Manny speaks out of turn

You didn’t think all that brouhaha was really about fishing licences, did you?

No one will confuse Manny with de Gaulle

If you did, Manny has earned top marks for honesty by explaining what’s what. Fishing licences are merely a pretext. The real reason for his threats is different.

Britain must be punished for the temerity of leaving the EU, pour encourager les autres. The phrase, incidentally, has Anglo-French antecedents. It was used by Voltaire in his Candide to mock the plight of the British admiral Byng, court-marshalled and executed during the Seven Years’ War for ordering an unauthorised retreat.

“It is good,” commented Voltaire, “to kill the odd admiral now and then to encourage the others.”

Manny is no doubt inspired by that bon mot. As applied to the EU, it means he wants to warn other potential absconders that leaving is worse than staying.

His threats are hard to countenance but easy to understand. For only Germany, France and – perhaps – Benelux have any warm feelings about the Franco-German protectorate known as the EU.

Most of the others, and probably all the Eastern European members, have warm feelings only about cold EU cash. They take turns teetering on the brink of departure, only to be bribed back into the fold. At the moment, it’s Poland’s turn, but Greece and Hungary have also had a go, as others will in due course.

The problem is that the EU’s wallet has shrunk somewhat since Brexit. Because its leaders must at least pretend that they are committed to fiscal discipline, they can’t just get the printing press in high gear and shower the doubters with rapidly inflating banknotes.

With the carrot getting smaller and smaller, they have to use a bigger stick. Hence all this talk about punishing Britain and implicitly any other country heading for the way out.

That intention has always been there, but until now top EU politicians have tactfully refrained from expressing it in so many words. However, Manny’s loose talk may sink EU ships, and I don’t just mean those larcenous French trawlers.

Punishing a country isn’t the same as putting a failed admiral up against the wall. Countries have more resources than admirals for fighting back.

Even expressing such a punitive intention has since time immemorial been considered an act of war. And Britain, decadent and woke as she may be, has never willingly bent over to take six of the best.

Gott strafe England was Germany’s slogan in the First World War, but God demonstrably failed to comply, choosing to punish Germany instead. In the next war, RAF Lancasters razed most German cities to the ground, thus responding to another attempt by a major continental power to exact punishment.

More to the point, Napoleon’s earlier attempts to penalise Britain for steering an independent course led him straight to St Helena, with a stopover at Waterloo. If Manny indeed takes his cue from history, he ought to study it from all sides.

The example of Algeria should disabuse him of the notion that France can force other countries into compliance. The ensuing war almost destroyed France, with only de Gaulle’s statecraft preventing a military coup. And Manny is no de Gaulle.

A trade war with Britain would hurt both parties, and it’s not a foregone conclusion that Britain would suffer more. EU politicians may be willing to cut off their economic nose to spite their face, but are EU industries?

EU economies aren’t doing well at the moment, and their growth is more sluggish than Britain’s. Against that background, how, for example, would German car manufacturers react to the British market, 10 per cent of their total exports, slamming the door in their faces?

Britain has been busily and rather successfully cultivating trade relationships outside the EU. Facing overt hostility, she may accelerate that process, for example by making the US an offer it wouldn’t be able to refuse.

But it doesn’t only have to be passive resistance. Hostile action should produce a hostile reaction. Britain could, to name one obvious stratagem, try to exploit the possible fissures in the EU by encouraging vacillators, such as Poland, to break away.

Encouragement could take various forms, from moral support to beneficial trade deals to perhaps even subsidies. NATO could also provide a lever with which to prise some marginal members from the EU, for example by using bilateral defence treaties.

Also, most Britons who either live in France or go there regularly are retirees or what the French call rentiers. Yet most French people who live in Britain work or have business interests here, typically in finance. Faced with the threat of losing their livelihood, they may exert enough pressure on Macron for him to think carefully about his words and deeds.

Manny is talking tough to court the kind of voters who are likely to support Le Pen or perhaps Zemmour. He has already made some belligerent if empty noises about Putin, having previously been one of the poodles in Vlad’s European kennel.

Now he’s flexing his muscles towards Britain, “France’s historical enemy”. Quite. And he should remember how all the previous battles between the two countries went.

The EU has always had something of a mafia family about it. Any normal treaty tying countries together in some sort of alliance has to have a provision for abrogation. Should such a provision be invoked legally, that should be the end of the matter.

Mafia families are different. They live by the rule of ‘once in, never out’. Anyone who disobeys is likely to get whacked, and Manny’s present posturing comes from the same style manual. But it’s misapplied.

For the situation doesn’t involve an all-powerful don and his trembling, cowering victim. It’s a confrontation of equals, and two can play the same game.

Grow your own beans but don’t eat them

A modern nation can’t go all green, but it can die trying.

Joshua only made the sun stand still — what an amateur

The forthcoming COP26 love-in will do just that, but we are all urged to chip in. Just follow the steps outlined in The Times, and you’ll acquire divine powers by preventing climate from ever changing.

Any old Tom, Dick or Harry can now go Joshua one better by gaining permanent sway over the elements. That amateur only managed to make the sun stand still for a while – but we can control its activity in perpetuity, thereby eliminating 95 per cent of the factors affecting climate.

To begin with, we must all go vegan. You see, each time a cow, sheep or pig breaks wind, it produces methane, a satanic greenhouse gas. And every attempt to make animals mind their manners has so far failed.

Thus, since we can’t eliminate livestock flatulence, eliminating flatulent livestock is the only logical solution. We should all eat nothing but plant-based food – and grow it ourselves.

A word of caution though. Growing our own pulses, especially beans, is a planet-saving idea, but careful how you consume such food.

There’s a distinct danger that people on such a diet may emit even more methane than the newly culled livestock ever did. Since culling people is an idea whose time hasn’t quite come yet, each vegetable should carry a flatulence rating.

That would educate people to the climatic perils of some produce. A diet heavy in red beans and Jerusalem artichokes, for example, is in no way preferable to tucking into a sirloin, pork chop or lamb stew.

Then we are reminded of a new planet-saving legislation, the Right to Repair Law. It obligates manufacturers of household equipment to make enough spare parts to help your toaster last for ever.

We’ve been too profligate in discarding broken appliances. We forget that, before it makes its way into our kitchen, a new toaster has to be manufactured first. And doing so produces, on average, a hell of a lot of CO2.

Also, since steel-making involves much physical effort, the likelihood of enhanced methane emissions is also high. Our planet is thus hit with a double whammy so hard it may never again pick itself up from the floor.

The Times solution is ingenious. Instead of dumping your broken toasters, kettles and  dishwashers, learn to fix them. Surely you have enough spare time on your hands to take a few courses in electric repairs if it means saving the planet?

Barring that, we now have 200 repair cafés across the UK, so called because presumably you can enjoy a latte while your toaster gets a new lease on life. Take it easy on that beverage though.

Studies show that the ingredients of a latte, caffeine, milk and sugar, have a strong flatulent effect. Thus, while taking care of one problem, you may be inadvertently creating another. Perhaps you ought to have a nice glass of celery juice instead.

As you’ll doubtless be pleased to know we now have various apps for keeping track of your carbon. A useful innovation would be for the app to zap you each time you exceed your daily allowance, although care must be taken not to reach the electric chair level of 2,200 volts.

However, it shouldn’t take meticulous accounting for you to realise that every time you exhale you destroy the planet with CO2. Ideally you should stop breathing altogether, but that solution has to stay on hold until all government programmes have gathered momentum.

Meanwhile, avoid activities that make you breathe, and therefore exhale, harder. If you can’t get rid of all exercise, at least stop lifting weights. There, in addition to blowing out CO2, you also poison the planet by emitting methane (if you have to ask how, you’ve never pumped iron).

We are also encouraged to turn the heating off during cold winters. Ideally, we’d all thereby die from hypothermia and save the planet by ceasing to emit greenhouse gases.

But barring that, we can keep ourselves warm by wearing several layers of clothing indoors. There’s a catch though.

The garments can’t be made of wool or leather because the animals that produce them also produce methane. Nor can it be made of synthetic materials because they are plastics and therefore the work of the devil.

A coat of mail or any other armour is also off limits because of the CO2 and methane emissions resulting from steel-making. Perhaps we can all equip our houses with tastefully lacquered wooden boxes that can also double as… well, other useful things.

While we are on the subject of plastics, they are made of hydrocarbons. Hence every time you buy food packaged in plastic, you stick another knife into the planet’s back. Tins and glass containers are wrong too because the former are made of metal, and have you seen glassworks with their belching smokestacks?

This gets us back to the allotment in which you can grow your whole diet, from brekkie to supper. Dig up enough potatoes to keep body and soul together, shun pulses (see above for the reason) and you’ll be doing the planet a huge favour.

Yet whatever goes in must come out, which simple truth brings loo rolls into focus. Most of them are made of paper, which in turn is made of wood pulp. Wood pulp comes from trees, and when one is felled the planet dies a little.

The solution, according to The Times, comes from a product elegantly called Who Gives a Crap. It’s made of 100 per cent recycled paper and conveniently comes in batches of 48 rolls.

On second thoughts, this is a false convenience. For a huge pack of 48 Who Gives a Crap rolls has to be carried home by car – and don’t get me going on that devil’s chariot.

The Times says you must drive an electric car, but you shouldn’t buy one. Stealing one wouldn’t solve the problem because that only switches ownership from one planet murderer to another.

However, hiring an electric vehicle each time you plan to buy a pack of 48 Who Gives a Crap rolls will go a long way towards saving the planet from its death throes.

But whatever you do, don’t shop on the net. Deliveries of such purchases produce half of our CO2 emissions. And quite a bit of methane too, especially if the delivery man has to carry heavy weights up the stairs (to their credit they hardly ever do so any longer, and I thank them on behalf of the planet).

COP26 is our last chance to save ourselves, and I propose a slogan that’ll give it wings. If we all wear T-shirts saying “Fair COP, governors”, we’ll help the conference no end. Just make sure those garments are made of natural fibres.

Bonk if you love woke

Two-thirds of recently polled lesbians claim they’ve been pressured or even threatened into having sex with trans ‘women’.

Sugar and spice and all things nice

Whenever they exercise their God-given right to say no, they may be forever branded as transphobes or, even worse, terfs.

Now here’s your chance to prove your vocabulary is larger than mine. Do you know what ‘terf’ means? Neither did I. However, having done some lexicographic research, I’ve found out it stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist.

If a lesbian qualifies for the last two words of that designation, as most do, she must forswear the first two or bear the stigma of transphobia and terfdom. That effectively means being drummed out of the woke club, a fate than which nothing is worse.

To prove they belong, lesbians must commit not only their hearts and souls but also their genitals to this worthy political cause. That makes me intensely jealous, not to say resentful.

How come no woman has ever felt compelled to prove her conservative credentials by sleeping with me? Don’t answer that; my self-esteem is threadbare as it is.

Some of the comments made by the poll respondents are heart-rending. One lesbian complained tearfully: “I thought I would be called a transphobe or that it would be wrong of me to turn down a trans woman who wanted to exchange nude pictures.”

A fair exchange is no robbery, I say. And that same resentment is again gnawing at my heart. Why hasn’t any woman ever asked me to exchange nude pictures? Nor even any man? Not even in my younger, leaner days? Hold on a second… I need a long, stiff… drink to settle my nerves.

Another respondent faced a dilemma both moral and physiological: “I was told that homosexuality doesn’t exist and I owed it to my trans sisters to unlearn my ‘genital confusion’ so I can enjoy letting them penetrate me.”

The word ‘penetrate’ suggests that her sister hasn’t yet divested herself of the fixtures more readily associated with a brother. Indeed, the poor woman described her pursuer as a “pre-op trans guy.”

That pre-op trans guy wants to have the best of two worlds, or rather more than two. That’s too greedy for words. The chap strives to outdo Caesar by not only being “a husband to every woman and a wife to every man”, but also a husband to every man and a wife to every woman. How rapacious can one get?

But I too am confused, though more lexically than genitally. What does it mean, “homosexuality doesn’t exist”? It manifestly does, doesn’t it?

If I were that woman, I’d call the police and complain that someone has just committed the hate crime of being dismissive about my sexuality. That action would absolve her of disloyalty to the LGBT+ cause, although that dread word ‘terf’ would still be left wafting through the air.

One woman explained that lesbians’ standards are different from men’s. She, for example, would only have sex with persons who are biologically female, regardless of their self-identification.

My confusion deepened, for my standards are exactly the same as hers. I’ve never had sex with anyone or anything other than biological females, nor have ever been tempted to do so. I hate to keep referring solipsistically to myself, but have I done something wrong?

Another lesbian was told by a rejected trans that, given the choice between killing her or Hitler, he/she/it would choose her every time. Since Hitler was long since dead, that left her as the only available option.

I don’t know if the poor thing succumbed to that not-so-veiled threat but, if she did, that sounds suspiciously like rape. Oh sorry, I forgot. Only straight men can be accused of that heinous crime.

Do you ever get the feeling that life is passing you by? That other people are having all the fun? I do, all the time. But in this case I’m relieved to see that the fun I’m missing comes at a cost.

The woke ‘community’ seems to have much more stringent membership standards than any Pall Mall club. At the Carlton, White’s or the RAC you know exactly what the terms and conditions are, and they are highly unlikely to change radically in any foreseeable future.

By contrast, the Woke Club piles new requirements on every day, almost at the same speed at which it coins and enforces unlikely neologisms. How do those poor souls ever keep up?

The French are good at maths

A current poll shows that 61 per cent of the French believe that the Great Replacement Theory is valid.

French Muslims protesting against arithmetic

The essence of the Theory is that the combined effect of Muslim immigration and Muslim women’s higher birth rates will gradually turn France into a Muslim republic or, more likely, caliphate.

This news brought back the memory of the torture to which I was subjected at school. The torture wasn’t physical but mental. Its principal instrument was the mathematical problem of a swimming pool with two pipes.

Water flowed in through one pipe and out through the other. Since the pipes had different flow rates, the swimming pool would eventually either overflow or empty out, can’t remember which or how fast. I do remember the sheer torment of trying to figure out the answer when all I wanted was to peek under the girls’ skirts or play football.

It’s good to see that almost two-thirds of the French are considerably smarter than I was then and, if I’m being totally honest, still am to this day, at least when it comes to solving little puzzles like that.

Actually the word ‘believe’ is a misnomer when applied to the Theory or to anything else that can be proved or disproved by empirical evidence or mathematical calculation. ‘Accept’ is more appropriate: if demographic factors vindicate the Theory, it’s a matter of fact, not faith.

It’s a different matter, of course, whether people wish to accept facts that make them uncomfortable. Some do, some don’t, but apparently the French fall into the first category.

Calling them racists, xenophobes or Islamophobes (see photo above) is good knock-about fun, and it’s joyously had by all who cherish their pet biases and dismiss any contradicting data. Yet even a man of my modest mathematical attainment would suggest that the issue should be impervious to any ideology, right, left or centre.

All one has to do is compare the birth rates (assisted by immigration) of the Muslim population of France to those of the indigenous French population (compromised by emigration). If the former is greater than the latter, the replacement in question has to happen sooner or later.

The wider the gap, the sooner it’ll happen – and here I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those selfless and persevering teachers who chose not to give up on me all those decades ago. It’s thanks to them that I eventually secured a (barely) passing grade and acquired the ability to look at measurable facts dispassionately.

Now, the Muslim population of France is variously estimated at between six and ten per cent of the total. The French think tank, L’institut des libertés, calculates that the average white French woman produces 1.4 children. Since the birth rate of the total population is 1.9 per woman, Muslim women must be bearing somewhere between three and four children on average.

Some demographers don’t buy those figures. According to them, Muslim women resident in France have birth rates close to those of their white neighbours. Yet even those deniers admit begrudgingly that, close as those figures may be, they are still higher – though not by as much as L’institut des libertés claims.

Bringing to bear on this problem my memory of that swimming pool with two pipes, I’d suggest that asserters and deniers differ only in establishing the exact year of the French Muslims achieving an overall majority.

L’institut des libertés calculates that France will have a Muslim majority by 2057. Frankly, I don’t know what year emerges out of the deniers’ calculations. But respect for the memory of those teachers driven to distraction by my absence of interest in their discipline makes me reject the possibility that the Great Replacement won’t happen at all.

If the current trend continues, it’s not if but when, I’m afraid. And so are almost two-thirds of the French who hate to see their lovely country going to les chiens.

Their fears are stoked by Eric Zemmour and Marine Le Pen, one of whom may well challenge Manny Macron in the presidential run-off next year. Adding fuel to the fire is the novelist Michel Houellebecq, whose best-selling dystopic fantasy Submission paints a harrowing picture of a Muslim France.

If the problem is as real as it seems to be, then the only question that remains is what can be done about it. And here I’d like to quote a great bon mot by Jean-Claude Juncker, to whom I was so beastly when he still headed the European Commission.

“We all know what to do,” said Jean-Claude. “We just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.” Hence the answer to the practical question posed above is a resounding nothing. Rien, in French.  

A revolution is in full swing, and we don’t even know it

The word ‘revolution’ evokes dramatic images drawn in lurid broad strokes.

No, not like this

One sees palaces and prisons stormed, Charles I and Louis XVI decapitated, chaps in beaver hats sniping at the Red Coats, Nicholas II butchered with his whole family. Asked to widen the view, most people will mention murder and imprisonment by category, civil wars, fiery oratory, new constitutions.

Most of such pictures will be true to life. But they are only the stage set of a revolution, not its dramatic essence. And that has little to do with the outer manifestations I’ve mentioned.

For all those things can also happen as a result of a more localised event, such as a coup d’état, some kind of insurgency or peasant revolt. A revolution is different.

To merit the name, it has to occur not in city squares or battlefields, but in people’s heads. These have to be emptied of old certitudes and filled to the brim with new ones.

Revolutions brag about creating the new man, which is an overclaim. But they definitely create new orthodoxies.

This may be preceded by violence or followed by it. Or there may be no violence at all. The necessary and sufficient characteristic of a revolution is just that: new orthodoxies for old, introduced, canonised and enforced.

This shouldn’t be confused with new ideas. I can’t think offhand of any revolution that generated truly new ideas, rather than plucking old ones out of the air. But they are all in the business of hatching new orthodoxies.

An idea is always up for discussion, doubt, objection or disagreement. People who subject ideas to such scrutiny are called opponents. They are to be argued with. But those who take issue with an orthodoxy aren’t opponents. They are heretics.

Opponents could be persuaded; heretics, only shoved aside. Depending on the orthodoxies, this action may or may not involve violence. But one way or the other, an orthodoxy will remain inviolable and unquestionable. It just is.

Hence you’ll know a revolution not necessarily by bullets pumped into recalcitrant skulls, but by the multitudes shouting, or at least implying, “You can’t say that!”. Whenever a perfectly reasonable response to an orthodoxy is met with those words, and when such orthodoxies endlessly multiply, you know a revolution has occurred.

The current non-violent revolution by stealth is like any other: it’ll allow some dissent at the periphery. Yet its core is always sacrosanct, off limits to even the mildest of doubts.

Thus, speaking specifically of Britain, it’s possible to express concern about, say, the way the NHS is run or about the incessantly growing amount of money it costs.

Rest assured that, after tomorrow’s budget announcement, many a pundit will point out that the NHS now accounts for 40 per cent of social spending, with no appreciable improvement in service compared to 20 years ago, when it was merely 10 per cent.

Yet no one will say that the NHS is so inefficient, expensive and poorly run because it’s based on a fundamentally corrupt egalitarian idea. The idea, fully nationalised medical care, is now an orthodoxy. Hence any heretic in government or the media will lose his job, and a private heretic will be hushed down. In all cases, the sacramental phrase “You can’t say that!” will be either uttered or implied.

The same goes for global warming, which too has become an orthodoxy. Hence one can bemoan the official estimate of a trillion pounds it’ll take to get Britain down to “net zero”. And one can even be allowed mentally to multiply that figure by three, which factor is borne out by the history of such estimates.

But it would be all a politician’s or journalist’s job is worth to argue publicly that the whole climate hysteria is an anti-capitalist, anti-Western swindle. You can’t say that and expect to [get a better job or keep your present one, get re-elected, be promoted] – no matter how much scientific evidence you’ll produce in your defence.

Everywhere one looks, orthodoxies lie thick on the ground, like landmines to be avoided on pain of death. If you don’t believe me, try saying in public that homosexuality is morally wrong and transsexuality an exercise in freakery, or that people of any race or either sex shouldn’t get preferential treatment, or that it’s a fallacy to seek their proportionate representation in any institution.

Can you hear the chorus of “You can’t say that!”? I can.

Or, if you really want to test the system to breaking point, say that Darwin’s theory is just that, a theory, meaning it hasn’t been sufficiently proved, certainly not in its loftiest claims. That, when it comes to the origin of man, that slapdash hypothesis is like the flat-earth theory in its level of scientific proof. That’ll be a destructive test, and it’s you who’ll be destroyed.

Step by stealthy, gradual step three revolutions fused into one, socialist, social and cultural, sneaked in with no one any the wiser. Few people cast a backward glance to even 20 years ago to see how many things deemed utterly impossible then have become orthodoxies now. Secular orthodoxies discourage retrospection.

No palaces have been stormed, no heads chopped off, no prisons demolished – but Britain (along with most of the rest of the West) has become – or is within a whisker of becoming – a thoroughly socialist country.

Old orthodoxies have fallen by the wayside, new ones have been chiselled in stone, and it doesn’t matter which party, blue, red or yellow, is in power. They all pray at the same secular altars.

A bucket of red has been added to the Tory blue to turn it purple. The same addition to the LibDem yellow has made it orange (not in any religious sense of the word). Since the red dye keeps dripping in at a growing flow rate, all three will become an identical crimson in this generation.

Many Tory voters will look at tomorrow’s budget and wonder how it is that their party now out-taxes and out-spends every Labour government in history. Or how it commits itself to beggaring the country by chasing the climate pie in the sky, knowing in advance it isn’t there or at least ignoring the scientific evidence to that effect. Or, once they are on that track, how one recent Tory PM considers the legalisation of homomarriage his great achievement.

No doubt some will vent their concerns to their family or friends. But no such vibes will be emitted by our powers that be. They are securely hidden behind an impregnable wall bearing the sign “You can’t say that!”

Horror movies, all too real

This article is dedicated to the people who aren’t going to read it: Messrs Orbán, Trump, Zemmour, our own Hitchens, Liddle and all other Western admirers of Putin, some of whom call themselves conservatives.

To be fair, even if they read it, the experience wouldn’t make one bit of difference. Ideology, especially if fortified by ignorance and atrophied moral sense, is impervious not only to reason but even to empirical evidence.

But those who do read the piece, and especially look at these video links (, will be horrified and disgusted. Even I was shocked, and I’ve been around that particular block a few times.

The videos document the universal pandemic of beatings, torture and punitive rape in Russian prisons. The latter is done not only in the usual way, but also with household objects not manifestly designed to act as sex aids. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that I’ll never again look at a broom handle the same way.

There are more than 1,000 such videos, all heroically smuggled out of Russia by the young Belarusian Sergey Savelyev. His saga began in Saratov some eight years ago.

Sergey received a parcel containing several pounds of drugs. No sooner had he opened the box than police thugs burst in, savagely beat him up and clapped him into a remand prison.

There Sergey stayed for several months, where the investigators demanded he confess to crimes he hadn’t committed. To jog his memory, his inquisitors beat Sergey up once a week, on cue, with the kind of punctuality Russians seldom display in other areas.

Finally, he was sentenced and spent the next eight years in prison, where the warders made a bad mistake. Since, unlike them, Sergey was computer-literate, they put him to work in the prison office.

They didn’t realise that their computer was networked with all other Russian prisons. And everywhere the inmates were being abused with the same stomach-churning sadism.

In the good tradition of the Gulag (and Nazi concentration camps, come to think of it), it’s not just the warders themselves who committed those crimes but also the trusted prisoners co-opted for that purpose.

Torture and rape have to be a gift that keeps on giving. Hence the sadists, either officers or their stooges, record their shenanigans on bodycam videos. That doubtless provides most satisfying material for their viewing pleasure at a later time, to be shared with friends and families.

Fortunately, not only for that. For Sergey kept copying those horrific videos, risking his life every moment.

Luckily, his conspiratorial gifts were of a high order. Sergey survived his eight years and, upon release, began to upload, to shattering effect, some of the videos he had smuggled out.

The website he was using,, was started some 10 years ago by Vladimir Osechkin, another hero. The name of the website literally means ‘no to the Gulag’, shocking the Russians into recalling the calamity they thought they had left behind.

It’s not as if they didn’t know about the endemic sadistic abuse going on at every stage of their law enforcement. But, as Sergey rightly points out, knowing is one thing, and seeing is quite another. He enabled the people to see, and they shuddered with horror and revulsion.

As a result, some film critics in plain clothes waylaid Sergey at a airport and explained in simple words what awaited him if he didn’t desist. He’d be charged with treason and put away for 20 years. But he wouldn’t serve the full term: soon after his incarceration, he’d be found dead in his cell.

His only salvation, he was told, was to cooperate with the FSB, helping them identify the foreign provenance of You know, CIA, MI6, that sort of thing?

Those who wish to trace this recruitment technique to its original source should read The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn – or any other book of the thousands written on this subject.

Savelyev signed the required Faustian transaction, then quietly slipped across the border to his native Belarus. There he embarked on a flight to Tunisia and then on to France, where he has requested political asylum. He is fully aware that, asylum or no asylum, he’ll be looking over his shoulder for as long as he lives.

What he has done is comparable to the heroism shown in the 1960s by another Russian dissident, Vladimir Bukovsky. Bukovsky blew the whistle on the Soviets using psychiatry for punitive purposes. He too smuggled out the documentary evidence of what we all knew but, until his death-defying act, couldn’t prove.

Sergey Savelyev has provided an invaluable service to the world. Yet the world, outside Russian dissident circles, shrugged its shoulders with indifference.

The West’s nerve endings were long ago cauterised like wounds. Now the scabs have grown over, and old traumas no longer interfere with sound sleep and digestion.

So yes, by all means, let’s mention the sadistic abuse sanctioned or at least tacitly encouraged by the Kremlin. But let’s not make a bit deal of it, what? Let the Russians use broom handles in their baroque ways – as long as the gas keeps flowing through the pipes.

Hence our media carried the story, but they buried it underneath a pile of news about the imminent climatic catastrophe awaiting the world in the future. The present moral catastrophe goes unnoticed.

But it’s not all gloom: something welcome has happened too. Hitchens has made a polite pause in his panegyrics to Putin’s Russia as the last bastion of Christian and conservative values. Even he must have sensed that Savelyev’s videos would make such effluvia even more putrid.

P.S. Speaking of Zemmour, who is emerging as the flag-bearer of the Right in the upcoming French presidential election, he happily combines admiration of Putin’s Russia with hatred of England, which he identifies as France’s “historical enemy”.

As befits a fellow writer, he provides a welcome historical perspective, going back to the Hundred Years’ War and, closer to our own time, the Napoleonic Wars. It’s true that, in the latter, France and England found themselves on opposite sides. But does Zemmour think Russia was France’s staunch ally? Has he heard words like ‘Borodino’ and ‘Berezina’?

Even closer to our time, the last (latest?) time Germany defeated France, in 1940, Stalin was Hitler’s faithful ally and therefore France’s enemy, whereas England… well, you know. But does Zemmour?

Too clever by half

The actress Kate Beckinsale is, by her own admission, an extremely intelligent woman. Alas, her awesome intellect, numerically expressed as an IQ of 152, proved to be an impediment to her Hollywood advancement.

Kate has to keep her intellect under wraps

“I mean, it’s really not helpful in my career,” explains the actress. “I just think it might have been a handicap actually.”

So much more impressive is Miss Beckinsale’s achievement. Though pushed down by the sheer weight of her mind, she has managed to walk tall all the way to stardom.

By why is intelligence a hindrance? Well, you see, those misogynist males feel threatened whenever a woman expresses an opinion of unwomanly astuteness and depth. They see such a woman as a castrating affront to their masculinity and a reminder of their own inadequacy. 

“When I said it has been a handicap in Hollywood,” continues Miss Beckinsale, “it’s PRECISELY because being female AND having an opinion often has to be quite carefully packaged so as not to be offensive…”

Since I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Miss Beckinsale, I can’t judge to what extent her Intelligence Quotient has been translated into actual intelligence. However, going by this interview and a few others I’ve scanned, the translation must have turned into Chinese whispers somewhere along the way.

Otherwise she would know that her lament misses a few intermediate links. First, she clearly equates IQ with intelligence, which is a common mistake.

First, IQ measures not intelligence but a potential for developing it. And any potential may or may not be realised. If it were otherwise, everyone with a sense of rhythm and a good ear for music would be performing in the Royal Festival Hall.

Second, IQ only measures the potential for developing quick, practical, problem-solving intelligence. Thus it may be a reliable predictor of practical success in life, especially in fields like finance, accounting, engineering, chess, possibly management.

But it doesn’t at all guarantee the value of its possessor’s opinions on any subject other than the one in which that proud person has achieved practical success. Thus I’m sure Miss Beckinsale can offer some useful insights into how to parlay good looks and some modest acting ability into achieving Hollywood stardom.

But her high IQ may not protect her from mouthing nothing but offensive woke platitudes on every other topic under the sun. That kind of protection can only ever come from concentrating one’s intelligence on serious matters, such as first causes and last things.

That would establish a vantage point from which one could then ponder derivative, quotidian issues. The reverse order, however, doesn’t work. Looking down from a high plateau, it’s possible to see everything in the valley below, but looking up from the valley won’t give a clear view of what’s happening on the plateau.

One-in-a-century geniuses apart, only those who dedicate their whole lives to studying and thinking can ever develop that panoramic view – whatever else, if anything, they may be doing on the side to put bread on the table. No shortcuts exist, and a high IQ certainly doesn’t provide one by itself.

The chess player Bobby Fischer, for example, had an IQ 30 points higher than Miss Beckinsale’s. Yet his opinions on anything other than chess ranged from idiotic to insane. For example, there wasn’t a conspiracy theory Bobby wouldn’t adopt as his own – even if some were mutually exclusive.

Though, or perhaps because, Miss Beckinsale read literature at Oxford, I doubt she has shown the kind of dedication I mentioned. That’s why I’m not surprised her male Hollywood colleagues shun her opinions.

Granted, she is mostly surrounded by men who themselves never rise above woke inanity. However, their feelings about Miss Beckinsale’s pronouncements may be akin to those of the Caliph Umar who allegedly ordered that the Great Library of Alexandria be burnt.

According to the apocryphal story, he explained that, if all those books said the same things as the Koran, they were superfluous. And if they said different things, they were dangerous.

Hollywood men already know every word in every woke mantra. Why would they want Miss Beckinsale to play it back to them? A quick dismissive reference to her pretty little head might save them from ennui.

That said, all this is pure conjecture on my part. I’m going by mere snippets of information gleaned from the Internet and her recent interviews.

For example, she recently said: “Don’t fuck with posh English girls.” I found that word grating – I mean ‘posh’ of course. No one who says ‘posh’ is posh; it’s a lazy half-word unbecoming anyone boasting a gigantic intellect.

Then, after a breakup with her lover, Miss Beckinsale says she “spent time in a clinic”, meaning her inner resources weren’t up to the task of handling love affairs. In her profession, that sounds like a heavier handicap than brains.

But she is committed to the task of destroying the possible results of such affairs. A few years ago, she appeared in a pro-abortion video, Republicans, Get in My Vagina. (In her younger days, Miss Beckinsale wasn’t shy about exposing the organ in question to camera lenses, while accusing men of objectivising women.)  

That alone is enough to suggest that she needn’t bother about being too clever by half. And she must talk to her publicist about the advisability of bragging about her IQ, while pretending to bemoan it. Thespians should avoid being laughed at – unless they appear in comedies.

Look who’s talking

When the wrong people say the right things, the message loses some of its poignancy.

Just imagine Dr Goebbels preaching racial equality, Dr Mengele lecturing on medical ethics or Dr Shipman urging better care for the elderly, and you’ll know what I mean.

It’s in that spirit that anyone should ponder Col. Putin’s latest statement. Delivering one of his customary diatribes against the West, KGB Vlad said that “teaching children to change sex is tantamount to a crime against humanity.”

While wholeheartedly agreeing with the sentiment, hyperbolic though it is, I still wish it were expressed by a more credible figure. Good people who correctly identify Putin as evil will now be tempted to support this sinister educational outrage, or at least to tone down their opposition to it.

“If you think children shouldn’t be encouraged to change gender,” I can hear Guardian readers say, “you’re no better than Putin.” As far as logic is concerned, that retort doesn’t pass muster. But it could act effectively as a conversation stopper (it has stopped some of mine, with me ill-advisedly firing the parting shrapnel of abuse).

Credit where it’s due, Vlad’s rating of what is and what isn’t a crime should carry some weight because he is no slouch in that area. I shan’t bore you with a full list of Putin’s crimes because they are publicised widely enough. But take my word for it – he is an expert.

In fact, recently one reporter had the temerity to ask Putin at a press conference why he imprisons everyone who opposes him. Vlad’s reply must go down in history as an aphoristic masterstroke. “Not everyone is in prison,” he said. The word ‘yet’ wasn’t uttered, but its unspoken presence hung in the air like a spooky ghost.

‘Like priest, like parish’, goes a Russian proverb. Hence not only Vlad himself, but also everyone in his entourage is a criminal. That emphatically includes all Russian billionaires, each granted a leasehold on his fortune.

The freehold remains in Vlad’s hands, which arrangement is reminiscent of the Russian Empire. There the tsar had the patrimonial ownership of all of the country’s land, with the nominal owners of vast estates fully aware they could be dispossessed with a single stroke of the royal pen.

The same goes for the so-called oligarchs who act as Putin’s moneybags. Vlad can dip into those bags at will, demanding, for example, that people like Abramovich or Rotenberg bankroll such giant projects as the Olympics or the Crimean bridge.

One of the most criminalised ‘oligarchs’ is Oleg Deripaska, the aluminium king. He is under personal sanctions in the US, and is about to be charged with such peccadilloes as extortion, laundering money for Putin, racketeering, unlawful tapping of a state official’s phone and making murder threats.

Yet the US isn’t like Russia in that the properties of even suspected criminals can’t be confiscated at the drop of a hat. Thus Deripaska is still holding on to mansions in New York and Washington, house-sat by his relations.

The house in Washington is particularly grand. Deripaska bought this 23-bedroom, 21,000 sq.ft mansion near the prestigious Embassy Row for $15 million in 2006. That house, along with Deripaska’s New York mansion, was the other day raided by police.

The search went on for 10 hours, but the findings haven’t yet been revealed. Somehow I doubt they are significant anyway – gangsters know how to cover their tracks.

Yet it’s not just expensive dwellings that Deripaska buys. He is also in the market for British politicians, who are much cheaper. His latest purchase is our former chancellor, George Osborne, who is to be paid millions for helping Deripaska inveigle himself into the British establishment.

George, it has to be said, has a taste for Russian cash, laundered squeaky clean through the KGB network of offshore companies and brass plates. His previous employer was The Evening Standard, owned by the career KGB officer Alexander Lebedev and his son Evgeny, now Lord Lebedev.

Evgeny became a peer of the realm courtesy of his good friend Boris Johnson, who thus rewarded Evgeny’s invaluable contribution to the London party scene. As far as I know, that friendly gesture wasn’t preceded by any due diligence of where the Lebedev capital came from – not that any was really needed.

(This reminds me of the old Soviet joke. A man is arrested for throwing blank sheets of paper into the crowd. “What are you doing?” ask the cops. “Giving out leaflets.” “But there’s nothing written there!” “Why,” wonders the man, “is anything still unclear?”)

Deripaska, Lebedev, Abramovich et al. are Putin’s tentacles reaching into the inner sancta of Western governmental, media and financial institutions the better to grab hold of them. One of their tasks is to buy, wholesale or retail, any number of influential figures in those fields.

However, it’s possible to buy only what’s for sale. And one has to admit, with agonising sadness, that most of our politicians, financiers and journalists have price tags dangling off their necks.

Putin, their mediated paymaster, knows this, which is why he is openly contemptuous of them. And the worst thing about this is that his contempt is often justified – as it is in his reference to the current trans frenzy.

Perhaps Vlad can find a few more quid to make our politicians change their tune on that theme. That just may put a stop to this crime against humanity – you never know your luck.

Politics gatecrashes advertising

A new TV campaign for John Lewis home insurance glorifies transsexualism so blatantly that I wonder about their clientele. Ads are supposed to be aspirational, so what aspiration is being promoted here?

A boy of about 10 wearing makeup and a long dress pouts like a child prostitute while systematically trashing the house. His mother and sister look on placidly and with tacit approval.

The damage covered by the insurance on offer could have been shown in hundreds of different and more interesting ways, with most perhaps depicting a more plausible situation. Why choose a little trans in the making?

Perhaps John Lewis ought to change its slogan from Never Knowingly Undersold to Never Knowingly Underwoked. But the real point implied here goes beyond advertising.

In my day, an ad like that would never have been made. Advertisers were then wary of selling their soul for a pot of message outside their brand. Political advertising existed, but it was the advertising of politics, as practised by candidates, parties or causes.

Much of it was done pro bono or, to be less charitable, as a way for agencies to promote themselves. When flogging commercial brands, admen knew to keep politics out.

It’s easy to see why. Any political statement is by definition divisive. Advertising, on the other hand, seeks as wide a sweep as possible. Alienating large swathes of the market isn’t what keeps admen in Porsches.

Since then, however, the cork has popped out and politics has overflown into, well, everything. Including, by the looks of it, advertising.

Home insurance is a side line for John Lewis. The company mostly operates high-end department stores. In marketing terms, its target audience is defined as B+ and up.

Any adman of my generation assumed that, when an ad showed people ecstatic about the product advertised, they would represent the demographic cross-section of the desired market. No longer.

Thus a recent campaign for Peter Jones, a John Lewis department store, featured overjoyed black people, their lives transformed by the merchandise on offer.

Now, Peter Jones is in Sloane Square, not far from where I live, and I’ve been shopping there for over 30 years. In all this time, I haven’t seen many black customers.

If Peter Jones was thereby trying to expand its customer base, it was on a losing wicket. Sloane Square straddles Chelsea and Belgravia, and neither area boasts a large enough black presence to make a difference.

I suspect there may be more transsexuals than blacks there, but not enough for the current ad to make commercial sense. So why show that cross-dressing vandal tyke?

The principles of advertising couldn’t have changed that much in the 15 years I’ve been out of the gig. Advertisers must still eschew political controversy that may prove divisive and therefore financially deleterious.

So is John Lewis cutting off its commercial nose to please its woke face? The answer to this question is truly sinister.

John Lewis is confident in its belief that showing a child trans no longer courts controversy. Gender dysphoria is just a bit of innocent fun devoid of any moral or social connotations. Part of the rich panoply of life and all that. Kind of cool, as a matter of fact.

The old advertising principles haven’t changed – society has. And advertising is a concave and convex mirror held up to society to show its features, grotesquely enlarged and so much more obvious for it.

The ad ends with the strapline Let Life Happen. Alas, this kind of life has happened already. How on earth are we going to unhappen it?

Britain’s green and therefore ruined land

Show me someone prepared to ruin the country in pursuit of an ideology, and I’ll show you a socialist. Show me someone doing so in pursuit of an ideology based on bogus premises, and I’ll show you Boris Johnson.

Our planet has found its saviour

He has announced plans to spend a trillion pounds on turning Britain green by 2050, within one generation. Yet by Johnson’s own admission this is all one big gamble: “The UK,” he announced, “is deciding to make a big bet on green technology”.

The UK has decided nothing of the sort. The decision has been made by the spivocracy regrettably empowered to speak on its behalf. For no sensible Briton – and, appearances to the contrary, they still exist – would place a bet on a certain loser.

That’s like playing Russian roulette with a loaded Glock. Pull the trigger, and you won’t hear a click. In fact, you’ll be too dead to hear anything.

Even assuming the best possible scenario unfolding over the next 30 years, Britain and Britons will be devastated. The first such assumption is that anthropogenic global warming exists and can be corrected by state action – and it pains me to accept this against all scientific evidence.

However, Britain is responsible for only 1.1 per cent of global carbon emissions. Therefore, even if our spivs succeed in expurgating every molecule of carbon from Britain’s green and pleasant land, that won’t make one bit of difference unless everyone else follows suit.

Yet even countries within the woke zone show none of our spivocrats’ alacrity. Germany, for example, still gets 25 per cent of her energy from coal (against our five per cent), the US is happily producing coal and shale gas, Norway is refusing to turn off the oil tap through which money flows into her coffers.

As to the countries outside the woke zone, such as China and Russia (both Xi and Putin are snubbing the COP26 conference), they are busily increasing their already huge emissions. Rather than closing down her coal-powered plants, China is building a forest of new ones, and Russia is pumping ever more gas into Putin’s offshore accounts.

By coincidence, these countries aren’t among our closest friends. In fact, they are looking for every competitive advantage, military, economic or geopolitical, in what they see as an existential confrontation with the West.

Anybody who’d rather not gamble with the country’s survival is duty-bound to ask this question: What happens over the next 30 years, during the transitional period when Britain is breaking up her economy to save the planet? After all, most of the required green technologies are yet to be developed, produced, tested and brought on stream.

The only sensible answer is that during that period the country will lose whatever economic competitiveness she has, while militarily she’ll be at the mercy of those wishing her ill. We may hope for a rapid recovery afterwards, but even the craziest tipster won’t cite good odds on that.

You’d get much better odds on Britain becoming a Chinese or Russian or Sino-Russian dependency, relinquishing more of her sovereignty than she did even within the ghastly EU. And that’s only if our enemies eschew direct occupation.

Anyone doubting the dire straits through which Britain is about to sail should look at exactly what’s in store. I’ll only sketch the upcoming disaster, for detailed accounts are readily available from the experts.

Every one of them starts his irrefutable factual arguments by saying: “Of course, we must do something about global warming, but…” Now we’re in a gambling mood, I bet most experts know that the whole climate thing is a pernicious swindle pulled by those who hate the West with its remnants of capitalism.

Yet the experts feel duty-bound to make the requisite disclaimer, which is akin to every Soviet publication, including those in fields like microbiology, having to provide quotations from Lenin. This alone shows the depth of the abyss into which we are falling, and that’s before we even consider the specifics.

First, when any government embarks on a vast economic upheaval, its projected costs must be at least trebled. So if Johnson says a trillion, read three trillion – of the money we haven’t got.

This trillion hasn’t emerged out of a meticulous cost analysis. Johnson pulled it out of the same place in which he keeps his climatology data. I bet (that dread word again) he simply asked his advisers what would be the lowest number they could see in their wettest dreams.

But whatever the number of trillions we’ll need to spend, where will they come from?

The government can only make money from either taxes or borrowing. The latter would have to come on top of the £2.25 trillion national debt we’ve accrued already.

Any economically literate person knows that excessive government spending is inflationary. If the extra funds come from extortionate taxation, this is also guaranteed to produce recessions and depressions, in addition to runaway inflation.

One way or another, it’s the people who’ll bear the brunt. Just consider the risible plan to replace gas boilers with eco-friendly heaters in every house. To that end, the government is generously offering a £5,000 subsidy to each compliant owner.

There are a few problems with this. First, the real cost is closer to £20,000, leaving the people with a gaping hole to fill. Second, instead of lowering energy costs, such heaters tend to increase them. Third, they don’t work well, if it all. The average household so equipped spends some £500 a year on repairs, while the shower water gets a third lower.

Above all, only about three per cent of British households can be so converted without tearing the house down and replacing it with a new one. And still the heaters won’t do the job unless the house is perfectly insulated – at a cost of thousands per wall.

This madness will proceed against the backdrop of energy costs doubling and redoubling (they’ve already almost doubled since May), food getting less plentiful and more expensive, taxes skyrocketing, transportation becoming ruinous.

The plan to replace all fossil-fuel vehicles with electric ones by 2030 is cloud-cuckoo land. For all 30 million cars in Britain to be powered by batteries, the number of charging points will have to increase tenfold – and so will the pressure on the already creaking grid.

This will be a tall order even when the sun shines and the wind blows. But what if God refuses to play along?

Blackouts will become commonplace, old people will be dying of hypothermia, men fumbling in the dark will be feeling up their mothers-in-law instead of their wives, which can’t possibly come to any good.

And all the time the grin on Putin’s face will be getting wider and his wallet fatter. Please go on placing huge bets, Boris, he’ll be saying. I’m holding all the trumps.

The upshot of it all is that, if Britain’s land is forced to become green, it’ll no longer be pleasant.

P.S. I didn’t arrange to play tennis this sunny morning because the weather forecast promised non-stop rain. Of course, when it comes to predicting weather centuries from now, the same meteorologists and climatologists are deadly accurate. It’s only tomorrow that baffles them.