Saturday, 25 June 2016

Like him or not, Nigel Farage is responsible for Brexit


Image result for if there is hope proles

Brexit is the biggest shock in my lifetime.

I said to the Portuguese ambassador last week, talking about I forget what EU policy, 'It's up to you, of course. We're off on Thursday". 


He gave me the smile a corpse gives the undertaker. But I didn't think for one moment that we really would be off. I went to bed at 3 yesterday morning unhappy, thinking Remain had won and was frozen in amazement at 6.45 the next day to open my browser and see the BBC call it for Leave.

I admit my feelings were mixed. Astonishment, pleasure but some fear too.

The electorate have let down the politicians very badly.

When the revolution finally came most (not all) of the left-wing middle class found they were on the side of the rich and the banks. Funny how things turn out.


It's a bit like when the crisis of capitalism finally occurred in 2008, as Stalin had predicted, and the far left was not there to take advantage. The centre-right not the left benefited. The old party divisions that we have had since the 1920s increasingly make less sense.

Nigel Farage is the man who did this. But poor David Cameron and Angela Merkel played equal parts. 

Whatever you think of him and you might loathe him, Nigel Farage, who is the reason this referendum was called, is one of the two politicians in post-1945 British history who changed the country the most. The other, of course, being Edward Heath.

The story of how an amateur, home-made, Ealing comedy party like UKIP, widely despised, directly or indirectly took Britain out of the EU is extraordinary. If it were a novel people would throw it away in disgust as absurdly far-fetched.

The same is true of the stories of Trump, Corbyn, the million migrants crossing Europe, the bizarre American row over transgender lavatories, ISIS, September 11th and so much else. God is not obliged to consider probabilities.

Mr Farage's referendum was hijacked by others and it's good that it was. I am reminded of what Reagan said, that there is no limit to what a man can do if he is content for others to take the credit.

He was not allowed to be part of the official Leave campaign, who were frightened he would make their brand toxic. in the eyes of many he would have done, but he had the wisdom to push immigration into the forefront of the campaign, knowing it was a much better issue for Leave than the economy. 

On the economy, Leave could not stand up to David Cameron's carefully choreographed Project Fear, but immigration let the Leave side instil its own share of fear. Making a major issue of Britain's support for Turkish membership of the EU must have won Leave many votes. It boxed David Cameron into a corner and showed him to have been very economical with the truth. It also enabled Leave to elide concerns about European and non-European immigration, although Brexit will not reduce and may increase non-European immigration.

I saw very few speeches during this campaign and none by Mr Farage, but this one, which i watched today, is remarkably good. He is a better speaker even than Messrs. Gove or Johnson. Why do many people in the UK dislike him so much? He predicted that "this will be a turnout referendum" and he was right. They were queuing round the block to vote. 

I am lost in admiration for the courage of the British people. It took a lot of courage to vote Leave. People thought very hard and in many cases changed and unchanged their minds.

It was absolutely not a result made on a whim, or from prejudice or knee-jerk reactions or to punish the government or taken unthinkingly. It was made very thoughtfully and there was an amazingly high turnout. No-one knows exactly what issues were in the minds of Brexit voters but they were surely many. 


It was not a plebiscite on immigration, though that was important. I think people didn't like being ruled by foreigners.

Had the referendum been held in a couple of years' time Brexit would have lost, because older voters were inclined to Leave and younger ones, educated in the pieties of internationalism and EU idealism, inclined to Remain. 

I am convinced that it will be hugely helpful to the rest of the EU. We might just have saved Europe from a totalitarian future once more.


I want to quote (again) these lines by Philip Larkin.




Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,

As epitaph:

He chucked up everything

And just cleared off,

And always the voice will sound

Certain you approve

This audacious, purifying,

Elemental move.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Let's enjoy the next week while Berlin and Brussels fear we might leave the EU


I firmly expect Great Britain to vote to stay in the EU next Thursday, but let's all enjoy every single blissful moment of these halcyon days when our German and other European rulers think we might leave. This is the last moment when Great Britain roused herself to become a free country. After we vote to stay in, it will probably resemble what Claude Cockburn's tutor told him life was like after Oxford: just a long slow slope to the grave.



Bertrand Russell said ‘Collective fear stimulates herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd’. I see a lot of this coming from the In camp who seem almost to hate or despise the Outs. Especially they seem to hate UKIP and despise the working classes. The viciousness is born of fear. I find it disgusting but it is what politics and democracy are about. 

Whatever your views on Brexit what a great argument this referendum is for lots more referendums. Though of course there is not really very much room in the EU for referendums.

The opinion polls today show Leave up to 7% ahead of Remain and the bookmakers, who are  always the best place to look, to find out what's going on  today give Leave an astonishingly high 30% chance. I give it a lot less (5-10%?) but what does impress me is that the polls are swinging towards Leave despite the attempts of the government the IMF and most of the establishment to terrify electors with stories of economic Armageddon.

And could we really leave?

I suppose yes!

And then?

Who knows?

The Germans could want to punish us very hard pour encourager les autres but this would do huge damage to the EU economy and especially Germany’s. The German Finance Minister says we will be booted out of the single market (the same Finance Minister who thinks if Germans do not take immigrants they will start committing incest – he really did say that recently). But I was more interested in what Juergen Hardt, senior CDU foreign policy spokesman, told Der Spiegel. If the UK votes to leave, he said the EU should gauge possible action to prevent a British exit from becoming a reality. “Brussels shouldn't close the door right away.”


I had dinner last night with a very Europhile British friend, 60, public school educated and well off, who is anguished that 'Literally ALL my British friends without exception want us to leave'. More than half his British friends live on the Continent, by the way.  

He made a number of weak arguments for staying in the EU. He said that all economists think we should stay (which is, of course, certainly not true) and that no former party leader thinks we should leave. I mentioned Michael Howard, Ian Duncan Smith, David Owen, Margaret Thatcher, Michael Foot. 

I could have mentioned Jeremy Corbyn who probably does not really want us to stay, but Corbyn is a name even less likely to persuade anyone than Foot's. Instead, I surprised him by mentioning Nigel Lawson. He had no idea that very experienced intelligent people like Howard and Lawson wanted us to leave.


Then he said that he thought nationals of other EU countries who live in the UK should have had a vote in the referendum. This was like the thirteenth stroke of the clock, that not only was not convincing in itself but cast doubt on the other twelve. I don't think he gets the idea of nationhood.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A revolutionary moment in Britain



The support in the opinion polls for Britain leaving the E.U. (exactly 50-50 these days) is the nearest the British have come to a revolution since 1848 - and that includes the General Strike of 1926 and the strange revolutionary moment when Diana died. The people (half of them) are battling against the political parties, big business, the banks, the Americans, the Europeans and even the Archbishop of Canterbury. How interesting that the left these days (including Jeremy Corbyn) is always opposed to revolutions.



Donald Trump, of course, is a revolutionary too.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

More Brexit referendum campaign thoughts


When you win, everything you did was an act of genius and when you lose, everything you did was the work of a fool. 

Ed Miliband


A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.

Ronald Reagan


We should change the name Conservative Party because we are not.

Margaret Thatcher


The constitution of 1795, like its predecessors, has been drawn up for Man. Now, there is no such thing in the world as Man. In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; I am even aware, thanks to Montesquieu, that one can be a Persian. But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life. If he exists, I certainly have no knowledge of him.

Joseph de Maistre

In a democracy people identify themselves as part of a first person plural—a 'we' established by inheritance and history.

Roger Scruton


We envisage few political evils worse than that of a government that controls us, but which we cannot control.

Roger Scruton

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Reaction to the referendum result anticipated by Philip Larkin



Reaction to the referendum result if the UK were to vote to leave the EU, as anticipated by Philip Larkin:

Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,

As epitaph:

He chucked up everything

And just cleared off,

Monday, 6 June 2016

Quotations for Monday



She was also incapacitated by much of daily life and had 'no aptitude whatsoever' for domesticity.


Sybille Bedford

Trump routinely deploys all the subversive transgressiveness that campus Leftists claim to value.

Camille Paglia


A lot of the craziness comes from cultural/ethnic issues—rural White Americans who feel they are losing their country, and they are right. They are losing their country. In the end, the power they now have will go away, but it’s a very difficult and dangerous time until then.


Paul Krugman, 2014

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Back in Cernauti/Chernivtsi

An unmistakable sense of freedom as soon as we arrive in Ukraine. A sense of normal people who think like human beings. A civilised place where people believe in God and love their country. Romania is like that too but is becoming EU-ised.

It took eleven hours to drive from Bucharest to Cernăuți instead of the eight we'd planned on. As happens every summer in Romania there were floods, a road was closed. At the border we waited over an hour. An argument for the European Union. All Romanian borders took half an hour to cross before she joined the EU.

This is my third visit to the Northern Bucovina and Cernăuți or Czernowitz. Cernăuți was its name when it was in Romania from 1919 to 1940. Chernivtsi is its Ukrainian name. Czernowitz was its name in the period of its prosperity, when it was the third city of the Austrian empire, in Austria's equivalent of the Wild West, and Yiddish and German speaking Jews made up much the largest and most influential ethnic group in the city.  

The city was at the same time a centre for Ukrainian, Romanian and Jewish nationalism. Now the streets are named after Ukrainian heroes, the Jews and Romanians are mostly gone and the great synagogue is a cinema - called by wags the Cine-gogue.

The Jews were mostly relocated and then killed by Romanian soldiers during the war, though the Romanian mayor persuaded the Romanian dictator, Marshal Antonescu, to spare twenty thousandThe surviving Jews mostly left for Israel or, recently, Germany. About a thousand remain. That is a small number but a Jew from Cernăuți, Volodymyr Groysman, became Ukrainian Prime Minister in April, belying American suspicions that Ukraine is an anti-Semitic country (though I suspect that it might be).