No cause is as dead as the campaign to provide an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Far-sighted politicians once found it intolerable that criminals could abuse and exploit the half a million among us who were living beyond the minimum wage, the tax system and the rule of law.
What image will social historians use to capture our times? Last week, after frenzied bidding, a drab garage next to a Camberwell industrial estate in what was once a cheap part of south London, sold for £550,000. That might do. No one who sniffs the air can fail to notice that London in the Osborne bubble has a whiff of Weimar Germany – but without the art or indeed the sex.
Yet alongside oligarchs buying the capital’s streets, and the Bank of England and Treasury pumping asset prices, we also have poverty that those of us who remember the recessions of the 1970s and 80s have not seen before.
While he was dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease, Tony Judt found the breath to educate those who believe they could ameliorate pain with soft words and bans on ‘inappropriate’ language.
“You describe everyone as having the same chances when actually some people have more chances than others. And with this cheating language of equality deep inequality is allowed to happen much more easily.”
All of which is a long way of saying that the global warming deniers have won. And please, can I have no emails from bed-wetting kidults blubbing that you can’t call us “global warming deniers ” because “denier” makes us sound like “Holocaust deniers”, and that means you are comparing us to Nazis? The evidence for man-made global warming is as final as the evidence of Auschwitz. No other word will do.
No child dreams of growing up to become a pharmacist. They are never romantic leads or action heroes in films. As far as a search of my bookshelves and the web can tell, they are not the heroes and heroines of novels either. Doctors, detectives and spies are everywhere, while the ignored pharmacist is nowhere to be seen.
To become a chemist is to choose a comfortable existence. At Boots they make around £38,000 on average. This money buys the kind of life the rich and the bohemian have always derided: the semi in suburbia with the spare room for the children; the annual holiday and the car on HP. It can sound dull until hard times fall on you or your society and you learn that ordinary achievements are not to be derided.
Shelter, like food, is essential for life. Without a home you have no place to lay your head and no place in the world to call your own. Even in rich countries, where they were once secure, homes have become precarious, as if sinkholes were opening under them.
A few figures from Danny Dorling’s brilliantly original study of our national obsession and national malaise explain why. No one can pretend now that we are moving towards a property-owning democracy. For the first time in a century, the share of homes rented privately has risen – up 6% between 2001 and 2011. In London and the south-east – and many cities outside – rents are extortionate.
Go to London or of any other Western capital and here is what you will not see. You will not see mass demonstrations against the Russian invasion of the Ukraine swaying down the same streets in which the liberal-left marched against the invasion of Iraq. You will not hear prominent left-wing voices emphasizing that Putin is attempting more than an invasion; that the Russian Federation – and what a benign word ‘federation’ is for a revived Tsarist autocracy – is the last of the European empires, and is seeking to expand its borders, as empires always do.
In short, the activist left will not tell its followers that we are witnessing imperialism: not ‘cultural imperialism’ or ‘neo-colonialism’ or any of those other catchall, thought-forbidding phrases, but the real thing
The most popular and critically acclaimed drama British television produces lacks drama’s basic component: a coherent plot. Few care. Commissioning editors and the viewing public acclaim Sherlock’s creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. The press loves them so much it covered their last series as if it were breaking news.
To give you an idea of how slapdash and infantile their writing is, consider one episode of the BBC programme, The Empty Hearse.
The guards who tortured Sergei Magnitsky at Moscow’s Matrosskaya Tishina prison, and refused to allow doctors to treat the pancreatitis that eventually killed him did not understand that they had fashioned a weapon for democracies to wield against dictatorships.
If you treat homosexuality as a genetic phenomenon, don’t be surprise if your enemies try to “cure it”
After Sochi, we can dispense with the notion that sportsmen and women are “role models” we should encourage our children to emulate. All the young would receive would-be masterclasses in cowardice and selfishness if they were foolish enough to take lessons from athletes.
At the time of going to press, not one competitor had raised a rainbow flag on the slopes of Sochi or a clenched fist on the medal podium.