The closest I came to despair during the long dark political night I hope is now ending was during the affair of Jean Charles de Menezes. It wasn't so bad that panicked policemen made a tragic error in the wake of the 7/7 bombings. That was both understandable and forgivable. Had I been a juror in a murder trial of the officers who blew that poor young innocent's head from his shoulders with soft nosed bullets proscribed by the laws of war, I would have voted to acquit.
I am sure they did not kill him for the hell of it. They believed (or believed their commander believed) that he posed a genuine threat to them and the Londoners around him. Their legal defence would have been self defence under a misapprehension and I would have believed it. They were negligent at worst. They were negligently led. The family of the young Brazilian should have had civil compensation, the Metropolitan Police should have apologised for a tragic error and the officers concerned should have been disciplined and retrained.
My despair was rather driven by the Establishment's response to the incident. It closed ranks on the rest of us and on Justice herself. It lied. It destroyed evidence. It committed crimes. Had you or I killed Jean Charles under the mistaken apprehension that he was a suicide bomber we would have faced trial. His killers were state agents and didn't; making a mockery of equality before the law. They were sent away on holiday at taxpayers expense as a reward. Their identities are still unknown. The government drummed up a stupid "health and safety" case to make the matter sub judice and give ministers an excuse not to comment until the fuss had died down. That was the nadir of Alistair Campbell-style political cynicism — manipulating the law, the press, and the public's limited attention span to mask a terrible injustice and an embarrassing failure of state power.
Justice was not done and was seen NOT to be done. An innocent died with consequences neither to his immediate killers nor to those, police and politicians, who issued the fatal orders. That Labour Government proved once and for all that the Labour Party is nothing more than the political wing of the public sector unions. The rest of us are of little concern — even if we lose our lives — compared to the privileged brothers and sisters under the leftist state's partisan protection. Even Jean Charles's usually-privileged ethnicity didn't count when the state's loyal servants needed protection. I wish I could believe it was different under a "Conservative" government but the sneer quotes say all you need to know of my view on that
This is why I am so saddened to learn that the commander of the unit responsible for this tragedy now heads the Metropolitan Police. She commands the force I rely on to keep me safe in my home town. Her loyalty to the political élites (not to her officers, by the way, as she was cynical in shifting blame down the chain of command) trumps the safety of the public her force exists to serve and protect. Neither ordinary Londoners nor the officers under her politically-correct command should feel safe this morning .
She's the Metropolitan Police Commissioner not on her merits as a police officer but because she fits a Politically-Correct narrative. I would love to celebrate the appointment of the first woman to command this important force - the mother force of world policing. I can't because (for reasons unrelated to her sex) she is unworthy of the rôle. I shall sleep less easy in my bed in London tonight.
Fascinating though world politics is at present as the insurrection against PC sweeps the free-ish world, Britain is for once the most interesting place. Once upon a time in our country every little boy and girl who was born into the world alive was either a little (classical) Liberal or else a little Conservative. Then came Mankind's greatest catastrophe, Karl Marx. The Labour Party was sired as his bastard child on religious non-conformism. The mighty Liberals – in many ways the natural party of government in a trading nation that despised busybodies – degenerated into the apology for itself now comprehensively mis-named the Liberal Democrats.
I am a socially and economically liberal free market man who believes in minimum government and maximum individual freedom. I aspire (subject to removing the perverse incentives of corporate and individual welfarism) to global free movement of both goods and people so that every economic object and player can find its, his or her highest and best use. I believe that's the best hope not just for Britain, but for the entire human race if we aspire (as we should) to raise us all from material, cultural and spiritual poverty.
The post-Brexit, post-Trump political battle lines seem to have been drawn up between "globalism" (a dysphemism for "free trade") and protectionism (the second most stupid idea in history, but still dangerously powerful among the economically illiterate). So it looks like we are heading back toward the old Conservative/TruLib™ or Tory/Whig divide. The realignment will take some time to work its way through though. Firstly, for example, the Labour Party (which still commands some tribal loyalty) needs to finish committing suicide. The new players, UKIP and the Greens, need to submit to the discipline of the electoral market and form consistent political and economic stances.
In many ways I am as politically homeless in this new alignment as I was in the old. UKIP is a strong candidate to replace the Labour Party, but I don't fit in its mercantilist ranks. The only thing I have in common with the Trumps, Farages and LePens of this world is that I believe when someone does move to another culture they should assimilate. I see NO obligation on a host country to modify any legal, ethical, religious, social or political norms to make new arrivals feel at home.
I don't feel comfortable in the Conservative Party either. It's more inclined towards free markets than the other contenders but it's socially illiberal and inclined to build a scarily powerful state. Yes, it's a successful fighting force with a lot of internal cohesion and has been much strengthened as an electoral machine now that Brexit has removed the only threat to its unity. There is no doubt it will be one of the potential parties of government in the new order and in the likes of Dan Hannan it has some sound thinkers but I hunger for a home that is more authentically TruLib™.
The only element of my beliefs the Labour Party sometimes seems to favour is free movement of, if not goods, then people. However that's certainly not from rational conviction. Labour fears/hates its traditional voters, now too sophisticated for its outdated Marxist schtick, and wants to ship in naifs by the million to replace them. Welfare recipients, rent-seeking intellectual idlers and other government dependents are its main voter base so it also wants to farm those unproductives. It therefore represents a perfect storm of cultural and economic impoverishment. Even if – as now seems unlikely – it survives, Labour is clearly not my party.
I can't even muster the strength to explain why the Greens are not for me. Life is too short. Let's just say loincloths and camp fires are not my style.
Which leaves the LibDems. Historically they have the right credentials. There are still some Gladstonians there, though they are not exactly in the driving seat. Once they stop grieving about Brexit and move from their present denial through anger to acceptance they have a real opportunity to be the party of free trade and an open, tolerant society. I see no signs at present that they even begin to aspire to the mantle of alternative government, but who knows? It lies in the street where Labour discarded it. Someone must surely pick it up?
For the first time in decades I am optimistic we can win the battle of ideas against statists in general (difficult) and Leftists in particular (beginning to look easy). It will involve a journey that Jeremy Corbyn will never make; from the cosy mutual warmth of opposition, where all policies are theoretical and all consequences are optimistically imaginary, to the harsher land of reality.
We must avoid Corbyn's main error and engage with both doubters and opponents. We are true democrats; enemies of violence and no revolutionaries. We accept we must win votes from people of all walks of life. Our younger folk must be careful what they say and write in actual and virtual public, for it will be used against them if they ever run for office.
When we have no TruLib™ candidates in an election we must needs compromise by engaging and working with anyone whose policies are less hostile to our principles. They may be Hannanite Conservatives, Lbertarian-wing Kippers, Gladstonian LibDems or even John Mortimer or Frank Field-type Labourites. Most of my Labour-voting family and friends up North hate being bossed around by snooty people with meaningless degrees as much as we could wish – and are more likely to do something about it!
Voters for both Brexit and Trump transcended traditional divides of class, ethnicity and even sexual identity. If there is a single issue that unifies them, it is not ideological (though some ideologues will struggle with it more than us). It is really a matter of respect. They want their political "leaders" to stop condescending to them and taking them for granted. This is democracy. They are the demos. They want their supremacy acknowledged and their political servants to stop being uppity, distant and divorced from their everyday reality.
If your child's education is poor. If it takes you and your life partner's full-time effort to meet everyday expenses, you want your MP and your PM to be focussed on that, not on the "rights" of mongers of imaginary grievance. If you see a spoiled brat in college weeping, or a pop star bleating that all women are "in fear", because of the outcome of a free election, you expect your representatives to ignore them, or even laugh along with you, not take their fantasies seriously.
If I am right, this is therefore a dangerous historical tipping point. It's perfectly possible that the Left will be the first to figure this out. Watching them froth and rage at "ignorant, bigoted" proles like Empire Loyalist colonels of the 1950s I grant you it seems bloody unlikely at present, but it's a risk.
If we are to engage with the ordinary voters who have better things to do or needs too urgent to address than to have time to obsess about politics, we must speak to their concerns in their language. They have seen through the warped words of the Left at last and this gives us an advantage to be seized and exploited – or lost.
Reading like-minded blogs, I think we have learned at least one thing in the long dismal night of the Left. We understand better than most how they warp language itself to serve their ends. I will address that in my next posts.
In the wake of Brexit and Trump, I am becoming a little tired of all the accusations of hatred and division being thrown at those who voted the "wrong way". Leftists are utter hypocrites when they use these words of their opponents.
Their ideology deliberately sets people against each other by class, ethnic group, gender and sexual identity. Markets don't give a stuff about any of that and nor do employers. They only care if a given individual, regardless of skin tone and reproductive apparatus, has some economic value to add and is prepared to show up to do it.
Show me a shrieking hater divisively accusing others and I will show you a leftist. When they scream that anyone who opposes them is a hater, they are projecting. When they complain about division, they unintentionally reveal that the only way to have unity in their terms is to agree with every word they say. That same totalitarian tendency leads their intellectuals to "no platform" their opponents.
They're obsessed with hatred and division precisely because theirs is a hateful doctrine predicated upon social division. Without setting one group in society against another, they can never win or keep power. Which is why when they're in power the hatred and division never goes away.
It is time to call them out on their dishonesty. They are not the principled, ethical people they virtue signal themselves to be. That are not kindly or idealistic. They foment envy, hatred and division selfishly to give themselves the chance to live without producing.
Politics is show business for ugly people. Leftism is economics for parasites.
Donald Trump's win in the US presidential election tells us something. It's hard to be certain what that something is — apart from the fact that opinion polls, even now exit polls, have an inherent left wing bias. Perhaps because conservative voters now seem to delight in lying to them
The American people have rejected the political establishment. Those of us who oppose that establishment therefore have grounds to celebrate. We should take a happy moment to revel in the discomfiture of our enemies and certainly shed no tears for the corrupt Clinton clan, but our celebrations should be muted and perhaps tinged with fear.
During the BBC News live coverage one of the pundits said that, in a sense, this was a contest between two New York Democrats. Mr Trump was a contributor to the Clintons in the past. Like the Democrats, he is a man who speaks of government in terms of power. He is certainly no Ronald Reagan.
His answers to his nation's problems involve more government, not less. The free market would not "build that wall". The free market is pulling in the people he wants it to keep out! He has promised the people of Detroit that he will rebuild the automotive industry there just at the point when free markets are reshaping it in a disruptive and possibly lethal way.
As a businessman, he may be expected to be sympathetic to the concerns of American business. That is not necessarily a good thing. Although our socialist opponents often mistakenly condemn us as capitalist lackeys, classical liberals favour markets, not businesses. From Adam Smith onwards we have understood that greed is not good unless guided by the invisible hand of the market.
Trump's track record in business does not fill me with optimism. This is a man more inclined to suck up to and donate to politicians to win support for his projects than to focus on what his customers want. He has shown what he thinks politicians are for in a crony capitalist system. God help America if that is a predictor of how he will perform as a politician.
Mr Trump plans to restrict competition to benefit favoured American businesses. That is why he has won the support of unionised blue-collar workers in rustbelt states. In the boardrooms of American big businesses this morning they will be calculating how to use him to channel taxpayers money to them.
There are some positives. He studied economics at Wharton, which — combined with the fact that he has never lived directly as a parasite on the public purse — makes him more qualified in that respect than most leaders. At least it should make him unlikely to say stupid things like Mutti Merkel when she claimed that politics should have primacy over markets.
His election may signal the death of political correctness, freeing Americans to talk honestly about such problems as race relations. That is the essential first step to solving them and would never have happened under a forked-tongue Clinton presidency. On the contrary Clinton would have stoked the imaginary grievances of the Black Lives Matter agitators. Trump thinks climate change is a fraud and while I disagree I am happy his view will stop America committing economic suicide by the kind of crazed overreaction to it Greens and other anticapitalists favour.
In foreign policy terms, he will end the freeloading of nations like France and Germany which have failed to contribute enough to the defence of the West. We can only hope he will prove the correct response to Putin's devious geopolitics is plain speaking. Putin may fabricate invitations from Russian speaking populations for "assistance", but Mr Trump will call them what they are – invasions. How he will respond to them is another matter however. He has already made the first major mistake of his presidency by saying during the campaign that he would be selective in deciding which NATO members to defend.
US voters have punched professional machine politicians in the teeth and they were right to do so. This is a therefore a good morning for Western democracy. It remains to be seen whether it's as good for the leadership of the West.
Following the current political debates on both sides of the Atlantic is discouraging for those who like to believe (or perhaps delude ourselves) that our opinions are guided by reason. The unpleasant tactics of the US Presidential campaign provide much fuel for cynicism. As someone opposed to the big state policies of Clinton, Trump and (in Britain) May I tend to welcome anything that promotes cynicism about politics but I am also always concerned that if it goes too far there is the risk of something even worse than we have.
Clinton has been caught employing agitators to foment violence at Trump events. Trump suggests the election is rigged and suggests he might not accept the outcome. Every day the same events are used by both sides to justify their own partisan view. Facts don't seem to be determining opinions. Opinions seem to be shaping facts. Meanwhile back in quiet old Britain, our politicians are contorting themselves to suggest that in voting to leave the EU the British people did not intend to leave its central institution — the single market.
Our democracy is in danger because we have overloaded the concept of democracy itself. In the 19th Century when government was a much smaller player in society; controlling perhaps 5% of GDP and performing limited functions the electorate had merely to choose suitable people. It was more difficult than identifying the necessary skills in candidates when choosing a dog catcher, but it was a similar exercise. Now that we are choosing people to make choices for us in every aspect of our lives; even the pronouns we use when addressing each other, in the case of Canadians at the moment, who is to say what criteria to apply? Many agree with me, I suspect, that anyone attracted to such control over fellow humans is by definition unworthy.
A key problem with democracy in a boundless state is understanding what the people mean when they vote. Some will vote for Trump next month because they believe him to have the skills and ethics to be a good president. Others will vote mischievously to shake up the Establishment and specifically the leadership of the Republican Party. Some will vote Clinton because they believe her a sincere, talented and experienced person suited to the office of POTUS. Others think her an appalling crook but will vote for her to keep out Trump.
I think politics has always been "post truth". Take Harold Wilson's "the pound in your pocket" speech for example. There was no glorious age of honest politicians. There was only a state modest enough in scope and scale for the winner of the electoral lying contest not to matter so much.
As things now stand, the intent of the electorate is rarely clear. The choice between Clinton or Trump will be driven — as the choice between Leave or Remain was driven — by loose, accidental alliances of people voting for different and often contradictory reasons. So the winner of any election in the West now gets to write his or her own mandate. We can see that in our own recent change of PM. Cameron had a mandate to do x, y and z. May believes she has a mandate to do a,b and c. Both mandates are based on the same votes by the same people in response to the same circumstances and the same manifesto.
In truth we are just appointing a master to rule us. The only restraint on his choices is his fear of what we might do next time. If an opposition implodes, as Labour has done in Britain and the Republicans in the US, then that fear is removed. If faith in democratic parties fades (as they richly deserve, alas) then the field may even be opened for undemocratic or anti-democratic players.
We are in interesting times and dangerous ones. Our votes are open to wide interpretation. Clegg and Soubry are busy demonstrating shamefully just how wide. Trump or Clinton will soon be proclaiming their absolute right to do whatever the hell they choose on the basis of a reading of the electoral runes that will make soothsaying seem scientific. Yet still most of us seem to believe that if only the quality of politicians could be improved all would be well. We are waiting for a hero, when frankly — given the powers we have allowed politicians to accumulate — nothing could be more dangerous.
I have never favoured the view that elected officials need be just like us. Ideally, given the scope of the responsibilities of those leading what is regrettably the most powerful and dangerous force in our society, it is desirable that they be unusual.
Most importantly they would (unlike most of us) find economics interesting. Or at least they would be prepared to give it — as a scientific attempt to analyse human behaviours — primacy over how they would like to think the world should be. Angela Merkel with her "primacy of politics over economics" just reminds me of Douglas Adams' marble sculpted teacup held in the air by the superiority of art over physics. Without the laugh.
Scientific detachment, a non-corrupt desire to serve the public, a healthy sense of inadequacy to a task never yet successfully undertaken and a humble awareness that, even ignoring wars, government is the leading non-natural cause of death. These should be differences enough. We are not entitled to expect our politicians to be moral paragons. Indeed I think it would dangerous if they were.
Many a normal man has lusted after an attractive woman when his social commitments and/or hers dictated otherwise. And, let's not be sexist here, vice versa. Some are too moral to act on their desires. Some are not brave enough and call their cowardice morality. Few are vulgar enough to share them with third parties. Even fewer are near live microphones if they do. So I don't really understand the fuss about the Trump tape. Neither his vulgarity nor his undiplomatic openness about his fleshly desires were anyway in doubt.
I therefore think he was unwise to apologise for it because he has now accepted a higher standard of behaviour than he is likely to have lived up to generally given his colourful sexual history.
People are driven to power, fame and fortune very largely because they give access to more and more attractive sexual partners and (as Rupert Murdoch demonstrates) for longer. As long as all partners are consenting adults, there's no particular harm in that. Anything lawful and non-violent that fires the ambition of the productive is good, whether it's the desire to bed a looker, own a Picasso or fund a cure for AIDS. Without such ambitions the successful would all retire quietly on their first million and most great endeavours would falter.
If there is a moral dimension to it, it says as much of the sexual partners attracted by power, money and fame as it does of those using it to attract. It certainly does not speak of the moral superiority of one sex over the other as a chap I know who moved jobs because of a female supervisor's demand for sexual favours as part of his appraisal would attest.
Trump has the same appetites and attitudes as America's favourite president, JFK. President Kennedy however used the FBI to bring women to him and had the G-men threaten them with dire consequences if they told. Bill Clinton idolised JFK and strove to emulate him. The FBI being unwilling it was up to Hillary Clinton to threaten Bill's women with consequences. I do not say she approved of them, but she seems to have been a knowing and thorough accomplice after the repeated seedy fact. Nor does she seem to have thought Bill's behaviours disqualified him from office. She has, as the lawyers say, no locus standi on this issue.
It is in our interests for our political leaders to be flawed. We no longer expect them not to have smoked weed, committed sexual indiscretions nor held silly views in their youth precisely because a Cromwell — true to his Puritanical principles — will get you into far worse trouble than a leader who can picture himself in the place of your tempted, weak self. As we are about to find out with a prig of a vicar's daughter in Number 10.
There are lots of reasons not to vote for Donald Trump. His utter ignorance of economics, for example. His lack of affection for either (it's hard to tell) the truth or reality, for another. But this story teaches us nothing new or surprising about him.
The Orlando massacre tells us nothing about the killer save that he was insane, but it's telling us a lot about ourselves.
Just look at the politicians warning of islamophobia. The people virtue-signalling on Facebook. The triggered leftist storming off British TV because he thought the discussion was focussing on the terrorism angle rather than the hatred of gays. Donald Trump turning the horror to predictable political advantage. Give it a day and the gun control advocates will be complaining about the ease of buying weapons in America and the NRA will be calling for more heavily-armed homosexuals. Plus ça change...
We need to learn lessons but for that we need to open our minds. Every comment I have read so far is someone seizing on a new event as proof of the correctness of old ideas and the continuing wickedness of old adversaries.
If facts don't change our minds what is the point of having them? We might as well all curl up in a corner and live in our deranged imaginations whatever life we fancy. Or to take my ambiguous question the other way, why have minds if facts don't change them?