The lies of meritocratic Britain



From the Spectator 24 May 2016

In England after the Norman Conquest the worst insults you could throw were class insults. So long has feudal prejudice survived that we unconsciously echo the Anglo-Norman aristocracy when we use ‘villainous’ (from villien) and ‘churlish’ (from ‘churl’).

The churl of the 1300s might have reflected that, however miserable his life, it was not his fault that he had been born into servitude. His suffering was the result of an unjust society not a real reflection of his worth. No one shouts ‘churl’ or ‘rustic’ or ‘villien’ today.  We live in a meritocratic country and feudalism is long gone except for a few gaudy spectacles around the monarch. So they shout ‘loser’ instead.
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The last days of George Galloway

It takes an achingly long time for the British to see a lickspittle of mass murderers for what he is. For years, you jump up and down shouting ‘look at what he’s done!’ All but a handful ignore you. But he’s a character, the rest cry. He’s not like those poll-driven, focus-group–tested on-message politicians, who speak in soundbites. He is passionate about his beliefs.

So he is, you reply, and that’s the problem. Since the marches against the Iraq war of 2003, I have written against George Galloway. He has supported Baathist regimes it is fair to describe as fascist: Saddam Hussein’s Sunni Arab dictatorship in Iraq after it had gassed the Kurdish ethnic minority, and Bashar al-AssadShia Arab dictatorship as his terror provoked revolution.

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‘We told you so, you fucking fools’: the Euston Manifesto 10 years on


Spectator 18 February 2016

The Euston Manifesto appears a noble failure. It was clear in 2006 that the attempt to revive left-wing support for internationalism, democracy and universal human rights did not have a strong chance of success. Looking back a decade on, it seems doomed from the start. The tyrannical habits of mind it condemned were breaking out across the left in 2006. They are everywhere now. They define the Labour Party and most of what passes for intellectual left-wing life in the 21st century.


To take the manifesto’s first statement of principle: the left should be ‘committed to democratic norms, procedures and structures’. An easy statement to agree with, I hear you say. Not so easy when the leader of the opposition, feted by his supporters as the most ‘left-wing’ in Labour’s history, will excuse dictatorial regimes or movements, however reactionary, if and only if, they are anti-West.
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Boris Johnson v Winston Churchill

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 21:  Mayor of London Boris Johnson announces that he will be backing the 'Leave EU' campaign whilst speaking to the press outside his London home on February 21, 2016 in London, England. Mr Johnson announced his intentions for the EU referendum and to which campaign he will lend his support.  (Photo by Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images)Spectator February 2016

Rather rashly, Boris Johnson published The Churchill factor: How one man made history last year. It was without historical merit, or intellectual insight, but Johnson did not intend readers to learn about Churchill. The biography was not a Churchill biography but a Johnson campaign biography, where we were invited to see our  hero as Winston redux.

Both ignored party discipline and conventional routes of advancement, after all. Both were great company. Churchill stayed in the wilderness for years making a fortune from journalism, and so has Johnson. Churchill was a man of principle and so is…

Hold on. That doesn’t work.

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Pay the bloody writer

Spectator January 2016

A few months ago, one of the organisers of the Oxford Literary Festival contacted me.

Hi Nick

I may be putting on a free speech event at Oxford Lit Festival 2-10 April 2016  and wondered if you’d be willing to take part?  It’s the usual festival deal.

As I have written a book on free speech, and banged on about it to the point of tedium (and beyond) in these pages, I was happy to go to Oxford and bang on some more.  I had one small query.

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Jeremy Corbyn isn’t anti-war, he’s just anti-West

From the Spectator 21 November 2015

Before the bodies in Paris’s restaurants were cold, Jeremy Corbyn’s Stop the War Coalition knew who the real villains were — and they were not the Islamists who massacred civilians. ‘Paris reaps whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East’ ran a headline on its site. The article went on to say that the consequence of the West’s ‘decades-long, bipartisan cultivation of religious extremism will certainly be more bloodshed, more repression and more violent intervention’.

This flawless example of what I once called the ‘kill us, we deserve it’ school of political analysis takes us to the heart of Corbyn’s beliefs. Even his opponents have yet to appreciate the malign double standards of the new Labour party, though they ought to be clear for all to see by now.
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The far left laughs to forget


Nothing about the crisis in the Labour party makes sense until you find the honesty to admit that far leftists have taken over its leadership, and the clarity to see them for what they are.

Contrary to the wishful thinking of so many Corbyn supporters, these are not decent, well-meaning men, who want to take Labour back to its roots. Nor are they pacifists and idealists you can look on with an indulgent smile and say, ‘I wish they were right, but their ideas will never work in the real world, more’s the pity’.

To the delight of the Conservative Party, SNP and Ukip, they are genuine extremists from a foul tradition, which has never before played a significant role in Labour Party history. The roots they spring from are the roots of British Leninism, not British social democracy. As their defenders scrabble for plausible excuses, they say that at least Corbyn and McDonnell are an authentic alternative to the focus-group obsessed, poll-driven politics of the Blair days. They are right in their way, but the authenticity lies in authentic far-left prejudices and hypocrisies the Labour leadership is now displaying to an astonished nation.
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