Thursday, 30 June 2016

Brexit is a shock for everyone

When he promised the referendum I thought Cameron’s great historic achievement would be securing the UK in ‘Europe’ forever. He thought so too.


Instead, a sense of huge shock.

Last time things were this chaotic in UK was 1831-32, I think.

The NHS trust in South East London and Kent have offered staff free counselling to help them cope with their concerns about the referendum. 

There's huge fear among Remainers. Partly it's because of Remain's Project Fear and absurd of for example a 10% fall in GDP. Partly it because leaving IS very scary. Most Leavers are pretty scared too.

Brexit feels very sudden. It feels as though the campaign was short but it wasn't. the decision feels sudden because many people like me didn’t take it very seriously at the start because it seemed a foregone conclusion that Remain would win. I said that to a British friend (strongly Remain) over dinner on the night of the vote, who was explaining why Parliament should ignore a vote to leave

'What’s the point of discussing it? Remain have won.’
He wisely replied: 
‘You can’t be completely sure.’
It feels sudden and incredibly final. It seemed a game until suddenly it wasn’t. But in fact we had several years’ warning since David Cameron promised a referendum.

Last year I read that the number of British people wanting to leave ‘Europe’ had fallen to its lowest level since 1973 – 33%. I thought then that Farage et al stood no chance. That 33% figure itself speaks eloquently to how little the British ever liked the European Union or its earlier incarnations. In other countries in the EU that figure used to be around 3%. Though now in several it is up around 50%.

All will be well. This speech might cheer you up, dear reader, if you are worried for Britain. Even though I was on the other side politically I always thought Peter Shore an amazing speaker. Even better than Powell or Foot, who were very good indeed, and much better than anyone now.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Britain and Europe in crisis - we're flying blind, people

When was the UK as divided as it is now by Brexit? I suppose the most recent occasions were when Mr Gladstone announced his conversion to Home Rule for Ireland in 1886, Munich in 1938 and Suez in 1956.


The tweet above was tweeted by a writer on the Telegraph, a conservative paper.

There's incredible bitterness, furious rage and abject misery about Brexit - and that's just among my Facebook friends. Imagine what the feeling is like in the chanceries of Europe. An amicable divorce looks hard to achieve. They usually are.But at the moment half the British seem acrimoniously divorced from the other half.

In fact the EU, even more than the UK, is in great danger. It's as much a crisis for the EU as for the UK. They are facing  an existential crisis. The EU leaders suddenly feel the wind of death, to use a Romanian expression.

The choice the EU now faces is between 'more Europe' and a common Eurozone treasury and fiscal/tax policy, as called for in the Five Presidents' report last year, 

or changing tack and decentralising. But unravelling the political semi-union risks making the Eurozone crisis even worse. 

I thought on Friday that Brexit would save Europe by making its leaders rethink. Today I suspect the EU is not capable of fundamental reform. Like a tragic hero it moves on inexorably to a terrible doom.

Dominic Johnson thinks like me and put it beautifully:

They will obviously go for greater integration. When faced with a binary choice they will unerringly choose the path through the haunted forest past the graveyard.
I suppose a third choice is muddling through and kicking the can further down the road 

And what will happen in the UK? It looks like Corbyn will be ousted which might male Labour electable. Who knows? They have badly alienated their voters.

It has been very striking since the campaign started and especially since Friday how much many on on the Left despise Labour supporters. It's a bit like Gerald Ratner. I don't suppose Labour will suffer exactly his fate.

Many happy returns of the day to all Paulas, Pauls, Petras, Petronelas, Pavels and all celebrating SS Peter and Paul's day

SS. Peter and Paul by El Greco.

Eastern Europeans make wonderful immigrants

I am pleased (though terrified by) by Brexit but I think Romanians and other Eastern Europeans make great immigrants. I hope and think the UK will continue to accept, in fairly large extent, freedom of movement for Europeans. Switzerland and Norway, not in EU, allow complete freedom of movement for EU citizens. 

This is what I wrote in February 2013. 

Admitting a million Poles, even though in good manners, industry, church attendance and many other ways they put the English to shame, was certainly a mistake on the part of the UK. We know this because ministers said they expected tens of thousands to come. Still, if Britain and other Western European countries have decided that they need immigrants, and they have, they should be very grateful that the EU has a supply on hand of Eastern European would-be immigrants. Yet while the British press worry about an influx of Romanian and Bulgarian immigrants after January 1 2014, David Cameron announces that 

‘There is no limit on the number of  students who can come from India to study at British universities, no limit at all. All you need is a basic English qualification and a place at a  British university. What’s more, after you’ve left a British university, if you can get a graduate-level job there is no limit to the amount of people who can stay and work, or the time that they can stay at work.’

Romanians, like other people from the former Eastern Bloc,  are highly-educated, conservative, Christian and European. Romanians come from a Near Eastern culture, unlike the Poles, who are Catholics and Central Europeans, but they bring with them so many qualities that the British seem to produce less often than in the past. Romanian women are womanly (and very often beautiful), Romanian men are virile even if they seem very effete at first sight. Romanians are family minded, esteem education and usually believe in God. Best of all, they come from a part of the world where the 1960s never happened.

Romanians were disappointed but not in the least surprised by the noisy British reluctance to let them settle in the UK. As far as Romanians are concerned, they blame this reluctance on confusion abroad between Romanians and Roma. (Roma is the modish, EU-approved term for gypsies.) It is no use saying to Romanians that Romanian gypsies are both Romanian and Roma. ‘Romanian’ is understood here as an ethnicity not a citizenship. A Romanian man I know, for example, always says that he is Greek not Romanian, even though his family came to Romania in the t860s. Similarly, few ethnic Romanians think Romania’s Hungarians, German or Jewish minorities are Romanian. Children of mixed marriages do though.

Romanians usually have a very high opinion of England, based partly on books and films. I would expect Romanians to be disappointed by the reality of violent crime, binge drinking, feminism and innumerable rules. Romania, where people smoke in bars and say whatever they like about most things, is a much freer country these days. But no, Romanians usually love England and so they should. Things work in England and people are kind and honest, though the trusting nature of the English provokes wonder and seems naive. Britain is still a wonderful country and London is the only big city in Europe which is not a museum. The small minority of Romanians I spoke to who did not like England gave as their reason the number of non-white people there.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Brexit words

I just came off the telephone from talking to a very wise friend (who has made some millions) in London. His view is that the EU is an 'utterly undemocratic, corrupt and utterly useless organisation, but leaving will be very painful". "It is a divorce and in a divorce emotion takes over." 

David Cameron's resignation puts Boris in a terrible position and he looked very miserable as soon as he knew of his famous victory. My friend thinks it will be a Pyrrhic victory. He thinks the next Prime Minister needs to be 1. trusted 2.clear-sighted 3. hard-working and 4. consensual. Boris is none of the above.

My friend is very pessimistic but did say 'In the end it will be all right'.

From the social media

EU leaders are worried about the Brexit "contagion" - when you describe democracy as a contagion, something has gone seriously wrong with your system of government.

People no longer sing 'England Arise!' but England has risen all the same

A.J.P. Taylor ends his magisterial Oxford History of England 1914-45 with the words ( I quote from memory):

'People no longer sang 'England Arise!' but England had risen all the same.'

I think and hope this will prove true of Brexit.

A.J.P. Taylor, a left-wing socialist, of course was the biggest opponent of joining 'the Common Market' forerunner of the EU. He said:

"We have been most secure when we kept out of Europe. Meddling with European affairs has brought us nothing but toil and suffering. The greatest age of British economic achievement was in the nineteenth century. Then we were truly the workshop of the world. The sole principle of our foreign policy was Splendid Isolation. This was the basis for our prosperity.

Monday, 27 June 2016

They lied and lied

John O'Sullivan says the debate this time was much better than in the 1975 British referendum on the the EEC. 

Everyone complains that this time it was not much good. I don't know. There were some good articles in the press. 

Certainly Cameron Osborne and Remain were shamelessly deceitful and played very dirty. On top of this Leave and David Cameron tried hard to exploit the killing of poor Jo Cox. 

Why mention this? Because it means that as well as the 52% who voted Leave huge numbers wanted to but were frightened by irresponsible threats of 300,000 job losses, welfare cuts etc and maybe by linkage of Leave to far right etc. This makes Leave's victory all the more convincing.

Cameron's terrible mistake

Scotland would have had devolution in 1979, because 52% of the votes in the 1979 Scottish devolution referendum were in favour, were it not for ‘the Cunningham clause’ in the enabling legislation saying that 40% of registered voters had to vote “Yes”. In the 1979 referendum 52% of votes were in favour of devolution but they represented only 33% of electorate. On Thursday 52% of voters (about 36% of electors) wanted to leave the EU. 

Had Cameron insisted on a Cunningham clause things would be very different. Very incompetent of him – though his MPs would have launched a war within the Conservative party had he tried it. However it’s too late to change the rules of the game after you’ve lost it.

My sister told me she couldn't decide whether David Cameron was clever or an idiot till he was caught on tape repeating the Queen's satisfaction about the outcome of the 2015 Scottish referendum to the Mayor of New York. Then she knew he was an idiot. 

We all know that now.

Politics is a rough old trade, as Alan Watkins used to say.

Odd that Jeremy Corbyn probably wants Britain to leave the EU and Boris Johnson probably doesn't.

Funny how things turn out.

EU presidency

In a few days Slovakia ("We shall not accept a single Muslim migrant”) becomes President of EU for 6 months and then it's the UK's turn and there is no legal way this can be prevented. Expect fun!

Those sort of people

The punishment for those sort of people is being those sort of people. Sins are self-punishing.

I coined that aphorism talking about bitter losers in the British referendum who accuse Leave voters of racism and bigotry and every bad thing, not realising it is they who are the bigots. However it can be applied to anyone you like, or rather anyone you don't like.

3 Brexit quotes

The fight on our hands now is no longer between Leave and Remain; that’s done. It’s a far greater fight, a more historic one, one that will shape Britain for decades: a fight between those of us who believe in democracy and those who don’t; between those of us who trust the people and those who think the people are mentally and morally ill-equipped to make big political decisions.

Brendan O'Neill

The British leave the EU not as narrow-minded snobs but proud Democrats who no longer want to put up with EU's flaws 

German newspaper, Die Welte

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Gove for Prime Minister

Surely Mr. Gove is the man to be Prime Minister. Certainly not Mr. Johnson, of course, much as we love him. Apart from his integrity, brains and courage, Michael Gove has the merit of being Scottish and persuading the Scots to stay in the UK is our No. 1 priority now.

Unfortunately I don't think he wants the job. I hope he can be persuaded to change his mind.

Like him or not, Nigel Farage is responsible for Brexit

Image result for if there is hope proles

Brexit is the biggest shock in my lifetime.

I said to the Portuguese ambassador last week, talking about I forget what EU policy, 'It's up to you, of course. We're off on Thursday". 

He gave me the smile a corpse gives the undertaker. But I didn't think for one moment that we really would be off. I went to bed at 3 yesterday morning unhappy, thinking Remain had won and was frozen in amazement at 6.45 the next day to open my browser and see the BBC call it for Leave.

I admit my feelings were mixed. Astonishment, pleasure but some fear too.

The electorate have let down the politicians very badly.

When the revolution finally came most (not all) of the left-wing middle class found they were on the side of the rich and the banks. Funny how things turn out.

It's a bit like when the crisis of capitalism finally occurred in 2008, as Stalin had predicted, and the far left was not there to take advantage. The centre-right not the left benefited. The old party divisions that we have had since the 1920s increasingly make less sense.

Nigel Farage is the man who did this. But poor David Cameron and Angela Merkel played equal parts. 

Whatever you think of him and you might loathe him, Nigel Farage, who is the reason this referendum was called, is one of the two politicians in post-1945 British history who changed the country the most. The other, of course, being Edward Heath.

The story of how an amateur, home-made, Ealing comedy party like UKIP, widely despised, directly or indirectly took Britain out of the EU is extraordinary. If it were a novel people would throw it away in disgust as absurdly far-fetched.

The same is true of the stories of Trump, Corbyn, the million migrants crossing Europe, the bizarre American row over transgender lavatories, ISIS, September 11th and so much else. God is not obliged to consider probabilities.

Mr Farage's referendum was hijacked by others and it's good that it was. I am reminded of what Reagan said, that there is no limit to what a man can do if he is content for others to take the credit.

He was not allowed to be part of the official Leave campaign, who were frightened he would make their brand toxic. in the eyes of many he would have done, but he had the wisdom to push immigration into the forefront of the campaign, knowing it was a much better issue for Leave than the economy. 

On the economy, Leave could not stand up to David Cameron's carefully choreographed Project Fear, but immigration let the Leave side instil its own share of fear. Making a major issue of Britain's support for Turkish membership of the EU must have won Leave many votes. It boxed David Cameron into a corner and showed him to have been very economical with the truth. It also enabled Leave to elide concerns about European and non-European immigration, although Brexit will not reduce and may increase non-European immigration.

I saw very few speeches during this campaign and none by Mr Farage, but this one, which i watched today, is remarkably good. He is a better speaker even than Messrs. Gove or Johnson. Why do many people in the UK dislike him so much? He predicted that "this will be a turnout referendum" and he was right. They were queuing round the block to vote. 

I am lost in admiration for the courage of the British people. It took a lot of courage to vote Leave. People thought very hard and in many cases changed and unchanged their minds.

It was absolutely not a result made on a whim, or from prejudice or knee-jerk reactions or to punish the government or taken unthinkingly. It was made very thoughtfully and there was an amazingly high turnout. No-one knows exactly what issues were in the minds of Brexit voters but they were surely many. 

It was not a plebiscite on immigration, though that was important. I think people didn't like being ruled by foreigners.

Had the referendum been held in a couple of years' time Brexit would have lost, because older voters were inclined to Leave and younger ones, educated in the pieties of internationalism and EU idealism, inclined to Remain. 

I am convinced that it will be hugely helpful to the rest of the EU. We might just have saved Europe from a totalitarian future once more.

I want to quote (again) these lines by Philip Larkin.

Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,

As epitaph:

He chucked up everything

And just cleared off,

And always the voice will sound

Certain you approve

This audacious, purifying,

Elemental move.

We were just not that into you

24 hours after the earthquake and things become slightly clearer. It is becoming clear that from 1973 onwards except for a smallish minority most of the British never liked the EU much but put up with it, considered it a necessary evil. On the continent they believe in the EU project.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Saving Europe

"England has saved herself by her exertions, and will, as I trust, save Europe by her example." 

William Pitt the Younger

Thursday, 23 June 2016

It's still the masses against the classes, but the liberals have swapped sides

Gladstone said that all the world over he backed the masses against the classes (proof, incidentally, that he had a Northern accent). Nowadays liberals take exactly the opposite view. This referendum has done many valuable things. One of the most important is to show that liberals these days really do fear and despise the masses. If you don't believe me just read the Guardian or the stuff some of the In people are posting on Facebook.

Britain decides today

The Austro-Hungarian Empire was the nearest to a federal Europe that I could have accepted. Though the Hungarian half was idiotically mismanaged. But it had a demos and in the end became democratic, which the European Union never can.

Yugoslavia, a Serb told me, was the EU before the EU. I was not sure this was a happy augury.

Now today the UK is voting on whether to leave the EU (Brexit) and if it does this could precipitate the beginning of the end of this attempt at uniting Europe, seventy-one years after Hitler’s failed.

The EU has, on balance, done a lot of good in Eastern Europe, though harm too. Elsewhere since 1999 it has been a disaster. The Euro has destroyed the economies of Southern Europe, Schengen has failed to protect countries from invasion, the EU has shown that it cannot be a player in foreign affairs and now leading Eurocrats plot to give the EU the power to control tax rates across the Eurozone.

Immigration, by the way, is not a key issue - Brexit might not affect immigration at all - except that people who want a million or three million migrants to enter Europe without papers in a single year are very dangerous people - mad, bad and dangerous to know.

The one strong argument for Britain staying in the EU is that Scotland might secede in ten years time. If we do vote for Brexit expect the EU to come up with a counter-offer. And more referendums till we get the answer right.

In fact I don't think we shall ever escape. And young people are educated in the pieties of internationalism, so this is our last chance.

The latest polls say it's 50-50. John Curtice, the Strathclyde University professor who oversaw last year’s accurate election exit poll, said two days ago: "After weeks and months of basically no change, it does look as though there has been at least some movement towards Leave in the wake of the advent of purdah.”

It may be that the Jo Cox effect – the effect of a young pro-diversity MP’s murder allegedly by a man who has been linked to the far right - is not crucial.

The linkage between the murder and the Brexit camp was very carefully managed. Any murder is terrible, and especially of an elected member of Parliament, but how different the reaction to the murder by the IRA of poor Ian Gow and Airey Neave. 

To a large extent this reflects the new English habit of mass emotion which had not begun in the 1980s. Still, worth mentioning that Ian Gow and Airey Neave were killed by the IRA for political reasons in 1979 and 1990 but were not treated as martyrs - as fervent Unionists they were considered with suspicion. Private Eye character assassinated Neave even though he was a war hero.

Even poor Drummer Rigby who was beheaded last year by Muslims in the streets of Woolwich didn't get this treatment - quite a few people seemed more worried about EDL demonstrating for fifteen minutes about the murder than anything else. The authorities tried to persuade us that the crime had no link to Islam or to politics.

Had Farage been murdered or an Official Ulster Unionist of impeccable patriotism I wonder what the reaction would have been. The Diana-like outpouring of grief for Jo Cox is linked to her passionate belief in diversity and the benefits of immigration. I am not quite sure why.

It is no doubt largely spontaneous, but has also certainly been carefully managed by Remain. Her funeral yesterday - rather soon? - may also have an effect on the vote though I hope not. Her murder is irrelevant. Yet a number of people in the papers openly say it is a reason for voting Out and implying Brexit is the far right racist option.

Leaving and staying both seem to have more disadvantages than advantages at first sight, but staying is not choosing the status quo but signing a blank cheque. Last summer, Europe’s leaders came up the “five presidents’ report” that laid down a step-by-step plan to achieve a United States of Europe: banking union, then a common budget and finally political union. Electorates will not put up with this - at least for now - but these people are running the EU.

Both options in the referendum are unattractive and scary. I think leaving is on balance the lesser evil. Perhaps, in the end, the strongest argument for the UK leaving is that staying is writing a blank cheque to people who dislike the idea of nation states or ethnic states. 

I think Remain will win by something like 55% or maybe more. But no-one knows and for another few hours Brussels will be scared of us, which is a novelty. 

Strangely enough, when historians look at our era, the most important British Prime Minister since 1945 - the one with the biggest legacy - is not Margaret Thatcher, nor Tony Blair or C.R. Attlee, but Edward Heath. He took us into the Common Market as the EEC (now EU) was called.

If Britain votes to leave the EU today, David Cameron (whose idea the referendum was) and Nigel Farage (whose party's success led Cameron to promise one) will eclipse Heath and be responsible for the most important event in our history since our Pyrrhic victory in 1945. Only Nigel Farage intended to do so, of course. Only Nigel Farage intended to do so, of course. 

Two last thoughts (not mine) on Brexit

I am assuming that, should Remain triumph, there will be complaints from those who voted for it, within about six months along the lines of "that's not what I voted for". Let me enlighten you: if you vote Remain you vote for whatever the EU decides to throw at you and whatever happens in the EU next. No complaints, please.

Helen Szamuely 

I'm feeling so much solidarity today with those old people, poor people, working-class people, Old Labourites, Shire Tories, blue-rinse ladies, nurses and tradeunionists who, despite being defamed as bigots, despite having the entire establishment lined up against them, despite being smeared as thick and overemotional and dangerous by the political class, the media and celebrities, and despite being told by hysterical officialdom that they are bringing about the end of Western civilisation, will nonetheless go out today and say a polite, cool and radical "No thanks" to the EU. That takes guts. To stand by what you believe in against the capitalist class, the political class, the media class and the Brussels bureaucracy -- that takes bottle. To me, these people represent the best of democracy.

Brendan O'Neill

Three last thoughts (not mine) on Brexit

I am assuming that, should Remain triumph, there will be complaints from those who voted for it, within about six months along the lines of "that's not what I voted for". Let me enlighten you: if you vote Remain you vote for whatever the EU decides to throw at you and whatever happens in the EU next. No complaints, please.

Helen Szamuely 

I'm feeling so much solidarity today with those old people, poor people, working-class people, Old Labourites, Shire Tories, blue-rinse ladies, nurses and tradeunionists who, despite being defamed as bigots, despite having the entire establishment lined up against them, despite being smeared as thick and overemotional and dangerous by the political class, the media and celebrities, and despite being told by hysterical officialdom that they are bringing about the end of Western civilisation, will nonetheless go out today and say a polite, cool and radical "No thanks" to the EU. That takes guts. To stand by what you believe in against the capitalist class, the political class, the media class and the Brussels bureaucracy -- that takes bottle. To me, these people represent the best of democracy.

Brendan O'Neill

To the best of my knowledge not one of the commissioners, and it should have been Junker, have made any comment not even along the lines of 'may the best man win'. They remain faceless, arrogant and apparently disinterested, evidently disconnected from the turmoil of the Demos,for why should they not? they have their plan, their predestined path, they are untouchable. Unless you vote OUT to make them understand that it is our world and we have a say in who runs it.

Nick Ward 

Monday, 20 June 2016

Germany is afraid of Brexit and is rethinking Europe

A German friend has sent me a fascinating article from Die Welte which I read with Google Translate. As he says, Breitbart has come to Germany. 

Highlights include: 
"The British referendum is not the iceberg, but the alarm bell. ..This reconnection of the European idea of the people's will, which would be unthinkable in Germany, scared of democracy and ruled by backroom politics....Schengen and Euro are failures. Systemic depletion of the initially carefree Mediterranean countries and the systemic responsibility of central Europeans for state bankruptcy in the south - these were two disaster scenarios some economists predicted in 2001 and which came to pass. ...Without the British Brussels would be manned by idiots." 
For those who have German here it is.

George Orwell on free speech

On a plat­form, or in cer­tain recog­nised open air spa­ces like Hyde Park, you can say al­most any­thing, and, what is per­haps more sig­nif­i­cant, no one is frightened to ut­ter his true opin­ions in pubs, on the tops of busses, and so forth. The point is that the rel­a­tive free­dom which we en­joy de­pends of pub­lic opin­ion. The law is no pro­tec­tion. Gov­ern­ments make laws, but whether they are car­ried out, and how the po­lice be­have, de­pends on the gen­eral tem­per in the coun­try. If large num­bers of peo­ple are in­ter­ested in free­dom of speech, there will be free­dom of speech, even if the law for­bids it; if pub­lic opin­ion is sluggish, in­con­venient mi­nori­ties will be per­se­cuted, even if laws ex­ist to pro­tect them. 
How far we British have regressed since he wrote these words. Stanley Baldwin said England's secret was freedom. No-one would say that now.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Quotations for Sunday morning

Tennessee Williams The world is violent and mecurial handwritten note about love

On the whole, we will repeat that this Religion of Mahomet's is a kind of Christianity; has a genuine element of what is spiritually highest looking through it, not to be hidden by all its imperfections. The Scandinavian God Wish, the god of all rude men, — this has been enlarged into a Heaven by Mahomet; but a Heaven symbolical of sacred Duty, and to be earned by faith and well-doing, by valiant action, and a divine patience which is still more valiant. It is Scandinavian Paganism, and a truly celestial element superadded to that. Call it not false; look not at the falsehood of it, look at the truth of it. For these twelve centuries, it has been the religion and life-guidance of the fifth part of the whole kindred of Mankind. Above all things, it has been a religion heartily believed. These Arabs believe their religion, and try to live by it! No Christians, since the early ages, or only perhaps the English Puritans in modern times, have ever stood by their Faith as the Moslem do by theirs, — believing it wholly, fronting Time with it, and Eternity with it.

Thomas Carlyle

Jared Wyand (@JaredWyand):
Jesus doesn't call Christians to kill
Muhammad demands it
That's the difference

A soldier asked Abba Mius if God accepted repentance. After the old man had taught him many things he said, 'Tell me, my dear, if your cloak is torn, do you throw it away?' He replied, 'No, I mend it and use it again.' The old man said to him, 'If you are so careful about your cloak, will not God be equally careful about His creature?'
Abba Mius

[Post-1688] Politics was a branch of religion, rather as 21st-century politics is a branch of economics. 

Robert Tombs

Saturday, 18 June 2016

3 Brexit thoughts

If Britain is destroyed in the coming referendum, what new nationality will you choose? I'm liking the Swiss. Cheese, cuckoo-clocks and their vast natural reserves of Nazi gold.

Alex Woodcock-Clarke

"How can you bear to be on the same side as Boris?" ask people who are on the same side as Eddie Izzard, Bob "fucking" Geldof, Polly Toynbee, Cameron, Osborne, Corbyn, Blair, Brown, Major, squeaking Angela Eagle, creepy Alistair Darling, the banks, the bosses, corporates, luvvies, comedians who aren't funny, destroyer of Third World economies the IMF, and Hot Chip.

Brendan O'Neill

Labour, writes a well-known political journalist, embraced the idea of Europe in 1998, as it was the best opponent of Thatcherism and seemed to mean trade union and welfare rights. But this came at a high cost, he writes. "In doing so, however, it abandoned the classic left-wing vigilance against the 'bankers' ramp' , the device which allows democracies to be overpowered by banks, central banks and their lackeys to run an economy in their own interests. The euro is just such a ramp. It was imposed without democratic endorsement and cannot be unstitched by democratic rejection. Hence perma-slump in large parts of the eurozone, 50 per cent youth unemployment in the worst bits, and German domination of the whole. Never, since the age of the dictators, have the workers been further from control over the means of production, distribution and exchange than they are in the EU today."
Oh glory be, at last someone has spelled out the left-wing (very left-wing) case for Brexit. But who is this seer? Gosh, it's Charles Moore, a high Tory, in the Spectator, the weekly conservative magazine. And some of you criticise me for writing in the Daily Mail. But it is here, on the right, that the left-wing case for Brexit is being made. Where Is The Thinking Left in this debate?

Adam LeBor

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Let's enjoy the next week while Berlin and Brussels fear we might leave the EU

I firmly expect Great Britain to vote to stay in the EU next Thursday, but let's all enjoy every single blissful moment of these halcyon days when our German and other European rulers think we might leave. This is the last moment when Great Britain roused herself to become a free country. After we vote to stay in, it will probably resemble what Claude Cockburn's tutor told him life was like after Oxford: just a long slow slope to the grave.

Bertrand Russell said ‘Collective fear stimulates herd instinct and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd’. I see a lot of this coming from the In camp who seem almost to hate or despise the Outs. Especially they seem to hate UKIP and despise the working classes. The viciousness is born of fear. I find it disgusting but it is what politics and democracy are about. 

Whatever your views on Brexit what a great argument this referendum is for lots more referendums. Though of course there is not really very much room in the EU for referendums.

The opinion polls today show Leave up to 7% ahead of Remain and the bookmakers, who are  always the best place to look, to find out what's going on  today give Leave an astonishingly high 30% chance. I give it a lot less (5-10%?) but what does impress me is that the polls are swinging towards Leave despite the attempts of the government the IMF and most of the establishment to terrify electors with stories of economic Armageddon.

And could we really leave?

I suppose yes!

And then?

Who knows?

The Germans could want to punish us very hard pour encourager les autres but this would do huge damage to the EU economy and especially Germany’s. The German Finance Minister says we will be booted out of the single market (the same Finance Minister who thinks if Germans do not take immigrants they will start committing incest – he really did say that recently). But I was more interested in what Juergen Hardt, senior CDU foreign policy spokesman, told Der Spiegel. If the UK votes to leave, he said the EU should gauge possible action to prevent a British exit from becoming a reality. “Brussels shouldn't close the door right away.”

I had dinner last night with a very Europhile British friend, 60, public school educated and well off, who is anguished that 'Literally ALL my British friends without exception want us to leave'. More than half his British friends live on the Continent, by the way.  

He made a number of weak arguments for staying in the EU. He said that all economists think we should stay (which is, of course, certainly not true) and that no former party leader thinks we should leave. I mentioned Michael Howard, Ian Duncan Smith, David Owen, Margaret Thatcher, Michael Foot. 

I could have mentioned Jeremy Corbyn who probably does not really want us to stay, but Corbyn is a name even less likely to persuade anyone than Foot's. Instead, I surprised him by mentioning Nigel Lawson. He had no idea that very experienced intelligent people like Howard and Lawson wanted us to leave.

Then he said that he thought nationals of other EU countries who live in the UK should have had a vote in the referendum. This was like the thirteenth stroke of the clock, that not only was not convincing in itself but cast doubt on the other twelve. I don't think he gets the idea of nationhood.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

A revolutionary moment in Britain

The support in the opinion polls for Britain leaving the E.U. (exactly 50-50 these days) is the nearest the British have come to a revolution since 1848 - and that includes the General Strike of 1926 and the strange revolutionary moment when Diana died. The people (half of them) are battling against the political parties, big business, the banks, the Americans, the Europeans and even the Archbishop of Canterbury. How interesting that the left these days (including Jeremy Corbyn) is always opposed to revolutions.

Donald Trump, of course, is a revolutionary too.

Monday, 13 June 2016

The war on the West and psychiatric illness

The Muslim American, son of Afghan immigrants, who murdered more than fifty people in a homosexual nightclub in Florida, has made the news around the world, because what happens in America is always deemed newsworthy. It would be somewhat less newsworthy had it happened in Canada and much less newsworthy had it happened in Mexico. Although I did once, I don't any longer object to Anglo-Saxon centred news values. It's a form of soft power.

What happened after the bloodshed is what always happens. Democrats blamed gun laws and most people blamed Islamic extremism. Some claimed it for gay rights. A few very right-wing people were pleased homosexuals had been killed. A left-wing friend of mine blamed it on gun laws, homophobia and Donald Trump, in that order. She is a former Oxford don and has helped form young minds.

I don't like to use murders to make political points. But these words of Mark Steyn's about the murders in Paris before Christmas came to mind and seem to me apposite.

"Among his other coy evasions, President Obama described tonight's events as "an attack not just on Paris, it's an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share".

But that's not true, is it? He's right that it's an attack not just on Paris or France. What it is is an attack on the west, on the civilization that built the modern world - an attack on one portion of "humanity" by those who claim to speak for another portion of "humanity". And these are not "universal values" but values that spring from a relatively narrow segment of humanity. They were kinda sorta "universal" when the great powers were willing to enforce them around the world and the colonial subjects of ramshackle backwaters such as Aden, Sudan and the North-West Frontier Province were at least obliged to pay lip service to them. But the European empires retreated from the world, and those "universal values" are utterly alien to large parts of the map today."

Causation is a very complicated thing and every event has many causes. I imagine the Florida killer was probably unbalanced. If not, he may have been a psychopath. Psychopathy is not a mental illness but the scientific term for evil.

Michael Adebowale, who brutally beheaded Drummer Lee Rigby on a London street, is appealing his sentence on the ground of mental illness, an appeal which if it succeeds will mean he spends his life in Broadmoor. Gyulchekhra Bobokulova beheaded a four-year-old girl in Moscow and displayed her head in the street shouting, "Allahu Akbar." They decided she was mad, as I am sure she is. On May 10th, a man stabbed four people at a train station near Munich while screaming, "Allahu Akbar.” He is in a psychiatric hospital. 

The young white man who opened fire on black Americans in church at Charleston last year was probably deranged, but this was not the message in the media. The story was about white racism. Confederate flags were taken down and videos of TV series that featured incidentally that flag were withdrawn from sale.

The truth is that politicians and journalists in the increasingly interlinked developed world do not know what to do about Muslim violence and want to pretend it is not a problem. 

As Dominic Johnson put it, "
Much of the liberal political class and commentators remind me of a man who refuses to accept his wife is leaving him."

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it's an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before" said Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago and close friend of President Obama, before he reigned in disgrace. Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump will try to follow his advice in respect of the Orlando massacre. My betting is that it is very useful for the latter in the key marginal state of Florida.

More EU referendum quotations

England has never been more little than it is now, a subject province of someone else’s empire.

Peter Hitchens

The price of true freedom is uncertainty.

Kate Hoey

We’re getting killed, it’s madness. We’re being asked to argue with our voters, telling them that they’re wrong about immigration and the EU. And then at the end we’re supposed to turn around and say vote Labour. It’s like putting up a sign saying vote UKIP.

Anonymous senior Labour MP quoted in Politico

Unfortunately British Muslims have no choice. They need to ask whether it is safe for them to remain part of a European Union which is being steadily captured by anti-Muslim bigotry and hatred.
The latest example of this dangerous trend concerns the dreadful remarks made two weeks ago by the Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico. "Islam" declared Fico, "has no place in Slovakia".
Fico made clear that he was not calling for a secular Slovakia. He wants to keep Muslims out as part of what looks and sounds very much like a crusade for a Christian Slovakia - and by extension a Christian Europe.

Peter Oborne in Middle East Eye

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Islam can coexist with other religions, but with democracy? No!

Islam can coexist with other religions, but with democracy? No! Anyone who says that sharia can coexist with democracy is a hypocrite.
Bujar Hysa, an Albanian imam, quoted in this article in the Washington Post.

More Brexit referendum campaign thoughts

When you win, everything you did was an act of genius and when you lose, everything you did was the work of a fool. 

Ed Miliband

A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.

Ronald Reagan

We should change the name Conservative Party because we are not.

Margaret Thatcher

The constitution of 1795, like its predecessors, has been drawn up for Man. Now, there is no such thing in the world as Man. In the course of my life, I have seen Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, etc.; I am even aware, thanks to Montesquieu, that one can be a Persian. But, as for Man, I declare that I have never met him in my life. If he exists, I certainly have no knowledge of him.

Joseph de Maistre

In a democracy people identify themselves as part of a first person plural—a 'we' established by inheritance and history.

Roger Scruton

We envisage few political evils worse than that of a government that controls us, but which we cannot control.

Roger Scruton

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Brexit referendum campaign thoughts

To simplify wildly the main current in liberal-left thought is universalist. We believe that rights are for everyone. Logically we are committed to the position that a new immigrant to Britain, for instance, should be as entitled to benefits and public services as a British citizen born and bred here. Large chunks of the British electorate could not disagree more. They are communitarians. They believe that natives should have greater rights; that you have to belong before you can receive."

Nick Cohen

'It isn’t important whether you win or lose, so long as you survive. So long as your people survive. And that’s the only good reason for fighting that anyone ever invented. The survival of your people and race and kind. That’s the only victory that matters.'

Sir Harry Flashman (from 'Mr American' by George MacDonald Fraser)

SMILE at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget.
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.

G.K. Chesterton

What people like Polly don't seem to realise is that, rather like at the end of Animal Farm, her beloved bourgeois left crowd and the Neoliberals have become so similar as to be indistinguishable.

Comment on a Polly Toynbee article online

Thursday, 9 June 2016

How many very influential people think

PVE Wood

It comes down to this. Do we want to be ruled by foreigners and have we gained much from being in for 43 years to compensate for loss of our independence? Everyone has his own answer. I think it has cost us a lot and we are now ruled by people who refuse to use navies to stop an invasion of Europe.

Christoph ****

It is this kind of thinking that I think we should reject. Even the very language represents attitudes that need to be overcome. We should not use the term foreigner, it represents the social construct of boundaries between peoples that is harmful. All people are humans, our brothers and sisters. The construct of the nation state needs to be overcome. Likewise the word "ruled" is no longer appropriate, we are free people, nobody rules us. I am proud of the fact that in my small family, all three of us each have a different nationality. The EU is a progressive vanguard where the nation state is overcome on the principle of subsidiarity, so that there is still meaningful local decision-making. It is interesting that the British, who once governed a good part of the globe, seem to have greater problems with that then some of the nations that were literally under "foreign rule" for quite a long time (Ireland, Eastern Europe etc.)

PVE Wood

Of course we do - they are used to being ruled, we to ruling ourselves.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Why I decided I hope the UK leaves the EU

I have always been certain that my country would vote to stay in the EU even as I become more and more persuaded that, on balance, we should leave. But now, suddenly, hope has crept by inches into my heart.

I decided after much thought that I would vote Out had I a vote. But I have been abroad too long. Why? Because the EU will always be undemocratic. Because you cannot have a democracy without a demos.  

Our economic future might eventually be better outside the EU, but no-one knows and people who say they know are deluded or deluding. What matters is that I do not see any reason why laws should be made by unelected foreigners that we in the United Kingdom have to obey. 

There's no right or wrong decision on Brexit - it depends on your values. Do we prefer to be free or want kind masters? I think the English will prefer kind masters. They will vote to stay in, for fear that there would be fewer laws if we leave. But maybe I'm wrong.

One thing that has helped me make up by mind about Brexit is that I find I tend to like the way Brexiters think about things in general, like their sense of humour - and find the

Reaction to the referendum result anticipated by Philip Larkin

Reaction to the referendum result if the UK were to vote to leave the EU, as anticipated by Philip Larkin:

Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,

As epitaph:

He chucked up everything

And just cleared off,

Monday, 6 June 2016

Quotations for Monday

She was also incapacitated by much of daily life and had 'no aptitude whatsoever' for domesticity.

Sybille Bedford

Trump routinely deploys all the subversive transgressiveness that campus Leftists claim to value.

Camille Paglia

A lot of the craziness comes from cultural/ethnic issues—rural White Americans who feel they are losing their country, and they are right. They are losing their country. In the end, the power they now have will go away, but it’s a very difficult and dangerous time until then.

Paul Krugman, 2014

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Back in Cernauti/Chernivtsi

An unmistakable sense of freedom as soon as we arrive in Ukraine. A sense of normal people who think like human beings. A civilised place where people believe in God and love their country. Romania is like that too but is becoming EU-ised.

It took eleven hours to drive from Bucharest to Cernăuți instead of the eight we'd planned on. As happens every summer in Romania there were floods, a road was closed. At the border we waited over an hour. An argument for the European Union. All Romanian borders took half an hour to cross before she joined the EU.

This is my third visit to the Northern Bucovina and Cernăuți or Czernowitz. Cernăuți was its name when it was in Romania from 1919 to 1940. Chernivtsi is its Ukrainian name. Czernowitz was its name in the period of its prosperity, when it was the third city of the Austrian empire, in Austria's equivalent of the Wild West, and Yiddish and German speaking Jews made up much the largest and most influential ethnic group in the city.  

The city was at the same time a centre for Ukrainian, Romanian and Jewish nationalism. Now the streets are named after Ukrainian heroes, the Jews and Romanians are mostly gone and the great synagogue is a cinema - called by wags the Cine-gogue.

The Jews were mostly relocated and then killed by Romanian soldiers during the war, though the Romanian mayor persuaded the Romanian dictator, Marshal Antonescu, to spare twenty thousandThe surviving Jews mostly left for Israel or, recently, Germany. About a thousand remain. That is a small number but a Jew from Cernăuți, Volodymyr Groysman, became Ukrainian Prime Minister in April, belying American suspicions that Ukraine is an anti-Semitic country (though I suspect that it might be).