Review: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar

Review of Tom Holland’s Dynasty

Observer 6 September 2015

Writers have always conscripted the Caesars to fight their battles. In 1934, Robert Graves turned Claudius into a liberal surrounded by tyrannical monsters, not so different from the tyrants who surrounded Graves in the 1930s. During the sexual revolution of the 1960s, Gore Vidal assailed Americans’ belief that monogamous heterosexuality was “normal” by showing them that the Roman emperors abused men and women, boys and girls with bisexual abandon. Contemporaries did indeed regard Claudius as an eccentric because he only wanted to sleep with women. But as the defining feature of tyrants is their tyranny, Claudius’s readiness to execute opponents for real and imagined treasons is more striking than his taste in concubines.

Continue reading

Labour is no longer a force for good in the world

Jeremy Corbyn encapsulated everything that was deceitful about his campaign to be leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition when he claimed he wanted to prioritise “the needs of the poor and the human rights of us all”. From the point of view of the poor and the oppressed, his words were a grim joke.

Like many from the Left’s dark corners, Corbyn does not believe in the human rights of “us all”. He is concerned only with the rights of those whose oppression is politically useful. If the oppressed’s suffering can be blamed on the West, he will defend them. If not, he is on their enemies’ side.

Continue reading

Corbyn or the Labour Party: One of them must go

Jeremy Corbyn is pictured as he arrives to address a speech in west London, on August 17, 2015.

Spectator 18 August 2015

I suppose I’d insult Jeremy Corbyn if I compared him to an American. Jews (sorry ‘Zionists’) and Ukrainians rank high in the far-left’s demonology. But Corbyn and his comrades agree that Americans are the worst.

So I should say that I mean no offence when I point out that ‘if Corbyn were American’ his campaign for the leadership of the Labour Party would make sense. Continue reading

Vienna’s Nazi legacy

From Standpoint September 2105

I don’t think I have hated a city so quickly and so thoroughly as I hated Vienna when I arrived in the mid-1990s. To me it was a chocolate-covered corpse. I had never had any trouble about visiting Germany. I admired the Germans for coming to terms with the legacies of Communism and Nazism and building a democratic republic. But Austria was something else.
Continue reading

Take a tip from waiters: workers’ rights are being destroyed



From theCommuter misery in London as striking tube workers shut down network

From the Observer 9 August 2015

This island race was once admired for its stiff upper lip, blitz spirit and sheer pluck. Unfortunately none of these admirable qualities can survive a strike. If London Underground stops for 24 hours, the press does not keep calm and carry on. It goes into a funk, as the Telegraph proved last week when it lost what self-control it possessed and screamed: “Let’s sack the lot of them”


Continue reading

Britain builds a fortress to keep out refugees

From the Observer 2 August 2015

I looked at Salah Mohammed Ali and wondered how he would be remembered if he died trying to reach the shores of England tonight. It was not a fanciful speculation.

Since 1 June, 10 refugees have died on the roads around Calais, at the port or inside the Channel tunnel. Their number included an Eritrean woman hit by a car last week on Calais’s urban motorway. A few days before, a Sudanese man had tried to jump on to the Eurostar. He misjudged the distance and the train smashed his head open. Worst of all was Samir, an Eritrean baby, who lived and died within the space of an hour. Her young mother fell from a truck heading to Dover. The fall triggered a premature birth and that was Samir’s life over before it had begun.

Continue reading