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.

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.

Popes speaking impromptu is a very new thing

An interesting article in the Catholic Herald says that, well into the reign of Pope St John XXIII, the Vatican's official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, would report that a statement had been “gathered from the august lips of the Supreme Pontiff”. 

The habit of popes answering questions from journalists is a new one (but so is the habit of journalists questioning British ministers or intruding on Tory leadership elections). Pope St Paul VI occasionally made extemporaneous remarks, Pope St John Paul II started the

From an interview with Jean-Claude Juncker published yesterday

"I’ve had the impression for months now that the main interest of British politicians was to find a way to replace Theresa May, not to find an agreement with the Europeans.”

"I will not repeat that everybody understands English, but nobody understands England.”

Monday 10 June 2019

No deal

"Although no-deal is now the only realistic way to deliver a proper Brexit, British politics has become so warped that even success risks destroying the PM. The stone cold truth is that while it is possible to make no-deal a success, it is impossible to make it a political success. The entire corporate establishment and metropolitan elite, and vast majority of MPs are against it. Being proved wrong willonly make their opposition to the government more vindictive. They will seek to wash away the embarrassing inaccuracies of their Domesday premonitions in a spitting megastorm of autocratic fury and apoplectic pessimism, the likes of which this country has never witnessed.

"Only a Trump-like figure whose whole identity is anchored in taking on the establishment could weather such a supercyclone of ruling class outrage."
Sherelle Jacobs in today's Daily Telegraph.  

She is right, though leaving with no deal has big dangers. But if anyone can be Trumpian it is Boris. And he says he will play our strongest card, which is a very strong one, the hard border that no deal makes unavoidable in Ireland, unless the EU makes useful concessions.

Why can't they let us have the Norway option, but with no more free movement for Europeans? 

Though it is non-European immigrants that are the big issue, on which the future of Europe hinges.

The Lancet argues for LGBTQ rights and abortion, opposes Italy's refugee policy

The Lancet is perhaps the world's most authoritative general medical journal. It informs doctors of medical developments but now it has widened its scope. Writers it publishes argue, for example, for a 
"progressive agenda that demands gender equality for girls and women and gender norms that promote health and wellbeing for all, including gender minorities.”
They also speak in favour of what they call reproductive rights, which means abortion, even though doctors by their Hippocratic oath swear not to perform abortions. 

Even further removed from medicine, an article by Raffaella Casolino in the latest issue of the journal attacks the Italian government's immigration policy and tells the physicians of Great Britain:
“Italy has been witnessing a rapid escalation towards racism and xenophobia since the new government came into power in June, 2018."

Sunday 9 June 2019


“A person's life isn't orderly runs about all over the place, in and out through time. The present's hardly there; the future doesn't exist. Only love matters in the bits and pieces of a person's life.” 
William Trevor

"False happiness is like false money; it passes for a time as well as the true, and serves some ordinary occasions; but when it is brought to the touch, we find the lightness and alloy, and feel the loss." Alexander Pope

“Whether a belief is considered to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people subscribing to it.”
Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay: A Study of Gurus

More fake news about Syria

I wrote on Tuesday about biassed and unreliable reporting from Syria, which makes understanding the situation so difficult. 

I, like you, am too busy to do deep research into the subject, but via the redoubtable Peter Hitchens I read this blog post by a distinguished British expert on the Middle East, Helena Cobban, which sets things straight. 

I wrote about a misleading article in the W
ashington Post, which said it was unsafe for refugees to return to Syria. Helena Cobban takes apart a May 30 piece in The New York Times, jointly written by a journalist in Turkey and one in Lebanon, about the humanitarian crisis in Idlib. It does not make the obvious point that the inhabitants are being effectively held captive by the rebel fighters, who are also in charge of distributing aid. The article fails too to mention the rebel forces are strongly dominated by the Al-Qaeda affiliate known as Hai’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and its allies, or
...that under the September agreement Turkey expressly agreed to intervene in Idlib to pull HTS and its allies back from the frontline and eventually from the whole of the enclave. Russia agreed, in return, to hold its Syrian allies back from attacking the rebel positions in Idlib. Turkey has not done what it promised. In early May, Turkey’s non-performance of the agreement prompted Syria and Russia to resume their attempts to reassert Syrian government control over Syria’s national territory in Idlib through military means.

The article, and all the articles I read in the newspapers, seem to be based on information provided by rebel activists, for the good and sufficient reason that the HTS and its allies have killed too many journalists.

Articles like these - and there are so many - are more than shoddy journalism. They are perhaps the most scandalous thing I can think of, as they inform public policy and the desire of people like Hillary Clinton and Boris Johnson to intervene in Syria on the side of Al Qaeda to remove the Syrian government. All that is needed is some intelligence and integrity from the newspapers in question to report in a fair way.

Boris Invictus

John O'Sullivan described the Tory leadership election with the wit of his 1970s Commons Sketches in the Telegraph, my teenage reading over breakfast.
'The appropriate response to these candidates is Ray Clooney’s:
“Sergeant, arrest some of these vicars.”
'My main impression of the Conservative leadership race so far is of a repertory theatre that has advertised the wrong play: a small audience has turned up for a serious drama but a very large cast of actors is performing a light farce.'

I really hate British party leadership campaigns taking place in public. Leadership campaigns used to happen among MPs in private. The campaigns we are watching illustrate the decline of the House of Commons as a clubby organism, the increase in the power of the legacy media and the Americanisation of British politics. It's becoming a semi-presidential system, which is why people ask why the electors cannot decide who the next Prime Minister should be.

I detested Tony Benn for publishing his manifesto for the Labour leadership in 1976, but they are all at it now. 

How much better had the MPs made their minds up in five days a week or two ago. Boris might have been Prime Minister in time to meet Donald Trump, as the number two candidate would probably have dropped out. 

Boris Johnson is pretty sure to be the next British Prime Minister and for all his faults there is no-one else. 

'This isn't the Britain we fought for’

I wish I had spoken to my father, who signed up for the army on 1 September 1939 (he was in the Territorials and was called up two days before everyone else) about whether England was the country he went off to fight for. He is not here, unfortunately, to ask, but it is very clear that the country his contemporaries fought for has been lost. I hope Brexit undoes some of the damage but most is irremediable.

Nicholas Pringle three years ago sent letters to local newspapers across the United Kingdom asking people who lived through the war to write to him with their experiences and asking
'Are you happy with how your country has turned out? What do you think your fallen comrades would have made of life in 21st-century Britain?'
He has published the articles in a book. 

One writer said Britain was still the best in the world, which is true. Another said that living standards, educational standards and opportunities for women had enormously improved, which is also true. At least one spoke favourably of the EU, but almost all were bleakly disappointed.

Saturday 8 June 2019

The lessons of D-Day

The 40th anniversary of D-Day was celebrated on a very big scale because by the 50th anniversary many veterans would have died. It took place the summer I went down from university and seems very recent to me. Mrs Thatcher, Reagan, Mitterand and Pierre Trudeau, who took part, did not seem big figures then, but do now. They have been lucky in being followed by much lesser men and, in the case of Theresa May, a much lesser woman. In Trudeau's case by his very much lesser son.

People said it was unusual and pleasant to see the American, British and French leaders without Helmut Kohl being there. Nor were the Russians, who won the war, invited.

Russia dismissed the ceremonies as a ''pompous propaganda campaign''. Izvestia, the Soviet newspaper, had recently carried an article saying that Hitler and President Reagan shared the ''distorted consciousness of a maniac killer.''

Mrs Thatcher, whatever one thinks of her economic policies, which I opposed at the

Getting through the red boxes

Theresa May wanted to know the detail about all sorts of government policies, which at first made her cabinet happy, until they realised that issues went to her and stayed in her inbox. She prevaricated and postponed decisions. 

She found it very hard to get through her red boxes, unlike the Queen who always gets through hers speedily. I read that David Cameron always cleared the contents of his red box before his first meeting in the morning and that Foreign Office mandarins were surprised that Boris always mastered his brief. The Prime Minister who was best of all at this was the diligent John Major.

Theresa May was never up to a cabinet job - and it is partly a question of intellectual capacity, partly of character (lack of self-confidence and qualities of a leader). Why was she not pushed out of office by her party after the 2017 election?

Harold Macmillan found time to read Miss Austen and Trollope in the afternoons, or so he

Tuesday 4 June 2019

I have not seen H.M. the Queen look so happy since David Cameron kissed hands

1.5 million Syrian refugees returned last year, so it must be fairly safe to do so

Louisa Loveluck's story in the Washington Post is behind a paywall so I can't read it (part of it is here). She says, based on what refugees and 'activists' told her, that refugees returning to Syria are in danger from the regime.
Hundreds of Syrian refugees have been arrested after returning home as the war they fled winds down — then interrogated, forced to inform on close family members and in some cases tortured, say returnees and human rights monitors.
I am sure, unfortunately, that some opponents of the Syrian government are mistreated or tortured, and especially if they were active on the rebel side, but according to UNHCR almost 1.5 million refugees returned to Syria in 2018. This is not a small number and strongly suggests that in general returning is not so dangerous. 

I know very well that the Assad regime is very cruel but also know that press repeats rebel propaganda and the CIA line, as with the fall of Eastern Aleppo. 

I'll try to find out more but it is very hard to discern the truth about the Middle East in the Western press. 

This story and others like it seem clearly to have a purpose. Miss Loveluck says that she spoke to activists and I assume that the genesis of the story came from activists, as did the false stories CNN and the Economists told about Syrian soldiers going from door to door shooting people after the fall of Aleppo. David Miliband, who thankfully never became British Prime Minister, repeated that one.

Sunday 2 June 2019

The Bishop of Liverpool is a preposterous ass

The Anglican Bishop of Liverpool Paul Bayes is an ass. On BBC Radio Four today he criticised Donald Trump, on the ground that 
“I don’t think it’s right to build walls."
Yes. He thinks walls are bad.
“He says he is a Christian but Jesus said you know people by their fruits. And this is a guy who seems to me to be saying walls are good, people from other cultures are bad, we must not welcome people, we must exclude them – I don’t believe these are Christian positions.”
Unfortunately, among the shrinking numbers of Anglicans many, especially young ones, still take their cue from bishops and think this sort of nonsense is Christian doctrine.

Bishop Bayes went on to say he was not comfortable with Mr. Trump being described as leader of the free world. (Has anyone done so?)
“I think the free world by definition does not need to be led in an authoritarian way."
How do people like this get promoted? By saying these sorts of things, unfortunately. 

Donald Trump has many very obvious defects, but he is not an authoritarian - or at least very much less of one than Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron or Angela Merkel. 

I wonder whether the Bishop's dislike of authoritarianism extends to admiring the US First Amendment which protects free speech and prevents hate speech laws.

Mr. Trump's state visit is going to be a comedy of the highest order, I expect, like his last visit. Gets popcorn, as they say nowadays.

The British army is suspicious of patriotism

The leaflet, titled “Extreme Right Wing (XRW) Indicators & Warnings” alerts senior defence staff to the signs of extremism

A leaked confidential British military document from 2017, entitled “Extreme Right Wing (XRW) Indicators and Warnings”, tells officers how to spot extremists in the ranks. Soldiers who describe themselves as patriots are suspicious, as are men who “use the term Islamofascism”, make “inaccurate generalisations about the Left” and talk about "threats to so called national identity”, as well as people sporting tattoos with “overt and covert XRW iconography”. Adding -istan to place names as Melanie Phillips did long ago with her book Londonistan, is a sign. Referring to political correctness as a left-wing or Communist plot is another, even though it is. 

Dia Chakravarty, the British Bangladeshi Brexit Editor of The Daily Telegraph comments on this:
It is interesting that the Conservative candidate who felt able to simply state “I love my country” in his leadership pitch was Sajid Javid, the son of Muslim Pakistani migrants. Whether any of his non-BAME rivals would get away with such a declaration without courting controversy is, amazingly, not an unreasonable question.
I met a nice young upper class lieutenant in Edinburgh last August, giving out leaflets to try to win recruits for the army. I told him how nice it was that in modern Britain the armed forces were the one institution that still embodied hierarchy and the class system. He replied, apologetically, that they were trying hard to be more diverse.

Saturday 1 June 2019


Untouched by the breath of God, unrestricted by human conscience, both capitalism and socialism are repulsive.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Strictly I should define loyalty as that devotion which is due when the moral debt is infinite. To God, to his parents, to his country, no one knows what he owes.
G.K. Chesterton

Whether a belief is considered to be a delusion or not depends partly upon the intensity with which it is defended, and partly upon the numbers of people subscribing to it.
Anthony Storr, Feet of Clay: A Study of Gurus

False happiness is like false money; it passes for a time as well as the true, and serves some ordinary occasions; but when it is brought to the touch, we find the lightness and alloy, and feel the loss.
Alexander Pope


'Sir, all the arguments which are brought to represent poverty as no evil, show it to be a great evil. You never find people labouring to convince you that you may live very happily upon a plentiful fortune.'

Dr. Johnson

'Those who have some means think that the most important thing in the world is love. The poor know that it is money.'

Gerald Brenan

'There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either.'

Robert Graves