Every public building in London is about to collapse

You don’t believe me? Well, this means you’re a doubting Thomas ready to reject incontrovertible evidence before your very eyes.

And if that’s true, as it has to be for lack of any other possible explanation, you’re a reactionary, obscurantist and… well, I’ve promised my wife not to swear during the festive season.

What facts, I hear you ask as you assume a belligerent pose. What on earth makes you think every public building in London is going to come down on our heads?

So happy you’ve asked me this. For now I can present both the facts and the subsequent irrefutable inference. Both boil down to a simple syllogism:

Thesis: The balcony of Apollo Theatre in the West End collapsed last night, injuring 75 people and scaring all others out of their wits. Antithesis: Apollo Theatre is a public building. Synthesis: All public buildings in London are unsafe.

Can you find a hole in this logic? What, big enough to drive a juggernaut through? A sample of one is statistically inadequate? Congratulations! You’ve just proved that the readers of this blog are smarter than the readers and writers of Nature and Science magazines.

Said magazines triumphantly reported the discovery made at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. Scientists at that venerable institution have managed to decipher the genome of a Neanderthal woman found in an Altai cave.

Actually what was found wasn’t a whole woman but a fragment of her finger bone, but the wonders of modern science are such that her full portrait can be reconstructed with absolute certainty.

The portrait, or perhaps the effigy, can then be put on public display at a science museum, with a plaque saying ‘Neanderthal woman, circa 50,000 years ago’. The plaque won’t tell impressionable visitors that what they’re admiring is merely some conjecture built on a bone fragment. (Chesterton was scathing about this sort of thing in his Everlasting Man.)

There’s no need: the perspicacity of evolutionary scientists can’t be questioned, especially when they’re out to prove that man descends from a single randomly self-created cell and therefore there is no God. So if they can look at a petrified finger joint and deduce that its possessor was a 5-foot tall woman with a broad nose, small brown eyes and large hairy breasts, who can argue against the inference?

Certainly not me, what with my lamentable and self-admitted ignorance of science.

Nor am I going to take issue with the Leipzig chaps’ finding that the finger’s parents were closely related, and therefore practised what in our Burgundian backwater is called le cinéma des pauvres. The local definition of a virgin is a 12-year-old who can outrun her brother, and looking at some of the locals one can believe that the ‘cinema of the poor’ just may be their entertainment of choice.

In fact what the scientists say rings true: the finger’s genetic mix is so limited that it had to come from close relations, like brother and sister. But then things get a bit dicey.

The Leipzig chaps reached, and Nature hacks bullhorned, the conclusion that therefore Neanderthals practised incest en masse. Poor things like the finger lived in caves, which somewhat limited their choice of sex partners.

The gonadically starved darlings had no choice but to turn to the nearest members of the opposite sex: Mum, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, little brother or big sister – whomever they could catch up with and hold down.

This explains why Neanderthals died out: you have your wicked way with next of kin for a few generations, that’s what going to happen. Mind you, the denizens of my Burgundian village haven’t died out yet, and in fact seem to be in robust physical, if not invariably mental, health.

But then again, they haven’t been at it long enough. Give them another 50,000 years, and it’ll be their bone fragments that nine-foot-tall scientists will be digging out of the ground. No doubt they’ll look at a finger or two and reach the conclusion that most Frenchmen and all Burgundians routinely practised incest circa 50,000 years ago, which is why so few of them are now nine-foot-tall.

It has to be said that a sample of one isn’t always regarded as sufficient in most kinds of research. For example, if I were the sole subject of a poll aiming to gauge public sentiments about our MPs, few sociologists would decide on this basis that most Brits regard politicians as vile, self-serving and stupid.

Nor would any sane person conclude on the basis of last night’s Apollo accident that most public buildings in London are about to do a Jericho. The only defensible conclusion is that all those present are entitled to a refund, and those injured to some kind of compensation. Also, they must all be spared inane jokes along the lines of, “Yes, but apart from that, how did you like the play?”

But when atheists are riding their hobby horse they can’t be dismounted. Normal logic, common sense, intellectual honesty and even scientific integrity have to fall by the wayside.

So yes, because the finger’s parents were kin, all Neanderthals were incestuous perverts who were too lazy to walk a few hundred yards to another cave full of willing females to whom they weren’t related.

That’s why they all became extinct, but not before evolving into Richard Dawkins. What other conclusion can there possibly be? Other than that there is no God because evolutionary anthropologists say so? None at all.

The Altai finger, RIP.





We may be heading for a new missile crisis

The German magazine Bild blew the whistle, and the Russians have now confirmed the allegation with a nonchalant shrug.

Yes, about a year ago they deployed 10 short-range Iskander-M missiles near Kaliningrad, né Königsberg. Yes, the missiles can carry nuclear payloads. Yes, they have a range of about 300 miles, enough to reach Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland and Germany, all NATO members. So what?

Oh, any number of things. First, the missiles would have been transported across Lithuanian territory, something in which that NATO member had to acquiesce.

This brings into question the continuing existence of this organisation, what with the number of former Warsaw Pact members within its ranks and the profusion of Soviet-trained officers in sensitive positions.

NATO emphasised its de facto demise in 2008 when it appointed the Hungarian Sandor Laborc to lead its Committee for Security and Intelligence. Considering that Gen. Laborc is a career KGB man and honours graduate of the KGB Dzerjinsky Academy in Moscow, methinks NATO secrets aren’t so secret any longer.

Second, the Russians have thereby acted on their threat, first enunciated by Putin’s stooge Medvedev in 2008, to counter America’s deployment of anti-missile defences in Poland.

Third, the Americans have already postponed indefinitely the fourth-stage deployment of the anti-missile system, which means they won’t be able to intercept incoming Russian missiles in any foreseeable future.

Fourth, the suppression of enemy radars and AA rocket sites is essential only if Russia plans to deliver a first strike and prevent a subsequent retaliation. All talk about the Iskanders being defensive is meaningless from a military point of view.

Moreover, you know and, more important, the Russians know that NATO will never deliver a pre-emptive first strike against Russia. The West simply doesn’t do pre-emption, whatever the urgency (hence its criminal dithering in 1938-1939 when the ensuing bloodbath could have been prevented with a relatively limited action).

Witness America’s current spineless reaction to this clearly offensive move. In short, there has been no reaction, never mind any talk of countermeasures.

It took Bild a year to cotton on to the Iskander deployment, but surely US intelligence satellites constantly hovering over the area knew about it the moment it happened. Yet no comment has so far been made, and America’s silence on the subject of this aggressive act has been deafening.

There are two possible reasons for such self-restraint, and one suspects that both have come into play.

On the one hand, the Americans still have their hands full in the Middle East. The Russians are currently serving a useful reminder that any ill-considered military adventure exacts a severe cost not only in lives and money, but also in the nation’s resolve. Give such an adventure enough time, and American students are going to start burning American flags, to the accompaniment of  ‘Hell no, we won’t go’.

The US government, expertly egged on by the neocons and other irresponsible ideologues, has effectively exhausted both the physical and moral resources to face up to real, as opposed to bogus, threats. Thus America is doing next to nothing to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, and she has chosen to keep a dignified silence on Russia’s worrying military build-up, of which the Iskanders are but one manifestation.

Second, and this may be even more worrying, the Americans may no longer regard KGB-run Russia as a potential threat – this in spite of the increasingly belligerent noises resonating through every speech by Putin and his minions.

The Americans have their own binary system of assessing other countries’ potential for danger, whereby they ask one question only: is the country democratic or not? If the answer is yes, then they happily reiterate Jeane Kirkpatrick’s fallacy that democratic countries don’t wage wars on one another.

In fact there have been at least 50 such unfortunate conflicts, albeit typically involving countries whose commitment to democracy is more tactical than heartfelt. So do the Americans, specifically those of the neocon subspecies, believe that Russia is any different?

If that’s the case, it’s time they faced the facts. Russia, wholly controlled by the most murderous organisation in history, is on her way, if she isn’t there already, to becoming a fully fledged fascist state.

As such, Russia is as deeply hostile to the West as she has been for the last 100 years, and arguably for much of her history. As the self-appointed leader of the free world, the United States had better realise this and act accordingly.

Instead her binary approach to geopolitics, carefully nurtured by the neocons, rules the roost. The Russians get to vote Putin or his dummies in every few years, don’t they? Then they are the good guys, just like us.

This shows yet again that most bad policies are rooted in bad philosophies. Anyone adequately grounded in political and moral philosophy knows that the proper question to ask when assessing a country is not ‘Is it democratic?’ but ‘Is it good?’.

It takes a woeful misreading of history, philosophy and – dare one say it? – theology to regard both questions as one and the same. But I can’t think of a single Western leader who isn’t ignorant in those disciplines, and whose ignorance isn’t accompanied by moral turpitude. Can you?


P.S. It’s official: three days have passed since Mandela’s death, and he still hasn’t risen. I feel cheated.

Afghanistan: mission falsified

One has to feel for Dave.

When a reporter asked him whether Britain will withdraw her troops from Afghanistan feeling that the mission has been accomplished, what was he supposed to say?

There are all sorts of gradations to the possible replies, but basically they all boil down to two options.

Option 1 (honest): “I’m afraid not. Our 446 soldiers have died in vain – their heroic sacrifice has accomplished nothing at all.”

Option 2 (mendacious): “To me, the absolute driving part of the mission is a basic level of security so it doesn’t become a haven for terror. That is the mission, that was the mission and I think we will have accomplished that mission and so our troops can be very proud of what they have done.”

Since by now you know my friend Dave as well as I do, you’re not getting any prizes for guessing that Option 1 is hypothetical, whereas Option 2 is what he actually said.

But do let us indulge a wild fantasy. Let’s imagine that we’re being led by statesmen, with Dave as the acknowledged leader, rather than spivs, with Dave as the brightest example. This is what our idealised Dave would have said:

“Our involvement in the Middle East highlights the danger of Britain impersonating a poodle, with America yanking her lead.

“It was for purely selfish, hubristic reasons that Blair’s government allowed itself to be dragged into a predictably doomed conflict.

“Since it was clear to any sensible individuals, here or in America, that attacking Iraq was illegal, immoral and, which is worse, stupid, the aggressors had to keep moving the goal posts. The more they did so, the more every shot resulted in an own goal.

“First they claimed that the aim of the invasion was to destroy the nasty weapons Iraq was supposed to be stockpiling – even though there was no intelligence to that effect.

“Having routed the Iraqi army, inflicted untold misery on the country and found no WMDs, the Americans, with Britain on a short lead, declared that the actual objective was a ‘regime change’.

“Having destroyed the country, the Americans then had to declare that their real aim had been ‘nation building’ all along.

“As part of said construction project, the Americans vowed to introduce a fully functional democracy in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. It had escaped their short-span attention that at no time in their 15-century history had Islam displayed the slightest affection for this form of government.

“Alas, our American friends labour under the typical philistine misapprehension that everyone in the world is at heart either just like them or desperately wishes to become so.

“This contradicts not only elementary common sense but also all available evidence. But neither obstacle can ever deter fire-eating ideologues, especially those with messianic aspirations.

“As a result of this, the American-led coalition (basically the Yanks and us) has turned the Middle East into a powder keg ready to explode at any time. Nasty but secular regimes have been replaced by jihadist fundamentalists throughout the region.

“About a million people have already lost their lives – this with the coalition troops still trying to police the region. Their impending withdrawal is likely to add an order of magnitude to the body count.

“The whole region has been destabilised, civil strife has become commonplace everywhere, from Egypt to Syria to Iraq to Afghanistan. With Turkey likely to be drawn in, NATO’s southern flank has been put in strategic danger.

“As a direct result, not only the Middle East but indeed the whole world has become a much more dangerous place. Having shed close to a trillion dollars and God knows how many lives, the coalition can boast only of a hugely negative accomplishment.

“And specifically Afghanistan? True enough, at the very beginning our aims were modest. All we wanted to do was drive the Taleban out, block al-Qaeda’s way in, make the country more secure and less hospitable to terrorists.

“But then we got greedy. In 2006 my friend Tony, egged on by our American masters, decided to step up our involvement and beef up our troops. The newly declared aim was now in line with the Americans’ congenital messianism.

“Now we too strove – idiotically and criminally, as I now have to admit – to rebuild Afghanistan, turning it into a Western-style democracy. We also undertook to destroy the opium industry, the country’s main source of income.

“Unfortunately, if predictably, the achieved results have turned out to be the opposite of the stated aspirations.

“The opium industry not only hasn’t disappeared but has actually grown, as has the monumental corruption for which the country has been known throughout her history.

“It’s clear to anyone with an IQ above Aghanistan’s median temperature (centigrade), that the moment we leave in a year’s time, the country will instantly be converted into a giant al-Qaeda base, a factor of clear and present danger.

“We’d be deceiving ourselves if we thought that the Afghan army and security forces have now been sufficiently trained and equipped to handle the job by themselves. In fact, both their training and equipment are grossly insufficient, as is, more important, their morale. They’ll either be routed or will fight on the side of various cannibalistic warlords.

“It’s true that it was Tony who dragged us into this whole blood-sodden mess. But having declared myself ‘heir to Blair’, I’ve failed even to try to limit the damage.

“On the contrary, I too have grasped the chance to ride the Americans’ coattails to the personal status of a world statesman.

“All I can do now is apologise, in the full realisation that any apology for such a catastrophe will ring hollow. I can also promise that, given the chance, I’ll avoid such hubristic errors in the future.”

How often we harbour fantasies; how rarely they come true. If Dave were capable of delivering such a speech, he’d be a different man. And we’d have a very different country.





Language politics can be leftie too

It’s usually possible to guess a man’s political views without ever bringing up politics.

For instance, a political conservative is unlikely to express enthusiasm for pop music, ‘conceptual’ sculpture, garden cities, vegetarianism, same-sex marriage, facial metal, yoga or body art. And it’s impossible that in writing he’d ever choose BCE and CE over BC and AD.

Nor can one easily imagine a conservative sporting a tattoo, say ‘ACAB’ on his knuckles (for the benefit of those who’ve led a sheltered life, this stands for All Cops Are Bastards). Such telltale signs may of course mislead, but not often.

Of all possible signs, language is by far the most reliable. It’s not hard to understand why.

All ruling elites share the need to exercise crowd control. When the majority stops being silent and becomes vociferous it can easily loosen the elite’s hold on power, something no elite in history has ever welcomed.

There exist only two discernible methods of controlling a potentially restless crowd: coercion and brainwashing. All modern elites without exception use both, but in different combinations.

Crudely, and only for this ad hoc purpose, dividing all modern states into totalitarian and democratic, one can observe that the former mix the two ingredients in roughly equal proportions, perhaps favouring violence slightly, while the latter mostly have to rely on brainwashing.

But this is a matter of proportion only: both types of modern regimes use both methods. They must therefore enforce their monopoly on both violence and language.

Because so-called democratic regimes are somewhat limited in their use of violence, they have to place a heavy emphasis on controlling language. What people say, and how they say it, may threaten the elites more than anything people do.

Our ruling elite, regardless of what parties it represents, inclines to the soft left. The hard variety is generally marginalised in the West, although this may change as the EU edges closer to the precipice.

The vocabulary of the soft left has to be more subtle: slogans like “kill [capitalists, priests, Jews, blacks, whites, aristos and so forth]” can’t yet be part of their lexicon, and neither has the public been sufficiently primed to heed such calls.

Few people realise that the language of political correctness, its vocabulary, grammar and even phonetics, represents the elite’s way of managing dissent. By brainwashing the populace into believing that some words, phrases, grammar and even pronunciation are so immoral that they should be made illegal, the soft-left elite achieves the same end as the Bolsheviks did by making the starving children of murdered parents chant “Thank you, Comrade Stalin, for our happy childhood.”

Since Comrade Stalin was also at liberty to torture people to death, there was precious little dissent during his rule. Here the situation is still different.

Comrade Cameron or even Comrade Miliband can’t rely on violence to the same extent, although our elite is beginning to acquire some taste for criminalising word and even thought. That’s why residual resistance still has some, albeit attenuating, strength.

Language being the battleground on which the elite clashes with the dissidents, it has become a clearly visible watershed. The line runs between the elite backed up by those willing to submit to its logocratic rule and those who still have the temerity to resist it.

One example from today’s BBC sports website: “West Brom will inform their new head coach that they will have to lead the club to Premier League safety.”

Unless this football club decides to appoint Siamese twins, which is statistically unlikely, the team’s new head coach will be singular. Moreover, and I know I’m going out on a limb here, he’ll probably be a man.

This isn’t in any way to imply that a woman would be congenitally incapable of managing a football team, God forbid. It’s just that so far no major football club has ever appointed a female manager, and one doubts a team locked in relegation struggle would wish to blaze that particular trail in mid-season.

So why not follow the singular, implicitly male antecedent with the singular, masculine, utterly appropriate pronoun ‘he’? Moreover, how can people who use the English language professionally be so utterly tone-deaf? Can’t they see that the sentence violates not only grammar in particular but also elementary taste in general?

Anyone asking such questions misses the point. The BBC, along with most of our media, is the mouthpiece of the ruling soft-left elite. That’s why it not only acquiesces in linguistic mangling but actively promotes it.

The implicit message is, “Yes, we know that what our friend Tony called ‘the forces of conservatism’ will cry havoc when hearing such phrases. Well, they can go boil an egg.

“Our mission is to control the populace by controlling their speech, and control their speech we will. To weaken resistance we’ll make sure that schools neither teach proper English nor encourage any affection for it.

“Once the people have accepted our diktat in such seemingly small matters, they’ll think it churlish to object to more serious sabotage. For example, if they accept that ‘gay’ is the only proper word, while ‘homosexual’ is iffy and, say, ‘poofter’ borderline illegal, they won’t have any leg to stand on when we insist that ‘gay persons’ can get married.”

This is how the soft left works, by taking small incremental steps rather than bold leaps. Some of its attacks on decency and tradition, such as ‘gay’ marriage, only seem to have come out of the blue. In fact, all the necessary groundwork had been laid meticulously and deliberately.

We have no means of resisting this escalating onslaught actively. But passive resistance is possible: everyone must mind HIS language, refusing to submit to PC usage – and mocking it when others fail to do so.

A good man can’t be a Marxist, Your Holiness

Following some criticism of his remarks on economics, Pope Francis has denied that he’s a Marxist. “Marxist ideology is wrong. But in my life I have known many Marxists who are good people, so I don’t feel offended.”

I’m happy that His Holiness has taken criticism in his stride: insulting the Pope would be the last thing on the mind of anyone who respects the throne he occupies.

However, the best way to pre-empt such criticism in the future would be for the pontiff to steer clear of this subject altogether. Otherwise he lays himself wide open to slings and arrows.

I for one have never met a good man who’s a Marxist. I’ve met many good souls who describe themselves as Marxists but, when probed, display total ignorance of that doctrine. But this only means that I’ve met many good-natured ignoramuses who aren’t very bright.

But all Marxists who espouse this doctrine in the knowledge of what it is are wicked. That is, unless you can fault the logic that promulgators of evil are themselves evil.

I don’t know how closely His Holiness has studied the works of Marx or Engels, or if he has ever opened them at all. Here’s a quick quotation from a man who has.

Adolf Hitler readily acknowledged his indebtedness to Marxism in private, even as he attacked it in public. Hermann Rauschning recalls in his memoir Hitler Speaks the führer saying that “the whole of National Socialism” was based on Marx. “I have learned a great deal from Marx,” conceded Hitler, “as I do not hesitate to admit.”

Has the Pope known many Nazis who are good people? Would he ever say that?

True enough, not only Hitler but also his fellow satanists further east owe Marx a debt of gratitude. Every evil they perpetrated sprang from the principles enunciated in the writings of Marx and Engels.

Slave labour (what The Communist Manifesto describes as creating ‘labour armies’), abolition of all private property, keeping those who disagree in concentration camps (‘specially guarded places’, in Engel’s phrase), homicidal atheism, anti-Semitism, genocidal or ideological mass murder are all spelled out in the founding documents of Marxism.

For the sake of brevity I’ll only give you a little flavour, and boy does it stink to high heaven.

“All the other [non-Marxist] large and small nationalities and peoples are destined to perish before long in the revolutionary holocaust. For that reason they are now counter-revolutionary… these residual fragments of peoples always become fanatical standard-bearers of counter-revolution and remain so until their complete extirpation or loss of their national character… [A general war will] wipe out all this racial trash.”

 “…only by the most determined use of terror against these Slav peoples can we, jointly with the Poles and Magyars, safeguard the revolution… there will be a struggle, an ‘inexorable life-and-death struggle’, against those Slavs who betray the revolution; an annihilating fight and ruthless terror – not in the interests of Germany, but in the interests of the revolution!”

“We have no compassion and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror.”

Yet perhaps the greatest damage caused by this diabolical doctrine is philosophical. Like his fellow intellectual terrorists Darwin and Freud, Marx stepped outside his ostensible field, economics in his case, to inflict upon subsequent generations a wicked way of looking at human societies.

It’s thanks to Marx that intellectuals and laymen alike predominantly see society as a battleground for two belligerently hostile classes: the haves and the have-nots, or the bourgeois and the proletariat in simon-pure Marxist terminology.

Evil ideologies are deliberately designed by evil men to encourage evil in others. If, for old times’ sake, we equate evil with the seven deadly sins, then Marxism actively encourages most of them.

I can think of few ideologies more evil than the one telling most people that their relative poverty is both unjust and correctable by political, preferably violent, action. The fervour of violence inspired by Marxism intensifies as we move eastwards in Europe. But the underlying assumption holds sway everywhere.

In fact, the phrase “We’re all Marxists now”, first used 50 years after the publication of The Communist Manifesto, keeps popping up in the writings of even those who ought to know better, such as in the essay Can We Be Good Without God? by the American professor Glenn Tinder. Well, include me out, as his countrymen would say.

This view of the world is cannibalistic in theory and manifestly wrong in practice. A civilised society isn’t made up of warring factions. It’s a complex structure organised as a hierarchy of ranks. The more successful an economy (and only a free economy can be successful), the more it encourages productive aspiration rather than, as Marxism does, destructive envy.

Any ideology aiming to impose a uniform world order is wicked – regardless of its ostensible worthiness. Any attempt to practise the kind of universalism such ideologies preach, be it class struggle, racial purity, equality, democracy or what have you, will always fail – but not before causing untold misery and murdering millions.

Marxism is, without close seconds, the most pernicious of such ideologies – both in theory and in practice. If we discount the ignoramuses to whom Lenin referred as ‘useful idiots’, then there’s only one kind of good Marxist. A dead one.

Mea culpa: Trenton Oldfield has kindly pointed out a factual error in my piece about him. Apparently the court decision to overturn his deportation was based not on his wife’s and daughter’s race but solely on his character. I apologise for this oversight, and my only excuse is that it was also committed by every newspaper in the land. I also commend Mr Oldfield for ignoring my harsh but fair comments about his character.

Mea maxima culpa: A Catholic priest has pointed out a theological error in my facetious laments that Nelson Mandela still hasn’t risen. As the Father correctly observed, the rising should occur on the third day after the funeral, not death. Since Mr Mandela was only buried yesterday, watch this space.

Sorry, Georgi, you’ll have to ask for your benefits in English

On the face of it, the idea unveiled by Iain Duncan Smith, Secretary of State for Works and Pensions, is sound. Any immigrant seeking benefits will have to prove that his English is good enough to find a job in Britain.

But in fact the proposed law is so lacking in intellectual rigour that it’s well-nigh unworkable. It’ll be scuppered by its own holes even before the EU punches new ones.

I’m not going to comment on the near certainty that the European Commission will probably block this law (it has the power to do so, you know). Before the proposal even gets that far it’s likely to be killed by the devil residing in the details.

Question 1: What kind of job are we talking about? A psychiatrist and a bus boy both need to use English to earn a crust, but the linguistic demands they face are different.

An immigrant Bulgarian shrink is as unlikely to seek employment in a gastropub as a Bulgarian bus boy is to open a consultancy in Harley Street. Will the English test they’ll have to take be individually skewed? Somehow one doubts that.

In other words, tests differ, and how they differ must depend on the end they’re designed to achieve. Are they supposed to let as many as possible in or to keep as many as possible out?

For example, the English test for foreign doctors in the USA clearly falls into the second category. I used to help a few Russian physicians prepare for that exam, and I can say with absolute certainty that at least half of native-born Americans would have failed it.

I remember one question (out of hundreds). “Choose the right word: John is one of those people who [a) like, b) likes] order.”

It’s hard to see how providing the correct answer would simplify querying patients for diagnostic purposes. And how many native speakers, including doctors, would answer this question correctly? One percent? Two?

Question 2: Would the Social have enough employees qualified to administer such a test?

Fair enough, most will smell a rat if, when asked what his name is, a swarthy chap replies, “Jop sicker allowvance.” But what if a deeper probe is required?

Most social workers I’ve ever met would have failed the second-year English test at a Moscow secondary school circa 1970. Are they now expected to check the proficiency of those who may have passed such tests?

Methinks they’ll have to make many judgment calls they aren’t qualified to make, leaving the government open to accusations of discrimination. Any half-competent lawyer would salivate at the thought of such easy cases. 

The doctors’ test I mentioned earlier was discriminatory in that it demanded that new arrivals be more familiar with the nuances of English grammar than could have been reasonably expected from the natives.

But any test checking the knowledge of more than 750 words in this country would be equally discriminatory: the benefit seeker would be expected to have a wider active vocabulary than a large and growing proportion of native Englishmen.

It’s hard not to notice, for example, that most foreign footballers who’ve played in this country for more than a couple of years have a better command of English than most of their English colleagues. Nor do they have to swallow hard every other word to stop themselves from using desemanticised obscenities in TV interviews.

Will their benefit-seeking countrymen be expected to be at that level of proficiency on arrival? If not, what level are we talking about? And how soon after arrival?

Too many difficult questions and too few easy answers spell a legal quandary. It’s all much too complicated for words, and the legal complexities will be such that we’ll have to import swarms of foreign lawyers to cope with the overflow.

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is a time-honoured principle, and in that spirit I’d like to offer a modest proposal guaranteed to simplify matters.

There’s no need to administer convoluted tests checking the applicants’ linguistic prowess, their job-seeking history in the home country and here, their length of residence and what have you.

Instead we should introduce this simple rule: No foreign national is entitled to any UK benefits, including access to the NHS (other than in emergency cases).

It would be tedious to list all the ensuing gains. These would be considerable for our public (and therefore private) finances, immigration rate, demographics, culture, social life – you name it.

One thing is begging to be mentioned: crime rate. In the last 12 months almost 20 percent of all Romanians currently residing in the UK have been arrested for various crimes. Extrapolating this proportion to the likely absolute number of expected arrivals from Romania and Bulgaria (the two poorest countries in the EU), one gets that hollow feeling somewhere between the oesophagus and the stomach.

Not too much suspension of disbelief is needed to see that acting on my little proposal would limit immigration. This can’t be a bad thing, even though we all know (or are supposed to know on pain of punishment) that immigrants from places like Romania and Somalia enrich British life no end.

I wonder what the EU would have to say about that. Well, actually I don’t. I’d just love to see Barroso roll on the floor frothing at the mouth.

That viral selfie: Dave’s version

My friend Dave Cameron has been catching a bit of flak over that ‘selfie’ photograph of himself and President Obama flanking Denmark’s blonde PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt. It was she who took the shot.

By itself this would be unobjectionable, but the fact that the trio were thus amusing themselves in the middle of the memorial service for Nelson Mandela has drawn some criticism. According to the critics, the picture-taking episode fell somewhere between lèsemajesté and sacrilege, so Dave felt he had to respond.

Speaking ex cathedra in Parliament, he parried the slings and arrows with a witty remark, alluding to the fact that Helle is Neil Kinnock’s daughter-in-law: “Of course, when a member of the Kinnock family asks for a photograph, I thought it was only polite to say ‘yes’.”

Laughter all around, ‘hear, hear’ on both sides of the aisle, not a dry seat in the room.

But speaking to me in private over the bottle of his favourite Krug Grande Cuvée he always has at breakfast, Dave was more forthcoming. It’s with some trepidation that I’m posting his remarks here, but I know I can count on your discretion.

“So bloody what? It’s not as if I snogged that tart during Tutu’s eulogy or anything like that.

“Well, don’t get me excited, Steve bloody Kinnock is a lucky bastard – Helle is one sexy gel.

“Steve is jolly careless too. She lives in Copenhagen, he in Davos, that’s 800 miles. So fine, he doesn’t pay Danish taxes, good for him.

“But it may cost him in the end anyway, with the wolves circling, if you know what I mean. I wouldn’t have a moment’s peace if Sam was out on her own all the time, and as to Helle…

“That prat Barack, for example, fancies her something rotten, and in fact when we all snuggled together he managed to cop a feel, which is why Helle’s gob is wide-open in the picture.

“Michelle was none too pleased either, you know how unworldly those middleclass gels can get. Sam isn’t like that at all, she doesn’t mind, but then she isn’t middleclass. And anyway, fair’s fair, if you know what I mean.

“Afterwards Michelle told that prat Barack to conduct himself in a seemly, decorous manner befitting his exalted stature as the Leader of the Free World. ‘Stay away from that honky bitch,’ was how she put it, verbatim.

“I too had a bit of fun at Barrack’s expense. ‘Read David Copafeel lately, old boy?’ I asked, in jest of course. He didn’t get it and took exception to the word ‘boy’. Barack can be dreadfully touchy at times, what?

“So what on earth did I do wrong? I wasn’t the one who squeezed Helle’s whatsit, and it was Helle who put her hand on my cheek, not the other way around. I couldn’t have knocked it off without looking like a prat, could I now?

“Auspicious occasion? Commemorating a great man? Give me a break.

“It went on for four bloody hours, so what was I supposed to do, stand to attention the whole bloody time, like a bearskin outside Buck House? At least I didn’t chew gum like that prat Barack.

“And between you, me and the lamppost, how great a statesman was Mandela anyway? So fine, he didn’t murder too many people after he came out of the pokey. Big deal.

“I’ve never murdered anyone at all, so how come no one calls me a great bloody statesman?

“Tell you what, my record is a hell of a lot better than Mandela’s. He was in charge what, between ’94 and ’99? Well, the average income in South bloody Africa fell by 40 percent during those years.

“Had I done the same I’d be flogging crisps on Channel 4 and talking to the blue-rinse brigade on the din-dins circuit, like Tony, not sitting in Number 10. Under my government, actually mine and Clegger’s whose fault it all is, it’s only been down a few percent and everyone’s still screaming bloody murder.

“And look at South bloody Africa now. Unemployment – 40 percent. A third of those in work are on less than $2 a day. And Jo’burg looks like Hitler’s bunker after an Allied raid.

“Rape capital of the world, murder capital of the world. It’s open season on white farmers, and those who haven’t been killed yet are fleeing like rats.

“There’s half as many farmers now than before Mandela, and that’s a great statesman? So what does it make me, Winston bloody Churchill? Peri bloody cles? Abe bloody Lincoln?

“So fine, I did go to the bloody service, would have looked like a right prat if I hadn’t. I’m a P bloody M, so I do what needs doing.

“If what needs doing is to say that a commie terrorist is a great statesman, a bloody saint and Jesus Christ himself, fine, count me in.

“But don’t expect me to impersonate Lot’s bloody wife for four hours. I’d much rather feel up Steve’s wife, which I didn’t.

“Another soupçon of bubbly, old boy?”

I accepted some more of that nectar gratefully, patted my friend Dave on the shoulder – and woke up.

Trenton Oldfield spoiled the boat race and my morning

In 2012 the Australian Trenton Oldfield dived into the Thames and disrupted the Boat Race in the name of equality. He felt that elitism, of which the Boat Race was a toxic symbol, led to tyranny. The bizarre stunt was Trenton’s way of expressing his protest.

Since in those days mainstream papers still tolerated my presence, I wrote a piece about the poor man, blaming it all on his alma mater, the LSE. Since then Oldfield served seven weeks in prison, after which the Home Office ordered his deportation.

He appealed and an Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled in his favour. The gist of Oldfield’s argument was that if he was forced to leave the UK he wouldn’t be able to take his half-Indian wife and his quarter-Indian daughter back down under because Australians were “passive aggressive racists”.

As this put Oldfield in the news again, broadcast media looked for people to interview, and my name came up. I received a phone call, ostensibly to ask for an interview the next morning and surreptitiously to vet my suitability.

Ever the publicity hound, I agreed to the former even though that meant rearranging my plans – and miserably failed the latter.

“Are you happy that Trenton Oldfield won his case?” asked the researcher, in a tone brooking no disagreement.

“Er…,” I said. “I’m not sure.”

“But he has a right to protest, doesn’t he?” insisted the young lady, stressing all the key words.

“Yes he does,” I agreed. “But he forfeits that right when he breaks the law.”

“Don’t you think he was already adequately punished for that?”

“Perhaps,” I said. “I promise to consider this properly by tomorrow.”

Tomorrow never came, in the sense that the young lady didn’t ring me the next morning, as she had promised. Neither did she offer any explanation or apology, but then one doesn’t expect even elementary courtesy from today’s lot.

But I can’t fault the girl for perspicacity of a bloodhound acuity. Having sensed that my thoughts would be unfashionable, she vigilantly protected her listeners’ sensibilities.

However, had I miraculously slipped through her sieve, this is roughly what I would have said. I trust you won’t be offended.

What does ‘passive aggressive racist’ mean? In any context it’s oxymoronic. In the context of Australia, it’s moronic tout court. My Aussie friends tell me all sorts of horrid things about their country, but never do they suggest that a little quarter-Indian girl would be in mortal danger there.

Yet presiding Judge Kevin Moore accepted this idiocy as a valid reason to defy Theresa May and block Oldfield’s deportation.

“There’s no doubt of your character and the value you are to UK society generally,” said the judge in his concluding remarks. Well, speak for yourself, Your Honour.

Mr Oldfield’s character is at best odd and his value to UK society is at best nonexistent. But that’s only at best.

Protesting against inequality is like protesting against the grass being green or the sky being blue. Contrary to what the US Declaration of Independence says, all men are created unequal in every relevant category, and this will always be reflected in their social and economic status. Such is the way of the world and, like it or hate it, we must live with it.

Even if, as an LSE alumnus, young Trenton doesn’t accept this as a theoretical proposition, he still can’t ignore the supporting empirical evidence. Not a single place exists now, nor has ever existed, where inequality has been expunged. Not to see this, one has to be either blind or stridently cretinous. And Oldfield is fully sighted.

Granted, one can’t help being stupid. However one can and must refrain from expressing stupidity through criminal acts, like disrupting one of the world’s most venerable sporting events. Failure to exercise such self-restraint brings Oldfield’s character into considerably more doubt than Judge Moore allowed.

I’d describe Oldfield’s character as that of a stupid, borderline mad, potentially dangerous firebrand. Anyone familiar with the evidence supporting this assessment has to see Oldfield’s “value to UK society in general” as negative – unless we’re talking of nuisance value.

Does this mean he should have been deported? I’m still not sure – even though I would have welcomed such an outcome on purely aesthetic grounds.

Our 2007 law says that any alien jailed for more than 12 months must be deported when he comes out. Personally, I think that, to borrow Mr Bumble’s phrase, this law is ‘a ass’. Surely any alien convicted of a felony must be thrown out – we have enough of our own undesirables.

But, to borrow a Latin phrase, dura lex, sed lex. Loosely translated, this means the law may be ‘a ass’, but it’s still the law. Until it’s changed, as this one should be, no  provision will exist for the automatic deportation of relatively minor offenders.

Other than that, and I know I’m waxing downright relativist, this case must be considered in the context of others. Justice can’t be seen to be done if punishment for various crimes is out of synch with their comparative gravity.

For example, if a burglar gets a lighter punishment than someone who lies to the police about a speeding violation, justice in general is diminished. Extending this logic to Oldfield’s case, let’s remind ourselves that the Home Office took 11 years to deport Abu-Qatada – and only managed to do so when the Jordanian government graciously agreed to take him back.

Other preachers of hate and terrorism, regardless of their citizenship, continue to ply their business with impunity in mosques throughout the country. Throwing Oldfield out against this background would have been an act of absolute justice but relative injustice.

Hence, on its own puny terms, the Tribunal’s decision was right. What is desperately wrong is that Britain no longer has the moral strength to pass and enforce laws providing for swift and assured expulsion of undesirable aliens. Such as Oldfield – and thousands of worse ones.







The Guardian Man of the Year: the vote’s in

Since few of my British readers read that paper, and some overseas readers may not know what it is, The Guardian is the leftmost of our broadsheets, though its supremacy is being contested by The Independent and increasingly The Times.

The Guardian also prides itself on its cultural excellence and sophisticated readership, a claim its poll was supposed to reinforce. Instead, it has blown it to smithereens – yet again.

But I shan’t keep you in suspense any longer. Positions 2-8 are occupied by Marco Weber and Sini Saarela with 314 votes, Pope Francis (153), Jack Monroe (144), Waris Dirie (69), Satoshi Nakamoto (33), Kanye West (28), Andy Murray (22) and Elon Musk (11).

I pride myself on knowing who Pope Francis and Andy Murray are – and even more on not having a clue about who the others might possibly be.

But Wikipedia says that Weber and Saarela are Greenpeace activists; Jack Monroe is a propagandist of cheap food for the poor and, the name notwithstanding, actually a woman, though a lesbian; Waris Dirie is a Somali human-rights activist; Nakamoto has come up with the idea of electronic money; West is an American hip hop artist, whatever that means; and Musk is a software billionaire.

Obviously the poll was taken before Mandela’s death and subsequent canonisation/deification, otherwise he would have topped the list. As it is, the winner and undisputed Guardian champion, weighing in at 1,145 votes (more than the other eight combined) is… go on, make a guess. Give up?

Edward Snowden, Putin’s new friend, Russia’s new resident and America’s chronic pain in the neck. You know, the chap wanted for espionage.

One can see conflicting pieties clashing all over this list. Greenpeace, cheap food, human rights all seem to fit it neatly in the profile of a typical Guardian reader. But then problems start.

For example, Waris Dirie campaigns not for human rights in general, but specifically for those of women who are being circumcised in Somalia. Thereby she brands herself as an opponent of multiculturalism, and surely Guardian readers must be appalled.

They must have some pecking order of pieties, in which multiculturalism is trumped by women’s rights. Come on, fellows, don’t let your Uncle Tony (Blair) down. You can’t slaughter your sacred cow yet, not when it’s still producing its poisoned milk.

You like couscous, cultural diversity and destroying traditional England? Well then, you must accept female circumcision, the stoning of adulterers, the odd blown-up bus, forced marriage, jihad and the murder of apostates. Cultures don’t come piecemeal, you get all for the price of one. So you must rethink Waris Dirie; find someone who sticks up for safer human rights.

And the Pope? How did that come about? Yes, I know he has been making Marxist noises, which is a perfect qualification. But on the available evidence he still remains a Christian, and that’s simply not good enough.

And not just The Guardian kind of Christian either, one preaching that Christ was a sort of Che Guevara of Galilee. No, Pope Frances believes in things like the Incarnation and the Resurrection, something no one associated with The Guardian believes, except perhaps that Polish bloke who drives the delivery van.

So if I were you I’d wait until His Holiness treads the path paved by some of our bishops and declares that all that dated nonsense no longer applies: Jesus must be worshipped for his morality, not his divinity. Then you can vote for Francis. Until then, may I suggest A.C. Grayling?

Kanye West does tick a few boxes, especially the race one. But doesn’t The Guardian aspire to be the flag-bearer of high culture? How does hip hop, whatever that is, advance this aspiration?

I’d replace Kanye with Danny Barenboim: he’s a classical musician, if not a very good one, and he’s about to end the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. He also likes to play Wagner, if not yet Horst Wessel, in Israel, to show how art can triumph over parochial resentments. Vote for Danny, and you tick the race box too – along with others: multi-culti, liberal, high culture. Worth considering, that.

It goes downhill from there. Nakamoto and Musk are both about money. Wealth! Filthy lucre! The source of all evil! From there it’s but a hop, skip and jump to the admiration of capitalism, and this simply won’t do.

Are you out of your mind, chaps? Guardian readers must have money, the more the better, this goes without saying. But this must be accompanied by attacks on capitalism, not accolades for its practitioners. Such attacks a) prove PC credentials, which is de rigueur for Guardian readers, and b) if successful, may stop readers of the less fashionable newspapers from acquiring money.

Reconsider, that’s the upshot. And we haven’t yet talked about your winner yet.

True, Snowden gave America a black eye, which is good. He also tossed morals aside for cheap publicity, which is even better. But then he had to go and become Putin’s friend, which is ambivalent.

On the one hand, Putin is heir to the fine Soviet tradition of equality for all at the price of concentration camps for many. And the camps may not even have existed, as The Manchester Guardian, as it was then, explained to its readers. So far so good.

But Putin has also banned homosexual propaganda in schools. That was a selfless act, of course, considering that he himself is reputed to favour boys. But in spite of such praiseworthy private predilections, in public he has come out as a homophobe. Now tell me who your friends are, and all that. Putin is Snowden’s friend, so what does this make Snowden? Also a homophobe, and that’s worse than being a concentration camp overseer.

Don’t you feel for Guardian readers? Every day they have to meet new challenges, resolve new conflicts. Careful with those dilemmas, chaps, they just might gore you with their horns.


P.S. Nelson Mandela is still dead.



Andrew Sullivan, another proof of my pet theory

I’ve suggested a few times that the problem with lefties is that they’re not only strident but actually stupid.

Andrew Sullivan, The Times US columnist, has kindly helped my case along with yet another diatribe that doesn’t add up on even the simplest of levels.

Actually, Mr Sullivan’s Wikipedia entry identifies him as a conservative, but then political nomenclatures mean so little these days that they can be safely disregarded.

In the past Mr Sullivan didn’t bolster his conservative credentials by editing The New Republic, a publication to the right of Pravda circa 1970 only marginally and not invariably.

Mr Sullivan is an HIV-positive homosexual, which by itself doesn’t disqualify him as a conservative. However, a few years ago he posted anonymous on-line ads for unprotected anal sex, “preferably with other HIV-positive men”. I’m sure he had his reasons but these must have had little to do with promoting a conservative agenda.

In his articles Mr Sullivan consistently comes out on the left side of the watershed, supporting such unconservative causes as same-sex marriage, progressive taxation, anti-discrimination law, Obamacare and what not.

This time he has uncorked a double whammy. As a political leftie, he attacked Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk-show host, for taking issue with the Pope’s Marxist remarks; as a Catholic leftie, he supported those remarks. Since we still retain some vestiges of free speech, he’s entitled to his views, of course.

Alas, in the process Mr Sullivan showed his ignorance of politics, economics, Christianity in general, Catholicism in particular, rhetoric and logic. Pretty good going for a 1,000-word piece.

In a general and typically vacuous remark, Sullivan claims that Christianity takes no political sides: “To co-opt Christianity for either side in the pursuit and transference of power is to miss the core point. Jesus had no politics, because he was utterly uninterested in power, as the world understood it and still does.”

True, Jesus’s kingdom was not of this world, but those of us who aren’t divine have to relate Christianity to worldly issues, such as politics. For example, even left-leaning Catholics took the Franco side in the Spanish Civil War because the Loyalists were murdering Catholics, even the left-leaning ones.

Until the Bolsheviks co-opted the Russian Orthodox church to their cause, it had staunchly opposed them. When a sewer underneath the Lenin mausoleum burst, flooding the interior, Patriarch Tikhon quipped, “The incense fits the relics.” Wasn’t he making a political statement?

Truisms need to be either properly qualified or left unsaid, but obviously Mr Sullivan was playing truant when this lesson was taught. Nor was he paying attention when the Catholic social doctrine was being explained.

He extols the two previous Popes, along with the present one, for taking issue equally with “unfettered market capitalism” and communism. He states correctly that Benedict XVI “always opposed those aspects of [capitalism] that treat material gain as the sole criterion of human happiness.”

This is saying nothing at all. Any Christian, indeed any thinking person, would share this position, opposing materialism in general and its excesses in particular. But this doesn’t mean that he would attack the very principles of free enterprise, as Pope Francis lamentably did:

“As long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets… by attacking the structural causes of inequality,” said Pope Francis, “no solution will be found for the world’s problems or, for that matter, to any problems. Inequality is the root of social ills.”

This is criticising free enterprise not from a Christian but from a Marxist perspective. Moreover, it’s passing a purely secular judgment flying in the face of all available evidence. The Pope can be forgiven for his ignorance of such basics; a political writer can’t be. 

Speaking of Pope Francis, Mr Sullivan gushes, “He is the first pontiff to describe himself first and foremost as a sinner.” This is arrant nonsense.

Not only every Pope but also every Christian in history would have described himself in that way. If we weren’t all sinners, Christ’s Passion would have been superfluous, and no Christian can regard it as such.

So here we have another sample of the same “profound ignorance of Catholic social thought” that Sullivan ascribes to Palin and Limbaugh.

In a further demonstration, Sullivan regales us with yet another truism: “a Christian cannot be indifferent to the poor or the unemployed or those without access to basic healthcare.” That’s God’s own truth, but only a complete – and thoroughly politicised – ignoramus would infer that therefore Christians must support the welfare state and nationalised medicine.

A true Christian, especially one who doesn’t advocate anal sex with HIV-positive men, would express his love for the downtrodden through personal charity. This would be a step towards not only helping the poor but also towards saving his own soul.

On the other hand, paying hand over fist into the atheist state’s coffers is the principal (though not sole) cause of the very social ills that so vex His Holiness and Mr Sullivan. It not so much helps the poor as increases their number, while robbing them of any incentive to improve their own lot.

I understand Mr Sullivan’s urge to accuse Sarah Palin of not knowing “what she is talking about”: good knockabout stuff is hard to resist. But before engaging others on such subjects perhaps he should remind himself of this quote from the book he so woefully misunderstands:

“Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”