Friday, 2 December 2022

'For neo-cons it is always 1938' (Paul Gottfried): I am reading and thinking about Munich

As I mentioned, British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in July 1936 told Austen Chamberlain and Winston Churchill,

"I am not going to get this country into a war with anybody for the League of Nations or anybody else or for anything else. There is one danger, of course, which has probably been in all your minds—supposing the Russians and Germans got fighting and the French went in as the allies of Russia owing to that appalling pact they made; you would not feel you were obliged to go and help France, would you? If there is any fighting in Europe to be done, I should like to see the Bolshies and the Nazis doing it.”

In April and May 1938 Baldwin's successor Neville Chamberlain strongly pressed the French Prime Minister to renounce the French-Czechoslovak alliance, without success.

Chamberlain, like Baldwin, was not concerned about Czechoslovakia, a country whose fate did not affect British interests,  but about France. British military experts were almost unanimous that Germany would defeat France in a war unless Britain intervened. A Europe dominated by Germany and a German occupied Normandy was the threat to British interests.

Chamberlain and everyone else knew there was nothing Britain could do to help Czechoslovakia if Germany decided to destroy her. But France was bound by her alliance with Czechoslovakia. 

(France also had treaties of friendship, but not alliances, with Romania and Poland.) 

As British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax stated at a Cabinet meeting in March 1938, "Whether we liked or not, we had to admit the plain fact that we could not afford to see France overrun."

So it was not a desire to prevent Germany from undoing the 1919 settlement that concerned the British government,  but a clear-eyed assessment of British interests. 

A similar attitude made Attlee's government Cold Warriors in the late 1940s. They saw in Communist Russia another National Socialist Germany. I don't think Stalin was a threat to Italy, France or other democratic countries but it is easy to understand why the post-war British Labour Government thought so.

Whether or not the view, held since the 18th century, that preserving the balance of power in Europe was essential to protecting British interests was right, and I have many doubts, it was logical. 

By contrast, does the Russian invasion of Ukraine directly affect Britain? 

Perhaps not, but then Boris modelled himself on Churchill, not Baldwin or Chamberlain. 

However, Churchill was worried about German mastery of Europe threatening the British Empire, not by concern for the inviolability of Czechoslovakian borders. 

He was not a Wilsonian idealist. Very far from it, he believed in power, not morality, in foreign and colonial policy, and had campaigned for years against any concessions to natives in India. 

(Chamberlain, on the other hand, argued for the old Liberal principle of non interference in other countries, like John Bright and Richard Cobden had done and as the Labour Party had argued should be adopted towards Soviet Russia.)

The French Premier Daladier took the same line as Churchill when he told the British in a late April 1938 meeting that Hitler's real aim was to eventually secure "a domination of the Continent in comparison with which the ambitions of Napoleon were feeble..... Today, it is the turn of Czechoslovakia. Tomorrow, it will be of Poland and Roumania. When Germany has obtained the oil and wheat she needs, she will turn on the West. Certainly we must multiply our efforts to avoid war. But that will not be obtained unless Great Britain and France stick together, intervening in Prague for new concessions [to the Sudeten Germans] but declaring at the same time that they will safeguard the independence of Czechoslovakia. If, on the contrary, the Western Powers capitulate again, they will only precipitate the war they wish to avoid."

Was he right or were Baldwin and Chamberlain,  who thought Hitler wanted to attack Bolshevik Russia?

I'd say the latter. Redrawing German boundaries and acquiring living space in the East were surely Hitler’s objects, not marching into Paris.

In any case, France and Britain both pressed Prague to agree to concessions to the Sudeten Germans, to save France embarrassment. 

Yet in the end, despite arguing for war previously, Daladier made it clear that France would not go to war for Czechoslovakia, whatever Britain did. 

Britain, however, had tried to prevent a German invasion of Czechoslovakia, because of France's commitment to Czechoslovakia. Britain had sent Lord Runciman to Czechoslovakia to see if boundary changes could be made. For the first time Britain had accepted commitments in Europe. 

In the spring of 1939 Germany marched into Bohemia and Moravia. Chamberlain, in response, issued guarantees to Poland and Romania, to deter further aggression. 

This was Chamberlain's hope, at least. Halifax had decided after the Germans took Prague that Hitler had Napoleonic ambitions and that another world war was inevitable.

Hitler within an hour of hearing of the British guarantees asked his generals to draw up plans for an invasion of Poland. 

This is how wars begin, in a muddle. 

A muddle has led to the present war in the Ukraine and to Western response to it. 

In diplomacy and war everything is a muddle, always. Then myths are made and bad historians harden the myths into accepted fact.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022


'It takes a long time to become young.'
Pablo Picasso

‘Sixty years! Not so very long ago I thought this a very advanced age. When I was a child I was told that Methusalah and others lived even longer, but I never imagined for a moment that I should compete in such a class. Lately, I have not felt the same impression. Sixty now seems to me to be a very reasonable age, when man may still have vigour of mind and body with knowledge and experience besides.’ Churchill on his 60th birthday, 30 November 1934, a birthday he shares with Mark Twain, Palladio, Swift and me.

'Ancient person, for whom I
All the flattering youth defy,
Long be it ere thou grow old,
Aching, shaking, crazy, cold;
But still continue as thou art,
Ancient person of my heart.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Conformists are bigots

New census results today in England and Wales

White British people in several cities are in the minority.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data show that in 2011 the white British population of Birmingham was 581,000, or 52 per cent of the city. By 2021, 43 per cent, 491,000 people.

In London, the number fell from 45 per cent, or 4.9 million people in 2011, to 37 per cent, or 4.7 million people in 2021.

Most people in England and Wales say they are not Christians for the first time. 46% do. Only 25% of people in London are Christian, 15% are Muslim, 5% are Hindu, 5% belong to other religions and about half to none.

Monday, 28 November 2022


"Abroad is bloody."
King George VI to WH Auden

"There is a Talmudic saying," smiled Dr Frumpfausen ... "as follows. In choosing a friend, ascend a step. In choosing a wife, descend a step.

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Ribbentrop is the reason the Second World War broke out

Ribbentrop was the only member of the Travellers' Club to be hanged and was the main reason England, France and Germany went to war.

He was one of the most stupid men to have been Ambassador to the Court of St James. That's when he was elected to the club, like all ambassadors. 

He cultivated King Edward VIII, whose political views were similar to his own, and whom he thought dictated foreign policy. He even went to bed with Mrs Simpson. 

He told Hitler the abdication was caused by a Jewish-Masonic cabal.

Come to think of it,  the King may have thought the same. He told Hitler in1937 that he had been forced out because of his pro-German sympathies. 

I wonder what Mrs Simpson thought. 

In 1939, now Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop reassured Hitler that Britain would never go to war again, whatever the provocation, though it was very clear that it was probable that we would, after the annexation of Czechia and the guarantees to Poland and Romania. 

The latter was based on a deceit by the Romanian Ambassador, Viore Tilea, acting on Bob Boothby's suggestion. Tilea told the British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax that Germany had issued an ultimatum to Romania - when in fact she had issued an economic ultimatum, which is very different.

Hitler, who thought Ribbentrop a “genius . . . a second Bismarck”, invaded Poland.

When war was declared on Germany on 3rd September 1939, Hitler looked at Ribbentrop and asked him, 'What do we do now?"

Goering, who did not want a war, was right: “This war is Ribbentrop's doing.”

In the summer of 1936 Austen Chamberlain, the former Tory party leader, supported by Winston Churchill, requested a secret session of Parliament to discuss German rearmament but the Prime Minister, Stanley Baldwin, refused. He instead met Austen Chamberlain, Lord Salisbury and Churchill for two days, on 28 and 29 July, a meeting he considered a waste of time because they greatly exaggerated the extent of German rearmament.

On the second day, Baldwin said 

"Were the public to understand that Germany was arming to fight Britain? ‘We all know the German desire to move east.....And if he should move
east I should not break my heart.

"...I am not going to get this country into a war with anybody for the League of Nations or anybody else or for anything else. There is one danger, of course, which has probably been in all your minds—supposing the Russians and Germans got fighting and the French went in as the allies of Russia owing to that appalling pact they made; you would not feel you were obliged to go and help France, would you? If there is any fighting in Europe to be done, I should like to see the Bolshies and the Nazis doing it.”

How prescient Baldwin was and how unwise Britain and France were not to encourage a deal between Poland and Germany, allowing Germany to turn her attention to the USSR.

Had Baldwin still been in office during the Czechoslovakian crisis in 1938 how would he have handled it?

On the other hand, had Hitler kept his promise to Chamberlain to make no further territorial demands in Europe, Germany might still have a National Socialist government. 

That is assuming that Bolshevik Russia had not attacked Germany, as Victor Suvorov and recently two other historians have suggested was Stalin's plan, and defeated Hitler.

How interesting the might have beens of history are.

Adults make children and children make adults

People grow up when they get married. It is probably better to get married when you are young because then you grow up. And then what else matures people? I have met very few people who have fully matured who do not have children. I think there is a reason for that, a real technical reason. You are not mature until someone else matters more than you — period. Maybe that will be your wife or your husband, but probably not. They might matter as much as you, and maybe that is the right amount. But when you have children, they matter more than you, unless there is something seriously wrong with you. Very few parents, if push came to shove, would not die for their children. As soon as someone else matters more than you do in some fundamental sense, you have taken another step toward a true, mature responsibility. I do not see that you can do that without necessity, and there is nothing that screams necessity more than an infant. Jordan Peterson

The reason to distrust experts, especially historians

“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Schopenhauer

If you knew how quickly people forget the dead, you wouldn't care about fame. This thought was a revelation to me.

It came to me when I read this.

'If you knew how quickly people forget the dead… you would stop living to impress people.' Christopher Walken.

On the other hand, Horace's fame has not diminished though he went through a dip in the dark ages. "I have made me a monument more lasting than bronze."

Dr Johnson said 'Nothing odd will do long. Tristram Shandy didn't last.' But Shandy did and does. I knew I would love it but when I tried it I didn't finish the first chapter, which was odd as I adored The Sentimental Journey.

Note well

"Everyone believes in the atrocities of the enemy and disbelieves in those of his own side, without ever bothering to examine the evidence." Orwell

Generalisations are very useful, including this one

"An idea is always a generalisation, and generalisation is a property of thinking. To generalise means to think." Hegel

Were Wilde alive today, and not in gaol for child sex offences, whenever he uttered one of his beautiful aphorisms it would be met with, 'Oscar, you can't generalise'. And all the other aphorists would meet the same response from the dreary spirit of our pseudo-scientific, egalitarian-puritanical age.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Stop following the crowd... they are lost.

"Stop following the crowd... they are lost." Anonymous meme.

“Earlier this week, actor Marlon Brando met with Jewish leaders to apologise for comments he made on Larry King Live — among them, that ‘Hollywood is run by Jews.’ The Jewish leaders accepted the actor’s apology and announced that Brando is now free to work again.” The late Canadian comedian Norm Macdonald made this joke in 1996, on the US comedy programme 'Saturday Night Live'.

'Do you believe transgender women are women?' Differences of opinion by country


Monday, 21 November 2022


"Voting is the adult version of writing a letter to Santa." Klarn Mxyzptlk

"It is not a healthy female mind that sees her unborn child as the enemy." Gina Cross

"What music is more enchanting than the voices of young people, when you can't hear what they say?" Logan Pearsall Smith. When one envies the young just remember how lacking their conversation is - at least this is true of young men - clever women of 24 know a huge amount.

"anyone else think it’s super weird when people are quick to reject god and shun believers but at the same time are like “I believe in the power of the universe, trust the universe to guide you you” like what. who exactly do you think “the universe” is? and how is believing in an all-knowing, all-powerful “universe” functionally any different than believing in god?" Seen on Facebook

Hunting and killing black men for sport - did it happen?

Rumours say there were real manhunts in South America in the 19th century but it has never been proven. Big game hunters hunting and killing black men. I read this in an Edwardian travel book when I was a boy.

Saturday, 19 November 2022

Sunny morning

St Antim's statue stands outside the monastery he built 1713-15.

On January 22, 1941, during the 3 days the Iron Guard seized power, the monks of Antim armed themselves and, using explosives, blew up a synagogue on Antim Street. The numerous Jewish inhabitants of the neighborhood hid in terror. In 1982 the monastery was moved 250 yards on wheels to allow the building of the Boulevard of the Victory of Socialism which is 1 inch longer than the Champs Elysee and leads to the biggest building in Europe.

Monday, 14 November 2022

Happy Thanksgiving Day to the American cousins

 (First posted 2015.)

To my American friends celebrating Thanksgiving I wish them a happy occasion and remind them of a joke of Garrison Keillor, whom I love. 

"My ancestors were puritans from England. They arrived here in 1648 in the hope of finding greater restrictions than were permissible under English law at that time."
I am not sure what Thanksgiving is about but it is about puritans landing in America. G.K. Chesterton said,
"The English might very well establish another Thanksgiving Day to celebrate the happy fact that the Pilgrim Fathers left England."

Puritanism runs through American culture like Southend through a stick of Southend rock. 

The puritans, even more than the Pharisees, get a rather unfair press. I, for one, shall be sorry when the USA loses its Protestant religiosity which is what makes the country what it is. But even if Americans cease to be religious they will still be puritans, albeit, as they are now, debauched puritans. 

Political correctness is all about puritanism. One of the most attractive things about Orthodox countries, like Romania, is that they do not have puritans. It is Protestant countries like England and America that are bedevilled with them, like wasps in summer. 

On the other hand puritans are much better at book-keeping and probity in general than other faiths. It is no coincidence that Orthodox countries score above Catholic and Protestant ones in every index of corruption. 

Calvinism and puritanism flourish even after belief in God dies. When the left likes homosexuality and sexual freedom it does so for puritan reasons, not cavalier ones. 

Mr. Obama today likened the Syrian refugees whom he wants his country to accept to the pilgrim fathers.  He has a point. Muslims are puritans as well, of course, Calvinists plus polygamy, so maybe Muslim immigrants in America will fit in. I am sure that, unlike the original puritans, the Muslims will not displace the natives. They may, however, cause quite a few changes.

Saturday, 12 November 2022

Joseph de Maistre is a prophet

"Unhappily, history proves that war is, in a certain sense, the habitual state of mankind, which is to say that human blood must flow without interruption somewhere or other on the globe, and that for every nation, peace is only a respite."

I remember my supervisor Robert Tombs looking askance when I said I was attracted by Joseph de Maistre. I was right. He also said civilisation rests on the hangman, a statement of the obvious that the 189th century considered shocking. (I am not in favour on balance of hanging, but civilisation rests on the state's monopoly of lethal force.)

Friday, 11 November 2022


"Anybody who knows anything of history knows that great social changes are impossible without the feminine ferment. Social progress can be measured exactly. Social progress is exactly measured by the social status of the beautiful sex (the ugly ones included)." Karl Marx

"The three most powerful feminist voices in the world today are said to be: Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates and Amal Clooney. So my mother was right, after all, in her advice - “Marry a successful man!”" Mary Kenny. She forgot Hillary Clinton.

“Like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker.” Joseph Conrad

"What music is more enchanting than the voices of young people, when you can't hear what they say?" Logan Pearsall Smith

"Britain's anti-terror chief has been accused of a 'woke stunt' after he donned a special jacket that simulates menopausal hot flushes at Scotland Yard. Assistant Commissioner Matt Jukes, the Metropolitan Police's new 'HeForShe Gender Equality Lead', wore the 'Menovest' garment in a meeting to mark Menopause Awareness Month." The Daily Mail today.

“Battle is the most magnificent competition in which a human being can indulge. It brings out all that is best; it removes all that is base.” George S. Patton. 
I discovered that Patton was, even by the standards of Americans of his generation, astonishingly anti-Semitic, as this letter shows.

For readers who despair at the way the Western world is going, two things to remember

Nothing is inevitable until it happens. And the unexpected always happens. (AJP Taylor and Disraeli).

Thursday, 10 November 2022

US election is a piece of luck for the Republicans

The US election result is very good for Republicans and bad for Democrats. Biden can't win against Desantis, would have beaten Trump. Democrats must ditch Biden, but will they? 'Dr' Biden should tell him.

What are your favourite words?

Mine include dusk, oblivion and sepulchre. Melancholy choices and melancholy is another very beautiful word. I like the rather pompous words magniloquence, subliminal and serendipity.

I learnt just now that one John Koenig in his 'The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows' created the word vellichor and said that it meant the strange wistfulness of second hand bookshops "which are somehow infused with the passage of time". I don't consider it a word. Rather American to imagine one can create words, but Shakespeare invented lots and Sir Thomas Browne coined the words electricity, computer, hallucination, pathology, follicle, hallucination, illustrative, participating, ruminating, selection, transgressive, undulation, and variegation.

Scherzando Lucus-Box suggested berserk, filigree and verdigris.

Colin Cavendish-Jones suggested: marmoreal, pellucid, corybant, petrichor, sunset, lollygag, crimson, greengage, woebegone, glacial, liminal, iridescent, epiphany, defenestrate, patrician, snollygoster, sockdolager, absquatulate, footling, hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia.

Not many Anglo-Saxon words except dusk and greengage.

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

The world we have lost.

Please watch this fascinating film clip of British children in 1901. How much character each has. How many of them died in the Great War?

As my friend the late Hugo Lindsay said, no sentient being thinks things were on the whole better in the Edwardian era than now, but how much we have lost.

This intense longing for our lost home, the definition of nostalgia, is why I am a conservative. Nothing to do with economics or enthusiasm for Nato.

To quote another dead friend, the poetess (the word she preferred) Eva Weggelaar who died in her twenties: 'I want to go back to the real world but it no longer exists'.

Sunday, 6 November 2022

Augustin Trébuchon died at a quarter to 11 on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918

I remember my brilliant history master Dr Alan White speculating on the last man who died in the First World War just so that the armistice came at 11 o'clock on 11 November and not an hour or two sooner.

The last man who was killed on the Western Front in November 1918, we now know, but didn't when I was at school, was Augustin Trébuchon. 

This is his sad story. He was sent into battle after the armistice with the Germans had been signed. The French army, ashamed, recorded the date of his death as November 10.

The Germans had asked for an armistice on 9 November but it came into effect on 11 November. I should like to know why. Was Dr White right?

The decline of the West

“If we look at crime in Paris today, we cannot fail to see that at least half of the crime comes from people who are foreigners, either illegal immigrants or those who are waiting for a residence permit.” President Macron last week. Not long ago this is the sort of remark that got people like Marine Le Pen prosecuted.

It was only two or three weeks before the Charlie Hebdo massacre that charges against her were dropped for saying about Muslim areas in France

It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of neighbourhoods in which religious law applies. It is an occupation. There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow and it weighs on people.
Now her words are more politically correct, and Macron, who has always been keen on immigration and accepting refugees, wants to seem less so.

Neil Kinnock: “Christ, what a way to spend my forties”

'Neil Kinnock looked back on his nine years as [Labour] leader with a shudder. “Christ, what a way to spend my forties,” he said.'

I expect William Hague feels something similar.

'How do you achieve happiness? Achieve your childhood ambition.' 

I came across this remark attributed to Freud and often quoted it. In fact it is not from him and I start to doubt it's true.

My childhood ambition was to be an MP, Prime Minister and then made an earl. I'd never have been elected to anything, but achieving childhood ambitions do not necessarily make you happy. 

A friend of mine at college, who became a solicitor at Clifford Chance, was the only person in my Cambridge generation to become an MP. He is much more intelligent than most politicians but was not made a minister, tried to commit suicide and then was deselected after being cautioned by the police for allegedly hitting his girlfriend. Last thing I heard of him he was done for drinking under the influence.

Being Prime Minister didn't make John Major very happy, I'd guess. Theresa May, who was motivated only by vanity, must have enjoyed it in many ways but by God it must have been very painful - and much more painful for the now forgotten meteor Miss Truss.

Catholicism and homosexuality

The Belgian diocese of Liège has denounced as a destructive homophobic act the defacing of two photographs in its exhibition on modern families in its cathedral. One image showed two men and a boy. The message “the family model is a man and a woman, together they give life” was scrawled across the photographs. The story was reported on the French language public broadcaster's site under the headline, 'Transphobic vandalism'.

A Catholic priest in Ireland has provoked outrage and been condemned by his bishop and the Association of Catholic Priests, for saying in a sermon that practising homosexuals, like the Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, will go to hell unless they repent. Father Sheehey also condemned the promotion of sex between two men and two women, the “lunatic approach of transgenderism” and supplying condoms to teenagers. Some people walked out of the church during the sermon. 

The bishop apologised for the sermon and took him off the roster of locum priests.

The sermon is here.

The priest, Father Sheehey, was invited on radio and was asked if he believed “openly gay” people like Leo Varadkar are “going to hell”. He replied: “Absolutely if they don’t repent on sin and seek forgiveness. Because what they’re doing is contrary to the law of nature. Secondly, and more importantly, it’s contrary to the law of God. When you go against God, who is the author of life, you actually go against life itself.”

The Prime Minister said he profoundly disagreed but would defend the priest's right to say what he said.

My penny catechism says:

"The sins that are said to cry to God for vengeance are these four: (1) Wilful murder; (2) The sin of sodomy; (3) Oppression of the poor; (4) Defrauding labourers of their wages."

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Aris Roussinos in Unherd yesterday

'Who can doubt that if a nuclear exchange began, we would find out on Twitter — the shared countdown, the snarky memes — or that many would spend their final minutes composing the perfect final tweet, the one last dunk on their enemies or expression of tribal allegiance?'

Actors and actresses

"You don’t know who’s the man who’s making things he wants you to see. Destroy your television sets now. You must listen to no orders. That’s all I can tell you from this point in humanity. Believe me." Rick Mayall

It's a bit like the riddle 'All Cretans are liars'. He is ordering us not to listen to orders. He may be right, though.

Hyperinflation could result in “global societal collapse and civil or international strife”.

Elliott Management, the hedge fund founded by Wall Street billionaire Paul Singer, said in a letter to clients reported in the Financial Times, that the world economy faces an “extremely challenging” outlook and hyperinflation could result in “global societal collapse and civil or international strife”. It said central banks have been “dishonest” in deflecting blame for the price surge from their prolonged use of very cheap money.

And is it true? 

Friday, 4 November 2022

Hope springs eternal in my breast.

I hope very much that the German Chancellor, who is paying a visit to Peking, and the about to be Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu can broker a peace between Russia and the Ukraine.

I don't expect it though. I expect the war to continue, because no-one wants a peace. For that the Anglo-Americans are to blame, not France or Germany. 

American writer Julie Powell was pleased that "anti-vaxxers/maskers are dying in legions" of Covid and thought it a "real shame" that Justice Kavanaugh didn't die of it. May she rest in peace.


I suspect she is typical of many American Democrats and others in her hatred of anti-vaxxers/maskers. 

I honestly don't understand why the  centre left liked lockdowns and conservatives didn't.  I can't see any reason why politics has anything to do with it. But it was so.

The American centre left is very unpleasant indeed, very dangerous and dominates Europe and the world, even when a Republican is in the White House. 

On the other hand, the American centre right gave the world George W. Bush. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

"Non, je ne regrette rien" - well that's the plan

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has." Epictetus. 

The same goes for things I did and did not do.

Remorse, as Prince Andrew says in War and Peace, is the greatest evil in life.

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

The UK is being invaded, like Greece, Italy, Spain and the USA

The BBC, Sky News, the Times are all outraged at the British Home Secretary trying to turn away Albanian criminals from England's greenish and pleasant land.

The Times this morning:

'Senior Conservative MPs have warned that Suella Braverman risks fuelling support for far-right extremists after she described the Channel migrant crisis as an invasion.

I am as open-minded as get out

Did I tell you I scored 100% for open mindedness in the 5 Factors psychometric tests?

A friend of mine said to me once, "You seem to me to be a very open minded person, but I think that's something about yourself you don't like.'

Seen on social media

Feminist: I'll use my mother's surname.

Me: You mean your grandfather's.

Sunday, 30 October 2022

Andrew Neal tweeted this

Andrew Neal tweeted this: Taking Q2 this year with Q2 2021 the UK economy has grown 4.4%. Eurozone 4.3%. Germany 1.7%. France 4.2%. Italy 5%. I can see Brexit might have constrained growth in previous years. On these stats (from anti-Brexit Economist) I can’t see current constraint evidence.

The new normal, just so you know

According to the Sunday Times today, the British Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance) has told Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, “We don’t expect gas prices to return to normal this decade."

This applies to every country that doesn't have a source of cheap energy. 

More so to other countries. Great Britain, after all, has oil.

That's why Hungary, Serbia, India and most of the Third World have played nice with Russia.

This morning's quotations

"Many clever men like you have trusted to civilisation. Many clever Babylonians, many clever Egyptians, many clever men at the end of Rome. Can you tell me, in a world that is flagrant with the failures of civilisation, what there is particularly immortal about yours?" G.K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill

Friday, 28 October 2022

The 18th-century Schitul Maicilor

I finally found the 18th-century Schitul Maicilor open. I never tried in the morning before. It was the first church moved on wheels and was relocated 245 metres/ 278 yards away from its original site in 1982 by a wonderful man called Eugeniu Iordăchescu, the saviour of many of Bucharest’s churches.

Thursday, 27 October 2022

Russian universities ordered to teach anti Western ideology

'Russian universities ordered to teach anti-western ideology' (headline in The Times this evening). I am not sure I get this. Western universities have done this for decades so is anti western ideology anti western or western?

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Don't take the BBC on trust - before the referendum our GDP was 78% of Germany's - now it's 76%.

6 years ago, Facebook reminds me, I asked, 'Which is England's greatest enemy now we are leaving EU? The BBC, the Anglican clergy or asylum seekers?'

It was meant as a joke, people.

But that doesn't mean it wasn't true.

I might add the USA, nowadays.

But the BBC is one of the enemies.

BBC World TV is a deeply saddening way to start the day. 

A man called Jonathan Charles, presented as an expert but who turns out to be a former BBC reporter, talked about the challenges to the new British Prime Minister to get closer to the EU and how thanks to Brexit the British economy had gone from 90% of the size of Germany's before the referendum to 70%. He doubtless wants the UK to rejoin the Single Market. 

His figures were not corrected by the BBC, even though they have a department that exists to expose disinformation. 

But they were on Twitter, by Andrew Neil.

Andrew Neal's contract with the BBC, as you know, was not renewed, though he was their best man.

I can't help wishing Andrew Neil were Prime Minister, but am very hopeful about Richi. 

He is ferociously clever and best friends with James Forsythe of the Spectator who persuaded him to go into politics, and in favour of sending refugees to Rwanda, or so he says. He was anti-EU and a Thatcherite when Liz Truss was a Liberal Democrat arguing that the monarchy should be abolished and ten-year-olds should have the vote.

For some reason he is seen as on the left and Boris on the right- which is the reverse of the truth.

As for Liz Truss, her wasteful spending plans were the reverse of Thatcherite. People talk about 'vulgar Marxists'. She is a very vulgar Thatcherite indeed. 

If you like Thatcherites Rushi Sunak is one.

The change of British government is the catalyst for a Remainer media campaign to undo Brexit or at least get the UK back into the Single Market (which might have been an acceptable option in 2016). It won't succeed, at least until Labour returns to power. 
Julie Burchill wrote this yesterday: ''‘We’re the Sick Man Of Europe again!’ I heard a Remoaner gloat on the radio this week. It’s too much democracy, all these Prime Ministers coming and going - why can’t we just decided on one un-elected bureaucracy and stick with it?'

The BBC is the old Liberal Party, which retained its hold on British culture and  the liberal wings of Conservative and Labour Parties. 

A couple of days ago the BBC man purringly interviewed an EU Commissioner who complained that 7 million married women in the EU who stay at home would go out to work if given enough inducements. He did not suggest that there might be anything to be said for them staying at home, if they wanted to. 

Liberalism, which had much to be said for it in the 1930s, has morphed into the waking nightmare in which Western Europeans live. It hasn't really come to Eastern Europe yet but will. Canada has it worst of any country. The USA is the fons et origo of it all, by which I mean this pseudo-liberalism that started in the 1960s, but in the USA there is some strong resistance.

Meanwhile the Daily Mail is happy.

Tuesday, 25 October 2022

Lest we forget

What a difference 5 weeks make.

Rishi Sunak is the youngest and richest PM since the 19th century and the first not to be Christian or godless

Richi Sunak at 42 is the youngest British Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool, who was 41 when he took the job, was Prime Minister when Napoleon was defeated, served longer than Margaret Thatcher but is now chiefly remembered as the answer to difficult pub quiz questions. He is 18 years older than Pitt the Younger and older than lots of others, including Lord North who lost America. 

Will Mr Sunak resemble Pitt, Liverpool or North?

The richest man to become British Prime Minister was Disraeli's patron the Earl of Derby, who had a fortune in excess of £7 million (about £444 million in today's terms). Mr and Mrs. Sunak have about £730 million between them but most of that belongs to Mrs Sunak.

By the way some great statesmen have been hugely rich, including Wilberforce, who is responsible for abolishing slavery, and Shaftesbury thanks to whom chimneys being swept by boys stopped being a thing.

All our previous Prime Ministers were Christian to some extent (David Cameron plagiarised Boris's remark about his faith being like the reception for Magic FM in the Chilterns: it sort of comes and goes) apart from atheists like Macdonald, Attlee and Callaghan, a Baptist lay preacher who lost his faith. I don't think Churchill believed in God. I am not sure Bonar Law or Lloyd George did, though the latter loved singing hymns.

But they were Protestant atheists and, as they tell you in Northern Ireland, there is all the difference in the world between Catholic and Protestant atheists. 

Jewish and Muslim atheists are even more different.

Disraeli converted from Judaism to Protestantism at 12. I suspect he already wanted to go into politics.

The only two 20th century Prime Ministers who were buried in Westminster Abbey were not Christians. Macdonald was an atheist or at least some sort of deist. 
Chamberlain was a Unitarian and therefore did not believe that Jesus is God.

Mr. Sunak is a practicing Hindu. 

I wonder if his Hindu beliefs will get him into trouble. Tony Blair called for Glenn Hoddle, the manager of the England football team, to resign after expressing the view that disabled people are paying the price for sins in a previous life. Hoddle said that his beliefs had been misrepresented, but it didn't save him. It had become a witch-hunt.

I attended a wonderful week long Hindu-Sikh wedding in New Delhi and a Hindu I met there told me that 'Hinduism is what you make of it'. 

I do not know what Mr. Sunak makes of it. 

Like all other world religions it thinks wives should obey their husbands and takes a poor view of homosexual acts. On the other hand, Hindu philosophy also embraces the notion of a third sex, which encompasses trans, effeminate men and mannish women.

Monday, 24 October 2022

Habemus Richi

"As returning officer in the leadership election I can confirm that we have received one valid nomination." Rishi Sunak will meet the King and kiss hands tonight or tomorrow and be Prime Minister.  

Her drama school training and experience being sawn in half, as a magician's assistant, around the seaside resorts of England has given Penny a sense of the theatrical.  She dropped out of the race at literally the last moment.

Three narrow escapes

Britain is in a huge mess, not thanks to Brexit but thanks to the Conservative party. 

But there are three things for which to be grateful.

First that Theresa May did not win the 2017 election. That would have been fatal for everyone.

Second that Liz Truss announced her resignation as Prime Minister after six weeks.

Third that Boris gave up his leadership ambitions, for now, last night.

I wanted to get away from the news this weekend but failed. I tried to give up the news completely at the start of the year but 2022 was a bad year to do this.

My head said Boris would probably pass the threshold of a hundred nominations from MPs and could then, perhaps narrowly, win the members' ballot. My heart told me he wouldn't stand again and my intuition was right. 

Saturday, 22 October 2022

Communism was always terrorism

Very comparable with other forms of nihilism, such as Islamist terrorism.

Romanians are not politically correct

A Romanian acquaintance I bumped into in the park yesterday, Gio, blamed the current mess in the UK on Brexit and I explained that it was completely unconnected to Brexit. 

Was I right?

There is no obvious connection, though foreigners assume one, but I can't help remembering John Harris in the Observer saying George Dangerfield’s famous critique of the Liberal landslide of 1906, “from that victory they never recovered”, may apply to the referendum result and the 2019 landslide victory.

Gio added that leaders must be warriors and therefore women do not make good leaders. Not true of Mrs. Thatcher but true of Theresa May. Miss Truss certainly wasn't a happy warrior.

It's interesting that, apart from Gio, the people I know who said to me that women do not make good politicians are all women.

What do I think? I think they should appoint the best person for the job each time, without regard for sex. Margaret Thatcher, who said 'feminism is poison', became Tory leader despite plenty of prejudice against a woman. Theresa May, on the other hand, became Home Secretary because George Osborne told David Cameron there should be a woman among the three great offices of state. She did a truly awful job at the Home Office before doing a much worse one as Prime Minister. Liz Truss entered Parliament because she was on David Cameron A List, created to increase the number of women and non-white Conservative MPs.

Strada Blanari 2 years ago and in the 1960s


Strada Blanari in the old town was a slum when I first saw it in 1998 and still is, despite the semi gentrification of the rest of the area. It is so because the Communists in the Ceausescu era wanted the old town to be a slum. It was not in the early 1960s. Then it looked like this.

The king over the water is on his way back

As well as accurately saying Liz Truss was finished in a discussion onstage at the Cliveden Literary Festival last weekend, Michael Gove was asked whether he thought Lord Northcliffe, the press baron who founded the Daily Mail, would have been campaigning for Boris Johnson to make a comeback.

“He would have been campaigning for the maximum possible drama. There is of course a box-set element in which characters who drop out of the drama come back for later runs.”

I feel exactly the same.

One of the reasons I found myself thinking Donald Trump would win in 2016, despite very clever American Democrats assuring me it was impossible, is that victory for Hillary would have been such a dramatic let-down.

The return of the king over the water....

And it would have the advantage that the return of Boris would answer the question posed by protesters to Liz Truss during her speech at the party conference. 'Who voted for this?" 

People who argue for a general election because the Tories no longer have a mandate are also arguing for the second coming of Boris.

Nevertheless, I don't want him to return.

His Carbon Zero folly and wasteful spending on furloughs is inflicting and will inflict terrible poverty on his country. 

He wants millions more immigrants. Up to 3 million Chinese for a start.

He allegedly persuaded Mr Zelensky not to negotiate with Russia.

He was an obedient servant of America, in his last speech as PM in the Commons advising his successor to keep close to America.

He's a serial adulterer and liar. The House doesn't trust his word.

He is not able to run anything, let alone a country, though he sometimes delegates well.

The whims of his young and silly wife, about everything from fur coats to LGBT rights, seemed to be law with him and therefore the country.

He even wanted regime change in Syria when he was Foreign Secretary.

And many other sins that I cannot at present call to mind, as Catholics say in the confessional.

But I think he might well be back and he does make things fun.

One nice thing would be that his return would annoy the BBC, but maybe it's what they would like - they could continue gunning for him.

But even though the Beeb despises him he is not remotely conservative. No, my unenthusiastic choice is Richi.

Friday, 21 October 2022

This morning's quotations


If you think that people disagree with you about politics and/or economics only because they want to increase the amount of suffering in the world whereas you want to reduce it, then you probably need to reform yourself before you begin to try reforming the world.

“I love rebellion, and I love getting rid of things that have outlived their usefulness. Brexit is both – after years of treading water and trading away our autonomy for a pathetic package of Euro-portioned mediocrity.” Julie Burchill in 2018

"In the 1970s Britain tried being Belgium and didn't like it." Julie Buchill in the 1980s. I quote from memory.

“Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm; but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.” The Cocktail Party, TS Eliot

'All cases are unique, and very similar to others." Ibid.