Author Archive

March 16, 2015

Britain doesn’t have a foreign policy

Barack Obama, David Cameron

 

The Observer 14 February 2014

 

From the moment he took office, commentators said that David Cameron “looked like a prime minister”. However deferential their assumption that old Etonians were born to rule, they were right to concentrate on appearances. Cameron speaks his lines and plays his part. He is a lead rather than a leader. Britain’s acting prime minister.

Like a body double, his administration fills the roles history assigned it. We remain one of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. We still have the second strongest military force in Nato and the third largest economy in the European Union.

Yet as far as a convulsed Europe is concerned, Britain might as well not exist.

March 16, 2015

The campus censors defeat themselves

The Observer 7 February 2015

Today’s academics are like parents who expect the child they deserted to love them. The state is demanding that they spy on students who may have extreme ideas, but are not inciting violence. Panicked and outraged, intellectuals are embracing liberal principles they abandoned decades ago.

Twenty-four vice-chancellors wrote to the Times to protest that universities must be places where “lawful ideas can be voiced and debated without fear of reprisal”. So they should, but in Britain they are not. An army of 500 professors wrote to the Guardian to say campuses must be “centres for debate and open discussion, where received wisdom can be challenged”. That would make a welcome change too, because they are nothing of the sort at the moment. Peers in the House of Lords argued quite rightly that, rather than being banned from campuses, “non-violent extremists” should be “exposed, challenged and countered”. The noble lords forgot to point us to universities where such challenges can be found.

March 16, 2015

As a republican, I used to look forward to Charles III. Now I’m scared

Prince Of Wales And The Duchess Of Cornwall Visit Mexico - Day 3

March 16, 2015

How to become Putin’s public enemy Number 1

putin

From the Daily Beast 2 February 2015

Bill Browder was a highflying businessman in Moscow, until Putin turned on him. His new memoir details how dangerous it is to end up on the strongman’s bad side.
In 2013 I went to London’s notorious libel courts to gaze with anger and despair on yet another case that should never had come to trial. Pavel Karpov was suing Bill Browder, an investment fund manager, who had launched a devastating campaign against corrupt officials who had driven him out of Russia, and tortured and murdered his lawyer, SergeiMagnitsky.The retired major from Putin’s Interior Ministry Policewas appalledto be on Browder’s sanctions list. His luxuriously expensive lawyers claimed that Browder had not only defamed Karpov, but caused “moral suffering” to his tender frame. With evident regret, the judge stopped the hearing. Karpov had no reputation in England andtherefore could not sue. Lessdoltish observerswere struck by the Putin paradox, which niggles at everyone who watches the Kremlin.
read more »

March 16, 2015

Political correctness eats itself

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Spectator 28 January 2015.

A cretin writing in this morning’s Telegraph doesn’t understand the meaning of ‘cretin’. Just about every writer writing about Benedict Cumberbatch in every paper yesterday failed to understand that Cumberbatch was not a racist because he had said ‘coloured’ rather than ‘person of colour’.

Poor fool that he was, Cumberbatch had wanted to use his appearance on US television to complain about the lack of opportunities for black actors in Britain:

‘I think as far as coloured actors go, it gets really different in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here than in the UK, and that’s something that needs to change.’

After the battering he has received, I doubt if Cumberbatch will take the trouble to argue for fairer treatment for ethnic minority and working class actors again. Pursed lipped prudes, who damn others for their sexist, racist, homophobic and transphobic language, while doing nothing to confront real injustice, are characteristic figures of our time. As characteristic are well-meaning people abandoning good causes because they cannot take the prudes’ condemnations.

On its own terms, political correctness is self-defeating.

March 16, 2015

Rupert Murdoch and the police close down journalism

Lord Justice Leveson

The Observer 25 January 2015

 

Journalists must protect their sources. From whistleblowers revealing great secrets to exposés of everyday corruption and incompetence, few will talk if they fear they will lose their jobs or maybe more than their jobs. The police might arrest and jail them. In extreme cases, dictatorships or terrorists might kill them. Livelihood, liberty, life – all can be endangered when sources speak out.

March 16, 2015

The BBC: Blaming the Jews for attacks on Jews

Spectator 12 January 2104

Heaven forbid that such an atrocity should happen, but suppose white racists attacked a mosque today, murdering four people. Crowds gather to show solidarity with the dead. They profess support for their friends and families and their horror at sectarian murder. The assassins killed their victims for no other reason than they were Muslims. That was it. All they had done was stick to their faith.

A BBC reporter called Tim Wilcox joins the mourners, and buttonholes an elderly and not very articulate Asian lady.

March 16, 2015

Charlie Hebdo: Liberal Popes for violence

Pope Francis Visits Philippines

 

 

Observer 17 January 2105

 

 

He may once have been a bouncer, but the pope no longer looks like the kind of guy who can handle himself in a fight. Most opponents would fancy their chances of downing him with a knee to the pontifical plexus. Be in no doubt that, whatever his physical condition, the pope is still up for it. He will bellow the Latin equivalent of “come on then, if you think you’re hard enough” – “agite tentateque si fortiores vos putatis”, our classical correspondent tells me – and it will all kick off.

After saying that he believed in freedom of speech, as everyone does, Pope Francis added the inevitable “but,” as so many do. If a friend “says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch,” he told reporters. Insults to religion invite the same violent response as insults to his manly pride and family honour. “It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.” Or to put it another way, the Parisian satirists had it coming.

March 16, 2015

Paris attacks: unless we overcome fear, self-censorship will spread

The Charlie Hebdo gunmen in the street.

The Observer 11 January 2015

We have a blasphemy law. No electorate has approved it. No parliament has passed it. No judge supervises its application and no jury determines guilt beyond reasonable doubt. There’s no right of appeal. And the penalty is death. It is enforced not by a police bound by codes of conduct, but by a fear that dare not speak its name; a cowardice so total it lacks the courage to admit it is afraid.

The British are the world’s worst cowards.

March 16, 2015

Charlie Hebdo: 10 that ought to be self-evident

unnamed-20Spectator 7 January 2015

 

Religious murderers gunned down European freedom in Paris today. Tonight everyone is defiant. I am just back from a ‘Je suis Charlie’ vigil in Trafalgar Square, and the solidarity was good to see. I fear it won’t last. I may be wrong. Perhaps tomorrow’s papers and news programmes will prove their commitment to freedom by republishing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

But I doubt they will even have the courage to admit that they are too scared to show them. Instead we will have insidious articles, which condemn freedom of speech as a provocation and make weasel excuses for murder without having the guts to admit it.

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