Terror on London Bridge

Earlier today, armed police shot dead a terrorist on London Bridge, but not before he stabbed several people with two kitchen knives.

So far his identity hasn’t been revealed, nor indeed even hinted at. That leaves room for guesswork, which is what I’m inviting you to try.

On the balance of probabilities, do you think the attacker was a) a Tory-voting Englishman, b) a Labour-voting Muslim or c) an apolitical other?

Remember your answer to this question and check the test result tomorrow, when, one hopes, we’ll find out.

Corbyn: Israel has no right to exist

In his 2011 interview with Iran’s Press TV, our would-be PM said that in practically – if not exactly – so many words.

The stubble is greyer now, but the heart is just as black and the mind just as vacuous

Here’s what he said exactly: “I think there is a bias [at the BBC] towards saying that Israel is a democracy in the Middle East, Israel has a right to exist, Israel has its security concerns…”

(If you can’t believe that a Western politician with far-reaching ambitions could have said such a thing publicly, take 36 seconds to watch this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-ARelZMMqw)

When someone accuses someone else of bias, he expressly disagrees with whatever it is his opponent is biased to. For example, whenever I take issue with the BBC’s left-wing bias, I don’t thereby pledge support for that organisation’s ideological bend.

Hence Corbyn denies that Israel is a democracy, that it has a right to exist and that it has security concerns. This can be safely reduced to a simple statement cutting right to the chase: “I hate Jews”.

This isn’t to say that criticism of Israel is always a tell-tale sign of Jew hatred. For Israel isn’t perfect. Like all human constructs it’s susceptible to human folly. That’s why in this life we aren’t blessed with perfect institutions, nor perfect states.

If we accept this, then we’re forced to apply comparative standards. That method will probably show that there are more obvious objects for criticism in that region, which is what snipers call a target-rich environment.

However, criticism can proceed not only from hate but also from love, when the object of one’s affection falls short of the high standards one expects. If you’ll forgive another lapse into solipsism, only yesterday I wrote a scathing piece about the English, who are nonetheless by far my favourite people.

Thus any country including Israel is open to criticism. However, one questions the motives of those who focus on finding fault with Israel too much and too often.

This reminds me of an old Texan joke. A woman buying a chicken holds the bird up to her nose, smells under the wings and between the legs, and says to the butcher: “This chicken smells.” “Lady,” replies the butcher, “are you sure you could pass the same test?”

A similar thought was in the past expressed with greater elegance: “He that is without sin among you…” Still, by all means criticise Israel if such is your wont. Why, I’ve done so myself on occasion.

However, there’s a difference between that and denying Israel’s right to exist – especially if we realise that, out of the world’s 195 countries, only Israel is singled out for such strong feelings.

If, for example, I were to question Jeremy Corbyn’s right to exist, you’d be justified to suspect I hate him. And you wouldn’t be far wrong, although ‘despise’ would be closer to the mark.

Even if we knew nothing about the virulent anti-Semitism within the ranks of today’s Labour Party, nor about Corbyn’s protestations of friendship with Hamas, Hezbollah and all Muslim terrorists having Israel in their sights, that one interview would make this an open and shut case.

But since we do know all those things, everything snaps together with an audible click. Corbyn is a visceral anti-Semite moulding his party in his own image. His election would put British Jews in jeopardy.

That message was communicated the other day by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who called on them not to vote Labour. One would think it would be hard to argue against the underlying accusation.

For you and me, maybe. But not for Len McCluskey, who, in his capacity as General Secretary of Unite, is Labour’s paymaster.

Suggesting that anti-Semitism within Labour is “sanctioned from the top,” fumed McCluskey, is “poison”. By way of antidote, he offered this statement: “Labour has fought, Jeremy Corbyn has fought, I’ve fought all my life against anti-Semitism.”

Yes, quite. So did Hitler, Stalin, Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden.

I’m not suggesting that Corbyn is a full equivalent of those gentlemen, only that he’s demonstrably as anti-Semitic as they were, if not yet in possession of the means to put his passion into practice.

Vying with McCluskey in the inanity stakes is the official response by the Labour Party spokesman: “Jeremy is committed to a comprehensive peace in the Middle East based on a two-state solution – a secure Israel alongside a secure and viable state of Palestine.”

In other words, he’s committed to the solution Israel has put on the table time and again. Her only condition is that the Palestinians (and other Middle Eastern groups) acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and abandon their pledge to “drive Israel into the sea”.

Since this has been consistently and resolutely denied, it would be suicidal for Israel to accept a “viable state of Palestine” whose doctrinal raison d’être is to perpetrate another Holocaust.

It’s touching to observe that the chap who wishes to lead our country shares such sentiments. For, if Israel is deprived of her right to exist, what’s going to happen to the 6-odd million Jews who live there? Just consider the numeral, and you’ll know the answer.

Russian arguments by British people

First, a nostalgic recollection of how serious issues were discussed in the Russia of my childhood.

Yes, Mr Rhodes, but what does one do with the lottery winnings?

When I was little, my parents were friends with a singer in the Red Army Choir, whom I called Uncle Kolia.

(British visitors admired their singing, admitting wistfully that the Royal Marines weren’t as gifted vocally. Of course, the Choir had nothing to do with the Red Army. They were all professional singers whose job was to practise their art clad in the monkey suits of Soviet PR.)

His velvety baritone and perfect biographic credentials got him into the Choir when it was first formed, carrying him all over the world. The first Western country he toured was France. The tour lasted three months, and Uncle Kolia came back a changed man.

In common with many singers, he wasn’t blessed with a far-reaching intellect, so he didn’t even attempt to comment on the socioeconomic fabric of French society. What had blown his mind was the abundance of cheap consumer goods, and he had used his hard-currency allowance to bring back 27 cases stuffed with products of decadent capitalism.

From that day, Uncle Kolia used his experience of Western consumerism, to the exclusion of all other topics, as both a conversation starter and finisher.

In response to an unrelated statement, such as, “A fine day, isn’t it, Uncle Kolia?”, he’d put on a conspiratorial face and hiss: “Fine day, eh? Who cares about the weather? One rouble for two litres of orange juice! Twenty roubles for a suit! Five hundred roubles for a car!”

“So are things better out there than over here then?” That question never failed to restore Uncle Kolia’s sanity.

“Of course they aren’t! You see, we have socialism! It’s just that… well, two roubles for a shirt! Three roubles for a pair of shoes! Fifty kopecks for a chicken!”

Reading today’s report that Manchester, Liverpool, Hull and many other areas have higher death rates than Romania, Poland and Turkey (to say nothing of Western Europe), I feel like asking people in the streets: “So is medical care better out there than over here then?”

I’m sure the posthumous echo of Uncle Kolia’s miraculously Anglophone baritone would rumble above the traffic noise: “Of course it isn’t! You see, we have the NHS!”

Now, since my bloody-minded childhood I’ve always sought, if not always found, rational answers to rational questions. And already during those salad days of my life I discovered that most people aren’t like that.

Their response to serious questions is more typically Pavlovian than Aristotelian. Their knees jerk, but their minds remain immobile – often even in people who unquestionably have minds.

This always happens when I ask intelligent fans of the EU to name one rational argument in favour of that contrivance, and especially British membership in it. The only arguments they ever conjure up can be demolished in 10 seconds flat by an averagely informed and intelligent 12-year-old.

The same goes for the NHS, and I wish I had £10 for every time I’ve tried to argue that free at the point of delivery doesn’t mean free; that the purpose of medicine is to save people, not to level them down; that every socialist enterprise demonstrably functions mainly for the benefit of those running it; that Britain is a first-world country with third-world medicine; that no, Europeans don’t envy our NHS – if they did, they’d nationalise their medicine too.

All to no avail. Decades of brainwashing have scoured British minds of any rational thought when it comes to totemistic idols. Such as the two I mentioned and countless others.

Now, Uncle Kolia had his personality formed under the worst tyranny known to man. Those who had independent minds, especially if accompanied by dignity, integrity and honour, simply didn’t survive in Stalin’s Russia.

But Britain isn’t like that, is she? So how come so many good Englishmen (and Westerners in general) have developed this servile propensity to worship any bull’s head perched on top of the totem pole?

They grow up being able to read, think and say anything they want, and surely they’ve heard many sage men argue serious issues in a logical, well-informed manner. Many Englishmen must even have had professors teaching them how to think.

So how come they don’t? This is a short question demanding a book-length reply, with chapters bearing titles like Age of Reason Against Reason, The Socialist Delusion, Education That Doesn’t Educate and so forth.

God willing, I may be able to write it one day. Meanwhile I’d like to refer to Cecil Rhodes, who’s rapidly becoming a Soviet-style nonperson in British universities. 

“To be born English,” he said, “is to win first prize in the lottery of life.” Perhaps. I’m just sorry that so many Englishmen have lost the winning ticket.     

It’s conservatives who are homeless

A couple of years ago, I was trying to persuade my friend Gerard Batten, then chairman of UKIP, to broaden the party’s appeal by positioning it as genuinely conservative – unlike the party that uses the name but doesn’t really mean it.

“Well-done, Nige. Now about that president’s job…”

My effort at armchair political consultancy was cut short when Gerard explained to me the facts of life. Many of our supporters, he said, perhaps even most, aren’t conservatives at all.

They may be all sorts of things when they are at home: green, red, pink, yellow, any combination thereof. What unites them all isn’t shared political temperament, much less a shared political philosophy, but a shared distaste for the EU.

I was reminded of that conversation the other day, when Nigel Farage unfurled his manifesto banner. Prominently inscribed there was the promise to get rid of the House of Lords.

He didn’t say if he had a replacement in mind but, if pressed, I suspect he’d opt for an American-style senate, fully elected and therefore impeccably democratic. A damn good idea, that.

We already have an American-style Supreme Court, so the first step has been taken. By all means, let’s have a senate now, but why stop there? Let’s call our counties states, their heads governors, our MPs congressmen – and while we’re at it, our country the United States of Britain.

And oh yes, clearly the monarchy will have to go, replaced by an elected president. May I suggest Nigel Farage for that role? Or perhaps he’d rather keep the job open for his friend Don after Trump retires from US politics?

What Farage is proposing is tantamount to constitutional sabotage quite on the par with anything Corbyn sees in his wet dreams. Now perhaps Farage and his admirers feel that our constitution is anachronistic, and some sabotage wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.

I could easily take issue with that belief and I’m self-confident enough to believe I could blow Farage’s arguments out of the water. But I’m not going to do that.

Instead I’m going to say something that no one will disagree with. Whatever the merits and demerits of the Brexit Party manifesto, it’s certainly not conservative.

That makes me reiterate the mournful statement in the title above. Contrary to what a silly Speccie columnist wrote the other day (see my piece of 15 November http://www.alexanderboot.com/was-hobson-jewish/), it’s not the Jews but conservatives who find themselves politically homeless.

All we can do is seek temporary accommodation at our perennial Lesser Evil pit stop, otherwise known as the Tory Party. I mean, we aren’t going to vote Labour, are we? And on this evidence I won’t vote for the Brexit Party either.

Dat’s strictly for the boids, Ed

The other day Edward Lucas knocked English phonetic snobbery, holding up America as a shining example of linguistic egalitarianism.

A century later, Dr Johnson would have dropped his Lichfield accent. Two centuries later, he would have got it back.

“In America, accents are neutral,” he writes. “They may show geographical origins but they say nothing about your brains, wealth or social status.” Witness the plight of Fiona Hill, a miner’s daughter, who “at her Oxford University interview in the early 1980s… was mocked for her clothes and diction – the most humiliating experience of her life.”

Sympathetic as I am to Miss Hill’s youthful traumas, I could tell similar stories galore about the US. A Houston friend of mine, for example, spoke with a rural Texan accent that was mercilessly mocked at Stanford.

When I found out he had gone to that elite university, I asked how his pronunciation had gone down there. “Ah was fixin to run away,” he sighed.

“When did you last hear someone on Radio 4 or the World Service speaking at length in Fiona Hill’s unapologetic Durham coalfield accent?” asks Mr Lucas. But then I don’t recall any US announcers – even those in Texas – speaking with the diction of my Stanford friend.

Yet Mr Lukas is right to point out that many US politicians have regional, or even foreign, accents. Or rather he’s half-right. Yes, JFK had a Boston accent, Johnson and Dubya a Texan one, Carter and Clinton a southern lilt.

But they all spoke with only a trace of those accents; none ever went the whole hog. Under no circumstances can anyone speaking like my Stanford friend become a US president.

Similarly, a slight New York inflection is no social impediment, but I question the career prospects of someone cursed with a broad Brooklyn accent of “dey, dem and dose”.

As to foreign accents not putting brakes on advancement in the US, that stands to reason. Being a country of immigrants, America can ill-afford to practise phonetic discrimination.

Yet even there things aren’t as straightforward as Mr Lucas thinks. Yes, “Henry Kissinger’s growling vowels still signal his German birthplace”, but according to his classmates at George Washington High, they didn’t always do so.

By the time Kissinger matriculated there, he had got rid of his Dr Strangelove accent – but revived it later to add gravitas to his foreign policy expertise. That he should have felt the need to do so hints at the inordinate, at times sycophantic, respect in which many Americans hold Europeans.

Thus many cultured people on the Eastern Seaboard cultivate English, or rather mid-Atlantic, accents to come across as more sophisticated. Hence also a plethora of English-sounding place names all over the American backwater, all those Kensington Streets, Windsor Plazas and Chelsea Lanes.

(This may explain the relief Fiona Hill felt on arrival in the States: any British accent is seen as a sign of sophistication there.)

It’s true that, in general usage, American English displays fewer and subtler dialectal varieties than British English. But it’s wrong to deny that they act as social and cultural indicators.

A man who, when introduced at a New York party, says “How do you do”, instantly builds an invisible wall between himself and not only someone who says “How y’all doin?” but even a chap who merely says “Nice to meet you”.

Someone who eschews the retroflexive vowel in words like bird won’t have much of a public career even if he doesn’t say boid. Similarly, dropping the r-sound at the ends of words like deliver is social death in the smart circles outside Boston.

There’s no denying that every nation has a standard pronunciation based on the language of the cultured elite. Where they differ is in the degree of tolerance to those who deviate. This largely depends on the country’s age, history, geography and ethnic makeup.

For example, both America and Russia are ethnically diverse and linguistically young: the Russian literary language only dates back to the early 19th century; the American equivalent is at least half a century younger. Hence the vital importance of a unified standard acting as a national adhesive.

The cultural elites in Russia’s provinces typically came from Petersburg and Moscow gentry whose language was seen as a social and professional hoist. (The same situation existed during the British Raj: educated Indians tended to speak English in exaggerated upper-class accents.)

America’s need for a uniform language was even more urgent: there was little else to unify culturally people settling from all over the world. You can see this even in relatively modern times, specifically in Texas.

Even though about a third of the state’s population are Mexicans, until 1973 the government had refused to allow bilingual education. In fact ‘Ma’ Ferguson, governor in the 20s and 30s, famously commented: “If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it ought to be good enough for the children of Texas.”

Her intuitive understanding of the American ethos was stronger than her knowledge of ecclesiastical history, but her heart was in the right place.

The situation in Britain is entirely different, as it is in all core European countries. For any number of historical reasons, Britain shows an unmatched dialectal variety. The phonetic atlas of the country identifies 50 major dialects and God only knows how many minor ones; London alone has five distinct accents.

Yet the received pronunciation of the cultured elite acted as the aspirational standard for about a century and a half. In recent decades, that has changed by what Mr Lucas calls ‘accommodation’. “People from the English regions soften their accents. Those like me who grew up speaking the strangulated posh-talk of ‘received pronunciation’ may adopt glottal stops and vowel shifts.”

Anyone who says ‘posh’ isn’t posh, but that’s a different matter. It’s true that the urge to achieve some uniformity is getting stronger in proportion to cultural and economic levelling. But that street isn’t exactly two-way.

After decades of socialist propaganda, educated people like Tony Blair have indeed begun to add glottal stops and drop their aitches to advance their careers. But the lower cultural strata aren’t exactly meeting them halfway: prole is the new posh.

Yet the dictum that all educated people should speak the same way is rather recent. It goes back to Victorian times, when the aristocracy was knocked off its perch and the middle class replaced it as the dominant cultural force.

Back in the 1700s, the last aristocratic century in British history, most people had regional accents. Dr Johnson, for example, wasn’t exactly an ignoramus, yet all his life he spoke in the accent of his native Lichfield. He could easily have dropped it when he went to Oxford University, but felt no need to do so.

Passion for uniformity is the distinguishing bourgeois characteristic. Middle-class people are desperate not to put a foot wrong and slip down the social ladder. Hence their desire to cut off both the peaks and the troughs, flattening every curve that undulates too much — not only phonetically, but also culturally, intellectually and even sartorially.

Neither the upper nor the lower classes share this propensity: they try to cling on to their social and cultural identity. Both are being sucked into the middle-ground morass, but I for one enjoy their rearguard action. And I certainly wouldn’t use it to denigrate England – especially by comparison to America.

Such things are more complex than Mr Lucas fancies… Anyway, got to run. It’s my turn to cook tea today, while me trouble hangs the serviettes out to dry in the toilet.

Invasion of the bowl snatchers

A year ago, two Ukrainian gunboats, Berdiansk and Mariupol, were, along with their 24 crewmen, illegally seized by the Russian navy in the Sea of Azov.

Was that scritchy-scratch or scritchy-snatch, Vlad? Oh well, never mind.

A week ago both the sailors and the ships were returned, but with certain parts missing. That is, I hope you understand, the parts were missing from the boats, not the sailors.

The sailors, as far as I know, have retained a full complement of their organs and body parts. But the boats weren’t so lucky.

That they were stripped of their weaponry and navigational equipment is, I suppose, par for the course. Piracy must have its rewards, otherwise what’s the point?

The Ukrainian navy being a formidable adversary, it stands to reason that the Russians wanted to uncover the secrets of Ukrainian machine guns (of Soviet manufacture) and radars (ditto).

Even as we speak, Russian boffins must be analysing the specifications of those weapons, their rate of fire, accuracy, range. Or at least they must have been doing that until someone said: “Boys, why not just ring the manufacturers? They’re in Russia, they’ll tell you what you want to know.”

Yet it wasn’t just the top secret Russian guns that the pirates lifted from the Ukrainian ships. They also stripped the boats of everything that wasn’t welded or riveted to the deck, including such non-bellicose items as dome lights, sockets – and lavatory bowls.

One suspects that the order to do so didn’t come from the Kremlin – those chaps tend to think in bigger categories. No, that was a display of the ability to think on one’s feet of which the Russians are so justly proud.

As the government spokesman once explained, the Russians’ microbiological makeup possesses an extra spirituality gene. Hence it’s spirituality, as Putin explained, that acts as the brace holding the nation together.

That means the Russians despise philistine acquisitiveness and material goods – that is, until they find themselves in the West where such things are readily available. While still in Russia, however, they rely on their unmatched spirituality to get them through life.

This attitude has much to recommend it, reflecting as it does an ability to adapt to ambient conditions. Since material possessions have always been scarce in Russia, the Russians have learned to despise them. Might as well.

Naturally they also despise the effort that goes into producing material goods. Nicking them is of course a different matter. One can do so without compromising one’s towering spirituality in any way.

Thievery, therefore, takes pride of place next to drunkenness as the country’s national characteristic. Much as I like to ascribe those proclivities to Putin, neither started with him.

According to a probably apocryphal but eminently believable account, 1,000 years ago Grand Duke Vladimir chose Byzantine Christianity over Islam specifically because of the latter’s injunction against alcohol. “Drinking is the joy of the Rus,” quotes the Primary Chronicle, “we can’t be without it”.

Runaway thievery also goes back to the origin of the Russian nation. In the mid-19th century, Tsar Nicholas I asked the court historian Karamzin how things were in the provinces. “Ils volent, sire,” sighed the historian (“Thieving, Your Majesty” – in those days educated Russians expressed their spirituality in French).

Karamzin was referring to the tsar’s viceroys, many of whom weren’t paid any salary at all on the assumption that they could live nicely off the fat of the land. Yet as one went further down in Russian society, one could always observe the snowball effect: thieving increased.

The Russians never got around to the idea that private property is inviolable because it’s a guarantor of liberty. John Locke believed it was the guarantor, and there he went too far. But the Russians never even graduated to the indefinite article.

Under the tsars, every Russian from the loftiest courtier to the lowliest peasant could be dispossessed on a whim. Most prison sentences were accompanied by confiscation of property, if that’s the right word.

Confiscation means the state taking away something that’s privately owned. Yet in Russia the tsar held the patrimonial freehold on every square foot of land. All others in effect held merely a leasehold.

The tsars could reward loyalty with gifts of land. Catherine II, for example, gave Prince Potemkin estates bigger than all of the UK. But what the tsar gives, he can take away.

No one in Russia, noble or common, rich or poor, had any guaranteed protection of property, no certainty that tomorrow he wouldn’t starve, and that’s before the Bolshevik looters took over.

Russian folklore reflects both the insecurity and the resulting disdain for acquisition in proverbs like “don’t be sure you’ll escape prison or beggar’s bag”, “work isn’t a wolf, it won’t run away into the forest”, “work likes fools”, “you won’t build a stone house by honest work” and – appropriate to my theme here – “you don’t steal, you won’t survive”.

There exist countless other proverbs to the same effect: money is worthless, working to earn it is useless, those who do so are either fools or knaves. It’s little wonder then that the same people whose property isn’t respected feel no compunction to respect property that belongs to others.

The loo bowls were then fair game, especially in a country where millions of people still use outdoor facilities, that is a jerry-built booth housing a hole in the ground.

Since winters in Russia can be rather cold, certain activities that Westerners take for granted become life-threatening – those booths aren’t heated and, without going into unsavoury detail, it’s hard to stay fully dressed while there.

This situation only exists in the countryside, but then it’s a safe bet that many of Putin’s pirates aren’t committed urbanists. And even if they do live in towns, they know many people who don’t.

Hence what they nicked could be flogged, and the temptation must have been irresistible. Those shiny porcelain objects could be quickly exchanged for the Russian national drink, sometimes bypassing the exchange medium of money.

Now, though I’ve generously allowed that Putin didn’t order his brave sailors to snatch the loo bowls, there’s no doubt that his kleptocratic government fosters the culture of thievery. And I don’t just mean the trillions in oil revenues they’ve dumped into Western offshore havens while a third of the population are starving.

Speaking at the Russia Is Calling! forum on 20 November, Vlad felt called upon to explain why Russia doesn’t produce shale gas. The existing extraction methods, he explained, aren’t sound enough ecologically, which must have brought one of those mirthless diabolical grins to Greta’s face.

“We’ll just wait until the Americans have spent a lot of money on R&D and then – scritchy-snatch [my attempt at translating the onomatopoeic Russian expression цап-царап].

It’s good to see that the folk wisdom of “you don’t steal, you don’t survive” exists in the rarefied atmosphere of the Kremlin. For what’s a national government if it doesn’t keep its finger on the pulse of national ethos?

Of human economic bondage

When I say that today’s democracies are more tyrannical than any absolute monarchy of yesteryear, people display a touching concern for my mental health.

He isn’t just after your money. He’s after your freedom.

I then invite them to compare the power wielded by, say, Louis XIV and any of today’s presidents or prime ministers. Specifically, what would have happened to the Sun King had he extorted half of what his subjects earned?

My guess is that he would have lost his head a century before that fate befell his great-great-great grandson. And the same thing would have happened to him had he tried to conscript the entire male (and much of the female) population, which today’s democratic leaders can do overnight.

Or how do you think the French would have reacted had Louis mandated exactly where and how they should educate their children or where and by whom they had to be treated medically? Quite.

Once we’ve contemptuously tossed aside the slogans of modern politics, we’ll see that the essence of the post-Enlightenment state – regardless of whether it’s democratic, authoritarian or totalitarian – is the ad infinitum expansion of its power.

That, however, doesn’t mean they should all be lumped together. For, much as they’re all similar in their goal, they differ in the methods used to achieve it.

Totalitarian states rely on violent suppression of human liberties, a climate of fear, brainwashing propaganda, barring access to information and so forth. But their democratic counterparts have to rely on subtler means.

They can gnaw at the edges of individual liberties, and do so at an accelerating rate. But they can’t gobble them up in their entirety. Yet the inner imperative to grow their muscle is just as strong as in their totalitarian counterparts.

Yes, they can still indoctrinate their subjects by the cumulative effect of incessant propaganda. Since “ye shall know them by their fruits”, just observe how united the British are in believing that the NHS represents the utmost in human virtue.

Such uniformity doesn’t come about by itself. It takes decades of concerted nurturing through every medium known to man, for without it people would be able to trust the evidence before their own eyes. And successful propaganda doesn’t just skew debate; it stops it.

This, however, is small beer. Such propaganda may dumb down much of the population, but it won’t make the state omnipotent. Other, more tangible, levers of power are required, and in today’s democracies these are mostly economic.

The power of the state grows in direct proportion to the number of people dependent on it for their sustenance – and in inverse proportion to the number of those independent of it.

Hence the more loyal the state is to its post-Enlightenment imperatives, the more committed it will be to producing the right ratio. For example, in this country the socialist-lite Tories exercise more restraints than the socialist-full-strength Labour.

It’s in this context – or at least also in this context – that we should consider the Labour manifesto.

That their policies will instantly make us all poorer is a fact denied only by people with no grasp of elementary economics, or else by resentful fanatics out for revenge. But, more important, those policies will also make us infinitely less free.

How can people become independent of the state? The surest method is to acquire a few billion and park the money in offshore shelters. However, since the UK only numbers 54 billionaires, both this method and its practitioners can be safely discounted.

Other methods, however, are available to most of us. Such as self-employment, the option chosen by 4.8 million Britons. Many of them, perhaps most, choose it not out of greed, but because they seek independence not only from the state but also from large companies.

Hundreds of thousands of them make little money. The data published the other day show that hundreds of thousands survive on incomes less than £10,000 a year – something most of them could better by bartering their independence away.

Then there are savers, those who swap today’s comforts for tomorrow’s independence. For reasons I’ll mention later, their number is steadily dwindling away: 15 per cent of Britons and 53 per cent of 22-29-year-olds have no savings at all. And a third of those who do save have salted away less than £1,500.

By far the greatest number of Britons acquire financial independence through investments. One of them is pension funds, which in Britain are greater than in the rest of Europe combined.

Then there are various securities, second homes, buy-to-rent properties, antique cars, gold and precious stones. You’ll notice that physical assets are vastly more popular than financial operations or savings. Why?

We’ve had a period of relatively low inflation, which is why we lose sight of the historical perspective. And historically, the last 50 years of the 19th century saw a negligible combined inflation of 10 per cent. That number increased somewhat in the last 50 years of the 20th century – to a soul-destroying 2,000 per cent.

That’s why people don’t trust money: especially since over the past generation property inflation outpaced money inflation by a factor of ten. This shows that seemingly abstract indicators have a most concrete effect on people’s behaviour.

Everybody knows this – and so does our communist shadow chancellor John McDonnell. That’s why he has come up with policies that can drive people into state bondage without any – well, much – help from the more visible forms of oppression.

Some of those Labour politicians aren’t fools. They know that their government will be an economic disaster. But it will be more despotic than any other government in British history, which is the whole point.

Hence they plan to introduce punitive rates of tax on ‘high’ (in fact, moderately successful middle-class) earners; savings, pension funds, dividends, second homes, buy-to-rent properties, inheritance, capital gains, private schools, corporations – all against the background of run-away inflation of the money supply.

Big corporations and billionaires, Labour’s ostensible targets, aren’t particularly bothered. Unlike the rest of us, they have the freedom of simply upping their sticks.

In fact, it was announced this morning that the mere risk of a Corbyn government has made two major energy companies move all their assets offshore – this in addition to the £800 billion that already left.

They take their jobs with them, driving more people into the clutches of social services. The more such people there are, the more successful the state is on its own terms.

Socialists prefer poor slaves to financially independent freemen. They’ll do everything they can to achieve that goal, to the accompaniment of bleating about caring and sharing.

In one of my books I take a stab at some ideas for electoral reform. One of them is that anybody deriving more than 50 per cent of his income from the state – be it salary, hand-outs or income support – should be disfranchised.

If that were to happen, the likes of Corbyn and McDonnell, or perhaps even their Tory counterparts, wouldn’t be elected the proverbial dogcatcher. As it is, I brace myself for the worst while hoping for… well, not the best: that’s not on offer. So let’s say better and cross our fingers.

Two manifestos, one essence

“A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre.

Only Comrade Corbyn’s face is missing

“Where is the party in opposition that has not been decried as communistic by its opponents in power? Where is the opposition that has not hurled back the branding reproach of communism, against the more advanced opposition parties, as well as against its reactionary adversaries?

“Two things result from this fact: I. Communism is already acknowledged by all European powers to be itself a power. II. It is high time that Communists should openly, in the face of the whole world, publish their views, their aims, their tendencies, and meet this nursery tale of the Spectre of Communism with a manifesto of the party itself…”

Oops, sorry, wrong document. I thought I was reprinting the 2019 Labour Manifesto written by Corbyn and McDonnell, but accidentally ran out the 1848 Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels.

The mistake is understandable: mutatis mutandis, the two documents are identical in spirit, if divergent in some insignificant details.

It’s the details that are filling today’s papers, while the spirit is mostly ignored. Clever commentators analyse Labour’s economic planks and confidently predict that out of these planks the coffin of the British economy will be made.

Most of them display unbridled optimism by expecting the economy to collapse over time. Actually, since only God operates outside time, they have a philosophical point. But if they mean a rather long time, say months or even years, they are wrong.

The collapse will be almost instant, with perhaps another trillion’s worth of investment getting out while the getting is good. That’s on top of about £800 billion that has already fled in joyous anticipation of a Labour victory.

Still, in this matter the optimists and the pessimists differ only in the exact timing of the catastrophe. Neither doubt it’ll happen.

It’s not surprising that in our materialist, philistine age everyone thinks of politics in economic terms. “It’s the economy, stupid” and all that.

Yet the slogan by which I live my secular life is rather different: “It’s the freedom, stupid.” Having grown up under the worst tyranny the world has ever known, I wish to live out my days in freedom – as much of it as possible.

And if the Labour Manifesto ever becomes government policy, Britain will no longer be a free country. She’ll lose even the rump of liberty still surviving the concerted century-old assault on it by all major parties.

The Labour Manifesto is socialist, communist as near as damn. Hence it shouldn’t be assessed merely from the standpoint of sovereign debts, tax hikes, promiscuous spending, nationalisation and what have you.

All those things are important, but they are derivatively important. They spring from the essence of socialism and its logical extension, communism. Alas, we sometimes forget what it is, confusing essence with slogans.

Anyone who takes socialist slogans at face value must also believe that choosing a certain brand of toothpaste would make him a sex god, or that his friends will consider him a genius if he keeps his money in one bank rather than another.

Since we none of us are so credulous, let’s forget all that clamour about share-care-be aware equalities and fairnesses inscribed on Labour’s red banners. They are just flatulence or, to be kind, means to an end.

And the end towards which socialism strives, its very essence, is the juxtaposition of omnipotent state and impotent individual, otherwise known as despotism. That’s all.

Economic redistribution that so upsets most commentators isn’t a malum in se. In itself it’s ill-advised and ruinous, but not necessarily evil. What’s evil is the end it’s designed to achieve: maximum empowerment of the state with the concomitant maximum enfeeblement of the individual.

Socialism thus represents an inversion of every certitude that lay at the foundation of our civilisation, based as it is on the sovereign value of each person made in image and likeness of God.

The two strikingly similar manifestos that I pretended to confuse transfer sovereign value to the state, turning people into an amorphous, faceless, bullied mass. For make no mistake about it: any attempt to act on the Labour Manifesto will be accompanied by burgeoning political tyranny.

Labour promises free everything, but one thing that won’t be free under its government is speech. That’s why they propose to nationalise the Internet, mirroring similar measures already taken in Russia and China.

Civil unrest is bound to follow within months of Labour’s ascent, and I’m being generous. The British don’t share the French affection for barricades, but they have never been pushed as far as Corbyn’s government will push them.

And socialist, borderline communist governments always respond to civil unrest by ratcheting up violence and oppression. Hence it’s not just the British economy that’ll be torn to tatters, but Britain herself.

Only fools or knaves can vote for this midnight terror. I pray that most Britons don’t fall under this description. Because if they do, I’ll end my days in prison.

Why now, Your Grace?

The Church of England, expertly guided by Archbishop Welby, has offered its “repentance” for centuries of anti-Semitism that set up the Holocaust.

“Je suis Edward I”

Repentance is of course the Christian thing to do, and we can’t have enough of it. Provided, of course, that it’s offered in good faith, as it were, and not for some spurious reason.

For example, nowhere this side of the confessional does one see as much repentance as at sentencing time in our criminal courts. However, one can be forgiven for harbouring suspicions that such noble acts are motivated by ignoble impulses.

In this case, the mea culpa is supposedly prompted by Christian teaching that provided “a fertile seedbed for murderous anti-Semitism”. Specifically: “Within living memory, such ideas contributed to fostering the passive acquiescence if not positive support of many Christians in actions that led to the Holocaust.”

That many Christians – including such remarkable men as Dostoyevsky (along with many other great Russian writers), Chesterton and Céline – have been virulent anti-Semites is God’s own truth. It’s also true that, like any other religion, Christianity condemns infidels.

Jews occupy a special place among the infidels because they had the first chance to reject Christ and took it with alacrity. However, they also carried Christ to the world: not only Jesus himself but also his apostles and the first 15 bishops of Jerusalem were circumcised Jews.

Getting closer to home, in 1290 England was indeed the first European country to expel the Jewish community – though not individual Jews who continued to practise their religion in private.

(This is why, incidentally, Portugal is regarded as Britain’s oldest ally. Expelled English Jews settled there but maintained their business ties with their friends and families staying behind.)

It’s also true that the 1290 expulsion followed a series of pogroms, of which the best-known is the York massacre of 150 Jews in Clifford’s Tower. And yes, there have been many Christians among avid readers of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other texts libellously accusing Jews of thirst for Christian blood.

Such people often committed violence towards Jews, blaming them not only for their dietary preferences, but also for such disasters as the Black Death. However, for the sake of balance, one should also remember that in 1348 Pope Clement VI issued two papal bulls condemning the violence. Those who blamed the Jews, he wrote, had been “seduced by the liar, the Devil.”

It can’t be gainsaid that Christians have always tried to convert Jews, although they aren’t the only group picked for Christian proselytism. Preaching that “the Kingdom of God is at hand” is after all what Christian doctrine obliges its followers to do.

That’s why Christian missionaries have always risked their lives trying to convert people on all continents. At least, unlike certain religions one could mention, they usually did so by peaceful sermon, not by force.

The 100-page report issued by the Anglican Church lists many injustices and crimes perpetrated by Christians against the Jews, although it correctly states that anti-Semitism actually predates Christianity.

My question is why it is specifically the Anglican Church that chose to offer its repentance, and why specifically at this time. One may get the impression that England is the worst and constantly re-offending culprit.

In particular, by accepting a share of the blame for the Holocaust, the Anglican Church seems to imply that England had the same lust for Jewish blood as some of our European partners.

However, I’m not aware of any pogroms occurring in England since Cromwell readmitted the Jewish community in 1656. I realise that historically the 363 elapsing years are but an instant. Yet during this instant anti-Semitic massacres continued apace in Europe, until Hitler mostly its eastern part (hence the Russian word pogrom).

Also during this instant, Jews have suffered economic and legal restrictions in a number of European countries, and isolated violent episodes in some – but not in England. Perpetrators of such acts were often Christians, and some of them committed vile acts because they were Christians, but such devout thugs were rare.

The report mentions in passing that in due course religious ant-Semitism segued into the racial kind. That’s indeed the case: the European revolutions adumbrating modernity emancipated Jews from religious discrimination, but not from the racial variety.

The same human types who used to hate Jews because they espoused a different religion began to hate them because their noses were of different shape. The question of whether or not the two types of anti-Semitism are the same, causatively related or different is hard to answer, and the report doesn’t attempt to do so.

What’s telling, however, is that it leaves out the third type, anti-Semitism based on class hatred, which is as widespread in modern times as the racist kind and much more so than the Christian variety.

The omitted genre of anti-Semitism is Marxist in origin, which is to say socialist. Mix that with ethnic hatred of Jews and you get the Holocaust perpetrated by national socialists, and severe anti-Jewish restrictions imposed by communist states.

But not by England, which again raises the questions posed earlier. What compelled Justin Welby et al. to repent in this particular place and at this particular time?

After all, these days the number of anti-Semitic incidents, violent or otherwise, in any European country is directly proportionate to the number of Muslims, not Christians, there. Yet one doesn’t hear many imams offering apologies.

The answer is that anti-Semitism is in the British news because today’s Labour Party, which may well form our next government, is anti-Semitic. However, there isn’t a word in the report about socialist anti-Semitism in general and Labour anti-Semitism in particular.

Nevertheless the reasons for the report are all current and secular. It’s part of New Age virtue-signalling, wherein the fashion for retrospective penance is de rigueur.

We’re supposed to apologise for our colonial past, being nasty to the Celtic fringe, General Dyer, the Industrial Revolution with its outstanding carbon debt and anything else required to mollify people who typically detest Christianity.

Fair enough, a case can be made that all three (not two) known types of anti-Semitism are but different facets of the same phenomenon.

However, let’s not forget that the Anglican Church (as distinct from the Christian Church in England) didn’t even exist when Jews were last killed in England – and that 600,000 Britons died fighting those responsible for the Holocaust.

Moreover, the Holocaust was perpetrated by socialists who hated Christianity almost as much as they hated Jews – and who murdered Jewish converts to Christianity alongside with religious and non-believing Jews.

Instead of apologising for the nasty things done during the reign of Richard I and Edward I, the Anglican Church ought to apologise for haemorrhaging communicants, vulgarising the liturgy, desecrating cathedrals with fairground attractions, raves and pop music, and other blows raining on Christianity in England.

But we can’t expect its oil-trading hierarchs to do that, can we? It’s so much easier to strike fashionable poses and toe the New Age line.  

How to say democracy doesn’t work without actually saying it

Sacred cows can be milked, but they can’t be slaughtered – such is the pitiful nature of today’s political discourse.

The casino will open on 12 December

One of those bovine creatures is the NHS: one can bemoan its difficulties, lack of funds, shortage of qualified medical staff, overlong waiting times – whatever. But, on pain of hitting the career buffers, one can’t say there’s something wrong with the very idea of socialised medicine.

The NHS thus leaves the domain of serious discussion and enters one of totemistic worship, with reason excommunicated.

That was evident in yesterday’s debate. Every time Corbyn accused Johnson of planning to do awful things to the NHS, the PM reacted the way St Athanasius would have reacted to charges of Arianism.

The same goes for democracy. You can point out all sorts of symptomatic problems, but never the underlying systemic one. Finding anything wrong with the very notion of indiscriminate, unqualified, universal suffrage is strictly off limits.

Daniel Finkelstein illustrates this simple rule in today’s article This Isn’t the Election Politicians Think It Is.

Drawing on statistical data and on the material gathered in the book Democracy for Realists by Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels, Lord Finkelstein proves that most voters vote for spurious reasons. They know little about the candidates, even less about their policies and next to nothing about the issues on which the elections are decided.

For example, only one per cent of the respondents to a current poll have heard of the suppressed Russian report that’s very much in the news. And 42 per cent truthfully admit they haven’t noticed a single election story over the past few days.

Half the respondents have never heard of Shadow Chancellor McDonnell, which means they don’t know this rank communist is the eminence grise of the Labour Party. Only 18 per cent can place Dominic Cummings’s name, and he’s believed to pull Johnson’s strings.

“So,” asks Lord Finkelstein not unreasonably, “if people aren’t following much, what determines election results? Do elections actually hold politicians to account at all?”

No, is the answer to that, if one reads Democracy for Realists, which analyses reams of statistical data. Evidently most people hold contradictory or even mutually exclusive views on many political subjects.

Nor do they know what the politicians’ views on these subjects are. For example, half of German voters didn’t know whether a party called Die Linke was on the left or right. That’s like not knowing whether the Brexit Party supports Leave or Remain: Die Linke means The Left in German.

Here in Britain many people support nationalisation, but oppose Labour policy on this issue because they don’t know nationalisation is Labour policy. Similarly, they are indifferent to Johnson’s promise to increase state spending because they don’t realise this represents a dramatic change of Tory policy.

The book shows, numbers in hand, that policies don’t really affect how people vote. Nor does the government’s record.

“The problem,” writes Lord Finkelstein, “is that voters aren’t very good at working out who to blame when things go wrong or who to credit when they go right”.

And they judge whether things have gone right or wrong almost exclusively on the basis of their income over the past two quarters – not even over the lifetime of the current parliament.

Other factors coming into play have nothing to do with politics at all. For example, a natural disaster, such as the current floods, damages the incumbent, while England’s success in a football tournament benefits him by increasing the ‘feel-good’ factor. 

Another important, practically decisive, factor is the herd instinct: people vote a certain way because that’s how they believe the PLUs (People Like Us) vote now or have voted traditionally.

Since the previous generations of one’s family usually qualify as PLUs, Lord Finkelstein concludes that: “This election could be decided by the extent to which grandparents are left spinning in their graves.”

Yet to me this isn’t the conclusion of the argument, but its starting point. Lord Finkelstein doesn’t seem to be aware of this, but his informative article punches an irreparable hole in what I earlier described as “indiscriminate, unqualified, universal suffrage”.

He shows persuasively that most people cast their votes for utterly frivolous reasons, reducing elections to a roll of the dice. Because a chap hasn’t had a rise in the past six months, and because his Grandpa voted for Harold Wilson, he may vote in a communist (well, Corbyn’s) government without realising that’s what he’s doing.

A few years later he’ll look at the smoking ruins of everything Britain used to be and will perhaps change his vote. That is, provided he realises that the destruction has been caused by certain policies – and, for that matter, assuming he’ll be allowed to vote at all.

Democracy etymologically presupposes self-government, with the demos trusting its most qualified representatives to look after its interests for a few years. But if, as Lord Finkelstein shows so well, the demos is manifestly unqualified to act in that capacity, doesn’t that undermine the whole concept?

His findings tally with both my observations and thoughts on this subject. Unlike me, however, he isn’t prepared to draw the conclusion his facts demand. That’s shoddy, timorous thinking.

Daisy the Sacred Cow is so lovely, and she moos so cutely, that she’s impossible to slaughter. And if a politician or a pundit dares to suggest such a thing, he’ll instantly stop being a politician or a pundit. Lord Finkelstein knows this very well.