Thursday 31 October 2019

There is now a big chance that Brexit will never happen

It used to be the case that British general election campaigns had very little effect on the result. 

The first one of which that was not true was the 1992 election when voters decided that they were not that into Neil Kinnock or Labour. 

The next one where the campaign mattered, and it mattered enormously, was the last one in 2017. Theresa May’s campaign will always be an object lesson in how not to win an election but to throw away an enormous lead in the opinion polls. 

The Zinoviev letter (a forgery) led many Liberals to vote Tory to keep out Labour in 1924  but the Tories would have won anyway. 

This time nobody knows what will happen. The opinion polls suggest a comfortable win for the Tories but absolutely no-one trusts the polls any more – after 2015 which everyone except the clairvoyant Dan Hodge expected to bring Ed Miliband to power, the referendum (which the polls didn’t get badly wrong actually, but people didn’t believe them) and 2017 where they predicted a thumping Tory victory.

The decision to call an election without getting the Brexit deal ratified in the House of Commons makes Tory MPs angry, according to an i newspaper report.

Why is an election being held?

Not because Parliament would not have agreed Boris’s deal. It probably would have done so.  

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Baghdadi is dead but Godfrey Elfwick has returned to life

I missed him badly after he was inexplicably removed from Twitter. He was the best Twitter entertainer there was and a very important satirist, but he was conservative and presumably therefore had to go. 

Here he is (or she, for word is his author is a woman) on great form in the Spectator, mourning Baghdadi.
What an inspiration, this man proved to us minorities that you can achieve anything you want if you really believe in yourself. Until his death, he was living his best life.


"I would never vote Republican in a presidential race. That staves off the disaster. Things have to fall hard before they get any better.” 
Paul Gottfried

"The writers of Newspapers, Pamphlets, Poems, Books, these are the working effective Church of a modern country." Carlyle, quoted by Maurice Cowling

"It seemed to me singularly ill-contrived for the British government to be going to war with Hitler when Hitler might have been about to attack the Russians, and even more ill-contrived that, when Hitler did attack the Russians, he had already defeated the French army. What I'm saying is that the war shouldn't have been started in September 1939...from the point of view of Britain, the war was really not a good thing and I would regard it as, in effect, a defeat."
Maurice Cowling

Monday 28 October 2019

'The post-Christian pope is rapidly making Rome pagan again'

The worst thing about not having read the UK papers daily for almost 20 years is the deaths one doesn't know about. Almost all our great men are now dead (I am not feeling so well myself) including Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the liberal candidate for the papacy in 1978 and 2005, though I am not sure if he was that great.

His obituary in the Daily Telegraph, the best place in the world for obituaries, contains this surprising passage.
"Reports in the Italian media claimed that he had received a significant number of votes in the initial rounds of balloting in the conclave; but a diary kept by an unidentified cardinal suggested that Martini was never a serious candidate, and that the only rival to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was another conservative, the Argentine Jorge Maria Bergoglio — like Martini, a Jesuit (there has never been a Jesuit Pope)."

Sunday 27 October 2019

Boris will get his election

I am a long way away but I am surprised at the wrong calls British political analysts make. Robert Peston, whose world view I cannot stand, argued repeatedly that Theresa May's negotiation would end in us leaving with no deal. I no longer bother reading him.

Mujtaba Rahman argued that Boris could not have an election because the House would not vote to give him one by a two-thirds majority, ignoring the fact that amending the FTPA requires only a simple majority. 

John Rentoul, whom I think fairly good, said today that amending the FTPA by a simple majority would not work because the SNP and Lib Dems - who want an election soon and before Brexit - would not let one happen unless the franchise was given to sixteen year olds - and that whipless Tory rebels would support this blatant vote-rigging.

I could not believe this for several reasons and it turns out that I was right. Boris looks set to amend the FTPA without lowering the voting age.

I still wish he gets Brexit done before he goes to the country but he, the SNP and  the Lib Dems think they can win more seats in a pre-Brexit election.

They may well all be right but Boris could be wrong. We could have a minority Labour


David Miliband, speaking on Friday.

Huawei: Is it the Americans who are spying on the world or the Chinese?

Boris Johnson, according to a report in the Sunday Times is likely to allow Huawei access to “non-contentious” parts of the 5G network. This will antagonise America, which has banned Huawei because it may be close to Chinese intelligence agencies. Is Huawei a security threat? It might be, if the CIA says so. 

Huawei’s rotating chairman, Guo Ping, said something interesting in February that has not been much spoken about. 
“The Snowden leaks shone a light on how the NSA’s leaders were seeking to ‘collect it all’ - every electronic communication sent, or phone call made, by everyone in the world, every day. The more Huawei gear is installed in the world’s networks, the harder it becomes for NSA to ‘collect it all’. Huawei hampers U.S. efforts to spy on whomever it wants.”

Saturday 26 October 2019

British population has grown by eight million in the last twenty years

In the 20 years before Labour came to office in 1997, despite Margaret Thatcher's government's British Nationality Act 1981 which sought to prevent all but family members of British subjects (secondary immigrants) from settling in the UK, the British population rose by 2 million. 

According to official figures from ONS (the Office for National Statistics) just out, in the 20 years since 1997 it has grown by 8 million. That increase comes from immigration and high birth-rates among immigrants. 

Philip Johnston in the Daily Telegraph says that
The greatest failure of modern British governance was to encourage mass immigration to the UK and fail to prepare for the impact it would have. It is at the root of much that afflicts the nation today, from the agony of Brexit to the near-terminal pressure on the NHS and the housing crisis with all its attendant consequences. As figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) confirmed this week, the last 20 years have seen the population rise faster than at any time in history.

Big Bad Wolf

I never took the American feminist Naomi Wolf seriously for a moment. Not simply because she was an American feminist (Camille Paglia is the only one I like) but because even by feminist standards she was so very silly (though very beautiful in her twenties). 

Her latest book said many Englishmen and boys were hanged for sodomy in Victorian England. She was wrong and was politely but irrefutably corrected in a live radio programme.  One has to feel for her for that. 

I had no idea how appalling she was until I read this lovely little piece by the wonderful Douglas Murray

In her first book, The Beauty Myth, that came out in 1991 she
"infamously claimed that 150,000 women were dying from anorexia-related

Gender-Specific Brain Cells Have Just Been Discovered Inside The Brains of Mice

'The theologians say that the soul has no sex, but I wonder. I very much wonder.' (Coleridge)

This news item dated 18 October was brought to my attention by the Anglo-Swedish writer Pelle Neroth Taylor.
Male and female mouse brains could have significant differences that reach right down to the cellular level, according to a new discovery.

Based on a reading of their genetic activity, neurons in a part of the mouse nervous system responsible for aggression and mating behaviours appear to be chemically structured in subtle but distinctly different ways between the two sexes.

These findings haven't been tested in other mammal species as yet, so we can't read too much into them. But it's a fascinating study that warrants further investigation in the brains of other animals.

Daily explosions in Sweden

It was only last year that the BBC Radio Four broadcast a programme which asked why right-wing people were obsessed by peaceful prosperous Sweden and failed to find an answer. Now even the BBC reports the violence that has become a daily feature in Swedish life. 

Indigenous Swedes are not the reason for this crime wave.

I wrote about it here.

These explosions of which Andrew Neil speaks have not resulted in injuries, thankfully, but it is a long way from the Stockholm we imagined until recently.

Persephone is the queen of the underworld who punishes cursed souls

Feminist bookshop and publisher Persephone Books does not want the custom and attendant free publicity from Dominic Cummings, Boris Johnson's adviser.

Why can't we all just get on? 

Discrimination, the defining issue of our times

When I was at university, before the last ice age, the fight against unfairness and discrimination was considered extremely important, but this is much more the case now. 

In the absence of any other moral imperative, now that Christianity is receding fast from the public space and the Cold War has been won, opposing discrimination has to fill the need that every society has for an overarching sense of purpose and the need everyone has for redemption and salvation. 

Every day in the papers are hundreds of stories on this theme.

Britain, or England as she used inaccurately to be called, has a conservative government, albeit a tottering one, and conservatives used to want society to evolve organically, by

Friday 25 October 2019

Boris is much more interested in winning an election than Brexit, though the two are closely linked

It is pretty obvious that at last a Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be able to get through Parliament fairly quickly, had Boris not ‘paused’ it. Ken Clarke said so and so do most people. That is or should be a triumph for Boris Johnson, even though the House of Commons voted, reasonably enough, not to scrutinise it in less than the time they gave the Circuses and Wild Animals Bill recently, which means the Prime Minister cannot meet his pledge to take the UK out of the EU ‘by 31 October do or die’. But the EU will agree a short extension.

Instead of banking the win Boris has pulled yet another surprise in this astonishing soap opera and is trying to call an election, something he does not have the power to do under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (FTPA).

It has been clear to me all along that what Boris is most interested in is not Brexit but winning an election, but an election will be  a huge risk for him and for the country - since the alternative to the Tories is a Trotskyite government. 

But I think much of the reason why Boris is calling an election is to dominate the news cycle and shift attention from the fact that he did not keep his promise to take the UK out of the EU by Hallowe'en do or die.

Fraser Nelson in the Telegraph points out that “C2DE” voters, blue-collar workers, prefer Boris to Jeremy Corbyn by 48 per cent to 18 per cent.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

John O' Sullivan's tweet worries me


I dunno, I feel like since Brexit came back after the mid season break, it’s lost it’s way somewhat. Too much about procedure. Where’s the human element that was in the earlier story arcs? The triumph and the tragedy, the laughter and the tears?


I’m not saying it’s jumped the shark - the season started off well, which few people expected after the previous script team was shown the door. But now it’s just parliamentary votes every episode.

“Culture is religion externalised"

This is profoundly true. Alice Smith tweeted it. She is apparently a descendent of Adam Smith.
If you think that culture can be separated from religion, you need to investigate the meaning of the word ‘culture’.
“Culture is religion externalised.”

The internet says someone called Joe Boot said it first. I wish I had coined it.

I have said repeatedly that economics is based on culture and culture is based on religion. Religion and culture are not, as Marx taught, produced by economics.

Religion cannot, however, be the only factor, or Protestant Jamaica would be as prosperous and law-abiding as C of E agnostic Hampshire or ex-Lutheran Jutland.

Someone replied to Miss Smith:

atheist's god is the state even though they refuse to admit it...

Tuesday 22 October 2019

The Fallen Idols

"On our first visit, a volunteer (pictured below) said the carved image “represents the revelation of the feminine mother with mother nature, which gives us nourishment.” 

Asked if it is the Pachamama, she said: “Yes, the mother, who cares for life, who gives nourishment to life, so it’s a very strong form of symbolism.” (Article on

Today, October 22nd, was the feast of St. Theodoret of Antioch, who was accused of having destroyed statues of the gods and was martyred under Julian the Apostate after the most atrocious torments were heaped upon him. He bore them all with great courage.

This week at Rome, during the controversial Synod discussing the future of Catholicism in the Amazon, wooden carvings of nude pregnant women that have been on display in a church were seized by a protester and cast into the Tiber in Rome.

The statues were given to the Pope by an Amazonian lady at the Synod’s opening tree-planting ceremony. She said they depicted "Our Lady of the Amazon".

However, Fr Giacomo Costa, a communications official for the synod, later said that the nude wooden figure of the pregnant woman is not the Virgin Mary, but a female figure representing life.

The statues or icons or idols, or whatever they are, now sleep with the fishes.

Brexit thoughts Tuesday morning - today is really the crunch day - we think

So the LibDems will support a second referendum. But, as @joswinson said on live TV, she would not accept the result of a 2nd referendum if it was Leave again.
Roll up, ladies and gentlemen, to have your vote disregarded a second time!
Who could resist?

For the DUP, the separate treatment of Northern Ireland is unacceptable. Yet when Theresa May went to the extreme length of keeping the whole of the UK in a closer arrangement with the EU to save them from this outcome, they were emphatically against that as well. They are also against leaving without a deal. Did it not occur to them when they campaigned for Brexit that it would be very likely to entail one of the three outcomes they are now against?

William Hague, yesterday in the Telegraph

Novelist Eilis O'Hanlon writing in the (Unionist) Belfast Telegraph

"So-called “Super Saturday” was a damp squib in the end, though at least Remainer MPs finally stopped pretending their only aim was to avoid no deal. They’re out to keep Britain in the EU, whether voters like it or not."

"In truth, it makes no more sense to say Boris betrayed the DUP than it does to say that

Monday 21 October 2019

Boris is Churchillian - and a Cavalier - but not a racist

Thank God Jeremy Hunt is not Prime Minister. Or Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsome, Rory Stewart or any of the others, most of all George Osborne. 

Tim Stanley was right when he gushed that Boris was wonderful on Saturday and might be right when he compared him to Churchill. All depends though on how things turn out.

Had Churchill died in 1939 he would be remembered as a fascinating failure who was responsible for the débâcle of the Dardanelles campaign (which is not true) and for encouraging Jinnah to argue for carving Pakistan out of India, as a way of defeating the movement for Indian independence.

Had Hitler not attacked any more countries after he annexed Czechia, Churchill would have been remembered as a warmonger. 

But if Boris resembles Churchill, he does so more in his Liberal than his Tory phase. 

But then Churchill was always an Edwardian Liberal Imperialist really, if he was ever anything.

Boris is so liberal he is almost an interesting, intelligent, eloquent and likeable version of Hillary, if such a thing is imaginable. 

But it isn't.

Boris, like Churchill, likes wars – he wanted to intervene in Syria to achieve regime change - public spending and social reform.

And Boris is a Tory in the sense that Churchill was: in the sense of having a cavalier sensibility.

Bagehot describes this perfectly.

...The essence of Toryism is enjoyment. Talk of the ways of spreading a wholesome conservatism throughout this country! Give painful lectures, distribute weary tracts (and perhaps this is as well,—you may be able to give an argumentative answer to a few objections, you may diffuse a distinct notion of the dignified dullness of politics); but as far as communicating and establishing your creed are concerned, try a little pleasure. The way to keep up old customs is to enjoy old customs; the way to be satisfied with the present state of things is to enjoy that state of things. Over the “Cavalier” mind this world passes with a thrill of delight; there is an exaltation in a daily event, zest in the “regular thing,” joy at an old feast.


Leninism was always terrorism and very comparable with other forms of nihilism, such as Islamist terrorism.

Sunset over the Telephone Palace

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A war between cities and provinces is breaking out

I gave up reading Roger Boyes many years ago. His banal analyses of Middle Eastern politics sounded like they were dictated by MI6 or the State Department. However I chanced across an article of his about the Polish government, about which I want to know much more. It is presiding over an unemployment rate of 3%, child benefit of £100 a month, a minimum wage of £800 a month and 5% economic growth last year. It is also Catholic, gives mothers incentives to have children and steers Poland away from the wilder shores of LGBT theory. It tried to restrict abortion.

Anne Applebaum hates the Polish government, which in itself inclines me like it. It is poles (no pun intended) apart from her globalist, liberal, pro-immigration world-view, which she shares with the FT and the Economist. So am I. 

Daniel Hannan: 'This is it: victory. Like Cincinnatus returning to his plough, we can leave the field with honour'

Ignore the misleading headline. This article is Daniel Hannan giving Boris's withdrawal agreement his warm support. 

This is important because he was one of the two or three best known Brexiteers before the referendum campaign started (the late Christopher Booker was another). He argued for a Swiss or Norwegian deal, not  hard Brexit all all. 

Nevertheless, he said that even staying in was better than Theresa May's WA and he was probably right. Her deal meant staying in a customs union with the EU, Boris's should mean a free trade agreement but the ability to make FTAs with other countries. Let's see see what deal Mr Trump can offer.

Brexit: where we are as Great Britain wakes up this morning

Blast that silly, giggling, woolly-minded intelligent fool, Sir Oliver Letwin, for stopping Boris's momentum and forcing him to break his pledge not to ask for a further delay to Brexit. 

Blast Boris for not preventing the Benn Act becoming law by advising Her Majesty to delay Royal Assent or by arranging a filibuster in the House of Lords. 

But it still looks like he has (just) a majority to pass his withdrawal agreement through Parliament in all its stages. Parliament may have to sit on Saturday again.

But it is nip and tuck.

A government source told the Telegraph:
“It’s on a knife-edge. Everything plays into this week. It is not just about Europe, it’s whether an election will happen this year. The idea is get the Bill through, and push for an election immediately.”
“Unless they get everything sorted this week, it probably won’t happen until the New Year.”
Boris hopes to win parliamentary backing for his deal today, though the Speaker may well prevent him putting back the same motion that the House discussed on Saturday. Tomorrow the Second Reading of the Bill will be debated and no amendments can be taken.

DUP could unite with Labour to try to force through an an amendment to the Bill which would compel the Government to pursue a customs union with Brussels. This would prevent barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. But Boris is thought to be very close to securing a majority with the support of around eight Labour MPs, a handful of independents and almost all the former Tories from whom he withdrew the whip.

Sunday 20 October 2019

The Dâmbovița in the late afternoon sun today

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The monstrous regiment of women in the Church of England

It only seems recently that the Church of England appointed its first bishopess and now they arrive not in single spies but in battalions. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury has been appointing as many women to suffragan posts as possible - four in one all women bunch this summer. The Church of England, instead of being didactic, will become therapeutic.

I am not an Anglican but what the Church of England does influences the whole of English society and, if there still is one, culture.

This article in the Spectator about the woman whom John Bercow insisted on making the first female chaplain of the House of Commons (the Rector of St Margaret's had before then always fulfilled this function), who has just been made Bishopess of Dover, makes dispiriting reading. 
'Hudson-Wilkin told an audience in Liverpool that she now refuses to take the children from her parish into St Paul’s Cathedral for confirmation because while ‘the congregation is diverse’, the clergy, she says, is something ‘completely different’. She went into her local Specsavers and harangued the management for having no photographs of black people modelling the specs,

Boris will get his deal passed, one way or another

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Did Boris really expect his deal to pass the Commons yesterday?

He knew he would not get the ten DUP MPs on board but he was determined to force it through by hope, faith and, in the case of vacillating MPs, charity. It’s a question of what would have once been called manliness but, in an age where women are politicians too, can instead be called forcefulness and determination.

It looks like, had a vote on the motion on his deal taken place, the Government would just have won it after a good whipping operation. (One whip was reported assaying, “It’s a tricky operation because on one hand we are telling Labour MPs is a case of deal or no deal and on the other we’re telling Spartans it’s a case of deal or no Brexit". )

We cannot know because Boris decided not to have a vote after the Letwin amendment passed and the motion ceased to be a binding one, but merely an indicative vote (remember them?)

Boris wins in any case, as the man who did everything he could and was defeated by MPs who did not want to honour the referendum result that they promised to honour when they stood for election last time.

People say the DUP have been hung out to dry by Boris, after they conceded the principle of customs checks in the North Sea. 

Perhaps they were played but, but they have been very stupid. They have foregone a wonderful deal they could have made with the EU and Westminster for slowly being talked into assenting to the deal and, as it sands, the deal they rejected would help the Northern Irish economy much more than leaving with no deal would. 

It would favour Protestant farmers who vote DUP and make also the province a gateway between the UK and the EU.

Yesterday's deal is significantly different from Mrs May's. It gets rid of the backstop rather than renaming it and it enables the UK to make free trade agreements with the USA and other countries. 

A customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be something normal between two sovereign states but the EU have been convinced that it would breach the Belfast Agreement and lead to violence. 

It would never be possible to rid them of this idea. Mrs May had accepted that it would not happen shortly after she became Prime Minister, one of her many unforced mistakes. 

That being so, this is probably the best deal we could get. If we have a free trade agreement with the EU, as Boris hopes, the customs border between Northern Ireland and the British mainland will not happen, though some checks will be necessary.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard dislikes the deal but thinks we should settle for it and points out that if Boris wins the next election after the deal is agreed,

"the negotiating dynamic with Brussels will be different in 2020. The EU will not be able to play off Westminster tribes against each other so easily. The cliff edge for the UK will be less severe since the May/Johnson deal does resolve a string of technical issues such as nuclear ties under Euratom or landing rights for aircraft, etc.
"This makes a WTO walk-out more plausible, and therefore more menacing for the EU as it tries to preserve its £95bn trade surplus with the UK (while offering no reciprocal access for services, of course)."

Olly Robbins was overheard in a bar saying the backstop would be a bridge to a deal - a deal that would pretty much be like remaining in a customs union with the EU. 

Boris's aim is to have a free trade agreement with the EU without the EU's excessive regulation. I hope for Canada dry but doubt the EU will wear it - but we shall have the threat of no deal to help persuade them.

Johnson last night sought to comply with the letter of the Benn Act while subverting it to prevent an extension. His aides spin that this could conclude with some of them in goal. It’s very unlikely indeed.

What happens next?

When the withdrawal bill is presented this week the rebels will seek to amend it to add a confirmatory referendum. If they fail it is still by no means certain that the bill will pass.
Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski has held private talks with senior figures in the Polish and Hungarian governments in the last 48 hours to persuade them to veto any proposed extension. No 10 does not expect them to agree.

Instead, the EU will presumably either delay replying to Boris’s unsigned letter sent at 11 pm last night asking for an extension or agree one for two weeks. In either case this will bring back the threat of no deal that the Benn Act sought to defuse and help the British government take the country out of the EU.

It looks to me that Boris has the political momentum to pass his bill and take us out of the EU this month or next. A lot depends on what the public think, funnily enough.

But a two week extension is of huge importance because it makes an election before Christmas impossible (because of Christmas bazaars in church halls).

If so, Boris may also get his Queen’s Speech passed, then a Budget passed and have the first January election since 1910, which resulted in a hung parliament with the Irish members holding the balance of power. 

That was followed by another election in the same year that produced another hung parliament and three years later the UK was on the brink of civil war, from which only a gunshot in Sarajevo saved us.

Saturday 19 October 2019

Stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband

Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice - stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband: 

It’s my view, based on nothing, that everyone should get to retweet the Cameron “chaos with Ed Miliband” tweet once.

I’m still saving mine up, on the basis that this is not peak chaos. Oh no, not even close.

In case you have forgotten, 'chaos with Ed Miliband' was the Tory theme in the 2015 election, in another age. 

After Theresa May resigned Ed Miliband changed his Twitter name to "Chaos with Ed Miliband". 

In the 2017 election Theresa May repeated over and over the phrase "Strong and stable" or "strong and stable leadership", a phrase she was told to use repeatedly by Sir Lynton Crosby. She said, in a meeting with her advisers, that the she didn't like the repetition of "strong and stable" which made her look "stupid", but she continued to repeat it anyway. So much for strength.

This is how bad things now are

I think the Professor (Peace & Conflict, Durham University) was in a self-satisfied coma when 17.4m people voted to leave the EU.
Quote Tweet
Roger Mac Ginty
Today a group of mainly white, privileged Englishmen get to vote on whether or not to make the lives of 70 million people more expensive and more complicated. That this is even up for debate says a lot about their privilege. #BrexitDebate
4:00 PM · Oct 19, 2019