I do wish the cultural revolution would hurry up and reach its dictatorship phase

At Spectator Coffee House My dinosaur brain obviously categorises things into ‘harmless traditions’ and ‘dangerous threats to western civilisation’, and grid girls are definitely in the former. Formula One is a sort of modern-day version of the medieval tourney, a celebration of masculine bravery and strength by its latter-day knights – the son of the head of the Habsburg family is, funnily enough, a racing driver – and just as the tourneys of the later middle ages had a… Read on

Conservatives are the equivalent of the last pagan generation of Rome

At Spectator Coffee House The problem here is not just Brexit, but that Brexit and the economic uncertainty it has brought has exposed how intellectually exhausted conservatism is in Britain; the Tories have simply relied too much on their USP of being the people who can sensibly run the economy, without any real vision of the future, no intellectual hinterland, no heroic narrative to inspire, no confidence in its ideas, and also little interest in using actual empirical arguments… Read on

Is political correctness speeding up?

From Spectator blogs One of the most influential and popular ideas of the post-war era was that of the Authoritarian Personality, which linked fascism with a number of personality traits, including conventionalism, anti-intellectualism and prudery. Conservatism, in other words. It has become popular to believe that being right-wing is synonymous with being authoritarian. Society may have no common culture or religion or body of literature, but everyone knows who the Nazis are. So as Nazism has pushed out everything… Read on

Does alcohol make us more right-wing?

At Spectator Coffee House Similarly, as this study of the anti-anxiety drug lorazepam shows, ‘anxiety exerts a general inhibitory effect on harmful acts toward other humans regardless of whether the motivation for those harmful acts is selfish or utilitarian.’ People, once loosened up by alcohol, are more willing to punish wrongdoers, and certainly drink is long associated with violence and in particular communal mob violence. Personally this jars with my own experience; since conservatism is associated with higher levels… Read on

Get off social media for 2018

At the Spectator Coffee House I hardly ever use Facebook because I’ve never in my entire time using it closed the browser feeling happier than when I opened it. Instagram I don’t do either but I can see that looking at lots of people more beautiful and happier than you will make anyone miserable. What vanity is to Instagram, sanctimony is to Twitter, the competition to be purer-than-thou and to gain status in the moral community the most tiresome… Read on

Brexit: The boredom of living through ‘interesting times’ 

At Spectator Coffee House And yet 18th and 19th century Britain was politically stable and unified enough to work around these religious-political divisions, without bloodshed, and for minority religions on both sides to be slowly allowed into the mainstream. I’m less confident about the coming troubled times, which have more in common with the far bloodier culture war of the 16th and 17th centuries, which was also spurred on by new technology, in this case printing rather than the… Read on

How the Irish civilized England

From the Catholic Herald Christmas edition Monasticism had begun in the deserts of Egypt under St Anthony, but after the practice spread west and was popularised by Benedict of Nursia it was keenly taken up by the Irish. Like the Egyptians, they found plenty of harsh, unforgiving places where they could get closer to God. Nowhere was more unforgiving than Skellig Michael. The monastery there was founded before the 8th century and at some time became associated with… Read on

All conservatives should support Michael Gove’s green crusade

At the Coffee House I appreciate that environmental policy is littered with unintended consequences and it’s not simple, but allowing the Left to dominate the issue of saving the planet was one of the biggest mistakes conservatives made in the late 20th century. One of the central points of conservatism is future-orientation: it doesn’t matter how much the Twitterati despise you, what’s important is that your great-grandchildren admire and appreciate the labours that made their world. Indeed if fashionable… Read on

Spectator: Why marriage is increasingly for the royals – and the rich

I’m very excited about the wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle next spring, having hugely enjoyed the last royal big day. Sentimental as it sounds, I felt incredibly happy for Will and Kate that hopeful April day, and that this was a good country with a positive future. Although if I was completely honest with myself, I suppose, drinking all day from 11am probably played some part in all this. Anyway, on that topic I’m in this week’s Spectator… Read on

How much is immigration to blame for the housing crisis?

And yet last year 150,000 homes were built in Britain, which on paper, for the third most densely populated non-microstate in Europe (and England is first), and for a country well below sub-replacement fertility, should be enough. But it’s not, it’s barely even sufficient to house the extra 246,000 people who officially arrived here from March 2016. As the crisis has got worse, and homes have become ever more unaffordable, the animus has been directed against the Tories, and old… Read on