Talking about wars and climate change, that annoying Swedish schoolgirl, who has Asperger's syndrome and who is campaigning about climate change in England, looks to me like the little girl who led the children's crusade. 

Now a reverse crusade is taking place and she should be concerned at the existential threat to Sweden from migrants from the Mahgreb, not the highly questionable climate change scare. But did she try to warn people of that threat she would face disciplinary problems at school. She would not be teacher's pet.

Genocides past, present and to come

I came across Benny Morris recently. He's an Israeli historian who exploded the myth that the Arabs left their homes in Palestine voluntarily in 1948 and the myth that the Arab monarchies asked them to do so.

In his book just published called "The Thirty Year Genocide" he and Dror Ze'evi look at the reasons for the Armenian genocide in 1895 and 1915 and the expulsion of the Anatolian Greeks in 1923. With both genocides we have little evidence about the proximate reasons for them or how long planned they were.

The authors are careful not to offend readers by suggesting that Islam is warlike (the word Sandy Arbuthnot uses, in Greenmantle, talking about Islam to Richard Hannay). He will offend Jews and Turks, in any case, by comparing the genocides. What is obvious from the Armenian genocide and the Jewish one is that "homo lupus est homini" and that ethnic mosaics lead to massacres, in an era where authority derives not from raw power but from rule by the demos (which demos?) and the principle of national self determination. So it will be again, unless we take very great care indeed.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Most of the Tory front bench and a  majority of Tory MPs backed Remain in the 2016 referendum (185 to 138) but they have the task of taking us out, against their will, and becoming forevermore the Brexit party. If they do not do so, I cannot see any future for the Tory party and nor do most of them. But the alternative means an essentially communist government.

The leading British Conservative paper the Daily Telegraph in its leader column today again told the Prime Minister to resign and said the party needs to achieve Brexit and cut taxes to flourish. A few days ago it warned that “to survive” the Tory Party now needs “a populist leader”. It wants someone who can raise morale, take the fight to the hard Left, set out an optimistic vision of the UK after Brexit.

Clearly it had in mind its star columnist Boris Johnson and with all his faults he may be the best man. But fear of him is one of the things that so far has prevented Mrs May from being toppled. I imagine her time is now up. Her strategy now is to do a deal with Labour but Labour have found her untrustworthy and I don't blame them.

I like the idea of the Tories becoming populists. Boris is not very right wing but populist and right-wing are two different things. However Michael Gove might also be a good choice. 

Obviously it has to be someone who campaigned for Leave in 2016.

Mrs May should go immediately so that we have a new Prime Minister to meet Donald Trump on his state visit in June.

Mrs May's evident distaste for his views on immigration are an abiding memory from his last wonderfully comic visit.

Return to Tbilisi

For a long time Cuba was the one country I really wanted to visit. After I made my second visit to Havana I decided that of countries I didn't know only Georgia, Armenia, Albania and, this was before the war, Syria interested me. So I visited and loved all four but Georgia or Tbilisi the best. After Havana I thought it the most interesting city in the world.

I got here last night late and it is as spellbinding as in 2006, but now very much a tourist place. So many gleaming hotels and restaurants. Before I had it to myself. Tourism is one of the most vexatious forms of mass migration and globalisation. But the moving finger writes and having writ moves on. And it really is astonishingly lovely. And tourism is new enough for people still to be innocent and ardent about it. I hope. This is the view from my hotel.

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I hate tourists but Eastern European ones are all right and this place gets lots of Russians. I love Russians. So much more civilised than many other peoples.

War against Christians not humanity

As you know, hundreds of Catholics were murdered at Easter Mass on Sunday in Sri Lanka.

Barak Obama, of whom I think increasingly badly, has denounced the killings in Sri Lanka as an attack on “humanity,” but this is not true. This was an attack on Christians.

It reminds me that he called the Bataclan Massacre in Paris an attack on "universal values". Mark Steyn corrected him. There are no universal values. It was an attack on Western values.

Hundreds of churches have been destroyed in Nigeria. A war is being waged against Christians by Muslim zealots everywhere and even some of the Catholic and Protestant clergy are beginning to notice.

Meanwhile the Americans tighten sanctions on Iran, a country that allows Christians to worship without hindrance. This is Donald Trump. Mr Obama and Mrs Clinton wanted to overthrow the Assad government which protected Christians. President Bush 2 overthrew Saddam who protected Christians. 

Federica Mogherini, EU Commission vice-president and 'High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’, was a leading member of the Italian Communist Party during the Cold War. She said on Sunday that the massacres in Sri Lanca, for which ISIS claimed responsibility, were an attack on multi-faith societies and “freedom of religion and the choice to worship” and constituted “acts of violence against all beliefs and denominations”. 

Monday 22 April 2019


We reached the Sanahin monastery built in the late 12th century after four hours travelling from Yerevan on an appealing, pothole strewn road that reminded me of 1990 Romania but more so.

It's the only road from Yerevan to Tbilisi. It takes you through the winding and absolutely stunning Debed canyon. A Renaissance Italian or German painting.

There were annoyingly four or five other people at the monastery and Lonely Plant says it can be hard to find a parking space in high season. Apparently there is a cable car from the nearest town.

Armenia didn't have postcards last time I came, thirteen years ago, but tourism is still small beer so far. This lunch is wonderful huge and costs €10 with a glass of the local red.

Easter in Armenia

I asked Shushan if Armenia is in Asia. "That's a question to which no-one knows the answer."

It feels like Europe. Armenians are white and Christian and speak an Indo European language much close to Farsi than to French. For people who care about such things this makes them Aryans, like Brahmins.

Bernard Lewis got it right when he called Georgia and Armenia the Christian Middle East. Close to where I am staying is a 17th century church of St Ananias the man who received St Paul into the very early church. The church is said to house a relic of the saint.

People who have had the luck to visit Ethiopia will recognise the simplicity of Armenian churches without icons but instead with a few primitive paintings.

The Armenian Apostolic Church is different from the Orthodox church, Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity before, in order, Georgia, Ethiopia and then the Roman empire.

Yerevan is ancient but, unlike Tbilisi, was not important before the Bolsheviks took over and was designed by a rather wonderful local architect. Lenin's invasion of the Caucasus was the moment when his revolution dropped the pretence of representing the popular will, as he recognised.

No time to write more. I have to leave Yerevan for Georgia via three gorgeous monasteries. 

Thursday 18 April 2019

Adevarul: 'Romania wants to engage 1 million foreign workers. 40,000 drivers will come from Pakistan'

Adevarul, the Romanian newspaper of record, headlined this story:
Romania wants to engage 1 million foreign workers. 40,000 drivers will come from Pakistan.  Foreign Ministry's position. 

The headline seems inaccurate. The article said that the Pakistani Minister of Human Resources told the Associated Press on Thursday that he had agreed with Romania's Ambassador to Pakistan, Niculaie Goia, to send Pakistani workers to Romania by 2020. Mr Goia told AP that, given the massive migration from Romania to Western Europe, Romania needs to attract one million foreign workers from different countries. He said that the Romanian labour market is ready to offer a range of employment opportunities for Pakistani people in various sectors, including information technology, construction, medicine, engineering and others.

Notre Dame architect discusses possibility that the fire was arson

A reader has posted this very interesting interview with the retired 'architect of Notre Dame' about the fire. 

He seems to think arson is possible. 

I have no idea and don't particularly suspect arson, but it is very strange, very telling and very dismaying that people who merely ask if it was arson are being demonised in left-of-centre newspapers like the Independent. 

I asked a British journalist friend if it could be arson at 21.30 French time on the night of the fire and he said the police had ruled it out. I said aren't journalists meant to ask awkward questions? His reply: journalists should not repeat baseless and provocative allegations. 

I was reminded of what Douglas Murray said about journalists seeing their role as negotiating between their readers and the truth.

I assume that the fire was not terrorism because what would be the point of terrorists setting fire to Notre Dame and not claiming responsibility? In fact, I am writing this mainly to annoy people who think one should not write about the possibility of arson.

This is the news

Once, before the war, the BBC news reader on the wireless announced
Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news.
This will never happen again. There is always news now and the state broadcaster saying 'Today is Good Friday' would attract criticism from the left-wing newspapers.

Today is Maundy Thursday in the Western Church and there is, as ever, plenty of news.

Brexit has divided British in a way no political issue has since - for a few days - Suez in 1956. Remainers will not go out on dates with Leavers. Very interestingly, it seems to be becoming a wider “culture war”, according to a Politico poll.

Leave voters of all parties in the East Midlands and North West, the poll says, are much more likely to think "standing up for common sense and tradition", "being tough on crime" and restricting immigration important, while Remain voters in London are much more relaxed about immigration and value "being part of an international community’ and "protecting the environment for future generations".

The Euro elections will be a sort of second referendum. 

Wednesday 17 April 2019

The far left is once more seeking to take over Europe

The far left is once more attacking and seeking to take over Europe as in 1918 and the late 1940s.

Meanwhile, imaginary Nazis are a distraction from real Communists.

But a greater danger than Marxists are modern liberals and the two can often be allies, though some liberals do a very good job of fighting the far left. Immigration idealism and open borders are as much a liberal idea as a communist idea and the same is true of identity politics, which old-fashioned Marxists dislike. We now have a new kind of far left. It is allying with an illiberal liberalism and influencing an unconservative conservatism.

The fire in Notre Dame is a symbol, but of what?

I don't want the terrible fire to be symbolic but it is, of course. Notre Dame is a monument to belief in the Holy Trinity, not to Western civilisation, but it seems to symbolise Christendom. I wish I had properly visited it when I had the chance. There are no words for how I feel about this.

Inevitably, Notre Dame has a different symbolism for different people and is being used for political purposes by conservatives, liberals, liberal and conservative Catholics, communists and fascists. A left-wing online magazine in New Zealand called The Spinoff:
The far-right wants to identify Notre Dame as a pinnacle achievement of “Western civilisation” – a dog whistle term for white civilisation. In many cases, this is blatant. In his YouTube video, [Stefan] Molyneux described Notre Dame as a Western achievement, then went on to argue that white men were responsible for “way more than 90 percent of scientific innovations from 800 BC to 1950 AD,” a reference to a debunked statistic from race scientist Charles Murray
Here is something from an article in Rolling Stone:
But for some people in France, Notre Dame has also served as a deep-seated symbol of resentment, a monument to a deeply flawed institution and an idealized Christian European France that arguably never existed in the first place. “The building was so overburdened with meaning that its burning feels like an act of liberation,” says Patricio del Real, an architecture historian at
Harvard University. If nothing else, the cathedral has been viewed by some as a stodgy reminder of “the old city — the embodiment of the Paris of stone and faith — just as the Eiffel Tower exemplifies the Paris of modernity, joie de vivre and change,” Michael Kimmelmann wrote for the New York Times.....

Monday 15 April 2019


'All quotations are out of context.' 
Enoch Powell

'If it bores you your reader is asleep.'
Jerry B. Jenkins

'There's a Tesco in Ko Samui, that palm-fringed isle in the Gulf of Thailand. In fact, there are over 200 Tescos in Thailand.'  Times article from 2007. 

'There’s nothing unfathomable about ‘Brexit’. It means economic and political independence. It’s called being a country.'
Lionel Shriver last month

"In 50 years' time Notre Dame will be a mosque."

I got home from dinner to learn that Notre Dame is on fire and the spire has fallen.

Into my mind comes what Emil Cioran said in 1987 that, 

"In 50 years' time Notre Dame will be a mosque."

How saddened I am that at this moment France does not have a Catholic King but instead the Republic and the probably godless homunculus Macron.

'Trump vs. the Multiculturalist Insurrection'

'Trump vs. the Multiculturalist Insurrection', an article by Conrad, Lord Black is worth reading as his articles always are, especially those about the easily misunderstood President Trump. I quote from it.
"Multiculturalism is bad policy when large groups of immigrants decline to assimilate to their new country. Virtuous and sincere and successful immigration need not mean cultural deracination. But immigration requires a conscious, determined decision to assimilate to the society where the immigrant arrives. The waves of desperate people in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America who have tried to swarm into Europe and North America more closely resemble, though they are less organized, the barbarian masses who surged into the Western Roman Empire in the fifth and sixth centuries. Then, as now, even fiercer peoples with more advanced weapons pushed them forward from behind. This sort of invasion has nothing to do with multiculturalism by any definition.

"....Technically, this is an insurrection, and historians of the future will be astonished that the United States allowed twenty million people into the country illegally, under administrations and Congresses of both parties, while they uttered pious frauds about seeking “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Sunday 14 April 2019

Cișmigiu Park and its chess players after the rain this afternoon

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Today's News About Nazis

Every day's news is dominated by the Nazis in our era, which was not at all the case in my 1970s adolescence. 

I just went to Google News and see that there are almost 150 entries for the word 'Nazis' in the last 24 hours, whereas there are fewer than 100 for 'Trump'.

The post-war history of the 'Western world', it is clear, is a meditation on the Nazis. 

This is not so in the Second (ex-Communist) or Third Worlds. In India, so I read, Hitler is rather admired. He fought against England, after all.

In England, on the other hand, people who want to be ruled by foreigners are considered patriots. 

Those who don't are very possibly, even probably Nazis. In fact, Nazi often isn't a strong enough word.

But in the strange world of political correctness being a Nazi is unforgivable but making an unwarranted accusation of Nazism against a person with protected status can be almost as bad.

Saturday 13 April 2019

Salvini wore 'Benedict is my Pope' t-shirt after Bannon told him 'Pope Francis is the enemy’

I was interested to read in the Guardian that Mateo Salvini wore 'Benedict is my Pope' t-shirt after Steve Bannon told him at a meeting in April 2016, 'Pope Francis is the enemy’.

Bannon told him, “You can go around Europe and it’s [populism] catching fire and the Pope is just dead wrong."

Both he and Salvini are what Brendan Behan said was the only thing to be, bad Catholics. Bad Catholics in the sense that they have divorced and found new relationships, but they consider themselves defenders of Christendom against infidel invaders.

Before they rush to condemn Mateo Salvini and Steve Bannon, Catholics should bear in mind that they regard the Pope as infallible when he is enunciating a new dogma, which he has promised he will never do, or an old dogma or when he teaches what was taught at all times and in all places by the Church. Dogmas apart, they may even disagree when he teaches what was taught at all times and in all places by the Church if they follow their conscience, after properly educating themselves, though if they commit a mortal sin as a result they cannot receive communion. 

When the pope speaks about politics or climatology, he is stepping outside his area of authority and everyone is free to disagree with him. 

His attitudes towards divorce, sex and many other things have aroused controversy but in these areas he is supposed to be authoritative. On day to day political questions he is certainly not.

To any Catholic who thinks mass immigration at an unprecedented level from Africa and the Mahgreb is an incalculable danger to Christian Europe the Pope is, in a sense, a political enemy. It is possible to regard him and obey him as the Vicar of Christ and regretfully but firmly to oppose his politics.

In an interview given this week the wonderful Cardinal Sarah from Guinea, who would make a great pope, says that migration, 'encouraged by commercial liberalism', is tragic for the identities of peoples. Obviously he is right and this is what Messrs Bannon and Salvini are saying.

The Tories would be fools to contest the European elections

Obviously the Tories should not contest the European elections on the ground that we are leaving the EU shortly. 

If they do, I doubt they will win a single seat.  I see Brexit Party sweeping up the Tory Brexiteer vote and some Tory Leavers voting for the woefully misnamed Change.

Since MPs are scared of the votes they would lose by not leaving the EU or by leaving without a deal and because they rightly do not want the awful deal on offer, two attractive options are still available: the Norway deal or the Canada option, either option involving levying duties collected electronically or remotely on things coming into Northern Ireland from the South. A completely frictionless border, though, is impossible unless we stay in the single market and customs union.

But the Tories and the country need a new leader to sell one of these options.

A quarter of the Swedish population are immigrants

Today Sweden has a population of 10.2 million, with a quarter of the population born abroad. 

According to a new report, this proportion is expected to reach 30% by the mid-2030s. By 2070, the population of Sweden is expected to be 12.8 million, despite a declining birth rate, because of immigration, though predicting immigration rates is an exercise in futility because they depend on unpredictable political decisions in the future.

Friday 12 April 2019

What the papers say

"... 'Breksit’ has even become a word in Russian for claiming that one is about to leave a party or the like and yet never actually heading out the door."
Mark Galeotti in today's Spectator.

"In the capitals of Europe—Budapest, Berlin, Paris, Rome, London, Madrid—the gnawing fear is not of Vladimir Putin leading a mighty Russian army back to the Elbe to recreate Stalin’s empire, but of the African and Muslim hundreds of millions looking north to the pleasant lands of the former mother countries."
Pat Buchanan two days ago.

"When it comes to elections, most policy is mood music." 
Sam Bowman in CapX this week. 

(For most people political views are about mood not facts.)

"To again quote Mahler and Rutenberg: “The Murdoch empire did not cause this [populist] wave. But more than any single media company, it enabled it, promoted it and profited from it.” Given the narrowness of Trump’s victory and the Brexit majority, it is extremely

likely that Fox News and the Brexit press were respectively the difference between defeat and victory."
Simon Wren-Lewis, Oxford Emeritus Professor of Economics splits an infinitive in this week's New Statesman.

The Tories have handled Brexit appallingly, but if they lose office Brexit will never happen

Britain will not leave the EU without a deal and the EU will not kick Britain out. This impasse could continue for a very long time until Britain withdraws Article 50, holds  another election or holds a second referendum. 

Before any of those three things happen, we need a new Prime Minister, who will be a Leaver and prepared to leave with no deal, though if he does this Parliament will not allow it.  

However many Remain Tory MPs are deselected nor will the next one, assuming Nigel Farage's party does not win hundreds of seats. This is one reason why there is not much point in another election for now. 

Another is that Jeremy Corbyn would probably win, in coalition with the various nationalist parties including his friends in Sinn Fein.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Mrs May and Mr Corbyn are both lying

I really do recommend you read this article by Rupert Darwall. He gets what is happening. 

"The existence of the backstop forecloses the possibility of Britain having its own trade policy and keeps us permanently and tightly aligned to EU rules and import taxes. For the Prime Minister, conceding the Customs Union therefore makes a great deal of political sense. It’s something she wants anyway, but kept her silence for reasons of party management, a concern made otiose by her offer to resign if her deal is passed. 

"For Jeremy Corbyn, the trade looks more challenging. Being bound to the Customs Union means abiding by EU competition rules and rules against state aid which, in the eyes of the Left, constitute the twin neoliberal pillars of the EU they loathe. It’s reasonable to suppose that the Customs Union carrot is not one the Labour leader wants, but has to be seen to go through the motions demanding it. Getting a green light for Brexit therefore depends on Corbyn accepting something he doesn’t value in return for the certainty of substantial political cost by angering the best-organised, most vocal part of Labour’s base."

A second referendum does now look very possible, and is better than another election, which Jeremy Corbyn would probably win, but first let see which or her colleagues replaces our appalling, duplicitous, incompetent Blairite Prime Minister. 

In any case, the European elections and the local elections will be a surrogate referendum. Let's see how Nigel Farage, the father of Brexit, does and the new Remain party, Change, so called because it wants the Blairite consensus to continue.

Attractive though giving people the option of no deal is, Mr Darwell is probably right that a second referendum should be a rerun of the first. 

I think and hope Leave would win, but no-one knows. Dianne Abbot keeps saying that Leave would win but this is because she is a Leaver pretending to be a Remainer who does not want another referendum.

My blood is still boiling at Jonathan Freedland's throwaway line, while arguing for a second referendum, that it  would be 'irresponsible' to allow a no deal Brexit to be an option in a second referendum. 

Irresponsible to allow the country to vote to leave. 

This is the scam these people have in mind: a referendum to choose between a deal which has been repeatedly defeated in the House of Commons because it is so bad and staying in.

The man mainly to blame for this imbroglio is Michel Barnier, who played very strong cards extremely well but who was too clever by half. Had the House accepted his Carthaginian terms he would have been a hero to Europe, but he tried to drive too hard a bargain.

Brexit delayed - to the Greek calends?

Brexit has been delayed until Hallowe'en, 31st October, but could be sooner than that or later. 

President Macron persuaded the other states to accept a shorter extension that they had wanted. He said it was to respect the wishes of the British public which had voted to leave. What was his real reason? Probably to look good at home refusing to give les rosbifs what they asked for. But the date of Brexit will be extended if necessary.

In a press conference late last night, Theresa May said she was still hopeful of getting a Brexit deal through parliament before May 22 and so allowing the government to cancel the European Parliament elections and leave the EU on June 1. She says she refuses to resign unless this happens. As I said before, she has the relentless implacability of zombies in horror films of my youth.

Whatever the outcome of the European elections in the UK they will make no difference to Europe, but they will make a big difference to the UK.

Wednesday 10 April 2019

No deal was an empty threat by the EU

To try to convince the House of Commons to vote for the Withdrawal Agreement, the EU threatened that the alternative was Britain leaving with no deal, for which the Continent was well prepared. In fact there was always a vanishingly small possibility of our leaving with no deal, despite President Macron's threats aimed at his domestic audience (and despite ITV Political Editor Robert Peston's insistence for months to the contrary). Now the threats are being quietly dropped.

Were the EU to refuse an extension British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond predicted yesterday that MPs would probably force the government to revoke Article 50, rather than leave with no deal, but for the EU leaders this would be too big a risk for them to take.

As Michel Barnier said yesterday, the EU will never force us to leave with no deal. The British civil service, which advises the Prime Minister without much competition from political advisers, now that Nick Timothy and Fiona Hill have been banished, is also determined to prevent the UK leaving with no deal. The Cabinet Secretary went so far as advising the cabinet that it could not vote on the Withdrawal Agreement.

Mrs May is not the collegiate, clubbish person that a Prime Minister should be, who confides in the cabinet and is first among equals. She is secretive, unclubbable, isolated and suspicious. She confides in no-one except her husband and a very few, very close advisers, whose names I do not know. 

She has been captured by the civil service, because she needs someone to tell her what to do and because she does not give them a clear line.  She is out of her depth, but embarrassingly reluctant to leave the stage. 

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement is “a deal a nation signs only after having been defeated at war"

Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek Finance Minister at the time when the EU forced austerity on Greece, said on the BBC TV programme Question Time, on the day Britain was supposed to Brexit, March 29th, that Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement is “a deal a nation signs only after having been defeated at war".

"Theresa May. Look, first she triggers Article 50 on the basis of red lines that boxed her into impossibility – and that is a crime against logic. Secondly, it failed to recognise that Michel Barnier, when he announced the two-phase process, announced a declaration of hostility against the Government. May never even saw this coming.

“If I come to you and say let’s have a negotiation between us, and I say, first, you tell me everything you want, and then, we will tell you everything we want, clearly, you will say ‘No mate. I’m not going to have a negotiation with you along those lines.’

8 reasons why young voters are turning away from the Conservatives

Here are eight reasons why few British voters under thirty intend to vote Conservative, collected by James Kanagasooriam. 

They include: the fact that 20% of voters under 30 are non-white; the young's dislike of Brexit; their approval of progressive measures likes single-sex marriage and euthanasia that most Conservative MPs opposed; left-wing indoctrination in universities, for which the Conservatives steeply increased the fees, is a double whammy; and, above all, high property prices.

If you want to understand someone's political outlook think of how the world looked when he was 20. The young grew up in a time of financial crisis attributed to greedy bankers and deregulation of financial services. The youngest formed their world view taking account of the result of the Brexit referendum and Donald Trump. 

Socialism is something from history lessons and my nephew was taught at school that Lenin was an improvement on the Tsars.

Only one Church of England bishop voted Leave

If slam dunk proof were needed that Britain should leave the EU, I offer it. 

112 Bishops of the Church of England voted Remain, according to well informed Anglican blogger Archbishop Cranmer, and one voted Leave. I am a bit doubtful about there he got the figures. I suspect he knew of one Leaver and assumed the rest were Remain, but the assumption would have been based on studying the hierarchy closely for years.

Catholic bishops in Great Britain probably have similar views. Oddly, though UKIP was the only party that opposed single-sex marriage, it is said to have fairly few adherents among the Catholic clergy, who tend to read anti-Catholic newspapers like the Guardian and Observer. Pro-abortion, pro-feminist parties get their vote instead.

“For the vast majority of people Brexit isn’t about the EU"

“For the vast majority of people Brexit isn’t about the EU, it is a proxy for a world view that includes their attitude to diversity and climate change as well as Europe. They would prefer to have parties which much more clearly reflect those values. Either Labour and the Tories rotate into those positions or they will be challenged by new parties rooted there.”

This is a quotation from Lord Cooper of Windrush, the Downing Street director of strategy under David Cameron, in today's Times. His lordship is right that attitudes to Brexit are about deep emotions that have little to do with the question in hand. This is the most interesting and least examined aspect to the crisis through which Great Britain (not to mention Northern Ireland) is living.

Of course, he is also completely right in thinking that cultural politics is now more important than economics.

How odd that important people who write newspaper articles find this surprising or hard to explain, when the reasons are obvious: grave threats to nation-states. These, of course, trump (no pun intended) everything else.


“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” 
Benjamin Franklin

“The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under a lamp, a book spread before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known.”
The 14th-century Japanese priest Kenko in the Tsurezuregusa (“Grasses of Idleness”)

“All country people hate each other. They have so little comfort, that they envy their neighbours the smallest pleasure or advantage . . . From not being accustomed to enjoyment, they become hardened and averse to it — stupid, for want of thought — selfish, for want of society. There is nothing good to be had in the country, or, if there is, they will not let you have it. They had rather injure themselves than oblige anyone else.”
William Hazlitt reviewing Wordsworth's Excursion.

The Marxist capture of knowledge

Claire Lehmann is the founder of the wonderful magazine Quillette and a very good thing. She is a genuine liberal and a few years ago I'd have thought real conservatism and real liberalism were very close - now, in the era of Brexit, Trump, Merkel and Salvini they are obviously very far away. She is an instinctive internationalist, admires the EU and dislikes populists intensely.

I enjoy her stuff very much and urge you to watch this interview about the way in which a form of Marxism has taken over academia and public discourse and turned arts disciplines into examinations of power and oppression, centred on class, feminism and post-colonialism.

Her hope is that new forms of university education on the internet will take over from conventional universities. I have long argued that this is inevitable, desirable and needs to be hastened (to break down the academic closed shop and the use of degrees to strengthen class barriers). Rather obtusely of me, I did not make the connection between breaking up the academic industry and the restoration of freedom of thought.

A customs union does not mean frictionless trade

Trade policy is extremely complex and even professors of European law get it badly wrong. The best source of information I know of is Richard North's irascible blog in which he speaks contemptuously of the crass ignorance of politicians and journalists on the subject. In fact the tone is very unattractive but the contempt seems often to be justified. Almost all British MPs are scandalously ignorant about the EU, as are leading columnists.

Michel Barnier and European leaders hope Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn will agree to leave the EU with "a" customs union (a non-EU country cannot be part of "the" EU customs union, apparently) and thus avoid a long delay to Brexit. But it is important to understand, in spite of what you have read, that exiting the EU on customs union terms does not mean "frictionless trade" between the UK and EU or even prevent customs being levied at the Irish border. 

Anyone who has crossed the land border between Bulgaria and Turkey, which is in a customs union with the EU except for agricultural produce, coal and steel, should know this. 

Also, of course, a customs union does not cover services, which make up three quarters of the UK's economy but this is a different point. No tariffs are levied on services. Regulatory alignment is what matters with services.

The Economics Editor of the Guardian argues that the value of the customs union to the UK is overrated here

Monday 8 April 2019

Where we are today - heading to a delayed Brexit

The Solicitor-General, Robert Buckland, came clean on the BBC Radio Four’s Westminster Hour last night.
“Whilst I don’t pretend it’s ideal — I think there are some real drawbacks with it — it does mean we deliver the end to freedom of movement, and it does mean that we deliver the vast majority of the aims of Brexit. It’s not perfect, but frankly in this particular hung parliament none of us can get perfection. We need to compromise … Something approximating a customs arrangement or customs union I think would be the most likely outcome.”
A Labour source told the Sunday Times that they were happy to let Downing Street give the customs union a different name, (“Customs arrangement” and “customs partnership”?) to persuade Tory MPs that it’s not a customs union.

“They can call it ‘Alan’ if they want to. But it needs to have a common external tariff and comply with the WTO definition of a customs union.”
Rod Liddle, writing on Saturday in the Spectator, thinks the mess we are in is because Brexit is in the hands of a Conservative party three quarters of whose MPs are Remainers - and, also, not conservatives at all.
"If there were a few more Conservatives on the Conservative benches then the government wouldn’t have dreamed up a bill designed to inform infant school children about the undoubted joys of transgenderism, nor indeed voted for its passage by a huge majority.

Sunday 7 April 2019

Tories need to ditch Mrs May and her plan

"I did a random phone-around of Tory MPs, candidates and activists on Saturday. With the exception of one MP, I found not a single one of them who would be voting Conservative in the European elections. To a man and woman, they all said they would be voting for The Brexit Party. Interestingly none mentioned Ukip, a party which is now identified with rampant Islamophobia, rather than Euroscepticism."
Ian Dale in today's Sunday Telegraph.

Customs union forever

At talks with Labour on Thursday and Friday the government’s team, including Olly Robbins, effectively said that their deal contained measures that they had publicly said they were against. Said one source, quoted by the Observer,

“They were essentially setting out why the deal was very good and how we hadn’t quite understood how good it was. How, if you look carefully, it is a customs union and it is alignment with the single market. It was a really good, interesting technical exposition of the deal – but it was pretty clear they were selling their deal rather than explaining how they would change it.”
After lunch, the two sided discussed how the UK could be required to copy changes in EU law relating to workers’ rights. Sir Keir Starmer asked how could Labour have any confidence that a new Tory leader, perhaps Boris Johnson, would keep Theresa May’s promises.

Both parties want to keep the UK more or less in the customs union, which the civil service considers vitally important. Much worse, the backstop means a future government can never leave the customs union. But leaving is, in any case, impossible unless customs are levied on the Irish border.

Saturday 6 April 2019

We are at Germany's mercy

Charles Moore today sees Great Britain entirely at the mercy of Germany since Mrs May and Sir Oliver Letwin will not permit us to leave the EU without a deal.
"Enticing us by hints on the backstop, the EU could then pick its moment to work out how best to hold us down in the customs union and, if we remain as weak as we are now, demand a second referendum, too. Then, from the EU’s point of view, the worst that can happen is that it neuters us: its best is that we decide to stay in after all, humiliated. Angela the Mild will avoid crowing, but her European Germany/German Europe (same thing) will have confirmed its reign, and she can happily hand over to her designated successor.

"That is the way things are going."
Mr Moore thinks the Tories only hope of not being annihilated is if large numbers of constituency associations deselect Remainer MPs and replace them with Leavers. He doesn't think that likely and nor do you or I.

I think whatever happens the only hope for the Tories to survive at this moment and for decades to come is to move a long way to the right. From now on preserving national identity and sovereignty will be what European politics is going to be about.

Friday 5 April 2019

Brexit talks break down - a recurrent headline

The Labour Party has withdrawn from negotiations with Theresa May after two long days complaining that she will not accept any genuine, real changes to her proposals. Now they understand what the cabinet has put up with for months.

Her negotiating strategy is based on repetition and boring her opponent into submission. It hasn't worked but is very draining for everyone. It is rarely that I sympathise with Jeremy Corbyn but I do this evening, as I sip my wine in a cafe.

He drinks only coconut water. Perhaps a struggle with his allotment at the weekend will relax him.

Yet he and Mrs May have much in common. Her plan would lead to Britain accepting something close to the customs union. She hates the idea of a low tax, low regulation country.

He on the other hand disliked the EU and EEC all his career and is an isolationist, whereas she is a typical European Social Democrat bureaucratic politician. A typical Euro-nonentity in fact, only distinguished from other European leaders by her lack of talent for the job.

Her only impressive quality, to quote Catch 22, is her unimpressiveness.

"It should not have been like this," Arlene Foster leader of the DUP said in a wonderfully schoolmistressy tone. "The United Kingdom fighting European elections almost three years after a clear majority voted to leave the EU sums up the disorganised and slapdash approach taken to negotiations by the Prime Minister.

Well, yes 

Margaret Becket suggested the Prime Minister needs a psychiatrist. Men like Daniel Hannan and Jacob Rees-Mogg are deterred by chivalry from saying what they think of her, b
ut women are not gentlemen.

Though I suspect there is nothing a psychiatrist could do to put things right. 

Thursday 4 April 2019

What would Jeremy Corbyn do if Theresa May agrees to his Brexit plan?

Theresa May left it very late indeed to talk to the one man who can ensure (probably) that Brexit passes the House of Commons, Jeremy Corbyn. She should have done so in 2016.

She is partly doing so to let him share the blame for a Brexit with no deal or a Brexit with a bad deal, which seem to be the only two choices. 

But the two parties have in theory very close views about Brexit. Labour is in theory in favour of a Brexit while remaining in a permanent customs union, in other words having a permanent intended backstop, while an unnamed government source told the Times: 
“We can’t say this but if you look at the political declaration you could argue that we’ve signed up to a customs union in all but name anyway" 

adding that the big difference was that Labour wanted that the UK to have a seat at the table in the negotiation of future trade deals between the EU and third parties. 
“We don’t think Brussels will offer that. But that is their problem not ours.”
In the end, Theresa May in the twilight of her rule came down against the Brexiteers and in favour of any deal being better than no deal. 

Wednesday 3 April 2019

The Pope and the 'neo-rigorist homo-sexophobic reaction' to the sin of Sodom

On the flight back from Morocco, the Pope recommended the press read this article by Gianni Valente, which criticizes the 'neo-rigorist homo-sexophobic reaction' to the cases of priests buggering and sexually assaulting boys and girls (but mostly boys). 

His Holiness is very talkative with journalists in general which makes all the more noteworthy his refusal to comment on the allegations, by Archbishop Vigano, that he informed the pope of credible accusations against Cardinal McCarrick, who helped the Pope be elected and who has since been defrocked.

The new Archbishop of Washington sounds like he is not homo-sexophobic. Homo-sexophobia is definitely of fashion in this papacy. The article I linked to contains the startling information that
Archbishop Wilton Gregory was a protégé of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, who played a leading role in the Gaying of the Catholic Church in America. In a nod to that legacy, Bernardin requested the Windy City Gay Men’s Chorus perform at his funeral. 
Pope Paul VI said in a sermon in 1972 that the smoke of Satan was in the Church. This is still the case.

Was Margaret Thatcher a conservative? Is Jacob Rees-Mogg a nationalist?

The Guardian publishes each day a lot of unfair, uninformed, preposterous and sometimes frankly poisonous articles. It has a particularly repellent one today implying, very unfairly, that because the German AfD party does not like globalists that means that they do not like Jews. 

In fact, AfD is a strong supporter of Israel. Antisemitism is being used as a handy slur because the writer does not like the AfD's policies.

Nor of course, contrary to the article, does Alice Weidel, the joint leader of the AfD, have a pathological or any other sort of hatred of foreigners.

The author, Alan Posener, is an Anglo-German journalist who says that the AfD and British Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg (who yesterday retweeted something from the AfD) 'hate the EU' and want a Europe of nations, in De Gaulle's phrase, as if these were wicked things to do. 

Tuesday 2 April 2019

Cabinet government has been suspended by a calamitous and unnerved Prime Minister

"One former prime minister told a private audience recently that if he had been asked about the EU customs union during his time in office, he would not have known what they were talking about" (Jennifer Rankin, who also doesn't understand it, in the Guardian today).

Laura Kuenssberg‏ of the BBC quotes a cabinet minister saying that, at today's seven hour cabinet meeting, fourteen ministers opposed asking the EU for another delay of Brexit and ten approved but she is doing so anyway.  

She insisted that the cabinet remained in No 10 while she addressed the nation from the street.

Why on earth did they accept being made prisoners? But it's a metaphor for their predicament  - and their cowardice.

The Prime Minister's behaviour is of course completely unconstitutional, even if the Cabinet Secretary, who wrote a paper about the baleful consequences of No Deal that was obviously written in order to be leaked, says untruly that the Cabinet never takes votes. 

(No need to go back to Mr. Gladstone's cabinet which took votes. Mr Blair's did.) 

The mainstream media expects cabinet ministers to resign. They would be fools to do so - if they do, Mrs May gets a majority for her policy. 

Mrs May has invited Jeremy Corbyn to talks and he has, of course, agreed. 

Her purpose is to make him share the blame for leaving with no deal and he knows this. 

His purpose is to avoid sharing the blame for no deal, or any Brexit, but without opposing Brexit, which in fact he wants. 

All four soft Brexit motions defeated in the House of Commons - the Government runs the country again for a day or two - what happens next?

Brexit was a very boring thriller for a long time, but it certainly turned out to be a nail-biter in the end. 

Disraeli said a majority was the best repartee. Last night none of the four proposals put to the House won a majority. The repartee will be left to the European Commission, unless Mr May's proposal somehow passes at a fourth attempt, in some guise that persudes the Speaker to permit it to be put to the House.

I am very thankful that Ken Clark's plan for the UK to remain permanently in the customs union failed, though only by three votes. 'Only' 37 Tory MPs voted for it. It is the worst possible option - far worse than remaining in the EU or any other form of Brexit, for the reasons explained by Robert Courts in yesterday's Daily Telegraph.

William Hague is one of the men (and one woman, Hillary) who destroyed Libya, and this error of judgment must never be forgiven or forgotten, but he is exceptionally intelligent. When I read him argue that if Mrs May's proposal does not get through there will be no Brexit I feel he might well be right. 

I also hugely respect former Tory leader Michael Howard who has said the same thing. Brexiteer Lord Howard should renounce his peerage and become Prime Minister. Michael Gove also feels the same, another very clever Brexiteer.

Lord Hague thinks the Conservatives are

in danger of losing the support of hopeful young people with ambitions, and it cannot win elections without such people. 

I wonder which party he thinks are winning young people with ambitions - can he mean Jeremy Corbyn's Labour? If so the only reason I can think of why this could be is that free universities attract them. But anyone ambitious over 22? The Liberal Democrats are clearly not winning voters. 

Lord Hague goes on

Moreover, the Conservatives are inevitably identified with the Brexit project, for good or ill, and slowly, steadily, the case for Brexit is being lost.

Monday 1 April 2019

Hoping Britain takes part in the European Parliamentary elections

Obviously it would be excellent if Britain stays in the EU long enough to take part in the European Parliamentary elections, as looks likely - they are a much better way for public opinion to make itself heard than a general election. 

In Euro-parliamentary elections people will vote for small parties without the fear that they will form the government. The elections would be bad news for both Labour and Conservatives, but less so for the Conservatives than a general election. 

All this might be the fault of Mrs May in her autistic way negotiating in secret, without attempting to take her cabinet or Parliament with her. But if hers was the only deal, the EU would ever give us then her autism is only a side-issue.

European Parliamentary elections are bad news for the EU but I have the fortitude to bear their misfortune. They are good news for Salvini, Orban and the rest of the anti-immigration, Euro-sceptic politicians.

EU, breaker of nations

Jean-Claude Juncker today called David Cameron a great destroyer. This is not the first time. Apparently in March 2017,  Mr Juncker said: 

“I have met in my life two big destroyers: Gorbachev, who destroyed the Soviet Union, and Cameron, who destroyed the United Kingdom to some extent."
In the past the EU took offence at analogies between the EU and the USSR or with the Nazi plan for a United Europe. Am I right in suspecting a nostalgia on the Luxembourger's part for the Soviet Union?  

I do not suspect the Christian Social leader of being a Communist but of sympathy for dirigiste multinational, post-national authoritarian entities. The USSR, like the EEC/EC/EU, was internationalist and always proclaimed that it wanted to save Europe from war and Nazi revanchism.

David Cameron, breaker of nations - that reminds me of the tile of a very good book by Robert Conquest called Stalin, Breaker of Nations. I think the UK will not break up because of Brexit whatever happens, but the EU is in fact the breaker of nations.

Memo to self: visit the Danube delta this year

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Theresa May is one of the smallest people ever set in a great place

The British Government's Chief Whip Julian Smith will show in an interview to be aired tonight that a softer Brexit was “inevitably” on the cards once the Conservatives lost their majority in 2017 and the Government should have been clearer” that this would happen.

The 2017 election result meant that Theresa May was badly wounded and could not guarantee to have as majority for her positions when negotiating with the EU. 

The 2017 election result took a lot of power from the Prime Minister but would she have been able to get a better deal from the EU had she won a big majority? The election did, on the other hand, give the DUP the power to prevent a backstop that might lead to customs barriers between the mainland and Northern Ireland.

Had she had only got the deal she did get it would have been defeated even had she a majority of 90. That is assuming that the same number of Tory MPs voted against it as did so in January. 

Julian Smith calls the last few weeks 
 “the worst example of ill-discipline in Cabinet in British political history.” 
Of course he is right. The British constitution is not fit for purpose and is being remade. He by saying that is being startlingly disloyal too. 

The Prime Minister ignored the cabinet, elaborated her deal in strict secrecy and ran roughshod over the idea of cabinet government. Now cabinet government is reasserting itself while the House of Commons is doing the same thing. 

If Mrs. May fails to get her deal through this week on the fourth attempt her choices will be to leave with no deal, which she could do by proroguing Parliament for twelve days, or to call an election. if she tries to do the latter HM the Queen should insist on inviting others to try to form a government.

The truth is that Theresa May became Prime Minister despite not shining in cabinet, where she was very unpopular, according to David Laws, or in the House of Commons which she never commanded. 

I am not sure if this is because of the electoral system for electing Tory leaders, which allowed Michael Gove first to back and then to stand against Boris. I know things worked better when Tory leaders 'emerged' like they used to. I think that being a woman might make it harder for Theresa May to be a leader in the House or the cabinet, both of which are still male and clubby, but maybe it is not that. Maybe she is what Lord Macaulay called Queen Anne, one of the smallest people ever set in a great place.

Happy April Fool's Day

Readers interested in Brexit would do well to subscribe to Jack Blanchard's invaluable free newsletter. Today's begins:

Good Monday morning. Brexit Day is 11 days away.
HAPPY APRIL FOOL’S DAY: This is the day you’re meant to spot the absurd, fictional, no-way-can-this-actually-be-happening stories hidden away among the real news in each newspaper. Good luck with that this year.
ANNUAL REMINDER: April Fool’s Day is also Chris Grayling’s birthday. Because of course it is.

April Fools spoofs used occasionally to be funny, though I don't like them. I don't think newspapers should intentionally print fiction as truth. Now they do all the time. 

On the other hand, satire really has died by now - satire requires a sense of a fundamentally orderly universe which is being disrupted by foolish behaviour. I am not sure in a post-modern world, whatever that means, that this sense still exists.

I am not sure what fixed points there are any more - even in the Catholic Church, which until the present papacy was the one unchanging fixed point.