A bitter culture war has begun in Britain

at Spectator blogs, on brexit, cheery as ever. Being a citizen of a country, rather than just a subject, means suppressing your own wants and concerns in favour of the common good, since your ideals, and your preferred direction, might be squarely at odds with those of your fellow citizens. And so the less a country is defined by things like history and the more by ideals and values, the more bitter the arguments will be over what those… Read on

Wealthier people have their own border controls – they’re called house prices

I’m in Centre Write, the magazine of think-tank Bright Blue, debating migration. And the experience of immigration, from the natives’ point of view, almost entirely depends on where they live; my part of London is, by historical standards, very cosmopolitan, with dozens of languages spoken at my daughters’ school. But the area’s high housing costs ensure that it will never get that diverse, and the percentage of people who speak impeccable English never falls below a tipping point… Read on

Print edition of 1215 and All That: A Very, very short history of Magna Carta and King John

This Wednesday is Magna Carta Day, marking the date in 1215 when King John agreed to a series of demands by the country’s leading barons, a conflict that happily influenced important legal principles such as the idea that no one can be imprisoned without due process.  Anyway, I have good news to further improve my cheery demeanor. My ebook on the subject, 1215 and All That: A Very, very short history of Magna Carta and King John,… Read on

You can’t stop future Orlandos, but you can reduce the odds

At the Spectator I’m pro-gun control, but I come from the most heavily populated corner of one of the most crowded islands on earth, where it’s appropriate. I also grew up in a city and have only fired a gun once, which was basically an air rifle, and the results were predictably Woody Allenesque. But gun control may not be necessarily appropriate in sparse rural areas, although I do find some of the arguments made by American Second… Read on

Why do we indulge the crimes of the Left?

At the Spectator Coffee House I like to look at the children’s history books when I take my kids to the library each week, and these are raising a generation of true believers. Although far more deal with the Marxism of race, with a number of hagiographies of Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela, I picked one up the other day explaining the Chinese Revolution. Mao is described in bold letters as a ‘social visionary’ and I could find… Read on

Evening Standard: Britain’s lack of family values will come to haunt us

Today, on the emptiness of friendship. This problem may be most extreme here because Britain is probably the least family-orientated country on earth. There are historical reasons for this; as the Cambridge medieval historian Alan Macfarlane discovered, England broke out from a peasant society very early on, which meant children left home in their teens and never lived as extended families. This is why there are no big fat English weddings with lots of relatives called Rupert or Nigel. To… Read on

Time to end the disastrous democratic experiment

me at the Spectator blogs This is democracy in action, but in all the worst ways, and it most resembles the Athenian custom of ostracism, where a mob could vote a citizen into exile, a system used to pick on unpopular or controversial members of society. We saw this in Britain last month with the Laura Kuenssberg petition on38 Degrees, a menacing and spiteful scheme against a journalist for doing her job. But then most online… Read on

Vikings and The Last Kingdom: how TV drama fell in love with bloodthirsty paganism

At the Catholic Herald: The Vikings are violent and uncouth, but for all that they are portrayed as being honest and earthy, authentic and fun-loving; the Christians in contrast are peaceful but also cowardly and hypocritical. The Church is accused of acquiring gold for monasteries out of sheer greed; their attitude to sex and celibacy is nonsensical; the Christian armies are weak and worthy of contempt, led by cowardly kings (in real life the Vikings disappeared for a… Read on

What historical events would make good HBO series/films

Apropo nothing, I’ve been thinking about what historical events would make good HBO series or films. The Varangian Guard The bodyguards of the Byzantine emperor were German barbarians of all sorts, but I’d be especially interested in the story of the Anglo-Saxons who fled their homeland after Hastings to fight for Constantinople (some even ended up fighting against Normans in Sicily). It could begin on October 14, 1066 and go from there. Get Sean Bean to play Harold Godwinson,… Read on

Return of the Kings: could this be the dawn of a new golden age for monarchy?

In the Spectator I go full reactionary (it was bound to happen, sooner of later) Brazil, a young country in the new world, might not strike us as obvious monarchy material, but it might also be just the sort of society that benefits from a king: huge in potential, it’s also huge in corruption and low in the social solidarity that creates what the Americans used to call ‘republican virtue’. Monarchies are proven to help build social solidarity, creating… Read on