Everyone loses in the clash between liberalism and democracy

At CapX It seems odd that liberalism (in the older, wider sense) and democracy might be in conflict, like the scene in Superman 3 where Clark Kent fights his alter ego in a junk yard. The two once went together almost like a compound, with “capitalist” as the third crucial element. People spoke about fighting the Cold War in terms of defending democracy. It was what defined our way of life — and yet increasingly intellectuals in the centre… 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 many Remainers does it take to fix a light bulb?

At the Spectator So Russia launched some fake Twitter accounts, a tiny, tiny number in the greater scheme of things and which almost certainly had no impact on the result. Oh, but even if it didn’t swing the result, the argument goes, they still helped to polarise the debate. I don’t know about that; quite a few people have spent the last 18 months tweeting about how they can’t wait for Leave voters to die of old age, or… Read on

I want to see how a culture war is fought so badly

At the Spectator blogs This is a government far more keen on Cameroonian modernisation than Cameron’s was – they’re just rubbish at it, and none of their target audience cares because of Brexit. They seem to have mastered the art of reverse triangulation, subtly sending out a signal to traditional conservatives that they’re hopelessly defeatist while simultaneously appealing utterly repulsive to progressives. They made a major error, in my opinion, by not from the very start making a pledge… Read on

The Week: Jeremy Corbyn’s topsy-turvy culture war

Me, in The Week: That referendum turned into a bitter and ugly culture war, a marked sign of the shifting from the traditional left/right axis towards a conflict between globalism and nationalism. Yet it has had a huge unintended consequence, too: What started as a battle for Britain’s soul between metropolitan liberals and conservatives seems to have left both sides exhausted and impotent and instead emboldened hardline socialists, viewed until recently as harmless relics of a bygone age. And… Read on

I’m a Leaver who would be happy for a second referendum

At the Spectator I voted Leave but if it looks like clearly being an economic disaster, then it’s ridiculous to pursue it whatever the cost. In no field does someone continue along the same course, knowing it will end in complete failure, whatever the consequences. It is true that there would be public anger at a second referendum, but there would be far more if the economy went down the toilet. There is also the fact that, while we… Read on

13 things we have learnt about Britain since the EU Referendum

At the Coffee House A large gap between the elites and public is a really bad thing. I’m not of the opinion that the people are necessarily right and the elites wrong – I’m, I suppose, a member of the elite, albeit an obscure and unimportant one. But well-educated and sociable people are more susceptible to fashionable ideas, which are often idiotic (indeed idiotic ideas have many advantages over sensible ones). The gap on the critical, existential issue for… Read on

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

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

Brexit isn’t to blame for the Polish exodus

On the brexodus – at the Coffee House Whether or not Britain is less friendly though, Polish migration was going to dry up anyway, and even go into reverse, because Poland has awesome growth rates. In 2016, Polish GDP per capita reached two-thirds of western European levels, the first time since the early days of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and it’s inevitably going to get even better; for this the EU must take some credit. Poland also has one of… Read on