Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Murdered Script

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The Spectator 3 January 2017

In the first days of January ‘17, the Arctic air frosted over London forcing even the most careless citizen of that metropolis to accept the mastery of those great elemental forces which shriek at mankind through the bars of his civilisation. Holmes would not move from his fire, and was as moody as only he could be when he had no case to interest him.

‘Why,’ said I, glancing up at my companion, ‘that was surely the bell. Who could come tonight? Some friend of yours, perhaps?’

‘Except yourself I have none,’ he answered.

‘A client, then?’

‘If so, it is a serious case. Nothing less would bring a man out on such a day and at such an hour. But I take it that it is more likely to be some crony of the landlady’s.’

Sherlock Holmes was wrong in his conjecture, however, for there came a step in the passage and a tapping at the door. Continue reading

Press censorship has begun in Scotland

89The Spectator 18 Ocotber 2017

The silencing of Stephen Daisley has nagged away at journalism in Scotland for months. His employer, STV, holds the ITV licences for central and northern Scotland, and is staying very quiet. The Scottish National Party rolls around like a drunk who has won a bar fight. Its politicians and its claque of Twitter trolls celebrate their power to bully and tell direct lies about the journalist they have humiliated. The BBC endorses them. The National Union of Journalists supports them. Everyone behaves as if they are living in a one-party state.

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Racism is propelling politics, why deny it?

 

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The Spectator, 7 July 2016

There are two theories about racial prejudice. Most people talk as if there is a fixed block of people ‘the racists’: always white and extreme right wing, and usually covered in tattoos. They are ugly to be sure, but they are just a few irreconcilables in the otherwise merrily diverse land of multi-faith, multi-cultural Britain.

The alternative is less cheering. Prejudice can overcome all or most of us in the right circumstances. It just lies there, like a virus waiting to be triggered. We may not know we have it, but we are capable of succumbing in the right circumstances.

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Brexit: the triumph of the right

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MAY 25:  Leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage drinks coffee outside a cafe during campaigning for votes to leave the European Union on May 25, 2016 near Sheffield, England. Nigel Farage took his battle bus to Chapeltown, near Sheffield, encouraging British people to vote to leave the EU in the June 23rd referendum.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Spectator 10 June, 2016

The lies of meritocratic Britain

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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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