Wednesday 31 July 2019

Mark Steyn on Boris Johnson

"As an aside, I see the newspaper Boris and I once worked for, The Daily Telegraph, now has a "Head of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging" - one Asif Sadiq, MBE - who writes earnest pieces with headlines like "Why Diversity is the Missing Piece of the Corporate Puzzle". The decline and decay of the post-Conrad Torygraph is one of the tragedies of the age. At the time UK Conservatives were cooing over the hollow David Cameron, a man so "conservative" he believed W H Smith should be banned from displaying Terry's Chocolate Oranges at the cash register because it was a health risk. Meanwhile, the Telegraph was so out of it that Charles Moore, our great editor, was talking up the Ulster Unionist David Trimble as the next Tory leader. Alas, the trendies had their way and, as I put it, the Conservatives opted not for the Orangeman but the Chocolate Orangeman. Boris is a social liberal posing as a Tory but the pose - "Mohammedans", "tank-topped bum-boys", etc - at least provides a brief rhetorical respite from the suffocating embrace of "diversity, inclusion and belonging". I'm with Sam Goldwyn: Include me out."


I watched an old episode of Cheers in my hotel and it was hilarious. Especially Cliff the postman who says, when someone asks what is the secret of happiness, comfortable shoes.
Who is the greatest philosopher in history he asks. Frasier: 'Aristotle?' 'There you are. Sandals. The most comfortable footwear ever known. Confucius had thongs.'
Carla's answer is children which is true for almost everyone.
Everyone smokes cigars at the bar and everyone is white. Carla is the one woman. And the Reagan Thatcher era now seems a lost age, like watching Cary Grant or Leslie Howard. 

Sunday 28 July 2019

Action this day

A six man war cabinet will run Britain along with Dominic Cummings. Michael Gove will chair a committee of civil servants every day including Sundays until Brexit. Had it not been for Theresa May clinging to office from sheer vanity and Jeremy Hunt grandstanding this could have happened three valuable months ago but much better late than never.

I have no idea how this will end but we need imaginative opportunistic leader like Disraeli or Bismarck and I hope we have found one.

We shall see. 

My sermon

Jesus did not advocate Caesar taking from the Samaritans to finance the welfare state or letting Canaanite refugees flood into Judea and make it majority non Jewish. He said: My kingdom is not of this world. He also said that not one jot and not one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, meaning that He considered sodomy a sin and supported the death penalty. Presumably for witches, inter alia. He did not condemn slavery and did not tell the centurion to become a pacifist. He fed the five thousand with fish so was no vegetarian.

Friday 26 July 2019

Boris is or at least might be a Tory

Philip Stephens in the Financial Times accuses Boris Johnson of being a Tory. In so doing he explains why so many Tories and non-Tories, who are fed up to the back teeth with liberal sanctimony, love him. "Britain’s new prime minister sometimes strikes a pose as a metropolitan liberal. This week, aides have ensured his new ministerial line-up nods in the direction of diversity. At heart, he is a reactionary. With a worldview drawn from Rudyard Kipling’s paeans to English exceptionalism, he mourns the loss of empire, rails against the “nanny state”, and thinks the French should be eternally grateful for being rescued in two world wars. "

Even better, Boris Johnson's great hero turns out to be mine: his illustrious namesake, Dr Johnson. Both love giving offence. This, Boris suggested, is the reason we all love the Great Cham. ‘In a nation addicted to evasion and embarrassment, we treasure people who are rude, because we assume (rather primitively) that they are more likely to tell the truth.’ 

Thursday 25 July 2019

Boris cometh

I feel euphoric about the boy, though I know Boris is a social liberal and I do not care that much about the economic side of conservatism. Ronald Reagan set targets, chose good people and let them achieve the targets.  Boris will do the same.

Boris assumes his destiny

I confess I am very excited by the new British Prime Minister. He's the first one I have liked in my lifetime.  And he has started very well.

Boris should prorogue Parliament before the recess ends in September  until 1 November. That way no deal happens automatically unless the EU offers an acceptable deal.  That would shoot the Remainers' fox.

Despite what you read no ministers were fired by Boris Johnson. All ministers automatically resign when the Prime Minister does.

It shocks me that no political commentator pointer out what I thought every schoolboy knew.

Not appointing ministers is not the same as firing them so this is not a massacre like Harold Macmillan's Night of the Long Knives. The ministers who resigned the day before Mrs May were playing amateur dramatics. They were resigning from her ministry not the new government.

But the last cabinet failed appallingly and needed to be replaced. 

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Politicians are now part of the entertainment industry

Evelyn Waugh said Churchill was a radio personality who outlived his prime. 

Boris Johnson is a reality television star of genius, as is, of course, Donald Trump. 

Politics is now about entertainment, although eloquent speeches always were about entertainment, in the days when they were not beamed into your house.

Theresa May and Boris Johnson are caricatures of themselves, but Boris does it well

"Perhaps we all eventually turn into caricatures of ourselves. As time went on, May certainly appeared to. That childhood-learned sense of duty seemed to narrow to a resolve to cling on in office; the commitment to others, a conviction that the country needed her. The game was clearly up by mid-March, when MPs crushed the Withdrawal Agreement for the second time and a vote on extension was announced. The Conservatives’ poll ratings began to fold that week. These have not reached 40 per cent since.

"If you promise over 100 times that Britain will leave the EU on March 29, and it doesn’t; then say that you are not prepared to delay Brexit later than the end of June, but do; announce that it would be “unacceptable” for European elections to take place, but they happen; and if you denounce Jeremy Corbyn as a threat to the country, but then seek to work with him over Brexit, you will poison the well not only for yourself, but also for your party. Conservative MPs opted for Boris Johnson for simple, sole reason that they think he has the best chance of cleansing the waters."

I agree with this except that trying to do a deal with Labour was common sense and should have happened three years earlier. 

However, I see no redeeming feature in Mrs May.

Many of us become caricatures of ourselves. Boris deliberately crafted himself into a caricature to start with and it has served him very well indeed. 

It is not clear who said life is not about finding yourself but creating yourself. Mahler attributed it to Sir (St) Thomas More but I wonder if he said it. Whoever said it, Boris is an example of it working. 

But Boris is not an actor in the sense that Harold Macmillan was the 'old actor-manager' or even the sense in which Tony Blair is a very good actor. Everything with Boris is an act. Understand that and you understand everything.

An elderly socialist told me the best speaker he ever heard was the Tory leader Sir Austen Chamberlain,  but that was in the era of big public meetings. William Hague prepared himself to be a political leader in his precocious childhood in the 1970s and by 1997 that was out of date. Mr Anthony Blair had invented a new style of discourse for television. 

In the present era Prime Ministers and Presidents are becoming reality television stars. We want them to entertain us. Boris was born for this era. Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt were not. 

Sunday 21 July 2019

More Brexit

Think back five years: how bored we all were with the dull political consensus and how we wished for a change in the established order. Isn’t it great that we got what we wanted?
Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times today

At a seminar at King’s College, London shortly after the 2016 EU referendum, Takis Tridimas, a professor of European Law at King’s said that the result represented the most significant constitutional event in the UK since the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, since it showed that on the issue of Europe, the sovereignty of the people trumped the sovereignty of Parliament. Of course, from a legal point of view, the referendum was merely advisory, but the government committed itself to respecting the result and the outcome was seen by the majority of MPs as decisive. Since June 2016, therefore, both government and parliament have been enacting a policy to which they are opposed. That is a situation unprecedented in our long constitutional history. Europe, therefore, has been responsible for the introduction of a new concept into the UK constitution, the sovereignty of the people. On this issue, the people have in effect become a third chamber of Parliament, issuing instructions to the other two. The sovereignty of Parliament is now being constrained not by Brussels, but by the people.
Vernon Bogdanor, February 27 2019 in his LSE blog.

John Ruskin: All good architecture is the expression of national life and character

All good architecture is the expression of national life and character; and it is produced by a prevalent and eager national taste, or desire for beauty.

John Ruskin's words in Traffic, an essay written under the influence of Carlyle, are a very harsh condemnation of modern Romania. The Communist buildings after the Stalin era are very bad, except for perhaps the ones that Ceausescu built along the Boulevard of the Victory of Socialism but many  buildings built since the Revolution are equally ugly but in a  different way. Political analyst Sorin Ionita said the road from the airport to Bucharest resembles a Pakistani Las Vegas.

Ruskin's words are an equally harsh condemnation of Britain in the twenty-five years before Margaret Thatcher. Public and private architecture hugely improved after she took office, when architects stopped building things that accorded with their modernist principles and started building things purely to make money. Looking back, though I disliked her at the time, this is a persuasive proof that she changed the country deeply and for the better.

Saturday 20 July 2019

Truth and lies

A lie may fool someone else but it tells you the truth, you're weak.

Tom Wolfe

Metternich told lies all the time, and never deceived any one; Talleyrand never told a lie and deceived the whole world.

Lord Macaulay

Fame is the sum of all the misunderstandings that grow up around a name.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Semites [he is referring to Arabs] had no half-tones in their register of vision. They were a

people of primary colours, or rather of black and white, who saw the world always in contour. They were a dogmatic people, despising doubt, our modern crown of thorns.


An online friendship does not feel, to me, like friendship. It feels like an ever-receding touch.

Tanya Gold, Guardian October 14 2018 

If Facebook is for lying about being happy, Twitter is for lying about being right. It is exhausting.

It is my (admittedly mildly eccentric) belief that Brexit is not just about sovereignty; on a subconscious level, some of us are trying to claw our way out of a much more serious existential abyss. The companies of the future, like FaceApp and Neural Link, as well as Brussels, are trying to impose on us a disturbingly unchecked, unaccountable definition of human ‘progress’.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Brexit negotiations

The cardinal sin was that David Cameron told civil servants not to make a contingency plan in case Leave won the referendum. 

Had they made one it might have been the Norway option and everything would be very different now. 

We'd have left for one thing and on good terms with the EU - and with  no economic problems.

Michel Barnier said yesterday that Theresa May never threatened leaving the EU with no deal during the negotiations.

Martin Selmayr said yesterday that no-one took the possibility of the UK leaving with no deal seriously because they knew no preparations had been made by the UK. This was a

Three quotations

"The Apollo program was designed by men, for men. If we do not acknowledge the gender bias of the early space program, it becomes difficult to move past it."
New York Times article yesterday

“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but how could that interest them? Our God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”
David Ben-Gurion (the first Israeli Prime Minister): Quoted by Nahum Goldmann in Le Paraddoxe Juif (The Jewish Paradox), pp121.

“Over the centuries, intellectuals and public thinkers in Europe have been ceaselessly selling Protestant theology (albeit dressed in secular clothes) as the summum of human civilisation.”

S. N. Balagangadhara

Wednesday 17 July 2019


  1.   Retweeted
    From St Augustine's Confessions: "In my youth I spake out against sin and evil, and was rightly accused of hate speech. Now, in my old age, I condemn only the climate that changeth and the transphobia of our people."

“America solves problems, Europe manages them...”
John Bolton

"Trump is dangerous because he's not a politician. He may be a fool, but his saving grace may be that his vision is not clouded by an investment in the survival of the political species. He is not of their tribe."
Philip Patrick

"Even Obama in 2014 said asylum claims are not justified for economic reasons. If people are truly in fear for their life, they should apply for asylum in the first country they go to."
Congresswoman Debbie Lesko

I voted to leave the European Union because I wanted to live in an independent country. If required to choose between Brussels and Washington, I will choose Brussels every time.

Transports of delight

“…Formerly, it was the practice for the Boyars, like their ancestors the Scythians, to ride on horseback, from which they seldom were seen dismounted in the streets. It was only about thirty years ago that they adopted the more effeminate habit of riding in carriages; and this practice is congenial to their vain and indolent disposition, that now they would not cross to the opposite side of a street without entering into them. But the circumstance which most distinguishes Bucharest is melancholic dissoluteness of manners among all classes. The town abounds with wine-houses; and, to attract customers, a number of women are kept in each house, who are ready at a call to dance and sing for the guests. To these houses the Boyars repair from their own families and pass their evenings among the most shameless class of females that ever disgraced the sex. In this way it is that Bucharest is rendered infamous for profligacy beyond any other city in Europe. The number of this unfortunate class is so great, that it was proposed to lay a capitation tax to them, as the most profitable source of revenue that could be resorted to and it is expected that the proposal will be carried into effect."

The Reverend Robert Walsh, Narrative of a Journey from Constantinople to England, London, 1828, talking about Bucharest. The whole book is here.

“The beauty of cycling is that you are a part of the world around you — and yet you move through it untouched.”

Boris Johnson

I think that if I could un-invent one feature of modern life, it would be the car. How

The best thing I have read about the Pope and Donald Trump

I ask your forgiveness. I do not always pay enough attention to the very interesting people who comment on this blog. 

I shall do so. Toma has led me to what looks at first sight like a remarkably interesting Canadian blogger called David Warren.

Apparently, he used to write for the Ottawa Citizen and since 2012 has written the blog 'Essays in Idleness'.

He said when he began:
Our ambition is to try a blog entitled “Essays in Idleness”; which hyperlinks only sparingly, and always with caution to the MSM; which does not celebrate the incursion of “events”; which may sneer at “breaking news,” ignore the polls, and give no advice in an election; which makes statements that could actually be contradicted, but only by someone who knows something; which rebels against the oppression of “democracy”; then flees from its howling mobs. (…)

Tuesday 16 July 2019

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

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

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

Still a decision of some sort has to be taken. 

It has been three years since the referendum, the event that an Independent writer said

Ship without sailors

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

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

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

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

Sunday 14 July 2019

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

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

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

Is Boris King Charles I or II?


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday 12 July 2019

Pope Urban II on Muslims in 1095

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

Thursday 11 July 2019

Say not the struggle naught availeth

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

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

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

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Sir Kim Darroch resigns, which reminds me of two jokes

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

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

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

Remember this?

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

Monday 8 July 2019

Boris and the great cause of cheering us up

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

Lord Finkelstein in The Times

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

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

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

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

Boris Johnson, November 2006


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

Gustav Mahler, who misattributed it to Thomas More.

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

Gustav Mahler

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

Bob Dylan (sometimes misattributed to Shaw)

Saturday 6 July 2019

R.I.P. Christopher Booker

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

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

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

'Who whom?'

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

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

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

'Who whom?'

but it is the important question.

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

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

Fiona Hill returns

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

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

They were doubly disastrous. 

Friday 5 July 2019

The Eccentricities of Cardinal Parolin and Archbishop Peña Parra

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 4 July 2019

4th July question - what is America?

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

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

US Southern border has become a party advertised on Facebook

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

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

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

Tuesday 2 July 2019

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt drink a toast

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

Monday 1 July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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