Holland’s threat to Britain

Labour treasurer Diana Holland has supported the TUC decision to call a general strike, the first one since 1926. This is a good time for a call to disband the unions.

Trade unions first appeared during the Industrial Revolution, and at that time they had a useful role to play. New-fangled assembly lines reduced many workers to performing elementary mechanical tasks for which little qualification was required. That essentially made them interchangeable and dispensable, tipping the balance of negotiating power too much in favour of employers.

Collective bargaining was therefore an essential check, a tool for maintaining a fair equilibrium in the workplace. Hence the unions, with their ability to organise workers into a cohesive force able to use strikes as a way of ensuring equitable pay, decent working conditions, sick pay, retirement benefits and so forth.

However, it’s hard not to notice that things have changed since the 19th century. Unlike Queen Victoria, today’s princesses are photographed naked. Unlike Disraeli, today’s politicians neither write nor, one suspects, read books. Unlike those poor tots in workhouses, today’s children spend most of their time playing with prohibitively expensive toys. And, of immediate relevance, unlike those soot-faced chaps turning nuts on conveyor belts, most of today’s labour is highly qualified.

Individual qualifications obviate the need for collective security. Qualified labour holds a cosh over employers’ heads simply by virtue of being qualified and therefore hard to replace or bully. No sane boss would underpay, mistreat or arbitrarily sack a good employee for he’d know that finding a replacement may be expensive, time-consuming and generally counterproductive.

So what exactly are the unions for? These days? They are an out-and-out anachronism, one that ought to have been phased out in parallel with the social and industrial conditions of Victorian England.

Admittedly, there still may be a few occupations where workers are interchangeable, and there some limited presence of organised labour may be desirable. But surely teachers and university professors, to name one example, don’t fall into that category? And yet even our academics have their union, proving that they are justifiably reluctant to rely on their competence as the starting point of bargaining.

Organised labour no longer has a useful role to play, which allows it to concentrate on increasing its own wealth and might. This gives inordinate power to the unions or, to be more precise, to their leaders. Not only can those chaps make the Labour party do their bidding, but they can blackmail the whole country into… what exactly? What is it that they actually want? Apart from ruling the roost?

According to a Labour source, ‘Both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls made that view very clear this week. What is vital is that the government changes course on its disastrous economic plan, which is creating huge anger across the country.’ Now, since 80 percent of Labour’s funding comes from the unions, the Eds’ views will not contradict those of the TUC. So both Labour and its paymasters want the government to stop even token cuts in public spending and revert to adding to our public debt, already over a trillion pounds. They want to solve the problem by making it worse.

In other words, not to cut too fine a point, they wish to destroy our economy and with it our liberties. For the only way for the state to keep up its suicidal policies, against fundamental economic principles and indeed common sense, is to assume total control of the economy, thus acquiring inordinate power over the individual. And since the modern state is circumscribed by the bureaucracy running it, in effect both Labour leaders and their puppet masters wish to exploit ‘huge anger across the country’ to acquire dictatorial powers.

Nothing new about that – the previous paragraph is socialism in a nutshell. Of course all three major parties are socialist nowadays but, at least at their grassroots, they aren’t socialist to the same degree. What the unions and Labour preach, and now threaten to practise, is pure, unadulterated Marxism.

In that connection, it’s useful to remember that ‘Red Ed’ Miliband acquired his nickname against the generally pink backdrop of Labour politics. He isn’t just ‘Red’ compared to Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, he’s ‘Red’ compared to Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

Ed is also refreshingly ignorant about economics, as demonstrated by his generous admission that he doesn’t ‘mind the rich as long as they get there the hard way.’ What Ed means is that he does mind those who inherit their wealth or acquire it through investments. The classic communist stance running in the Miliband family is that only toil, preferably physical, ought to be rewarded with money. Ed’s economics are different from Pol Pot’s only tactically, not in principle.

Now he and the other Ed flap their eyelashes and whisper flirtatiously that they don’t really want a crippling general strike. The best way to stop flirting and come across would be to disavow their party treasurer in no uncertain terms and sack her, effective immediately.

But they are neither willing nor able to do anything like that. Holland, after all, is a career union stooge, whose links with the TUC may be even stronger than the Eds’. On top of her day job, she’s assistant general secretary of Unite (something that may be regarded as conflict of interest in some quarters). And, as the party’s treasurer, she’s the one who knocks on the unions’ door with her hand outstretched. That makes her well-nigh untouchable.

Only strong, resolute, union-busting action on the part of the government can prevent the national catastrophe the Marxists are trying to perpetrate so wickedly and irresponsibly. Such action could only be taken by a strong, resolute government, which is rather the opposite of the one we are cursed with. Margaret Thatcher, where are you when we need you?





Careless exposure of topless Kate

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are suing the French magazine Closer for publishing topless photos of the duchess. Considering France’s privacy laws, they’re likely to win the case. But in a case like this there really can be no winners.

‘These photos are not in the least shocking,’ claimed the magazine spokesman. ‘They show a young woman sunbathing topless, like the millions of women you see on beaches.’

In general one ought to be wary of French publications bearing English names. The theatre supplement of Le Figaro, for example, is most unfortunately called Le Clap, casting aspersion on the entire thespian profession in the country. But this time the hack was right: that’s exactly what the pictures show.

Similarly, earlier shots showed Prince Harry cavorting at a nude orgy – like millions of other young men you see in any city, and certainly in Las Vegas.

Still earlier shots showed Princess Michael of Kent sharing a romantic weekend in Venice with a much younger Russian ‘businessman’ – like millions of other older women you see enjoying out-of-town trysts with toy boys.

Also, Kate’s late mother-in-law was photographed bikini-clad in the company of her cokehead lover – like millions of other women attracted to rich playboys of questionable reputation.

And let’s not forget the Sun pictures of the Duchess of York having her toes sucked by an athletic American – like millions of other women with lovelorn feet and love-hungry boyfriends.

You may also remember Kate’s husband, then her fiancé, snapped glassy-eyed with his shirt hanging out, as he was staggering out of a nightclub at 4 am – like millions of other young men who go clubbing, with passers-by hoping it’s not them the youngsters will club.

Then, after all these recollections, let’s remind ourselves that the royals aren’t like millions of others. Their lives aren’t entirely theirs; they belong to the nation they serve. They are born, or marry, into a life of great privilege and luxury – but also one of unique responsibility.

Part of that responsibility is to behave with dignity and restraint at all times, even at home or when visiting family and friends. For the royals aren’t private individuals, certainly not merely that. Inasmuch as they represent the reigning dynasty, they act as public symbols of the realm.

This is an exceptionally hard task, and it takes an outstanding person like Her Majesty, God bless her, to pull it off with such epic élan over the better part of a century. In the 60 years since her accession, the Queen has been implicated neither in a single scandal nor even in a whiff of an indiscretion, no matter how minor.

That takes extraordinary strength of character, and the younger royals have a shining example to follow. They must learn that valour isn’t the only thing that discretion is the better part of.

From what one can tell, Kate can make an excellent Queen when her time comes, which is more than one could say for her late mother-in-law. Though not born in the purple, the duchess has so far worn it well.

Nevertheless, contrary to what the Closer hack says, these pictures are shocking. They don’t show the manipulative exhibitionism displayed by some other royals in the past, but they do betoken a certain lack of care.

Announcing the lawsuit for invasion of privacy, a Clarence House spokesman said the incident is ‘reminiscent of the worst excesses of the press and paparazzi during the life of Diana’. Indeed it is. But surely because unscrupulous hacks have done this many times before, the royal couple should have envisaged the possibility that they’d do it again.

Surely they must know that, the moment their engagement was announced, the hunting season was open, with them the game and paparazzi the hunters. These reptilian creatures shouldn’t exist. But they do, and they are what they are.

I don’t know if Kate was indeed ‘visible from the street,’ as Closer’s editor claimed. But she was certainly visible to modern photographic technology, which now can even be mounted on drones. If the surface of Mars can be photographed with astonishing resolution, then the princess’s body can be safely presumed to be within reach at almost any time she’s outdoors, or even indoors with windows open.

Kate and Will are modern young people, and they are well aware of the technological progress of which modernity is so proud. But they represent an institution that isn’t modern but rather eternal, one that links generations past with those present and future. This means they’ve relinquished the right to behave the way millions of other modern young men and women do.

This is a big sacrifice on their part, and it’s made up of many small sacrifices, such as having to put up with bikini lines. But it’s something we can not only expect but indeed demand. They will one day become our King and Queen, filling the throne occupied with so much honour and distinction by Her Majesty. Given the swell of republican sentiment in the country, unless they’re careful they may not have a throne to occupy.

That would be their loss, and, even more so, ours. I do hope they care – enough to keep some garments on when they are within reach of spying cameras.




Barroso said nothing new, Cameron said nothing meaningful

Jose Manuel Barroso’s call for creating a ‘federation of nation states’ distinctly lacked novelty appeal. He did float a specific timeline for this, 2014, but that didn’t come across as something chiselled in stone. At a pinch, the federasts could wait another year – what’s a few months among friends?

As to the inexorable drive towards a single European state, the only amazing thing is the incredulous reaction to it. The idea has been bandied about since Robert Schuman and Jean Monnet first began to talk about Europe pooling its resources. At first, it was all backstage nudges and winks: they think it’s all about coal and steel, but bright chaps like us know better, don’t we, Robert? Mais bien sûr, Jean.

Gradually, the federasts became more forthright about their aspirations, and these were in any case evident from their actions: ‘Ye shall know them by their fruits’. The latest fruit falling off that rotten tree is the banking union announced last week. It doesn’t take a political genius of Machiavellian proportions to realise that a combination of monetary and banking union presupposes a single state. So what’s the big surprise?

The Trotskyite French newspaper La Liberation (described in our press as ‘respected’ – by whom?) proudly revealed its great scoop: Dave has privately warned François that any change in the existing EU treaties will force him to call a referendum. ‘In order for him to win it, and for his country to stay in the EU,’ say the comrades, we had better tread softly, ‘starting from the principle that not everyone in a Europe of 30 or 35 will do the same thing.’

Of course they won’t – why should the Fourth Reich be any different from the Third? The Germans will drive the lorry, the French collabos will navigate, everyone else will bounce up and down on the flatbed, occasionally falling out through the tailgate. Nothing new there, but, assuming the comrades didn’t invent the whole thing, which they’re eminently capable of, the story is still interesting.

If they quote correctly, Dave has abandoned the last pretence of being even a mild, wishy-washy eurosceptic. Should a referendum be called, he would regard as a victory Britain’s staying in the EU, even if she doesn’t ‘do the same thing’ as the Übermenschen.

True enough, Dave has stated on numerous occasions that on his watch Britain will stay in the EU no matter what. It’s from this position that he expects to negotiate with the Euro powers that be.

The position is weak to the point of being untenable. If the option of withdrawal were on the table, Dave could start by saying, ‘If you want us to remain in the EU, here’s what you must do…’ As it is, he has given the federasts the power to say, ‘If you want to remain in the EU, here’s what you must do…’ Note to Dave: Don’t ever play no-limit poker, mate. You’ll lose your custom-made shirt.

This of course hints at the kind of referendum we’ll get, if indeed we ever get one. I’d bet my bottom euro that the question put to the electorate will be nothing as straightforward as ‘in or out?’. In a slightly expanded form, this question could run something like ‘Should Britain leave the EU now that it is turning into a single federated state?’ Much more likely is a typical Dave prevarication along the lines of ‘Should we or should we not insist that more powers be repatriated to Britain?’

In the first example, a ‘yes’ vote would take us out of the EU. In the second, a ‘yes’ vote would mean a square root of zero. It goes without saying or voting that all countries within a EUSSR would retain some measure of local control.

For example, when half of European Russia was part of the Third Reich, local government was almost entirely in the hands of Russian collaborators – the Germans had only a few thousand men scattered around an area the size of Western Europe, clearly not enough to do anything other than provide the overall direction. But there was still no doubt as to who was in charge and who called the strategic shots.

In the closest, though not close enough, parallel, all American states have a great deal of autonomy within the federation. But when in 1860 some of them chose to push it to the logical extreme of secession, we all know what happened. Since then, the central government has been in total control whenever it chose to exercise it.

That’s how it’ll be should Dave succeed in keeping Britain at the outskirts of the European Federation. What’s worse, he knows it and doesn’t care. All he wants is for the federasts to toss him a bone he could then hold up, claiming it’s a fillet steak.

The very fabric of the EU is a tissue of lies, and has been from the beginning. We can’t expect the truth now; things have gone too far. What we must do is realise how grave the situation is and use every means at our disposal to put pressure on Dave and his likeminded colleagues in the other two parties.

We don’t want just any old referendum, the message should be. In the absence of a government capable of taking the right decisions without resorting to plebiscite, we want a clear-cut choice: do we or do we not want to be but a province in a federal Europe. How do you reckon the vote would go?











US foreign policy is bearing fruit

The American ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three consular officials were murdered in Beghazi. The diplomats didn’t deserve their tragic fate. The country that sent them did.

The asinine efforts by the US to introduce ‘democracy’ in the Middle East and indulge in ‘nation building’ have been backfiring on American and British soldiers for 10 years. Now it’s the diplomats’ turn.

In any country at any time, the murder of ambassadors has been treated as an instant casus belli. Even Genghis Khan’s boys would usually spare the population of any town they captured – unless their envoys had been killed there. Because the Mongols regarded such an act as unforgivable treachery, they would then slaughter everybody within the town walls: men, women, children, even domestic animals. In a less remote and more Western example, the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo triggered the First World War.

This time the US administration, speaking through Hilary Clinton, hastened to declare that nothing of the sort is on the cards. ‘This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people and government of Libya,’ she said. That may be true. But then Ferdinand too was only murdered by Gavrilo Princip, not the people and government of Bosnia.

Actually, though undoubtedly savage, the group wasn’t all that small. The attack succeeded thanks to a coordinated diversion created by a hundreds-strong mob, screaming Islamist slogans, trying to scale the embassy walls and set the building on fire. The well-rehearsed protesters acted as beaters on a shoot: they drew the embassy staff out. Led by Mr Stevens, they tried to seek safety outside the compound and walked straight into the terrorists’ guns and rockets.

In parallel, there was widespread, precisely timed mob action in Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Egypt and in Palestine. Frenzied crowds burned US flags, screaming sweet endearments, such as ‘Obama, Obama, we are here for the triumph of Islam’ and ‘We are all Osama.’

There was a ring of truth to these statements, and yet it’s unlikely that the Obama administration will take the murderers’ accomplices at their word. The official line, enunciated by Mrs Clinton, is that they aren’t ‘all Osama’. They’re rather lamentably misguided persons who haven’t yet realised they’re all democrats at heart.

Acting in the capacity of psychoanalyst, America is there to help the wild-eyed fanatics get in touch with their inner pro-democracy selves. Hiding in the innermost crevices of the murderers’ souls, their gentle, feminine egos will then emerge out of their inflamed innards and go to work for the good of the world.

One has to admit, with sadness, that 9/11 scrambled what passes for the brains of those in charge of US foreign policy. They simply don’t have the mental wherewithal to put the events of the last decade into the context of the previous 1,400 years of history. This has been marked by Islam’s ever-present, unrelenting hostility to the West and everything it holds dear. What has changed from time to time is ways in which this hostility was manifested.

These have depended mainly on the relative strength of the two adversaries, and also on the amount of passion they could bring to bear on the historical moment. When the pendulum swung the Muslims’ way, they conquered the southern half of Europe. A swing to the other end brought about the Crusades. And so it went, back and forth, for almost a millennium and a half.

It’s only to obtuse ignorance that one can ascribe the urge to convert Islam to Western pluralism. And when ignorance is fortified by proselytising activism, a catastrophe beckons. These are impossible premises from which a sensible policy could be worked out.

The only sane way for the West to handle the Muslim threat is to acknowledge that it is indeed a threat. The very nature of Islam runs against the grain of our religion, culture, philosophy, politics, general aspirations.

Islam demands docile obedience and precludes free enquiry. If the Muslims were allowed the same latitude we have in the West, Islam would instantly collapse as a social and political force. The Muslims are perfectly aware of this, which is why their world can’t be reformed, transformed or even mollified. It should be left to its own vices and devices.

But there ought to be an important proviso: we’ll leave them alone only if they reciprocate. If they choose instead to act out their murderous anti-Western fantasies, they must be punished for it, pure and simple. And if the punishment is to have any deterrent value, it ought to be suitably apocalyptic.

Thus military force shouldn’t be used to build nations, introduce democracy and encourage the Muslims to think along the lines of mum and apple pie. It must be used for punitive and educational purposes only. Spare the Tomahawks and spoil the Muslims, should be the guiding principle.

Forget about encouraging the mythical moderate elements within the Islamic world. The only suitable response to the murder of the US ambassador is to unleash hell on the country in which this crime was committed. The two US carrier groups parked in the Gulf, along with other forces, possess every tactical means to, say, reduce Beghazi to rubble.

Then a message must be sent to the Muslim orbi et urbi: Any hostile action against Western lives and property, inside or outside the Middle East, will automatically lead to the destruction of the entire infrastructure of the country implicated, no matter how obliquely, in such action.

The US will then no longer have to police the Middle East – it’ll police itself. A few massive raids would encourage its own law enforcement to arab-spring into action. Moreover, any collateral damage would be negligible compared to the decade of war stupidly waged by Americans, and to the more decades certain to follow.

That’s how governments led by statesmen would act. But Obama won’t let such trivialities distract him from the presidential campaign. Romney will of course try to make political capital out of  the incident, but, should he become president, he’ll immediately begin his own campaign for a second term. The foreign-policy part of it will be driven by the democracy-seekers and nation-builders in his entourage, so no clear understanding of the situation is likely to emerge.

Meanwhile, Americans and other Westerners, in or out of uniform, will continue to die. To quote Seneca, ‘None of it can be prevented; all of it can be despised.’













1812 as historical fiction and fictitious history

This year marks the bicentenary of the 1812 war, and the other day three Americans, aged 14, 12 and 10, assured me they knew all about it.

Yet some gentle probing revealed that to them 1812 meant the conflict between the USA and Britain, not Russia’s victory over Napoleon. The youngsters were vague about which event inspired the celebrated Overture, and words like Borodino and Berezina drew blank stares.

This isn’t to imply criticism. At their age I hadn’t even heard about the first war, though I knew quite a bit about the second. My excuse is that I grew up in the wrong country, but then so did they.

The anniversary should remind us how imprecise a science history is. Ideology tends to obscure facts with fiction, and facts fade away. History becomes retrospective politics, with even the issue of who won a battle or a war often a matter of subjective opinion.

Thus Americans regard their 1812 as a moral victory in a second war of liberation. In fact, a tiny fragment of the British army, the bulk of which was otherwise engaged in the Iberian Peninsula, valiantly kept Canada from adding a few more stars to the American flag. Repelling American northward expansion may not have constituted a moral victory, but it certainly was a strategic one.

Today’s American schoolchildren study the war as an essential part of their history. British pupils, with some exceptions, have never even heard of it.

Russian children, by contrast, are inundated with information about their own 1812. Alas, much of it has been systematically falsified. This isn’t surprising for its principal source isn’t historical but literary. In this, 1812 resembles the Trojan War, and indeed Tolstoy’s War And Peace has been compared favourably to Homer’s Iliad, mostly by Count Leo himself.

Considering that the Napoleonic wars are about 22 centuries closer to our time, one would think that Russian history teachers shouldn’t have to rely on fiction. Sure enough, there’s no dearth of scholarly sources on 1812. But fiction is such an integral part of Russian historiography that a frankly jingoistic novelist is seen as a sufficiently reliable source.

Tolstoy describes all German officers fighting the Russian corner as pedantic bunglers and nincompoops. This took much fancy footwork, since that group included such internationally respected warriors as Wittgenstein, Bennigsen, Barclay de Tolly and Stein. But then Tolstoy even tags Napoleon as a military nonentity.

The writer glosses over the fact that three of the four supreme commanders of Russian armies during the Napoleonic wars were German (Barclay de Tolly, Wittgenstein, Bennigsen) and only Kutuzov was a simon-pure Russian. It was actually the German Scot Barclay, not the senile Commander-in-Chief Kutuzov, who was chiefly responsible for saving what was left of the army after the Russians’ defeat in the only major battle of the war.

Yet Tolstoy extols Kutuzov as a military genius, a sort of Antaeus deriving his strength from Russia’s saintly soil. Serious historians beg to differ.

In their eyes, Kutuzov’s do-nothing campaign could easily have ended in disaster. It was because of his passivity that the battle of Austerlitz had been lost, and as hostilities shifted into Russia proper Kutuzov lost at Borodino, surrendering Moscow as a result. Muscovites, probably led by their mayor, then set fire to the capital, leaving the French without supplies and quarters during a particularly inclement winter. That desperate act, unprecedented in modern war history, drove the French out, but this had nothing to do with Kutuzov.

Even then he missed the easiest of chances to finish off the French army in full flight, capture Napoleon and end the war a couple of years earlier. However, Tolstoy argues that even the Borodino battle, in which Russian casualties were 60 percent higher than French, was a victory because Napoleon lost the war in the end. That’s like saying that the French defeated Hitler in 1940 because de Gaulle triumphantly entered Paris in 1944.

Tolstoy lovingly describes how Kutuzov snored through the Military Council at which the momentous decision to surrender Moscow was taken. In some quarters such somnolence could have been regarded as criminal negligence, but Kutuzov could do no wrong according to Tolstoy.

What mattered to him was that, as an ethnic Russian, Kutuzov was in touch with the mysterious forces governing matters martial with no contribution from any human agency. It was irrelevant that at least 40 percent of all senior officers were of foreign origin, and even many of those regarded as native were indeed of Moldavian, Georgian, Lithuanian, Armenian, Tartar or other non-Slavic descent.

It’s Tolstoy’s fiction that has become canonised in history books. Any Russian pupil will tell you that Kutuzov was a giant among military pigmies, and Borodino was a Russian victory. Similarly, most commentators – amazingly even in the West – accept Tolstoy’s idealised portrayal of pitchfork-wielding peasants as real.

It’s true that Russia was saved not only by the fire of Moscow and -40 temperatures, for which Napoleon’s army was ill-prepared, but also by partisan warfare. But this wasn’t quite the spontaneous expression of the folk spirit of Tolstoy’s fancy. The idea for it had come from aristocratic officers, such as Denis Davydov (appearing as Denisov in War And Peace) and Alexander Figner. They were the ones who ran the guerrilla war, using regular cavalry units as the core of partisan forces.

At first Kutuzov fought their proposals tooth and nail, but then reluctantly sanctioned guerrilla action behind enemy lines. Perhaps he was persuaded by the success of such warfare in Spain. Or, more likely, he felt sleepy, as he did most of the time, and couldn’t be bothered to argue any longer.

For all that, the bicentenary of 1812 is eminently worth celebrating, even though Russia conceivably could have benefited more from losing. This may also be a good occasion for history to oust fiction, if such a thing is ever possible in Russia.





Balls is in Vince’s court

Ed Balls and Vince Cable have finally come out and admitted to a close relationship. No, not of the kind that would soon make them eligible for holy matrimony. Neither is that way inclined, and Vince is past the age of consent anyway. Their relationship is that of ideological brothers, with both dead set on getting ahead by turning Britain into Greece.

An undertaking of this magnitude is too big for one man, and the brothers know it. ‘I could work with Vince,’ said Ed, snuggling up closer to Cable on the sofa in the BBC studio. ‘Vince should be listened to on banking reform and on the economy.’

I agree. It is indeed an outrage that we haven’t listened to Vince attentively enough. Had we done so we’d know that his economic ideas are akin to those of an arsonist who pretends to be dousing a fire by pouring lighter fluid on it.

His notion of growth is the state spending more and taxing more. ‘I have not been embarrassed to call myself a person of the centre left,’ declared Vince with pride – and excessive modesty. I get terribly tangled up in all those political soubriquets, but if this is centre left, I’d like to know what hard left is. How, specifically, are Vince’s notions different from – take your pick: a) Scargill’s, b) Livingstone’s, c) Castro’s?

While Vince lacks the honesty to echo François Hollande’s admission that he hates the rich, every pronouncement he makes, every measure he proposes screams hatred and envy. This isn’t counterbalanced by any affection for the poor, unless tireless toil to multiply their number qualifies as such.

To Vince, taxation is for taxation’s sake, not for the sake of having more money to give to those who won’t work for it. He knows, for example, that the 50-percent tax bracket resulted in less government revenue, not more. No matter. The higher rate ‘sent an important message’, of the kind François has enunciated with such charming frankness.

Make no mistake about it: it’s our socialist policies, not some global force majeure, that have got our economy into its present state. A burgeoning welfare state is not only ruinous economically but also corrupting morally – which in turn exacerbates its deleterious effect on the economy. An economy bustling with industry and creative energy could perhaps absorb this abomination for a while and still keep the books balanced. An economy such as ours ends up running up a trillion-pound debt.

Apart from being a millstone around our neck, such a catastrophic debt negates the very democratic principles by which our politicians swear. Implicit in such principles is that a development of this magnitude should require consent from the people who are going to bear its brunt. These are mostly generations not yet born and therefore by definition not in a position to express their consent at the voting booth or otherwise.

Vince’s solution? More taxation, more spending, more borrowing, more money printing, more debt, more stifling of wealth production, more tape whose colour matches his politics. This criminally asinine ideology comfortably coexists in Vince’s breast with a knack for political intrigue that puts Machiavelli to shame.

If you listen to the Andrew Marr interview carefully, the love-in between Ed and Vince laid bare their joint strategy, and they aren’t even bright enough to keep it under wraps until it’s time to strike. Ed went Balls to the wall promoting Vince as Nick’s replacement at the head of the LibDems. Cable had ‘distinguished himself,’ went the message, and Ed would be ‘very surprised if Nick Clegg fights the next election.’

One would think that a prominent member of one party should keep his mouth shut on a possible leadership contest in another. Common tact would demand this, but then Ed is a politician, and a bullying leftie at that.

In response, Vince confirmed that his accession to party leadership is indeed the first leg of the joint Labour-LibDem strategy: ‘I am very happy with Nick, he will continue in the job,’ he said. If you are insufficiently fluent in political, allow me to translate. What Vince said means ‘I hate Nick with unmitigated passion and will do all I can to knife him in the back at the first opportunity.’

And the second leg? Ed was just as forthcoming as his new-found brother: ‘I am not somebody who is thinking to myself I want a [Labour-LibDem] coalition for the future. I want a Labour majority government elected in 2015.’ Of course he does. But should by some miracle the polls suggest that the ideal is unachievable, such a coalition would work nicely.

Vince then gave his ringing endorsement: ‘I have no ambitions.’ It takes truly refreshing effrontery for any politician, and especially for one as conniving and nakedly ambitious as Cable, to utter such words. However, he didn’t mean it the way it sounded, though he did say something he meant: ‘But I do have perfectly businesslike, amicable relationships with members of the Labour Party and other parties.’ And, ‘I’m happy to talk to Ed.’

No translation necessary this time. Vince has endorsed the possibility of a coalition with Labour, should it miraculously fail to score an outright victory in 2015. And if Labour does form the next government, Vince will probably be a member of it – a short walk across the aisle is all that’ll take, along with some prior groundwork behind the back of his current coalition partners.

Labour and LibDems are united in their visceral urge to take revenge on those who make themselves and others independent of the state. They are both likely to regard the subsequent collapse of the economy as acceptable collateral damage. The only possible obstacle on the way to their joining forces would be the personal hubris of the parties’ leaders. That’s why Ed and Vince went to such lengths to reassure themselves and their parties that an equitable accommodation can be found.

Job done. Shame about the country.











Just what you’d expect from the self-admitted ‘hairy lefty’

How Dr Williams has acquired his reputation for intellectual depth has to be one of the Church’s great mysteries. If his interview to the Telegraph was designed to throw light on it, then the departing Archdruid of Canterbury has failed as miserably as he did in his day job.

Take his comments on the sharia law, which four years ago Dr Williams suggested ought to be recognised by British courts. In the interview, all he found to say on the subject was that he had ‘succeeded in confusing people.’ His Grace is too hard on himself: there was no confusion at all. His meaning was crystal-clear: he believed then, and appears to believe still, that Muslims must have the same legal latitude as Christians and Jews.

This is nonsensical any way one looks at it, starting with the way our civilisation is called. It’s Judaeo-Christian, not Judaeo-Christian-Islamist. Surely Dr Williams, the erudite intellectual, must be aware that our legal system is rooted in doctrines enunciated in the two Testaments, not in the Koran? Killing apostates, stoning adulterers and castrating women sits uncomfortably with our ethos, be that its religious or secular aspects. Sharia does agree with the English common law in many of its tenets. But one can say – and it’s something the primate of our established religion should have said – that when it does, it’s redundant, and when it doesn’t, it’s subversive. Meaningless waffle just isn’t good enough.

Then Dr Williams uttered a few platitudes about the government’s so-called economic austerity. It would be unrealistic to expect the Archbishop to display more nuanced thinking in this discipline than in his own, and he didn’t disappoint. His main concern isn’t about the country going to the dogs, but about the ‘massive anxiety’ caused by even token cuts in social spending. Some may use such cuts as an excuse not to be ‘thoughtful about minorities’, thereby exacting an awful ‘social cost’.

One can find a better grasp of the issues at hand in any village Coach And Horses. Has His Grace considered the social cost of the economy collapsing altogether, as it surely will if his beloved ‘hairy lefty’ policies aren’t reversed? I’d guess not. Such consideration would require real thought, and this is something that can overtax the cerebral wherewithal of someone inured to uttering sweet bien-pensant nothings over a lifetime.

The great controversy of Dr Williams’s tenure, one that’s threatening to split the Church down the middle, is sex, in both meanings of the word. Specifically, it’s the consecration of female bishops, which he supports, and homomarriage, which he claims he doesn’t. The Church His Grace has led since 2003 is about to be torn asunder by both abominations, and what does he have to say about it? Nothing on the first problem. And on the second? Dr Williams expressed his regrets that ‘We’ve not exactly been on the forefront of pressing for civic equality for homosexual people, and we were wrong about that.’

So what would have been the right thing for our prelates to do? Lead the gay-rights movement? March at the head of gay parades? Decorate every church with rainbow flags? That’s what being ‘on the forefront’ would have meant in practical terms, and that’s what the good Archbishop regrets not having done. Does he actually think that such deeds would be within the remit of the Church of England? Or, for that matter, of any Christian confession? The ‘hairy lefty’ probably does think so, and it’s good to observe a deep theological mind at work. No wonder the Church is in the doldrums.

Actually, as far as Dr Williams is concerned, it isn’t, not at all. Yes, Christianity is in decline, church attendance is going down, but we must look at the big picture. And there the rosy pigment is discernible: people’s non-denominational spirituality is increasing. On what evidence, Your Grace? Well, look at all the teddy bears and flowers people bring to the scene of accidents. The Archbishop forgot to mention the bottles of vodka left outside Amy Winehouse’s house after she overdosed, but what he did say is enough.

That is, it’s enough to draw a lamentable conclusion: the head of our Church doesn’t know the difference between true spirituality and cloying, tasteless, nauseating sentimentality. You know, the kind of stuff that can be so easily whipped into mass hysteria, if you remember Diana’s death.

Any priest who confuses the two should be unfrocked; any similarly ignorant prelate ought to be tarred, feathered and run out of town. But if Dr Williams thinks he should take credit for such pornographic displays, he’s probably right. Not direct credit, you understand – it’s just that, because of him and other ‘hairy lefties’ in the Church, it has failed to provide an effective counterweight to the disgusting pseudospirituality he seems to cherish in his heart.

Towards the end, Dr Williams hinted at some structural changes in the C of E, apparently involving job share in his former position. ‘Watch this space,’ he suggested with his usual neo-Gnostic aura emanating out of every pore. But we are watching this space, Your Grace. We’ve been doing it for a long time, with fear and trepidation. ‘What on earth,’ we wonder, ‘will this lot come up with next?’








Isn’t Russian Christianity fun?

Let’s face it: apart from the odd sex scandal or a drunk bishop mistaking someone else’s car for his own, our Anglican Church is rather dull. But do pray it’ll stay that way, if the alternative is the Russian kind of fun.

The other day, for example, the deacon Sergei Frunza drove onto a main road without looking. The OAP Valentina Pavlova barely managed to avoid a serious accident by hitting the brakes of her Volvo with all her waning strength. She then approached the cleric’s Hyundai to remonstrate.

But God’s servant was in no mood for sermons. He jumped out of his car and smote the old woman in the face with his fist clutching the car key, a technique he must have learned from our huggable hoodies. The pensioner fell to the ground, her mouth pumping blood. When her elder sister then tried to interfere, the reverend broke her nose with a mighty punch. He then got into his car and tried to do a runner, only to be blocked by outraged eye witnesses.

They then called the police, which excited the cleric no end. ‘I don’t give a **** who you call!’ he thundered like Joshua at Jericho. ‘Call the cops, call the FSB [secret police], they’ll do nothing to me!’ He read the future with the clarity of a prophet.

The police duly arrived and took the two women to hospital, where one had stitches put into her lip, the other had her nose set, and both were diagnosed with concussion. As his only punishment, Fr. Frunza was made to visit them and offer his apologies. ‘Well, sorry, this sort of thing happens,’ ran the mea culpa. ‘This is the way I am.’

The story would hardly be worth telling if it weren’t indicative of the symbiosis existing between the Russian Church and law enforcement, particularly of the KGB variety. Not only are the hierarchs of the Church, including the Patriarch, directly appointed by the KGB as a reward for decades of faithful service (to the KGB, that is, not to God), but even the lower tiers are largely – though not yet exclusively – staffed with thugs like Fr. Frunza.

Despairing of finding solace within the national church, many sincere believers join evangelical Protestant sects, such as Seventh-Day Adventism or Pentecostalism. Collectively, such sects now have more parishioners than the ROC, something that’s discouraged, to put it mildly, by its muscular sponsors.

Last week a Moscow Pentecostal church was robbed and practically destroyed by a gang led by police officers. The raiders broke in at midnight, and by 3 a.m. the church was reduced to rubble. All the sacred objects were stolen, along with expensive synthesisers and other electronic equipment, and the language used by the thugs wasn’t the kind one normally expects in a consecrated environment. Some of the visitors introduced themselves as court bailiffs, one as Elvis Presley, and the others withheld formal introductions altogether.

Col. Putin refrained from commenting on these, or other similar, incidents. Instead he delivered himself of a soliloquy on the Pussy Riot trial. These three young ladies are now serving two-year terms for violating the KGB-sponsored saintliness of the ROC, and Putin was irate. The Pussy Rioters, he explained with avuncular condescension and not without reason, were naughty – and had been long before their punk antics in the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour.

In particular, the guardian of Russian morality drew his listeners’ attention to the public demonstration of sexual intercourse indulged in by one of the Rioters Nadezhda Tolokonnikova. The president was particularly, and one has to say justifiably, upset with the footage of the orgy that had made its way to the Internet.

Lest he may be accused of being too heavy-handed, Putin offered a humorous aside: ‘Those who like it say that group sex is better than individual because, as any other collective undertaking, it leaves room for shirking. This is everyone’s personal business, but uploading it on the net must be assessed from the legal point of view.’ Putin then referred to  the Rioters’ blasphemous act as a Walpurgisnacht and let it be known that the sanctity of the ROC is in good hands, his own.

Unlike Lenin, who routinely referred to Christianity as ‘necrophilia’ and a ‘foul obscenity’, the present national leader is happy to be seen as the godfather not only to the economy, but also to the Church. Then of course, as a career KGB officer, he has for the ROC hierarchy that particularly warm feeling one tends to reserve for colleagues. That’s why he won’t tolerate any criticism of the Church in the context of the Pussy Riot trial.

Putin feels foreigners, and especially Americans, should mind their own business, which is far from being good. After all, many American states still have the death penalty, ‘and only God our Lord should be allowed to deprive a man of his life. But that’s a separate, philosophical discussion,’ added the Christian neophyte. Indeed it is. And who’s better qualified to conduct it than a proud, unreconstructed member of the organisation responsible for murdering 60 million Russians?

Do you sometimes feel that life is a madhouse, and you’re an outsider looking in? If you don’t, read the Russian press.













In today’s Britain it’s burglars who are real heroes

Imagine yourself late at night, wearing dark clothes, a hood over your head. A stray pedestrian has just turned the corner… You wipe the sweat off your brow. It’s not a cop, only a pub crawler chucked out at last call. Here’s the house you’ve cased… You ease your trusted jemmy between the door and its frame, next to the lock. The jemmy moves side to side noiselessly, or does it? Even the slightest crackle of wood sounds like gun shots going off, about to wake the whole street up. Your heart stops, then restarts. Finally the door is prised open, you slide in, your rubber soles caressing the carpet…

Sounds scary, doesn’t it? Bet you wouldn’t have the nerve to do anything like that – I know I wouldn’t. Neither would Judge Peter Bowers of Teesside Crown Court. Unlike you and me, however, he admires the bravery of a thug breaking into someone’s house. Driven by this noble emotion, yesterday he allowed the recidivist burglar and arsonist Richard Rochford to walk free.

You don’t believe me? Here are the Judge’s own laudatory words: ‘It takes a huge amount of  courage as far as I can see for someone to burgle somebody’s house. I wouldn’t have the nerve.’

Truer words have never been spoken. Burglary does take courage. Not as much as rape and certainly not as much as murder, but still quite a bit. And courage, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, must be rewarded not with custodial sentences but with medals. Distinguished Service Medal for burglary. Distinguished Service Cross for rape (aggravated). Victoria Cross for murder.

By passing a suspended sentence on the hero of our time, the good judge has done a disservice to all those brave, intrepid, selfless men who go out every night, jemmy in hand, to strike a blow for human courage. He should have put the serial criminal up for a decoration, pour encourager les autres.

Mr Rochford began to display his bravery at a precocious age. He was merely 10 when he first distinguished himself by breaking into a house. Still a young man, he has already done three years for arson – without receiving as much as a meagre commendation for it. And the four burglaries to which he admitted in Judge Bower’s court are only those for which the modest warrior was prepared to take credit. As there always are, left outside the brackets were no doubt dozens of other burglaries to which our unsung hero didn’t own up.

In addition to praising Rochford’s courage, Mr Bowers further reinforced his legal credentials by explaining he didn’t put the hero away because ‘prison very rarely does anybody any good.’ Admirers of Dostoyevsky, who came out of prison a new, deeper man, might disagree, but by and large the statement is correct. Prison rarely does much good to the prisoner. And you know why? Because that’s not what it’s there for.

Prison is punishment, not a self-improvement counselling service. Punishing a wicked act is its primary function, keeping a criminal off the streets the secondary one, with deterrence strictly tertiary. Rehabilitation, if it’s a desideratum at all, would appear way down on the list. But above all prison is an instrument of justice done and seen to be done. For a society in which justice is debauched won’t remain civilised for long. When a judge, the law personified, praises a burglar’s courage and sets him free, we know that our civilisation is on its last legs.

When Britain was indeed civilised, burglary was a hanging offence. In 1830 Lord Russell abolished the death penalty for house-breaking, which was the humane thing to do. But His Lordship would have thought twice about stepping on that slippery slope had he imagined for a second that less than 200 years later an abomination like Judge Bowers would crawl out of the woodwork.

This wasn’t an isolated event: Mr Bowers has form. In the past he let a recidivist with 80 crimes on his record walk free for a burglary committed four days after his release from prison. ‘I am quite sure you are capable of a lot better,’ he said to the criminal. I’m sure about that too. Given enough incentive, he’d be capable of murder.

On that occasion, the Judge told the court, ‘I must be getting soft in my old age.’ Soft in the head, more like it. This time he showed that he too has the courage of his convictions: ‘I might get pilloried for it,’ said Mr Bowers, referring to his latest miscarriage of justice.

You shouldn’t be pilloried, Your Honour. You should be struck off, preferably without a pension. As to the rest of us, we’re left to ponder the depth of the abyss into which we’re falling – pushed over the edge by the moral decrepitude of PC modernity. And in a less contemplative mood, we should all install extra locks and apply for a shotgun licence.





Plan ahead, Dave, a new career beckons

I don’t know if Dave’s sainted mother is still alive, but if so I doubt that even Mrs Cameron rates her boy’s chances in 2015 as odds-on. In all likelihood, he’ll be thrashed by the very people who created the mess he’s unqualified to clear up.

This means he ought to consider his options – as the old truism goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Obviously, Dave’s new job will have to be commensurate with his talents, and so far he has displayed but one: that of a cardsharp.

In my youth I knew a few of those, and even played against them without losing each time. In the process I learned to watch out for a few tricks, and it’s on the basis of that experience that I’m offering career advice to Dave.

He may not know it, but he already has all the necessary skills. Specifically, the bread-and-butter triple whammy of his future job included 1) stacking, 2) false shuffle and 3) false cut.

Picking up the cards off the table after the previous hand, the dealer would ‘stack’ the top part of the pack, making sure he himself would get four aces, or whatever else he desired. Then he’d shuffle the deck in such a way that the ‘stacked’ part remained on top and undisturbed. After an opponent’s cut, the dealer would perform the conjurer’s trick of keeping the ‘stack’ on top (I shan’t tell you how this was done, and you ought to be ashamed of yourself for wanting to know). Job done; another fish is reeled in.

Observing Dave’s first cabinet reshuffle, I felt a twinge of nostalgia for my youth, misspent as it might have been. For Dave not only stacked the top part of his team, but also managed to keep it on top for all the shuffling, reshuffling and cuts.

The bottom of the pack was indeed shuffled properly – quite a few junior positions got filled with bright new faces. The newcomers will do the tactical day-to-day grind, and more power to them. But the strategic aces in the pack, department heads, have suffered little attrition.

Ken Clarke’s hush puppies and beer-stained tie were moved out of Justice, and the token conservative Chris Grayling moved in to mollify the restless backbenchers who still think themselves Tories. Perhaps now burglary will be reclassified as a vicious crime to punish rather than a psychological problem to treat. Also, there’s an outside chance that people who slam their door in a burglar’s face will no longer be arrested for using excessive force. All that is good stuff, but hardly the solution to our most pressing problems.

Then Jeremy Hart, whose transparently shifty smile disqualifies him as a cardsharp, has climbed up to Health, from his previous foothold as Secretary for Culture, Media and Sport. Now the very existence of that job is a telltale sign of state tyranny, something unthinkable when Britain was still a free country. Quick, who filled the culture post in Rockingham’s cabinet? Disraeli’s? Gladstone’s? See what I mean?

Jeremy’s last contribution to our cultural refinement was appointing Peter Bazalgette as chairman of the Arts Council. Sir Peter’s job application included such notable cultural achievements as Big Brother and Deal Or No Deal, so clearly such an individual deserves a broader canvas on which to scribble his obscene graffiti. If Jeremy applies the same personnel criteria to his new job, faith healers, shamans and other mountebanks will be performing heart surgery.

Hunt has already been, and Laws soon will be, promoted in spite of the scandals in which they were both involved. Dave knows he can rely on them – they’re unlikely to be caught by the wrist again.

Admittedly, by removing Baroness Warsi from the co-chairmanship of the Conservative Party, Dave left himself terribly exposed to amply justified criticism. After all, as we know, the most – only? – important feature of any cabinet is its faithful reflection of the country’s demographic makeup.

Baroness Warsi, for all her obvious incompetence, was therefore invaluable: she ticked two vital boxes by being both a woman and a Muslim. But, displaying the sleight of hand that’ll stand him in good stead after 2015, Dave merely shifted her sideways, immediately filled several junior positions with women and moved Teresa Villiers up to Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. No way Dave will be caught out, bright lad like him.

But his most outstanding achievement was to keep the stacked part of the pack on top. The economic cards remained in the sweaty clutch of George Osborne, Vince Cable and Danny Alexander. This means Dave is happy with the way his aces lie – he must be thinking the economy is doing so well that any change could only be for the worse.

Someone less adept at marking cards would think that replacing that unholy trinity with, say, David Davis, John Redwood and Stewart Jackson wouldn’t be a bad thing. And a real cynic would go so far as to suggest that we could do even better by picking three random names out of the phone directory, putting them into safe Tory seats (if there is any such thing) and elevating them to the jobs currently held by George, Vince and Danny. But Dave knows better.

I do wish him the best of luck in his future career. Dave won’t even need to buy a false moustache and a derringer to make the transition. His future is bright; ours isn’t.