Tories are a diverse community that can’t be pigeonholed etc etc

At the Spectator, writing about some on the Left. But the most idiotic thing about the hard-left’s hatred is that it is unable to see the different shades of opinion among its opponents, and therefore to divide them. Among the Tory scum, for example, there are at least three distinctive groups, known in the old days as the wets, the s***s and the loonies; that is the centrists, the social conservatives and the libertarians/Thatcherites. Some people may mix… Read on

The 55 languages of France (and the most amazing horse in history)

The 55 languages of France (and the most amazing horse in history)

On holiday I read Graham Robb’s The Discovery of France, a marvelous book that chronicles all the tiny subcultures of that country. The author likes to ride bicycles and has viewed the country over many years with a cyclist’s eye view, noticing the byways as well as highways. France is, compared to England, hugely diverse. It is four times as large and until the 17th century had a population four to five times as big (today it is… Read on

Our own London caliphate is doing nothing but good

Me in the Evening Standard today: An e-mail I received recently began: “30,000 Muslims in London pledge allegiance to the caliphate”. Well, it certainly got my attention, but the caliph in question was not that rather humourless chap in Syria but Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the softly spoken leader of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. You may have seen their slogan — “Love for all, hatred for none” — or noticed their young men selling poppies outside Tube stations, an… Read on

Will Russia’s ‘holy war’ save Syria’s Christians?

At the Catholic Herald, on Syria. Conspiracy theories are common in the Middle East, but it is hardly surprising that people think there are reasons behind the reasons when Western governments follow policies so at odds with what most Westerners think is morally right, and which are also not in their own interests. In contrast, Russian policy is brutal, and involves supporting a ruthless dictatorship. But Russia’s approach is also logically consistent and demonstrates a clear understanding of what their… Read on

Never trust anything you read on the internet, as Abraham Lincoln said

At the Spectator blogs, on my ambition to write a book of fake quotes For it’s not just bogus pictures; the internet has also helped spread fake, or misattributed, quotes. I remember seeing one by The Clash’s Joe Strummer about perseverance, which seemed quite familiar and rather conservative until I realised it actually comes from Margaret Thatcher (I think). I recently discovered that my favourite Churchill quote – ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going’ – was first… Read on

Ukip hasn’t gone away, you know

At Spectator blogs Back in 2011 I suggested that Ukip would top the 2014 euro poll and was given odds of 66/1 by Paddy Power, but I chickened out of putting money on it; I also ducked out of a bet offered by a leading political pollster that the Kippers would overtake the Lib Dems. I come from an austere Irish Catholic background and have always taken the view that gambling is a waste of good drinking money…. Read on

Robin Hood, tax protester

Robin Hood, tax protester

From 1215 and All That: A very, very short history of Magna Carta and King John At the heart of the conflict that led to Magna Carta was money, and the Crown’s relentless thirst for more of it. Around half of its clauses relate to financial disputes, and this had as much to do with Henry and Richard as it did with John. The royals were not exactly the villains of the piece either; no doubt some barons missed… Read on

The Islamic philosopher every Catholic should know about

The Islamic philosopher every Catholic should know about

At The Catholic Herald: As a boy, Ibn Khaldun was taught by some of the best scholars in the Maghreb, learning the Koran as well as Islamic law, grammar, rhetoric, mathematics and philosophy. Among the Muslim thinkers he studied were Avicenna, the eleventh-century author of the Book of Healing who produced hundreds of works during the peak of Islamic intellectual flourishing; Averroes, the great philosopher of medieval Cordoba, who promoted the work of Aristotle; and the Iranian Read on

Do political activists really need to be naked to make their point?

From the Spectator blogs But does any cause these days not involve people parading half-naked in front of a camera? Earlier this year protesters stripped off in protest at that Protein World advert. There have also been a whole host of ‘Slutwalk’ events which involved people wearing very little. This is definitely a new thing. My recollection of the event is vague but I seem to remember that Martin Luther King managed to make his historic march to Selma without getting his… Read on

A pessimistic foreign policy would save lives

At the Spectator, on the strange lack of critical thinking in British foreign policy: But pessimists, and people with depressive personalities, tend to have a more realistic grasp of affairs. At the time of the prime minister’s speech, I wrote something suggesting that since no Arab country had yet produced a lasting democracy, it was a realistic calculation based on the available evidence to suggest that it might not work. Since prejudice is defined as ‘an adverse judgment or… Read on