Our new cabinet is racist

Iain Macwhirter, Scottish journalist and rector of Edinburgh University, made a fleeting reference to our “coconut cabinet”. Predictably all hell broke loose.

Maggie didn’t select her cabinet on woke criteria

That pejorative term is usually used by blacks to describe other blacks who have sold out to the white establishment.

Though black on the outside, they are perceived to be white on the inside – hence ‘coconut’. Another similar term is ‘Bounty’, in reference to the cookie with a layer of coconut paste sandwiched between two chocolate biscuits.

These two terms have more or less ousted the old expression ‘Uncle Tom’, whose staying power has been compromised by its literary origin. People likely to resort to such vocabulary are these days unlikely to have read Harriet Beecher Stowe (which is good) or anything else (not so good).

Though Mr Macwhirter himself is gleaming white, as a man of the left he deplores the acts of racial treason committed by the off-white members of the Truss cabinet. They should be dealing crack instead, to assuage his craving for stereotypical racial propriety.

To emphasise the depth to which these racial traitors sank, Mr Macwhirter pointed out that all the three black holders of the great offices of state were privately educated.

To meet his stringent criteria, they shouldn’t have been educated at all, except in the school of hard knockers followed by Screw U. Only then could they enlist as foot soldiers in the class war so dear to every Leftie heart.

And there I was, thinking that racism was the exclusive domain of people who look, talk and dress like Jacob Rees-Mogg. In fact, it’s the Lefties who subsist on racial hatred and class resentments. Such ignoble emotions feed their powerlust.

Following Marx’s lead they also equate capitalists with Jews, thereby merging racism and class hatred into a single ideology. Hence virulent Labour anti-Semitism, which especially came to the fore during Corbyn’s leadership. ‘Virulent’ is the operative word here, for this little bias is by no means alien to the Tories either.

But their anti-Semitism tends to be more snobbish and less febrile. Conservative anti-Semites want to keep Jews out of Pall Mall clubs. Socialist anti-Semites want to kill them.

All in all, I am as grateful to Mr Macwhirter as I am to anyone who helpfully illustrates my observations and vindicates my thoughts. However, the hysterical screams of opprobrium that followed his careless remark show, paradoxically, that his side has won.

But first he himself unwittingly made that point by issuing a grovelling apology: “I have repeatedly applauded the Conservatives for having the most diverse cabinet in British history.

“Indeed, I tweeted earlier that the Truss cabinet made the Scottish Government look ‘hideously white’. I have always championed racial diversity in my columns and I am dismayed that my cack-handed attempt at humour suggested otherwise.”

An appalled Mail columnist issued a ringing endorsement of our new political demographics, while refusing to accept Mr Macwhirter’s apology: “Twelve men and eight women, six of them from ethnic minority backgrounds, they constituted a powerful snapshot of modern, multicultural Britain. A place where your gender or skin colour is no bar to success.”

Is it not? I’d suggest that such incidentals are clearly a bar to the success of white men. After all, not a single one of them has found himself in a great office of state, for the first time in history.

Both Mcwhirter’s apology and The Mail’s rebuke show the calamitous magnitude of the rout suffered by conservative decency. For, no matter which way the pendulum of political debate swings, its terms, vocabulary and premises are all set by the Left.

As the American left-wing radical Saul Alinsky (d. 1972) put it: “He who controls the language controls the masses”. And the language of identity politics is universally coined by the woke Left and accepted as the common parlance even by those who are themselves neither woke nor Left.

In a civilised conservative discourse (excuse my tautology), the issue of race or class shouldn’t even come up. A government should be neither scolded nor applauded for its demographic makeup. This should be seen as an utter irrelevance.

It certainly shouldn’t be used as a criterion of evaluating the government. I wouldn’t care if the cabinet, along with both Houses of Parliament, were staffed exclusively by Kwasi Kwarteng’s clones or Boris Johnson’s – as long as they get us out of the current mess.

If all government officials were selected solely on the strength of their mind, character and morality, I’d be the first to jump up and cheer. Such a policy would pour balsam on my soul tortured by our woke, inane, anomic modernity.

Alas, no such policy is in operation. Neither can it be because the Left has won the language war, thereby acquiring control of the voting masses. Hence our axiomatic assumption that having women and ethnic minorities disproportionately represented in every institution is a Good Thing.

I don’t need to be a fly on the wall to know that the Conservative Campaign Headquarters have instructed – in the rare cases when such instructions were deemed necessary – the local Associations to maintain a selection balance heavily biased in favour of women and ethnic minorities.

That is bound to produce a unisex, piebald Parliament, giving prime ministers a large field from which to pluck woke flowers. If the balance is “hideously white”, the PM will feel duty-bound to redress it by promoting candidates who would satisfy woke sensibilities, even at the expense of other criteria.

If God smiles on Britain, our unisex, piebald cabinet will throw up statesmen to put Pericles or, closer to home, Margaret Thatcher to shame. But the odds are heavily stacked against such luck because extraneous and limiting requirements were introduced into the selection process.

An analogy from everyday life might be helpful here. Let’s say a brilliant, sensitive and successful young woman decides that she would only ever marry a similarly endowed man. The task is difficult but not impossible – after all, such men also tend to look for soulmates, and they aren’t thick on the ground.

But then the woman begins to expand her list of essential requirements. Brilliant – yes. Sensitive and kind – yes. Successful – yes. In fact, she has met a few men who qualify, one or two recently. But the victorious candidate, she decides, must also be tall, handsome and blond, drive a Porsche and prefer Bach to Beethoven.

The task has become overcomplicated with too many variables. Her chances of finding the mate she wants have dropped precipitously. She now relies on a stroke of luck and the odds are against her.

I hope Britain will buck the odds and end up with a government worthy of the name. But that’s not the way to bet – for the same reason that my hypothetical woman may be looking at protracted solitude.

By far the most successful post-war Tory cabinet was led by Margaret Thatcher. She was the only woman in it, and the only discernible ethnic minority was Jewish.

Maggie clearly selected her colleagues on competence and talent only, and, though not everyone in her cabinet turned out fine, enough of them did to make her tenure a success.

Mrs Thatcher, as she then was, kept it simple. Miss Truss didn’t. Let’s pray things work out for her – and for us.

Dutchman’s meat is any man’s poison

Have you no shame? Just think of yourself as a cold-blooded killer every time you tuck into a burger.


First, of course, you are an accomplice to the murder of the animal out of whose flesh that burger was fashioned. But second and even more heinous is the crime of killing our planet you commit with every bite.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so don’t give me the cock-and-bull story about not knowing what cattle husbandry does to the climate. However, to give you a chance to redeem yourself, I’ll have you know that some 14 per cent of all man-made greenhouse gases are produced by agriculture.

And a great part of that poison comes out of livestock. It emits not only that murderous CO2, but also methane – and if you don’t believe me, just open your car window when driving past a feeding station. The stench you’ll smell will mostly come from hydrogen sulphide, but methane makes up much of the volume of the same gas.

That CO2 is destroying our planet is a fact universally acknowledged by scientists receiving UN grants and journalists working for progressive media.

Dyed-in-the-wool deniers can scream till the methane-emitting cows come home that CO2 makes up only 0.0407 per cent of atmosphere by volume. That makes it a trace gas. And anthropogenic CO2 is only three per cent of that, so call it a trace of a trace.

So bloody what? If the UN says that this trace of a trace is about to incinerate our planet, then so it will. Add to this that animal methane, and unless we do something sharpish we’ll all end up as what Houston firemen used to call ‘charcoal critters’.

So trust the Dutch to answer this desperate call. The charming city of Haarlem is about to ban all meat advertising as a way of saving our planet.

As someone wholeheartedly committed to every UN initiative, especially if designed to prevent a global Armageddon, I welcome this measure. My only regret is that it doesn’t go far enough.

First, it’s not just meat advertising that ought to be banned but, above all, meat production. When our planet is in danger, no palliatives will do.

Since I scoff pounds of ossenworst, the Dutch raw beef sausage, every time I’m in Holland, it pains me to issue this call. But I’m prepared to sacrifice my taste buds to the cause of saving our planet.

(Ossenworst and their unmatched herring are the most visible Dutch contributions to civilisation since the 17th century. At that time they produced sublime art and great urban architecture. Since then, it has been ossenworst and herring. Whether you see that as progress or decline depends on your priorities.)

Second, it’s not just cattle husbandry, but any kind of agriculture that releases that silent killer CO2 into the atmosphere. Turning the soil has this effect, which is part of the reason the climate got warmer when people learned to plant and harvest crops (some African countries are still learning). The plough has done more harm to our planet than atom bombs ever have, although that may soon change.

If we are being consistent, all cereals should be banned too, though some fruit and veg could still be allowed, subject to stringent regulations. On second thoughts, scratch that.

We’ll continue to kill our planet until we acknowledge that what’s most destructive to it is man’s befouling presence. But for man (also woman and other!), our planet would be beautiful in its primordial virginity.

The sun would still remain active, meaning that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be almost the same as now, but at least there would be no one else to blame or, come to that, do the blaming. No greedy oil companies, no selfish drivers, no dastardly industry, no aerosol sprays – and no UN to bring them all to account.

And – let’s not forget that – no Dutch government courageously placing its nation in the forefront of the unstoppable march towards progress. The Dutch are holding up high the lantern lighting our path to a shining future.

They’ve pioneered a welcome method of saving the world from the toxic and resource-sapping presence of old people: kill them all. And now they’ve taken the first step towards saving the world from meat advertising first, meat production the likely second and agriculture in general the probable third.

At least we can stop tossing and turning through the night worrying about our planet. It’s in safe hands. We, on the other hand, are in deep trouble.

P.S. To avoid any misunderstanding, whenever I say ‘our planet’, I mean the Earth. And what did you think I meant?

Liz missed her true calling

Judging by her victory speech, Liz Truss would have been even happier in a different career – and deep down she knows it.

Does this look like she’s happy to have won?

That secret longing came across in her anaphora revolving around that dread D-word, ‘deliver’:

“I will deliver a bold plan to cut taxes and grow our economy. I will deliver on the energy bills crisis, dealing with people’s energy bills but also dealing with the long-term issues we have on energy supply. And I will deliver on the National Health Service.”

This seems to be the buzz word of the new cabinet. Not to repeat myself, this is what I wrote a month ago, when Suella Braverman, slated to become the new Home Secretary, regaled her TV audience with the same anaphora:

“Someone has misled the poor dear desperately. It’s post offices, obstetricians and Chinese takeaways that deliver. Governments, on the other hand, are supposed to, well, govern.

“Our ‘leaders’ increasingly express themselves in the language of corporate managers, or rather managerial consultants. They don’t govern. They ‘deliver’ markers and outcomes; they hit targets; they facilitate optimisation; they optimise facilitation; they meet goals.”

Miss Truss, aka Mrs O’Leary, also seems to be confused about which party she will be leading. To be fair, she showed no signs of such confusion in her speech. “I campaigned as a Conservative,” she said, “and I’ll govern as a Conservative.”

This only accentuates the inordinate amount of elasticity that the term has acquired. To today’s lot governing as a Conservative means out-Labouring Labour in the hope of winning the next election in the name of conservatism.

In that spirit, having touted her affection for free markets, Miss Truss has promised to freeze energy prices until 2024. Those socialist Labourites only mooted such a freeze until 2023, but hey, what do they know about conservatism.

At the same time, she also reconfirmed her mastery of political contortionism by again promising to ‘deliver’ the unlikely double whammy of both cutting taxes and increasing spending. God has created only two ways of doing that, which on closer examination amount to the same thing: printing or borrowing more money.

Any first-year student of economics will tell you that this measure is inflationary. Since we are already at the threshold of a double-digit rate, flashing through my mind are the Weimar Republic images of people pushing wheelbarrows full of banknotes.

Conservative politicians are good at coining neologisms behind which suicidal borrowing can hide. The Cameron gang favoured ‘quantitative easing’, which I proposed to shorten to ‘queasing’. And the likely in-coming Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, talks about ‘fiscal loosening’, presumably ‘floosening’ for short.

The idea that borrowing boosts growth also lives in the land of ‘delivering’, rather than statesmanship. All depends on how growth is defined and calculated.

Since borrowing is guaranteed to increase inflation, it can indeed ‘deliver’ GDP growth – on paper and in newspaper headlines. Thus, when you buy a loaf of bread costing £2, that’s £2 added to GDP. However, if inflation pushes the price of the same loaf to £4, the GDP tally will grow by £4.

Do that across the board, and you can claim that GDP has doubled. That sounds like good news until people realise that in the same period their income increased by, say, only 10 per cent. Job done: growth delivered, people impoverished.

We are already paying some £100 billion a year to service the existing debt, which is a gift that keeps on giving. When this amount doubles, which it definitely will in short order, more borrowing will be needed, more percentage points will be added to inflation.

Anticipating such policies, international investors have started to dump the government bonds and gilts financing our sovereign debt. As a result, the pound is plummeting towards parity with the dollar. If this trend continues, the pound will soon be worth less than the dollar for the first time in history.

That’s good news for our exporters and awful news for our imports, especially those of energy, whose price is denominated in dollars. Thus the merry-go-round Miss Truss is planning to step on increasingly looks like a vicious circle.

The more she has to borrow to cover the cost of capping energy prices, the higher those prices will soar, which will then necessitate more borrowing. One way of getting off that spinning contraption is to produce all our own energy and stop importing it, thereby indirectly financing Putin’s bandit raid.

(Claiming that we buy very little gas from Russia is disingenuous. For missing in that claim is the operative word ‘directly’. We do, however, get much of our electricity from the French company EDF, which in turn imports oil and gas from Russia.)

Here Miss Truss is making all the right noises. She plans to drop the moratorium on fracking, increase oil drilling and production in the North Sea, continue to build new nuclear power stations and renovate the old ones.

If she actually does all that, rather than merely delivering it, then things will ease up greatly. But I’ll have to see it to believe it. For the time being, my suspicion is aroused by Miss Truss saying that, yes, she’ll start fracking, but only if the local communities agree.

Much as I prefer localism to centralism in politics, it’s the national government that has to respond to a national emergency, not the mayor of a village in the Midland Valley of Scotland. My sceptical mind detects Miss Truss’s attempt to leave herself an out.

My sympathy is with her, though. Not since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher inherited a shambles of an economy left by Labour, has a new prime minister had to step into such an excremental disaster produced by the previous administrations. The difference is that this time the previous administrations were all Tory, and she has been a member of them for eight years.

One woke, which is to say socialist, perversion she inherits (and lovingly fosters) from the previous Tory governments is the commitment to out-Labour Labour in diversity.

If her choices for the great offices of state go as planned, then Kwasi Kwarteng will become the fourth consecutive non-white Chancellor, Suella Braverman the third minority Home Secretary in a row, and James Cleverly the first non-white Foreign Secretary ever.

I’m beginning to miss the silly belief that any institution should reflect the demographic makeup of the population at large. This way an outsider may look at a photograph of our cabinet meetings and get the impression Britain has floated south to merge with Kenya.

As I keep repeating, competence alone should be the sole qualifying characteristic of a government official, not his/her/its/their race or sex. Yet I realise that my concept of equal, unbiased opportunity is terribly outdated.

Campaigning as a Conservative was easy. Governing as one is impossible in today’s world. Still, if Liz Truss genuinely wants to try, I wish her every success, while fearing that she is doomed to failure. The conservative boat, with or without the initial capital, has sailed for destinations unknown.

A Royal pain in le cul

Ségolène Royal is back in the news. Last week she accused President Zelensky of “fear-mongering war propaganda”, which finally got her name in print again, after a hiatus of many years.

Rottweiler and Ségolène

Yet back in 2007 she ran Nicolas Sarkozy close in the French presidential election, as I recall. Her activists were spreading leaflets around, and a middle-aged woman tried to thrust one into my hand at a local market.

Now, I have no voting rights in France but, if I had, I’d be more likely to vote for the devil incarnate than for a Socialist candidate. My face must have reflected that bias, for the woman asked me, angrily and derisively, if I was going to vote for Sarkozy instead.

No, I said. “Who then?” Now the woman was perplexed for there were only two candidates in the runoff round, and neither seemed to appeal to me.

“Les Bourbons,” I said. My tormentor’s expression changed from confusion to such a genuine concern for my mental health that I felt she was owed an explanation. “Je suis plus royal que Ségolène,” I said, in a weak attempt to make a pun on the candidate’s surname.

The joke didn’t work, either because of my accent or due to the woman’s inability to appreciate jokes. Socialists do tend to take themselves and their cause with an unsmiling seriousness bordering on solemnity.

Having lost that election, Ségolène also lost much of her news appeal and only became a hot item some five years later, when her long-term lover François Hollande succeeded where Ségolène had failed.

Having sired four children with Ségolène, Hollande still never married her. As a true socialist he probably didn’t believe in heterosexual marriage. However, he was less sceptical about the homosexual variety, which he promptly legalised when becoming president.

He then dumped Ségolène for the journalist Valérie Trierweiler, whom her friends affectionately called ‘rottweiler’, proving that the French aren’t after all averse to puns based on surnames. I’m not sure whether this particular nickname referred to Valérie’s character or her amorous technique.

She too got dumped, having first thrown a wobbly at the presidential palace and smashed a lot of publicly owned dishes. Hollande then started a passionate affair with his scooter, but enough of this frivolity.

Ségolène’s recent diatribe shows that she still harbours political ambitions. The route she chose is promising for in a few short sentences she established ideal credentials for modern politics: wickedness, ignorance and stupidity.

In reality, Zelensky is courageously rallying his nation to resist fascist aggression against terrible odds. If the French president had done the same thing with the same heroic resolve, perhaps France could have repelled the Nazi offensive in 1940, or at least held out for longer than 40 days.

But trust Ségolène to see through the Ukrainian’s knavish tricks. “Zelensky’s fear-mongering propaganda has two goals,” she said on TV. “The first goal is to motivate his army. When the Ukrainian president talks about torturing soldiers, it should affect the Ukrainian servicemen, mobilise them. It also serves as an obstacle to the peace process.”

So Zelensky is trying to motivate his army? Crikey. How low can one sink. Instead, he should demotivate the army, surrender and start collaborating with the fascist invaders. Do a Pétain in other words.

Also, getting back to my old translating trade, I want to make sure you understand the meaning of ‘peace process’. When used by Putinistas, it’s synonymous with the Ukraine’s surrender – exactly the same thing French socialists and communists agitated for in 1940, demoralising the army.

The peace process, aka surrender, is essential because in its absence Ukrainians will continue to suffer, continued Ségolène. Actually, for all their suffering, Ukrainians themselves are ready to fight the Russians to the bitter end, but Ségolène knows what’s best for them better than they do.

Somewhat incongruously she then suggested that, when all is said and done, Ukrainians aren’t suffering all that much – and certainly not as much as that dastardly Zelensky claims.

Mariupol hospital airstrike? Didn’t happen. The Bucha massacre? Ditto. Rape of children? Ditto. Genocidal bombing of residential areas? Ditto. Mass looting? Ditto.

Zelensky made it all up for his nefarious purposes. Such pernicious propaganda should be outlawed, and who better than the UN, assisted by international hacks, to put the foot down. “It is necessary that the UN and the journalistic community establish a ban on the instrumentalisation of fear,” said Ségolène.

I wasn’t aware that “the journalistic community” has institutional powers to ban anything. And the UN’s powers exist only on paper, fit exclusively for lavatorial use. But perhaps Ségolène is privy to her own sources of information.

I shan’t sputter much spittle commenting on the evil cretinism evinced by such remarks. What’s more important – and worrying – is why this objectionable woman saw fit to make them.

Whatever politicians say is said for political reasons. So what is Ségolène after?

She is enunciating the Kremlin line word for word, something that until now has been the privilege of only the fringe parties, whichever tag they bear, left or right. However, in France the fringe is getting wider, including as it does both Le Pen’s neo-fascists (pretending to be more neo than fascist for PR purposes) and Mélenchon’s Trotskyists.

In this year’s presidential elections, Le Pen got 23.2 per cent of the vote and Mélenchon 22 per cent. These candidates, together with another extremist, Zemmour, polled at 52.3 per cent. All of them have close links with Putin, regularly stating their support for Russian fascism, repeating Kremlin propaganda and, in Le Pen’s case at least, even benefiting financially from such loyalty.

Meanwhile, the mainstream candidates, the eventual winner Macron, Valérie Pécresse of The Republicans and Anne Hidalgo of the Socialists, garnered a mere 34.5 per cent put together.  Their parties are lukewarm supporters of the Ukraine, with Macron having made a few ‘peace process’ noises, but then realised the error of his ways – until next time.

I’d suggest that, when the margins are wider than the mainstream, they are no longer the margins. Ségolène, for all her mental deficiencies, seems to have cottoned on to this simple observation. It’s likely she feels that, by jumping on Putin’s bandwagon, she could vault over Hidalgo to reclaim the leadership of the Socialist Party.

We may also be witnessing the results of the frenetic activity of Putin’s agents and stooges throughout Europe. They work overtime, cajoling, lying, bribing and threatening to pave the way to a sort of pan-European, pro-Putin fascist International. And Ségolène is an ideal recruit.

She is ambitious, frustrated in her ambitions, susceptible to extremist rhetoric, not excessively bright, lacking in principles, possibly in need of funding – any KGB officer worth his salt would have talent-spotted her long ago.

One way or the other, Ségolène is in what these days is called a win-win situation. If she fails to scale political heights, she can always get a job on The Mail on Sunday. She seems to be in tune with its editorial policy already.

Birds of a feather

William Joyce, aka Lord Haw-Haw, came back as Graham Phillips, a Putin propagandist in the guise of a British journalist.

Phillips with his comrades in arms

When Joyce disseminated Nazi propaganda, Britain was officially at war with Germany. Hence he was tried for treason and hanged in 1946.

(Actually, what really hanged him was one Latin phrase: protectio trahit subjectionem, et subjectio protectionem – ‘protection entails allegiance and allegiance, protection’. Joyce had dual Irish and US citizenship. Yet he travelled to Germany on a forged British passport, meaning he enjoyed the protection of the Crown and hence owed allegiance to it. Since he offered none, he was a traitor. Joyce should have paid attention in Latin classes.)

Britain isn’t officially at war with Russia, but that’s strictly a technicality. Russia is at war with Britain’s ally, whose army has been largely trained and equipped by us. Moreover, hardly an hour goes by without a senior Russian official threatening to annihilate Britain with nuclear weapons.

Hence, though we may not be at war with Russia, Russia is indisputably at war with us. In other words, Russia is our enemy, her propaganda is enemy propaganda, and any British subject disseminating it is a de facto enemy agent.

If Joyce was hanged on a technicality, the technicality of supposed peace between Britain and Russia protects Phillips from prison. But that doesn’t mean he should be allowed to poison the air as he sees fit.

Hence HMG has sanctioned Phillips, even though it had every moral right to try him for treason. But since civilised countries are ruled by law, not moral right, one has to accept that this undeservedly humane punishment is as far as we can go, for the time being.

Actually, Phillips has outdone Joyce, who limited himself to merely broadcasting enemy propaganda. Phillips has also recorded his interrogation of the British-Ukrainian POW Aiden Aslin and other British-born Ukrainian POWs.

He called that video an interview, which it wasn’t, considering that Aslin was in handcuffs. Phillips openly mocked him throughout and called him a mercenary, which Aslin demonstrably wasn’t.

He was a Ukrainian citizen enlisted in the Ukrainian army, and hence subject to the Geneva convention. Phillips’s interrogation of a POW under duress violated that convention, which made it a war crime. In another video, Phillips also jeered a Ukrainian civilian wounded by a Russian landmine and then taken prisoner, or rather hostage.

For eight years now, Phillips has been demonstrating his linguistic prowess by producing verbatim translations of Kremlin propaganda and spreading it in every print and broadcast medium he can get his hands on.

Russia, as unfailingly portrayed by him, is out to liberate Europe from fascism, personified by whatever country Russia pounces on, such as Georgia and the Ukraine. Having said that, Russia is a peaceful country that only resorts to force when sorely provoked by her (and Phillips’s) enemies, specifically Nato and the West in general.

Phillips’s activities have led to his numerous arrests, not only in the Ukraine and Estonia, but also in London, that other hotbed of Russophobia. Those Russophobe bobbies nabbed Phillips for violently disrupting a Georgian Embassy exhibition commemorating the 2008 Russian invasion.

One would think that no decent British journalist would spring to Phillips’s defence, and one would be right. For the British journalist who does defend him is Peter Hitchens.

He describes HMG’s sanctions on Phillips as “spiteful [and] despotic”, since they “rip up his most basic freedoms under Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights, which forbid punishment without a fair trial before an impartial jury.”

Phillips, according to Hitchens, “has been punished without trial for expressing views which the state does not like.”

Does the British government do that sort of thing? I’m quaking in my Timberlands, for hardly a day goes by that I don’t express views the state doesn’t like. I expect you to bring me food parcels when I end up in gaol.

I’ve looked up the documents so dear to Hitchens’s heart and found no stipulation that they should act as a suicide pact. I’ve also looked at Britain’s history and discovered that fundamental liberties, such as due process, are always put on hold at wartime.

An enemy propagandist is as dangerous as an incoming enemy missile, sometimes even more so. He must be stopped by any means available, and if that can only be done by purely administrative methods, then so be it. I do hope that, after the war is over, Phillips will find himself in the dock.

Hitchens’s affection for British legality is deeply touching, and it would be even more so if it weren’t merely a smokescreen for his devotion to the same cause Phillips is devoted to: Putin’s fascism. Just scan my pieces over the past 10 years and you’ll find a whole Thesaurus of quoted protestations of Hitchens’s love for what he calls “the most conservative and Christian country in Europe.”

Basically, he has been saying exactly the same things as Phillips (see above), but taking care not to froth at the mouth as violently as his protégé does. He is, after all, a mainstream hack.

Logically then, since Hitchens doesn’t regard Russia as an enemy, he describes Phillips’s effluvia not as enemy propaganda, but as a courageous expression of dissident views. Implicitly that confers reflected glory on Hitchens himself, who likes to portray himself as a maverick bravely swimming against the tide of majority opinion.

However, when majority opinion is anti-fascist, compulsion to be original is morally defunct and intellectually feeble. In wartime, it may also be illegal, and both Phillips and Hitchens should pray that Britain is never at war with Russia officially – as she already is unofficially.   

What’s wrong with Britain, in one word

No, the word in question isn’t ‘socialism’. It’s not ‘capitalism’ either. Nor is it ‘economy’. It’s not even ‘atheism’. And no, it isn’t ‘government’. I’ll give you a hundred guesses and you still won’t come up with the right answer.

The Despite Man

I’m sure each of the words I’ve mentioned will have its champions, as will any of the hundred guesses you may make. But none of them will have the impact and poignancy of the simple preposition ‘despite’.

This unprepossessing word, as used by The Times, is worth a thousand pictures. But I shan’t hold you in suspense any longer. Here’s the sentence, or rather the sentence fragment, in which this voluminous word appears:

“… Jacob Rees-Mogg, once considered for levelling-up secretary despite [!!!] his Eton education and southwestern constituency…”

My emphases may be a bit over the top, but I can’t let your attention wander away from the two syllables spelling one civilisational disaster.

The implication is Mr Rees-Mogg would be a good candidate for a cabinet post if he had better educational and geographical credentials. Now, any British reader would be alert to the implications, but the outlanders among you may want some elucidation. A quick look at Wikipedia won’t help.

It’ll simply tell you that Eton is one of the oldest and best public (meaning private) schools in Britain. As my friend Will Knowles, who was sacked by Eton for teaching that some differences between men and women do exist, will testify, the school has gone woke.

But then what school hasn’t? In relative terms, Eton still has a good claim to being the best boys’ school in the country.

Moving on to the geographical reference, Wikipedia will probably tell you that Mr Rees-Mogg’s constituency is in a rather upmarket rural part of Somerset. At the risk of venturing a guess unsupported by statistical evidence, I’d suggest that most Britons would rather live there than wherever they reside at the moment.

So where does ‘despite’ come in? If anything, one would think ‘because’ would be the more appropriate preposition.

Anyone who’d think that is deaf to the triumphant shouts of a victorious modernity. The word ‘despite’, as used here, is the smirk on the face of a victor accepting his enemy’s capitulation in the class war.

Had Mr Rees-Mogg grown up at a council estate in the depressed Toxteth area of Liverpool, gone to the local comprehensive and ended up representing some inner-city ghetto in Parliament, he’d be unobjectionable. As it is, he may be considered as a candidate only ‘despite’, not ‘because’.

It has to be said that Mr Rees-Mogg does nothing to offset his unfortunate CV. He looks as if he was born with a Savile Row suit grafted onto his skin, and he sounds the way a Savile Row suit would sound if it could talk.

Even worse, he doesn’t bother to conceal his pious Catholicism, which is wrong on more levels than one finds in a Toxteth tower block. You see, it’s perfectly fine – possibly even preferable – for a government official to be an atheist, provided he is a Protestant atheist.

Of the 55 prime ministers Britain has had, just one was a Catholic, and Boris Johnson only converted because he was besotted with his latest bride. (Tony ‘Anthony’ Blair converted to lapsed Catholicism only after the end of his tenure.) Unlike Rees-Mogg, he isn’t known as a devout Christian of any kind.

So yes, going to Mass every Sunday ushers in another ‘despite’. Doesn’t Rees-Mogg know that a church is strictly for hatching, matching and dispatching? No, evidently he doesn’t.

I am pretending to have fun here, but this is only what Gogol described as “laughter through tears of sorrow”. A nation is moribund where a well-educated, cultured and wealthy politician is deemed suspect specifically because he is well-educated, cultured and wealthy.

One would think that our political class is so teeming with talent that it can afford to introduce any idiotic selection criteria and still have an effective government. It can’t.

In the recently published list of the prospective candidates for the likely Truss cabinet, Rees-Mogg was the only white man. The rest were women, ethnic minorities or both.

I’m not saying that such groups can’t produce great statesmen – of course they can. But the likelihood of this heads down towards zero if they are chosen strictly, or even mainly, because of their sex or race.

Since Mr Rees-Mogg is untested in a top cabinet post, I don’t know if he has the makings of a statesman. He may or may not, and there is only one way to find out.

But if I knew nothing about British politics and still had to appoint a cabinet on general principles only, I’d say that men like Rees-Mogg are a better group to choose from than any other.

But then I’d choose my leaders because of their culture and education – not despite it.

Falling out with Putin

Russians are these days adding a literal meaning to normally figurative expressions. The two I have in mind are ‘falling out’ and ‘Did he jump or was he pushed?’.

This linguistic rumination is prompted by the news that yet another critic of Putin fell out of a window to his death.

According to Russian state media, Ravil Maganov, chairman of Lukoil, Russia’s second largest oil company, committed suicide. Considering that no note was found and there was no evidence that Mr Maganov had ever contemplated such a drastic act, one has to commend the Russian police on the lightning speed with which they solved the incident.

Neither they nor the journalists were deterred by the rather bizarre method chosen by Mr Maganov. First he checked into a hospital for a routine medical, obviously wishing to make sure he was in good enough health to negotiate the pearly gates.

Having been reassured on his medical condition, he then jumped out of a hospital window. Such are the vagaries of the mysterious Russian (or, in his case, ethnically Tartar) soul. A pragmatic Westerner would have spared himself the trouble of bureaucratic check-in and instead found a window closer to home.

Just a fortnight earlier, Maxim Rapoport, another Russian businessman critical of Putin in general and of the bandit raid on the Ukraine especially, fell out of his apartment window in Washington DC. Could it be that both he and Maganov took the honourable way out because they could no longer bear the guilt of their opposition to the sainted leader?

Rapoport’s case stands out among the recent defenestrations and other suicides committed by Russian businessmen. After all, he had nothing to do with the hydrocarbon industry.

Maganov, on the other hand, was the sixth major energy executive shuffling off this mortal coil by a daring jump in recent months. Some of the others took their whole families with them, on the fair assumption that they too were guilty by association.

The burden of guilt is one possible reason for suicide. The other is the burden of too much knowledge. This dovetails with the topic of my yesterday’s obituary for Gorbachev.

When ‘Micky Envelope’ presided over the demise of the Soviet Union, he was busily monetising all the Party assets. They were hastily converted into roubles and then into wagonloads of US dollars – exchange rates no object.

The mechanics of the op were handled by the KGB, specifically its financial wizard Col. Veselovsky. But the overall supervision was provided by Nikolai Kruchina, head of the Central Committee administration, reporting to Gorbachev personally.

Kruchina’s principal Western liaison was Robert ‘Cap’n Bob’ Maxwell, whose little girl is currently doing time for sex trafficking. Between them those two operators accumulated a wealth of knowledge, the burden of which, to quote loosely from the Book of Common Prayer, proved intolerable.

As a result, Kruchina fell out of his office window in August, 1991, and Maxwell fell out of his yacht two months later. Suicide was the ruling in both cases, naturally.

A sense of fairness compels me to acknowledge that Russia doesn’t hold exclusive rights to defenestration. The Czechs have a fine history of it too.

Thus both the Hussite War in the 15th century and the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th were triggered by defenestrations in Prague. (In fact, the second episode gave rise to the word ‘defenestration’.) But to give the Czechs credit for honesty, neither incident was put down as suicide.

More recently, the Czech foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell out of his office window in 1948 to ease his country’s transition to the dictatorship of the proletariat, or specifically Stalin. Since Masaryk was slow on the uptake when it came to grasping the attendant benefits, he fell out with the communists, to continue our journey through the land of puns.

Even in the Soviet Union defenestration has a distinguished history, especially as a method of dealing with defectors. Thus the celebrated naval commander Fyodor Raskolnikov first fell out with Stalin in 1938 and then, having defected to France, out of a Paris window in 1939.

Lest you may think Vlad is merely an epigone, a great statesman isn’t necessarily one who comes up with a wealth of original ideas all the time. As often as not, he merely evaluates historical experience, chooses its best parts and adapts them judiciously to current needs.

Current needs must call for a spate of suicides among Russian energy executives and other uppity moguls, and Vlad’s ears are finely attuned to hear the clarion calls of the Russian grassroots.

A word of advice though. Whatever you do, don’t apply for a top position with a Russian energy company. The job seems to be too taxing by half, especially if you fall out with Putin.

Micky Envelope, RIP

When Mikhail Gorbachev, who died at 91 on Tuesday, was First Secretary at Stavropol, he was known by the nickname above (Mishka konvert in Russian).

That was a reference to the way he did business in one of the most corrupt Soviet provinces, the clearing house for the contraband flowing from the Caucasus to Moscow. His wife Raisa was different: she liked her bribes in the shape of egg-sized gems, not densely stuffed envelopes.

The criminal operation was so massive that it had to be underwritten and largely run by the KGB, with whom Gorbachev had to work hand in glove. That’s how he must have come to the attention of Yuri Andropov, then KGB head.

Andropov liked what he saw: a former collective farmer with the gift of the uncultured but contagious gab. Gorbachev could drive his platitudes home with the same skill he had applied to driving a combine harvester in his youth.

The boy had a bright future, and when Andropov became General Secretary he brought the largely unknown provincial apparatchik to Moscow. There Gorbachev was quickly hoisted to the post of a Central Committee secretary. Thereby he filled a vacancy left by the sudden and untimely death of Fyodor Kulakov, his predecessor at Stavropol.

Moscow buzzed with rumours that Kulakov, 60, a young man by Kremlin standards who had never had a day’s illness in his life, had a little help on the way to his maker. But then the rumour mongers would look at Andropov’s steely eyes peering at them from his photographs, shudder and shut up.

Clearly chosen as heir apparent, Gorbachev continued to do the KGB’s, and personally Andropov’s, bidding. Thereby he steered Russia onto the road eventually leading to Putin and the current carnage in the Ukraine.

Yes, I’m familiar with the nil nisi bonum adage. But it shouldn’t apply to historical figures, especially those who undeservedly enter Western hagiography.

Historical figures belong, well, to history. They aren’t your friend Nigel, your colleague Kevin or your neighbour Tony. Gorbachev’s personality skewed his actions, his actions skewed history and, amicus Plato and all that, his career must be properly analysed and understood. If as a result of that exercise he emerges closer to demon than saint, then so be it.

Gorbachev means different things to different people. But for me his salient point is the illustration he provides to the West’s chronic inability to understand Russia, accompanied by ignorance and refusal to learn.

Thus the nausea I experienced in the late 1980s, early 1990s as a result of the emetic Western triumphalism still hasn’t quite subsided. Nor will it do so soon, aggravated as it is by the panegyrics for Gorbachev gushing over the past 30 years and especially now, in the fawning obituaries.

Gorbachev delivered Western victory in the Cold War. Liberal democracy triumphed, which – according to a particularly inane neocon – effectively ended history. Gorbachev saved the world from a nuclear Armageddon. He was a true champion of liberty, democracy, humanism and marital love. He set Russia on the road to freedom and prosperity. He ended the Afghan war. He single-handedly demolished the Soviet Union and pulled down the Berlin Wall. He enabled the West to get fat on the peace dividend. HE WAS THE ONE MARGARET THATCHER COULD DO BUSINESS WITH.

And look, he and his wife were refined, cultured people, so much unlike the previous Soviet leaders and their lumpy spouses.

This claim was first made the moment the Gorbachevs graced the West with their presence, leaving a trail of Raisa’s American Express receipts behind them. When the din reached Russia, educated people couldn’t believe their ears. The Gorbachevs were about as cultured as Coronation Street characters, and Mikhail couldn’t string two grammatical sentences together.

That’s about the size of it, although I haven’t read every obituary and hence must have left out some of Gorbachev’s towering achievements. All of them are as bogus as his supposed refinement.

True enough, some dramatic things happened on his watch. But we must avoid the well-known fallacy of post hoc, ergo propter hoc – after this, therefore because of this. Most of those things happened not because of Gorbachev, but in spite of him, in spite of his desperate attempts to preserve the Soviet Union.

Much as I hate the I-told-you-so style of prose, so popular with a certain Mail columnist, over the past 30 years I’ve been writing that the much-vaunted glasnost and perestroika, both associated with Gorbachev, merely amounted to a transfer of power from the Party to the KGB.

In fact, the whole operation was charted by Beria, who, though as evil as his Politburo colleagues, was smarter than all of them. In fact, Beria was arrested and summarily executed after he tried to explain the facts of life to his doctrinaire partners in crime.

The Soviet Union, he said, couldn’t keep up with the West economically and therefore militarily. Yes, Lenin was right that sooner or later we’d hang the capitalists, but we can’t do that unless the capitalists give us the rope – in other words, help us modernise our economy to make it more competitive.

To make sure they do so, we must paint a rosy picture of liberalisation. How far can we go down that road? As far as it takes. Disband collective farms. Allow some private enterprise. Even encourage some free speech, naturally under our control. Let Germany reunite. In short, launch another gigantic disinformation op for which the Cheka has always been famous. And then, once the capitalists have strengthened our economic and military muscle – then, comrades, and only then we’ll strike.

That soliloquy was delivered just a few months after Stalin’s death, and his geriatric heirs almost suffered apoplexy there and then. Where was Marxism-Leninism in that plan? Where was ideological purity? Beria was arrested on the spot and hastily dispatched to kingdom come.

But, as the standard Bolshevik eulogy went, our comrade is dead, but his cause lives on. Beria’s cause survived within the KGB, an organisation staffed with people trained to express their evil pragmatically, rather than ideologically.

Andropov picked up the relay baton and passed it on to Gorbachev, whom he nominated as his dynastic successor. And so, after a short-lived interim tenure of another senescent apparatchik, Gorbachev took over as General Secretary in 1985.

He was a clever man by the abysmal standards of his Kremlin accomplices. So was Andropov. So was Beria. But even clever men can make stupid mistakes, and the KGB relay baton proved too slippery for them to keep hold of.

What they didn’t realise was that the Soviet system was too ossified to survive any reform. The blood of the 60 million people murdered by the Bolsheviks in their own country, and many more elsewhere, was coursing through the hearts of survivors and their families.

The moment Gorbachev began to loosen the reins, the horse started bucking. There was a real danger it might bolt.

Gorbachev felt perplexed. He was a career communist apparatchik, not only trained but viscerally predisposed to act the type. Thus, when the Chernobyl meltdown happened, he reacted the way any of his predecessors would have done: he lied.

Had the winds not blown radiation towards northern Europe, he would have denied the tragedy to his dying breath. As it was, Swedish Geiger counters caught Gorbachev red-handed, and he owned up.

When the Soviet Union began to creak at the seams, unable to keep pace with Reagan’s arms race, the constituent republics smelled their chance. Popular uprisings broke out, and again Gorbachev reacted true to form – with punitive Spetsnaz raids.

Hundreds of people were killed in Vilnius, Tbilisi and Baku – and the world rejoiced. Just hundreds? Not hundreds of thousands? Not the millions Stalin would have killed? Hail Gorby the humanist.

When the Baltics turned westwards, Gorbachev did all he could to prevent Georgia and Moldova from going the same way. To keep those republics on a leash, if a longer one than before, he systematically provoked internecine conflicts there, in Transdniestria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In fact, Putin’s 2008 attack on Georgia was a continuation of Gorbachev’s policy.

Having squeezed the toothpaste out of the tube, Gorbachev desperately tried to push it back in. But that proved impossible. Control slipped out of his hands: nations at the outskirts of the evil empire rose in revolt.

By 1989 the bandwagon had gathered so much momentum it could no longer be stopped. When the Romanian dictator Ceaușescu tried to push a stick into the wheel spokes, he and his wife were riddled with bullets. Gorbachev got the message: if he wanted to keep himself and Raisa in one piece, he had to jump on the bandwagon, rather than trying to put the brakes on.

This he did with so much alacrity that the West was taken in. In the process he had to relinquish his power to the KGB, first de facto and then de jure. The KGB was the only Soviet institution flexible and farsighted enough to know that the First Law of Thermodynamics hadn’t been repealed.

The evil Soviet energy hadn’t disappeared. It had merely transformed into something else. And they, KGB officers, could channel it into new conduits. Yes, Beria, Andropov and their underlings had miscalculated. But even their miscalculations had worked out fine – that’s what genius is all about.

Russia might have lost her empire, but those marginal nations aren’t going anywhere. Let the West pour billions into Russia, making her great again – meaning inspiring universal fear. Meanwhile, the new ruling class made up of KGB officers, organised crime figures and the former Komsomol nomenklatura, will enjoy the best the West has to offer.

By accepting Beria’s and Andropov’s relay baton, Gorbachev sent Russia on a mad race to the finish line, with Putin running the last leg. In his last years, Gorby assumed the role of senior statesman, living in Florida, running his multi-billion foundation, occasionally offering mild criticism and avuncular advice to the new lad.

And the odd gesture of support, naturally. Thus Gorbachev supported the Russian invasion of the Crimea in 2014, the first act in the ongoing bloodshed. That hardly made the news in the West. Gorby was after all the Liberator, the Democrat, the star of the Pizza Hut ad.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote George Santayana. But remembering the past is no use in the absence of a proper understanding of it. Gorbachev proves that this understanding is sorely lacking in the West, certainly as far as Russia is concerned.

That could be his important legacy, but only if the lesson were properly learned. But it isn’t. Instead Gorbachev is mourned as the man who handed the West victory in the Cold War. Doesn’t seem like a great victory now, does it?

P.S. Down below there is a link to my piece of 23 May, 2016. Having re-read it, I’ve realised I said many of the same things then. One can only hope that repetition is indeed the mother of learning, not of senility.