Mandelson won’t be short of a rouble or two

Lord Mandelson seems to be irresistibly attracted to Russian oligarchs. By attraction I don’t mean the kind of love that dare not speak its name, God forbid.

No, the affection consuming Lord Mandelson in this instance is selfless, disinterested and typically requited love of money. A man of strong will, he’s always able to control his scruples about the provenance of the lucre for which he lusts so powerfully.

This commendable self-control has got Peter Mandelson into all sorts of trouble on all sorts of occasions. Several times (I’ve lost count) he was kicked out of Blair’s cabinet when well-documented doubts were cast on the probity of some of his dealings.

On the last occasion Mandelson said ‘plague on both your Houses’ to Parliament and decamped for a much more lucrative post as EU Trade Commissioner. It was in that capacity that he struck a close friendship with Russia’s aluminium king Oleg Deripaska – perhaps the richest in the line of the so-called oligarchs.

Since aluminium is one of Russia’s major exports, and Europe its biggest recipient, Deripaska’s interest in cultivating the Commissioner’s affection isn’t one of those mysteries for which Russia is so widely known. Peter’s reciprocity, I’m sure, was based on the Good-Samaritan urge to help a fellow man to make a few more billion.

To that end Peter accepted Oleg’s lavish hospitality on the latter’s yacht and, to give the affair a bipartisan feel, George Osborne tagged along. Other than a weakness for good food and drink, perhaps he was contemplating the possibility of converting to Russian Orthodoxy, to follow in the footsteps of his brother who has converted to Islam. Deripaska could be counted on to put in a good word with the Patriarch – he must know him from all those Kremlin piss-ups.

Or else George was preparing a fallback position for the time he’s no longer in government. A directorship in Deripaska’s holding company perhaps? Why on earth not? If a former Chancellor of Germany can shill for Gazprom, why not George doing the same for his new bosom friend Oleg? No reason at all.

That however is conjecture. What is fact is that Peter Mandelson has just been appointed non-resident director of Russia’s biggest publicly listed conglomerate Sistema, 62 percent of which is owned by Vladimir Evtushenkov, yet another oligarch.

It’s a marriage made in heaven – both sides stand to gain, neither has anything to lose. Peter’s gain is transparent: he’ll get $325,000 a year plus a cut of any increase in Sistema’s mammoth value.

What Evtushenkov gets out of the deal is less immediately clear, but we can try a reasonable guess. Mandelson’s connections in British and especially European circles must be valuable to a chap with a Russian name but a pan-European heart.

You see, in addition to his multifarious business interests, Evtushenkov holds the post of Honorary Consul of the Duchy of Luxembourg in Yekaterinburg, the capital of the Urals. One can understand his affection for the Duchy, a pleasantly picturesque area at the heart of Europe. Coincidentally, it’s also a money laundry compared to which Cyprus is a baby’s playpen, but surely Evtushenkov’s interest in it has nothing to do with that. Neither does Mandelson’s, I hasten to add.

All this is perfectly aboveboard. It’s also fair: Peter has been offering his political advice free of charge to any party willing to listen. It stands to reason that now he’ll be paid for his business advice, springing from his acumen and vast experience.

One just hopes he’ll watch his step: another scandal just may besmirch his already off-white reputation beyond repair. And Peter should never leave behind his long spoon when supping with the devil of Russian oligarchy. Those chaps play for keeps, and London has proved it’s not such a safe haven after all.

Felicitations, Vincent and Bruno – but who’ll wear white?

As a tireless campaigner for even interspecies marriages (mammals only – I’m a conservative after all), and also as a part-time resident of France, I’m ecstatic about the historic event to take place in Montpelier on Wednesday.

Vincent Austin and Bruno Boileau will become wife/husband and husband/wife, with the socialist mayor officiating at the ceremony.

Alas, my wedding invitation got lost in the post, so I can’t share with you some of the important details. Such as, is it Vincent or Bruno who’ll be the blushing bride? I had to double-designate both, but that’s ignorance speaking.

The photographs don’t throw light on the matter. Vincent is taller, so one would think that for the purposes of the glorious occasion he’ll be the bridegroom. He’s also 10 years older, which would traditionally cast him in the role of husband, even though the couple’s parents have made it clear that this once they won’t necessarily stand on tradition.

However, Vincent also looks somewhat more effeminate, which may suggest that he’ll be the bride and it’ll be Bruno carrying him across the threshold of the bridal suite, not vice versa. Or perhaps they’ll just hold hands and tiptoe into the room together.

And speaking of vice, you might think I’m being unnecessarily inquisitive and pedantic, but as a veteran attendee of many weddings, including a few of my own, I know that details can make or break the festivities.

For example, I hope the happy couple won’t forgo the traditional nuptial attire. Vincent will look gorgeous in a white dress, with the train carried by the bridesmaids (of any of the three sexes). Fleur d’oranger and a gossamer veil are also a must, what with France being a conservative country.

At the same time Bruno will look dashing in a pink morning coat and red-striped, tight-fitting trousers. I’ll leave up to him the choice of a flower for his buttonhole, but a pansy would match the coat to perfection.

We all know how music can add grandeur to any ceremony, and in this instance especially so, given the ground-breaking nature of the event. It’s not up to me to make suggestions but, fancying myself a connoisseur, I shall anyway.

The choice, I’m convinced, should reflect both the traditional union being entered into and also the slightly – every so slightly! almost imperceptibly! – modern spin on the tradition. To that end, nothing would accompany the event better than Tom Robinson’s immortal classic Sing If You’re Glad to Be Gay – performed on a Baroque pipe organ. I mean, aren’t you tired of Mendelssohn’s Wedding March?

And speaking of organs – no, I’m not going to say anything salacious, you pervert. Who do you think I am? I was going to talk about a few concerns voiced by France’s organs of law enforcement.

You see, there’s a very distinct possibility that some of the uninvited guests may be throwing at the newlyweds things other than rice and confetti. I don’t know if I’m making myself clear, but Molotov cocktail isn’t a drink with which to raise a toast to the happy couple.

To prevent such outrages, it’s predicted that les flics will outnumber the guests about three to one – especially since François Hollande has blessed the happy couple by warning that he wouldn’t tolerate any terrorist acts. (François is beautiful when he’s angry, by the way.)

Admittedly, the presence of so many policemen may diminish the solemnity of the wedding, but the least they can do to maintain stylistic integrity would be to attach pansies to their batons, pistols and Taser guns.

I do hope the ceremony will go without a hitch. And I’m proud of the French legal system, whose speed of action puts ours to shame. After all, Vincent and Bruno will tie the knot just days after such unions were given a green, or rather rainbow-coloured, light. None of this toing and froing that’s delaying the onset of happiness in Britain.

Are you listening, your Lordships? Are you taking notes? I do hope you are – and I know you’ll vote the right way when the equal-happiness bill goes through your House.






The road to Damascus, new version

The EU’s decision to drop the embargo on the sale of weapons to Syria, or more precisely to those lovely chaps fighting for democracy, is yet another instalment in the ongoing saga of folly.

Characteristically, the cause of arming the chaps who like to dine on human organs was championed by European leaders with an enthusiasm whose ardour was in inverse proportion to their fortunes at home.

Thus Angela Merkel, who retains a realistic hope of winning the next election, was luke-warm on the idea. Conversely, Hollande, whose own popularity with his voters has just dropped below Heinrich Himmler’s, was all gung-ho – as was Dave, who’s loathed by his own party cordially and by the others institutionally.

Instigating or escalating an armed conflict is a time-honoured way for modern governments to get out of trouble, either political or economic. Thus it isn’t beyond the realm of possibility that these ‘leaders’, along with Obama, see the current conflict as a way of reversing their own and their countries’ fortunes.

Nor is it impossible to imagine that the conflict’s spilling over to the whole region is exactly the development they seek – the more the merrier.

Russia too has a stake in the area, which she demonstrated by agreeing to deliver S-300 AA missiles to Syria. This decision lacks novelty appeal, for the missiles are part of the $1-billion-plus military contracts Russia has with Assad, her long-term client. Apart from the traditional compulsion of rubbing the West the wrong way, Putin has strategic interests involved as well: Russia’s naval facility at Tartus is her sole Mediterranean base.

By relatively new-fangled contrast, the West’s interests in Syria are almost entirely ideological, springing from the neocon domination of foreign policy in the USA and increasingly here.

Acting as the crusading arm of the American self-worshipping religion, the neocons agitate for war whenever this can be plausibly sold to the public. In this instance, they instigated and continue to scream for America’s blatant aggression against sovereign Middle Eastern states.

This is justified by incessant references to the dangers of Islamism, Muslim fundamentalism and terrorism. If the neocons really believe this, they are silly and ignorant. If they don’t and still say it, they’re devious. In all likelihood, they’re both.

As always, wrong ideas lead to wrong actions – such as the last decade of the West’s doomed attempts to refashion the Middle East in its own image. For the warmongers operate under a PC discipline that prevents them from seeing whence the danger really comes. That is, not from Islamism but from Islam.

The God of PC demands that we regard all religions as equal, and if one is to be denied an equal status it can only be Christianity. Yet Islam is an inherently and doctrinally aggressive creed that has been waging war on the West for the last 1,400 years. The actual physical manifestations of the conflict have been intermittent, as they always are in such prolonged confrontations. The 100 Years’ War, for example, didn’t feature 100 years of non-stop fighting – there were flare-ups followed by lulls. At the moment we’re living through a period of peak passions in the Islamic world.

Obviously not every Muslim is a terrorist or even a West-hater. My guess is that most aren’t. But by the same token, no revolution in modern history was perpetrated by ‘the people’ as such – it was always carried out by a small cadre of a radical elite, typically intellectuals.

‘The people’ not only never promoted those revolutions actively, but they often withdrew even their tacit support. This goes for the English revolutions of the seventeenth century, the American and French ones of the eighteenth or the Russian and German ones of the twentieth.

Most Muslims may or may not sympathise with the radical elite acting in their name, but in either case they play no active role in the atrocities it commits. That, however, doesn’t exculpate Islam any more than the relatively small numbers of Bolshevik or Nazi revolutionaries exculpated their cannibalistic ideologies.

As a result of the West’s profound failure to assess the situation properly, it’s committing one gross folly upon another – all in the name of democracy, that bull’s head sitting on top of the neocon totem pole. All any group of wild-eyed murderers has to do to rate the West’s support is to declare its undying love for democracy.

It’s hard not to notice that throughout the so-called liberation of Iraq and Afghanistan, the Arab Spring and the current anti-Assad strife, such protestations happily co-existed with Islamist radicalism of the most fire-eating kind. By giving benevolently equal treatment to Islam and decrying Islamism, the West is actively complicit in strengthening the former by empowering the latter.

If, on the other hand, our leaders had enough brains and historical nous to realise how the pitta crumbles, they’d let the warring Islamic sects, the Sunni and the Shiite, get on with it. The more they fight one another, regardless of the slogans they inscribe on their green banners, the weaker Islam becomes – and the more secure we’ll feel.

As it is, the West has used the most radical Islamic elements to unseat the most secular, and therefore least Islamic, governments in the Middle East, those of Iraq, Egypt, Libya – with Syria soon to follow. That all the deposed governments were utterly disgusting doesn’t mask the stupidity of assuming that their ousters are any better.

In fact, we’ll soon find out that they’re much worse. Meanwhile, congratulations to Messrs Cameron and Hollande for their political victory. Or, to be more precise, for their defeat of sanity.  





Mr Bumble is being vindicated

Dickens made this worthy gentleman demur when told that “the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction.” Undaunted, Mr Bumble replies, “If the law supposes that … the law is a ass.”

This shows that even in Victorian times laws governing relations between the sexes were fraught with dissent. I wonder how those corseted ladies and top-hatted gentlemen would feel about today’s Walpurgisnacht.

One can venture a guess how Nick Ross feels about it. Befuddled and scared, would be a safe bet.

For many years Mr Ross presented BBC’s popular show Crimewatch, and he wisely used the time to gather much material for his book Crime, which is just out. No doubt he expected laudatory or at least decent reviews. What he got instead was tarring and feathering, a punishment so severe that one would think Mr Ross had committed the eponymous offence.

Indeed he has, if we regard any display of common sense as a crime. Here’s what Mr Ross wrote: “Half of all women who have had penetrative sex unwillingly do not think they were raped… they led him on, they went too far, it wasn’t forcible, they didn’t make themselves clear… They feel it is a long way removed from being systematically violated or snatched off the street.”

Sounds sensible, but not to Jo Woods, a trustee of Rape Crisis: “I feel absolute fury.” And not to Jacqui Hames, who co-presented Crimewatch with Ross for 16 years: “…struggling to match the man I know with the comments!!!! What on earth is going on?”

I can tell you exactly what’s going on, Jacqui: a man has shown a modicum of sanity in a mad world. Tarred and feathered? Why, the culprit must be put away for life, and then only because we no longer have the death penalty.

Yet if we all took a pill and recovered our mental faculties we’d see that, according to the shrill critics, rape is the only crime that’s supposed to have no gradations whatsoever. This is indeed a startling addition to the history of jurisprudence.

Just look at other crimes against the human body. If, for example, a chap throws a couple of punches at another chap in the King’s Head, the offence would probably be classified as affray.

If one of the punches closes the victim’s eye and the other knocks a tooth out, it’s ABH (Actual Bodily Harm).

If the victim falls awkwardly and breaks his arm, the pugilist is looking at GBH (Grievous Bodily Harm).

If instead of throwing punches, the first chap grabs a knife off the bar and plunges it into the other chap’s belly, it’s attempted homicide.

If the victim actually dies, it’s unlawful killing.

If the attacker doesn’t use the knife immediately but waits for the other chap in the car park and then kills him, it’s murder.

The lawyers among you may question a point or two, but not the general idea. Which is, there’s assault and there’s assault. They’re not all the same.

This goes for any other crime I can think of: for instance, a burglar breaking into an old woman’s flat and nicking her hearing aid won’t be treated in law with the same severity as a burglar who breaks into The National Gallery and steals a Vermeer.

Yet here we are, expected to believe that a man who gets into bed with his girlfriend and after some inventive foreplay fails to realise that this once her ‘no’ actually means ‘no, is as culpable as two degenerates who snatch a woman off a bus, rape and beat her viciously and leave her for dead. One would think that nobody would be so stupid as to put forth this proposition.

Nobody is. Stupidity has nothing to do with it – the problem, alas, is much deeper than that.

Any modern state desperately wants to conquer, which is why it wants to divide. And destroying the traditional interplay between the sexes is the most important part of this divisive strategy.

Dickens’s contemporaries would be appalled at the tricks today’s state employs to this end, those same tricks we’ve been brainwashed to take for granted.

Abortion on demand (and on the taxpayer), encouragement of cohabitation, regarding homosexuality as not just legal but as a perfectly valid choice, no injunction against public displays of secondary (and sometimes primary) sexual characteristics, same-sex marriage, test-tube babies eventually making a man redundant, eagerly awaited human cloning making both a man and a woman redundant, acceptance and encouragement of out-of-wedlock births – what would Mr Bumble say?

Regarding any sex without permission as equally criminal falls into the same category. A drunk man copulating with a drunk woman, with neither of them remembering much of it the next morning, may or may not have committed a crime against the woman – it’s a matter of opinion.

What is a matter of fact is that the man has committed a crime against the state, by transgressing against the ethos the state is trying to impose. Such crimes are always punished with greater certainty and severity than any crime against an individual.

Thus a serial burglar who has burgled 100 houses and got caught on the 101st, having stolen £1,000,000 worth of goods all told, is likely to get off with a slap on his wrists. A man who has evaded the same amount’s worth of tax will surely go to prison for a long time.

Affray motivated by sheer thuggery will earn the perpetrator a fine, at worst. The same action accompanied by racial or religious invective will land him in prison. Why, since the victim’s nose would bleed just as profusely in both instances? The answer is simple: in the first instance the thug strikes a man in the face; in the second, he strikes against the state’s ethos and therefore the state.

It’s the same everywhere. In New York, for example, only the killing of a policeman is classified as first-degree murder. In the old days, when a human life had an absolute value, murder was murder, regardless of the victim’s occupation.

Nick Ross has betrayed himself as a normal, sensible man. Such a crime never goes unpunished these days – the state can tolerate burglaries, muggings and car crime. It’s only appeals to sanity that are seen as a direct threat to its power.

Mr Mani, meet Mr Parris

Tony Blair devoted his life to fighting ‘the forces of conservatism’. Not literally of course: everyone knows that Tony devoted his life only to Tony. However, there’s no denying that hatred of conservatives came closer than anything else to what may be loosely described as Tony’s heart.

It is in this sense that Dave is truly, and not just self-admittedly, ‘heir to Blair’. A slight problem is caused by the minor inconvenience of Dave leading the Tory party and not, like Tony, Labour. As a true heir to Blair, therefore, Dave detests every belief residing in the viscera of his party.

This was bound to create some tension with the party faithful, and so it has proved. Predictably Dave’s feelings for conservatives are most heartily reciprocated.

Writing in The Times, Matthew Parris put his finger right on it. Real conservatives “loathe the leader of their party: loathe him for personal as well as ideological reasons. It’s no exaggeration to say that these people would rather see their party lose an election than win under Mr Cameron’s leadership.”

One suspects it is a bit of an exaggeration. But the first part of the sentence does represent insightful analysis, for which Mr Parris isn’t widely known. However, if he’s right in the second part as well, then such lack of party loyalty is most regrettable.

By inference, Dave himself unfailingly puts party interests before his own. If the only way for the Tories to win an election would be a coalition with UKIP, and if Farage persists in saying that this isn’t on for as long as Dave is the leader, Dave would selflessly step aside. Wouldn’t he? Of course he would. And pigs will fly, tactfully giving a wide berth to Muslim neighbourhoods.

The conundrum is unsolvable: Dave is at odds with most of those who have traditionally voted for his party. It’s as if two tectonic plates have slammed together and a crack is widening at the fault line.  

There’s little doubt which side Mr Parris supports. To make this perfectly clear he writes that traditional Tories represent the ‘forces of darkness’, while “David Cameron’s Tory modernisers [are] the ‘forces of light’.” Mr Mani, ring your office. Your sect has just claimed another member.

From then on Parris abandons Manichaean terminology and deploys the language of either a detective investigating a dastardly conspiracy, or else that of a military man plotting the rout of enemy forces.

As a paid-up, card-carrying member of the nutters, swivel-eyed loons and fruitcakes lurking in the shadows, I may sum up what makes us such forces of darkness – specifically the areas in which we’re at odds with the light shining out of Dave’s various orifices.

We believe that Britain should be a sovereign country, just as it has been since time immemorial.

We also think it should pay its way, encourage all Brits to do the same – and, more important, discourage them from not doing so.

We support the idea that everyone should obey the law, and that those who don’t must be severely punished. The laws we obey should come from God and our own government, not from any other political entity and not from any religion foreign to these Isles.

We believe marriage is a union between a man and a woman, not between any two arbitrarily selected mammals.

We think that medicine and education should tend, respectively, to people’s bodies and minds, rather than acting as a laboratory for social engineering.

We believe the flood of immigration should be reduced and that of cultural aliens stopped altogether – and preferably reversed.

In short, the forces of darkness are made up of those who believe everything the likes of Matt and Dave abhor. The duo sense with the unerring instinct of Pavlovian dogs that in a Britain run by such forces the ‘forces of light’ would form a tiny halo on the margins. It’s a matter of life or death – the life of the country, the death of vacuous, trendy, lefty posturing devoid of any intellectual or moral substance.

How does one protect Matt-and-Dave’s bailiwick? “The Admiral Byng strategy, I fear,” suggests Mr Parris. “A handful must be shot pour encourager les autres.” Now Byng was shot literally, for failing ‘to do his utmost’ in the battle of Minorca. Parris is longing for conservatives to be shot, one hopes only figuratively at this stage, for, well, being conservative. Quoting Voltaire in this context is apposite, although Lenin would be even better.

What should be the battle plan in the war against the forces of darkness? “Pretext must be found to single one or two rebels for extraordinary punishment: the sacking of a minister… the removal of the whip from a backbencher who starts crowing about deals with UKIP…”

And consequently, though Parris doesn’t say this, the effective disfranchising of every conservative in the country. Now that we bandy French phrases about, à la guerre comme à la guerre.

“Not another yard, Prime Minister, not another inch,” Parris blows his beagle – sorry, I meant bugle, or whatever else these people blow. “Attack!”

Do attack, Dave. The forces of light, whose line of battle traverses Holland Park and Islington, will salute you – and, one hopes, will perish together with you. Just like those Roman gladiators shouting morituri te salutant. And if you don’t know what this means, your military advisor Matthew ‘Mani’ Parris will be happy to translate.

Racism isn’t what it used to be

As our sensibilities become more acute and our sense of propriety more heightened, we refine and broaden our notion of racial slurs.

What in the recent past would have been considered an innocent joke is well on its way to becoming an imprisonable offence. In a parallel development, what used to be treated as an imprisonable offence, incitement to terrorism, has become a valid expression of diversity.

Yet as our keen sensibilities gently waft up to cloud cuckoo land, there’s Russia to remind us of the times olden and golden. The times when a racially offensive remark was longing for genocide, rather than a simple acknowledgement that certain indigenous racial characteristics do exist.

As an example of the earth-bound gravitational pull exerted by Russia, witness the current scandal involving decorative items made out of human skin. As an example of the gravity-defying, airy-fairy motion in the opposite direction, observe the Western race scandal revolving around the stereotypical dietary habits of American blacks.

The latter is closer to home, so let’s start with that. Two golfers, Sergio García (white) from Spain and Tiger Woods (half-black) from the USA have a history of bad blood. I don’t know what caused the original rift, but everyone who follows golf knows the two men can’t stand each other.

Building on this common knowledge, a humorous interviewer asked Mr García if he was planning to invite Mr Woods to dinner. Yes, replied the golfer, and I’ll serve fried chicken.

That delicacy is a staple in the southern states, and has been since time immemorial. Since black slaves were originally brought to that part of America, they too developed a taste for chicken pieces deep-fried in batter. This affection is by no means exclusive to them – the KFC chain was started by an impeccably white Kentucky Colonel Sanders, and it’s widely, if incomprehensibly, popular all over the world.

Still, Mr García was unmistakeably referring to Mr Wood’s complexion. Even so, the supposed insult doesn’t register very high on the seismic scale of racial invective. Suppose for argument’s sake that the roles were reversed and Mr Woods would say that he’d serve paella to Mr García. Would the ensuing outcry reach the same decibel level?

Certain racial stereotypes exist – and persist – because there’s an element of truth to them. The Jews are associated with chicken soup, the Italians with pasta, the North Africans with couscous, the French with frogs’ legs, the Russians with vodka. A reference to their culinary preferences would normally fall somewhere between ethnic awareness and an innocent jibe.

In the past that sort of thing wouldn’t even have registered, never mind caused a worldwide scandal. Yet our times are far from normal, and the way Mr García is being treated in the press makes it hard to distinguish between him and a cross-burning Ku-Klux-Klan member clad in a white bed sheet.

George O’Grady, the chief executive of the European tour, fanned a flickering flame into a brush fire. Trying to stick up for Mr García, he vouchsafed that the golfer has many ‘coloured athletes’ among his friends. What ignited passions wasn’t the echo of the old line ‘some of my best friends are Jewish’ but the word ‘coloured’.

Mr O’Grady meant well, but he got his modifiers terribly confused. In no way wishing to exculpate this egregious affront to human decency, family values and moral fibre, one still has to suggest that it’s not always easy to keep all those adjectives straight.

Our language is fluid, and what one day is considered a stylistically neutral description may the next day become a criminal insult. For example, when I was a child the word ‘Negro’ had no stylistic colouring whatever, as it were. Conversely, the word ‘black’ was regarded as a racist insult. The word ‘coloured’ was a colloquial and anodyne counterpart to ‘Negro’. These days Americans are supposed to say ‘Afro-American’, with the British favouring ‘Afro-Caribbean’.

Add to this a full repertoire of undeniably pejorative terms, and our vocabulary becomes a veritable minefield strewn with charges ready to go off. Messrs García and O’Grady stepped on a mine, and pieces of their hides are being blown all over our press, that vigilant guardian of probity.

Now compare this scandal to the one making news in Russia. Commenting on a film about Smersh, Soviet wartime counterintelligence, the liberal commentator Leonid Gozman took exception to the portrayal of those butchers as selfless heroes. On any moral level, he suggested, they were no different from the SS.

Now, thanks largely to Smersh’s good offices, 157,000 Soviet soldiers were executed by military tribunals during the war – often for such awful offences as telling a joke about Stalin or suggesting that German planes weren’t bad. Add to this at least twice as many shot out of hand without the benefit of even a kangaroo trial, and the casualties inflicted by Smersh on its own army outstrip those suffered by the US military in four years of desperate fighting against the Germans and the Japanese.

A comparison to the SS thus doesn’t sound particularly far-fetched, does it? Not so, according to the columnist Uliana Skoybeda. Writing for Russia’s highest-circulation daily, she expressed a heart-felt regret that the Germans hadn’t ‘made lampshades out of all the ancestors of today’s liberals’ – such as Mr Gozman, whose name is Jewish.

It has to be said that the Germans made a pretty good fist of that, though not, according to Skoybeda, good enough. They only managed to murder half the European Jews, with the other half left to procreate and eventually produce venomous snakes like Gozman with his libellous comparisons.

Now that’s what I call a racial slur (a Jew in Russia is a racial, not religious, entity). That’s how it was taken by the tiny Russian liberal press, while the dominant voice screamed all over the country that Gozman had only himself to blame – just as the Jews were largely responsible for their own holocaust.

We ought to be thankful to the Russians for reminding us what racism really is. So let’s just compare the two scandals and ask ourselves a rhetorical question, ‘Have we all gone mad?’











Spare a thought for Woolwich police

A friend of mine, a card-carrying fruitcake and swivel-eyed loon, may be British, but he simply doesn’t understand how this country works.

In his blog today he bemoans the tardiness of Woolwich police who took twenty minutes to arrive at the scene of yesterday’s massacre. Instead of being angry, he should instead give thanks that they arrived at all.

By doing so, our brave PCs put themselves in jeopardy. Even as we speak, they risk censure for at least three aspects of their action.

First, we must keep in mind that the lovely chaps who hacked the soldier to pieces are black, which ipso facto makes them existential victims. Moreover, not only have they been victimised themselves, but they also carry in their hearts the genetic memory of centuries of oppression and suffering.

Admittedly their suffering may have been less acute than what they inflicted with their meat cleavers, but it still can’t be dismissed lightly. Taking vigorous action against them could very easily be construed in some quarters as racial discrimination.

Now that crime, as I hope we all realise, is much worse than cutting a man’s head off. The poor chaps may have attacked a man, but abusing them in any way could be tantamount to assaulting their whole race. Hence it’s no surprise that Woolwich PCs, whose job description can also stand for Political Correctness, had to stop and think before acting.

Second, the victim-criminals are also pious Muslims, which they proved by shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ while chopping through those neck tendons. As such, they are answerable to the Sharia law which does provide for killing infidels.

I hope you’re not going to suggest that there’s anything wrong with Islam, or that it’s in any way inferior to any other religion, including the superstition that fed our society for the better part of a millennium and a half. It isn’t. In fact all faiths are equal, which is why our next monarch is going to defend them all equally. Quite right too.

My friend is himself a priest, so he must be comfortable with the notion of God’s laws taking precedence over secular ones. By murdering that soldier, the two chaps acted in accordance with the higher law. Fair enough, theirs may be different from my friend’s, but who’s to say it’s inferior? Certainly no one who wishes to avoid the charge of inciting religious hatred.

Such considerations no doubt detained the policemen even further. And that’s not all. The PCs knew that the criminals – nay, suspects! – were armed with aforementioned meat cleavers and also with guns. Since no one has yet repealed the law of self-preservation, the policemen, properly forewarned, had to forearm themselves with firearms.

Since they don’t habitually carry them, such inherently immoral weapons are kept under lock and key. There has to be a certain procedure for signing them out, and that sort of thing can’t be rushed.

I’m guessing here, but elementary PC morality must demand that appropriate forms be filled in triplicate and properly filed. Doesn’t my friend believe in Original Sin? He claims he does. Well then, policemen, being fallible and indeed fallen, must be kept a safe distance away from weapons they could use as tools of racial and religious discrimination. It’s for their own good, not just for the safety of our oppressed minorities.

Having checked the guns out, the policemen then had to spend some time pondering what they were going to do with them. The spectre of prosecution for using excessive force and therefore committing an unlawful killing must have loomed large, causing yet another delay.

Also, since for reasons stated above their weapons training must be limited, they had to spend a minute or two figuring out how put the magazine in, pull the slide back and slip the safety off – all without injuring themselves or innocent bystanders.

All things considered, it’s amazing they arrived after barely twenty minutes – and then actually assailed the blood-soaked suspects with guns. Mercifully, they didn’t kill them, for this would have constituted a wanton taking of two human lives. True, the suspects are themselves suspected of having taken a human life, but two wrongs don’t make a right, do they now?

What’s encouraging is our PM Dave’s resolute response. Pulling no punches, he referred to the Woolwich attack as ‘deeply shocking’. That’s the right thing to say, no doubt about that. ‘They [the wounded suspects] should know something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger,’ promised Dave.

Of course it will. Dave’s record of keeping promises being of sterling quality, we’ll rally together, close ranks and join Dave in campaigning for unlimited Muslim – and any other! – immigration. The odd hiccup notwithstanding, multi-culti diversity is what will ultimately make us strong.

Given such future empowerment, what’s a minute here or there among friends? A mere triviality, an insignificant fragment of the big picture. I do wish my friend could realise this.



P.S. In my yesterday’s piece, I erroneously identified Dominique Venner as a Catholic, which he wasn’t – mea culpa. This explains his chosen form of protest, to which I took exception, and also vindicates my suggestion that one doesn’t have to be a pious Christian to oppose same-sex marriage. Even the cloud of sloppy research is sometimes not without a silver lining. 



Same-sex marriage has become a matter of life or death

The death in question is that of Dominique Venner, eminent French writer and historian. After he made the news, bottom of Page 49 or thereabouts, the modifier ‘extreme right-wing’ has been inevitably attached to his name.

What an awful thing to be. I don’t know the French for ‘swivel-eyed loon’ or ‘fruitcake’, but if the words exist they’re doubtless being used to describe Dr Venner. The word conservateur definitely does exist, and in French it’s strictly, as opposed to ‘mostly’ in English, pejorative. Dominique Venner certainly was that.

Now what kind of views did the historian espouse to deserve such derogatory soubriquets?

In 1956, at age 21, he participated in the sacking of the offices of the French Communist Party to protest against the massacre of the Hungarian uprising. Naughty, naughty. It used to take a veritable fruitcake to find anything wrong with communism until the Russians said it was okay. Trust a loon to speak out of turn.

In 1961 Venner was sentenced to 18 months in prison for being a member of the OAS, an army organisation that took at face value de Gaulle’s promise that Algeria was and would remain French. A stint in pokey was just punishment for failing to grasp the nature of modern politics. Just because de Gaulle said that, it didn’t mean he was going to keep his promise, and it was silly of Venner not to have realised this.

Since then Dr Venner had had a distinguished academic, journalistic and publishing career. He wrote many books, all receiving wide critical acclaim, most translated into various languages and several awarded prestigious literary prizes. He also published and edited a few influential magazines.

Dr Venner’s literary output is variations on a central theme: a desperate desire to preserve what’s left of Western civilisation. You know, the anachronism that used to be called Christendom.

For example, he saw mass immigration of cultural aliens as – are you ready for this? – something that imperilled the Western civilisation he loved and the Catholic faith he practised. His love wasn’t tinged with hatred, as even his detractors had to admit. In an editorial Dr Venner wrote for his magazine La Nouvelle Revue d’Histoire, he made this perfectly clear:

‘The Japanese, the Jews, the Hindus and other peoples possess that treasure that has permitted them to confront the perils of history without disappearing. It is our misfortune that the majority of Europeans, and especially the French, are so impregnated with universalism that this treasure is lacking.’

Replace ‘French’ with ‘British’ and I, along with my fellow swivel-eyes loons, can only say ‘hear, hear’. But then what do you expect – we’re all fruitcakes. If we aren’t careful in our attacks on universalism we may find ourselves wearing not our customary tweeds but straitjackets. Dave will see to it.

Lately, when homomarriage was pushed down the throats of the French, as it has been shoved down our throats, Dr Venner spoke out in opposition. His proceeded mostly from his Catholic faith, but one doesn’t have to be a pious Christian to see the disastrous nature of this abomination.

Lord Tebbit the other day pointed out the dynastic ramifications of same-sex wedlock. If we had a lesbian queen, he asked, and she married her lover, with the two of them later adopting a child, would the baby be heir to the throne?

Only goes to show how far behind the times this proto-loon is. Doesn’t he know that destruction of the monarchy is the next job on our agenda, after marriage has been dead and buried? The answer to Tebbit’s question, and I know I speak for my friend Dave as well, is of course the baby would be heir to the throne. And if that means Britain becomes a republic, so much the better. Did I get this right, Dave?

Dr Venner already lived in a republic, yet he fought against the debauchment of our fundamental institution with as much vigour – and unfortunately more. The other day he wrote on his blog, ‘It will require new, spectacular and symbolic actions to rouse people from their complacency… We enter into a time when words must be backed up by actions.’

The action with which Dr Venner chose to back up his words was tragic. He went to the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris and blew his brains out in front of the altar, sending 1,500 tourists scampering for the exit. A few days earlier, another Catholic had also killed himself with a sawn-off shotgun outside the Eiffel Tower.

One can only regret that Dr Venner chose to express his righteous indignation in such an unrighteous way. For in protesting against what he correctly saw as a mortal sin, he committed a sin that’s much worse. He either didn’t know or didn’t heed what G.K. Chesterton said on this subject so poignantly:

‘Not only is suicide a sin, it is the sin. It is the ultimate and absolute evil, the refusal to take an interest in existence; the refusal to take the oath of loyalty to life. The man who kills a man, kills a man. The man who kills himself, kills all men; as far as he is concerned he wipes out the world.’

Perhaps that was Dr Venner’s intention, to wipe out the world that had become intolerable to him. That, however, wasn’t his prerogative but God’s. One can only pray that He will treat Dr Venner with His usual mercy.

Here on earth we should bracket Dr Venner with those Hungarian patriots he defended in his youth – they are all victims of our anomic, cannibalistic modernity. Or else martyrs to the worthiest cause of all: defence of virtue.

Dr Dominique Venner, RIP.


Art, anti-Semitism and The Times

If Classical and Romantic music revolves around the tonic-dominant polarity, one gets the distinct impression that whoever writes on such subjects in The Times favours the gin-dominant polarity instead.

In general, the effrontery of our journalists in passing bold judgment on subjects with which they’re barely familiar is most refreshing. But whenever they display this tendency to enlarge on topics dear to one’s heart, alarm bells begin to chime loudly and discordantly.

The other day, a wisely anonymous pundit delivered himself on the subject of Wagner (Art and Anti-Semitism) and, this being the 200th anniversary of the composer’s birth, we must brace ourselves for a veritable outpouring of similarly inane gibberish.

In particular, linking Wagner’s music with the article’s eponymous vice has a lot of mileage in it, and you can bet that every inch will be travelled back and forth. This, according to our anonym, ‘should not be shirked’ because it ‘exemplifies an uncomfortable truth. One of the supreme achievements of Western civilisation, ranking with Shakespeare and Michelangelo, was the work of an appalling man.’

The underlying assumption is that other supreme achievements of our civilisation have been the work of wing-flapping angels, which would be proved false by even a cursory examination of Western cultural history. We don’t know much about Shakespeare, but neither Michelangelo nor say Tolstoy, arguably the best novelist ever, was an exemplar of probity and moral goodness. As to Caravaggio, the pictorial answer to Wagner, he was simply a murderer.

That Wagner wasn’t a nice chappy is beyond doubt. However, ranking him with either Shakespeare or Michelangelo is a gross overstatement. It’s Wagner we’re talking about, not Bach, Mozart or Beethoven. Though no doubt a great musician, he didn’t sit in the first row of Western composers, and probably not even in the second.

As proof of his genius, the anonym states that Wagner ‘advanced the expressive power of music by developing, deliberately and triumphantly, a chromatic technique with scant precedence… thereby expressing intense emotion.’

This accolade displays a deficit of both education and taste. Wagner didn’t invent chromaticism ‘with scant precedence’. It’s Bach’s exploration of well-tempered tuning resulting in such sublime works as his Well-Tempered Clavier and Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue that could perhaps be credited with this innovation.

After Bach, chromaticism became an essential part of the musical language, as any listener of Mozart’s Fantasy in C Minor or Chopin’s last Mazurka will testify. Moreover, this Mazurka also contains a reasonable approximation of the Tristan chord, widely and too generously credited with redefining tonality.

That Wagner was a musical innovator is beyond doubt, but it’s sheer ignorance to suggest that his radicalism was best revealed in chromaticism or in expanding the limits of tonality, pursuits he doubtless advanced but far from ‘with scant precedent’. To be technical about it, his most innovative contribution to music perhaps lay in the suspension of tonic resolution until the absolute limit – all of Tristan is one continuous search for the tonic. In other areas, including the ‘expanded tonality’ of the Tristan chord, he borrowed liberally not only from Chopin but also from Liszt.

If the technical aspect of the article shows up the author’s ignorance, the comment about Wagner’s supposedly unprecedented ability to ‘express intense emotion’ reveals his lack of taste. I’d suggest that our anonym listen, off the top, to the final chorus or the duet of mezzo and violin from St Matthew’s Passion, or to the slow movement of Mozart’s K488. At a pinch I could, without straining myself, mention a couple of hundred other works, whose expressive power Wagner couldn’t approximate even remotely.

What Wagner added to the emotional palette of Western music wasn’t expressiveness but naked sensuality often bordering on downright vulgarity. He didn’t invent emotional expression; he just lowered it. In that Wagner jumped backwards to Germany’s pagan, sylvan past, leapfrogging the intervening centuries of Christendom. It wasn’t angels but hobgoblins that Wagner saw in his mind’s eye.

That’s why it’s wrong, when talking about Wagner’s disgusting philosophy, to say, as the anonym does, that ‘Wagner’s genius does not soften this characteristic but is independent of it.’ No artist is independent of his innermost convictions – he just expresses them in a different, indirect way.

Both Wagner’s philosophy and his music have the same provenance in Germany’s pre-Christian past, which the anonym acknowledges without even realising he’s refuting himself. ‘The racism Wagner espoused… runs through his operas.’ I’m confused: is Wagner’s music independent of his philosophy or is it not? It can’t be both, you know.

Having said all that, it’s sheer parochialism and philistinism to ban performances of Wagner. That is what Israel did until Daniel Barenboim rode in on his white horse called Self-Promotion. Banning art produced by men whose views we find abhorrent, be it anti-Semitism, liberalism or even paganism, is both wrong and fraught with danger.

Practically every Russian writer worth his salt, most emphatically including Dostoyevsky, was an anti-Semite. So were Chesterton, Belloc, Waugh and quite possibly Shakespeare. Céline wasn’t just a garden-variety anti-Semite but an out-and-out Nazi. Gabriel García Márquez was a communist. So was Picasso. Getting back to music, neither Chopin nor Brahms nor Rachmaninov nor Prokofiev nor especially Medtner had much time for Jews. Are we going to ban all their works? Before long we’d run out of good things to hear, see or read.

Artists should be judged for their art, full stop. Even though the art is never independent of the artist’s personality and philosophy, failings of the latter shouldn’t be held against the former.

By all means, let’s play Wagner’s music for those who have the enviable capacity for listening to it without dozing off. But do spare us inane commentary – of the kind The Times seems to wish to monopolise these days.







See what happens when we skimp on foreign aid?

A brave, courageous, gallant, valiant, freedom-loving, democracy-supporting [insert your own modifier] Syrian rebel Khalid al-Hamad has had to resort to desperate measures.

Driven to distraction by Assad’s stubbornness and the West’s meanness, he has decided to emphasise the plight of Syrian democracy-fighters by using every advantage of modern technology.

In a video that has gone viral on the Internet, he cuts open the body of an Alawite soldier, pulls the heart out and eats some of it. He then gives a Skype interview to Time magazine, justifying his action.

Some squeamish commentators are appalled, and indeed the video is strictly 18-rated (‘some viewers may find some of the images disturbing’). Words like ‘cannibalism’, ‘inhumanity’, ‘savagery’ are still being bandied about mindlessly.

Such haters of democracy miss the point. Yes, Abu Sakkar (Khalid’s nom de guerre), a Sunni born and bred, professed hatred for the Shiite Alawite sect and, by extrapolation, the Shiites in general. Yes, he did say, as he was munching on his chosen organ meat, ‘I hope we’ll slaughter them all.’ (Presumably, all of the world’s 163 million Shiites, but who’s counting? Numbers don’t change the principle.) And yes, such actions and statements may ostensibly justify some of the outrage the video has caused.

But only ostensibly. The commentators simply refuse to go to the heart of the matter, as it were. They refuse to acknowledge that any fighter for democracy in the Middle East is driven exclusively by noble, charitable motives. What they all have in their heart, as it were, is a desire to live as free men (and women!) under conditions of universal suffrage and parliamentary representation.

As we all know, such conditions are both essential and sufficient for the universal propagation of human goodness. Any man who fights for democracy is fighting for virtue – indeed he’s the very embodiment of virtue, a sort of St Francis, Mother Teresa and Good Samaritan all rolled into one.

This means that Abu doesn’t have a mean bone in his body, nor any malice in his heart, as it were. The poor man – and I’m proud of realising this – was just peckish.

Why does he, and by extrapolation all Syrian democracy-fighters, have to go hungry, barefoot and unarmed? Look deep into your own heart, as it were, and you’ll find the answer: they are starved of our supplies. That’s what drives them to dining on things not manifestly designed for human consumption.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s all society’s fault. Our society’s, to be exact. And if you don’t believe me, listen to our PM Dave who always takes the interests of democracy – and only such interests! – to heart, as it were.

‘Look,’ he said at an American press conference, and I love every sentence that starts that way, ‘if we don’t help the Syrian opposition who we do recognise as legitimate, who’ve signed up to a future for Syria that’s democratic, then extremism will grow.’

Hear, hear. Up with democracy, down with poncy words like ‘whom’ – ‘who’ is so much cosier, closer to the people, so much more democratic and therefore virtuous.

A Foreign Office mandarin bearing the traditional stiff-upper-lip mandarin name of Reza Afshar went into greater detail but stayed in the same spirit. Mr Afshar thinks the EU weapons embargo must be lifted immediately to encourage ‘the good guys’ like Sakkar to negotiate with ‘the bad guys’ like Assad.

‘The political reality,’ explained the man who runs Syria for the FCO, ‘is that in order to get them to the table we need to amend the arms embargo. It is that simple. They need an incentive.’  All sides in the Syrian conflict have access to weapons, lamented Mr Afshar, ‘except the good guys’ – like Sakkar.

Everything Dave and the mandarin tell us is God’s own truth. But it’s not the whole truth. For it’s not only weapons that the democracy-fighters are lacking but demonstrably also food.

In fact, several other videos starring Sakkar and his friends show him handling some fairly sophisticated kit, like multi-barrel grenade launchers, not to mention Kalashnikovs. But in that part of the world these don’t really count as weapons; they’re more like children’s toys. Still, by playing with such toys democracy enthusiasts have managed to make significant advances against ‘the bad guys’.

It’s food that they most urgently need, and Abu Sakkar’s take on gastronomy drives this point home. So I hope you’ll join me in putting pressure on Dave and other world leaders to strike a blow for the triumph of goodness (and taste).

Lift the weapons embargo, by all means – and if this involves a transfer of low-yield nuclear weapons to ‘the good guys’, then so much the better. However, we must also at least double our overall foreign-aid budget, for there are many other ‘good guys’ out there whose Swiss bank accounts are going as hungry as Sakkar obviously is.

Above all, let’s campaign for an immediate airlift of food to Abu Sakkar and his friends. God only knows what they’ll eat next if we suppress our charitable impulses. Ladies and gentlemen, have a heart! As it were.