“A family on the throne is an interesting idea also. It brings down the pride of sovereignty to the level of petty life. No feeling could seem more childish than the enthusiasm of the English at the marriage of the Prince of Wales. They treated as a great political event, what, looked at as a matter of pure business, was very small indeed. But no feeling could be more like common human nature as it is, and as it is likely to be. The women – one half the human race at least – care fifty times more for a marriage than a ministry. All but a few cynics like to see a pretty novel touching for a moment the dry scenes of the grave world. A princely marriage is the brilliant edition of a universal fact, and as such, it rivets mankind. … Just so a royal family sweetens politics by the seasonable addition of nice and pretty events. It introduces irrelevant facts into the business of government, but they are facts which speak to ‘men’s bosoms’ and employ their thoughts.”
That passage from Walter Bagheot’s The English Constitution has probably been in the minds of all my readers over the last few days. It certainly sprang to my mind as I listened, yesterday and this morning, to the Today programme’s efforts to convince the nation that we all despise the fuss being made about the wedding of Prince Henry of Wales and Meghan Markle, now the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. Continue reading
I prepare three rotas for volunteers in my parish church. One is for readers, one is for lay ministers of Holy Communion and one is for catechists who preside over the children’s liturgy of the word during the weekly family Mass. I am told that, from 25th May onwards, I cannot include anyone in any of those rotas unless he or she has given express consent to my continuing to write down his or her name on the rota. This is because the wonderful European Union has produced a regulation, directly enforceable in English law, which decrees that I can be fined up to twenty million Euros if I dare to put Mrs Smith’s name (obviously a pseudonym) on the rota of readers without having a signed statement from her saying that she consents to my doing so. Continue reading
The immensely sad case of Alfie Evans has come to its immensely sad end. Alfie’s life support machine was, in accordance with the directions of the High Court, turned off and, though he continued to breathe unaided for some days, he gave up the struggle and died.
The time has now come to consider whether Alfie’s case has revealed a need for a change in English law. Continue reading
It must be horrid to be Mr Justice Hayden. He it was who drew the short straw and found himself having to rule on the question of whether it was in the best interests of a small boy called Alfie Evans to die or to remain alive on a life support machine. Continue reading
There was an email yesterday from Alice (wife of my old friend Rob). “Rob has retired. He wonders whether you would come with him to the election hustings for the West Hill Ward of Wandsworth tonight.” Rob’s retirement is going to be interesting. It certainly won’t be relaxing.
I live in Wandsworth, but not in the West Hill Ward. There was no logical reason why I should go to the Gardens Tennis Club at half past seven last night in order to listen to a lot of candidates standing for the council in a Ward which was not mine. But, if there is one thing you can say for Rob, it is that he always gets his way. I have known him for more than forty years. Never once, in all those years, have I succeeded in turning down any of his requests for my assistance. That is not due to my being a weed (though I probably am). All Rob’s friends, however courageous they may be, give into him. Continue reading
In the last thirty six hours or so I have had one of my very occasional bouts of watching Parliament on the box. Yesterday we had the Prime Minister’s statement on Syria followed by the first of two emergency debates on the subject. Today we had the second emergency debate followed by a general debate on anti-semitism. It was all rather compelling viewing. Continue reading
There is a theory that the young are bored stiff by stories of Jeremy Corbyn’s support for terrorists (called “freedom fighters” by his demented supporters). That’s all ancient history, they allegedly say. Look at him now. He is a sweet, rather cuddly old man who wants nothing more than that we should all live in peace and equal poverty. How can it possibly matter that he used to support murderers? Continue reading
There are a very few political issues about which there is no point in writing. Labour’s antisemitism, for instance, is a subject on which it is obviously pointless to write, if one wants to change minds. Most thoughtful people, Left, Right and Centre, already think it is awful. But the “Jeremy is incapable of doing wrong” gang, to be found particularly on social media, will never change their minds: if their hero thinks revolting pictures of caricatures of Jews playing monopoly on the backs of the naked poor are a good thing, then they obviously are a good thing.
It is important to understand that, when Corbyn defended that horrid picture, he did not say “I disagree with it, but I defend the artist’s right to free expression”. No, he thought the picture was a jolly good thing. But, to be fair to him, he now says his admiration of the picture was not brought about by having looked at it. And it is probably true that, much as he disapproves of the state of Israel, he doesn’t bear personal animosity to Jews. His problem, of course, is that many of his most ardent supporters do hate Jews. He needs to keep them on side. So he restricts his condemnation of antisemitism in the Labour Party to words, not actions. Almost every decent politician, whatever his or her party, is disturbed by the resulting mess, but Corbyn’s fanatical supporters on social media and in Momentum’s smoke-filled rooms will hear none of it. “Jeremy is incapable of doing or thinking wrong: full stop. Debate is not permitted” Continue reading
Let me make it clear, at the outset, that I certainly don’t subscribe to the view that it is impossible to be both intelligent and Left wing. What is more, I would go so far as to say that there are some intelligent Communists, not just mild Socialists. Of course, I think they are misguided. I think their priorities tend to be all wrong (equality of poverty is to be preferred to unequal prosperity etc.), but none of that makes them stupid. Oh, yes, I know, some of them are stupid, but so are some on the Right. All that is why I am distressed by the modern internet practice of simply hurling vulgar abuse at those whose opinions are not the same as the commenter’s.
But what about Useful Idiots? I am sure you remember them. When the Soviet Union was happily murdering and starving its people on an unprecedented scale, several allegedly intelligent men and women (mostly men) in the West persisted in their claims that the USSR was vastly superior to all Western democracies. These poor demented people were known as “Useful Idiots”. It is thought that Lenin may have coined the phrase. But, if he did not, there is no doubt that it summed up his attitude to his liberal (sic) supporters in the West. Continue reading
The London Borough of Wandsworth has fallen, hook, line and sinker. for the nonsensical theory that almost all the roads in the borough, however wide and clear of traffic, should have 20 mph speed limits. The good burghers of Wandsworth, totally ignoring the evidence that some 20 mph limits actually cause an increase in accidents, have convinced themselves that forcing drivers to proceed at a snail’s pace with the obvious risk they will then be distracted as they gaze into the middle distance and day dream, is a jolly good thing. Continue reading