Monday, 31 October 2016

Europe Is Our Homeland: Douglas Murray wants to discuss asylum seekers from first principles

This video clip is well worth 6 minutes of your time.

Douglas Murray
 is wonderfully lucid on why Europe has to discuss what to do about asylum seekers before Europe is transformed. As he points out, Jews can go to Israel but gentiles have nowhere to flee to if asylum seekers transform Europe. The late Lord Weidenfeld made the same point on BBC radio not long before he died.

An ex-Muslim British Pakistani friend of mine made this comment on the clip.

He's very good but he doesn't emphasise that almost all asylum seekers are bogus and really nothing but economic opportunists. And bogus asylum isn't something recent either, it's been going on for decades. British people are incredibly gullible. You know I have yet to meet an 'asylum seeker' here who didn't admit to me he made it all up. Because I'm not white they expect me to pat them on the back for it.
Every day the nightmare gets worse. Today Reuters has this story on how Syrian refugees are shocked by how 'conservative' mosques in Germany are. 'Conservative', Reuters readers know, means unreasonable, extreme and baleful. Older readers will recall that the BBC described Chernenko and Ligachev as conservatives, despite the distance that separated their stern, unbending Bolshevism from the ideas of Edmund Burke.

Visit Havana this winter before it is too late

Get to Cuba this year, people. The BBC informed us this morning that Americans are starting to go there by direct flights. You have about six months at most. Havana is the most enchanting city I've ever visited.

Here is my account of my first visit.

Life in Bucharest has been transformed since the bloody events of December 1989 but three large apartments in a 1960s block in Mihai Eminescu have escaped the changes. Marked only by a discreet  flag and a yawning squaddie on guard they house the Cuban Embassy, a serene place where nothing much has altered since Fidel Castro’s Cuba and Nicolae Ceausescu’s Romania were friendly socialist countries. I was received there recently with immense kindness by the only two members of staff not on summer leave who spent some hours helping me find a cure for cancer.

In six years living in Romania my only regret has been for the Bucharest, ill-lit, somnambulant, other, that I glimpsed on a short and enthralling visit in 1990. That world by the time I came to live here in 1998, seemed one with Babylon and Nineveh, but very occasionally I remembered that that world had not wholly vanished. China and Vietnam might be parts of the global village, North Korea might perhaps be too sad a place evenfor me to enjoy, but there was still Cuba, now a fixture on the tourist circuit.
Romania shot her dictator and turned westward, but in Cuba socialism in one country defies the zeitgeist, despite or because of the  unremitting US blockade. And Cuba fascinated me too for many reasons, including an affection for Graham Greene’s timeless description of expat life in a seedy country in Our Man In HavanaI resolved to go there on holiday but in fact I went at very short notice in the height of summer, which in Cuba is the rainy season, and for an unusual reason. (Continued here.)

Trump as theatre

Some American said to me during the hanging chads imbroglio that 'we Americans sure do know how to make mini-series: OJ, Monica Lewinsky and now Florida.' I never understood why OJ mattered to non-Americans but since then we've had 9/11, as the Americans call it, the Iraq war (a tragedy in many episodes, not a mini-series), Lehman Bros and Donald Trump, in some ways strangest of all. Whatever your opinion of him, you must agree that this is such great theatre. A sort of political Rocky.

Sunday, 30 October 2016


“And when you’re a migrant, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
Iulia Belecciu

“We're all islands shouting lies to each other across seas of misunderstanding.” -- Rudyard Kipling, unknowingly describing Twitter
Matt Zoller Seitz

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Trollope was a sort of literary Canaletto

Anthony Trollope was a sort of literary Canaletto. 

Here he is talking to George Eliot about how he wrote his novels.


CORRECTION: For the last five months, we have been saying that James Comey, the Director of the FBI, is [hopelessly corrupt]/[a man of deep integrity] for discontinuing the investigation into Hillary Clinton.
We now realise he is [a man of deep integrity]/[hopelessly corrupt] for re-opening the investigation into Hillary Clinton.

Peter Risdon

Michael Gove on the Coalition We Need To Defeat Islamism

This is an interesting article by Michael Gove, whom I enormously admire, on how to defeat islamism.

Michael Gove is absolutely right when he says that
The ideology that poses such dangers is Islamism. Not Islam. Islamism.
And it is vital, absolutely critical, that we maintain that distinction.
Islam is a great religion which provides spiritual nourishment and moral guidance to millions. Its essential doctrines — the importance it places on charity and self-discipline, reverence for life and joy in God’s creation — should inspire admiration in people of other faiths and none.
Still he is a politician, not a scholar, and has a political end in mind, preventing British Muslims being alienated from Britain. 

Islamism is certainly an anti-colonialist movement. It does start in the 20th century, though there were earlier outbursts of zealotry like the Mahdi's rebellion in the Sudan. That was also anti-colonialist, but there were earlier fanatic movements like the Wahhabis. Is Wahhabi Saudi Arabia not an Islamist state? 

We who are not politicians but bystanders cannot ignore the fact that Islam gave rise to Islamism and to earlier outbreaks of fanaticism. Presumably Mahomet (though in truth we know nothing about him for sure) and his first successors, the 'Righteous Caliphs',
were also Islamists.

Parliamentary rule is the key to Britain's greatness

'After many European disappointments, we have rediscovered the key to our national success, which is not imperial, but parliamentary.' Charles Moore today in this article.

6 quotations

Interviewer: Could I ask you what failings in individuals, in others, you could most readily excuse?

Evelyn Waugh: Drunkenness.

Interviewer: Any others? Or are you so severe?

EW: (Slight pause) Anger. Lust. Dishonouring their father and mother. Coveting their neighbour's ox, ass, wife. Killing. I think there is almost nothing I can't excuse, except perhaps worshipping graven images. That seems idiotic.

Seven reasons to raise a child in Romania,and one reason not to

Romania is a wonderful place in which to bring up children, as this article "Seven reasons to raise a child in Romania, and one reason not to" suggests. The author, Debbie Stowe, could have added that private tutors are very cheap and you can easily pay for 1 to 1 full time tuition (EUR 300 a month should cover it) plus pay for extra things like Greek. Children play in the street, start conversations with passing adults and grow up in a civilised 1950s country - that is worth more than rubies. They grow up without feminist and PC indoctrination. Most people take the existence of God for granted.

Debbie neglects to say that Romanian children are left at home alone at a young age. Pace Debbie, thankfully not too many are taken to restaurants, which is a scourge in other Latin countries. Many children are just handed over to grandmothers.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Hard Brexit is a liberal solution

I think hard Brexit, low taxes and low regulations could be a success. And pure nineteenth century liberalism. Unsurprisingly the Liberal Democrats are passionately opposed.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

The greater the truth, the greater the libel: European report says British politicians failed to control the press

The European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), part of the Council of Europe, has issued a report criticising the British media for using 

offensive, discriminatory and provocative terminology
and blamed it for a supposed rise in racist and xenophobic attacks (in fact there wasn't one) after the Brexit vote.

It cited Katie Hopkins’ article in The Sun, where she likened refugees to “cockroaches” with the headline: 

Rescue boats? I’d use gunships to stop migrants.
The report urged the press to “take stock of the importance of responsible reporting, not only to avoid perpetuating prejudice and biased information, but also to avoid harm to targeted persons or vulnerable groups”. It specifically mentioned that the fuelling of prejudice against Muslims “showed a reckless disregard… for their safety” and complained that politicians have failed to control the press'
Have failed to control the press...
Political control of the press in England lapsed in the reign of King William III but is likely to make a comeback unless we are very lucky. Human rights are the enemy of freedom of speech, as of many other freedoms.

Camille Paglia on Donald Trump

But people want change and they’re sick of the establishment — so you get this great popular surge, like you had one as well… This idea that Trump represents such a threat to western civilisation — it’s often predicted about presidents and nothing ever happens — yet if Trump wins it will be an amazing moment of change because it would destroy the power structure of the Republican party, the power structure of the Democratic party and destroy the power of the media. It would be an incredible release of energy… at a moment of international tension and crisis.

Ancestral voices prophesying war in Syria

I do not like Putin's regime at all, absolutely do not condone what he has done in Ukraine, am aware of the war crimes of the Syrian government which Putin supports, but I see no sense in the UK or USA getting involved in Syria. I want the war in Syria to end as quickly as possible. And I note that the people who are most worried about Russia, like Anne Applebaum, Edward Lucas, The Economist, the European Commission etc are often the people least worried about migrants, Islam and Islamists, mass immigration into Europe - and wonder if this is a coincidence.

Russia has a GDP smaller than South Korea's. We accord them far too much importance. They are not the threat people think. I start to think the EU, which is a force for good in Eastern Europe, is more of a danger to Western Europe

How Romanians view Brexit

A few Romanians think it's magnificent of Britain to decide to leave the EU, but most are displeased, many very angry, because the only reason they can imagine why we are leaving is because of dislike of Eastern European immigrants. This hurts them all the more since the UK has so many non-white citizens.

They think we are even more arrogant then they already believed (which was very). They mostly don't believe that we simply want to make our own laws.

Among the politicians there is unhappiness about losing an ally at Brussels and incomprehension that we are leaving just because of a referendum. Referendum results in Romania are often simply ignored. Or even rigged. The result of the EU referendum here was widely believed to be rigged (so that the minimum turnout threshold was reached).

And Romanian politicians do not understand why David Cameron called a referendum just because he won an election on a promise to do so.

It all makes you proud to be British.

They also mostly think we won't really leave. And the lesson I draw is that no-one ever understands another country's politics.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016


Translations are like mistresses ... the faithful ones are apt to be ugly and the beautiful ones false. Ogden Nash

What would happen to the earth if the moon blew up tomorrow? Nothing. It is a social construct that needs to be fearlessly confronted. Alex Woodcock-Clarke

Did Abraham Lincoln want to deport people too?

The joke American Republicans are telling is that if Abraham Lincoln were alive today, he would vote for Trump. But since he's dead, he will most likely be voting for Hillary.

But how would Lincoln vote if he were alive today? 

I understand why people, including Republicans, say it's wrong that the party of Lincoln should nominate Donald Trump. He is of course less a Republican than a sort-of Democrat. However, Donald Trump's promise to deport illegal immigrants would be unlikely to deter Lincoln from voting for his party. Abe, after deciding to free the slaves, originally wanted to send all the freed slaves to Central America. 

It is not clear whether he had in mind deporting them. He hoped they would leave voluntarily.

In 1862, Lincoln invited a delegation of black men to the White House, the first time African Americans had been invited to the White House, to suggest this. He told them:
"Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoys. The aspiration of man is to enjoy equality with the best when free; but on this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a single man of ours.
...It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free coloured people to remain...." Continued here.


G.K. Chesterton said the dearest wish of any sane person was to be at a Christmas party again aged six and to be shy to be enough to be happy. 

I told that to Paul Johnson who said 
"And do you remember he also said that 'to remember what is was like to be six you only have to get down on your knees'?" 
So I did, at the inaugural meeting of the G K Chesterton Society, and it worked.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Dad's Army and the Matter of Britain

The death of Jimmy Perry, the creator of Dad's Army, prompts me to repost this article about the TV programme and the British myth. Since I wrote it, the referendum that David Cameron offered to prevent Tory voters defecting to UKIP has changed British history. It is once again ourselves alone - apart from, that is, Nato and the Americans.

Jonathan Freedland has written a thought-provoking, if condescending, article in The Guardian, likening Nigel Farage, the leader of the British Eurosceptic party UKIP, to Captain Mainwaring in Dad's Army. I think Private Walker is more apposite but let that pass.  (If you don't know the programme it is pointless for me to explain but you might enjoy this.)

I prefer to point out that Captain Mainwaring, Pooterish, self-important, ridiculous, was a hero, whereas his much more agreeable adjunct, Sergeant Wilson, intelligent, suave, funny and upper middle-class, was weak. Mainwaring would have laid down his life for his country. Wilson would have been a defeatist, perhaps a quisling, had the Germans conquered Sussex, at least if not carefully watched by Mainwaring. 

Actually, the real myth bequeathed by the Second World War is that fascism is still a great danger or will be in Europe in the next twenty years. Evil morphs. The nearest thing to a fascist threat today and for the foreseeable future comes from Muslim extremists, not anti immigration parties.

Going to war with Germany with 1939 was in any case catastrophic for Britain, for the country we ostensibly went to war to save, Poland, for our ally France - and for the whole world. This truth is obscured by heroic myths. Continued here.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Interesting - and scarcely reported

Trump is leading in Florida in early voting, and no Republican has ever won early voting in Florida, even when they've won the election.

Republicans 503,632, Democrats 483,019. Source is here.

Napoleon didn't win after all

From an interview I read a while back with Anthony Burgess from 1971, just before England joined the EEC. Now it seems Napoleon's victory was temporary.

I used to think that England might become just a place that liked to be visited—like that island in J. M. Barrie’s Mary Rose—but now I see that so many of the things worth seeing—old things—are disappearing so that England can become a huge Los Angeles, all motorways, getting about more important than actually getting anywhere. England is now going into Europe, not—as I had once expected and even hoped—America, and I think it will now have Europe’s faults without its virtues. The decimal coinage is a monstrosity, and soon there’ll be litres of beer, as in Nineteen Eighty-Four, and no cheap wine or caporal tobacco. Absorption, anyway, since England either has to absorb or be absorbed. Napoleon has won.

Of course we English never benefitted from cheap wine and smoking, banned in public enclosures, now costs a fortune. On the other hand, when England joined the EEC drinking wine was something most working-class and lower middle class families didn't do except on special occasions like Christmas. England has been Europeanised. The duvet invaded and took over, driving out sheets and blankets completely. Showers replaced baths. Sitting out in the street drinking cappuccinos became, as they now say, a thing, despite the weather. I much prefer this to Americanisation, the main theme of post-war English history.

Hallowe'en rears its ugly head again, a bit sooner each year

I am a very easy going man but three things do slightly annoy me. One, the Americanised international commercial celebration of Hallowe'en, which feels like American cultural imperialism, secondly the fact that people seem to talk about it all through October, BUT MOST OF ALL the way people miss off the apostrophe. That does annoy me. 

On the other hand, it's harmless fun and another excuse for Romanians to have parties, as if excuse were ever needed. 

On the third hand Romanians should mark St Andrew's Eve, which is the eve of my own natal day.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Seen on Facebook today

The far right is almost non-existent. Political danger comes entirely from the far left and the entitled centre that's started copying the far left's tactics.

The privileged and protected people of the centre, those who get money directly and indirectly from an ever-expanding state and ever-increasing regulatory burden that requires tithe payments to accountants, solicitors and the rest of the rent-seeking classes, have started copying the tactics of the far left. This group includes employees of state education (and health) systems.

They've started aggressively adopting the no-platforming tactics of the far left. We saw it with Brexit and we're seeing it in the US election. They're using aggression, lies and abuse, as well as actual violence sometimes, to make it socially and professionally impossible to hold views that conflict with their own.

Peter Risdon

The moral roots of liberals and conservatives.

Jonathan Haidt in this TED talk notes that “being open to new experiences” is a key predictor of political allegiance. Liberals crave novelty, new ideas, travel. Conservatives like dependability, routine, order and are low on openness to new experiences. 

Probably this is true, but I am very open to new experiences and new ideas, love travel, love foreigners, hate routine and convention yet become more and more conservative. I suppose I am a conservative for others but not for me or my close friends. 

What a difference a year makes

This is something I wrote from Beirut a year ago today. Then I thought it would shock or even anger many people. Now you'd have had to have lived in a cave for the last ten months to find it in the least surprising.
In Beirut. I asked my taxi driver about the refugees from Syria. They cause no problems, he said, "but we are a poor country". Then he mentioned the migrants in Europe and without stating mine I asked his opinion."It's very bad. I lived in Italy for ten years and know what they're like. They're thieves and bad people." I asked him his religion, a question that I know can cause offence in the Lebanon, to check for anti Muslim bias. "I'm half and half. My father's Muslim, my mother's Christian".

Conversation with a Professor of International Relations

This is a Facebook conversation with the same professor who, months ago, said to me "I reject the idea of countries".  He's a German, though he thinks that's irrelevant. The beautiful, unworldly spirituality and idealism of the Germans continues to so much harm. Twice they destroyed Europe by insane nationalism and now they seem to be doing so by insane internationalism. 

Prof: And yet the Home Office wants to send asylum seekers from Mosul back to Iraq

Me: Europe unfortunately has to stop taking asylum seekers - we can pay for them to be put in camps or poor countries - this will weed out the many economic refugees. The alternative is a complete transformation of Europe over the next century, unwanted by Europeans, and the end of ethnic states.

Bystander: Strange position for an emigre to take. What makes you such a special human being?

Me: Well I wish there were only 300 foreigners in Romania as in early 90s but those days are gone. We are not many though, max 100,000 all told out of 20 million - perhaps much fewer.

Prof: Foreigners are just people. I find all of this deeply repulsive

Saturday, 22 October 2016


The measure of a man's character is what he would do if he knew he never would be found out.
Lord Macaulay

I would rather be poor in a cottage full of books than a king without the desire to read.
Lord Macaulay 

Gallant little Wallonia

Wallonia, that submerged country, has vetoed the trade agreement between the EU and Canada. 

The Canadian Trade Minister, a lady, was in tears and said
"It is now evident to me, evident to Canada, that the European Union is incapable of reaching an agreement even with a country with European values such as Canada, even with a country as nice and as patient as Canada. Canada is disappointed. I am personally very disappointed. I worked very, very hard."
The UK may have to forget a deal with the EU and that might be no bad thing.

The EEC/EC/EU has been negotiating trade agreements for fifty years and you'd think they'd have agreements with most countries by now. Not a bit of it. Click on this map to see how few countries have concluded trade agreements with the EU.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Russian warships open fire on British civilians

As I type this, Russian ships are starting their passage through the English channel on their way to Syria, escorted by the Royal Navy every step of the way.

When the Russian Imperial Navy sailed close to the British coast in 1904 things went very badly. The Russian fleet was on its way to fight Japan. It had to go via the Atlantic as the British were allied to Japan and refused to let the Russians use the Suez canal. In Dogger bank the Russians spotted Scottish fishermen and assumed they were Japanese ships that had sailed round the world to ambush them. The Russians opened fire, three fishermen died and a number were wounded. The incident almost led to war between Britain and Russia.

Wikipedia tells the story.
The disaster of 21 October began in the evening, when the captain of the supply ship Kamchatka, which was last in the Russian line, took a passing Swedish ship for a Japanese torpedo boat and radioed that he was being attacked. Later that night, during fog, the officers on duty sighted the British trawlers, interpreted their signals incorrectly and classified them as Japanese torpedo boats, despite being more than 20,000 miles (30,000 km) from Japan. The Russian warships illuminated the trawlers with their searchlights and opened fire. The British trawler Crane was sunk, and its captain and first mate were killed. Four other trawlers were damaged, and six other fishermen were wounded, one of whom died a few months later. As the trawlers had their nets down, they were unable to flee and, in the general chaos, Russian ships shot at each other: the cruisers Aurora and Dmitrii Donskoi were taken for Japanese warships and bombarded by seven battleships sailing in formation, damaging both ships and killing a chaplain and at least one sailor and severely wounding another. During the pandemonium, several Russian ships signalled torpedoes had hit them, and on board the battleship Borodino rumours spread that the ship was being boarded by the Japanese, with some crews donning life vests and lying prone on the deck, and others drawing cutlasses. More serious losses to both sides were only avoided by the extremely low quality of Russian gunnery, with the battleship Oryol reportedly firing more than 500 shells without hitting anything.

What a tragedy that we shortly afterwards informally allied with Russia, instead of keeping close to the Ottoman Empire, which might otherwise still exist today, and keeping out of the First World War. And what a tragedy that, under pressure from the Americans, we let our alliance with Japan lapse in the 1920s. 

In fact British foreign policy is a series of mistakes since 1900, but perhaps even starting in the reign of William III. We were misled by the mistaken notion that we should prevent one power taking full control of the continent. Then, after 1973, we subscribed to the idea of being part of one continental power that could treat with the USA (and Russia) as an equal. 

Now a reset. It is time for blue sky rethinking  about British foreign policy.

I wonder what purpose is served by the UK remaining in Nato. The answer I have is that Nato is worthwhile for continental Europe, not for Britain, and would, I suppose, break up if we left, leaving the continent in disarray. 

After sixty years of confederation-building it is instructive that Europe is unable to take care of defending itself against post-Communist Russia, without Britain, the USA and Canada. 

And of course the real threats to Europe are not from Russia but from Islamists, Islamification, asylum seekers and mass migrations of peoples.  

Give war a chance

From yesterday's Daily Telegraph, which used to be a better newspaper than it is now.
"Russia aims to effectively end the war in Syria on the eve of the US election, Nato officials WARNED last night."  (My emphatic capital letters. Not important compared to bombed hospitals, but I'm sorry the Telegraph splits infinitives now.)
Why 'warned'? Don't we want an end to the war? 

Yes, I know the regime has committed many times more atrocities than has ISIS in Syria and that Russia has committed countless atrocities.

But what is the alternative? 

And is Nato more worried about civilian deaths or by geopolitics, the war between Saudis and Israel against Iran? 

Edward Luttwak is the best foreign policy analyst there is. In this piece he argues that we now live in a world of frozen conflicts, when outright victories for one side or another are often preferable. Like me, he thinks that we must hope Russia gets on with winning the war for the Syrian government. It is worth reading, like everything he writes.

Why doesn't Theresa May see this?

Because she is not very bright. 

But why doesn't Boris Johnson, who is? 

He has long favoured intervention in Syria. Like George W. Bush and many others he sees himself as a Churchill opposing appeasement. Putin is one in a very long line of leaders confused with Hitler, from Stalin and Nasser to Saddam and Gaddafi.

The evil that Hitler analogies have done is immeasurable and they become more and more frequent the further we get from the Second World War. Almost all of politics is a meditation on Hitler these days. It's the reason why Angela Merkel invited millions of Arabs and other random people without papers into Germany, the reason for the euro and why EU enthusiasts want to take even more power from member states, the reason for all the liberal wars that have caused so much suffering, bloodshed and chaos, the reason why European governments are frightened above all things of nationalism and racism. And are going exactly the right way about relighting those seemingly extinct fires.

In any case, I am not at all sure that the defeat of ISIS in Syria, if Russia and Assad ever get round to it, will be in either British or European interests. Much better, from a realpolitik point of view, if jihadis busy themselves in the Levant rather than in Birmingham or Nice.

Donald Trump was very funny today

This is an oddity after all the apocalyptic scenes and sheer nastiness in the debates.

Donald Trump was very, very funny at the Al Smith dinner (as Obama was last year at the annual political journalists' dinner). Hillary, even with scriptwriters, is not really. She reminds me of Mrs Thatcher misunderstanding the line written for her 'I say to Moses, keep taking the tablets' and wanting to replace tablets with pill.

I like politicians to be funny - Boris Johnson is, Michael Gove is, David Cameron too - Theresa May and Hillary are not, nor Margaret Thatcher. Churchill and Macmillan were - Callaghan and Wilson on occasion too. Tony Blair was a born actor (like Macmillan) and did wonderfully in this piece, but was not funny.

H.M. the Queen is drily funny. When Clare Short went to kiss hands on becoming a cabinet minister, her mobile telephone rang and she rummaged through her large bag, spewing the contents on the floor, before finding the telephone, which then rang off. The Queen said sweetly, "I do hope it wasn't anyone important."

Here is a 14 year-old boy giving a very funny impression of the three candidates, including Bernie. One commentator said he was sorry that the boy impersonated Trump because Trump should not be treated as if he were a respectable person. I understand that point of view which is why the jokes at the dinner surprised me - I expected Democrats to treat him as a pariah, an unclean thing.

Cavaliers today and yesterday

Bagehot's Essays are sadly little read. I loved them in my mid-teens. Especially his Essay on Macaulay which contains the line 'Macaulay did not have an experiencing nature'. I knew at once that it described my father, whose ideas were set firm. 

Bagehot, a prose writer as good or almost as good as Macaulay, soars on the subject of cavaliers, a subject that never ceases to be topical.

Here is Bagehot's description of the Cavalier mind.

There seem to be some characters who are not made for history, as there are some who are not made for old age. A Cavalier is always young. The buoyant life arises before us, rich in hope, strong in vigour, irregular in action; men young and ardent, “framed in the prodigality of nature”; open to every enjoyment, alive to every passion, eager, impulsive; brave without discipline, noble without principle; prizing luxury, despising danger; capable of high sentiment, but in each of whom the
“Addiction was to courses vain,
His companies unlettered, rude, and shallow,
His hours filled up with riots, banquets, sports,
And never noted in him any study,
Any retirement, any sequestration
From open haunts and popularity.”
...The political sentiment is part of the character; the essence of Toryism is enjoyment. Talk of the ways of spreading a wholesome conservatism throughout this country! Give painful lectures, distribute weary tracts (and perhaps this is as well,—you may be able to give an argumentative answer to a few objections, you may diffuse a distinct notion of the dignified dullness of politics); but as far as communicating and establishing your creed are concerned, try a little pleasure. The way to keep up old customs is to enjoy old customs; the way to be satisfied with the present state of things is to enjoy that state of things. Over the “Cavalier” mind this world passes with a thrill of delight; there is an exaltation in a daily event, zest in the “regular thing,” joy at an old feast.
Theresa May is a roundhead, as was Mrs Thatcher. Cameron for all his political correctness was a cavalier. Churchill too. Macmillan a bookish bore who tried to act the part of a cavalier? Most Labour men were Roundheads, but Roy Jenkins was a cavalier, as oddly enough was, in many ways, Nye Bevan. But Nye reminds me of Fox and Wilkes - were they cavaliers?

I think the cavaliers in America were defeated if not in the revolution then in the civil war. But probably in the revolution. America is Roundhead. Virginia was on the right side in both civil wars but capitulated in 1652.

Mrs. Clinton might be a corrupt roundhead, for all her fondness for a drink, but other presidential candidates do not fit into the template. There is nothing cavalier or roundhead about the teetotal Trump. Groping doesn't really fit into the picture either. More groping probably took place at taverns in the reign of Charles II, by the cavaliers' sons, than in the reign of his father. Perhaps George W Bush was a cavalier in his alcoholic youth.

The Daily Mail is lower middle-class but has, thanks to its website, reached a worldwide audience of cavaliers' wives and wannabees, who like to read about rich living and pretty women. The Guardian, of course, is roundhead. Its aversion to traditional Christian thinking on things like homosexuality and abortion does not disguise its noncomformist roots. Political correctness is essentially Calvinist, which is why it first took hold in the USA.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Pluralists, fascists and exiles

In Manhattan, my little island off the continent, I see the children of the global business elite marry each other and settle in London or New York or Mumbai. They send their children to the same schools and are alert to all class markers. And those elites, of Mumbai and Manhattan, do not often identify with, or see a connection to or an obligation toward, the rough, struggling people who live at the bottom in their countries. In fact, they fear them, and often devise ways, when home, of not having their wealth and worldly success fully noticed. Peggy Noonan.  
This comes from an article in the Wall St Journal called How Global Elites Forsake Their Countrymen which, I feel sure, inspired Theresa May's Tory party conference speech where she said, 'If you are a citizen of the world you are a citizen of nowhere.' Citizen of the world is an oxymoron, of course.
It is however, a dangerous illusion to suppose that the more pluralistic a society is, the more liberal it will be. John Kekes
I'm not a fan of multiculturalism, you only have to look at America to see the result, terrible food, everyone wearing blue jeans, drinking coca cola and listening to rock and roll. Multiculturalism is the opposite of diversity. Bunny Sheffield
Seems like the only lesson liberals learned from evolution is that God doesn't exist. They ignore/deny all the other stuff. Creationists. Peter Totman
There are two types of fascists: fascists and anti-fascists. Liviu Angheluta
The question of the stranger in a society which estranges everybody from it--while forcing everybody to assimilate their own alienation--takes cover under dubious and sinister masks. Norman Manea
The happy and powerful do not go into exile. Alexis de Tocqueville
When one thinks of all the people who support or have supported Fascism, one stands amazed at their diversity. What a crew! George Orwell

Only 15 Cambridge students voted against 'This house would open its doors to refugees'

James Delingpole, writing in today's Spectator, says that only 15 undergraduates voted against a Cambridge Union motion he defended that 'This house would open its doors to refugees'. 

And remember, Union members are way to the right of the general student body. 

At the Oxford Union it was the same story, except the Oxonians were much less polite and thoughtful.

Both universities, he says, have swung further to the left in the last decade. Right-wing students there are like Catholic recusants in Elizabethan England.

This is bad news for the future of England. 

Thank goodness, though, that at least we have Brexit. That was a hard slap in the face to Oxford and Cambridge and no mistake.

A Cambridge undergraduate told me in July that 85% of undergraduates voted Remain and the rest kept quiet about voting Leave (why?)

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

R.I.P. Elizabeth Ratiu

Mrs. Ratiu 2 years ago after voting for Klaus Iohannis at the Romanian Embassy in London.

I am very sad indeed to hear that Elizabeth Ratiu has died. I lunched with her once many years ago. She was a lovely and very intelligent lady and a great Romanian patriot. She became a Romanian citizen when she married Ion Ratiu in 1945. What a great First Lady of Romania she would have made.

When I lunched with her for some unknown reason the subject of the Holy Trinity came up - I cannot imagine why - or was it sermons? - and I said that someone once said that no -one ever preached a sermon on the subject of the Holy Trinity for more than four minutes without lapsing into heresy. She smiled sweetly and said 'I knew you were going to say that'.

She told me that she only met Olivia Manning once, at her publisher's, and they exchanged recipes but didn't talk about Romania. She also said she chose Ion Ratiu from among her many suitors (she was the Pilkington heiress) because he was the only one who believed in an ideal - freeing Romania.

US election quotes

Tweets I just saw from Louise Mensch, former British Conservative MP, now working for Rupert Murdoch in New York.

If you vote Trump you are the scum of the earth, a colluder in racism and 'deplorable' is too good for you. This means everyone.

Yes let's get this straight, it's cowardly to blame it on Trump and excuse his voters. These days 'elites' means 'people who aren't racist'

William McGurn, in the Wall St Journal:

They support him because they fear political correctness is making vital discussions about the country impossible—and conclude that any candidate who’s going to take this on is not going to be Miss Manners. They support him because they know what they will get if Mrs. Clinton wins, as now looks likely.  
They support him because they get the contempt dripping from Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton whenever the subject is the things they cherish: faith, patriotism, the decency of ordinary citizens, and so on. Above all, they support him because they also get that the elite contempt for Donald Trump is a proxy contempt for them.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

I want to give a breakfast party and fulfil a childhood ambition

Somerset Maugham said
It is not true that you can't eat well in England. You can eat better in England than in any other country in the world, so long as you eat breakfast three times a day.
I suddenly crave a full English breakfast with fried bread and black pudding.

Also an early Victorian breakfast party. With much kedgeree. And kidneys.

When 12 and reading about Macaulay's breakfast parties I dream of giving one - lashings of kedgeree. And champagne? I should so so this very weekend.

Catherine Sedgwick, a visiting American novelist, said that an English breakfast party starts around ten to eleven o'clock.

“The number of guests is never allowed to exceed twelve. The entertainment is little varied from our eight o'clock breakfasts. There are coffee, tea, chocolate, toast, rolls, grated beef and eggs, and in place of our solid beef-steaks, - broiled chickens, reindeers' tongues, sweetmeats, fruit and ices.”
I imagine the tongue was beef tongue (so delicious), not reindeer tongue.

Another American novelist, Mrs. Beecher Stowe:
“Looking around the table, and seeing how everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves, I said to Macaulay that these breakfast parties were a novelty to me; that we never had them in America, but that I thought them the most delightful form of social life. He seized upon the idea as he often does, and turned it playfully inside out, and shook it upon all sides, just as one might play with the lustres of a chandelier - to see them glitter. He expatiated on the merits of breakfast parties as compared with all other parties. He said, ‘You invite a man to dinner because you must invite him ; because cause you are acquainted with his grandfather, or it is proper you should; but you invite a man to breakfast because you want to see him. You may be sure if you are invited to breakfast, there is something agreeable about you.’ - This idea struck me as very sensible; and we all, generally, having the fact before our eyes that we were invited to breakfast, approved the sentiment."

Monday, 17 October 2016

England has no eternal friendships, only eternal interests

I hold with respect to alliances, that England is a Power sufficiently strong, sufficiently powerful, to steer her own course, and not to tie herself as an unnecessary appendage to the policy of any other Government. I hold that the real policy of England—apart from questions which involve her own particular interests, political or commercial—is to be the champion of justice and right; pursuing that course with moderation and prudence, not becoming the Quixote of the world, but giving the weight of her moral sanction and support wherever she thinks that justice is, and wherever she thinks that wrong has been done…I say that it is a narrow policy to suppose that this country or that is to be marked out as the eternal ally or the perpetual enemy of England. We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow… And if I might be allowed to express in one sentence the principle which I think ought to guide an English Minister, I would adopt the expression of Canning, and say that with every British Minister the interests of England ought to be the shibboleth of his policy.

Lord Palmerston, Liberal Foreign Secretary, House of Commons (1 March 1848).

Darwin considers whether to marry

'This is the Question. 

Marry: children (if it please God); constant companion (& friend in old age) who will feel interested in one; object to be beloved & played with — better than a dog anyhow; home & someone to take care of house; charms of music and female chit-chat. These things good for one's health — but terrible loss of time.

Not Marry: freedom to go where one liked; choice of Society and little of it; conversation of clever men at clubs; not forced to visit relatives, & to bend in every trifle; to have the expense and anxiety of children — perhaps quarrelling; loss of time; cannot read in the evenings; fatness and idleness; anxiety and responsibility; less money for books — if many children forced to gain one's bread . . .

Perhaps my wife won't like London; then the sentence is banishment & degradation into indolent, idle fool.'

Marry. QED.'

Secret Boris Johnson column favoured UK remaining in EU

A previously unpublished newspaper article written by British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson before the recent referendum campaign, in which he argued in favour of staying in the EU, somehow got into the hands of the Sunday Times. 

So what?

So he wrote out a pro and anti Brexit article, to see which one convinced him. Why not? His mistake was sending a copy of both articles to someone he thought was a friend.

It is well known that Boris was undecided, till Michael Gove persuaded him to back Brexit. Very many intelligent people I know were undecided until half way through, or changed their minds during, the campaign. Back in February my initial position was that we'd better stay in or Scotland would leave the UK. I now think Brexit makes Scottish secession slightly less likely than staying in.

And had Amber Rudd written a secret pro Brexit column would people make this fuss? I am sure lots of Tory MPs who were really Leave no doubt pretended to be Remain for career reasons.


Talking to an intelligent Englishman years ago about the EU, I said, 
'I don't want England to be governed by foreigners'. 
His reply was: 
'Isn't that racist?'

Sunday, 16 October 2016

The world is being rewritten as pulp fiction

It's like a very bad novel, isn't it? Donald Trump might be POTUS depending on what Julian Assange leaks, from the bedroom where he is effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

Not that the emails are having any effect so far. Partly because they are not written by or even to Hillary. Americans, and everyone else, are far too riveted by stories of Trump putting his hand up diverse skirts. Following on from the tape in which Trump boasts about groping fans.

I'm not even sure the groping is having that much effect either. Hillary is ahead in one poll by much the same 4% margin as she was before the tape was found. Another shows her way ahead, another even shows Trump leading. 

79% of Republicans are enthusiastic about their candidate, which compares with 81% of Democrats who enthuse about theirs. 

Mitt aroused much more enthusiasm than either of these two.

I don't blame anyone who thinks Trump is preferable to Hillary, but for me the groping, on top of all the man's other defects, was too much. 

Above all, because were Donald Trump to win he would make America seem ridiculous, a joke in bad taste. And that would reduce America's moral authority, soft power and dignity. It would thereby make the world even more dangerous.

And, yes, I know very well that he is the peace candidate and Hillary likely to start wars.

It's like Henry Kissinger said of the Iran-Iraq War.
What a shame they can't both lose.
(It was reported weeks ago, by the way, that Dr. Kissinger and George Schulz would jointly endorse Hillary, but instead they said that they will not endorse either candidate.)

I hope Trump loses narrowly and the GOP controls both House and Senate, meaning gridlock. I think gridlock is a very good thing. The fewer new laws that are made and the less power a president has the better. And I hope many of the ideas Donald Trump has expressed are taken up by a successful anti-globalist Republican candidate in four years' time.

Hillary may not have groped anyone (she seemed to look lecherously at Christina Aguilera's cleavage, but that's allowed), but we know from Assange that she did say, 
My dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders, some time in the future with energy that is as green and sustainable as we can get it, powering growth and opportunity for every person in the hemisphere.
So I certainly do not blame those who are going to vote for Trump. 

H.H. Asquith could not safely be left alone with young girls, but he was a pretty good Prime Minister on the whole, though a Liberal. He also drank too much and gave us the word 'squiffy'. Trump is a teetotaler. Still I feel Trump just won't do.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Cosmological argument for the existence of God

The best argument for the existence of God is found in 'The Sound of Music'. 
'Nothing came from nothing, nothing ever could.'
It is the basis of four of St. Thomas Aquinas's five arguments for the existence of God (which the saint did not call arguments but 'ways').

Wikipedia has collected them and many others here.

Friday, 14 October 2016


Circumstances do not make the man, they reveal him. 
James Allen

In America the President reigns for four years, and journalism governs for ever and ever. 
Oscar Wilde

So, all those people who have supported for decades the idea of the EEC/EC/EU overruling Parliament are now in shock because Parliamentary sovereignty is "being set aside" through a referendum voted for by Parliament. Good to see them speaking up for Parliamentary sovereignty after all this time. #Damascene conversion.
Helen Szamuely 

He pronounced it as his decided opinion, that these nefarious schemes would ere long appear before the public in their true light—that all the railway companies would be bankrupt, and that the old and happy mode of travelling on turnpike roads in chaises, carriages, and stages, would be restored.
Colonel Charles Sibthorp, MP in Hansard, House of Commons Debates, 4 February 1841 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Breasts are very powerful things. Discuss.

What a great general paper question for undergraduate historians that would make.

Off the top of my head, I'd mention Lola Montez (whose bust measured 50 inches) and the Bavarian revolution of 1848. 

Lola Montez was a courtesan and dancer, famous for her 'spider dance', which involved her being forced to disrobe because of a spider that crawled into her dress. Lola Montez was her stage name. She was an Irishwoman of good family and her real name was Marie Gilbert. She was a liberal (by the standards of Germany at the time) and, in the year in which she was King Ludwig's mistress and had a lot of power in Bavaria, she made an enemy of the Jesuits and the Church. Her unpopularity led to her royal lover losing his throne.

Had her bust been smaller, as someone said of Cleopatra's nose...

i was meant to be a historian.

I know about her bust from a curious 19th century medical book that I once dipped into. She approached the author, a doctor, to see if she could have her breasts reduced in size.

Of course tastes in beauty change. I think a character in a Noel Coward play said that when you see photographs of women who are well attested to have made entire trainfuls of men spontaneously stand up to look you find that they look like men themselves. I fail to see from photographs why many women were considered famous beauties, including Marie of Romania, who modestly said  that she was not necessarily the most beautiful woman in Europe but she was certainly the most beautiful queen.

There are some unflattering pictures of Lola but this one explains why the King of Bavaria was captivated.

Image result for lola montez

Why the sudden fall in value of the pound is nothing to worry about

'The chapter on the Fall of the Rupee you may omit. It is somewhat too sensational.' Miss Prism in "The Importance of Being Earnest"
My friend the writer Mark Griffith explains why the recent vertiginous drop in the value of the pound is nothing to worry about.

It's something similar to the big devaluation in 1993.  

That too was treated as a disaster, and used by many as an excuse for saying the Tories had "failed" and it was time to elect the ghastly Tony Blair four years later.

Bob Dylan has just won the Nobel Literature Prize

Professor Christopher Ricks, whom I never went to hear at university, famously thought Dylan, whom I've never heard, a fine poet. Q.E.D.

I must listen to the man's music but he seems as worthy as Pearl Buck and much more so than Obama, who was given the peace prize before he'd done anything, just for not being George W. Bush. 

Scotland will remain in the UK, partly because of Brexit

The Scottish Nationalists can only have one more referendum. If they lose again it's over. 

Of course they can only hold a referendum if Westminster lets them. If the SNP fights an election with a referendum in its manifesto it would give it leverage over Westminster, but they very recently had a referendum, so not that much leverage.

Much more importantly, the Scottish Nationalists will not ask for a referendum unless they are sure they will win. And they will not, in the foreseeable future, have a chance of winning. 

Scots will not vote to leave because they would have to leave the UK without - at least at first and very possibly ever - joining the EU. 

They might have left the UK while the UK remained in the EU, but even then it would have been impossible for them to have negotiated with the EU until after independence. The EU would not waive that rule because Spain (thinking of Catalonia), Romania (Transylvania) and Belgium (Flanders) would not permit it. And if the EU waived its rules the UK would not permit it. A penny of public money spent on negotiating with the EU would be ultra vires.

Leaving the UK without joining the EU means Scotland having to pay her own bills. 

To be truly independent and not subsidised by either England and Wales or Europe would be something the Scots simply could not contemplate. If Scotland were an independent country now, Scots would have the biggest deficit of any OECD member state.

Had the Scots voted for independence they would have achieved it in August of this year. The SNP during the referendum campaign forecast that North Sea oil revenues would be almost £8 billion by 2015/16. In reality, they came to £60 million. 

Nor will Scots like having to adopt the euro and having another currency from England and Wales - to say nothing of tariff barriers. Or a border between England and Wales.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has just been playing games since the referendum result. It is shocking that very few journalists understand this.