A few dinghies can do what Philip II, Napoleon and Hitler couldn’t

If you don’t count the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, which aren’t part of the UK anyway, 1066 was the last time the British Isles were invaded.

Sir Francis Drake, where are you when we need you?

Some rulers tried, others wisely didn’t, much as they wanted to. Even though their armies vastly outnumbered the British forces, both Napoleon and Hitler could only eye the white cliffs wistfully from afar. They correctly surmised that the combination of the Channel and the Royal Navy presented an insurmountable obstacle.

Evidently it no longer is. Thousands of illegal aliens from the less desirable countries have managed to sail their dinghies to Britain, and our officials only sigh and say there’s nothing we can do about it.

Perhaps they are right, and I don’t have at my fingertips enough information to argue against their conclusion. However, my olfactory sense is still strong enough to discern dissembling, especially when it’s not particularly clever.

This morning a portly middle-aged gentleman in charge of such matters was interviewed on Sky News, and he got the softest ride possible this side of a full-sized American car. Nothing he said made much sense, and any interviewer worth his salt would have taken him to task.

For example, the portly official explained, unimpeachably, that the Channel is only 20 miles wide from Calais to Dover. True.

However, it’s not appreciably narrower than it was in 1806 or 1940, when both Napoleon and Hitler deemed it too wide to cross. Why, it wasn’t even much wider in 1588, when the last attempt was made to come to England uninvited.

I’m not saying that the Royal Navy should do to the dinghies what Sir Francis Drake did to the Armada, although some of my strident friends may think it would be a good idea. I’m only pointing out that the argument from width doesn’t wash.

Then the official tugged at our heart strings by saying that all those poor people, even if they are only economic migrants, come from awful places where their lives are likely to be unpleasant.

My heart responds on cue: I sympathise with them. Since I myself grew up in a murderous, impoverished hellhole, I know how they feel. So the argument from sympathy is unassailable. It is, however, irrelevant.

It’s a fair assumption that at least half of the world’s population of 7.6 billion would rather live in Britain than in their home countries. And their reasons for that preference would be as valid as those of the dinghy mariners.

However, neither Britain nor Western Europe nor even the West at large can possibly accommodate such numbers even if we wished to. Some restrictions must therefore be imposed.

Hence, much as we sympathise with those poor people, we could do worse than remember the words of John Quincy Adams. Speaking of America, he said: “She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

(Those Channel-farers aren’t really ‘poor’. When I left Russia, I had $100 in my pocket, and a $650 debt for the visa money I had to borrow from a friend. By contrast, these people pay £4,000 to £5,000 each for their crossing. So whatever they are in any other sense, they aren’t poor economically.)

Then the interviewee resorted to the time-honoured British sport: he blamed the French, who, according to him, do little to stamp out the organised crime behind such crossings. That’s probably true: France’s ardour is doubtless dampened by her experience of admitting vast numbers of culturally alien refugees. Let’s just say that the experience hasn’t been an unqualified success.

France’s desire to palm off those migrants, mostly Syrians and Iranians, on us is understandable. What’s less so is the migrants’ desire to risk their lives for preferring Britain to France or Belgium.

After all, the traditional practice (if not an ironclad legal obligation) is for refugees to seek asylum in the first safe country they reach. They clearly must know something I don’t if they believe Britain is much safer than France or even Belgium.

That issue never came up in the interview because Sky’s Niall Paterson was careful to avoid any potentially controversial angles. Thus Niall nodded compassionate understanding when his mark rued HMG’s utter impotence in stopping the crossings or sending the surviving sailors back.

They have the right to apply for asylum, he said, even if they are strictly economic migrants. And even should their applications be rejected, we can’t really deport them. If France doesn’t agree to take them back, which she won’t, they stay.

I have a couple of problems with that, one of which is lexical. Words like ‘migrants’ and ‘refugees’ refer to the legal status of those who have entered the country legally and are then granted the permission to stay.

If they enter the country illegally, they are law-breakers. And, when an official of HMG admits there’s nothing we can do about law-breakers, we are in deep trouble.

Such impotence is of recent vintage. For example, during the war, all refugees from Nazi Germany – including, incongruously, Jews – were treated as undesirable aliens and interned on the Isle of Man.

Have we forgotten how to do that? How willing would those mariners be to risk their lives in a dangerous crossing if they knew they’d end up in an internment camp, not at the Social Services? Not very, is my guess.

Then surely the Royal Navy still must have the capacity to stop those boats without resorting to violence, à la 1588. I don’t know how, but I sleep better at night hoping we have some people who do.

One thing we should have done was not play poodle to American neocons who in 2003 set out to bomb the Middle East into democracy. In that undertaking they predictably failed, succeeding only in sending wave after wave of refugees to engulf Europe.

That, however, is a separate subject. Today’s subject isn’t the past but the immediate future – when the population of Britain will hit 70 million, mostly due to culturally alien migration.

Problem with Beethoven, he wasn’t a black woman

Some of the stuff published these days forces me to do extra research. I have to make sure the pieces are bona fide, rather than vicious spoofs or else excerpts from psychiatrists’ case studies.

Esperanza Spalding of the 19th century

One such piece is by Philip Ewell, explaining why Beethoven was barely an above average composer, and the only reason he’s considered a genius is the domination of music theory by white males.

Even reading his article twice left me undecided whether the author is a madman or a satirist of Swiftian proportions. To be fair, these days it’s hard to tell the difference; actuality outpaces any satire, no matter how mordant or grotesque.

However, it turns out that Dr Ewell isn’t a satirist at all. He’s Associate Professor of music theory at Hunter College, New York, which used to be a reputable institution. That narrows down the diagnostic options for his condition.

Having listed his academic credentials on his blog, Dr Ewell then describes himself as “an activist for racial, gender, and social justice in the field of music theory.” That self-identification should by itself justify a call for the men in white coats.

However, I have no interest in Dr Ewell’s problem, be that innate or cultivated insanity. What does interest me is the insanity of an era in which academics can write, and their readers take seriously, manifestly deranged gibberish.

It’s tedious to analyse Ewell’s output on merit because it has none. However, because the statements he makes add facets to a clinical picture of modernity, bear with me for a few paragraphs. The first one is unadulterated Ewell:

“‘Master,’ and its derivatives (masterwork, masterpiece, masterful), carries both racist (master/slave) and sexist (master/mistress) connotations. In music theory “masterwork” is generally applied to compositions by white males. But Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony is no more a masterwork than Esperanza Spalding’s 12 Little Spells. To state that Beethoven was any more than, say, above average as a composer is to state that you know all music written on planet earth 200 years ago when Beethoven was active as a composer, which no one does. Beethoven occupies the place he does because he has been propped up by whiteness and maleness for two hundred years, and we have been told by whiteness and maleness that his greatness has nothing to do with whiteness and maleness, in race-neutral and gender-neutral fashion. Thus music theory’s white-male frame obfuscates race and gender, one of its main goals.”

As an aside, I suggest that, before Dr Ewell puts pen to paper again, he learn the difference between ‘masterful’ and ‘masterly’. Also, when the word ‘Earth’ designates a planet, it’s capitalised, something a chap ought to know long before he has earned an advanced degree.

Yet Dr Ewell makes up for his ignorance of basic English by the refreshing gall of his pronouncements. For example, it’s commonly believed that the purpose of music theory is scholarly study of how music is made, its history, processes and principles.

That, according to Dr Ewell, is a misapprehension. Music theory is there to enable “white males to obfuscate race and gender.”

Dr Ewell insists that “even terms such as … ‘fin de siècle’ can be considered euphemisms for whiteness and white framing… [because] the mapping of time itself is white racially framed in the Gregorian calendar.”

Hence, even saying that Beethoven was an 18-19th century composer, never mind a great one, is blatant racism because Pope Gregory XIII, for whom the Western calendar is named, was a white male. That unfortunate nativity invalidates our calendar, leaving us without any time reference at all. After all, the alternative Julian calendar was also named after a white male, Julius Caesar.

Having thus solved the philosophical problem of time, Dr Ewell then destroys the very concept of aesthetic judgement by ridiculing its premises. Since it’s impossible to know every note of music ever written everywhere in the world, we can’t judge Beethoven’s greatness.

Greatness is relative. Thus, Beethoven may legitimately be considered above average only against the background of the composers we know. If, say, we take Hummel and Weber as representing the average, then yes, Beethoven may be marginally above that level.

But do we know every chant sung by an African shaman or a Tasmanian aborigine? No? Then how can we know Beethoven is any better than they are? We don’t. And if we insist we do, we are racists and misogynists.

To prove that no absolute standards exist, Dr Ewell cites the example of Esperanza Spalding, whose 12 Little Spells is to him easily a match for Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. The only reason this fact isn’t universally acknowledged is that Miss Spalding is neither male nor white.

Here I have to own up to a glaring gap in my musical education, which indirectly proves Dr Ewell’s point. Until I read his article I hadn’t had the foggiest who Esperanza Spalding was. However, thanks to YouTube, that hole was plugged.

She’s a young double bass player, who composes and performs pretentious pseudo-spiritual jazz songs of no musical value whatsoever. There, I might as well have had “racist and misogynist” tattooed on my forehead.

I’m only dissing Miss Spalding because she’s a black woman, and I’m neither. I must have forgotten what century we live in, and now that both the Gregorian and Julian calendars have bitten the dust, I’ll never learn.

The sheer insanity of Dr Ewell’s pronouncements is rare even by the standards of whatever century we live in (choose your own calendar). But the general thrust is quite widespread.

Every white male composer (which more or less means every composer) represents a burr under the blanket of modernity. Where are the black female Bachs and Beethovens?

Discounting, at the risk of sounding bigoted, young Esperanza, I can think of only two female composers of note, Hildegard von Bingen (12th century, by the racist calendar) and our contemporary Sofia Gubaidulina. And even they can’t quite match, well, Bach and Beethoven.

Therefore, since ideology always trumps such incidentals as reason and taste, Ewell and his ilk have to debunk our whole aesthetic frame of reference and shift it into their political comfort zone. There composers are regarded as masters only because they are white men: music theorists have formed a cabal designed to marginalise black women composers who are as masterly (or ‘masterful’, to Dr Ewell) as the men.

Recently, when it was discovered that Easter Sonata, wrongly attributed to Felix Mendelssohn, was actually composed by his sister Fanny, the Ewells of this world perked up. You see? Fanny was every bit her brother’s equal. Well, judging by that strictly mediocre piece, she wasn’t.

And Clara Schumann supposedly could compose rings around her husband, him of an overblown reputation. Alas, Clara, one of the best pianists of her time, only ever composed little nothings catering to popular tastes at her recitals. Neither Robert nor, more to the point, Clara herself considered her a composer.

But at least both Fanny and Clara could produce genuine, if not great, music, which is more than one could say for Esperanza Spalding. Dr Ewell really pushed the envelope there.

However, the important thing to realise is that it’s illiterate, tasteless, ideology-crazed morons like him who set the tone at our formerly reputable universities. They are the ones who form public tastes (most comments on Ewell’s blog are glowing).

To paraphrase Chesterton, those who believe in nothing, will believe in anything.

Ennobling the ignoble

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, the freshly minted lord, Evgeny Lebedev, takes a broad swipe at those who, like me, take exception to his elevation to the House of Lords.

What’s wrong with this picture?

“Anyone who thinks I am a Boris-crony or a Putin-stooge,” he says, “obviously isn’t one of the 28 million online readers of The Independent in this country.”

Guilty as charged. Actually, the official reach of that online publication is 22 million, but let’s not haggle about pennies. In substance, Lebedev is correct: yes, I do think it’s patently obvious he’s a Boris crony and a Putin stooge. And no, I’m not one of however many Independent readers there are.

Lebedev accuses his detractors of “a racism that considers the House of Lords to be no place for someone such as me”, singling out The Guardian “where stories invariably describe me as ‘Russian’ or ‘Russian-born’ in their first sentences”.

I know exactly how he feels; I too detest being described in that fashion. But there’s a difference between Lebedev and me. I relinquished my Russian (then Soviet) citizenship in 1973, seven years before Lebedev was born.

He, however, remains not only a British subject but also a Russian citizen, which means dual allegiance and a right to dual protection. The link between the two was established in the ancient legal principle “Protectio trahit subjectionem, et subjectio protectionem”.

Hence, while tarring me with a Russian brush betokens lazy and inaccurate thinking, thus describing Lebedev is a simple statement of fact. But one has to compliment him on the masterly use of fail-free tricks: anyone called a racist nowadays is expected to crawl back into his hole, tail between his legs.

Another term he casually drops into his narrative is McCarthyism – whatever the context, that can’t fail to push the right, or rather left, button. Again, compliments are in order.

Lebedev clearly learned his disinformation tradecraft at the knee of his father Alexander, a career KGB officer. (Not ‘agent’, as his son describes him. If I were his daddy, I’d chastise little Zhenia for his ignorance: an officer is a fully employed master spy who runs a network of agents. It’s the same difference as between an editor and a freelance hack.)

As part of that tradecraft, he knows how to deceive without lying. For example, he describes himself as “a first-generation immigrant, who came to this country when I was eight”. Quite. Except that he came to Britain at that young age not as an immigrant, but as the son of a KGB officer working under diplomatic cover at the Russian embassy.

Another tradecraft gem: “… together with my father [I] have invested more than £120 million to save two great national newspaper titles…”. I especially like that “together” business: an innocent reader may get the impression of some kind of equal partnership.

In fact, Evgeny, who was 29 at the time and had never made any serious money, simply acted as a front for his father, who in turn acted as a front for his lifelong employer. Alexander Lebedev, incidentally, is still listed as a co-owner of the papers, even though his son refers to them as “mine”.

Then Lebedev describes The Independent as “a global publishing giant”. Every word there, except “a”, is dubious. Since few people outside the UK have ever heard of The Independent, the “global” claim must be based on the Saudis who own 30 per cent of the title. “Publishing” is only tangentially appropriate for a strictly online publication. And “giant” is misleading in the absence of information on paid circulation.

Continuing in the same vein, Lebedev is “proud of the fact that this title is one of very few in Britain with no political alignment whatsoever”. Again, this is another example of deceiving without lying.

It’s true that The Independent isn’t the official organ of any political party. But it’s definitely a mouthpiece of an ideology.

Its listing identifies its political alignment as “liberal”, which, translated from the modern, means left-wing. The Independent supports the republican cause, which makes its editor’s presence in the House of Lords rather incongruous. It was also in the Remain camp, campaigning tirelessly for a second referendum.

Then Lebedev complains that “ardent believers in the narrative of omnipresent Russian influence in the UK see my interactions with the British elite as some sort of Kremlin influence mission.”

Perish the thought. Newspapers owned de facto by a KGB officer, made rich by his alma mater, toeing the Kremlin line? Surely not.

I’ve said it a thousand times if I’ve said it once: it’s impossible to make a Lebedev-like fortune in Russia without being some kind of Putin agent. The nature of the agency may differ: it could be money laundering, influence peddling, propaganda, espionage, disinformation or any combination thereof. But one way or another, all those ‘oligarchs’ are the puppets to Putin’s wire-puller.

Lebedev brags of his large donations to charity, which is commendable by itself. But in his case that activity isn’t by itself. It’s in no way inconsistent with the role of an agent of influence. If you had millions and wanted to rise to the pinnacle of British society, wouldn’t you spread your largesse around?

And the primary source of his money, the Putin camarilla, isn’t naturally driven by charitable impulses. Its every expenditure is always aimed at pursuing its interest, whatever that might be. Infiltrating its men into the upper echelons of Britain certainly qualifies as such a worthy cause.

Boris Johnson’s picks for ennoblement range from nepotistic (his brother, a man of modest attainment) to ill-advised (Claire Fox, recent communist and IRA fan) to downright subversive (Lebedev). Just the sort of thing we’ve learned to expect from our leaders.

What’s the worst word in English?

In 1965 a line was crossed: theatre critic Kenneth Tynan was the first to say ‘fuck’ on live TV.

I bet the culprit isn’t smiling any longer

Since then the line has been crossed so often that it has become smudged. Words beginning with just about every letter of the alphabet have flooded the airwaves, drowning the stultifying norms of public decency.

That proved yet again that the march of progress is unstoppable, while also adding a facet to our current understanding of progress. Take technology out of it, and progress is essentially mass brainwashing in the severing of all traditional roots of morality, reason, decency and etiquette.

Since television, now abetted by social media, has effectively replaced education, Tynan’s pioneering effort has borne rich fruit. These days obscenities are ringing throughout the land, and one can routinely hear even little tots describe one another in a language that suggests intimate familiarity with genital anatomy and the more recondite sexual variants.

As a result of overuse, words that used to act as shockers and intensifiers have lost the power to either shock or intensify. Their inappropriate use in public (I’ve forfeited the right to object to their use in private) only serves the purpose of branding the speaker as a tasteless, ill-mannered boor. Or else, depending on the audience, as a free-thinking rebel who can soar above convention.

Still, flouting convention is what progress is all about, and the sewer of torrential obscenity never gets plugged on our TV. However, our media watchdog has hypocritically banned swear words before the 9 PM watershed – pretending that today’s children dutifully go to bed at that time and have no TV sets or computers in their bedrooms.

Having paid perfunctory lip service to propriety, our TV networks can safely continue to ignore it in every way that matters. A new world has no room for old morality.

Instead new morality has barged in to take up the slack. Its rules are enforced fanatically, and deviations are punished cruelly.

The new line was drawn on the football pitch in 2011, when one player, John Terry, called another a “fucking black cunt”. The only word in the triad that isn’t an obscenity is the middle one, and yet it was only that word that got Terry banned. Had he limited his self-expression to the two outside terms, he wouldn’t have even drawn a caution, nor raised an eyebrow.

The message was clear. It was acceptable to insult people in the foulest possible way, impugning the sexual behaviour of their mothers, accusing them of having oral or anal intercourse with their fathers – whatever. And the offended parties could have no recourse.

But any reference to their race, even without using overtly pejorative terminology, and the offender will have to face the slings and arrows of outraged modernity. As to real racial slurs, they will draw not just slings and arrows but the executioner’s axe, at this point still only metaphorically.

Our media regulators responded with decisiveness hitherto associated with rather unsavoury regimes. Their laisser-faire attitude to post-watershed obscenity remained in place, but racial insults were banned at any time – whatever the mitigating context.

Stricter standards are now applied to racial slurs than even to homicide, where extenuating circumstances may be taken into account. To our progressives, racism, however contextual or tangential, or however broadly defined, is a worse crime than murder.

What makes the new morality more tyrannical than any traditional Western tyranny is that it’s mostly imposed not by the state but by the people themselves. They’ve been brainwashed into enthusiastic self-policing. Before too long they’ll be sufficiently indoctrinated to arrest themselves, rough themselves up and then put themselves in prison.

The BBC’s social affairs correspondent Fiona Lamdin got a taste of it when reporting a vile racist attack of two thugs setting upon a black man. They deliberately drove their car at the victim, leaving him with a broken leg, nose and cheekbone.

In the process they hurled racist abuse at the man, which Miss Lamdin reported. She told her ideologically sensitive viewers: “Just to warn you, you’re about to hear highly offensive language… Because as the men ran away, they hurled racial abuse, calling him a nigger”.

That didn’t violate the injunction issued by watchdog Ofcom in 2016, to the effect that, though the word was “highly unacceptable at all times”, it could be used when “strong contextualisation is required”.

‘Contextualisation’ could hardly have been stronger than that, but Miss Lamdin’s viewers weren’t into such nuances. They knew they had been ordered to be offended by that word, however used, and offended they obligingly were.

The BBC received 18,656 complaints, of the kind that in the country of my youth were called denunciations. The Corporation explained that the decision to include the criminal word was taken “by a team of people including a number of senior editorial figures”, but that only made matters worse.

Yet for once, those senior BBC figures were right: the word made the report even more poignant – just as saying that the thugs broke the victim’s leg was more effective than saying that they caused grievous bodily harm.

Just compare these two sentences: “They screamed ‘nigger’ as the man tried to run away” and “They screamed racial invective as the man tried to run away”. Which one condemns the thugs more strongly? Which one represents accurate reporting, as opposed to wishy-washy woke waffle?

These are moot questions as far as our morbidly sensitive public is concerned. The OFFENCE toggle switch has been implanted into their minds, and each time it’s flicked they are offended on cue.

Well, they offend me no end. Can you suggest where I should post my complaint?

P.S. Wearing face masks, especially on a hot day, has one definite advantage: it enables a man to concentrate on what’s really important in a woman. Her soul, that is, and what did you think I meant?

What’s good about multiculturalism?

John, a tiler from Hackney, doesn’t know. But he knows exactly what’s bad about it. A Londoner born and bred, John finds himself in a minority in his native city.

Diversity at work

He often spends his holidays in Ibiza, which he pronounces ‘Ibiffa’. But while there, John wears Union Jack shorts and a T-shirt saying: “Two World Wars One World Cup So Fuck Off”. He means no harm by it, just one of those things you do in Ibiffa. He quite likes Spaniards.

Back home John doesn’t mind people who look or sound unlike him either. In fact, he often goes down the pub with Andrzej the plumber and Anand the roofer. They’re good blokes. It’s just…

Well, John knows he isn’t supposed to say it, Andrzej and Anand being his mates and all, but London just doesn’t feel English anymore. That doesn’t seem right, although he may be hard-pressed to explain why in any depth. So perhaps those who have spent a lifetime putting thoughts into words can give John a helping hand.

A nation or, my preferred term, society is a collective entity uniting individuals on the basis of some common elements. Language is the most obvious one, though it can divide as well as unite. G.B. Shaw pointed this out in the preface to Pygmalion: “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.”

Language can be divisive because it acts as a badge by instantly betraying the speaker’s class, education, culture, geographical origin and other potentially problematic characteristics. In fact, people like John often refer to toffs as very English, implying that Englishness comes in class-sensitive degrees.

Hence language, English more than any other, can encourage some deadly sins, and not just those of the misdemeanour variety. The same goes for culture in general. For it to function as a social and national adhesive, a country has to have the kind of educational system Britain hasn’t possessed for at least several decades.

In the absence of education that truly educates, rather than instructs, trains or indoctrinates, culture becomes even more stratified and fractured than language. When half the school leavers (a conservative estimate) don’t know in what century the Battle of Britain took place, can’t quite place Wellington’s name or understand a single joke in 1066 and All That, it’s hard to hail the unifying potential of culture.

A society worthy of its name will always have more or less educated people, but there will still exist some corpus of knowledge they can all be confidently presumed to share, some well from which they draw their commonality. Britain doesn’t seem to have anything of the sort.

In fact, the only reliable social adhesive for any Western country has been proved to be the national Church. It alone lacks the divisive potential of language or culture. When the priest offers communion wafers to his parishioners, he doesn’t reserve the better morsels for the rich or well-spoken.

Everyone is equal at the altar – and only at the altar. Communion isn’t just between the people and God; it’s between the people themselves.

However, this great adhesive has been for all intents and purposes dissolved. The Church has lost its power to unify a national community. It’s now tolerated, at best, as strictly an individual idiosyncrasy. You go to church, I go to pop concerts, he goes to football matches, they go to raves – it’s all a matter of personal choice.

Yet personal choices are two a penny; their number is roughly coextensive with the country’s population. Take the Church out, and the atoms of every social molecule spin out of control. Society becomes atomised, which is to say it stops being a society.

So what can hold a nation together at a time of rampant ignorance, egoism, solipsism, materialism and deracination? Here someone who knows how to put thoughts together holds no advantage over my fictitious friend John. We become like children who have a first mystical experience. We don’t know what it is, but we know it’s something.

All we can do is guess. It could be some genetic memory. Or a tribal instinct. Or love of the land. Or pride in being different from foreigners. Or some shared, subliminally perceived historical experience. Or ethnic commonality working in mysterious ways. Or a combination of them all – I just don’t know.

But I do know that, unlike faith, language, culture and a shared body of knowledge, all such imperceptible things are vulnerable to a huge influx of outlanders, accompanied by an ideological commitment to increasing the flow rate.

A colonial administrator of the Raj could spend decades in India without becoming one jot or tittle any less English. He had his language, culture and the local Anglican church to fall back on – those acted as his sources of strength, the earth to his Antaeus.

John the tiler is short in those departments, and he feels his Englishness is being diluted by the rapidly changing demographics. And people he considers, with typical English diffidence, to be cleverer than he is are telling him there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s diversity, innit?

That brings back the question in the title: what’s good about multiculturalism? I’ve argued what’s bad about it, and my argument may or may not be persuasive. But at least I’d like to think it’s intrinsically cogent.

So what’s the intrinsically cogent argument in favour of multiculturalism? If it exists, I have yet to hear it. All I do hear is rabid ideological waffle. John would call it a load of bollocks.   

P.S. The freshly made lord, Evgeny Lebedev, is everywhere described as a “newspaper proprietor and son of a former Russian KGB spy turned multi-millionaire oligarch”. That description is false on several counts.

First, “There’s no such thing as former KGB. This is for life.” Thus spoke Col. Putin, and in this area at least he knows his onions. Second, the word ‘oligarch’ is misleading. Since no Russian billionaire made his fortune legitimately, ‘gangster’ would be more to the point. Third, since Evgeny bought his newspapers still in his twenties, without ever having earned any serious money, it’s Lebedev père who’s the real owner.

Thus the freshly made lord ought to be described, accurately, as “the quasi-legit front for his KGB gangster father and therefore his sponsoring organisation”. Hope this clarifies matters.

Let our enemies judge us

Both individuals and nations are better at judging their adversaries’ weaknesses than their own. Our enemies, on the other hand, are much more dispassionate and objective: our weaknesses are their strengths.

Corbyn, gobbling up the fruits of Russia’s labour

That’s why we can get valuable material for self-scrutiny by examining what our enemies see as our weak spots they can exploit. This may then make us reassess our policies or, better still, the thinking behind our policies.

I’ve often remarked that many of our political failings spring from the gross inadequacy of our political taxonomies. It’s not only the Creation itself that began with the word.

We are so hung up on political terminology that we fail to realise it doesn’t designate anything actual. Take liberalism, for example, which used to have a direct link with its cognate, liberty.

Yet in the West today liberalism means, mutatis mutandis, socialism: replacement of individual responsibility with collective security, as much state control and as little personal liberty as is achievable without concentration camps.

For the 19th century liberal, the 10 percent of the nation’s income the government was then spending was too high. For today’s liberal, the 40-odd percent it spends now is too low. So if one wants to use ‘liberal’ in its proper sense, then one must either modify it with ‘classic’ or replace it with ‘libertarian’, thereby rendering the word useless.

Thus confused, we try to get a sense of direction, only to find our heads spinning like a top: both ‘right’ and ‘left’ really mean nothing at all.

Faschisoid parties seeking state power based on nationalism are described as ‘right-wing’; fascisoid parties seeking state power based on nationalisation are ‘left-wing’. Yet both are in fact socialist, and the difference between them is merely adjectival, not substantive.

At their extremes, they converge on a unifying characteristic: both are disruptive at best, subversive at worst. That’s the only thing that matters: not right or left, but right or wrong.

Yet we are so in thrall to false taxonomies that we argue ad nauseam about the exact place our parties and politicians occupy on the fictitious continuum: A is right; B is left; C is in the middle, but closer to the right; D is in the middle too, but tending towards the left – and so forth.

Labels get stuck, serious thought comes unstuck, and we gradually lose the ability to ask the really important question: What’s right and what’s wrong? In fact, we’ve forgotten even how to think in such categories.

That seminal question has many answers in many contexts, but when it comes to dealing with our enemies, the realpolitik answer is simple. Whatever suits their interests in our countries is wrong; whatever suits our interests at the expense of theirs is right.

Nobody this side of Peter Hitchens doubts that Putin’s Russia is an implacable enemy of the West in general and Britain in particular. And the Russians aren’t fooled by our names for political groups. They don’t care who’s right, left or centre. All they want to know is who can help them destabilise the West, making it impotent to resist criminal Russian neo-imperialism.

That should indirectly clear up our own thinking, perhaps encouraging us to ditch our whole political classification and concentrate instead on deeper issues. If our enemies assess our political mix strictly on the basis of their strategic interests, we ought to assess it on the basis of ours.

We should ponder why Putin’s Russia is an equal opportunity recruiter. The Russians don’t care if a party comes from the far right, far left or the mainstream. Just look at the list of European groups they support with finance, logistics and electronic intelligence.

On the right one could mention Germany’s AfD, Austria’s FPÖ, Greece’s Golden Dawn, Hungary’s Jobbik, France’s Front National, Italy’s Northern League, Poland’s PiS and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang – along with some elements within our Brexit movement and most political groups that have words like British or English in their nomenclatures.

On the left, Putin’s largesse is bestowed on Cyprus’s AKEL, Germany’s Die Linke, the Czech Republic’s KSCM, Poland’s Zmiana, Spain’s Podemos, Greece’s Syriza, Italy’s Five Star Movement and Croatia’s Human Shield Party.

Politicians on both right and left have benefited – or at least were meant to benefit – from the hacking expertise of Russian intelligence services. Let’s remark parenthetically that, though the Russians are still incapable of making their own electronic equipment, they are real wizards at using our exports for subversive purposes.

Here too they are laudably even-handed. First, they used hackers to find dirt on Hillary Clinton to make sure Trump would get elected. (It’s immaterial for my purposes here whether Trump was complicit in this crime or indeed whether it worked. It’s the intent that counts.) Then they provided the same service for Corbyn.

Now Trump is widely perceived as a man of the right, which charge can hardly be levelled at Corbyn. Yet KGB/SVR hackers tried to give him a helping hand by hacking the e-mail account of Liam Fox, former International Trade Secretary, and stealing classified material about our negotiations with the US.

That enabled Corbyn to scream publicly that the Tories were planning to sell the NHS to the US, which could have had the same effect as telling Catholics that the Pope was trying to flog the whole Roman confession to Disney Europe. Corbyn was so hideous that the ploy didn’t work, but otherwise it could have done.

If you look at the list of British politicians who have appeared on Putin’s propaganda channel, RT, more than once, you’ll again see that the Russians don’t play party favourites. Along with Corbyn and other lefties, such as Grace Blakely and Ken Livingston, one finds on that list the SNP’s Alex Salmond, Tory David Davies and Ukip’s Nigel Farage.

Regardless of what they say there, the very fact that our politicians agree to take RT’s £750 appearance fee is damning. That’s like, say, Anthony Eden giving an interview to Der Stürmer in 1938. But our chaps go beyond just appearing: they give their hosts value for money.

Thus, immediately after Russia’s invasion of the Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, Nigel Farage told his RT audience that the real culprit was the EU that “has blood on its hands”. And Alex Salmond must ask himself why he was invited to host a regular RT show just when the KGB/SVR was using its resources to prop up Scottish separatism – Britain’s poison is Putin’s meat.

Commenting on the cooling in the Russo-British relations, the Russian Ambassador Andrei Kelin said: “I feel that Britain exaggerates, very much, its place in Russian thinking.”

That was a calculated putdown, highlighting Britain’s diminishing role in the world. Be that as it may, her place in the thinking of Putin and his camarilla isn’t just prominent, but dominant.  

Britain is where their billions are laundered, their children are educated, and they themselves are treated. Hence any cooling of relations will hurt them personally, which to that lot is all that matters.

A proper response to Russia’s concerted effort to subvert Britain would be to cut off access to all those facilities and impound all Russian billions. Yet to our craven, spivocratic elite it comes more naturally to elevate Russians with KGB connections to the House of Lords.

Then again, Russia is teaching us a valuable lesson in strategic thinking and realpolitik that goes beyond party names or slogans. Perhaps one day we may get a government that would heed it.    

BBC lessons for children

CBBC broadcasts programmes aimed at children aged between six and 12. With that audience, most shows can be assumed to have some didactic content, not always explicit but real nonetheless.

Tongues please, class…

Hence a story about a violinist may pique the tots’ interest in music; one about explorers may interest them in geography; one about RAF pilots… well, you catch the drift.

At the same time, films showing a triumph of good over evil may, if nothing else, teach them the difference between the two or, as a minimum, that one exists.

It’s not for nothing that Aristotle once said (and Francis Xavier repeated), “Give me a child and I will show you the man”. The Greek knew that the best opportunity to educate people for life is when they are young.

By the looks of it, CBBC knows it too. That’s why its children’s drama The Next Step showed a graphic depiction of a lesbian kiss.

That’s par for the course these days. What’s surprising is that some residual resistance is still mounted, as witnessed by a flood of complaints inundating the BBC.

Modernity clearly still has work to do: some individuals seem to punch breaches in its totalitarian indoctrination in amorality. Defending such ideological ramparts, the BBC came out swinging.

Its children’s network, declared the Corporation, “could and should do more to reflect the lives of LGBTQ+ young people… This is an important part of our mission to make sure that every child feels like they belong, that they are safe, and that they can be who they want to be.”

It would be a much more important part of the BBC mission to make sure that every child knows not to follow a singular antecedent like ‘child’ with a plural personal pronoun ‘their’.

That, as a matter of fact, would be more in keeping with the BBC Charter:The Mission of the BBC is to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain.” Not a word there about reflecting “the lives of LGBTQ+ young people”.

Being way outside the target audience, I can’t judge the entertainment value of The Next Step. Its informational aspect is doubtless superfluous if it indeed exists. By the time they reach the mature age of seven or eight, children have already learned about the delights of homosexuality at school. However, the drama’s educational value is worth discussing.

The key to that discussion is provided by the BBC’s exercise of moral equivalence in the next paragraph of its defence: “CBBC regularly portrays heterosexual young people dating, falling in love, and kissing, and it is an important way of showing children what respectful, kind and loving relationships look like.” 

This is where amorality comes in: the Corporation effectively denies that sex, and by extrapolation anything else, has a moral content. Children, according to them, “can be who they want to be”, except agents exercising moral judgement.

Showing a romantic relationship between a boy and a girl is, for an organisation committed to “high-quality and distinctive output”, the same as showing a romantic relationship between (or presumably among) people of the same sex.

Children can choose one or the other, leaving me feeling sorry for those who gravitate towards, say, bestiality or necrophilia, which have yet to be condoned by our “high-quality” broadcaster. It’s consumer choice gone mad: if the little ones can choose their computer games, why can’t they choose their sexual perversion to “feel they belong”?

I’m not suggesting intolerance of homosexuality. In England specifically, it has been tolerated for centuries. Everybody knew that Geoffrey was ‘a confirmed bachelor’ and Harold ‘not the marrying kind’, and nobody cared.

However, tolerance isn’t the same as endorsement. Things to be tolerated are by definition less than praiseworthy. If they weren’t, no tolerance would be needed.

Hence, though homosexuals are to be protected from abuse and generally tolerated, society too must be protected from propaganda of homosexuality as a valid, morally neutral exercise of free choice.

A society in which such basic things don’t go without saying, and those who do say them risk censure, is in dire straits indeed. It has lost its moral, and therefore any other, way. Those interested in the practical ramifications of aimless moral meandering could do worse than reread The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

P.S. Some of my readers, being of sound empirical disposition so characteristic of the English, may ask about the possible remedies for this malaise.

This format doesn’t allow a protracted exposition of this theme – nor am I sure that such remedies exist any longer or, if they do, that I’m capable of prescribing them in all their complexity. I can, however, propose the essential first step: take the BBC licence away. Let it peddle its notion of morality in the open commercial market.

P.P.S. I hope you can join with me in prayers for the great Pope Benedict XVI, who is very ill and frail.

Let’s burn all literature

All progressive people, among whom I proudly number myself, must rejoice. We live at a time of heightened moral sensibility, and our standards are higher than they’ve ever been.

A sight for sore eyes, isn’t it?

Yet standards mean nothing if compliance isn’t rewarded and deviation isn’t punished. That’s why writers and academics who say or write things progressive people find objectionable lose their book contracts, jobs and careers.

However, and here rejoicing ought to become thunderous, we also apply our exacting standards to history, which is a good thing. Moral laws differ from criminal ones in that they can – indeed must – be retroactive, and no statute of limitations should exist.

Moreover, speaking of writers specifically, they ought to be censured for what they wrote not only in their books, but also in private correspondence. One wrong word, on race especially, and their books must be banned. Ideally, they should also be burned, even if the historical associations are a bit of a turnoff for some wimps.

When I say one wrong word, that’s exactly what I mean. Context doesn’t matter: the writer may be making anti-racist points in his book and indeed his whole life, but if he does so by putting racist words in his protagonists’ mouths, he deserves no mercy.

In that spirit, Loyola University Maryland has removed the name of Flannery O’Connor from one of its residence halls because the Southern writer consistently depicted the dignity of blacks and enormity of racists… sorry, I got that wrong. O’Connor did do all that, but it’s not what got her punished posthumously. It was her use of a racially derogatory term in her letters.

She was weighed against today’s standards and found wanting. This isn’t baseball, chaps; no three strikes for you. Just one, and you’re out.

That’s what Mark Twain got for his novel Huckleberry Finn, out of which, according to Hemingway, all American literature came. This is a passionate anti-slavery book, and the black protagonist there is perhaps the most sympathetic character. But because he’s referred to as Nigger Jim, our new morality can no longer tolerate the novel’s toxic presence in school libraries.

Anti-black racism in Europe is a relatively new phenomenon for the simple reason that there used to be precious few blacks on the continent. But Jews have resided here for many centuries, and not all great writers have treated that fact with equanimity.

Eschewing understatement, one could even say that most of them erred against the standards of our time, some consistently, others sporadically. In fact, so few of them can pass muster that abolishing literature altogether seems to be the most sensible solution.

As a side benefit, the billions of books accumulated in Europe could be used to fire power stations, thereby providing an instant source of energy to tide us over until all the windmills have gathered speed.

If you think this recommendation may be too harsh, just look at the three great literatures: Russian, French and English. You’d have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find any writers there who either weren’t virulent anti-Semites or didn’t depict Jews pejoratively or at least described them by ethnic slurs.

Thus, with the possible exception of Chekhov, most great Russian writers were either rank Jew-haters (Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Rozanov) or at least prone to striking anti-Semitic notes in their books and correspondence.

Pushkin, Lermontov, Turgenev are all culpable there, as is the subject of one of my books, Tolstoy. The good Count tended to regard himself as a world authority on any subject he had studied for a couple of weeks, such as education. When the famous pedagogue Friedrich Froebel had the temerity to argue with him, Tolstoy was aghast: Froebel was “just a Jew” who ought to have known his place.

Into the bonfire go War and Peace and Anna Karenina, followed by the rest of Russian literature: we don’t want to waste time digging through an anti-Semitic dung heap in search of a few rare pearls of philo-Semitism.

And please don’t get me going on English literature, just bring that box of matches out. Shakespeare, Dickens, Waugh, Greene, Belloc, Chesterton, Buchan, Kingsley Amis… need I go on? I needn’t – by now you must be ready to strike the first match.

But, as you do, please don’t forget those Frenchmen: from Voltaire and Diderot to Sand, Balzac and Céline, they all belong in the pyre. Of course, when the fire spreads it’s also likely to consume even works by innocent writers, but that’s acceptable collateral damage.

If we go to such (justified!) extremes, I hear you ask, what will our young people read? That’s an odd question to ask, considering the profusion of social media that provide such a broad panoply of life’s intellectual and moral content.

Who needs Dostoyevsky and Chesterton when we have Twitter and Facebook? Only dyed-in-the-wool reactionaries and intellectual snobs. So perhaps the time has come to consider tossing them too into the bonfire of books.

I do hope that the corpus of my work and this piece specifically have established my progressive credentials clearly enough for me to be spared. Just in case, let me repeat: Heil progress!

Rape numbers don’t add up

Rape prosecutions fell by 30 per cent last year, which, according to angry campaigners for women’s rights, effectively means the “decriminalisation of rape”.

The definition of rape used to be straightforward

If so, you can count on my support, ladies: rape is a heinous crime, and decriminalising it can’t be justified. But first I’ve got to look at the facts and figure out what they mean. It’s that little idiosyncrasy of mine: I must go through that routine before forming a view.

The numbers come in two sets. The first is the infuriating fall in rape prosecutions in the past 12 months, which indeed amounts to 30 per cent. Even a bit more.

A sip of Laphroaig to settle my nerves, frayed by that discovery, and I’m ready to look at the second set. And yes, the 1,439 convictions obtained over the past 12 months is the lowest number in five years.

However, we find out that the conviction rate for rape over the past 12 months was 68.5 per cent – compared to 63.5 per cent last year and 57 per cent five years ago. In other words, more than two thirds of the men tried for rape over the past year were convicted.

However, the aforementioned campaigners make an irrefutable mathematical point: if two thirds were convicted, a third were acquitted. And to them anything under a 100 per cent conviction rate constitutes a denial of justice.

While the progressive person in me desperately wants to agree, the cold-blooded thinker puts the dampeners on. For no crime category produces the conviction rate all progressive people crave.

Overall, prosecutions for all crimes in the UK deliver about an 80 per cent conviction rate, which is somewhat higher than the almost 70 per cent in rape cases. But rape isn’t really like all other crimes.

For one thing, prosecutions are still brought, and conviction obtained, on an evidential basis. Thus, if the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) feels the evidence is weak, it won’t prosecute. If the evidence is good enough for prosecution but not for conviction, the jury won’t convict. Agreed?

Good. Then you must also agree that, whatever the crime, if every accusation resulted in prosecution and every prosecution in a conviction, we’d be miraculously transported to a very different country from Britain. That country would be a tyranny to end all tyrannies. Such a high rate was never obtained even in Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China.

A country ruled by law insists on strong evidence of wrongdoing before it punishes the wrongdoers. And getting such evidence in rape cases is notoriously hard.

That crime is usually committed without witnesses, which already makes things difficult. Unless some physical evidence exists, it’s the woman’s word against the man’s. The woman’s word may be her bond, but neither the CPS nor the courts can proceed solely on that assumption.

Even if physical evidence existed in the first place, it tends to disappear over time. In most cases, it disappears within days, to say nothing of weeks, months or years. However, for variously valid reasons, many victims are reluctant to report the crime immediately, sometimes waiting weeks, months or years.

Simon, a barrister friend of mine, recently had to try an 85-year-old man charged with rape committed over 60 years ago. As a result, Simon is seriously considering quitting criminal law.

Moreover, and I hurt inside for having to say this, some women bring up accusations of rape or sexual assault frivolously – at times, and here the inner pain becomes unbearable, fraudulently. In this they are helped by the steadily broadening concept of such crimes.

For example, two colleagues may check into a hotel room after work (not a hypothetical case), undress, get in bed, engage in prolonged foreplay followed by intercourse but, if the woman gasps ‘stop’ at the very point of no return and the man doesn’t stop, he goes to prison for rape.

If a husband assumes that a marriage licence is a licence to hanky-panky and dismisses his wife’s claim of a headache, he’s a rapist, barely distinguishable from a savage who jumps a passerby in a dark street. And so on.

Sexual assault is even worse. An uninvited pat on a woman’s behind at a party or a hand on her thigh at dinner are now treated as felonies, not just overly aggressive courtship. As we speak, a senior Tory MP is about to be charged with assault for trying to kiss one woman, putting his hand on another’s leg and using his position to have a year-long affair with a parliamentary staffer.

The latter woman claims rape because she feared that turning the libidinous MP down might damage her career. I must say I don’t understand.

The current belief is that rape is the worst thing that can happen to a woman, worse than even maiming or death. If so, a damaged career looks rather trivial by comparison, wouldn’t you say? I know what my choice would be.

Then again, an exchange of sexual favours for career advancement, a leg-over for a leg-up, goes back at least to Abraham’s wife Sarah, who pretended to be his sister so she could become the pharaoh’s concubine (“And he entreated Abraham well for her sake” Gen. 12-16).

None of this is to deny that rape, sensibly defined, is a brutal crime. However, rape is unlike any other brutal crime not just because it’s often hard to prove. Like racism and homophobia (also defined so broadly as to lose any meaning whatsoever), rape is a crime committed not just against its victim, but against the dominant ideology of our time.

All such ideologies are concocted to create fault lines in society by fostering alienation between classes, races – and sexes. Hence it’s essential to indoctrinate the populace in the belief that the relationship between men and women is inherently adversarial, not complementary.

Broadening the definition of rape and sexual assault is as instrumental there as insisting, against common sense and indeed sanity, that a woman’s statement is all the proof needed for prosecution and conviction. Never mind the rule of law; feel the ideology.

Going back to the two sets of numbers cited above, they represent a step in the sane direction. The CPS is beginning to apply tighter standards to rape evidence, which is why the number of prosecutions goes down but the conviction rate goes up.

The CPS has been allowed to get away with that so far, but I fear that before long a simple denunciation will suffice for prosecutions and convictions. As someone who grew up in the Soviet Union, I’ve seen it all before.  

KGB money buys a seat in the Lords

By elevating Evgeny Lebedev to the House of Lords, Boris Johnson has just done the most revolting thing in his eventful life.

Lord Lebedev?!?!?

His very friendship with that man ought to have raised awkward questions, especially now, when KGB/FSB infiltration of Britain is hot news. (Oops, sorry, it isn’t hot news any longer – that was last week. Our attention span has the length of a gnat’s penis.)

But ennobling a man with links to history’s most ignoble organisation makes it hard to decide where KGB/FSB ends and British politics begins. Let’s just say that Johnson’s cynical act smudges the line to a point where it’s not always visible.

Anyway, I sat down to write about this emetic development, only to remember that I already wrote about Lebedev some nine months ago. Having looked up that piece, I realised I couldn’t improve on it, certainly not this morning when I’m slightly the worse for wear (one just can’t stop drinking Burgundy at a Burgundian dinner party).

So, in the spirit of responsible recycling, here’s that article, in a somewhat abbreviated form:

“Britain has been infiltrated by an ugly strain of Russia phobia,” complains Evgeny Lebedev, owner of The Evening Standard, The Independent and other media interests in Britain.

Anyone else would have written not Russia phobia but Russophobia. The difference is important – the latter is an irrational fear of Russians; the former, only of Putin’s Russia and those who do her bidding.

Lebedev’s name-calling was prompted by the current scandal of rich Russians meddling in British elections, just as they’ve been proved to meddle in US ones.

He himself has suffered traumatising abuse: “Newspapers that pride themselves on tolerance… have written… that Russians like me are a ‘fifth column in modern Britain’. One obscure publication… has called me a Russian spy.” Wounding words indeed.

Now, groundless accusations of a crime, such as spying for a foreign country, strike me as libellous. Is Lebedev going to sue? He should, for otherwise some sceptics might think the accusations aren’t as libellous as all that.

He then proceeds to unravel his own argument by uttering two seemingly innocuous phrases: “I have lived [in Britian] since I was eight years old” and “I bought The Evening Standard in 2009 and The Independent in 2010.”

Lebedev has such long residency in Britain because his father, Alexander, was a KGB spy working at the Soviet embassy under diplomatic cover. Actually, the past tense in that sentence contradicts Putin’s frank admission: “There’s no such thing as ex-KGB. This is for life.”

If Vlad is to be believed, Alexander Lebedev only ever left his KGB/FSB job supposedly. Like many other KGB officers, including Putin himself, he was infiltrated into legit life by his lifelong sponsor.

Following in the footsteps of Putin and his colleagues, Alexander became a billionaire overnight, ostensibly displaying a business acumen that puts to shame the likes of Bill Gates and Jim Ratcliffe, who both took years to make their fortunes.

In fact, they all – including Putin – acted as conduits for transferring KGB and Party funds, along with oil revenues, out of Russia and into the West. They can live high on the hog off the proceeds, but they only have the use of their money, not the ownership of it.

Theirs is a leasehold, with the freehold remaining in the firm grasp of the ruling KGB camarilla. Those people know that money can do so much more than buy yachts and palaces in the West.

It can also serve their nefarious ends in all sorts of other ways: by enabling them to penetrate political circles, skew Western elections, draw influential Westerners into blackmailable activities, spread Putin propaganda – and in general poison the air with the emanations of their putrid cash.

Lebedev’s “I bought…” is a barefaced lie exposed by a simple question: Where did the money come from, Evgeny? Where did a man still in his 20s and without any lucrative business experience find the funds to acquire major British media?

Oh well, he actually ‘co-owns’ the papers with his KGB father. In other words, those media outlets are in fact double-fronted. Evgeny acts as the front for Alexander; Alexander provides the same service for the KGB/FSB camarilla running Russia.

That’s why Lebedev’s indignant protests along the lines of “I have never met Vladimir Putin” are risible, if true. I don’t think Kim Philby ever met Stalin either, and I doubt Robert Maxwell ever broke bread with Andropov. Yet they both served the Soviet cause each in his own way.

The influx of filthy lucre pilfered by the ruling kleptofascist gang from the Russian people has a deeply corrupting effect on the host country. British politicians and other influential figures are being seduced and bought, wholesale or retail.

That’s why HMG has threatened to invoke unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) to seize the assets of rich Russians suspected of having profited from the proceeds of crime. But there’s nothing unexplained about their wealth. No one can make billions in Russia without being in cahoots with, and accountable to, the KGB camarilla. The wealth of every ‘oligarch’ is contingent on Putin’s good graces, which are in turn contingent on their toeing the line.

How they do so varies. I doubt, for example, that many of them engage in common-or-garden spying. More typically, they are agents of influence, talent spotters or simply bacilli of corruption slowly dripped into the veins of our society.

The new arrivals come bearing billions, and we welcome the loot. But, contrary to Emperor Vespasian’s adage, the Russians’ money does smell. It comes packaged with global laundering, regular assassinations and other criminal activities.

Thanks to Russian ‘oligarchs’, London has become the money laundering capital of the world, which corrupts the whole society. Filthy money sullies every hand that touches it.

Those purloined and laundered billions buy political clout, not just Belgravia mansions (the Russians purchase close to 80 per cent of London houses worth £10 million-plus). Today’s politicians lack the moral fibre to steer clear of ill-gotten loot.

This is a cross-party phenomenon. A few years ago, Osborne and Mandelson enjoyed hospitality on the yacht belonging to the mobster Deripaska (banned from entry in the US, by the way). Later, when Osborne lost his cabinet job, he had a soft landing as editor of Lebedev’s Standard.

And last year, Boris Johnson stayed with the Lebedevs at their Umbrian estate. “I am proud to be a friend of Boris Johnson,” boasts Evgeny. That’s no doubt true. But if Mr Johnson is equally proud of this association, he ought to remember what friendship with Putin and his emissaries has done to Trump’s entourage.

The Conservative Party follows its leader’s lead and avidly accepts campaign contributions from Lebedev’s friends, if not, if he’s to be believed, from Lebedev himself.

Those accepting their donations ought to remind themselves that the Conservative Friends of Russia (later renamed the Westminster Russia Forum) was launched by the senior diplomat Sergey Nalobin, who was subsequently expelled from Britain for espionage.

So Evgeny Lebedev should spare us his bogus indignation. He knows what’s what, and so do we. Well, some of us do, at any rate.