Will Brexit make us better Europeans?

At Coffee House But one of the results of the vote might be that Britons become better Europeans; this is not exactly an unintended consequence, as Daniel Hannan has argued the point before, but it’s still somewhat counter-intuitive. Contrary to the thesis that Brexit has made the country a backwards-looking cesspit of hate, polls show that Britons have become more friendly to EU migrants since the June 23 vote. Maybe strong fences make for good neighbours, or the upsurge… Read on

On St Patrick and St Gildas, patron saint of immigration restriction

Ireland’s rapid and enthusiastic embrace of the new faith is impressive, in particular their attraction to the originally Egyptian and eastern Mediterranean idea of monasticism. Irish monks loved the austerity and self-inflected misery associated with the religious life, and the country’s harsh environment provided the perfect backdrop; the most extreme was Skelling Michael, off the coast of Kerry, an isolated mountain island that can only be reached on calm days (to a younger generation made famous in the closing scene… Read on

Privacy and the fine art of making a fool of yourself

I was at a sports centre in north London a few months back, taking my eldest to a children’s party. It had one of those multi-level soft -play areas, which her two-year-old brother immediately disappeared into. Ordered to bring him back for cake, which I delivered with the usual supply-teacher lack of authority, I had to crawl through two foam bars to get him. But as I squeezed through it occurred to me that I was in fact stuck, and… Read on

Make Beauty Affordable Again

At the Spectator Coffee House, my manifesto for more housing in London.

Three books out this year

I have three shortish books published this year on medieval English history, covering Alfred the Great and the Vikings, the Norman Conquest and Magna Carta and King John. Two more will follow next year. The books will be published in the US (although also available on British Amazon) and are aimed at newcomers to the era; an older version of Horrible Histories, basically. The last is a much expanded version of my ebook on Magna Carta,… Read on

The hypocrisy of pro-Union Brexiteers

At the Spectator, on the prospect of yet another referendum. It would also create the strange situation where a British government that had just left the European Union would be warning Scots that leaving a larger union will have catastrophic economics consequences. Surely no one involved in Brexit, or who supported Brexit, can make any argument against Scottish independence except emotional ones: that the British are a nation and for that reason should stick together. That point was… Read on

Across the West, working-class voters are abandoning the Left

At the Coffee House That’s what many people at the moment believe. But if you look elsewhere, white working-class voters are deserting centre-left parties across the western world, so it would be strange if Labour was able to buck this trend. In Austria, for instance, 85 per cent of working-class men voted for the radical right at last year’s presidential elections. Working-class voters also carried Donald Trump to power – the Orange One having a 39 point advantageRead on

Why Ken Loach is a stupid-head and ‘poverty’ is a myth

I have that thing where lots of people are angry with a headline rather than an actual article, about Ken Loach. Actually the article’s not really about Ken Loach, it’s about Christopher Lasch, but as I was writing it I noticed the director’s call for a revolt against the elites. What interests me is how unlikely and archaic this now seems, because across the western world working-class votes are going to the Right: Labour is now third among working-class… Read on

On Christopher Lasch and Steve Bannon

At Spectator Coffee House Last week, there was an interesting profile of another anti-establishment type, Steve Bannon, who is seen as one of the intellectuals behind the Trump regime. This passage, highlighted by Rod Dreher, shows what a revolutionary air there is about him. It brought to mind Christopher Lasch’s prophetic 1994 work The Revolt of the Elites, which I think is essential to understand what is happening now. Lasch, who died before his great work was published, saw… Read on

Airbnb’s odd criticism of Trump doesn’t add up

From the Spectator Coffee House We use Airbnb quite a bit, both as hosts and guests, and it is a fantastic business. On top of the extra cash it allows people to earn, it does bring some solid social benefits, perhaps the biggest of which is that, because of online reputations, it encourages people to behave in a very civil and considerate way. It also encourages trade, exchange and interaction with people from different parts of the world. This… Read on