Lawfare goes nuclear

Did you ever doubt it? Naturally, any jury in New York simply had to convict Trump for being Trump, regardless of how flimsy the charges against him were.

So it proved. He was found guilty on 34 counts, one for each instalment by which he reimbursed Michael Cohen who had handled the $130,000 transaction with Stormy Daniels.

Each count carries a potential of four years in prison, and a custodial sentence is possible if improbable. Let’s see: 34 times four equals 136. Even with time off for good behaviour (and I never thought I’d use the words ‘Trump’ and ‘good behaviour’ in the same sentence), Trump would be unlikely ever to see the light of day.

He could be allowed to serve all 34 sentences concurrently, in which case he might eventually get out, but his political career would have been finished. That, of course, is the whole point of the trial.

Now every TV channel in the US, along with every Democratic politician, will fuse the words ‘Trump’ and ‘convicted felon’ so irrevocably that they’ll sound like one word, Convictedfelontrump. But what exactly was he convicted of?

As far as I’m concerned, the Donald is only guilty of appallingly bad taste in women, although I have to admire his virility. Any normal man would be turned off sex, possibly forever, by the very sight of that hideous tattooed creature. But ‘Trump’ and ‘good taste’ are the other words that don’t belong in the same sentence.

What else? Passing the hush money for something else in the books? Big deal, especially since Trump used his personal funds for that tawdry purpose.

Using the payment to affect the result of the 2016 election? Let’s just say that claim is at best tenuous, which is why the prosecution didn’t belabour the point during the trial. I mean, it’s natural for a married man to cover up a sleazy tryst, hiding it from his wife and, in this case, also from his more discerning friends.

Trump was still convicted of breaking campaign finance laws, even though he didn’t use campaign funds to hush Stormy up. Fine, I’m no expert in the US election laws or the minutiae of New York jurisprudence. But even a rank ignoramus like me has to see that, if Donald Trump’s name were Joe Biden, this case wouldn’t even have been opened.

Hence the driving force of the trial was politics, not justice. And that is a much worse crime than anything Trump might or might not have committed – a much greater problem than America being stuck with Joe Biden (or rather his carers) for another four years as a possible result.

These days every aspect of life is politicised: race, class, art, transportation, sex, marriage, education, pronouns. Each such case of politics trespassing into every walk of life tears the fabric of society into tatters. But linking justice with politics reduces that fabric to smouldering ash.

Yet all Western societies I’m familiar with are busily striking that match. How many criminal defences everywhere are based on the defendant’s race or class, which is to say on political considerations? Don’t bother to count: you’d run out of fingers and toes within seconds.

This has been going on for such a long time that most people have become lackadaisical about these miscarriages of justice. They are now used to cases being decided on extraneous factors, not on factual merits. That’s why most of them aren’t screaming bloody murder at Trump’s conviction, even though everyone knows it was motivated by politics.

This is a slippery slope with an abyss beckoning at the end. If you want to know what the abyss looks like, just read the words uttered in 1918 by Martin Latsis, at the time deputy chief of the Cheka in the Ukraine:

“We are not fighting against single individuals. We are exterminating the bourgeoisie as a class. Do not look in materials you have gathered for evidence that a suspect acted or spoke against the Soviet authorities. The first question you should ask him is what class he belongs to, what is his origin, education, profession. These questions should determine his fate.”

I’m not trying to suggest that America or any other Western country has sunk quite so low. We still have enough safeguards against pseudo-legal justification for mass murder.

I quoted Comrade Latsis only to illustrate the ultimate dangers of politicised justice, and it’s not always necessary to slide down that slope in one fell swoop. A country can also get there by incremental steps, each seeming relatively innocuous.

I don’t know if the verdict will cost Trump the election. If anything, his fanatical MAGA fans will become even more committed to the cause. And his detractors won’t hate him any more: there’s no room left to move in that direction.

But the large group in between those extremes just may be affected. Fling ‘convicted felon’ at Trump often enough, and at some point the dirt may stick. We’ll see.

Trump isn’t my favourite political flavour, but I’ve often said that, if I were to vote in the US elections, I’d pinch my nostrils and vote for him because the alternative is too awful to contemplate. When the choice is between unsavoury and unthinkable, the former wins every time.

Yet now, after this embarrassing kangaroo trial, I’d support Trump even if I hated him, which I don’t. That would be a vote not of confidence but of defiance. It would be a resounding no tossed in the face of an attempt to pervert justice by politicising it.

It’s not democracy but the rule of just law that’s the defining characteristic of a civilised polity, and the two should never be conflated. It’s possible for, say, a monarchy to rule by just law, and it’s possible for a democracy to rule by unjust law. If nothing else, this case should serve as a reminder of the second possibility.

P.S. On an unrelated subject, every once in a while a new buzz word starts buzzing all over political and sports commentary. The current favourite is the verb ‘to reference’, as in “John, you’ve just referenced Nigel…”.

Chaps, you reference scholarly papers at the end of a dissertation. When it comes to Nigel, you either mention him or, if such is your wont, refer to him.

A word of avuncular advice: nothing is less posh than desperately trying to sound posh. Misused longer words in particular are dead give-aways.

Respect other people’s customs? That depends

It was Herodotus who first insisted that other people’s customs must be respected. However, a few pages later in the same book he added a comment some might consider self-refuting: “Burying people alive is an ancient Persian custom”.

The upshot is that some of other people’s customs and laws are respectable and some aren’t. And in case of conflict, none of them should take precedence over our own laws and customs.

You might think that such self-evident things should go without saying, but you’d be wrong. These days we are taught to believe that our laws are merely a statement of intent. When new arrivals to our shores choose to ignore them in favour of their own laws, it’s their privilege.

In theory, every progressive person should welcome such open-ended hospitality. It’s the spirit that animates the two groups of which I’m chairman and founding member: The Charles Martel Society for Multi-culturalism and Vox DEI, Vox Diaboli.

Such, as I’ve mentioned, is the theory. In practice, however, some cases severely test even my commitment to multi-culti probity.

One such is currently causing heated debates in Spain, a country desperately trying to atone for its sins under Franco’s regime, known to all progressive people as the greatest evil ever to have plagued the world. As the case in point shows, there’s but a small step from desperation to overcompensation.

The court in Ciudad Real acquitted a Gypsy man of raping a 12-year-old girl because such acts were “part of the cultural reality of the Gypsy community”. A few days earlier the court in León had passed a reduced sentence for a similar crime and on similar grounds: because it’s normal in Gypsy culture, Spaniards must accept and respect statutory rape.

The founder of the two aforementioned societies in me rejoices, but the voice of experience still manages to break through. For Gypsy culture, amply represented in the country of my birth, also includes a few other traditional practices that are frowned upon in less nomadic societies.

One such is rustling horses, which used to be a big source of income among the Gypsies in Eastern Europe, along with such money-spinners as pickpocketing and fortune-telling. Tempora mutantur and all that, so horses are no longer widely used as transportation.

They’ve been replaced by cars, and logically the Gypsy community should have retrained in grand theft auto. I don’t know whether or not they have, but if they have indeed made a smooth career change, I wonder how Spanish jurists feel about that, or about pickpocketing, come to that. After all, there are 750,000 Gypsies in Spain, and that could add up to a lot of cars boosted and pockets picked.

I know how the French feel about such things, because Gypsy migrants from Romania and Hungary have more or less cornered the pickpocketing market in Paris. They live in suburban camps, and every morning coaches carry hundreds of them into the city centre where they ply their trade until it’s time to go home. All in a day’s work.

It’s that Herodotus dichotomy again: respect in theory, abhorrence in practice. Now, there are only 70,000 Gypsies in Britain, where they are supposed to be called ‘Travellers’ out of respect. However, I’m not aware of any cases where that commendable sentiment led to acquittal in rape trials.

I am, however, aware of the general climate of suicidal – sorry, I mean laudable – tolerance to alien mores that makes any such verdicts possible. And here I have to point out regretfully that our four million Muslims have a few cultural traditions that may strain our commitment to multi-culti tolerance.

We have, for example, quite a few immigrants from Afghanistan, where one ancient custom is called ‘bacha bazi’. Rich men buy boys as young as 11 from poor families and use them as sex slaves, which isn’t believed to violate Islam’s injunction against homosexuality. If that practice were exported into Britain, how tolerant would we be? You tell me.

Then there are the equally ancient customs of stoning adulterers, throwing homosexuals off tall buildings and mutilating thieves. An interesting dilemma: what if a Muslim chopped off a Gypsy pickpocket’s hand? Which cultural tradition would we respect more?

And of course marrying prepubescent girls is a custom going back to Islamic scripture and its prophetic author. Eight’s too late, as they say in those parts, but how tolerant are we prepared to be? In Yemen, for example, a quarter of all girls are married off before the age of 15.

Would our courts countenance a marriage between a 10-year-old girl and a 60-year-old man? They should, out of consistency if nothing else. After all, we allow huge parts of our cities, such as Leeds and Bradford, to be governed by Sharia law. So there should be no problem with what’s considered statutory rape in other parts.     

We also have some two million people of Indian descent, a country whose ancient culture calls for suti, a widow immolating herself in her husband’s funeral pyre. Penelope finds that custom particularly unacceptable, but that misses the point. She isn’t Indian, so, even if that practice were exported to Britain, it wouldn’t apply to her.

But our commitment to mutli-culti tolerance would be called into question if we found anything wrong with suti. Tolerance isn’t just Vindaloo and pilaf; it’s also suti and the stoning of adulterers.

Taking off the hats of the two societies I founded, I can propose a simple solution to all such conundrums. Immigrants are welcome to practise any of their traditional customs for as long as they don’t clash with our customs and especially our laws.

When such a conflict does arise, any deviation from our law must be treated as a crime, regardless of the perpetrator’s race, ethnicity or religion. That’s what equality before the law is all about. No claim of cultural difference should be accepted as extenuation – here in Britain, our customs and laws must reign supreme.

(I almost wrote that, if anything, cultural idiosyncrasies should be treated as aggravating circumstances, but stopped myself in the nick of time. Such particularism has no place in the Charles Martel Society for Multi-Culturalism.)

Welcome to Labour Britain

Nabeel Khan, Lambeth’s director of “climate and inclusive growth”

You might think I’m jumping the gun: the Labour landslide is still over a month away. Yet by relying on a little extrapolation it’s still possible to predict the main features of a country run by the Starmer gang.

All you have to do is look at a solidly Labour council and treat it as the microcosm of the country at large. And the South London borough of Lambeth is especially close to my heart because I worked there for six years.

My office was across a roundabout from the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury and across the river from the Houses of Parliament. I dare say the view from my window was among the world’s most beautiful. For one thing, it made me realise that Monet didn’t just imagine the Mother of All Parliaments turning blue or pink at dusk.

On an overcast day, when the last ray of sunshine forced its way through the clouds, it painted those neo-Gothic buildings just those colours – and I never thought old Claude was a stark realist.

Lambeth as such unfolded behind my office building, and there things got less romantic and infinitely less beautiful. The first thing I noticed was that the local council pursued a foreign policy different from that favoured by the officials across the Thames.

A sign at the entrance to the borough declared it a Nuclear Free Zone, which must have given its residents a nice safe feeling. Should push come to nuclear shove, the Russians would definitely programme their ICBMs to give Lambeth a wide berth.

Apparently, Lambeth councilmen are still preoccupied with international affairs, specifically the war in Gaza. Ever since it started in November, the borough has been debating the level of support, mostly moral, it should offer the victims of those dastardly Jews.

Since most of the Labour politicians operating on the national stage also abhor our nuclear deterrent and love Third World terrorists, the extrapolated prediction seems to work. But that’s only a start.

The Lambeth Council is firmly on the side of the net-zero angels. It declared a “climate emergency” in 2019, beating all other London councils to it. And the Council pledged to achieve that Shangri-la by 2030, this time beating the national government by a virtuous 20 years.

Thus over the past five years it has spent £25 million on “climate and active travel”. Actually, ‘active’ has turned out to be quite a misnomer. For as a result, travel in Lambeth has become rather passive.

The profusion of new Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) and cycle lanes makes the traffic permanently gridlocked. Children can’t get to school, nor their parents to work, on time. Emergency services can’t get to their emergencies. A bus ride that used to take 15 minutes now takes 45. And the Council’s transport department has been thoughtfully staffed to achieve just such an outcome.

Eight of its employees were recruited from a cycling charity that worships LTNs the way so many of Lambeth residents worship Allah. And speaking of recruitment, the Council reflects its party’s generosity to woke sinecures.

It’s paying more than 40 of its employees over £100,000 a year, whereas the most valuable of them, “director of climate and inclusive growth”, is on £160,000. One has to compliment the Council on the fiscal prudence of combining those two vital functions that seemingly have nothing to do with each other.

I can feel their pain: they’d dearly love to have one director in charge of climate and another taking care of inclusive growth. But paying £160,000 each must be beyond the Council’s slender means. After all, 15 per cent of its budget goes on servicing its £1 billion debt.

Do you feel me, as they say in Lambeth? Or do I have to remind you each time that we’re looking at a microcosm of a Labour Britain? No, I didn’t think so.

The Council’s housing policy also follows national patterns. It has been busily selling off properties at below market value to build new affordable housing for the socioeconomically disadvantaged, if this is this the right term.

To that end it lent its council-owned developer £79.5 million and put its chief executive on £217,000 a year. The authority managed to build just 65 affordable houses in five years, which comes out at almost £16 million a pop – and believe me, they aren’t stately mansions. The chief executive had to be moved sideways and given a new brief, that of promoting  “ethnic diversity in housing leadership”.

How much of that £79.5 million was kicked back to the councilmen? Just wondering. Or perhaps gross mismanagement so typical of British public administration in general and Labour administration in particular explains it all adequately.

Getting back to social housing, there exist two types. Some projects are under the aegis of private charitable trusts, such as Peabody or Guinness, whereas most are run by councils. The difference is striking: while the former are quite decent, the latter are all approximations of slums. And Lambeth slums are among the worst in the country, with damp, mould and blocked drains omnipresent in the dilapidated tower blocks.

I’m not trying to create the impression that Tory-run councils are paragons of sage administration, fiscal prudence and commitment to efficiency at the expense of ideology. Far from it.

The toxic ideology of modernity has infected both parties, and our choice isn’t between good and bad, but between bad and worse. And Lambeth is a concise reply to the question “How much worse?” A lot, is the answer to this one.

There’s an upper limit to the good a government can do but no lower limit to the damage it can cause. And the Lambeth microcosm of a Labour Britain shows how low that limit can get. We’ll be scraping the bottom.

Class war in the classroom

England’s green and pleasant land

Speaking a lot while saying nothing is a modern politician’s stock in trade. This ability gets more refined the further left you go down the political spectrum, and it reaches genius level when the Left are leading in the polls.

Sir Keir Starmer justifiably feels the election is his to lose, and he is well aware that ships aren’t the only things that can be sunk by loose lips. That’s why yesterday he delivered a speech full of vacuous platitudes and hardly anything else.

Yet there is one Labour policy that obviously tugs on his heart’s strings so persistently that he simply had to declare it publicly and unequivocally. If we are elected, said that Knight of the Realm, the first thing we’ll do is slap a 20 per cent VAT on independent school fees.

Those superrich can afford it, explained Sir Keir. And the new tax revenue can provide a welcome boost for the Exchequer. The reality is somewhat different, but then, as Starmer’s fellow socialist, Stalin, once said, “If facts are stubborn things, then so much the worse for facts.”

A survey shows that up to half of all independent school pupils will have to leave the private sector as a result of the new tax. The children of the superrich will of course stay in: their parents will regard an extra 20 per cent on the school fee as pocket change. But those hardworking parents straining every financial sinew to educate their children properly will no longer be able to afford it.

As many as 224,000 pupils will migrate into already overcrowded state schools, which will not only wipe out whatever fiscal gains Starmer sees in his mind’s eye, but will create a £1.5 billion hole in public finances.

Does Starmer know this? He may or may not, but it doesn’t matter one way or the other. A true warrior doesn’t mind taking casualties, and a class warrior is no exception. If it takes £1.5 billion to win yet another battle, it’s money well spent.

Socialists are by definition committed to levelling, and not only the economic kind. They must realise that the state can only ever level down, not up, and so they do. Speaking of the subject in hand, they know they can’t make everyone equally educated. But equally ignorant just may be a goal within their reach, and in some ways it’s even better.

For education doesn’t just impart information. Above all, it teaches children to think, and socialists have a vested interest in suppressing that nascent ability. A properly educated child may grow up with enough analytical ability to figure out that nothing socialists ever promise has any substance to it whatsoever. It’s all pernicious ideological puffery, and properly educated minds won’t stand for it.

Hence socialists everywhere rely on the young whose minds aren’t yet wired properly. And the poorly educated young are even better: they’ll salute any subversive slogan with alacrity.

Such is the background to the class war raging in British schools since the sixties. At that time Britain’s education system was the envy of the world. Since then it has become its laughing stock.

Children at that time were streamed according to their ability. The abler ones, some 25 per cent of the total, went to Grammar Schools where they received an education that compared favourably to most of today’s university degrees. The others went to Secondary Modern Schools, where the education accentuated practical knowledge and skills.

That division wasn’t cast in iron: underachieving Grammar School pupils could drop down to Secondary Modern, while those who did well in the latter could move up to the former.

Both type of schools were free, so the issue of the parents’ wealth didn’t come into it. However, those who could afford it still sent their children to fee-paying public schools, mostly for social reasons. All in all, the system worked extremely well by making a quarter of all people well-educated and the rest of them competent.

That wasn’t good enough for our class warriors. They preferred equal ignorance to unequal education, which is why they vowed to eliminate Grammar Schools. Labour Secretary for Education, Anthony Crosland (d. 1977), didn’t mince words: “If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every fucking Grammar School in England.”

So they did, or as near as damn. Instead Labour introduced comprehensive schools, whose curricula had to be oriented towards the lowest common denominator. The old adage, “an army advances at the speed of the slowest soldier”, applies to class war as well.

Fast-forward a few decades, and the country’s education system lies in ruins. Over half of all pupils leave comprehensive schools unable to read and write properly; the simplest mental arithmetic is treated as a show of genius. Drugs and pregnancies are widespread even at the pre-teen level, and most schools are nothing short of hellholes.

Some, very few, are still decent, and many parents take a beating on house prices to move to an area where such schools exist. Most can’t, and hence the proliferation of fee-paying public schools and other independent establishments, such as faith schools.

In the past, when public schools had to compete with free grammar schools offering a similar level of education, they had to keep their fees low. Now they compete against mind-numbing comprehensives, which is no competition at all. The law of supply-demand kicks in, and public schools now charge exorbitant fees in the certainty that desperate parents will pay whatever they can, and sometimes more than they can.

Thus the same enmity Labour used to level at grammar schools is now levelled at public ones, and for pretty much the same reasons. A recent survey of Labour voters has shown that 80 per cent of them are in favour of banning all independent schools altogether.

I remember how struck I was witnessing that sentiment when I moved to Britain from the US in 1988. In those days, Americans wanted to emulate successful people, not punish them. Class war was still waged, but it was of a Phony variety: very limited engagements of small forces conducted with rather understated passion.

Yet talking to my new London colleagues over a pint I was amazed at the venom with which they spoke of private education and medicine. Banning them was the dominant aspiration, which struck me as spiteful and mean-spirited.

Some Americans I knew had socialist leanings as well, and they too railed against fee-paying schools. But I had never once heard anyone demand that all such schools be banned – class war hadn’t yet reached the stage of indiscriminate slaughter there.

This attack on independent schools is the only policy Starmer has so far enunciated clearly. However, this is a foretaste of the policies they’ll implement once they’ve had their landslide.

Those who insist that Labour have changed are in for a let-down: socialists never change their spots, although they may at times cover them up for tactical reasons.

Parallel lines do converge

Who’s next?

Mr Euclid, meet Mr Lobachevsky? No, not quite. It’s Mr Stalin, meet Mr Putin.

Only a blind man would miss the unmistakable convergence between Stalin’s and Putin’s policies. One could mention any number of things: ideology of expansionism, militarisation of the economy, draconian prison terms for even the mildest dissent, suppression of even the slightest hints at free speech, hatred of the West, messianism, bans on books, indoctrination replacing education, propaganda replacing information, the leader’s will replacing government.

Mutatis mutandis, of course. Different times, different situation, different scale. That’s why the parallel lines haven’t yet merged into one all along their length. But they do touch at several points, and one such is the on-going purge of Russia’s top brass.

The pattern was set in 1937-1938 when Stalin had tens of thousands of officers arrested. Thousands of them, including three of the first five marshals, were executed.

Historians still argue about the reasons for the purge and its consequences. Some accept the official version of the purge having preempted a generals’ plot. Others insist it was merely a show of Stalin’s paranoia. Some claim the purge was provoked by fake documents concocted by the Nazis. Others insist it was merely an extension of the feud between Stalin and Trotsky, the founder of the Red Army and godfather to most of its commanders.

Some say the purge weakened the Red Army, rendering it unable to resist the original Nazi thrust. Others, including the wonderful Victor Suvorov, argue that the purge weeded out the dross, actually making the army stronger.

As you can see, even hindsight doesn’t necessarily clarify Russian events. In the absence of it we can only guess why Putin has decided to start this assault on his top brass. But an assault is definitely under way.

It started on 23 April, when Deputy Defence Minister Timur Ivanov was arrested and charged with bribery and corruption. Since then Lieutenant-General Yuri Kuznetsov, head of personnel at the defence ministry, and Major-General Ivan Popov, former commander of Russia’s 58th army, have also been arrested on the same charge.

Following them into prison the other day was Lieutenant-General Vadim Shamarin, deputy chief of the General Staff. He too has a bribery charge to answer. And Defence Minister Shoigu has been moved sideways, although not yet put in prison.

These are the most visible cases, but there are others as well. Also under arrest is Vladimir Verteltsky, head of procurement at the Defence Ministry. And numerous generals have been sacked, such as Lieutenant-General Alkhmedov, commander of the 20th army.

Now, if the officers were really nabbed for what they are accused of, I can save Russian jurisprudence the cost of trials. All the defendants are guilty as charged – just compare their relatively modest incomes with their opulent lifestyle. Military salaries don’t really stretch to yachts, Mediterranean villas and suitcases full of dollars under the bed.

However, the same charge can be levelled against any member of the Russian civilian or military elite, including Putin himself and every one of his ministers. Bribery and pilfering are the lifeblood of Russia: that’s how the country lives, that’s how things get done at every level – or not, as the case so often is.

Therefore, when several top military leaders are arrested within a month, bribery has to be the pretext, not the reason. And the reason must be serious enough for Putin to order the purge in the middle of a war, an action that can easily dent morale even further.

One doesn’t have to go too far out on a limb trying to figure out what caused the purge. It’s the war against the Ukraine that was supposed to be won within days, weeks at the outside. Two years and three months later blood continues to gush, but victory is nowhere in sight.

This was bound to create a double problem: Putin’s unhappiness with the army and the army’s unhappiness with Putin or at least his entourage.

The first is more momentous and febrile because Russia’s military strength is Putin’s only leverage in his confrontation with the West. The other lever, energy exports, has been broken by Western sanctions – not because the Russians couldn’t find ways to circumvent them, but because the West showed it could comfortably survive without Russian oil. That removed the firing pin from the blackmail weapon.

Now the army supposedly built to take on the combined strength of NATO has shown itself unable to take care of a grossly outmanned and outgunned Ukraine. And Putin’s plans are even more ambitious than Stalin’s.

Like his role model, Putin has Europe, especially its eastern half, in his sights. But Stalin had no immediate designs on Africa, whereas today’s Russia deploys a large military contingent, the African Corps, in Burkina-Faso. Its officers don’t bother to conceal that they plan to see action in Libya, Mali, Central African Republic and Niger.

Another parallel is crying out to be drawn, this one with Rommel’s Afrika Korps.

In general, Putin’s regime has many features in common with Hitler’s, not just Stalin’s. The accent on blood-and-soil nationalism, with the Russians portrayed as racially superior to the West, smacks of the Nazis’ secular mysticism. Also Putin’s ideological archaism is more NSDAP than CPSU. Stalin was out to communise Europe in the name of Marx; Putin wants to Russify it in the name of God.

And now all those best-laid plans lie in ruins all over Eastern Ukraine. Hence Putin’s frustration and hence also his urgent need for scapegoats. He himself is of course above blame, so it has to be assigned elsewhere.

That’s where the ubiquitous corruption of the Russian officials comes in handy. They all live not only high on the hog but also on borrowed time. Attached to each one in the FSB annals is a fat kompromat dossier documenting every bribe, every incident of pilfering or misappropriation, every offshore account in Western banks.

That effectively turns them into hostages. At any moment, Putin could pick up any file at random and send his dogs out to fetch. And any subsequent trial would meet the most rigorous standards of Western legality: there would be heaps of incontrovertible evidence to send every defendant down for life.

Yet the army also has every reason to be unhappy with the Kremlin. Their feelings were vociferously vented by the late Yevgeni Prigozhin, who openly attacked the Defence Ministry for his shortages of ordnance and other supplies, including food and proper clothing. He even went so far as to fume about the “arsehole grandpa in the Kremlin”. Prigozhin didn’t name that senescent anus, but then he didn’t have to.

In the end, his Wagner Group openly mutinied and marched on Moscow. It took some trickery on the part of Putin’s stooge Lukashenko to persuade Prigozhin to stop the march when Moscow was already within swearing distance. Guaranteed personal immunity, Prigozhin then inadvertently exploded a hand grenade aboard a plane, or so goes the official version.

It would take unfounded guesswork to predict how far the convergence will go. Stalin’s purge of the army was accompanied by a similar cull of the Party and followed by a world war. This scenario is possible these days too, but there exist numerous other possibilities as well, few of them especially promising for either Russia or the world.

One possibility that doesn’t seem likely is an out-and-out mutiny of the Russian army or its high command. However, I can be pleasantly surprised.

The Labour Party is paedo

Chairman or CEO?

I mean paedocratic, and what did you think I meant? Oh yes, that fashionable vice. But let me tell you, paedocracy is infinitely more dangerous than its naughty cognate.

That’s why socialists have always tried to draw youngsters into politics. Children are naturally destructive, and, for all their bien pensant pronouncements, socialists are mainly out to destroy.

Moreover, socialists are pagan by definition, and the young are never too far from sinking into savagery. For an artistic comment on this tendency, you could do worse than reread William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies.

This recurring theme of mine came to the fore yesterday, when Labour announced its intention to lower the voting age from 18 to 16. While lauding their self-restraint – they could have plumped for 10 or six – one can still bemoan the devastation this measure is going to wreak on our already tottering society.  

In one-man-one-vote democracies, the younger groups of voters invariably support the leftmost parties in great numbers and with unwavering loyalty. In Britain, for example, 18-year-olds are 10 times more likely to support Labour than Conservatives, and the younger you go, the greater this tendency.

That’s understandable. Since the appeal of the Left is never rational and always gonadic, it works best on people whose rational faculties are underdeveloped but whose hormones are bubbling over the top. Hence it’s easier to convince a pimply youngster than a wizened crumbly that, say, it’s possible to increase social spending and lower taxes at the same time.

It’s usually youngsters who perpetrate socialist revolutions. Lenin, for example, was known as ‘Old Man’ in the Bolshevik party that took over in 1917. He was 47, which illustrates the demographic point I’m making.

Yet even in democracies, the young prove they can be destructive – which is to say left-wing – without necessarily amusing themselves with mass murder. The ballot can be deadlier than the bullet.

A Labour frontbencher explained this intention with honesty that in some quarters may be described as unvarnished cynicism: “[This policy] has the double benefit of not costing very much to do but of helping secure a second Labour term.”

Quite. So this is a blatant power grab designed to perpetuate Labour dominance for decades to come (provided Britain survives that long, which would be by no means assured). No attempt is made to provide a bono publico rationale.

That commendable oversight was corrected by Florence Eshalomi, the shadow minister for local government, who said:

“Our elections are built on the basic principle that those who contribute to our country should have a say in how it is governed. Yet 16 and 17-year-olds are still blocked from voting in English elections. It’s time to turn the page on the eroding of our democracy and give the next generation a chance to help shape their future.”

Exactly the same arguments were made in 1969, when the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. Then, however, the argument was etched with sentimentality. If 18-year-olds, the socialists were saying, are old enough to serve in the army, they are old enough to vote. That’s a specious argument of course: youngsters are allowed to play for our top football teams, but few club owners would appoint them as managers.

Yet Mrs Eshalomi outdoes her leftie ancestors, proving that there’s no limit to socialist demagogic inanity. First, I’m not sure exactly what 16-year-olds “contribute to our country”. My lifelong observation suggests they mostly contribute to their parents’ expenses or, barring that, the crime rate.

Hence, exactly the same argument can be made to defend the idea of extending franchise to six-year-olds – in fact, an Oxford professor once proposed that in all seriousness. This is called reductio ad absurdum in rhetoric, although Labour’s whole line of reasoning is absurd to begin with.

No sensible company would elevate 16-year-olds to its executive board. I’d suggest that, though sensible parents may make a show of consulting their children to boost their self-esteem, they wouldn’t let a 16-year-old affect consequential decisions. A film company may employ child actors, but not child directors.

Yet somehow those lefties are trying to convince us that a child – and 16-year-olds are children in every sense that matters – deemed too young to take part in running a company is old enough to take part in government.

That’s what voting is in a democracy. Which is why political thinkers rather more accomplished than Mrs Eshalomi, from Plato and Aristotle onwards, have always insisted on limiting the democratic element of governance and counterbalancing it with other power mechanisms.

But socialists don’t take their cue from Plato or Aristotle. Those chaps, whatever we may think of their political philosophies, sought public good.

Today’s lot are governed by ideas best encapsulated by Machiavelli and Lenin: power is all that matters, and not because power is necessary for a politician who really wants to make a difference. No, it’s not the end to which power is put. Power is its own end.

So brace yourself: when Labour gets its landslide (and the cowardly resignation of almost 80 Tory MPs guarantees it), it’ll hold on to power for a generation at least. Britons will then be looking back on the first quarter of the century as the Golden Age.

And the erstwhile teenagers, now in their forties, will be weeping and wailing “what have we done?”. Relax, ladies and gentlemen, it’s not your fault. It’s the fault of those who put you in power before you were qualified to wield it.

They don’t call them wet Tories for nothing

That was one parade it did rain on. The skies opened just as Rishi ‘Washy’ Sunak was announcing a snap election on 4 July, and the PM’s suit got as wet as his policies.

The decision to call the general election four months earlier than he had to came as a surprise to most people, and surprise instantly caused logorrhoea. All and sundry are wondering why the PM took that step and whether he is crazy enough to believe he can win.

My ignorance of, and indifference to, electoral mechanics ill-qualify me to enlarge on this subject. Suffice it to say that Labour’s lead in the polls stands at 25 per cent, and I don’t recall any candidate overturning such a deficit in my lifetime.

Hence even Rishi’s wife probably thinks he’s going to lose, but perhaps he hopes that by jumping the gun he can still hold on to enough seats for the Tories to be a valid opposition.

Ignorant though I am of such matters, I’m always willing to plug the most gaping holes in my education. To that end I happily read what experts have to say, and they agree on most things.

Rishi went for it because the inflation had just dropped down almost to the target of two per cent, a reduced National Insurance tax will add £900 a year to the average-income earner, the Bank may lower the interest – and hence mortgage! – rates, and the first planes carrying illegal migrants to Rwanda just may take off in time.

Yet wiser heads refer to Harold Macmillan who warned that it takes a long time for voters to equate less tax with more cash. If so, that makes voters quite dim, but then what else is new?

They also say the Bank will be reluctant to lower the interest rate so close to the election because it’ll look like a gimmick. And no one thinks that a few planeloads heading for Rwanda will solve the problem of the flotillas carrying illegal migrants (criminals, in other words) to our shores.

Thus spake public opinion, which in reality means a few dozen pundits and politicians. But being a man of the people (wipe that smirk off your face – I wrote ads for 30 years, and if that doesn’t establish populist credentials, I don’t know what can), I’m more interested in the public-house opinion expressed by Tom, Dick and Harry over a pint.

And those three proverbial gentlemen are unanimous: the Tories are rubbish. One or two even modify the last word with an off-colour intensifier.

I agree: the Tories are pathetic. But any sensible electorate would still give him a landslide victory. Allow me to explain this seeming paradox.

Voting for the opposition should be a game of two halves. The first half is deciding that the ruling party isn’t doing well, and this part Tom, Dick and Harry have got down pat. Sorted, as they’d say.

The second half is harder but even more important: the realistic hope that the other side will do better or, barring that, at least the certainty that it won’t do worse. ‘Things can only get better’ is the ubiquitous mantra of most elections, and yet it’s the worst fallacy of politics.

Things can always get worse, and here I’m going out on an unfamiliar limb and actually making a prediction. No, not on the likely result of the election – my crystal ball is murky. But I can bet everything I hold dear (except perhaps Penelope who claims I have no power to gamble her away because she’s an autonomous individual) that, when they get in power, Labour will make things much, much worse.

It’s also my contention that people who don’t realise this, and in general ignore the second half of my proposed whole, shouldn’t be qualified to vote. They are incapable of casting their vote rationally and therefore responsibly.

These people keep repeating that tired old chestnut, ‘It’s time for a change.’ No it isn’t. It never is. It’s always time to change for the better, not just for the sake of variety.

So why are the Tories rubbish? The short answer is, because they aren’t really Tories but Labour Lite. Just look at how they handled Brexit.

The Tory hierarchy, as opposed to the grassroots, didn’t really want it. They were fused with the EU bureaucracy personally and didn’t mind taking the country with them. Cameron only agreed to the referendum as a sop to the conservative element within the party because he was sure of the Remain vote. That, and his subsequent inept anti-Brexit campaign, was a sign of Tory incompetence, one of many.

Now, the underlying reason for Brexit was strictly conservative: a guarantee of the traditional sovereignty of the nation and its Parliament. The inner logic of that step called very loudly indeed for further conservative steps to build on the momentum.

However, though forced to repudiate EU membership, the government chose to stick to the EU social model. The situation was crying out for shedding the shackles of such continental abominations as the ECHR – we don’t really need Germans to teach us about human rights. I dare say Britain’s historical record in that area stacks up well against that of Germany, France and just about any other major European country.

But continued adherence to that continental setup makes it harder to stem the influx of illegal (i.e. criminal) migration, one of the key issues in the upcoming elections.

Then there’s the post-Brexit economy, with the Tories accentuating the drawback of Brexit and squandering the benefits. The drawback was a restricted access to the huge market at our doorstep. The potential benefits came from an unrestricted ability to cultivate other markets and attract investors to our own.

The easiest way of achieving the latter aim is to make it worth the investors’ while to move their businesses to Britain. In other words, to make it cheaper for them to hire and easier to fire. Yet the government raised the corporate tax, while preserving the social guarantees largely (to be fair, far from exclusively) inspired by the EU.

Under the Tories, the NHS is costing more and achieving less. Their suicidal restrictions on policing make law enforcement risible. They lack the courage to stop the slide of our education into the mire of woke barbarism. In general, you can continue this list of failures, but you won’t be able to offset them with any appreciable successes.

So much for the first half. Now, which of those things do you think Labour will do better?

The party is committed to higher social spending, which means higher taxation. Labour has already announced its intention to return to the unions the powers Margaret Thatcher took away from them. They call it Workers’ Control; I call it destroying the economy.

They are committed to go on throwing billions into the black hole of the NHS, their beloved brainchild. That too means higher public spending and more taxation.

These combined measures are guaranteed to make the cost of doing business higher and the prospects of new investment lower. As to renewed rapprochement with the EU, Labour leaders have hinted broadly at another referendum and subsequent return into the fold.

Labour leaders refuse to commit themselves to assigning specific primary sex characteristics to either sex. They see the entire history of Britain as a story of racism and colonialism, and insist children should be educated in that spirit. In his earlier tenure as Director of Public Prosecutions, their likely PM, Starmer, never saw a criminal he couldn’t let go – they were all victims of social injustice.

And so on ad infinitum: anywhere you look, Labour is guaranteed to do much worse than even the pathetic Tories. The latter may be Labour Lite, but the new government will be Labour Full Strength. And I haven’t even touched on foreign policy and Labour’s unwavering commitment to the ‘Palestinian’ cause and its understated commitment to defence.

By this circuitous route we’ve arrived at my recurrent theme: the gross inadequacy of unqualified, unlimited and unbalanced democracy. Things I’ve outlined aren’t the stuff of which doctorates in political science are made. They should be instantly obvious to any even remotely qualified voter.

Yet they aren’t. That means our voters aren’t qual… Oh well, there I go again.  

Ship all Canadians to Africa

Soviet cartoon, 1969

What a strange idea, you might think. In fact, you may question the sanity of anyone proposing such mass deportation.

Moral considerations apart, what on earth is the point? It’s not as if Canada were so overpopulated that it’s running out of room to accommodate its 39 million inhabitants. And surely, if for some unfathomable reason Canadians agreed to be shipped anywhere, it would be to a more familiar climate.

Yet all your bemusement shows is that you don’t understand the language. No, not English. The headline was written in a different tongue: Aesopian American.

First a disclaimer: my comments on American usage may show a patina of age. I left the US in 1988, and all languages have developed since then (usually for the worse, but this is a separate subject). In my day, ‘Canadian’ was the racist Aesopian for ‘black’.

You see, already in those days overt racism had become socially awkward, if not quite unacceptable. One could have more latitude for such self-expression down South, but even there I heard statements like “I hate niggers” much less often in the ‘80s than I did in the ‘70s.

When I moved to New York in 1984 after 10 years in Texas, I found such locutions expunged from publicly audible speech. The dread N-word was strictly off-limits. Yet when people talked to like-minded individuals in strict privacy, one could still occasionally hear words like ‘schvartze’ from Jews or ‘Hymie’ from blacks.

But only crazed fanatics like Jesse Jackson dared refer to New York as ‘Hymietown’ in public. As a matter of historical reference, Dr Goebbels preferred ‘Jew York’, but then English wasn’t his mother tongue.

And one could never hear any pejorative anti-black terms in bars or on public transport. The vast thesaurus of such words in American English remained untapped.

However, the sentiment didn’t disappear. It was merely bottled up, trying to pop the cork and gush out, but without drawing opprobrium. Hence the term ‘Canadian’ some New Yorkers (and other Yankees) used in lieu of ‘blacks’ to vent their innermost feelings to the initiated.

The uninitiated drinking in the same bar would be left wondering why anyone would think that Canadians had puffed-up lips and a propensity for mugging, or why they should all be shipped to Africa. Those in the know just smirked in a gnostic sort of way.

This bit of linguistic nostalgia goes a long way towards explaining the agued public denunciations of Israel and its ‘genocide’ of ‘Palestinians’. Most of the people displaying such touching concern for Muslim terrorists and their civilian fans don’t really care about the face value of the issue. And practically none are familiar with its historical background.

In fact, whenever several refugee families move into their own neighbourhood, such bleeding hearts can scream ‘NIMBY’ with the best of jingoists. The ongoing conflict simply allows them to vent their heartfelt anti-Semitism while sidestepping accusations of bigotry and even garnering social kudos for their woke sensitivity.

When they utter the word ‘Israelis’, other words keep flashing through their mind – just like ‘Canadians’ didn’t necessarily mean denizens of Toronto or Vancouver to American racists.

Every time Israel responds with violence to murderous forays into its territory, the anti-Semites of the world heave a sigh of relief: “Now we can.” Nor is it just isolated individuals – institutions jump at the chance too.

Since Israel was founded in 1948, the UN, to name one august organisation, has passed more castigating resolutions against Israel than against all other countries combined. If one didn’t know better, one could easily get the impression that Israel is the densest distillation of evil in the world, the greatest threat to everything we hold dear.

That tiny spec on the map sitting in the midst of vast tracts inhabited by rabid anti-Semites craving its annihilation draws more hatred than Putin’s Russia, Xi’s China or Kim’s North Korea.

Yet unlike those three, Israel is a truly democratic state where all citizens, including Arabs, enjoy greater freedoms than anywhere else in the Middle East. A state that’s our only ally in the region, an oasis of Western civility in the desert of savage barbarism. Not a perfect state by any means – we aren’t blessed with such things in this life. But definitely the best place in the Middle East and one of the best in the world.

Yet making such points is useless. Everyone knows all this anyway, and the line isn’t drawn between the ignorant and the educated. It’s drawn between decent people and anti-Semites.

The latter category evidently includes Karim Khan, ICC prosecutor who has issued an ICC arrest warrant against Israel’s PM and Defence minister whom he accuses of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Mr Khan (no relation of the London mayor) is British, born in Scotland and weaned on the finest traditions of British legality.

That Scotsman born and bred detects moral – and, more to the point, legal – equivalence between Israel trying to stamp out the terrorists who perpetrated the worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust and the terrorists themselves.

No sane person, especially one endowed with any moral sense, would feel that way unless the real reason for his actions was different from the ostensible one. That warrant is as clear an anti-Semitic statement as Jesse Jackson’s ‘Hymietown’. It’s just worded differently, relying on Aesopian shorthand.

This sort of thing lacks novelty appeal for me. I grew up in Moscow, where the streets were alive with the sounds of anti-Semitic invective. Yet the press was slightly more circumspect, relying on Aesopian more than Russian. I was too little to remember the openly Judeophobic campaign during the ‘Doctors’ Plot’, but in my day ‘Israelis’ and ‘Zionists’ were the Aesopian for ‘Jews’.

Soviet papers regaled their readers with anti-Semitic cartoons that would have made Julius Streicher wince at such a lack of subtlety. Muscovites quipped that the traditional anti-Semitic term ‘kike snout’ was being replaced with ‘the face of aggression’. No one was in any doubt as to the real meaning of those cartoons and their impassioned captions.

I wouldn’t waste my breath trying to argue with that good Scotsman, Mr Khan. One can take rational exception only to rational thoughts, not to inflamed passions. He just wouldn’t see the self-evident truth that Hamas is as responsible for the deaths of the civilians it uses as a human shield as it is for the sadistic murder of 1,500 Israelis.

Meanwhile, Norway has declared its intention to recognise ‘Palestine’ as an independent state from 28 May. It will be followed in short order by other EU members, starting with Spain and Ireland. Do those governments actually think this futile gesture will bring peace to the Middle East? Nobody is that stupid. But some people are that impassioned.

But Canadians shouldn’t worry. They can stay in North America and continue to speak English or French – as long as they eschew Aesopian.

P.S. Speaking of language, I love the way the word ‘philosophical’ is used nowadays. Following the resignation of Pochettino, the coach of Chelsea FC, the papers are writing about a ‘philosophical divide’ between him and the club owners. Does this mean he is a logical positivist and they are deconstructionists? Or is it just that they mispronounce ‘Kant’ and ‘Foucault’?

Down with slogans!

As a former purveyor of catchy advertising lines, I’ve learned two things about slogans: confidence in their efficacy and cynicism about those who make them effective.

Advertising is usually aimed at eliciting a low-level buying decision: which brand to choose at a supermarket or a department store. Since most brands are much of a muchness, no choice will affect the buyer’s life too much one way or another. And society at large won’t be affected at all.

Not so with political slogans. These are encapsulations of political philosophies, and if the philosophies are wrong, the slogans – specifically because they are effective – can cause much harm.

And even if the underlying philosophies are good… I was about to write “…slogans can still do damage”, but checked myself in the nick of time. My contention is that no good political philosophy lends itself to sloganeering.

That’s one reason, for example, that political conservatism can’t compete with the mass appeal of its leftist opponents. Ideologies are easily reducible to memorable slogans, whereas serious political thought suffers from what the biochemist Michael Behe called ‘irreducible complexity’.

Just take the founding slogan of modernity, liberté, egalité, fraternité. One can see why it worked so well.

In the early stages of the revolution, this triple lie of a motto didn’t run unopposed: other desiderata, such as unity and justice, were occasionally proposed as replacements for the brotherhood element. The ultimate winner was probably determined by its Christian overtones purloined from the original owner for PR purposes.

To start with, let’s consider its tripartite form. You’ll notice that many revolutionary slogans of post-Christian modernity are constructed of three elements, either words or phrases.

Apart from the French one, we could cite the American ‘life, liberty and pursuit of happiness’, the Russian ‘vsia vlast sovetam’ (all power to the Soviets) or the German ‘ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer’ (one people, one nation, one leader). And even a somewhat less significant revolution had to chip in with a vapid ‘Work harder, produce more, build Grenada!’

What we are witnessing here is the first stage of shoplifting larceny: the revolutionaries sensed that the world around them was alive with Trinitarian music. Since people’s ears were attuned to it, they were predisposed to respond to similar sounds even if they conveyed a different meaning. In this instance, however, it wasn’t just the music.

Also hidden in the French slogan was another mock-Christian allusion. For, according to the Enlighteners, ‘fraternity’ flowed out of ‘liberty’ and ‘equality’. Philosophers of the time argued that no brotherhood was possible without liberty and equality, which is to say that the third part of the triad proceeded from the first two.

One doesn’t have to be a theologian to see how the deep and subtle Christian doctrine of the Trinity was vulgarised for a very un-Christian purpose by adding the faked echoes of the Creeds.

Each element of the French triad was stolen property. To the original owner, freedom came from – and led to – the truth, which is to say God; equality was a natural consequence of jointly loving, and being loved by, a supreme being, which is to say God; brotherhood implied a spiritual kinship bestowed by a common father, which is to say God.

The intellectual cardsharps of the Enlightenment deftly pulled the ace of God out of the pack, leaving people with a hand of cards that were not only low but also marked. For even on a purely secular level, the middle element of the triad, equality, negates the other two.

But no conservative thinker, even one with my 30 years’ experience in advertising, will be able to counter with a slogan of his own. It would take at least a lengthy article, better still a book, to explain that, say, the state can only ever level down, not up, and this can only ever be achieved by coercive means.

Since, contrary to another revolutionary falsehood, people really aren’t created – and certainly don’t end up – equal, they can only be equalised by government fiat aimed at truncating the social and economic pyramid at the top. In other words, equality presupposes ever-greater and bossier centralism, which will in turn lead to tyranny.

There you have it: I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of the issue, but I’ve already lost the masses by appealing to their understated, not to say non-existent, thinking capacity. Instead of causing a kneejerk response, I’ve caused consternation.

Or look at the communist slogan, ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’. This sounds wonderful to the unthinking masses, and they won’t listen to an egghead arguing that, for the slogan to mean anything at all, there has to exist an omnipotent authority empowered to decide what an individual is capable of and what his needs are.

Such an authority would have to be not only tyrannical but murderously oppressive, which has to be instantly clear to any thinking person. However, I wish I had a tenner for each time I’ve heard someone insist that the communist idea is lovely but regrettably unachievable, or else perverted by the Bolsheviks. In fact, it’s unachievable precisely because it’s monstrous, which the Bolsheviks demonstrated so persuasively.

The problem with slogans is that they are simplistic and hence vulgar. That makes them as appealing to the simplistic and vulgar multitudes as they are repugnant to the few people who try to think about serious matters seriously.

No slogan can ever stand up to intelligent enquiry, never mind scrutiny. This goes for slogans associated not only with the subversive Left but also with the benign Right, such as ‘make America great again’ – even though the people who swear by it are nicer than those who talk about liberty and equality.

I could almost live with that entreaty if ‘great’ were replaced with ‘good’. That wouldn’t make the slogan any less vulgar, but at least ‘good’ is easier to define than ‘great’. The standards of goodness were laid down in Exodus and Matthew, and they can perhaps be somehow extrapolated to a country. But what makes a country great?

Different things to different men, I’d suggest. Some will talk about prosperity, some about military strength, some about international influence and prestige, some about anything else they can think of.

I once asked a promulgator of that slogan what it actually meant. The word ‘again’ suggests that America used to be great in the past, but isn’t any longer. This seems to call for a return to a specific period in the country’s history. Which one?

His first response was “before the war”. What, the thirties? The Great Depression, dustbowl countryside, FDR’s socialism America is still reeling from, an alphabet soup of new government agencies, giant publicly funded projects like the Hoover Dam with workers paid a dollar a day?

In the end we agreed that perhaps the fifties was a better candidate for greatness, up until the Vietnam War, the student riots and the precursors of today’s BLM and Me-Too. But did we mean isolationist or proselytising greatness? America providing a shining example for the world or trying to lead it?

So decorticated, the slogan lost its substantive meaning. Only populist demagoguery at its most soaring remained and, provided the people are vulnerable to it, that weapon can be wielded by rather questionable politicians.

I suppose populist politics is like advertising in that neither can survive without rabble-rousing sloganeering. That’s my problem with populist politics, sloganeering and – come to think of it – advertising. Yes, I know this is biting the hand that continues to feed me 20-odd years after I left the trade. But a hand close to one’s mouth is much easier to bite.

Our gender-bender politics

We miss you, Niccolo

On the face of it, the news doesn’t even seem to be newsworthy.

According to Labour, those dastardly Tories make it too hard for children to change sex. Their reasons for such tyrannical practices have to be nefarious, though Labour isn’t quite sure what they may be.

One way or another, those toffee-nosed demons ruin children’s lives by insisting on a medical certificate of gender dysphoria before a boy can legally become a girl or vice versa. That process must be “simplified”, says Labour.

Now, as a matter of general principle, Labour is in favour of medicalising everything: alcoholism, drug addiction, bad moods, criminality, marital problems, you name it. Just as long as you don’t name gender-bending.

The small matter of a child undergoing castration to be legally recognised as something he wasn’t born to be should be off-limits for medicine. Doctors and ideally parents must be taken out of the loop. If little Johnny wants to have his wee-wee cut off so that he can become little Jenny instead, it’s nobody’s business but his own.

Such was the Labour position under Corbyn. However, realising that extremism could scare off the electorate, the party drummed Jeremy out and Sir Keir Starmer in. Seeking electoral acceptability, he has suppressed his innermost cravings (which are similar to Corbyn’s) and mitigated Labour policies by way of subterfuge.

One such policy Starmer has mitigated is on the issue under discussion here. Rather than cutting doctors out of the process altogether, Sir Keir only wants to abolish the medical panel currently required to issue the necessary certificate. A quick diagnosis by a single doctor, he says, should suffice. That doctor may be a specialist, but even a GP would do at a pinch.

According to the NHS Choices website, “GPs spend an average of 8-10 minutes with each patient”. In reality it’s even less, but even the claimed generosity seems inadequate in this case. After all, a GP is about to send a child on a lifelong road from which there is no return.

All this is tediously predictable and, by itself, not worth talking about. We already know that night follows day, trees are green in summer, and our leftmost major party will seek to enter the corridors of power through the left door.

However, the reaction of the Tory Party hints at the real issue underneath it all. Kemi Badenoch, the Women and Equality Minister (don’t you just love such job descriptions) said: “There is no reason whatsoever to relax the safeguards that are in place. Labour should stop trying to weaponise this issue and allow professionals to do their job properly.”

Weaponise to what purpose? Obviously, to gain the upper hand in the forthcoming elections. In other words, both parties are certain that the elections may to a large extent hinge on this issue. That, I’d suggest, is grounds for a fundamental reassessment of basic political theory.

Any expert technician of democratic policies knows that political success comes from the ability to put large voting blocs together. That makes democratic politics a game of numbers.

Giant computers whir into action all over the land, crunching multi-digit numbers and identifying areas where such numbers could be large enough to add up to a voting bloc. Thousands of focus groups are convened and put under intense interrogation. Trained moderators bombard various demographic sectors with a barrage of questions, trying to determine which way the wind of great numbers is blowing.

Pollsters good at their job are worth their weight in diamonds, not just gold. Such mavens see the forest of voting intention behind the trees of seemingly random answers to intricate questionnaires. And they convert what they see into what they recommend to the candidate.

What the latter thinks on the subject has always been secondary and now is not so much tertiary as irrelevant. It’s not convictions but numbers that decide elections.

Are you with me so far? If so, you are way behind the times.

That’s how it used to be when democratic politics was mostly Machiavellian. In those days, electoral promises were determined by coldblooded calculations of sums. Nowadays, however, they are increasingly skewed by obsequious bows to ideologies.

Gender-bending is a case in point. No one knows for sure how many transsexuals grace these Isles with their presence. Assessments vary, but the greatest number I’ve seen was about 250,000. That’s those who doubt they were born with the right sex, and only a small percentage of them will ever do something to correct the injustice perpetrated on them by nature.

This is a drop in the ocean of a 50-million electorate, certainly not enough to add up to any bloc worthy of the name. And yet a Tory minister protests against Labour weaponising the issue, which suggests she knows how destructive to her party’s chances that weapon may be.

This means democratic politics is no longer a game of numbers, certainly not in any straightforward sense. Ultimately elections will always be decided by sums, but we must fundamentally revise our view on how such sums are put together.

It’s no longer just about appealing to the concrete interests of a group perceived to be large enough to swing an election. It’s about kowtowing to an ideology accepted by a vast number of voters regardless of their specific concerns. The public has been brainwashed to applaud virtue-signalling, however perversely virtue is defined.

Ideologies give our increasingly atheist masses a way of reaching the superpersonal without approaching the supernatural. This answers a ubiquitous human need to believe in something greater than oneself. Most people are probably unaware of this craving, but it does exist.

And swindlers of any kind know how to reel in their prey by identifying unconscious needs and catering to them. As a result, people feel good about themselves because they’ve responded to the diktats of a pernicious ideology – and any ideology is pernicious by definition.

People may not account for this in so many words. Nobody will say even to himself that he’ll vote Labour because it’ll make sex change easier. But he may allow himself to be sedated by the aroma of virtue emanating from the whiffs of ideology released into the atmosphere.

Therefore it doesn’t matter how many transsexuals live in Britain. It may be 250,000, 2,500 or 250 – never mind the numbers, feel the ‘virtuous’ ideology.

Generally speaking, it’s wrong to insist that because something happened it was bound to happen. Secular determinism of any kind is usually unsound. Yet the post-Enlightenment fusion of boundless atheism and limitless democracy may well provide an exception. Otherwise it’s hard to explain how transsexuality has become such an urgent concern for so many otherwise normal people.

Niccolo Machiavelli, please come back, we need you. All is forgiven – if it takes a dose of your cynicism to inoculate us against ideologies, we’ll never again say a nasty word about you.