Royal baby: congratulations to William and Kate

Congratulations to William and Kate on the wonderful news.  No doubt it’s not how they wanted to announce it, with her being taken to hospital for acute morning sickness, but hopefully everything will be all right and the country will have something to celebrate in the summer. As a wedding-sceptic before last year’s bash, I was very surprised by how beautiful the event was, and how everyone (or almost everyone) felt bonded by a feeling of togetherness. It’s a common… Read on

Can’t Lord McAlpine just forgive George Monbiot?

From Telegraph blogs, Novermber 12, 2012 Lord McAlpine has won £185,000 in damages after the BBC libelled him, and he now intends to sue tweeters who wrongly linked him to sexual abuse. It’s understandable. McAlpine says he was “terrified” and became “a figure of public hatred” because of his “trial by Twitter”. This is not an exaggeration: in an age of hysteria over paedophilia, people wrongly accused are at risk of being attacked by some idiot. McAlpine was… Read on

The EU was dreamed up in French and German. That’s why the British have never fitted in

Nick Clegg apparently speaks Dutch in Cabinet when Herman Van Rompuy turns up – surely reason enough for Cameron to sack him. Who won the Second Anglo-Dutch War, anyway? (Oh, they did.) The Deputy Prime Minister speaks five languages, the others being French, Spanish and German (and English, obviously), which must make him the most linguistically gifted Cabinet minister for over 40 years. Clegg is half-Dutch, a quarter Russian and married to a Spaniard, and has spent… Read on

The 21st century’s ignored tragedy: endangered minorities

If you thought Europe’s demography was sluggish, spare a thought for India’s Parsis, declining at such a rate that the government is allocating money for fertility clinics. The Parsis are Zoroastrians who originally came from Persia to India to escape Islamic rule, and have often punched above their weight in commerce. The British, in particular, favoured them and they came to be especially dominant in education, banking and industry, and under the Raj they also expanded around… Read on

Anti-elitism hate crime worse than fracturing a woman’s cheekbones

I don’t understand how sentencing works in this country. A week ago we had politicians telling us that we should be allowed to tackle burglars in our homes. Which is great, except that I live in a liberal, middle-class part of north London full of media types, so I think any burglar entering my flat can safely assume I don’t have an armory downstairs. North London academics and journalists can kill people, indirectly, with bad ideas, but not in a… Read on

China’s coming dominance will transform the West

Chinese world domination is not far off, a theme I normally come around to when I’ve had too much to drink (if you see me in a bar raising the issue, please call me a cab before I bore someone to death). The United States of America has overshadowed all our lives. It is not just its financial and military muscle – in almost every sphere of human activity America’s dominance has dwarfed that of any other country in a… Read on

Confessions of a reformed neocon

A few years back I had to make a hard and unnerving admission to myself – that my neoconservatism had got out of hand. It started off with small things – saying the odd good word about opposition groups in the Middle East or throwing an exile get-together. But soon that didn’t satisfy me and I needed bigger and bigger regime changes to get my fix. But I’m clearly not the only reformed neocon. Public pessimism about the prospect of… Read on

If we are the new Elizabethans, then conservatives are the new Catholics

I recently read Ian Mortimer’s A Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England, which includes a chapter on religion in this period. It illustrates how during the 16th century the acceptable range of religious beliefs changed rapidly in a short space of time. Anti-Catholic hostility steadily grew, inflamed by the Pope’s declarations against Queen Elizabeth, and in 1571 Parliament passed a new act making it high treason to claim the Queen was “a heretic, schismatic, tyrant, infidel or usurper”. It became… Read on

Libertarians and conservatives – an odd couple

One of the noticeable political developments of recent years has been the way that the debate over drugs has become much less of a Left/Right issue. Although there were some Tories in favour of legalisation in the 1980s and 90s, they were mavericks in an overwhelmingly prohibitionist political movement. Now, however, when Peter Hitchens writes a book about drugs, The War We Never Fought, much of the most strident opposition comes from those on the Right. The free-market libertarian Right,… Read on

Can Islam ever accept higher criticism?

Last night’s Islam: The Untold Story will have made uncomfortable viewing for some people. It certainly seemed to be for one of the featured experts, Seyyed Hossein Nasr, an Iranian Islamic philosopher who had the look of a man whose faith is facing the rising tide of scepticism and godlessness. It is one Christians of the past century and a half, from the early days of higher criticism to the recent plummet in religious attendance, will recognise well. In this… Read on