The world needs more weirdos, but only if they’re real ones

When you’re a kid, you dread being called a “weirdo”. It isn’t until you’ve left school that you come to see it as a badge of honour. Sometimes it’s used by people who are either profoundly dull and fear weirdness because it highlights their own banality; sometimes by people who are far weirder than oneself, probably in a much more unwholesome way, and are attempting to deflect the telltale talon of the weird-o-meter elsewhere.

It’s been politically fashionable for some time to see taboo insults rehabilitated and worn as badges of pride, so I thoroughly get Dominic Cummings’ enthusiastic use of the word “weirdo” when he urged them/us to apply for jobs in the Civil Service, soon to be given a…

The Tories privatised rail, now they need to fix it

For TS Eliot, it was April that awoke commuters to the cruelty of their daily grind. But then he lived at a time before the annual ritual of inflation-linked fare rises which, unlike the trains, arrive on time every January.

For commuters returning to face a daily battle on the strikebound route from Woking to London on Monday morning, for example, it is a form of cruelty that now comes with a price tag of £4,284 a year for a season ticket – all for the privilege of standing for 60 minutes a day and being used as a pawn for the RMT. Fares rose last week by an average of 2.7 per cent. By some quirk, while everything else is linked to the lower Consumer Prices Index (CPI), the rail industry is…

My Thoughts for the Day on the biased BBC

On Saturday, I was guest editor of the Today programme on BBC Radio 4. I enjoyed it very much, but I feel a little envious of the reverential treatment accorded to Greta Thunberg when she filled the same slot this morning. 

Since all the other guest editors (with the possible exception of the unclassifiable Grayson Perry) – Greta, George the Poet and Lady Hale of the Supreme Court – were Leftists, I felt it was my job to stick in as many issues as possible that might challenge the BBC’s usual views. I therefore lined up abortion, hunting, the revoltingness of the Iranian regime, the danger of climate-change alarmism, the bias of the BBC in approaching these and many other subjects, and its iniquitous…

This has been a year of contemptuous politics — and there is no end in sight

‘It’s going to snow up north. Serves the bastards right.’ As epithets for 2019 go, this overheard conversation is as good a starting place as any. This really has been the year of contempt. 

Where to start? Perhaps with that which has dominated all others: the contempt of each Brexit tribe for the other. Yes, social media has been poisonous. The anger, the rudeness, the unbearable self-righteousness. 

But more importantly, polarisation has come to characterise the wider population too. This has been illustrated in survey after survey. To take one example, when asked whether they’d be happy with their child marrying someone from the other side of the Brexit divide, well under half of voters said…

If he throws his weight behind the Union, Boris can defeat the SNP’s plot to break up the UK

Just as the vast majority of British people breathed a collective sigh of relief that the constitutional morass over Brexit was disappearing from their lives six days before Christmas, Nicola Sturgeon stepped smartly into the role of Ebenezer Scrooge to declare: Bah Humbug! Here in Scotland the very notion that a period of silence might be possible over this country’s future within the UK was declared almost unpatriotic by the SNP leader.

Using the Georgian splendour of her official residence in Edinburgh’s New Town as backdrop, rather than the more prosaic Ikea surroundings of the Holyrood parliament, La Sturgeon attempted to match the gloss of Boris Johnson’s second Queen’s Speech by insisting…

The people have got their revenge against the hateful Remainer diehards   

It wasn’t just about Brexit. At least, not just about the actual, concrete reality of leaving the European Union.

That may have been the initial spark but had that whole national argument been handled differently – had the concerns and resentments of real people not been treated with open contempt by this country’s governing class and by EU officialdom – it might not have grown into a conflagration that has ripped apart the old political settlement and enveloped the public discourse in a miasma of vitriol and hatred.

I have written many times, in what must by now seem a tiresome refrain, about my shock and disgust at the shameless loathing which has been poured over the ordinary people of this…

Corbyn’s politics might fit with his own moral compass but thank goodness British voters have some common sense 

Jeremy Corbyn has given us a masterclass on how to lose an election.

I mean, why would any party think it’s a good idea to position its voters as losers – the victims of powerful groups like "bosses", "rich people" and “the Jews”? British people, whether they are rich or poor, don’t like to think of themselves in that way, and yet Mr Corbyn ran a campaign on the principle that his voters were casualties of some conspiracy.

Normally, party activists put on the best behaviour in an election, but nutty Left-wing supporters of Labour spent the campaign ranting about groups who deserve public blame. Mr Corbyn seemed to have no defence to accusations of anti-Semitism, a bizarre position for the leader…

China is not interested in the competition of ideologies

Recent articles by some Western officials and scholars have labeled China as the biggest security risk and called for Nato members to unite against China. I would like to emphasise the following three points to clear unnecessary misunderstanding and unwarranted concern.

First, China is committed to the path of peaceful development and does not threaten anyone. The 2,500-year-old masterpiece The Art of War opens with these words: “War is the gravest decision a State can make. It is a matter of life and death, a road to either safety or ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.” The essence of this quotation is that one should be prudent on military affairs and…

Jeremy Corbyn is an anti-Semite

A vote for Labour on December 12 is a vote for an institutionally anti-Semitic party led by an anti-Semite. This has been the view of many of us for a long time, but there is no room left for doubt after the leak of the Jewish Labour Movement’s (JLM) submission to an investigation by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

The document provides a catalogue of bigotry in Labour, of which the following are just a few examples. Verbal abuse: one witness recalls being called “a Tory Jew”, being told that “Hitler was right” and threatened with physical violence. Online abuse: Ruth Smeeth MP was the subject of over 25,000 anti-Semitic posts, including epithets such as “traitor” and “CIA/MI5/Mossad…

Labour’s desperate attempt to convince voters it hasn’t betrayed Brexit won’t fool anyone

It is perfectly reasonable – in fact, sensible – for any political party to make changes to its electoral strategy midway through a general election campaign. In fact, it would make absolutely no sense for a party to assess its conduct up until now, judge it to be wanting and then plough ahead without a change of direction. That was, arguably, what led to Theresa May’s catastrophic result in 2017.

The question that will pursue Labour for the next two weeks, however, will focus on whether the changes briefed this morning are the right ones. There is another question underpinning all this, and it is: to what extent have previous misjudgments led to a point where this change of direction needed…