England’s forgotten founding father

From the Catholic Herald Athelstan: The Making of England Tom Holland £9.99/£3.09 on Kindle Of all the kings and queens covered in Penguin’s new Monarchs of England series, perhaps the least known is also one of the most important. The grandson of Alfred the Great, Athelstan was raised by his aunt Ethelfleda after his father Edward the Elder discarded his mother Ecgwynn to a convent to make a dynastic marriage… Read on

Why I regret Brexit

In this week’s Catholic Herald (out Friday) Well, that worked, and just as Britain was taken into the Common Market on a lie, so it will be taken out of the European Union on a lie; leave won with huge support in traditional Labour areas of the north, the midlands and Wales. Some of these towns, such as Boston, had had a big influx of eastern Europeans, but many had little immigration. More puzzling, too, many of these… Read on

Vikings and The Last Kingdom: how TV drama fell in love with bloodthirsty paganism

At the Catholic Herald: The Vikings are violent and uncouth, but for all that they are portrayed as being honest and earthy, authentic and fun-loving; the Christians in contrast are peaceful but also cowardly and hypocritical. The Church is accused of acquiring gold for monasteries out of sheer greed; their attitude to sex and celibacy is nonsensical; the Christian armies are weak and worthy of contempt, led by cowardly kings (in real life the Vikings disappeared for a… Read on

Is it appropriate for Pope Francis to accept the Charlemagne Prize?

At the Catholic Herald  

The new religion of the Silicon Valley elite

At the Catholic Herald  First the soft drinks manufacturer Pepsi demanded that the state repeal the law. Then Bruce Springsteen cancelled a gig there, followed by Ringo Starr. Various large, sharp-elbowed corporations have since piled in to protest, and Deutsche Bank has cancelled plans to expand its office in the state; this is a company that has a large office in Saudi Arabia, where women aren’t even allowed to drive, let alone choose which loo to use. Are… Read on

Our revolting new elites

From The Catholic Herald print edition, February 26, 2016 When I joined the Catholic Herald in September 2007, the American media were starting to talk up a junior senator from Illinois with a confusingly foreign name. This Barack Obama was going to heal America’s wounds and bring us a post-racial future, or at least that’s what I recall Radio 4 telling me. Now, in 2016, no one talks of hope and change any more. This year’s US presidential… Read on

Do France’s neo-reactionaries herald the end of the Left’s golden age?

Me, doing my Comical Ali  thing. In fact what progressive ideas have in common is that when put into practice they seem to cause people to be miserable. Multiculturalism removes people’s sense of comfort and community, replacing it with alienation and atomisation. Secularisation may lower social capital. Egalitarianism makes people feel like failures because it offers them largely false hopes of rising socially. Sexual liberation is based on the contradiction of sexual equality and sexual freedom, which clash… Read on

Dynasty: the Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar

My review of Tom Holland’s Dynasty is out in this week’s Catholic Herald: Caligula is one of the best-known figures from the ancient world, and with good reason. Catapulted to power in his early 20s, he had grown up amid violence and backstabbing and, on top of a natural sadism and perversity, had a loathing of hypocrisy. Unlike his great-grandfather Augustus, his greatest wish was “to rub the noses of the nobility in their own irrelevance and desuetude”, making their… Read on

No, Henry V, Agincourt was not ok

At the Catholic Herald, a post on England’s greatest monster. Not Ted Heath, but Henry V: The English took Caen on September 4, 1417 after which there was “an orgy of rape and looting”. The English king only ordered an end to the slaughter after he “saw a baby sucking at the breast of its headless mother”, according to Desmond Seward. Then in 1418-1419 came Rouen, where Henry V would show utter ruthlessness. He hanged prisoners in front of… Read on

Safe spaces’ exist because universities treat secular ideas as sacred

From the Catholic Herald There have been a lot of stories recently about no-platforming at universities, with free speech and academic intolerance becoming much more of an issue. Last week journalist Julie Bindel was disinvited by Manchester’s Student Union because of something she wrote about a decade ago, since when she has been hounded continuously. Bindel has been disinvited to events so many times now her name could almost be a verb; to bindel someone. Readers will recall… Read on