Friday, 29 July 2016

Robert Tombs on the English revolt

Dr. Robert Tombs, who taught me in my last year at the university and recently awoke to find himself famous, discusses Brexit brilliantly here.

There is also a widespread belief, powerful though fanciful, that the EU prevents war between the European states. All these are important reasons why there remains considerable support for unification as an aspiration. But all these reasons are weaker, and some of them non-existent, in Britain, and especially in England. The simple reason for this is that Britain’s experience of the 20th century was far less traumatic. Moreover, during that time loyalty to the nation was not tarnished with fascism, but was rather the buttress of freedom and democracy. Conversely, the vision of a European “superstate” is seen less as a guarantee of peace and freedom, and rather as the latest in a five-century succession of would-be continental hegemons.

....What galvanised the vote for Brexit, I think, was a core attachment to national democracy: the only sort of democracy that exists in Europe. That is what “getting our country back” essentially means. Granted, the slogan covers a multitude of concerns and wishes, some of them irreconcilable; but that is what pluralist democracy involves. Britain has long been the country most ­resistant to ceding greater powers to the EU: opinion polls in the lead-up to the referendum showed that only 6 per cent of people in the UK (compared to 34 per cent in France, for instance, and 26 per cent in Germany) favoured increased centralisation – a measure of the feebleness of Euro-federalism in Britain.
In contrast, two-thirds wanted powers returned from the EU to the British government, with a majority even among the relatively Europhile young. This suggests a much greater opposition to EU centralisation than shown by the 52 per cent vote for Brexit. The difference may be accounted for by the huge pressure put on the electorate during the campaign. Indeed, arithmetic suggests that half even of Remain voters oppose greater powers being given to the EU. Yet its supporters regard an increase of EU control over economic and financial decisions – the basics of politics – as indispensable if the EU is to survive, because of the strains inherent in the eurozone system. This stark contradiction between the decentralisation that many of the peoples of Europe – and above all the British – want to see and the greater centralisation that the EU as an institution needs is wilfully ignored by Remain supporters. Those who deplore the British electorate’s excessive attachment to self-government as some sort of impertinence should be clear (not least with themselves) about whether they believe that the age of democracy in Europe is over, and that great decisions should be left to professional politicians, bureaucracies and large corporations.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Brexit was the right decision, but we are treading on other people’s dreams

I had dinner last night with a wonderful, young, idealistic Romanian lawyer who has been traumatised (really) by the decision of a country she loves to abandon the European project she passionately believes in. I didnt realise some young Romanians feel this way but they do and very many good people in Britain and Europe feel the same for the sort of reasons I respect - idealistic, noble ones.

Lots more British people worry about how it will affect the economy, which I very much understand.

But a fair few people in Britain on the left feel like Ed Vulliamy in this article in The Guardian (where else?). They hate Brexit because they don't like Britain and want it to stop being so British. This is also a strong reason why they are in favour of lots of immigrants Coming to the U.K.

"For me, departure from Europe was a given: in the tea leaves at a deep and mainstream cultural level beyond the slaughter at Heysel stadium and serial record of England’s football fans, or politicians’ Eurosceptic ranting. It was in the tarot cards of those bulimic, retarded royal occasions – jubilee, wedding, babies; in the sickly nostalgia of The King’s Speech; in the Olympic Games and Boris’s parachute – like Ukip on bad acid. Above all, over the crisis of wretched refugees and migrants, it howled from the pages of newspapers like the Sun, which has never lost an election and wasn’t going to lose this one... 
On the slipstream of empire, I’ve always thought – to the point of treason – of my British passport as a “burden of shame” as UB40 so eloquently put it, “a British subject, not proud of it”. Now, trying to cling on in “the continent”, it is just a downright embarrassment – not only a badge of shame, but also, worse in a way, of pointless, bellicose imbecility."
He is right about one thing - Brexit now feels like it was inevitable, although unlike him I did not expect it.

Some Romanians think our leaving the EU is 'selfish' and we should stay to make the EU a better institution, particularly for Romania's sake. Many (most?) Romanians seem to think Brexit is about racism directed towards East Europeans. The Romanian executive I had lunch with today thinks that, though he said he thought racism was normal. A few admire Britain's courage in leaving. 

In the late nineteenth century Romanian intellectuals looked to France as a source of ideals on which to model themselves, as Lucian Boia pointed out, whereas most Romanians liked the EU because it spends money spent on the country and because they prefer to be ruled by Westerners rather than their own politicians (they are right to do so). However things are changing and a number of Romanians in their twenties believe in European unity. Which makes good sense viewed from Bucharest.

It is not only British freedom that is a romantic idea. The EU has its poetry too. Unfortunately those beautiful ideals segue into ideas like this, expressed by a German Professor of International Relations who moulds the minds of young people at a British university.
I understand the term foreigner but I reject it as retrograde. I don't perceive myself as a foreigner, or any of the people I know. I reject the idea of countries and boundaries should be transcended as much as possible. The very nature of states or countries has changed dramatically. Borders limit human freedom, they are social constructs that need to change. From an IR point of view, the purpose of international institutions is to alter the behaviour of states so that they cooperate rather than purely pursue national interest because the latter results in conflict.....I see the EU as a vanguard promoting freedom of movement which in the future should encompass the world.
This is Romantic with a vengeance - the kind of ideas that the French Revolution produced in the minds of the sillier readers of Romantic poetry.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Banning same sex marriage in Romania

Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists, the European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law and 24 Romanian NGOs have asked the Romanian Constitutional Court to rule illegal a proposed amendment to the Romanian Constitution that would define marriage as a "union between a man and a woman".

The Coalition for Family, which includes 34 local NGOs and associations, has gathered three million signatures in support of the amendment, which unsurprisingly is supported by the Romanian Orthodox Church.

The amendment, if passed, would mean that homosexual marriage could not be permitted without a referendum. The amendment is therefore a very democratic one.

Yet it is the people who want the amendment and therefore want to have a vote on the matter - not 
Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists and the European Commission on Sexual Orientation Law, who  recoil from the idea of a vote - who are accused of being 'intolerant' and 'undemocratic'. 

Orwell called it Newspeak. Humpty Dumpty said, 'When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'

Melania Trump plagiarism scandal

From Breitbart we learn that Scott Adams thinks, from his experience of script writing, that Mrs Trump's speech was probably not intentional plagiarising Mrs. Obama and will make the former sympathetic to the public.

It could happen so easily that people would genuinely not know that they had plagiarized it. You could imagine that a first draft would be largely plagiarized, just as placeholders.

In my opinion, what is bad is that she lied when she said that she had written it herself without help. Except she is not standing for election, so it doesn't matter.

This tweet made me smile.


Three people who understand Donald Trump

So Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. And all the people who said he wouldn't win a  primary now say he has no chance of reaching the White House.

The best way to understand the rise of Donald Trump is to read Scott Adams' blog - all his blog posts on Trump are a must read. I liked this remark he made a long time ago.

No one doubts Trump’s effectiveness to get things done. That conversation ended sometime between his overthrow of the Republican leadership and his complete dominance of every media outlet. I think it happened at about the same time you watched him dismantle the Bush dynasty and the Clinton dynasty, in that order. 
So you know he can do things.

This recent article is especially worth reading, on the theme of how hard it is to predict what presidential candidates will do in office. He cleverly overturns a lot of arguments commonly used against Trump.

Then this by Katty Kay on the BBC is brilliant. As she says,
It may be useful to stop thinking of this presidential campaign as a contest between Democrats and Republicans. 
Hillary Clinton is a Democrat. Donald Trump is also a Democrat.
Come on, you know it's true. This isn't a political race, it's a class race.

This is the most persuasive case for supporting Trump that I have seen, an interview with an anonymous young Trump supporter who sees Trump as a partial antidote to an

ultra-PC culture. That’s where it's almost impossible to have polite or constructive political discussion. Disagreement gets you labelled fascist, racist, bigoted, etc. 

Monday, 18 July 2016

Ben Judah on Muslim Paris

I printed this article about modern Paris by Ben Judah ten days ago but only read it today, over lunch. Like everything Ben Judah writes it is very good. (He's 27 or 28 and spent part of his childhood in Bucharest.) After the massacre at Nice it is even more topical and even more troubling.
Jews, he says, are leaving France for fear of Muslims and I remember that an Iraqi monk told me that, when the Jews were being expelled from Iraq in the 1970s, a rabbi told him,

"They are getting rid of the Saturday people now. They will come for the Sunday people later."

Jews are also joining and voting for the Front National, although Ben Judah doesn't mention this.

"France’s two-stage electoral system means that a party can’t win an election on only 30 per cent of the vote. Camus thinks that the Front’s attempt to be simultaneously an anti-austerity, anti-Islam and anti-EU protest party has won it a large support base but one that cannot grow. “Swing any more to the centre and it will start to lose votes from the extremes. Swing any more to the protectionist Left it will start to lose votes from the Right.” The Front is also blocked by France’s professionals. For them, quite unlike for France’s poor, a vote for Marine is still largely seen as vulgar and delusional, if no longer totally inexcusable. “This is why Left and Right are still ready to vote for each other to stop the Front passing the threshold. This is the glass ceiling. 
The consensus in Paris is that another terrorist slaughter would shatter it."

We shall see.
Judah describes Saint-Denis and its cathedral, where the kings of France are buried along with Charles Martel, who saved Europe from the Muslims at the Battle of Tours in 704. Now Saint-Denis is a mostly Muslim ghetto, where the police have given up trying to prevent petty crimes. He interviews the Prefect of the department and asks him why.
“'Those same people who say there is a lack of authority,” snaps the 60-year-old prefect, “are the same ones who refuse the police access when they try and enter. Those from the Maghreb, by origin, permit themselves to behave in ways that would be unthinkable where they came from.' 
He tells me that the secret services are currently monitoring 700 people at risk of radicalisation in Saint-Denis, and the police are too frightened to enter alone most areas under his control. '

Sunday, 17 July 2016

The threats to Britain are not from Russia

Let's scrap Trident. It is pointless. 
And, given our financial worries because of Brexit, reduce our vast overseas aid budget for a time. Theresa May has ruled out both of these.

We face a huge nuclear threat. Obviously not from Russia - or even Iran - but from a nuclear terrorist attack. I don't see how Trident will help nor do I see that it is independent of the USA. 

Putin is certainly bad news but he is not "the enemy". Muslim terrorism and extremism are. Migrants are the other great defence threat, effectively an invasion. 

Three weeks ago the UK overcome the European threat to her independence. We made terms years ago, I regret to say, with the IRA. The final threat to the UK is the Scottish Nationalists. to combat that threat I like the very radical proposal of Lord Salisbury and others to make the UK into a decentralised federation. Rather like the plans of Gladstone, which an earlier Marquis of Salisbury opposed and which, had they been implemented, would have kept Southern Ireland in the UK.

I agreed with Theresa May that the UK should resile from the ECHR and was very sorry that she quietly dropped it after the referendum. The UK should also enter a reservation into our adherence to the UN Convention on Refugees, obliging us to accept European refugees. I believe that back in 1951 we did make such a reservation.

Just Eton boys, grown heavy

I've always loved these lines by Praed, although I did not go to Eton. I wonder if David Cameron does and find them consoling now.

In Parliament I fill my seat,
With many other noodles;
And lay my head in Jermyn Street,
And sip my hock at Boodles.
But often, when the cares of life
Have set my temples aching,
When visions haunt me of a wife,
When duns await my waking ...
I wish that I could run away
From House, and Court, and Levee,
Where bearded men appear today
Just Eton boys, grown heavy;
That I could bask in childhood’s sun,
And dance o’er childhood’s roses,
And find huge wealth in one pound one,
Vast wit in broken noses;
And play Sir Giles at Datchet Lane,
And call the milk-maids Houris;
That I could be a boy again,
A happy boy, at Drury’s.

Praed evidently enjoyed Eton despite the floggings. I tend more to side with Philip Larkin who said, 'When I was a child I thought I hated the human race, but when I grew up I realised it was only children I couldn't stand.' 

Of course I love children now that I am no longer at their mercy.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Boris is an inspired choice for British Foreign Secretary

Selwyn Lloyd, the future British Foreign Secretary, when offered the position of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs by Winston Churchill at first wanted to decline, because he spoke no foreign languages and had never, except for his war service, been abroad. Something not uncommon among upper middle class Englishmen in 1951. 'These are two excellent qualifications for the job,' said Churchill.

Boris speaks Russian, French, Italian, German and Spanish. Reads Greek and Latin. Not sure if he has much Turkish.

He promises to be the best Foreign Secretary for decades. Not difficult, because they have mostly been colourless and cowardly since 1960, except for Lord Home, and he took us into the EEC, and Lord Carrington, whose Rhodesia deal led to the disaster in Zimbabwe. And they were the two best ones. 

By the way, they, like Boris and so many of our Foreign Secretaries, went to Eton. Lord Carrington wasn't clever enough for university and went to Sandhurst, while Lord Home took a Third at Oxford.

Boris is not good on detail and the Foreign Secretary doesn't have to be. He is great at speaking and at charming people. He is a Brexiter, which is important in the role, and will present a positive, engaging face of Brexit Britain, the reverse of xenophobic. And most of the work will be done by Theresa May, Liam Fox and David Davies. Americans and Europeans will love Boris, partly because he's an Etonian but mostly because he's Boris. 

Much is made of his history of candid remarks about foreign leaders. 

His remark about Obama's prejudice against Britain thanks to his part-Kenyan heritage was very reasonable and has been said by countless commentators. His insults to Trump and Hillary - especially to Trump - are more embarrassing. His rude poem about Erdogan doesn't matter - Erdogan is a bad guy. It is slightly Palmerstonian.

Getting booed on his first day by the French
was almost to be expected and even a promising start. I hope he can get the FCO to change its pro-EU, pro-international bureaucracy outlook. For that he will need all his great charm, leadership qualities and brains.

A military coup attempt in Turkey

A military coup attempt in Turkey began a couple of hours ago. The USA and EU have appealed for democratic rule to be upheld but I imagine it's in the UK's interests that Erdogan goes. No-one knows what will happen, according to the BBC World Service, but I have the impression that the coup is more likely to win than Erdogan.

Let's hope this does not become  a civil war, which would involve, of course, the Kurds.
Boris will wait till he makes any comment - like Talleyrand in the French Revolution of 1830. He went to the window, looked out at the street fighting and said `I see our side is winning.' Someone asked him `Which side is that?" and Talleyrand, very shocked, replied `I shall tell you tomorrow.'

A European Union source tells the Reuters news agency: "It looks like a relatively well orchestrated coup by a substantial body of the military, not just a few colonels." "They control several strategic points in Istanbul. Given the scale of the operation, it is difficult to imagine they will stop short of prevailing," the source adds.

Above Ataturk's tomb, in letters of gold, are orders to the military to preserve secularism from Islam(ism). But there are several factions in the army and one the Gulen movement is Islamic. Erdogan has just said that this group is responsible for the coup.

Erdogan who was on holiday (like Gorbachev) has broadcast on a private TV channel and asked people to defy curfew take to the streets. I hope this does not end in civil war.

According to Wikipedia, after the last coup in 1980: 

650,000 people were arrested.
230,000 people were brought to trial.
517 persons were sentenced to death.
50 of those were executed (26 political prisoners, 23 criminal offenders and 1 ASALA militant).
30,000 people went abroad as political refugees.
300 people died in a suspicious manner.
171 people died by reason of torture.

Friday, 15 July 2016

'The British, not for the first time, seem to have a charmed national life'

What an awful thing it is to be ruled by foreigners. Brexit is UK's liberation, comparable with Portugal achieving independence from Spain in 1640, after a subjugation of 80 years.

Or like the Israelites' Babylonian captivity?

I recommend this analysis from Brett Arends, who begins:

What a difference a few weeks makes. On June 24, just after Britain’s “Brexit” shock, the United Kingdom was apparently facing political chaos, financial crisis, and economic disaster. The prime minister was standing down, the stock market and currency were in freefall, and all the wise men and women of the international financial system were predicting doom and recession.

Here we are today, and the country has already picked its new leader — two months ahead of schedule — and British stocks and government bonds are both stronger.

Meanwhile, on the continent of Europe there is chaos, confusion, and crisis.... 

Does Nice massacre mean Trump has won? Probably

84 people have been killed in Nice by a lorry that late last night ploughed through crowds gathered for the Bastille Day celebrations. The killer is said, unsurprisingly, to have shouted 'Allahu Akbar' before being shot dead by police. It means Trump will probably win.

Will Marine Le Pen win too? I doubt that, because the other parties will combine to prevent it.

Who knew Nice and the South of France is (so said the BBC's Justin Webb on Radio 4) "a hotbed"? He paused and didn't say a hotbed of what, but it was clear from what he went on to say that he meant of Muslim extremism.

What terrible mistakes France and Europe have made.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Corbyn was given a bottle of whiskey and a gun

Corbyn was given a bottle of whiskey and a gun, drank the whiskey and shot the Labour Party.

Nigel Evans, Conservative MP


It's all very confusing.

June 26th: 'Philip Hammond says loss of access to single market would be catastrophic'.

Today: 'Hammond confirms the UK will leave the single market'.

Nixon in China

A Remainer like Theresa May can deliver a better Brexit than a Brexiter. Nixon in China. De Gaulle and Algeria.

Some of the ideas in her speech last night seemed pretty iffy - meddlesome and statist - but her premiership will be mostly about Brexit up until the next election in four years' time.

Johnsonian diplomacy

Lots of people in the social media have pointed out that the new British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Hilary Clinton has "a steely blue stare, like a sadistic nurse in a mental hospital". Curiously, no-one, as far as I saw, has mentioned that he said in March that he was “genuinely worried” that Donald Trump could become president and that being mistaken for him on the street in New York was “one of the worst moments” in his visit.

Many people think he should apologise for saying Obama is 'a half-Kenyan' who harbours ancestral dislike of Britain, but I have seen the same point made by countless people and it's a perfectly fair comment - for a backbench MP.

A few weeks ago Johnson won The Spectator magazine’s President Erdogan Offensive Poetry competition with this squib which might be a criminal offence in Turkey or - oddly enough - Germany. 
There was a young fellow from Ankara
Who was a terrific wankerer
Till he sowed his wild oats
With the help of a goat
But he didn’t even stop to thankera.

Brexit feels like the springtime of the peoples

Brexit feels like the springtime of the peoples, as they called the 1848 revolutions. Peter Oborne said it reminds him of the Arab Spring. He meant that in a good way.

It occurs to me that all the 1848 revolutions failed and the Arab Spring led to many wars. Brexit will however be a success. Although papers like the Economist and the Financial Times will try to ensure its failure, for purely ideological reasons (both papers are strongly pro-EU and strongly internationalist) and have quite a  lot or power to do so.

UK is leaving the Single Market - no job for Gove

Philip Hammond, the new British Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance), announced today that the UK will leave the Single Market. Which I think is very good news (though what Sir Humphrey in yes, minster would have called 'A courageous decision, Minister'). 
Presumably this means we shall not be in the European Economic Area (the Norway option). 

Yet the Norway option (it sounds like a Cold War thriller, I know) was what famous anti-EU figures like Daniel Hannan and Christopher Booker wanted - and I wanted if they could modify free movement. But events have a momentum. Which is why it was illogical for Remainers to ask where is Leave's plan? David Cameron should have instructed his civil servants to make one but it would not be followed.

Michael Gove, whom Ken Clarke said was the ablest minister in the last government, is not going to be a minister. (Pedantic note. Reuters, the Telegraph, etc. are incorrect to say he has been sacked. All ministers are deemed to resign with the Prime Minister.)

I am very sorry. Michael Gove is a remarkably able and public spirited man. Without him I am not sure Brexit would have won. His fault was being too modest. Had he announced his candidature for the Tory leadership on the day after the referendum he might be be Prime Minister today. But Brexiters will get more of what they want from a Remain PM like Mrs. May than from a Leave Prime Minister.

Brexit may be our finest hour

Brexit may well be our finest hour.

VERY very good news late last night. Boris is Foreign Secretary, a very good choice. He'll communicate a positive and charming face of Brexit Britain. Both Americans and Europeans will love him. Passionate Eurosceptic and libertarian David Davis is back in office after 19 years, and in charge of Brexit and Osborne is out. David Cameron surprisingly defeated Davis to become Conservative leader in 2005.  

But what about Michael Gove, whom even Ken Clarke admitted on  tape was the ablest minister in the last government? Readers know Gove  is my hero. Without him Brexit may well not have happened.

Osborne's Project Fear deceits were appalling (Peter Oborne says he devised them with help from his friend Peter Mandelson) and now doing the country huge damage. He is completely exploded. And he forced Mark Carney into taking part in Project Fear too - Carney too must slip away soon

The new cabinet reminds me of Hartley Shawcross's famous much misquoted statement. He didn't say 'We are the masters now' but 'We are the masters at the moment and shall be for some considerable time.' I do hope that is true of Brexiters and think it is. Away from Europe, I fear Mrs May's taste for meddling and social engineering. Even more sexual equality laws, etc, etc? Let's have a low tax, low regulation economy instead.

Harold Macmillan said, 'Mr. Attlee's cabinet had three Etonians, mine has six. Everything's twice as good under the Conservatives.' I hope Boris will not be the only Etonian in the new cabinet. They have style, a sense of public duty and are not in politics for social climbing reasons. On the contrary, they are slumming.

This is Margaret Thatcher's revenge from the grave. it's Enoch Powell's long delayed posthumous victory too.

Theresa May cometh

I should have blogged yesterday as Theresa May became Prime Minister but forgot. This is from my Facebook wall.

We don't need someone lazy and brilliant like Cameron or Boris for Brexit - we probably need a dull middle class person who does her homework carefully. Not that Mrs May was a successful Home Secretary - she was pretty useless.

She says she is going to be modern - which sounds bad. But she says she is a Unionist, which is good.

She says she believes in social justice. Never liked that phrase. She is wearing leopard print shoes.

A Blairite obviously - though wanting to help the working class is good.

 She's a dreadfully dull speaker.

 I very much like "that precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland"

These facts come from Mr Memory@AmIRightSir

 BBC incorrectly saying today Theresa May will be 76th person to be PM; there have been 76 terms of office, but she is 54th person.

 Theresa May is only the second Prime Minister to have been born in Sussex, the other being Henry Pelham (PM 1743-54)

Theresa May is the 3rd Prime Minister whose father's main occupation was clergyman/minister of religion. [Mr. Brown was another but who was the 3rd? Mrs Thatcher’s father was a part-time preacher.]

Theresa May is the second clear case of an only child becoming Prime Minister, the other being Stanley Baldwin.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Kissing hands - Theresa May becomes the Queen's 13th Prime Minister

Mrs. May kissed hands yesterday and undertook to form a ministry. I wonder what the Queen thinks of her.

The Queen couldn't bear Mrs. Thatcher and I very much doubt she liked Mr. Brown - he has no small talk. She beamed when Cameron kissed hands. Churchill was her favourite. 

At the audience after Mr. Reagan invaded Grenada Mrs Thatcher was not invited to sit down.

Of course Mr. Gladstone never was, not even when 80. As a special favour Dizzy was as he grew frailer. I wonder whether King Edward VII started asking his prime ministers to sit. His first Lord Salisbury, was 71 when Edward VII ascended the throne.

What a shame Prime Ministers now sit down. It's important to keep them in their place.

By the way Andrew Schrader tell me that "Privy Council meetings are still conducted with everyone standing, allegedly because Her Majesty likes them to be quick and businesslike and doesn't want all those privy counsellors lounging around thinking they have all the time in the world.."

The royal family mocked Mrs. Thatcher's deep curtseys but Churchill's bows were deep.

When Clare Short went to kiss hands on becoming a cabinet minister, her mobile telephone rang and she rummaged through her large bag, spewing the contents on the floor, before finding the telephone. As she did so it rang off. The Queen, in what Matthew Parris called the greatest moment in her reign, said sweetly, "I do hope it wasn't anyone important."

Royal government

The UK has no government at the moment and HM the Queen is in charge.

The Queen is said, by The Sun at least, to be in favour of Brexit.

David Cameron's last bow

Damn, I missed seeing David Cameron's last Prime Minister's Questions live. (Click here.) I had forgotten that they are now held at midday.

I am very sorry that they clapped him - something the House did for the first time in its history when Tony Blair resigned, after a speech in which he said that he never liked the place. Clapping is not what the House should do when it wants to demonstrate approval. It should roar itself hoarse and throw its order papers in the air.

How recently Mrs Thatcher's last PMQs seem, when she cried out 'I'm enjoying this!'

Unlike her I imagine David Cameron will lead a happy life. Unlike her he has what Dennis Healey called a hinterland. In other words he is cultured, reads and has interests beyond politics.

David Cameron was a good Prime Minister in some ways, a decent man, at least until the deceitfulness of his referendum campaign, but will be remembered only for Brexit and to a very much lesser extent homosexual marriage. His other legacies are changing the rules of succession to the throne and making the Tories Blairites.

Being an Etonian was a plus - it made him a rounded human being who read books - as was not being an OUCA hack 
(Oxford University Conservative Association student politician) . Mrs May, by contrast, is a classic OUCA hack and like most politicians a two-dimensional human being. In her case a humourless swot with none of Cameron's brilliance.

It is very much to his discredit that he wanted to stay till the G20 summit and a very good thing that he goes today. 

Because of the referendum, which he expected would put an end forever to the question of UK leaving the EU, he will be remembered as one of the three great failures as Prime Minister, along with Sir Anthony Eden and Lord North. If Brexit turns out to be the right thing to have done, as I am pretty sure it will, he will not be given the credit.

Brexit quotes

Adi Schwartz, an Israeli journalist:

For years I have been watching liberal western journos giving advice to Israelis and explain how stupid they are to elect this or that government. Quite amusing to see that it's now the fate of the Brits who did not play their role in the script.

Andrew Neil:

So Siemens has decided not to quit UK after all, despite hints during Referendum. There's a surprise.

Tim Stanley:

Leadsom supporters should not despair. Brexit is safe with Theresa May.

Brendan O'Neill:

Still marvelling at the EU referendum result, the best thing to happen to British politics in a generation. Has it ever separated the men from the boys (no sexism intended). All those people you thought believed in freedom and democracy -- turns out they don't. All those ordinary people who had been branded static and conservative -- turns out they aren't. All those lefties who claimed to care about the working classes -- turns out they don't. All those high-minded liberals who posed as heirs to the struggles for suffrage and open debate -- turns out they aren't. I've lost loads of Facebook friends, but gained more. Every political pose and political grouping has been exposed, if not destroyed, in the most creative way imaginable. Everything is up for grabs again, everything is uncertain, and uncertainty is the midwife of change. Thank you to the 17 million, you brave, brilliant democrats!

Lord Green of Deddington, Chairman of Migration Watch UK:

Yet again government officials are playing down the impact of immigration on household demand. Today’s DCLG publication focuses only on the principal projection of net migration to England of 170,000 rather than the high migration scenario of 233,000 which is much closer to the average of the last ten years which is 220,000 a year.

That scenario confirms that we will need to provide a new home every five minutes to accommodate future arrivals. This is 45% of all of the new homes needed. Demand for new housing has constantly been underestimated and unmet. It is now crystal clear that, if the housing crisis is to be eased, the new government must get immigration sharply down.

Dominic Johnson:

Theresa May is Blairite. Charles Clarke in expensive footwear.

An employee at the European Commission, who wrote to every member of the UK Parliament:

The letter

MILLIONS of Britons physically exhausted after several weeks arguing

The Daily Mash is very unfunny indeed, as a rule, but I liked a story that began:

"MILLIONS of Britons are physically exhausted after spending several weeks arguing with people who do not understand anything.
Many ‘remain’ voters feel they need a holiday or a long sleep after the tiring experience of trying to reason with people who completely reject logic or evidence."

We are all exhausted with endless arguing on Facebook, though it's great, great fun (if you are Leave). I even put off dinner with lovely women to spend evenings on the net, reading the press but mostly deploying killer arguments (well I think so) on Facebook.

Remainers say they are a lot cleverer than Leavers. All I know is, to quote Disraeli, a majority is the best repartee.

Enduring Europe

Brexit won because Remain had no romantic arguments for staying in. Only pragmatic arguments against leaving, mostly based on fear. Hope defeated fear, fairly narrowly. Nations are built on romance and so must the EU be if it is to endure.

If the EU can't survive Brexit then it certainly doesn't deserve to. I hope it will be a wake up call to the 27 remaining members, but I doubt EU can rethink itself as loose group of nation states with real subsidiarity and far, far fewer European laws. A good first step would be to abolish the European Commission. Meanwhile the next crisis will be in poor, crucified Italy.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Should the UK leave the Single Market?

I originally wanted the Norway option but with limits on freedom of movement but I am coming to think that the UK should not bother about being in the Single Market but try instead to be a low tax, low regulation economy, that OF COURSE allows Europeans living in the UK to stay but controls her own borders. This is what Nigel Lawson and Patrick Minford advocate and Andrea Leadsom and the Leave Tory MPs probably want. This would set a great example to our friends in the EU. I doubt if Theresa May will initially like the idea but she might be persuaded. This is the discussion we all should be having, instead of pointless discussions about whether the referendum need be implemented or whether Leave won because of lies or racism.

The cost of tariffs imposed on the UK might be less than our Single Market membership fee and are something we could afford.

Today in British politics

So it looks like Labour will split into a wacko Mediterranean protest/anti-imperialist Syriza/Podemos style party of Corbinistas on the left, while the centre and right joins up with marooned LIb-Dems, sundry metropolitan liberals and perhaps a handful of pro-Europe conservatives to form a new Blairite/Remainer mushy centrist alliance. But where does that leave the millions of traditional Labour voters who voted for Brexit and don't eat artisan-baked ciabatta for breakfast?

Adam LeBor

I see ‪Labour‬ have taken time off from their problems to call for a snap election. Don't recall one when ‪‎Gordon Brown‬ became PM.

Helen Szamuely

What if Leadsom was only in it to keep Gove off the ticket?

Jeremy Drysdale

Why should Andrea Leadsom have to apologise for saying that being a mother would make her a better prime minister? She was a campaigning politician. Any other work experience can be thrown in but not mothering, mentioning it has been deemed unacceptable and apparently offensive to the opposing candidate. She had work experience and life perspective she couldn't talk about because the other candidate didn't have the same experience. In any other field that would not be the case so why can't she talk about being a mother?

Bunny Sheffield

The passing of David Cameron

If I were Prime Minister I wouldn't address the nation from behind a mike in the middle of Downing St, as David Cameron did when he announced his resignation yesterday. I'd have the TV schedule interrupted while I did the full Prime Ministerial thing from behind my desk. 
"I have to tell you now that no such undertaking has been received, and that consequently this country is at war with Germany....."

Admittedly the little song David Cameron sang to himself as he walked away from the mike was endearing.

It vaguely reminded me of another Tory whose career was destroyed by Europe, Norman Lamont.

John Pienaar (BBC reporter): Which do you regret more, singing in the bath when forced to withdraw from the ERM, or talking prematurely of green shoots last autumn?
Norman Lamont: I .. Je ne regrette rien.

Farage conceded defeat gracefully at 10.25 on referendum night - why can't Remainers?

Talk about bad losers. Nigel Farage conceded defeat gracefully at 10.25 pm on referendum night. Compare and contrast with the many people who are still writing that we should ignore the referendum. The Liberal Democrat leader, whose name no man remembers, has suggested this. So have many others. Hundreds of barristers have signed a letter telling us to ignore the referendum.

To these people the answer is clear. It is this. This is what we were told before the referendum. Nothing about it being advisory or something for Parliament to decide. 

This is from a paper issued by the government in February.
The result of the referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union will be final. The Government would have a democratic duty to give effect to the electorate’s decision. The Prime Minister made clear to the House of Commons that “if the British people vote to leave, there is only one way to bring that about, namely to trigger Article 50 of the Treaties and begin the process of exit, and the British people would rightly expect that to start straight away.


Arriving at each new city, the traveller finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

During the war of 1914-18 the English working class were in contact with foreigners to an extent that is rarely possible. The sole result was that they brought back a hatred of all Europeans, except the Germans, whose courage they admired. In four years on French soil they did not even acquire a liking for wine. The insularity of the English, their refusal to take foreigners seriously, is a folly that has to be paid for very heavily from time to time. But it plays its part in the English mystique, and the intellectuals who have tried to break it down have generally done more harm than good. At bottom it is the same quality in the English character that repels the tourist and keeps out the invader. 

George Orwell, England Your England

This expert cult is new, and a very bad thing. It's deeply anti-intellectual, seeking to create priesthoods who are custodians of knowledge denied to the rest. It's a shame Gove's anecdote about Einstein required the mention of Nazis because the point was Einstein's remark that if a view is right, it only needs one person to propose it.
Expertism tells people not to try to understand issues, not to look at arguments and data themselves, but rather to take the word of the clergy. It's the first resort of frauds, zealots and obsessives.
Coupled with the emphasis on 'qualitative' research, which has eliminated rigour and significance from a lot of public policy research, expertism is a very effective way of justifying the irrational and the unfounded.
It's a specialised form of the credentialism that insists firemen watch children drown in shallow water if they haven't the requisite Drowning Saving Certification.
It's a bad thing.

Peter Risdon 

We pretend we’re run by people. We’re not run by anybody. The secret of modern Britain is there is no power anywhere.

Tory MP Rory Stewart in an interview in 2014. Harold Macmillan said something similar.

A man who views the world the same at fifty as he did at twenty has wasted thirty years of his life.

Muhammad Ali, the boxer

Natalie Nougayrède thinks we shall miss the constant stream of EU metings

"One thing Britain will lose once it is out of the EU is the sustained interaction that comes from taking part in a constant stream of EU meetings: the often tiresome but indispensable routine of trying to find common solutions to common problems. That common diplomatic culture existed for 40 years – with ups and downs – but is about to be dismantled entirely."

Natalie Nougayrède in today's Guardian

And this is a BAD thing?

How wonderful that the energies of our diplomats and civil servants will be diverted to useful things.

Theresa May reaches the top of the greasy pole

Another astonishing day in British politics. Disraeli said the unexpected always happens and it certainly does in his party. Andrea Leadsom stood down yesterday and Theresa May (the Home Secretary, not the 'glamour model' who keeps getting mistaken for her) will be Prime Minister tomorrow if she lives that long. She has promised that Brexit will happen and 'Brexit will mean Brexit'.

Mr. Cameron's last day and last Question Time is tomorrow. He will be remembered in history as a risible figure, though in many ways well-meaning and talented. He is compared to Lord North. The British in America would probably have rebelled eventually whatever Lord North had done but the British might not have left the EU were it not for David Cameron's referendum. Remain would have won a referendum in five years time, when Eurosceptics had died and been replaced by the Europhile progressive young. Cameron's referendum came almost at the last possible moment for a Leave win.

It’s very good news. I don't like Mrs. May at all, but better her than her opponent, the very nice Mrs. Leadsom, who would probably have been hopelessly out of her depth. Now for 'the hard smack of firm government' (Eden's phrase, not that delivered it.)

Party leaders should be elected only by MPs - surely that's obvious? And Mrs. May was the choice of three quarters of her colleagues. 

Members should never have been allowed a vote. That’s how we got Neil Kinnock, Ian Duncan Smith, Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn. It's another indication of how Parliament has lost power, as is the referendum.

None of the Tory candidates looked able to be a good Prime Minister except Michael Gove and after the mess he made of things one has questions about him. Even though Michael Howard, a wise bird, backed her, Andrea Leadsom could have made a terrible mess and been another IDS. At least with Mrs. May an adult is in charge of the playground.

And though she has many faults, we are ruled by cabinets not Prime Ministers. And we need a PM ASAP - waiting for Tory activists to decide in September was fraught with huge peril. I hope she chooses good colleagues, like David Davies, Liam Fox, Michael Gove. Why not Michael Howard for Foreign Secretary, even though he's in the Lords?

I'd love Osborne, the devious and untruthful architect of Project Fear, to be booted out - but he would make trouble - so make him Secretary of State for Paperclips. 

Mrs. Leadsom might easily have won the leadership had she not pulled out of the race. Why did she do so? A big row about the accuracy of her CV, followed by another one about her perfectly reasonable but naive remarks about why being mother helped her to be a good political leader. I suspect she also realised she was not ready for the job. She deserves to be congratulated by the whole country, as does Michael Gove, who could have tried to insist that as third runner-up he should replace her as Mrs. May's opponent.

As William Waldegrave said in 1997, by leaving Europe, which he wanted us to do, we lose our status as a semi-great power. And this is fine.

We may however gain respect from the world by not wasting energy on the European Project, which is something we never believed in. We can gain respect by not making unjust wars and not wasting money on a replacement for Trident. Unfortunately, Theresa May has pledged to do just that. Above all we can win respect and set an example by sharply reducing in vast numbers of non European immigrants who settle in the UK each year. But this is something Mrs. May, who really wanted to do so, did not accomplish. 

I fear her because she is a Blairite, a statist, a 'moderniser' and a feminist, who promised us in her victory speech even more social engineering. She voted in favour of homosexual marriage and was as committed to legally-enforced feminism as Harriet Harman. Mrs. Leadsom's proposal to exempt businesses with three employees or fewer from many employment laws was much more appealing. But I hope the grace of office descends on Theresa May, as it did, surprisingly enough, on Callaghan, but not on Major or Brown.

Everyone in Britain has to hope that.

Meanwhile Angela Eagle has launched a bid for the Labour leadership and Jeremy Corbyn spoke to a Cuba Solidarity Campaign meeting. He does belong, one feels, in a comedy - a Boulting brothers film perhaps. Or perhaps he is a Michael Wharton character somehow come to life — like Mrs. Dutt-Pauker, the Hampstead socialist with the Maoist Albanian au pair, Gjoq. He exists in a universe, parallel to our own, which is beyond parody.

Monday, 11 July 2016

Summertime and the living is easy

My taxi driver told me last night that though he is not taking a holiday this year but working through the summer, he nevertheless regards July and August as a holiday. They are for him for the town is half empty. I commend his philosophy to all my readers.

The middle class were not prepared

Overheard in the Athénée half an hour ago. (I hate calling it the Hilton.) 
'How are things in Britain?' 
'The middle classes are still in shock.' 
It is a pleasure to think most of the right of centre and left-wing middle classes have been defeated but in fact it is a bit illusory. 43% of graduates voted Leave. What saddens me is that the FCO will give us EU-lite, because the EU project is their life's mission. I increasingly feel that leaving the single market altogether might be best thing we could do. I also think it is increasingly obvious that leaving the EU is exactly what the British always wanted and the right thing to do. 'Let freedom ring'. 
And a victory for rootedness over citizens of the world. And a victory for people like Roger Scruton, Charles Moore, Douglas Murray and the people of England. We are many, they are not few but slightly fewer than us. It was a glorious victory.

How gracefully Farage conceded defeat a few minutes after 10 p.m. on referendum night after hearing the opinion poll results. Compare and contrast the behaviour of very many vocal Remain supporters, who want Parliament to ignore the result.

I sincerely hope I do not take pleasure in others' misfortunes but the agony of the Remain supporters has it's funny side. 

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Sorry - yet more Brexit quotes

Adam LeBor Yes, let's invalidate every general election as well, because they were also influenced by the invidious Daily Mail and the BBC with its spurious notion of balance. In fact, lets just let our elders and betters decide everything for us.

These lines from Stevie Smith seem appropriate for unhappy Remain voters.

Is it wise to hug misery
To make a song of Melancholy
To weave a garland of sighs
To abandon hope wholly?
No, it is not wise

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Would leaving the Single Market cost less than staying in?

I am no economist nor was meant to be. Can one of my readers enlighten me please?
Is it true that under World Trade Organisation rules, if we didn’t sign a free-trade deal with the EU, we would have to pay, at most, £7.5 billion a year in tariffs for access to its markets, well below our current EU membership fee 
£8.3 billion? If so why is this not shouted from roof tops?

I took the figure of £7.5 billion from this article published in the Spectator a year ago, called "Ten myths about Brexit". It may be wrong. I know some eminent people like Nigel Lawson and Professor Patrick Minford think we should leave the Single Market. Ken Clarke in the leaked tape described such people as lunatics and David Cameron think the idea crazy.

Instead of discussing the options, the Remain voters, a minority but comprising most of the influential people in the UK are paralysed with fear - largely because of Osborne's Project Fear. According to Peter Oborne, this was a plan he hatched with the help of his friend and ally Peter Mandelson. It involved suborning the Treasury and the Bank of England both of which should be neutral.

When I think about Osborne, his acolyte Matthew D' Ancona and David Cameron it is hard to see much difference between them and Tony Blair. Teresa May is another Blairite, as is Gove.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Quotations for Friday

Not until the later 20th century would English people take as much leisure time as they had before 1600.

Richard Tombs

I wish I were the person I was when I wished to be the person I am now.

Argyris, Greek philosopher, 2016 A.C.

Whatever happens will be for the worse and therefore it is in our interest that as little should happen as possible.

Lord Salisbury

Yep the Guardian is talking about women politicians arriving to "clear up the mess made by men". Does that include all human civilisation?