From the Spectator 22 June 2015On the radio this morning, a campaigner from the Child Poverty Action Group had an ‘emperor’s new clothes’ moment. Why not, she said, treat the young like the old. If the Tories insisted on having a ‘triple lock’ on pension benefits for the elderly, which guaranteed that the state pension must increase every year by whatever target was the highest – inflation, average earnings or a minimum of 2.5 per cent – why not put a triple lock on the benefits of poor families. The state would then treat the young like the old, and subsidise the future as it subsidises the past. Read the rest of this entry »
The pretence that sportsmen and women are “role models” is impossible to maintain. It’s not just that no parent tells their teenage children to model their sex lives on premier league footballers or holds up Lewis Hamilton’s flight to a tax haven as a model of good citizenship. To be a member of the sporting “elite” is to live in a state of perpetual childhood without enjoying or even wanting the rights and responsibilities of a grown-up. Read the rest of this entry »
Islamist murderers in Europe follow a pattern. To paraphrase Pastor Niemöller, first they come for the free thinkers, then they come for the Jews. In Paris in January, Cherif and Said Kouachi slaughtered 11 cartoonists and editors at the offices of Charlie Hebdo because they had satirised Muhammad. Two days later, a fellow gang member murdered four Jews at the Hypercacher kosher supermarket a few miles away for no other reason than they were Jewish.
In February, Omar Abdel el-Hussein attacked a conference in Copenhagen discussing whether Islamism was the fascism of the 21st century. His target appeared to be Lars Vilks, who had drawn disobliging cartoons of Muhammad. But it could have been any one of the artists or writers present. El-Hussein couldn’t get past security so he shot and killed a film director and wounded three police officers who stood in his way before running off to murder a volunteer guarding Copenhagen’s Great Synagogue. Once again, his victim died for no other reason than he was Jewish.
Nothing seems clearer to me than the belief that you must support free thought and fight racist murderers. But in the world we are moving into, governments won’t let you do both. Read the rest of this entry »
It is impossible for anyone involved in politics to write without lying. The act of joining a party and committing to collective discipline compels loyalists to “take one for the team” when required. They do not want to give aid to their enemies or cause distress to their friends, so they avoid the questions that anyone else would ask automatically.
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour’s pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings during General Election campaigning.
I first saw Ed Miliband at the launch of a new book by Will Hutton. It was the autumn of 2010, and he had just become Labour’s leader. The party was full of leftish writers, who might be expected to help and support Miliband. But he didn’t want to charm them, or work the room and meet and greet. He just stood there awkward and alone. “Whatever his other qualities,” I thought, “this man isn’t a politician.” Read the rest of this entry »
It is not only Russian oligarchs and multinational corporations who run to the ‘capitalist courts’ — as we used to call them on the left. Have an argument with Len McCluskey and you find that the leader of Unite is prepared to spend his money, or more likely his members’ hard-earned dues, on hiring the libel lawyers of Carter-Ruck at £550 an hour (plus expenses, of course).
Carter-Ruck can charge a little more than the minimum wage because its many wealthy clients know that its lawyers will push as hard as they possibly can to defend clients’ interests, as our spat with McCluskey showed.