Archive January 2020

Liberalism is collapsing under the weight of its own hypocritical intolerance

From grooming gangs to woke campuses, the liberal left’s double standards are clear for all to see

Many liberals seem utterly baffled by the crises that have enveloped their creed  over a decade or more . Yet the events of the past week provide them with the conclusive evidence that their problem is not – as they often like to tell themselves – Tory lies or media bias, but lies much closer to home, in their own beliefs and behaviour. 

Last Tuesday, the country learned of yet another grooming gang scandal. After similar and harrowing tales from Oxford, Rochdale, Rotherham and other English towns and cities, we can now add Manchester to the list of places where the authorities watched mainly…

Hopelessly out of date and ruinously expensive: Tory knives are out for HS2

Will there ever be a better time for Boris Johnson to take unpopular decisions? The Labour Party lies in ruins, seemingly determined not to learn the lessons of its election defeat. The Conservatives are at his feet, unable to believe the size of the majority he won.

His Cabinet meetings have become a chorus of sycophancy, with even the Prime Minister looking bored by the various declarations of admiration. He will perhaps never have as much personal political power as he has now. The question facing No 10 is what he intends to do with it.

His stated mission is to get Brexit done, which will keep him busy this year – but now is the time to kill off expensive bad ideas. He has started to draw…

From Harry and Meghan to Brexit, our system isn’t so ‘broken’ after all

The word “unprecedented” has been bandied around a lot recently to describe events that have precedents, even if the circumstances were different. The brouhaha involving the Duke and Duchess of Sussex is less problematic than past moments of peril for the Crown, such as the divorce of the Prince of Wales, or the abdication of Edward VIII – correctly referred to as a crisis. This is not a crisis for the monarchy, even if it has been a sad breakdown in family relationships, that everyone hopes will not last long.

If there was an unprecedented event, however, it was the statement issued on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen at 5pm on Monday. No-one could recall anything quite like it, though why it…

Time to demolish Bercow-backed shanty town outside Parliament

John Bercow’s memoirs, to be published next month, are entitled Unspeakable. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

The book, says Mr Bercow, will be “candid”. If so, it will, like so many of his pronouncements in the chair, involve a wilful misunderstanding of his role. The Speaker is supposed to speak solely as empowered by the whole House. Mr Bercow spoke only for a faction within it. Any revelations about the MPs with whom he dealt will add to that factionalism and will therefore, to use a parliamentary expression, be out of order.

One of Mr Bercow’s acts, in his supervision of the parliamentary estate, was to allow a shanty town of television tents to be erected on College Green opposite…

Dominic Cummings should beware pointless Whitehall reorganisation

Now that Brexit at the end of January has become a foregone conclusion, MPs and their advisers are already preoccupied with the next big event in each of the parties. For Labour, their whole future direction is at stake in a momentous leadership election. Somewhere out of sight of the media, the Liberal Democrats are also choosing a leader and trying to work out what on earth went wrong.

Among the victorious Tories, every minister is inevitably weighing their chances of promotion or dismissal in a reshuffle of responsibilities that cannot be long delayed. Boris Johnson has earned the right to hire, fire and reorganise in any way he wants, while his powerful adviser Dominic Cummings has appealed…

Prince Harry was devoted to the Armed Forces. His departure is a terrible shame

Prince Harry earned huge respect among the Armed Forces for his 10 years of military service. One of the most privileged men in the land, there were many people who did not want him to put his life on the line in the battle zone of Afghanistan where so many British troops were killed and maimed. Unlike most soldiers, he had to personally fight the system to get himself into action. But in the face of opposition from a government worried by the risk to national prestige if he was killed, wounded or captured, he eventually arrived in Afghanistan “with butterflies in my stomach”.

Soldiers who served alongside him during his two tours in Afghanistan, on the ground and in the air, have spoken of Harry’s…

Liam Fox is right – don’t be obsessed with signing free trade agreements at any price

In the rush to start free trade agreement negotiations after Brexit, few have paused to ask what it is the UK hopes to achieve from completed deals with the US, Australia and others. Meanwhile talks with the EU still seem to be seen through the prism of Brexit good or bad, more than any consideration of trade.

Some of the confusion comes in the name. Free trade agreements don’t deliver full free trade, they just deliver preferential terms compared to the WTO. Frequently these agreements are dominated by agriculture, as that’s where tariffs, regulatory barriers, and political interest are at their highest. Both the US and EU want trade agreements primarily to benefit their own agricultural sectors,…

Is this the beginning of the end for our toxic woke culture?

Ricky Gervais and Laurence Fox have won plaudits for challenging the prevailing progressive ideology. Expect other celebrities to follow suit

In April 2006, American comedian Stephen Colbert was asked to perform at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, an occasion historically used to mock the sitting president, the media and celebrities in attendance. 

Colbert used this opportunity to skewer then-president George W. Bush while standing a few feet away from him and his entourage. It was a moment of extraordinary courage in which a comic spoke truth to power that sent an important message which reverberated around the globe: in a free country, no one is exempt from criticism and even those…

Intolerant Labour can’t afford to become the anti-Catholic party

Fifty-nine years ago today, the first (and so far, only) Roman Catholic president of the United States was inaugurated. It was an easier journey for John F Kennedy than for many other presidents of less privileged origins, but in at least one regard, he found the going extremely tough: the question of his faith almost ended his campaign.

The issue of who President Kennedy would be taking orders from – the country or the Vatican – was raised continuously by political opponents, even before he won his party’s nomination. Only when he made his famous address to a gathering of Protestant ministers in Texas on September 6, 1960, that he believed “in an America where separation of church and state…

This is the best deal under the circumstances

The agreement struck between Buckingham Palace and the Sussexes hopefully brings to an end a difficult period for the Royal Family. It cannot have been easy for the Queen; it must have been very hard for the Duke and Duchess, too. The resulting deal is undeniably a radical one, but it reads like the only sensible course available under these circumstances. It is frank, honest and decisive. This is exactly what the monarchy and the country needs.

Among the changes are: the Sussexes will step back from Royal duties and no longer receive public funds for them; they will continue to maintain their private patronages and associations; they can no longer formally represent the Queen; they will not…