Archive for ‘Uncategorized’

March 17, 2015

In defence of Hilary Mantel

Playing his cards close to his chest: Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell in the BBC adaptation of “Wolf Hall” (Giles Keyte/BBC/Company Productions)From Standpoint March 2015

The phenomenal, and to all who loved her early work, overdue success of Hilary Mantel, and the BBC’s superb dramatisation of her Tudor novels, have left pundits scrambling to stuff her art into pigeonholes.Catholic critics, including the Editor of this magazine in the Sunday Times, refight the Reformation by accusing her of producing a modern version of the old patriotic Protestant history; a fictionalised verion of Our Island Story. And it is true that Mantel’s Thomas More is a twisted sadomasochist who tortures and executes Protestants, rather than the exemplary Renaissance humanist of Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons. But then no honest writer or historian can follow Bolt’s airbrushing of More’s heretic-hunting, and Mantel, for all her inventive gifts, is a stickler for historical accuracy.

Her Cromwell is not quite a hero.

March 16, 2015

Putin is no longer just a post-modern dicator

attackSpectator 7 February Speaking this weekend, Francois Hollande said, ‘If we don’t find a lasting peace agreement, we know perfectly well what the scenario will be. It has a name, it’s called war.’ The day before, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former head of Nato, said that Russia was likely to intervene in the Baltic states to test NATO’s shaky commitment to collective defence. ‘This is not about Ukraine. Putin wants to restore Russia to its former position as a great power.’ As telling as anything leaders are saying are the films Russian reporters have been broadcasting – I must warn you that there are age controls on these links for reasons that will become obvious.

March 16, 2015

The BBC drives out the journalists who exposed Savile

bbcObserver 8 March 2015


Nobody from John Humphrys in the morning to Evan Davis at night dares mention a scandal at the BBC. It undermines their reporting of every abuse whistleblowers reveal. It reinforces the dirty common sense of British life that you must keep your head down if you want to keep your job.

The scandal is simply this: the BBC is forcing out or demoting the journalists who exposed Jimmy Savile as a voracious abuser of girls. As Meirion Jones put it to me: “There is a small group of powerful people at the BBC who think it would have been better if the truth about Savile had never come out. And they aim to punish the reporters who revealed it.”

March 16, 2015

Super-jails are the inhumane mark of ignorant politicians

Hands of a prisoner, Brixton jail

From the Observer 21 February 2015

The dishonesty of official crime policy cuts two ways. The authorities are treating men, women and, to their disgrace, children with deliberate cruelty. They are stuffing them into ever larger “super-prisons”, run by negligent private punishment corporations and dominated by criminal gangs. You cannot rehabilitate offenders in these anonymous warehouses, and the state’s promise to prisoners that it will try to divert them from a life of crime is nothing more than a pious lie.

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


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

Why hasn’t Labour sacked Ed Miliband?

Ed Miliband Attends Launch Of Online Mental Health Resource For Children

From the Spectator 14 October 2014

If a bus driver were heading towards the edge of a cliff, the passengers would try to seize control of the wheel in all cases except one. Members of the Parliamentary Labour Party would sit back in their seats, put on their most confident smiles, and tell each other they were going full-speed ahead in the right direction.

Ed Miliband is leading the Labour Party to disaster. His latest approval ratings are almost as bad as Nick Clegg’s  – which is not company any of us want to keep. Voters see him as an insipid waffler, too weak to stand up to foreign rulers or the trade unions.

March 16, 2015

JK Rowling is too good to be a propagandist

JK Rowling


From the Observer 9 August 2014



Celebrity watchers in Gloucestershire can spend their summer ogling Michael Gambon, Keeley Hawes and many another star. The BBC is in Stroud to film JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy, because it tells us “something insightful about the country we live in”. The BBC forgot to add that the best insight that the arguments about Rowling bring is that vindictive fanatics swarm over British culture.

Her story of rivalries in a small west country town is the most unfairly criticised novel in modern fiction. You will not understand why unless you understand the mentality of an intellectual policeman. Perhaps you scan a novel like an inquisitor interrogating a heretic looking for a passing reference to Palestine, America, climate change, the EU or whatever else stirs your passions.

Like a Freudian slip or DNA fingerprint, it tells you all you need to know. Writers may devote 99% of their time to talking about other subjects. They don’t fool you. A forensic scientist can identify a criminal from a stray hair. So it is with the cops who police culture. They need only a scrap of evidence and – gotcha! – ideological guilt is proved beyond reasonable doubt.

May 13, 2014

How to be a traitor

7th edition of the Festival of Literature

No one is as hated as deeply as the apostate. Ordinary opponents are nothing in comparison. They are unbelievers, who know no better. It is not their fault if the light has not fallen on them. The apostate, by contrast, has known the truth and rejected it. There can be no excuses for his treachery, no defence of ignorance the law. The Devil must have seduced him, or to translate old superstitions into language of a secular age, he must have “sold out”.

Carry on reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37,969 other followers