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.

Miss Truss's Little Outing

"The title of an Evelyn Waugh story seems appropriate to describe Liz Truss's short period in office - 'Excursion In Reality'." Irina Zvenigovo 

I thought of another story by Evelyn Waugh, Mr Loveday's Little Outing, about a lunatic released for a day who commits a murder, but that's much too dark.

"Liz Truss was dealt a bad hand and played it badly, but despite the broadcast media spending a fortnight treating every day as if it were Black Wednesday (which in reality was Golden Wednesday for the economy from then on), she did not ‘crash the economy’, as many have hysterically claimed. The economy was already in pieces and there is much worse to come. Goldman Sachs has already taken 0.6 per cent off the UK’s GDP forecast for 2023, partly because of the rise in Corporation Tax. (Don't forget Truss was not proposing a cut. Merely not implementing an increase. An important distinction our broadcast media have chosen to ignore.) There is nothing to celebrate about the return of an ‘orthodoxy’ that has brought us an insane housing market, negative real interest rates, double digit inflation, taxes at a 70 year high, exponential spending on the worst health service in Europe, £2.4 trillion of debt and lower wages than we had in 2008." Chris Carter

"If he [Boris] is back as PM a week today, it will be the most dramatic plot twist since Bobby Ewing woke up in the 1980s' television drama Dallas and revealed he had dreamt the entire previous series." Christopher Hope today in the Daily Telegraph

Thursday 20 October 2022

Come in number 56, your time is up

Pitt the Elder 2 years, 76 days
The Earl of Aberdeen 2 years, 42 days
Sir Anthony Eden 1 year, 279 days
The Earl of Wilmington 1 year, 119 days
Marquess of Rockingham 1 year, 113 days
The Earl of Rosebery 1 year, 109 days
The Duke of Grafton 1 year, 106 days
Lord Grenville 1 year, 42 days
Sir Alec Douglas-Home 363 days
The Earl of Bute 317 days
The Earl of Shelburne 266 days
The Duke of Devonshire 225 days
Andrew Bonar Law, who was dying, 211 days
Viscount Goderich, 144 days
George Canning, who died in office, 119 days
Liz Truss 45 days so far but has up to 8 days to go.

As the King said, oh dear oh dear.

Thank God she has resigned! Maybe this can all be forgotten?

'The moving finger writes and having writ moves on...'

'Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting. Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.'

'I have spoken to HM the King to notify him that I would be resigning as Prime Minister'. Thank God, thank God, thank God, thank God.

The dream team now would be Kemi as PM, Gove as her consigliere and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Richi as a very vindicated Chancellor of the Exchequer, Penny as Foreign Secretary, Suella as a tough Home Secretary.

The BBC man Chris Mason is terribly stupid, isn't he? He seems to think the next PM will be shamed into an early election.

Some levels of stupid are beyond belief.

I actually think Miss Truss is relieved because she must see that she is not up to the job or to being asked questions.

I never really thought there could be a worse PM than Theresa May but she was not only worse but much worse.

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Thank God she is going but is Brexit ruined and Tory England smashed?

An anonymous senior Conservative MP who is also a doctor told the Daily Telegraph: "I’d now be calling in the relatives to say it is hours not days."

Tuesday 18 October 2022

The herd is wise, but why doesn't it get a move on?

"However inconsistent politicians can be, that is not a quality of the electorate: when it makes a negative judgment of any political leader, it rarely changes its mind." Tom Harris today in the Daily Telegraph. Are there exceptions to to his rule? 

His aphorism reminds me of Edmund Burke's: "The individual is foolish; the multitude, for the moment is foolish, when they act without deliberation; but the species is wise, and, when time is given to it, as a species it always acts right." 

Or to quote Boris in his last speech to the House as Prime Minister “As we've seen at Westminster, the herd instinct is powerful. When the herd moves, it moves.” 

I hope it moves fast against Liz Truss.

Everything is theological

'Every major question in history is a religious question. It has more effect in moulding life than nationalism or a common language.' Hilaire Belloc.
Many people nowadays not only don't understand why religion is fundamental but don't think nations are either. Not all these people, by any means, are left-wing. 'Why can't we all just get along?', they ask. 

In fact they do believe in a religion, a secular religion of human rights, welfare, fairness and non-discrimination. 

It was all a bad dream

I hope Liz Truss goes this week and it can be as if my country woke up from a terrible dream.

If not, at least the mini-budget and her economic policy is a nightmare from which we have woken. 

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard last night: 

'Fiscal order has been restored at breath-taking speed. Jeremy Hunt has done exactly what you have to do in fast-moving crises of this nature.

'Dribbling out half-measures was never going to work. You have to outflank the markets with shock and awe moves that entirely change the conversation.

Monday 17 October 2022

Life dooms you to success

To enough success to prevent you trying something else.

This morning's quotations

In May 2016, George Osborne, the Conservative (of a liberal type) British Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance), told television presenter Robert Peston: “We look forward to working with whoever the next President is, whoever she may be.”
By July of that year he was on the back benches after the referendum he had opposed was won by Leave and the world of May 2016 had ceased to exist.

G.K. Chesterton said: “He is a very shallow critic who cannot see an eternal rebel in the heart of a conservative. "

"We take our bearings, daily, from others. To be sane is, to a great extent, to be sociable." - John Updike

Seen on Facebook ten years ago: I'm only on this earth making up the numbers.

Sunday 16 October 2022

An American Trump supporter tweeted: Describe President Donald Trump in two words.

My reply: sui generis.

Peter Hitchens today in the Mail

"Yes, Liz Truss is perhaps the most woefully unconvincing Prime Minister we have ever seen, but it is unfair to concentrate on her. Sir Anthony Blair is at least as dim, but is a better actor and had much better handlers. David Cameron was unable to cover up the fact he believed in nothing, but like the great actor George Sanders, he played the part of likeable bounder to perfection. Poor Theresa May should never have risen above the level of Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee of Trumpton Borough Council.

"But you will look in vain for another Margaret Thatcher or Denis Healey, a new Michael Heseltine or even a new Neil Kinnock, because all the parties have been captured by the deadly dogmas of equality and diversity. All live in fear of the BBC, which – like the medieval church – decides which ideas are acceptable and which are heretical, and will seek to destroy anyone who steps outside its chosen limits.

"You cannot now discuss whether the sexual revolution was a good thing. Parents must surrender their children to the power and ideas of the state. You cannot oppose multiculturalism or mass immigration.

"....I don't think Liz Truss has any consistent beliefs. So instead she bought some opinions on eBay. She posed as a free-market liberal (probably out of nothing more than ambition, since we know how easily she changes her mind). This is not an especially conservative view, but some people think it is. The trouble is that our economy, loaded with debt and taxes, is far too decrepit to cope with such measures. You can say you are going to stimulate it back to health, but you might as well try to turn a hobbling pensioner into an Olympic athlete by giving him a handful of amphetamines, an electric shock and a can of Red Bull."

Slightly unfair about David Cameron who never looked like a bounder (think Jonathan Aitken or Alan Clark, though both of them were not bounders but cads). Boris Johnson had the measure of Mr Cameron when he called him "girly swot" in the margin of a civil service memo and later tried to make it illegible. Sir A. Blair has animal cunning, which is the only intelligence a politician needs, to an amazing degree. 

Peter Hitchens points out that all three parties have lost their meaning and deceives himself that they can therefore be replaced. They can't. It's the same in the USA but parties there can reconstitute themselves because of the primary system,  which let Donald Trump become president.

The article is here.

Saturday 15 October 2022

Liz Truss in quotations

I am praying that Liz Truss goes quickly. The MPs during the endless campaign who said she was useless were understating it.

A quotation that came into my head and everyone else's was James Carville musing: “I used to think that if there was reincarnation, I wanted to come back as the president or the pope or a .400 baseball hitter. But now I want to come back as the bond market. You can intimidate everybody.”

Liz Truss’s Thatcherism is explained by Carl Schmitt's observation, “An historical truth is true only once.”

And then there's Groucho Marx: "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them…well, I have others.”

And Mike Tyson: "Everybody has a plan till you hit them in the mouth".

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, returning to London from the IMF meeting a day early, learnt about his sacking on Twitter, which reminded me of Lord Chancellor Kilmuir, who heard about his dismissal from the woolsack on the wireless.

Kilmuir: You have given me less notice than I would a housekeeper.
Harold Macmillan: But good housekeepers are so hard to find.

Kilmuir was one of seven cabinet ministers whom Macmillan fired that day, which led Jeremy Thorpe famously to say:

"Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his friends for his life".

Thorpe scored a palpable hit with that but was later accused of hiring a hitman to murder one of his friends, something Supermac would not have done.

Professor Matthew Goodwin, opinion pollster: “These numbers mean that Liz Truss is more unpopular than Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn ever were – she is basically in what I would call Prince Andrew territory.”

The Daily Express today:

"But for a woman who models herself on Margaret Thatcher of "the lady is not for turning" fame, Ms Truss has proven less an iron lady and more a woman of straw blown and buffeting in the winds of events.

"Her press conference lasted just eight minutes. Throughout the Prime Minister appeared to be on the verge of tears. She then just allowed four questions before fleeing the room at 9 Downing Street to bunker down again next door."

Matthew Parris on August 19:

"In Times columns I’ve offered my first impressions of this candidate. They were that she was intellectually shallow, her convictions wafer-thin; that she was driven by ambition pure and simple; that her manner was wooden and her ability to communicate convincingly to an electorate wider than the narrow band of Tory activists was virtually non-existent; that she was dangerously impulsive and headstrong, with a self-belief unattended by precaution; and that her leadership of the Conservative Party and our country would be a tragedy for both. “There’s nothing there,” I wrote last December, “nothing beyond a leaping self-confidence that’s almost endearing in its wide-eyed disregard for the forces of political gravity.” I likened any decision to follow Johnson with Truss to the doner kebab which, after a night on the tiles, momentarily seems like a good idea — until you open the bread pouch.

"...Stick to your first impressions. Liz Truss is a planet-sized mass of overconfidence and ambition teetering upon a pinhead of a political brain. It must all come crashing down.

"...She's crackers. It won't work."

Matthew Parris is of course right. 

Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer today ends a dull article rather cleverly:

"I think she’s finished. The outstanding question is how they will finish her off. It won’t be a regicide. 

"It will be an act of euthanasia."

Thursday 13 October 2022

'I'm just saying, if I got my dog vaccinated against rabies 3 times and he still got rabies, I'd have questions'

I was a lockdown sceptic, though not enough of one, but not a vaccine sceptic. I was vaccinated three times against Covid, but the vaccines were not what we were told. 

If I have time I'll look into the subject, but it's hard work because information about Covid vaccines is carefully hidden, like information about a very long list of subjects. 

(When was there less free speech in England? In the reign of King James II? No, probably that of James I or the first Elizabeth.)

It seems that a third vaccine doesn't do much or any good and I won't have any more. 

I admire the insouciance of an Anglo-Russian friend who didn't get vaccinated simply from laziness. She is a heroine of our times.

I also liked the meme that said 'I'm just saying, if I got my dog vaccinated against rabies 3 times and he still got rabies, I'd have questions'.

Here is Cristian Terheș, MEP speaking to an institution for which I don't usually I have much respect, the European Parliament, after the boss of Pfizer Albert Bourla refused to appear before a committee.
"They haven't tested the vaccine to see if it's stopping the spread of the virus. So we're asking again: what are they hiding?"
He is a Romanian who belongs to the PNTCD (National Peasants Christian Democratic Party) after being elected on the PSD (Social Democratic Party) list.

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Colo(u)r blind, fascist America


Graham Greene said everyone belonged to either the torturable or the untorturable class. In a comparable way, one half of mankind can be called Nazis, the other cannot, but it is sometimes hard knowing who is in which class. Black people nowadays can be Nazis, but not Jews, most right-wing politicians can but not ones like Anna Soubry who oppose Brexit. People who parade with swastikas in Ukraine should possibly not be called Nazis. People who oppose children being prescribed puberty blockers certainly can. 

The Nazis liked invading countries - but people like Nigel Farage or Ann Coulter, who don't want their country invaded, are the Nazis now. 

Pat Buchanan and Tucker Carlson are Nazis because they want to avoid wars.

The singer Kanye West is accused of propagating White Supremacist slogans this week, despite being black, and of antisemitism for saying Jews invented cancel culture. 

I thought this tweet was a good joke yesterday. Today, to my great surprise, I found that Occupy Democrats is not a parody account and the tweet was perfectly serious.

As you know, gentle reader, it is very often literally impossible to distinguish between parody and reality, satire and the news and hard left from hard right. 

Postscript 12 October.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

'The EU is planning to train up to 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the next two years'

The Times the day before yesterday: 'The EU is planning to train up to 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers on European soil in the next two years with operational headquarters in Germany and Poland.' I find this extremely depressing and alarming but we see how wars start and expand. I must reread AJP Taylor. Why is no-one apart from Donald Trump calling for a ceasefire and negotiations?

Instead Liz Truss and her Secretary of State for Defence want to increase defence spending. Why?

How can the UK possibly afford it and Carbon Zero?

Norman Tebbit on the BBC

'The word 'conservative' is used by the BBC as a portmanteau word of abuse for anyone whose views differ from the insufferable, smug, sanctimonious, naive, guilt-ridden, wet pink orthodoxy of that sunset home of the third-rate members of that third-rate decade, the nineteen-sixties.'

I couldn't agree more. I agreed then, even though I shared the BBC's disapproval of Margaret Thatcher. 

Betraying Kim Philby

According to archives just made public, Kim Philby fell in love with Flora Solomon, the daughter of a Jewish-Russian oil and gold tycoon, who had been the lover of Alexander Kerensky, the Russian leader deposed by Lenin. Her family had moved to England in 1914. She told MI5 in 1962 that Philby had tried to recruit her as a Soviet spy in 1937-38.

She described her "personal trinity" as "Russian soul, Jewish heart, British passport". She had supported Stalin until the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Germany but informed on Philby because of articles he published in the Observer criticising Israel.

Today is the feast of Pope St John XXIII


How beautiful a couple they were and how ugly the saint was. By the way, he was canonised by Pope Francis without any proof of miracles, for political reasons, to balance Pope St John Paul II who was canonised on the same day. 

So much of what Francis does seems to be aimed at dishing the conservatives. I wonder why he likes discord in the Church.

Sunday 9 October 2022

King Carol II was an habitué at Pasajul Englez, when it was an expensive brothel


Bucharest has two famous 19th century passageways, running off Calea Victoriei eastwards, Pasajul Victioriei and Pasajul Vilacrosse. I walk down both often. The latter is now full of bars and fun. It has a third one, much more secret, called Pasajul Englez.

jeweller Joseph Resch, whose shop was nearby, built a narrow house opposite what became the National Theatre, where Novotel is. The facade of Novotel is a copy of the facade of the National Theatre, which was destroyed by German bombs in 1944 (not British bombs, as I long thought). The house was bought in 1885 and transformed into first hughes Hotel, then the English Hotel. The English Passage, which connects Calea Victoriei with Strada Academiei, was built then, the hotel bedrooms lining the narrow passage.

The English Hotel was too small and narrow in shape. It failed to compete with the Continental, the Grand, the Boulevard and other nearby hotels and became instead a luxury brothel. The "girls" stood at the hotel's windows facing the passageway, where they could be admired by passing customers. King Carol II, who was a satyromaniac, was a customer. 

The writer Mateiu Caragiale writes about Pasjul Englez in his Rakes of the Old Court, a book that is on my coffee table waiting to be read.

In 1947 the largely Communist government closed down the brothels and the girls were replaced by permanent tenants and shops. Some tenants remain and my hatter, who is 93 and was apprenticed before the Communists abolished apprenticeships. He is very cheap.

I found this description on an interesting site, with much curious information about Calea Victoriei. I do not know when this was written- not in the last many years. It reminds me of Lawrence Durrell.

Is Liz Truss going to survive? What the Sunday papers say

Tim Shipman in the Times says Grant Shapps and Michael Gove are trying to organise the defenestration of Liz Truss. Very, very stupid of her not to give them positions in her cabinet. She is displaying the vindictiveness and lack of intelligence of Theresa May.

According to Mr Shipman, rumours have reached the whips of Michael Gove privately saying the biggest names should “get the old gang back together”. 

"One MP said: “Michael thinks Boris and Rishi should come together and get the show back on the road.” It is unclear how this might work, given that Sunak resigned from Johnson’s government and Johnson sacked Gove as an act of revenge for his betrayal in 2016."

This is not accurate. Mr. Johnson didn't fire him because of his betrayal in 2016 but his betrayal in July this year, when he (and plenty of others) told him he had to resign.

Mr Shipman says a former Downing Street aide told him, “Penny [Mordaunt]is full on manoeuvres. She told someone directly that she was restarting her campaign.” 

Another MP told him off the record: “The options are death if we stick with Liz or ridicule if we get someone else and right now ridicule seems preferable.” 

Felicity Cloake, 'Red Sauce Brown Sauce: A British Breakfast Odyssey'

"Looking at Victorian recipes and menus, everything from mushroom curry to fried sole was fair game. The quintessential ‘English’ breakfast is basically a 20th-century creation.”

Imagine there's no countries

Today is John Lennon's 82nd birthday. 

He will always be remembered for the beautiful and regrettable song Imagine.

Lennonism turned out to be more harmful even than Leninism.

Ray Bradbury saw it all coming

"They passed a law. Oh, it started very small. In 1950 and '60 it was a grain of sand. They began by controlling books of cartoons and then detective books and, of course, films, one way or another, one group or another, political bias, religious prejudice, union pressures; there was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves.”

The Martian Chronicles, 1950.

Thursday 6 October 2022

The Benin Bronzes, trophies of war, are to be given back. Here is some context.


What a big debt Africa, (like Asia and Latin America) owes white men.

People don't understand appeasement or 1938 or the horrors of war

I know I quote this over and over again. It keeps being topical.

"In 1938 Czechoslovakia was betrayed. In 1939 Poland was saved. Less than one hundred thousand Czechs died during the war. Six and a half million Poles were killed. Which was better – to be a betrayed Czech or a saved Pole?"

A.J.P. Taylor got the numbers wrong when he asked this question.

In fact, just between 5.6 and 5.8 million Poles died and 345,000 Czechoslovakians.

Is it better to be a saved Iraqi or Libyan than to have been left under Saddam's or Gadaffi's rule?

Would it be better to be a Syrian had the Americans intervened to overturn the very cruel Assad regime, which Hillary Clinton, 8 days before the 2016 election, said would be her 'top priority'? 

We shall see what is left of Ukraine at the end of this war. Russian generals think it might last ten years. Edward Luttwak mentioned seven. 

In the news

"Be yourself, your full, complete, whole-layered, sometimes weird, sometimes awesome but always best and true self…" Meghan, Duchess of Sussex in her latest podcast that Ruth Dudley Edwards describes as magnificently solipsistic.

“I have had many other adventures since. Yet this was the first and most important one. It set the tone for my whole life. It taught me that non-conformity in thought and deed is the only vital life. The individual is more important than the mass. Any single person can change history. MPs are the lest effectual of citizens. Political parties are for sheep-minds. Heresy is Godliness." Ian Hamilton who stole the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey in 1950 and who died on Monday.

“I realised that in every situation, whether I was right or wrong, I had to be strong. I had to be able to answer back.” Vladimir Putin in 2012, reflecting on fights as a schoolboy, quoted in today's Times.

Anastasiya Kashevarova, co-founder of independent Russian news outlet Daily Storm, on Saturday

Archbishop Carey wanted the UK to accept Christian but not Muslim refugees from Syria

 “Some will not like me saying this, but in recent years there has been too much Muslim mass immigration to Europe. This has resulted in ghettos of Muslim communities living parallel lives to mainstream society, following their own customs and even their own laws.” Retired Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey in the Sunday Telegraph in September 2015.

"This is a remark of such astonishingly pompous fatuity that it’s easy to believe the poor man is still archbishop of Canterbury – as he clearly does himself. How fortunate for the church, and indeed for English Christianity, that he is wrong, and that he has at last sunk to his proper level in society, as a man who has opinions for money in a newspaper." Andrew Brown in the Guardian.

Wednesday 5 October 2022

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Liz Truss is a disaster for Brexit

And she has been Prime Minister less than four weeks, half of that time taken up by mourning the Queen. 
Ed Conway in the Sunday Times on the British Government's loss of credibility.
'Once upon a time, Britain’s credibility came from its economic might and its management of the gold standard. Today, it probably derives from boring institutions that went out of fashion years ago: the Bank of England and its boring inflation target, the Treasury and its boring mandarins, the rule of law, a history of creditworthiness, long-dated bonds and boring fiscal rules, as well as bodies such as the OBR. I say “probably” because there is no definitive formula. But somehow this cocktail of components exerts a magical effect upon Britain’s currency and its bond prices, making them worth more than the sum of their parts.

'The best example of this dates back to May 6, 1997, the day Gordon Brown, chancellor at the time, gave the Bank of England independence to set interest rates. In one fell swoop, Britain’s cost of borrowing fell by half a percentage point. That might not sound like much, but it was a financial boost that in hindsight helps explain a decent chunk of Britain’s prosperity ever since. Those lower borrowing costs helped businesses and households invest even more in the coming years. It was a credibility windfall.

'...In practice, it was probably a bit of everything: the scale of the giveaway, the sidelining of the OBR, the firing of experienced Treasury boss Sir Tom Scholar and badmouthing of the Bank of England, the vague promise of more tax cuts over the weekend. Somehow this new government achieved in a few days something that none of its predecessors managed in decades: it inadvertently dismantled the credibility buffer helping to keep the markets aloft.'

The new useless British government did not just lose credibility in the markets but with Parliament and with electors. 

Liz Truss, as we suspected, is another Theresa May, albeit one who likes freedom not regulation. 

She is as much wedded to Carbon Zero and huge pointless increases in defence expenditure as Boris Johnson, just as keen for Ukraine to continue the war with Russia, just as obedient an American vassal, but unlike him she cannot sell. 

She humiliated herself and her country when she met Lavrov (against her officials' advice) and thought Rostov-on-Don was in the Ukraine. 

She humiliated herself and her country again last week. 

Isabel Oakshott said it is sexist to say that she is thick (which is odd and Miss Oakshott has called other women politicians stupid). Most politicians of both sexes are, as Lord Skidelsky said, inhumanly stupid and Liz Truss is certainly no exception, something else she has in common with Theresa May. 

It is a disgrace that her MPs, who knew what she was like and did not vote for her, put up with having La Truss foisted on them by Tory party members. 

They should rebel, just as Labour MPs should have got rid of Corbyn. But the House of Commons has lost its self-belief like every British institution from the monarchy downwards. 

It would be sexist to speak of a lack of virility. 

Half of British university students believe that those with conservative views are reluctant to express them at their university

Research by the Policy Institute at King’s College London, based on two new surveys of almost 2,500 British university students and a survey carried out in 2019, found that around a third of UK students say free speech is threatened in their university, up from a quarter in 2019, and half of students believe that those with conservative views are reluctant to express them at their university, up from 37 per cent in 2019. 

Ronald Reagan called universities islands of totalitarianism in a sea of freedom.  This was true of America in the 1980s, where the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech, but Britain after several Labour governments and 47 years in the European Economic Community and then the European Union is anything but a sea of freedom.

Sunday 2 October 2022

Who sabotaged the Nordstream pipeline?

A friend asked me today who I thought responsible for sabotaging the Nordstream pipeline. I hadn't thought about it and had gone along with the idea pushed in the British press that it was probably the Russians, even though I could see no reason for them doing so. Thinking about it, to my surprise, I realised it was very mysterious. 

Who benefits? Only the Americans and Ukrainians and the Ukrainians do not have the means to have done it.

This is Fred Weir today on Facebook, posting this article about America's sabotage of a Siberian oil pipeline in 1982.

It's just a long-standing fact that the US has never liked Germany's dependence on Russian energy, and even 4 decades ago was willing to resort to sabotage to undermine it. There are probably several actors with a strong interest in making Germany's divorce from the Russian gas pipe permanent and irreversible, but I don't have the sense that Russia is one of them. I don't suppose we'll ever know for sure, but I wouldn't be inclined to accept anyone's sanctimonious talking points at face value. I personally tend to resonate with the credo of the great Claud Cockburn, who was fond of saying "I never believe anything until it's been officially denied."

Saturday 1 October 2022

In Moscow, the generals are talking about a hundred years' war

Fred Weir, a Canadian and veteran Moscow correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, reports that, 'In Moscow, the generals are talking about a hundred years of war. That's a grim mood, but they might well mean it.'

That's worse than Edward Luttwak's prediction of another Seven Years' War, which reminds me that someone supposedly wrote a play in which a character comes on stage and says, 'The Seven Years' War has broken out'.

Why is big business Woke? A good explanation.

This 55 second clip about Woke is very illuminating -'Just call it fascism' says Jordan Peterson at the end. 

I don't know who spoke for the first 50 seconds.

Giorgia Meloni champions the traditional family, Christianity and the traditional ideas of two sexes rather than many genders, something rare in Western Europe. None of the candidates for leadership of the British Conservative party and therefore British Prime Minister did so. She blames Woke on international financiers and multinational businesses who want to replace traditions with consumerism. This may seem unlikely but big business has become socially liberal and the clip gives a plausible explanation for why.

Toby Young wrote about this three years ago. PayPal since closed his account with them because they disliked his politics, but were forced to reopen it.

I really don't understand why people think Jordan Peterson is right-wing. He's not. He's not really political at all or wasn't when he first became a cause celebre. His ideas are the common sense of writers from ancient Greece onwards, as anyone who spent his youth reading old books knows. 

But perhaps common sense is now right-wing.

New Zealand PM tells UN expressing bad ideas about the climate etc is a weapon of war

“After all, how do you successfully end a war if people are led to believe the reason for its existence is not only legal but noble? How do you tackle climate change if people do not believe it exists? How do you ensure the human rights of others are upheld, when they are subjected to hateful and dangerous rhetoric and ideology?”

In Europe censorship of bad ideas, about people but not about the weather, has been considered normal since the 1960s. It is perhaps the saddest thing that happened in my lifetime. In America, happily, restricting freedom of speech is still considered authoritarian and undemocratic. 

Many Muslim countries have said at the UN that they want insulting the Prophet to become illegal worldwide under international law.

Glenn Greenwald
This is the face of authoritarianism - even though it looks different than you were taught to expect. And it's the mindset of tyrants everywhere: This is someone so inebriated by her sense of righteousness and superiority that she views dissent as an evil too dangerous to allow:
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PM Jacinda Ardern calls internet freedom a “weapon of war” in most recent UN speech. Calls for a new type of internet with “rules and transparency”. “How do you tackle climate change if people don’t believe it exists”. Source: