Some thoughts prompted by another Frenchman in trouble at a New York hotel

If I were a French politician, I’d steer clear of Manhattan hotels; they’re bad news. First DSK is accused of raping a maid, and now Richard Descoings, France’s most influential political scientist, finds himself in trouble of a more permanent kind: he was found dead in his hotel room on Wednesday morning. The circumstances were suspicious; the autopsy, inconclusive.

I don’t know enough about Descoings – other than that he was the Director of the Institute of Political Studies and the Chief Administrator of the National Foundation of Political Science. Collectively known as Sciences Po, the two organisations are the smithy of France’s political thought. It’s this subject that I find intriguing.

Allow me to declare an interest: France is my home for several months every year, and I admire many things about her: her wine and cheese; her profusion of the world’s greatest Gothic cathedrals and Romanesque churches; the moving, dignified decrepitude of her villages; her roads, paid or otherwise, that are so much better designed and maintained than ours; her public transport, infinitely more convenient and reliable than ours; her country folk, our friends who welcomed us so cordially when we first got our house 12 years ago; her capital, the most beautiful in the world; her landscapes, with more diversity per square mile than anywhere else; her people who work 20 percent fewer man-hours per year than we do and are subject to more restrictive labour laws, and yet produce a similar GDP; her bookshops, with hardly any junk anywhere in sight; her untattooed youngsters who greet older strangers with ‘Bonjour, monsieur’, rather than ‘Whatcha lookin’ at, mate?’.

The list is long, and I could easily make it longer. But, however long it gets, French politics won’t make it. For, truth be told, what I feel about French politics is rather the opposite of admiration.

A telling detail: in his tribute to Descoings, President Sarkozy praised his ‘exceptional career in the service of the state’. There’s something grating to my ear in that statement, though factually it’s unobjectionable.

Sciences Po is a government institution, and it counts among its alumni countless politicians of the highest rank, such as Mitterrand and Chirac, though one could argue that neither has done his alma mater proud. And, as head of Sciences Po and a long-time member of the Conseil d’Etat, Descoings did have an advisory role to play in formulating government policy, not least in the on-going reform of public education. It’s just that to my ear – and I’m talking about a purely aural reaction here – there’s something discordant about the tribute.

Any rationalisation is in fact the post-rationalisation of something already felt intuitively. Post-rationalising my first reaction, I have to come to the conclusion that to me a political – or any other – scientist should serve the truth, not the state. He may be called upon to serve his government from time to time, but that has to be secondary to his main pursuit.

Perhaps this belief comes from a sensibility that the French call Anglo-Saxon (a free tip: whenever a continental uses the term, it’s always pejorative). Indeed, someone like John Maynard Keynes may have done much work for HMG, but he himself would have hated to be remembered as a servant to it. His claim to fame was his economic theory, which to him, if not to everyone else, was the truth.

What’s jarring to my ear has no such effect on the French. And therein lies the principal difference between our political sensibility and theirs. The French are intuitively statist, and we are not. Not yet anyway.

It’s not as if the statist strain were underrepresented in British politics, far from it – it’s just that the British don’t easily accept it as the main strain. Statism may be forced down British throats, and this is exactly what’s happening. But it does have to be forced. The French, on the other hand, lap it up with gusto, and they always have, both before and after their hideous revolution.

This general point is amply supported by empirical observations. For example, some Frenchmen may reject the idea of a supranational state governing their lives, but few would do so out of an intuitive opposition to big government, as Englishmen might. And I can’t quite imagine, hopefully, a British politician leading in the national polls, as François Hollande is in France at the moment, on the platform of wealthy people being hit with a marginal tax rate of greater than 100 percent.

He is actually proposing an income tax rate of 75 percent on revenues in excess of £800,000, but when you add to that the 15.5 percent of the French equivalent of National Insurance and their version of the mansion tax, the overall rate goes over 100 percent. Thus, say, successful entrepreneurs would have their income above £700-odd thousand confiscated, making one wonder if Hollande is Vince Cable in disguise. The salient difference is that Vince will never become top dog, fingers crossed, but François well may.

His opponent Sarkozy has won just plaudits for the speed with which he threw out two Muslim hatemongers. Well may we envy such decisiveness, but the point that shouldn’t escape us is that Sarko acted in such a fashion because he had the power to do so. As we applaud the good things that can come out of such empowerment, we shouldn’t forget the bad things that can come out of it as well. Mussolini made the trains run on time, but he also had gallons of castor oil poured down the throats of his opponents.

The word ‘statism’ sticks in the craw of the British, especially those of a conservative disposition, the way the word étatisme doesn’t in France. That’s why, much as we may be close culturally, politically we’re still miles apart. Or kilometres, if you’d rather. Richard Descoings, RIP.

Let’s remind ourselves yet again what the police are for

Policemen are there to catch a criminal after he commits a crime or, better still, to prevent a crime before it’s committed. What they do matters considerably more than how they do it, though, as the case of George Asare highlights, how they do it may sometimes take on an inordinate significance.

The papers describe Asare as a 25-year-old university graduate, though they don’t specify what he read at university. Presumably it wasn’t knife-wielding, though, considering the kind of courses now available at our institutions of higher learning, I wouldn’t be unduly surprised if it were. One way or the other, he has somehow acquired the requisite expertise in this discipline.

This Mr Asare demonstrated on 19 February, when he first tried to break into someone’s car and then kept the summoned PCs at bay with ‘a large bladed weapon’, one of several knives he allegedly had on him. Our police being unarmed, something about which the British are ill-advisedly sanctimonious, the constables had to retreat and call for armed support. Luckily, this time the support arrived before anyone was slashed or stabbed to death.

Armed officers then shot Asare four times with live rounds. They also hit him with a 50,000-volt Taser gun. If, as they claim, they had used the Taser before firing real bullets, then perhaps the efficacy of this weapon needs to be reviewed. If, however, as some witnesses and Asare’s parents claim, the Taser was fired when the knifeman lay wounded on the ground, then it may have been a bit of an overkill – or at least that’s what some papers are claiming.

The assumption is that the four rounds that hit Asare rendered him helpless. That isn’t always the case. Some assailants may be adrenalised enough to present a danger even after they are shot with fatal consequences. That’s why people who know about guns differentiate between killing power and stopping power. A .22 calibre bullet, for example, may eventually kill a man, but it may not stop him from wreaking untold damage before he dies.

I don’t know from what range the police marksmen shot Asare, or what weapons they used. The range was probably quite close, for he didn’t have any firearms with which to keep the police at a great distance. If that’s so, then the four rounds that hit Asare’s abdomen, leg, groin and hand, were clearly low-velocity and small-calibre, and they weren’t fired with intent to kill. Had it been otherwise, Asare would now be dead, rather than undergoing treatment in the psychiatric ward of the Bethlem Royal Hospital in Bromley. It’s also conceivable that he hadn’t been rendered safe, and the police felt that some Taser treatment was called for to protect them from the ‘large bladed weapon.’

I find it hard to believe that trained police officers were so psychotically enraged as to Taser a helpless man as he was writhing in a puddle of his own blood. Had they done so, it’s they and not just Asare who ought to be undergoing psychiatric treatment. They aren’t and he is, so perhaps we should keep things in perspective.

The perspective of Asare’s parents is rather narrow, if hardly unfamiliar. His mother, Elizabeth Benin, said, ‘Why wasn’t there a stand-off? I want to know why the police did not try to talk to George.’

I can try to answer this question by suggesting that Miss Benin herself try to talk nicely to a knife-waving madman. I once tried to do so, many years ago, and I still have a scar to prove it. (On the plus side, the scar acts as a weather service that’s rather more reliable in predicting precipitation than any meteorologist I know.) Moreover, I’m sure that, before blasting off, the police must have told her son to drop his weapons. That’s about the extent of the chitchat one expects under such circumstances – PCs don’t like being stabbed any more than the rest of us.

‘George is… a good person but he was not well, I don’t understand why they had to shoot him. I just thank God that he was not killed.’ So do I. And neither do I question that, in his lucid moments, Asare is a good person. The trouble was that the police were summoned when he wasn’t in one of his lucid moments, as proved by the ‘large bladed weapon’ he was wielding in a threatening manner. The weapon, incidentally, wasn’t something he grabbed unthinkingly: the action took place in the street, and some aforethought had to be involved.

The armed officers will undergo an internal police investigation to determine whether or not they followed proper procedure. I strongly suspect they did – and just as strongly that the left-of-centre newspapers and likeminded pressure groups will claim they didn’t. After all, according to them, our police officers are all sadistic, racist and homophobic thugs looking for innocent victims to brutalise.

All I can suggest is that, when next time those chaps are facing a crazed knifeman, they call a social worker. That’ll enable them to learn the literal, rather than figurative, meaning of a bleeding heart. Those of us who are less affected by liberal afflatus will call armed officers – and pray that they arrive in time.

Dave expects ‘some strong words’ on homosexual marriage. Here are a few.

By inclination, training and philosophy, Dave is a PR flak. So it’s only natural that he should apply the techniques of marketing communications to his current job – the poor lad doesn’t really know any better.

When planning a campaign, a PR executive thinks in terms of a balance between depth and breadth. The former is maintaining the brand’s appeal to its core supporters; the latter, expanding the market beyond that group. Striking the right balance is a fine art: the more you please the core group, the more you risk alienating the broad market – and vice versa.

Lately Dave must have been sensing – and his innermost feelings are usually shaped by the findings of focus-group research – that his core support has been slipping. Not only do real conservatives reject most of his policies, but they are beginning to be disgusted by him personally. Policies can of course be changed, that’s what politics is all about, but the revulsion penetrating the viscera of his party may be there to last until the next election. Clearly, something has to be done to reverse this alarming trend.

Hence Dave’s attempt to strike a conciliatory tone in his meeting with church leaders. Dave knows that real conservatives, even if they are atheists, respect Christianity because they see it as one of the few adhesives strong enough to keep the nation together. Such conservatives are alarmed by what they correctly identify as a frontal assault on Christianity launched and maintained with the government’s tacit, or not so tacit, support. Something is clearly rotten in a land where a doctor wishing a colleague a peaceful Christmas may be censured for committing an act of aggression, or where wearing a tiny cross to work may be grounds for dismissal.

But Dave thinks that ‘there is something of a fightback going on’, and presumably his plans to introduce homosexual marriage are part of this laudable counteraction. A sensitive man, Dave realises that clergymen, or indeed any sane people, are unlikely to see this obscene insult to society’s fundamental institution as a measure promoting the cause of Christian rectitude or indeed social cohesion. A backlash is inevitable, but he hopes he and the sane people ‘won’t fall out too much over gay marriage’. If this is the best he can do to protest his inner goodness, then methinks the lad doth protest too little.

‘The values of the Bible, the values of Christianity are the values we need,’ he said, presumably provided these values don’t prevent Christianity from being ‘relevant to the agenda of the whole country’, as he put it back in December. And relevance has to mean knee-jerk hostility to everything Christianity stands for.

Dave’s understanding of what it is that Christianity stands for is even shallower than his understanding of England’s ancient constitution. In a separate Easter statement, he invoked the New Testament that according to him described Jesus ‘as a man of incomparable compassion, generosity, grace, humility and love.’ He is confusing the New Testament with Ernest Renan who in his The Life of Jesus extolled Jesus’s human qualities while mocking Christ’s divine essence.

Dave, or anyone else, doesn’t have to believe in Jesus’s divinity. Nor does he have to understand the fine points of the Incarnation, the Trinity and the dual nature of Christ, though some rudimentary awareness wouldn’t go amiss in the first minister of the Crown, whose realm is constituted in explicitly Christian terms. But one wishes he refrained from making vulgar and transparently political gestures that are more likely to appal than to appeal.

Such an adverse reaction will not be softened by Dave’s limp arguments in favour of homosexual marriage. His flagship policy, he claims, will “change what happens in a register office, not what happens in a church.” I hope we’re not being governed by a prime minister who sincerely believes any such nonsense.

Surely Dave must realise that the secularised church he sees in his mind’s eye, the one that worships Jesus’s fine human traits, can’t be immune to secular pressures. Isn’t that what ‘relevance’ is all about? The moment the first registrar officiates a homosexual marriage, and the first vicar refuses to do so, the vicar will be sued for discrimination faster than you can say ‘European Court of Human Rights’. After that, whoever is the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time will be bound to issue a statement to the effect that, lamentable though such developments are, the laws of the land have to take precedence.

In this the Church of England will probably follow, with appropriate changes, the fine example of the Mormons, whose leader Willford Woodruff in 1890 reluctantly banned polygamy, declaring that his ‘advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the land.’ Dave will be made aware of this history of compromise because by the time he pushes his policy through he may well be in regular contact with a Mormon president of the United States (God forbid).

Words won’t heal the rift that’s deepening between this government and those intuitive and historical Tory supporters who are beginning to consider their options, scarce as they are. Only deeds can do that, and Dave is giving no indications that his actions will ever follow any other than the ‘relevant’ course.

Half-saviour, half-shrink — the EU is all things to all men

The other day we found ourselves at a cramped Venetian restaurant, chatting to a fortyish woman from Milan, whom fate and waiters plonked at a table inches away from ours. Witty, vivacious and multilingual, she had that insouciant elegance that well-heeled Italian and French women seem to acquire with their mothers’ milk. And she made sense on every subject we touched upon – until the EU came up.

‘We need it,’ explained Francesca, ‘because our own government is too corrupt.’ I knew better than to demur. For arguing against the EU isn’t like taking issue with a rational proposition. It’s more in the nature of trying to convince a believer that God doesn’t exist. In a godless Europe, the EU has become a Christ surrogate, and it’s supposed to save us from our own sins.

The Germans don’t want to be German, but the French do. The former hope the EU will save them from their perennial urge to attack France and other neighbours. The latter count on the EU to save them from their diminished status in the world. The Eastern Europeans want the EU to save them from the legacy of their communist past, poverty being the aspect that upsets them most. The British expect the EU to save them from their own government. And, as Francesca explained, the Italians pray to the EU to save them from corruption.

Capitalising on such cravings, the federastic bureaucrats in all countries have realised that their best chance lies in elevating the EU to the perch that religion used to occupy for almost 2,000 years but has since vacated. The trick has worked for Darwinism, taught in our schools not as the half-baked theory that it is, but as Gospel truth. It has worked for global warming and its turbine offshoots – never has so much been spent by so few on so little scientific evidence. It has worked for the NHS, easily the worst possible way of financing medicine.

None of these abominations would survive 10 minutes of intelligent, well-informed debate. That’s why they have been raised to a height where debate can’t reach them. In that rarefied atmosphere people subsist on irrational beliefs and vague longings, not on reason. Unlike real believers in real God, they breathe in secular faith and exhale toxic gibberish. Before long, those who think the way I do will be described not as ‘sceptics’ but as ‘infidels’ or ‘heretics’. And those who advocate leaving the EU won’t be known as realists or patriots any longer. They’ll be apostates.

The EU is like a religion then, but this simile can only go so far. After all, the adherents don’t expect their deity to expiate their sins by dying on the cross. On the contrary, against all available evidence they claim it’ll live eternally, just like God but without the intervening nuisance of death and resurrection.

Emulating all the most pernicious secular creeds of modernity, the EU steals the rightful property of religion, perverts it and uses it for its own nefarious purposes. It’s like the Enlighteners who preached what sounded like Christian brotherhood, but was in fact martial law and mass murder. Or like the Bolsheviks who plundered church valuables and used the proceeds to make themselves strong enough to enslave their own populace and eventually, they hoped, the rest of the world.

So perhaps it would be more accurate to say that all those Europeans who seek salvation from themselves come to the EU not as a sinner begging forgiveness from God, but as a friendless, neurotic yuppie going to his psychoanalyst – or even as a drug addict seeking psychiatric help because he supposedly can’t help shooting up heroin. In that sense, the EU has been turned into a giant methadone clinic, and it acts accordingly by treating like with like, the way a psychiatrist gives an addict small doses of opiates to prevent him from killing himself with large ones.

The Germans get a dose of EU to settle for buying up their neighbours, rather than brutalising them. The French are injected with the hope of playing second fiddle to Germany rather than beating the drums in the back row. The Italians are shot up with a new kind of corruption to help them overcome their addiction to the old kind. The Eastern Europeans are weaned off one type of tyranny and onto another, which they hope will be milder.

That leaves us. Which addictions do we expect the EU to cure for us? The one to just laws and accountable governments? But our own self-treatment has been doing the job reasonably well. The one to ‘social justice’, otherwise known as rampant statism? If so, that treatment doesn’t seem to be efficacious. The one to political independence? Yes, that must be it – the therapy is working so well that it proves the diagnosis. So it’s only fair that we should continue to pay our EU contributions: after all, patients do pay their shrinks’ fees in the hope of buying themselves some peace of mind.

‘I am made all things to all men,’ said St Paul (I Corinthians 9: 22). Replace ‘I am’ with ‘the EU is’, and you’ll grasp the true meaning of political vulgarity; you’ll perceive the depth of the hole we’ve dug for ourselves. And what’s worse, we keep on digging.

Let’s hear it for good, old-fashioned corruption

Years ago, when no one had yet heard of Maastricht, a professor of political science took exception to my professed admiration of Italy. ‘How can you like it so much, Alex?’ he asked. ‘It has the most corrupt government in Europe.’ ‘That’s partly why,’ I said, prompting my friend to suggest that I sometimes let my propensity for paradoxes get the better of me.

In fact, I was merely trying to draw his attention to an important distinction between what I call peripheral and fundamental corruption. The former is what my friend meant: a politician helping himself to a few bob here and there, or perhaps trading his political favours for the fiscal or carnal kind. The latter is corrupting, and thereby undermining, the very nature of government or, even broader and deadlier, the essence of Western civilisation.

That distinction was lost upon my friend who, truth be told, isn’t known for nuanced thinking. More important, it’s lost upon those who form public opinion and, consequently, upon the public whose opinion they form. Yet the distinction is critical.

Those of us who believe in original sin usually have modest, or shall we say realistic, expectations of human nature. Clearly, a few politicians, out of the thousands who find themselves in positions of power, will use such positions for personal gain, be that self-enrichment or a brisker sex life or both. To think otherwise would be too idealistic to be clever, even though one shouldn’t of course condone such behaviour. True enough, politicians who speak Romance languages tend to be peripherally corrupt in greater numbers than those whose languages have a more Germanic lilt. But that’s only a difference of degree.

And those of us who look at the world from the historical perspective like to compare two politicians of yesteryear, Maximilian Robespierre and his British contemporary Edmund Burke. Robespierre’s personal probity was of such sterling standards that, when still a local politician in his native Arras, he acquired the soubriquet ‘Incorruptible’. He then went on to become one of the most hideous mass murderers in history but, on the plus side, he still wouldn’t take bribes. Moreover, he and his accomplices delivered a great civilisation a blow from which it still hasn’t recovered, and nor is it showing any signs of recovery. Using my terminology, Robespierre was corrupt not peripherally but fundamentally.

By contrast, Burke’s finances probably wouldn’t stand up to the exacting scrutiny we like to apply today. If these days we throw up our arms in horror when an MP takes money from a private donor to raise a question in the Commons, for Burke and his contemporaries that sort of horse-trading was par for the course. And yet Burke went down in history as one of its greatest political thinkers and one of Britain’s most remarkable politicians.

Writing before the Great Terror was unleashed by the ‘Incorruptible’ and his gang, Burke exposed the revolution for the giant crime against humanity that it was, and accurately predicted the massacres. The great Whig went on to formulate the blueprint of political thought by which conservatives still live. And in his own political career, Burke battled courageously against every outrage that undermined the realm, every perpetrator of misdeeds he correctly saw as striking a blow against English polity. The upshot is that we may argue whether or not Burke was corrupt peripherally. But his fundamental integrity is beyond doubt, and that’s what really matters.

That brings me, as you knew it would, to today’s politicians in Britain and elsewhere. In assessing them we often can’t see the wood of fundamental corruption for the trees of the peripheral kind. For example, we are up in arms when we find out that a narrow-minded wide boy charged assorted wheeler-dealers £250,000 for the privilege of having lunch with Dave. (I would conceivably agree to be paid that amount to break bread with Dave, though I wouldn’t respect myself in the morning. How anyone would actually pay for it is beyond my comprehension.) We remark, correctly, that the practice is questionable, if not downright sleazy. We then extrapolate to suggest that Dave and his friends themselves are questionable, if not downright sleazy. They probably are. But I wish that were all they are.

Today’s spivocrats may or may not be peripherally corrupt. They may or may not take backhanders. They may or may not skim off the public treasury. Even in the worst possible scenario, that would be like a murderer getting a parking ticket while dismembering his victim. What matters is that the whole political class (if not yet every politician within it) is these days corrupt fundamentally – not just in Britain but throughout the Western world.

Everything they do, be that domestically or, increasingly these days, internationally, is aimed at growing and perpetuating their own power. In practical terms, that means destroying every obstacle in the way of that objective. And the greatest obstacle of all is Western political tradition and, more generally, our whole civilisation.

That’s why our own spivocrats join forces with their EU colleagues to obliterate the very notion of a nation state accountable to its people. That’s why they undermine England’s ancient constitution in every possible way, using attritional, yet irreversible, pinpricks here and there, such as degrading the upper house or submitting British subjects to dubious foreign laws. That’s why they create, as their electoral base, a huge class of quango or welfare freeloaders dependent on the spivocrats for their livelihood. And that’s why they seek to dismantle the Judaeo-Christian foundations of our civilisation, correctly surmising that, once the foundations are taken apart, the walls won’t stand.

Oh, if only they concentrated on taking bribes or pilfering the public treasury or chasing interns. Just think how much less damage they’d do then. Let me tell you, corruption just isn’t what it used to be.

And I thought our justice was colour-blind

Liam Stacy, a 21-year-old student, has been sentenced to 56 days in prison for racism. In other words, he has been punished more severely than most burglars, who, if you divided their sentences by the number of crimes they have committed, serve much less time per transgression. There is also another difference between burglary and racism, or should be as far as justice is concerned. The former is easy to define; the latter isn’t.

Let me remind you of the facts. A week ago the Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch. His heart stopped for 78 minutes, and only the timely and expert intervention by medics of the two teams involved saved his life. Though still in intensive care, he’s gettting better, thank God, to the joy of everyone who hates to see a young man struck down in his prime.

Stacey’s immediate reaction to the tragic incident was to get drunk and post an obscene message on Twitter, ending with the words, ‘He’s dead. HaHa.’ When Muamba’s friends, most of them black, took issue with the posting, Stacy responded with vile racial invective.

Louise Barron, acting for the prosecution, waxed indignant: ‘The recipients were disgusted.’ As well they should have been. I know exactly how they felt for I too find quite a few things disgusting.

I’m disgusted every time I see a picture of Tony Blair or Dave Cameron. I’m disgusted at the sight of architectural monstrosities disfiguring our cities. I’m disgusted whenever MEPs, 30 percent of whom used to belong to assorted communist parties, pass laws we have to obey. I’m disgusted when Maxim Vengerov, a tasteless vulgarian, is described in the Daily Telegraph as ‘the best violinist of all time’. And nothing disgusts me more than other reviewers talking about female pianists, such as Yuja Wang, in the terms normally reserved for describing pole dancers (not that she is artistically superior to pole dancers).

Yet whenever I feel that way I tell myself to grin and bear it. Much as I’d like to see those who offend me in jail, I know I won’t because their acts, though in my view reprehensible, aren’t illegal. There is, or ought to be, a difference between causing offence and committing a criminal offence. Stacy is surely a revolting excuse for a human being. But that by itself doesn’t make him a criminal. What does then?

The definition of racism, or racialism, as it should be properly called by those who haven’t succumbed to American usage, is too vague to be enshrined in British law. In this country people traditionally haven’t been criminalised for what they think, feel or say — provided that what they say doesn’t constitute incitement to commit the sort of crimes that are covered by the Decalogue, and I don’t mean those of the misdemeanour variety. No press coverage I’ve seen suggests that Stacy’s rants fell into that category. Neither District Judge John Charles nor the prosecutor claimed they did. So what did they claim?

In his concluding remarks Judge Charles said, ‘At the moment not just the footballer’s family…, but the whole world were literally praying for his life, your comments aggravated the situation. I have no choice but to impose an immediate custodial sentence to reflect the public outrage at what you’ve done.’

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Stacy’s comments ‘aggravated the situation’ — how? For whom? They didn’t diminish Muamba’s chances of survival, for I doubt he has access to the media in his intensive care unit. So whose situation was aggravated? That of the outraged public? But if so, one doubts that any permanent damage has been done: the public will have forgotten the whole incident in a week or two. It always does. One has to come to a conclusion that would have been unthinkable in this country even a few decades ago, never mind centuries: the judge ‘had no choice’ but to pass his verdict in response to ‘the public outrage’ of ‘the whole world’. For ‘the whole world’ (surely a bit of an exaggeration, Your Honour?) and the judge both worship at the altar of political correctness where the EU is high priest.

What has happened to the British? A nation hugely admired by all for its dignified self-restraint has turned into a mob easily given to mass hysteria expertly whipped up by TV and other irresponsible conduits of PC incitement. It started with the Goddess-Princess (‘People’s Princess’, in Blair’s asinine but politically effective term), when she still lay dead oozing ichor on the grimy Paris tarmac. It went on with various pop celebrities, such as Amy Winehouse, who was, nil nisi bonum and all that, truly hideous. Fluffy teddybears, oceans of flowers and, in Amy’s case, bottles of the beverage that did her in acted in the capacity of sacrificial lambs dragged to the altar of emotional incontinence and rotten taste. And now it’s Muamba, who is still alive and, God willing, will stay that way.

There is a difference between sentiment and sentimentality, and as a rule they are mutually exclusive. The mourning sickness of the mob doesn’t spring from any true trauma or any genuine grief. It’s a manufactured rite of passage, a statement of belonging to the High Order of Modernity. Excessive outrage at ‘racism’ is the same sort of thing. But surely, regardless of popular outbursts, our justice system outght to be dispassionate and objective?

And so it would be — if it were indeed our justice system. If it had indeed evolved out of the millennium of British legal tradition rather than representing the dictatorial urges of EU federasts wishing to put their foot down every which way they can. Creating bogeymen out of ‘racists’, ‘mysoginists’ and ‘homophobes’ is a proven trick, guaranteed to work with our brainwashed masses.

Hating people for something they can’t help, such as the colour of their skin, is truly revolting. And being drunk is no excuse — booze only opens the floodgates for the putrid emanations of something that’s already there. But if such hatred isn’t expressed as incitement to violence, it must not be criminalised in a free country. You know, the kind Britain used to be.

 

 

 

Call yourself British? Stop.

Britishness can’t be defined in strictly genetic terms (good job too, as far as I’m concerned). The concept is inseparable from the country’s unique system of justice that has evolved over at least eight centuries to mould the British character and be in turn moulded by it.

England is one of the few countries that have historically realised the ancient Roman principle protectio trahit subjectionem et subjectio protectionem (protection begets allegiance, and alllegiance begets protection), and no other European country has realised it so fully and over such a long time. An Englishman has his iron-clad rights (not to be confused with nebulous ‘human rights’), and he’s entitled to the protection of the crown for as long as he remains loyal to it.

Perhaps the most important of these rights is the inviolability of an Englishman’s person — he is protected from unlawful arrest and incarceration more securely than most other Europeans. This applies universally: not only does the Crown extend its protection domestically, but it has always been committed to looking after British subjects travelling abroad.

In practical terms, this commitment took the shape of cannon boats, sailing into foreign harbours and levelling their main calibre at the cities where Englishmen had been abused. Amazingly, such demonstrations went a long way towards foreign lands hastily admitting the error of their legal ways, and who says they can’t learn. There was also a strong preventive effect: when a British subject was once arrested in Turkey in the late 19th century, he was released with profuse apologies the moment his captors realised he was indeed British. One just didn’t mess with the British Empire in those days.

As I mentioned earlier, this unwavering devotion to protective justice has become an essential part of the British national character. If you agree with this, then logically you’ll also have to accept that this character is bound to become less British once such safeguards have been removed. As they have been in the EU.

Any British subject these days can be subject to the European Arrest Warrant (EAW). That means the British government has to extradict any citizen wanted in, say, such known bastions of legality as Rumania or Greece on a charge that doesn’t meet the legal requirements that our own CPS has to follow. Specifically, the EAW has no requirement for prima facie evidence, without which no magistrate in Britain would ever issue an arrest warrant.

Once an EAW arrives at these shores, the British government is helpless to protect a British subject. All HMG can do is make sure that all the forms are filled in correctly and the name of the accused isn’t misspelled. If such minimum conditions are met, off he goes — in all likelihoood to face months in a rat-infested hellhole of a prison in a country that thinks habeas corpus is some sort of Roman temple.

That’s what happened to Andrew Symeou, a 22-year-old visitor to Greece, arrested in 2009 for a crime he didn’t commit. His two friends were beaten up by Greek policemen and forced to sign accusatory statements written in a language they didn’t understand. Symeou then spent a year in a hellish cell he shared with murderers and rapists, where his most elementary rights were abused every day. Protests, both by him and his government, fell on deaf ears. Greece could not possibly have violated anybody’s rights, HMG was reassured, because she had signed the 1998 Human Rights Act. Oh well, that’s all right then.

When Symeou’s case eventually went to trial four years later, even the prosecution demanded that he be acquitted. So justice was done in the end. Except that it wasn’t British justice that has historically tended not to destroy a young man’s life on flimsy or nonexistent evidence.

This is far from an isolated case. Other British travellers (for instance, Ben Herdman, 20, again in Greece) have been falsely accused and held for months in countries that don’t know what habeas corpus is. As France, where I spend several months a year, is one of those countries, you’ll know what has happened if you don’t hear from me for a few months. In all likelihood I’ll be arrested for expressing anti-EU sentiments, which will be a crime soon, if it isn’t already.

The EAW isn’t the only outrage that HMG has allowed the EU to inflict upon loyal British subjects. In fact, 84 percent of our laws now come from Brussels, and these have put in place such abominations as rules governing fines and freezing of assets, the European Investigation Order, to which our coalition government chose to ‘opt in’ as one of its first acts, and numerous other instruments of legal torture our own spivocrats have placed into the hands of their continental colleagues.

The astounding thing is the unity displayed in such matters by our three main parties, which after all are supposed to represent different sections of the British electorate and different political philosophies. But they don’t bother their pretty stupid heads about such matters: they are all solely motivated by power, and thus any accountability to the people is anathema to them. In that sense, the EU is a godsend for those spivs: while still in office, they can bypass the people who have put them there; and when finally kicked out, they’ll find a nice little earner in Brussels or Strasbourg.

The UKIP is the only party that consistently opposes the gestation of a European police state with its burgeoning sway over British subjects — and, if every poll I’ve seen is to be believed, it’s the only party that reflects the consensus of our population on this subject. But the UKIP will never form a government; single-issue parties just don’t. Its best hope is to syphon off enough votes from the Tory spivocrats to hurt them in the only area they care about: self-interest. Godspeed to the UKIP in this, though the harsh realities of life have taught me to be pessimistic.

Meanwhile, perhaps it would be a good idea if we stopped calling ourselves British. Nations can’t be deprived of their formative characteristic and expect to remain intact. Frenchmen wouldn’t be French without their cheese and wine. Italians wouldn’t be Italian without their opera and pasta. Germans wouldn’t be German without their music and household appliances. And the British wouldn’t be British if deprived of the greatest gift the country has given to the world: just and equitable government.

 

 

Ed Miliband and the hand that feeds him

On a purely personal level, one can understand Ed Milband’s reluctance to condemn the impending strike of petrol-tanker drivers. After all, their union, Unite, is the biggest paymaster of the Labour party in general and Ed’s election campaign in particular. Under such circumstances, expecting from him a ringing denunciation of the proposed action would be presuming too much on human goodness.

And nor can a realist expect that any politician, regardless of his party affiliation, would these days act  out of anything other than personal interest, narrowly defined as hanging on to power. In this case, of course, Ed’s ideological DNA comes into play as well — socialists of any hue, and Ed’s is among the reddest, feel about industrial action the way conservatives feel about tax cuts: as something to be welcomed ipso facto, regardless of any attendant considerations.

Never mind that the proposed strike could well paralyse the country at her time of great need, mostly punishing those same ordinary folk in whose name Labour seeks power. It’s not for nothing that Labourites sing the Internationale at their party conferences and wave their red flags. They live by the old Leninist maxim: the worse, the better. The worse off the country will be during and following the disruption, the more troubled the waters in which assorted lefties can fish.

It has to be said that not all strikes have this desired effect. For example, when Belgian doctors went on strike in 1964, the results were astonishing. In the six months that they stayed off, the mortality rate in the country registered a statistically significant drop, prompting the Serbian philosopher Ivan Illich to opine that most diseases are iatrogenic, that is, caused by doctors.

That example aside, and I wouldn’t want to be the one to put Illich’s theory to another test, there is a strong argument that strikes by vital public services — policemen, firemen, doctors, ambulance paramedics and so forth — ought to be banned. One can suggest that also included in this category should be a strike that may make the vehicles driven by those people run out of fuel. This argument lies on the surface.

However, if we were to delve a bit deeper, we might well ponder the very institution of labour unions. This is not to deny that during the Industrial Revolution trade unionism had a useful role to play. As millions of workers were routinely used to perform mechanical tasks requiring little skill, each individual worker had next to no bargaining power. They were all easily and instantly replaceable. That handed inordinate power to the employers, and, in a free society, any inordinate power must be checked. Hence trade unionism, which in those days performed the truly conservative function of securing individual liberties (the methods employed by the unions weren’t always conservative, but that’s a different story).

Things have changed though — enough for us to know that, as labour becomes more and more qualified, labour unions become more and more redundant. For example, university professors can under no circumstance be regarded as merely faceless cogs in a giant machine, and yet they too have their own union. If someone is among the few people in His Creation who understand quantum mechanics, the theory of relativity and how they just might be at odds, then surely such an overachiever (don’t you just hate them?) ought to be able to negotiate his own pay deal? The same can be said about most people who are gainfully employed, whose relative number is diminishing in proportion to the growth of union power.

In our post-industrial age, labour unions are an anachronism, there to remind us that, like death and taxes, modernity never relinquishes what it claims. Gone are the industrial conditions that brought unions to life, and their claim to existence is becoming ever more fraudulent. When an instituiton finds itself in such a situation, it has to justify its own existence at all costs. After all, why should union leaders be any different from the spivocrats who govern us? They too want to cling on to power, and their ability to do so depends on their potential for stirring up trouble, the more disabling the better.

Though I’m not an unequivocal admirer of Margaret Thatcher, she understood all that, which is why she faced up to the unions with her usual firmness. Many people assumed then that the ubiquitous, malevolent presence of the unions in Britain’s life was thus a thing of the past. Little did they realise that all the unions had suffered was a temporary setback. They are back in force now, having rebuilt their semi-atrophied muscle. And the salient difference is that today’s spivocrats are no Lady Thatcher.

Meanwhile, it’s 2000 all over again, and whoever sells jerrycans must be doing brisk business. Well, it’s good to know that there’s one business sector that stands to benefit from the strike. The rest of us must train to be able to walk long distances. It’s good for you.

 

 

Moscow on the Thames

In 2006 Paul Khlebnikov, the American editor of the Russian edition of Forbes, was killed in the centre of Moscow. The Russian police immediately spread rumours that the journalist had fallen victim to a jealous husband. The story didn’t quite ring true, considering that the drive-by murder involved two submachine guns. Even assuming that two wronged husbands had got together, one still doubts they would have chosen submachine guns to exact their revenge. Automatic weapons are hard to come by even in Russia, and it takes some training to know how to use them.

Whoever put a short burst into the torso of the Russian exile Gherman Gorbuntsov in the Isle of Dogs yesterday was clearly a competent man. The same adjective could be applied to our police who, unlike their Russian colleagues in the Khlebnikov case, instantly stated that they were treating the case as attempted murder. And there we were, thinking it ought to be treated as a tax-disk violation.

One has to say that, by the standards of the Russian finance industry, the ex-banker Gorbuntsov had it coming. After all, he broke the laws governing that and other businesses in Russia by ratting on his ex-partners who had allegedly been involved in a gun attack on another banker, Alexander Antonov. As a result of Gorbuntsov’s transgression against the Russian answer to omerta, the case against his colleagues was reopened. Clearly, a submachine gun was the only possible response. Wouldn’t our own pinstriped City folk do the same thing?

Not by way of countenancing the attempted murder, one has to say that Mr Gorbuntsov himself can hardly be confused with your average altar boy. Before becoming a ‘businessman’ he had served some prison time in Russia. Though the papers don’t specify his offence, I have this inner voice that tells me it wasn’t dissent against human-rights violations.

Gorbuntsov is clearly part of the unholy alliance between the KGB and the criminal underworld that has been running Russia since the ‘collapse of communism’. Wise to the ways of his country’s business life, after having given his testimony against the other bankers Gorbuntsov escaped to London, shedding billions along the way. ‘Had I stayed in Moscow, they would have killed me,’ he told his friends.

Alas, little did he know that London is becoming an extension of Moscow, and what our papers insist on describing as ‘business disagreements’ can be settled here just as easily as in the Russian capital. The manner of settlement can sometimes involve our courts, currently featuring the protracted litigation between Berezovsky and Abramovich, and about to feature another one, starring Lord Mandelson’s best friend and sometime host Deripaska.

Barring that, it is radioactive substances that may act in the role of judge, jury and executioner. Or else the more traditional submachine gun can see the light of day. One wonders how long before Russian businessmen, bankers and entrepreneurs turn London into the Chicago of the prohibition era, with law-abiding Englishmen scampering about, trying to evade the hail of bullets unleashed by parties to a business dispute.

Lest you might get the impression that the Russians discriminate against their own land by exporting their fun and games to England, rest assured: they keep enough back. Several cases have caught my eye in the last few days.

On March 17, an off-duty sergeant in the Moscow police was touched by the fender of a car driven by a man who clearly hadn’t mastered the art of parking (which isn’t surprising, considering that a bribe is the only qualification required for obtaining a driving licence in Moscow). After a heated argument involving the two men and their wives, the policeman pulled out a gun and killed the hapless driver where he stood. Suddenly one begins to look at our own traffic wardens in a new light.

Two days ago, two Daghestanis were arrested in Moscow and charged with four homophobic murders. Apparently, their victims had been tied up, gagged, beaten and strangled. As a nice touch, they had also been raped, suggesting that, unlike our own yobs, the Daghestanis express their homophobia in ways that are not only hair-raising but also somewhat illogical.

Another interesting case occurred in Kazan, the capital of the federal republic of Tatarstan. There a man with a bit of previous was wrongly accused of stealing a mobile phone. In trying to get him to confess to that heinous crime, the policemen raped him with a champagne bottle, kept in the station specifically for that purpose. The victim died of internal injuries as a result, and this has turned out to be only one of many identical cases. In each, the murderous policemen were ethnic Tatars and their victims ethnic Russians, which should teach the EU that federalism isn’t without its pitfalls.

The reports didn’t specify the brand of champagne, but I bet it was neither Krug nor Dom Perignon. In all likelihood it was the undrinkable Russian variety, which for some unfathomable reason the Russians are allowed to call champagne. The Italians and Spaniards have to call their Astis, Proseccos and Cavas ‘sparkling wine’, but the Russians seem to be above such restrictions.

I too use a full bottle of the Russian stuff for purposes it wasn’t designed for. Having been given it some 15 years ago, I’ve been using the bottle ever since to pound meat, on the wrong assumption that this is all it’s good for.

I do apologise for my levity in commenting on these events. A way of preserving my own sanity, I suppose. And yours, come to think of it. One thing for sure — in Russia neither their business life nor their law enforcement is quite like ours. I hope we keep it that way.

 

 

 

We can knock the energy weapon out of the blackmailers’ hands

That energy can act as a weapon, especially of the blackmail variety, is a matter of historical fact. For example, when in 1940 the Soviets, having suffered a million casualties, finally managed to make headway in their war of aggression against Finland, they were ready to occupy the country. That courageous nation was about to become enslaved, suffering the fate of her Baltic neighbours Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

However, HMG let the Soviets know that it would be so upset by such an outcome that it would vent its displeasure by bombing the Baku oil fields, at that time the principal source of oil in the Soviet Union. Thanks to that, Finland didn’t have to wait another 50 years to ensure her independence — oil was too valuable a chip for the Soviets to gamble with.

It has since been disclosed that Stalin’s plans to preempt Hitler’s attack involved a massive raid on the Ploesti oil fields in Rumania whence most of Germany’s hydrocarbons came. Some historians argue, convincingly, that it was precisely this threat that left Hitler no option but to preempt the preemptor by striking first, thus accepting a hopeless two-front war.

However, the Nazis still had a sporting chance of knocking Russia out of the war. All they had to do was take Moscow before the onset of cold weather, thereby hoping to make the Russians sue for peace. However, against his generals’ advice, Hitler rerouted much of his force southwards, away from Moscow. For the south was where Baku was, which is to say oil. That lack of strategic focus allowed the Soviets to regroup and stop the Germans at Moscow. Then it was but a matter of time.

After the war the demand for oil didn’t diminish, and neither did its aggressive potential. The Soviet Union was kept together, in addition to brute force, by the standing threat of shutting off the oil taps should the constituent republics become recalcitrant, a threat Russia still relies upon whenever the spirit moves her. Russia’s Arab clients too learned the trick of using oil for nefarious purposes — until most of them became so wealthy that they could stop being her clients.

With much of the world’s energy in the hands of powers congenitally hostile to the West, what could the West do to counter the threat? No Western government has the fortitude displayed by HMG in 1940, and, in a nuclear age, such an aggressive stance would be ill-advised anyway. But the nuclear age can produce not only bombs but also power stations, and this showed the way for the West to become less susceptible to energy blackmail.

Predictably, the Soviets whipped up a worldwide anti-nuke campaign, spearheaded in Britain by the CND, that training ground for the extreme left, otherwise known as today’s Labour back benches. Scary umbrellas were drawn above pictures of nuclear power stations, displaying that commitment to factual truth for which lefties are so justly known. Every child, unless he is comprehensively educated, knows that the uranium used to produce electricity isn’t purified to weapon standards and therefore can’t explode into the umbrella so dear to Tony Blair’s heart at the time. But never mind — repeat a lie often enough, and some will believe it.

Few people noticed at the time that, for example, while the ruling Communist party of East Germany was having nuclear power stations built all over the country, its West German agents were vigorously campaigning against such a development on the other side. The French, who are often able to separate their despicable politics from their commendable common sense, listened to the demonstrators, nodded and then proceeded to build enough nuclear stations to produce enough electricity to supply 85 percent of the country’s needs — and sell the surplus to Britain, where Jack Straw, Tony Blair and their comrades had done anti-nuke subversion more effectively.

Finally, we are waking up to the strategic significance of energy, and more nuclear power stations will be built — at a time when their cost is higher by orders of magnitude than it would have been when Tony still had long hair. People are finally realising that nuclear energy is the only effective alternative to hydrocarbons, even though wind turbines do have a potential, as demonstrated by the one that caught fire in Scotland a few months ago, thus providing an instant source of light and heat.

Not only is nuclear energy effective, it’s also safe by comparison to any other effective source. People brainwashed by anti-nuke propaganda routinely refer to Three-Mile Island or Fukushima as ‘disasters’ or ‘calamities’, making one wonder what terms they’d use for accidents in which people actually got killed. Conveniently forgotten is the fact that, over 60 years of nuclear power in the West, not a single life has been lost to an accident (those killed at Fukushima lost their lives to the tsunami, not the meltdown). The only accident in which many died was Chernobyl, which only goes to show that nuclear power can indeed become unsafe in the hands of a technologically backward nation.

Neither oil, with its capsizing platforms and exploding pipelines, nor coal, with its mine explosions and black lung, can boast the same safety record. Blank lung, for example, annually kills about 1,500 miners in the USA alone, and yet one doesn’t see too many demonstrations outside the pits.

Nor are the doomsday predictions of oil running out coming true. The estimates, mostly from advocates of putting flowers into our petrol tanks, are constantly upgraded: 30 years ago the oil wells were supposed to run dry in 20 years, now it’s 40, 50 or whatever figure those flower children can pluck out of the air. And yet new possibilities are opening up all the time. High oil prices, combined with technological advances, have made new exploration viable. Deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has become an attractive proposition, as has the tapping of shale gas and Canada’s oil sands. North America will be able to double its energy output in the next few years, thus disarming the energy blackmailers.

As with any strategic threat, that of energy blackmail has to be dealt with resolutely and intelligently. The first step is to realise that the threat indeed exists, and there are signs that Western governments are waking up to it. That’s the intelligence part taken care of. Now comes the resolve part, whatever’s left from politicking and getting into the US president’s bed (I’m not implying any sexual impropriety, as I hope you understand). That’s the real challenge.