Once again, leaving the UK does not get me away from the topic of Brexit. My Continental friends on Facebook are still burbling away about how (a) we're doomed without them because our economy will wither and die if not tied to their withering, dying economies and (b) they're doomed because we have given stupid ideas to their proles who must at all costs be ignored for fear of the return of fascism. Which is it guys? A big happy European family that we are being rude by leaving, or a seething mob of would-be fascists that we must help repress?
My Russian friends are asking questions too. They expressed mild amusement at the way President Putin was used by Remain as a bogeyman in the referendum campaign. Unfortunately that also reinforced their long-held and utterly-misguided view that the West lives its entire life in negative relationship to Russia. They imagine we think of them like SNP voters think of England; vicious, calculating hostiles who are the cause of every problem in our lives. I spent six years here trying to convince them that we were happy that Russia had rejoined the free world and wished it well. David Cameron blew that, along with everything else in his political career.
We had some discussion over drinks as to whether Brexit opened opportunities to ease economic sanctions which are hurting them almost as much as they are hurting us. The U.K. is correctly perceived to have been a sanctions hawk within both the EU and NATO. With us already out of the EU equation when it comes to forming policy, I suppose it's possible things may ease up. On the other hand, the sanctions that hurt the Russian elite the most are those applied through the City of London and Wall Street.
Perhaps it may help Russia to have a new party to talk to. However I have encountered no celebrations of the kind Cameron so dishonestly predicted.
As the losing side of the referendum won't accept the outcome graciously in the best British traditions, I guess we still need to keep making the point. Tim Worstall does so very well in the linked article.
Our civilisation really would begin to die if there had been "...harmonisation of criminal law...." as they are now proposing. They don't understand (few people in the world do) that the Civil Law and Common Law philosophy of law (our sense of what law is for) is fundamentally different. Most of our people never understood it; they just felt a squirming in their stomach and an urge to clench their fists whenever an official from a Civil Code background spoke to them in a way that makes our very nature rebel.
I for one would not want to be subject to the kind of laws that make it a crime to mock a public official. What other valuable use do such pompous parasitical pricks serve?
The left-wing media continue the narrative of a Conservative Party in crisis. Nothing could be further from the truth. Brexit removes the Conservative Party's only serious division. Once the dust settles and practical politics resumes, the party's EU-philic elements will have no choice but to unite with the new mainstream. The Conservative Party is more a machine for winning elections than anything else and the EU issue has been the main impediment to that for a long time as it separated the party from its core voters.
Labour's problem is more complicated. Its core voters hate it because they see it as a remote metropolitan elite that cares only for identity politics. The one group that the party most sees (after the eevil Tories) as the enemy of all the victim groups it sponsors is the native working class that founded it. It is now the party of sociology lecturers at universities that used to be polytechnics and colleges of Ed. Exactly like my own Labour MP in fact. People who have lived their whole lives as costs to society rather than producers. It is the political wing of the public sector trade unions that fund it. The unions that also represent the spenders not the earners. If the Party were to go in for truth in advertising it would be called Unproductive Labour. The provincial working classes who founded the party think it now despises them. They are right. Hilary Benn's attempt to stage a coup is all very well but even if he succeeds in forcing a new leadership election, Ed Miliband's crazed reform of the electorate is a poison pill. Even if Corbyn steps aside, someone just as remote, crazy and extreme will win.
Without hope of office since the Labour Party displaced the old Liberals (and with a sour experience when in office as part of a coalition) the Liberal Democrats have had no pressure to form a consistent party line. In consequence they are a very broad church, ranging from Gladstonian Liberals so respectable that I could imagine being in a party with them to leftists who are just too snobbish to be in the same party as John Prescott. Their main distinguishing feature was that they were NOT divided over the EU. They have now announced they will campaign for the UK to rejoin in future. Given that the application would not be accepted, they are now officially pointless.
As is UKIP. It did the nation a great service in forcing the hand of a party that was no more inclined to give the demos a say than any of its Continental counterparts. It won us the referendum we so desperately needed and is owed our thanks. A statue to Nigel Farage should be placed on the spare plinth in Trafalgar Square. He has endured decades of vilification by the leftist Establishment in his nation's cause. Arguably he should be up there with Nelson himself, rather then at the base of his column. But he is now redundant.
An orderly dissolution of UKIP would allow its members and voters to move back to the Labour and Conservative parties from whence they came. Ex-UKIP Labourites could explain to the Islington Mafia how to talk to the honest working folk that make up most of their potential voters. Ex-UKIP Conservatives could replace the MPs who lied to their Constituency Associations that they were EU-sceptics and then campaigned for Remain. A dissolution of the LibDems would allow the Gladstonian Liberals to hold their noses and join the Conservative party, the sandalled loonies to join the Greens and the snooty socialists to join Labour. All three parties would benefit from their moderating influence.
You will note that I don't mention the SNP. That's because I can't see how Scotland can now remain part of the UK. It's a Civil Code jurisdiction and has always had more loyalty to the Auld Alliance with France than to the Union. I would love it to stay but unless there is a massive resurgence of Scottish Conservatism to defeat the SNP its course now seems sadly fixed. When I was young it was a firmly Conservative place and my Scottish friends are quiet Conservatives still but its national character has been debased by dependency. It needs to get its dignity back. Only Independence can do that. Ideally proper independence not the leech-on-Germany kind. But that's for them to decide.
Britain's first past the post constituency-based electoral system works best with two parties. The electorate can steer the nation like a tank, advancing either the Left or the Right track at five year intervals to keep us moving forward in roughly the right direction. If the state can be reined back to its key tasks in the wake of Brexit, we can eliminate the influence of pressure groups, fake charities and other single issue fanatics and persuade those two parties to rebuild mass memberships. Labour needs to do that to reconnect with its historic voters. Focus groups are not enough. The Conservatives need to do it to ensure that no renegade hooligan like Heath ever induces it to spit on its historic constituency again. It's time to get Britain back on a course that suits the national temperament and accords broadly with the peoples will. If the Conservative Party moves in that direction, I will join it.
As for Farage, the statue is not enough. He should be elevated to the House of Lords, appointed to the Cabinet as Minister without portfolio and despatched to Brussels with Boris (our new Foreign Secretary) to negotiate Brexit.
This video of a discussion between two American professors is educational not only on the important question of feminism, but also on the general decline of intellectual discourse in the West. They explain why American universities have become, as Dinesh d'Souza put it;
islands of repression in a sea of freedom
Much of what they say is relevant to the current storm on social media in the wake of Brexit. I suggest it may partly account for the division between "educated" and "uneducated" in the referendum vote. I would love to see a breakdown of the Remain vote (but no academic will research it and no productive person would waste the time or money) between what Americans call "liberal arts" graduates and those from harder disciplines such as STEM, law and accountancy. Most of our "education", particularly since Blair forced up the numbers attending "uni" (as those on whom it was wasted always call it) is actively damaging to its victims' intelligence. They come out stupider than they went in.
It's well worth listening to Paglia's explanation of the shallowness of current teaching; of how everything is explained in the context of very recent history. Students in the last twenty years have had little or no exposure to the full story of humanity's development and in particular to the history of ideas. Most great minds in history (particularly of course the odious "DWEMs" or "Dead White European Males") would be denied a platform in a modern "seat of learning". Paradoxically they see the West; imperfect but still undoubtedly the most advanced, liberal and tolerant group of human civilisations and the only place where their childishness would be tolerated – as the heart of all darkness.
"In comparison", as Hoff Sommers puts it, "to what?!"
Paglia is also fascinating on how the new wave of "intersectional" feminism is almost Victorian in its prudish denial of the darker side of human nature. Whereas her generation grew up in the context of World War II, the Holocaust, Soviet tyranny etc. the "snowflake generation" has convinced itself that modern university campuses – factually among the safest places on Earth – are as dangerous as war zones. Yes, ladies and gentleman, it's hilariously stupid. But it won't be so funny when they show up in your offices, shops and factories and accuse you of running a "rape culture" because young male employees try to ask their female counterparts out.
Faculty across the West has served up what Hoff Summers calls "warmed over Marxism" to convince our young people, for example, that what they call gender and I call sex is a "social construct". That we are all born bisexual and guided by a malformed society into one sexual orientation or the other. That – and here's the rub – if the programming can be changed so can mankind. That the whole world can be turned – all gods forbid – into a "safe space."
They joke at one point in the conversation that a famous third wave feminist should sue Yale for mal-education but I think they have a serious point. The greatest expense of my life was to pay for the Misses Paine to be taught by "warmed over Marxists" that everything I hold most dear is vile. I have faith in their abilities to see through it. They read widely, thank God. I believe in the power of their first-rate minds but what of their weaker brothers and sisters? Many will simply keep regurgitating warmed over Marxism as they lack the critical faculties ever to question what they were taught. Modern education is not designed to develop those faculties. Quite the contrary.
We over-forties are discovering this week what it's like to be set upon by the snowflake generation's famous "cry bullies". We were educated more robustly to begin with and have years of life experience. We know what a real problem feels like and therefore find it rather amusing. But we need to pay attention. The way some young people are speaking of their elders – particularly those of us who are WEMs without the decency to add the D – tells you a lot about what their warmed-over Marxist teachers have been telling them behind closed doors. They really do see themselves as new humans, on a higher plane to us. Their contempt for the lumpen-proletariat of course, is old cold Marxism. The people in the deprived regions of Britain where I grew up are well aware of that and voted accordingly.
Britain's move toward political independence (economic independence being, of course, a myth unless you have the North Korean model in mind) is an opportunity to build a better country. But it doesn't guarantee it. This video demonstrates that our North American brethren have many of the same problems without the malign influence of the Énarque elitists of Europe and their funding of the West's educationalist enemies.
Rather than simply rejoicing in the lamentations of our enemies (hard to resist right now) we need to move with intent towards their shrillest wailing. Not to laugh in their faces but listen, mark and use the data. We should trace the thinking of these intellectually spoiled children back to its hostile source in our universities. We must ensure that the enemies of the West are no longer allowed to go unchallenged there. For so long as there are publicly-funded institutions of learning, they must provide a balanced education. All points of view must be represented, but no ideology must be allowed to do agitprop on the taxpayers' dime.
Hoff Sommers refers to the "key commandment" of education she has followed in teaching philosophy;
Thou shalt teach both sides of the argument
That commandment should be a condition precedent to any public funding in education. The British state should no longer fund courses in what Paglia calls "micro-fields" – gender studies and the like. She calls for a reduction by 60% in such courses and a return to the core curriculum. I don't see a need to specify a percentage. People can study what they like in a free society, but at their own family's expense or with funding from philanthropists.
The referendum result shows the peoples contempt for these warmed-over Marxist elites. Freedom's enemies are self-identifying themselves everywhere by their furious reaction to our impertinence. Take their names.
I am delighted with the outcome of the referendum. It's a remarkable achievement given that the game played by "Remain" was anything but cricket. From the misuse of taxpayers' money and the improper use of the Civil Service to campaign, through the recruitment of business leaders by means that will no doubt become apparent in the Prime Minister's Resignation Honours List to Project Fear itself, it has been a dirty business.
It's particularly satisfying to win when your opponent has cheated.
I am happy with the tone being struck the leadership of Vote Leave today. They grasped (as their opponents never would have done had it gone the other way) that almost half of our countrymen didn't want this and it's important not to gloat. They are already reaching out to citizens disappointed with the outcome and reassuring them that everything good about being European will continue. We are only leaving a set of incompetent, wasteful and corrupt institutions, not the continent itself.
The vote revealed Britain's divisions and the result gave us the opportunity – if we will only talk honestly to each other – to heal them. We were never going to be able to do so while bringing 27 countries with their own highly varied problems along with us. When we do stop paying our contributions to Brussels, we should divert most of the net savings to infrastructure investments with a particular eye on helping the depressed regions of Wales and the North and South-West of England. There has been massive mission creep on the state's part during my lifetime. It's time it stopped micromanaging our lives and got back to its basic job of supplying the public infrastructure we need to go about our business productively.
Perhaps I shouldn't be, but I am almost as pleased by the "bad loser" tone being adopted by the elites given a good kicking yesterday. It's almost as if they have not learned their lesson yet. The fact is they are stuck with Britain outside the EU now. There is no going back. The path trodden so lucratively by Mandelson and the Kinnocks is closed to them now. Either they calm down, get over themselves and work to unite the country on its new course, or they drift off into irrelevance. Either of those choices on their part would suit me just fine.
Whatever the outcome of today's vote, something has changed in Britain and perhaps also in Europe. In Margaret Thatcher's day, it really looked like a new politics had arrived. There were more state-educated members of her Cabinets than any before or since. She had ex-Trade Union officials and railwaymen's sons around the coffin-shaped table in Downing Street. They were Grammar School boys from ordinary Britain just as she was a Grammar School girl. Politics was suddenly about ideas not class. Indeed most of the class politics of her era consisted of rabid trade unionists and entitled aristos uniting to denounce her, incongruously as irredeemably vulgar. A nasty little woman from "trade".
Someone who knew what work was and how business worked. Eugh.
The home in which Corbyn grew up. Not a council flat. D'uh.
Since the end of Thatcherism, the old guard has quietly slipped back into power. Their signature is detachment from, and contempt for, their electors. They – whether from right or left, Eton, Fettes or Castle House Prep followed by Adams' Grammar – are the educated, privileged ones who grew up in families that didn't have to work but are able to tell those of us who struggle and strive precisely how we should live. Because they are "our betters". They don't aspire to serve us. They feel entitled to power over us hapless losers who exist only to choose, in our ignorant way, between them. And to be called bigots etc behind their hands.
This is even more apparent at the European level. Opinion polls on voter satisfaction with the EU show Brits as only middling in our disapproval of our masters in Brussels. We are not particularly Europe's bad boys and trouble-makers. We have simply been given a chance, by an out-of-touch Etonian who assumed he could play us for fools, to express a view. Europe's elites are either more snooty even than ours or less adept at concealing it. They have openly expressed their contempt for Cameron's stupidity in giving us a voice. They have no intention of giving their voters an in/out referendum. The "democratic deficit" of the EU is not a bug to them, it's a feature.
If the EU were more democratic, it would instantly break up derailing the gravy train on which they ride in first class with much hauteur.
So now the the dividing lines in our society and Europe's have been exposed by our referendum, where do we go from here? In or out, the voters have learned just how much they are despised by the political elite and its slavering hangers on in the media and big business. They have learned that the concerns of ordinary working people and small businesses, the core of Britain's society if correctly viewed, are – by virtue of their contemptible origin – to be dismissed.
A contemptuous sneering self-serving elite looking down on the little people and ignoring their concerns always leads to a bad place. One reason I try so hard in my humble way to participate in civic discourse is that I desperately don't want to go to that place. The rise of Marine Le Pen is terrifying. But it's not the fault of people voting for her. It's the fault of the French elite for consistently ignoring them. The same, frankly, could be said of Donald Trump in America. He's no-one's first choice for US President. But he's an effective way of telling the out of touch Republican Party to stop being RINOs, get their heads out of their asses and LISTEN to their conservative electorate. Likewise Jeremy Corbyn. The ordinary Labour voter is sick of the likes of Blair, Mandelson and their Islingtonian mafia sneering at them. They want people who represent properly their views. I may think their views wrong, but I also want them to be a respected part of a functioning democracy because I don't want our own version of Le Pen. My problem with Corbyn is that he isn't what they think. They are falling for a Goebbels-standard lie. If anything he's posher and more detached than Blair and at least twice as stupid.
So how do we move from acknowledging that ordinary decent Brits and Europeans feel neglected and despised, to creating a new politics in which their voices are genuinely heard and respected? How do we get to talk about the real issues that ordinary people face without silencing them with SJW abuse? How to we avoid the massive injustices caused by political correctness in such places as Rotherham without allowing a demagogue to arise? Because the only reason the sneering elites of Britain and Europe are not dealing with dangerous demagogues already is that none with the charisma of history's notable and terrifying examples have yet come on the scene.
Today is the choice of our lifetime. Does the civilisation that gave the world the Rule of Law, habeas corpus, parliamentary democracy, Shakespeare, the Industrial Revolution and the Life of Brian go on?
Or is it to be subsumed into a Roman Law superstate; a People's Federal Republic of Blah and Meh? Is it to blend gradually into a body politic forged by and in the interests of countries that have never understood it, have always despised it and have never had a higher goal than to see it fall?
Do you care about the wacky distinctiveness, the subjection of men of power to the Rule of Law established at Runnymede, the anti-intellectualism and the aversion to elitism of what my German friends call (revealingly albeit without malice because it's just fine to be them and why wouldn't we be happy to be them too?) "your funny little islands?"
If this vote goes the wrong way I shall never vote again because there will be no point. My democracy will be dead and gone and my civilisation with it.
Please for the love of all our "funny little islands" have given the world ...
As we approach what I hope will be our Independence Day, I am delighted to read that the very thing that I have been saying to my German, French and Polish friends for months is now being said by Markus Kerber, the head of the German equivalent of Britain's CBI.
Imposing trade barriers, imposing protectionist measures between our two countries – or between the two political centres, the European Union on the one hand and the UK on the other – would be a very, very foolish thing in the 21st century. The BDI would urge politicians on both sides to come up with a trade regime that enables us to uphold and maintain the levels of trade we have
There is a school of continental thought that sees trade as the continuation of war by other means. It is one of the ways I differ most strongly from my many continental friends who have been telling me how Germany and France will "punish" Britain if we dare to leave the European Union. My response has been twofold. Firstly to point out that it's like telling an unhappy wife that she'll be beaten up if she sues for divorce. It's unlikely to make her love her man again.
Secondly, I have pointed out that if Frau Merkel wants revenge (and she does have form – during the Greek crisis – for saying – ridiculously and in Putinesque style – that politics has primacy over economics) then her business community won't let her. Britain buys 20% of the production of the German automotive industry. The minute she kicked off, the CEOs of Mercedes, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen would be knocking on her door. Herr Kerber seems to be knocking already on their behalf.
I don't want to impose new tariffs after Brexit. I believe in free trade. I believe in it enough to practise it unilaterally. If the EU imposes tariffs on us (and their scope for that is limited to motor cars and agriculture because of the work of the World Trade Organisation in recent years) and we match them (as we probably would in the world of practical politics) they would hurt themselves more than us because we are bigger customers of theirs, than they are of ours.
At least that's so when it comes to trade in physical goods – the old-fashioned "metal bashing", olive growing and cheese-making that they go in for. As for trade in services, where we are Europe's, if not the world's, market leaders, they have excluded it from the Single Market anyway. Why? Because – while calling for us to make noble sacrifices in the cause of the European Project – they consistently play it as a viciously cynical game for their advantage.
Rather like my metaphorical abusive husband, actually.
Soldiers provide an honour guard at the tomb of the unknown solider in Warsaw, as they do 24 hours a day throughout the year.
I worked in Warsaw from 1992 to 2003 and have been visiting it in the past three days. Watching a nation rebuild itself on the smouldering ruins of a communist economy had, I think it's fair to say, a profound influence on my life. I had been a Leftist in my callow youth, was a mainstream Thatcherite Conservative when I arrived here in my early 30s but learned, as I watched the Polish people rebuild, that she had not gone nearly far enough. The sheer joyful power of unrestrained market forces was not something I had experienced in the grey, regulated, socialist Britain of that era. It was akin to magic as the invisible hand did its stuff.
In business we talk of "the hog cycle". Demand for pork rises and more farmers switch to pig farming to chase the profit. Supply rises to match demand and prices fall. Too many farmers switch and prices crash. Lots of pig farmers (especially the new, inexperienced ones) go bankrupt. Pig farming becomes unpopular as the risks become clear. Farmers switch to more promising products and supply falls until it meets demand and prices rise again. Farmers will not return immediately to raising pigs when prices rise again because the memory of the last cycle lingers. Only when a new generation that doesn't remember the last crash arrives does production rise again.
All the young people I worked with in early post Communist Poland had grown up in a socialist society with its shortages, corruption and oppression. They went to with a will to build a modern economy and achieved startling success. They had largely done it by the time I left Poland – the Remainers claiming that the EU rebuilt post-communist Eastern Europe don't know what they are talking about. Poles welcomed EU accession as a symbol of acceptance back into the free world but the business people and professionals I know here are – although the country is a net gainer from the EU budget – little more enthusiastic about it than the French and Germans. And let's not forget French and German polls suggest their voters think less of it than the British who may be about to leave!
The children of the youngsters I worked with are now young adults themselves. They regard the Communist era as pure history and are making political noises that suggest a hankering, at some level, for the "good old days". My friends can't understand it but it's really just the political version of the hog cycle. Freedom needs advocates in every generation, no matter how clear the lessons of history may seem to those who lived through it. No battle, however noble, is every finally won.
It was not a great time to visit with Brexit in the air. I wanted to hear about my old friends' careers, families and general health and welfare. They wanted to know if Britain was going to Leave, how I would vote and what were my reasons. Although I had no time to blog, I was talking politics all the time alas. Not least of course when I had a pre-lunch drink with Dick Puddlecote on Sunday! He happened to be in Warsaw for a harm reduction conference and it was good to catch up.
It was a great weekend. I am back in Britain tomorrow in readiness for referendum day.
I think the author of the linked article may be on to something. The working classes have had a hard time of it in Britain in my lifetime. Yes our growing economy has created lots of new jobs. Most of them cleaner and more pleasant to do. Many involving the polishing of trousers and skirts on comfy office chairs. Yes average purchasing power has risen when modest pay increases have been multiplied by downward pressure on prices of manufactured goods (net of course of steady increases in taxes as the state consumes more and more of GDP). But this is no consolation for the fisherman, miners and factory workers whose jobs have been wiped out by the EU, priced out by environmental regulations or simply offshored.
To add insult to injury, the political instrument they and their trade unions founded — the Labour Party — has turned its back on them, neglected them and taken to describing them with contempt as idiots and bigots. In its Islingtonian manifestation, it's more interested in its new consitutencies of assorted minorities who are — or can be made to feel — oppressed. So interested in them in fact that it has taken to importing them despite concerns among its old supporters that they may drive down wages.
To such traditional Labour voting fodder, long condescended to or scorned, the sight of the likes of Kinnock and Mandelson living it up on the EU gravy train is galling. As is that of Blair openly coveting, enjoying in return for God knows what in office and ultimately achieving the life of his multi-millionaire chums.
New Labour has delivered what Old Labour predicted capitalism would: a profound sense of alienation. All this compounded by the electoral tactic of "triangulation" under which none of "their" politicians are ever to be heard actually talking to them in public
If Brexit delivers a swift kick in the pants to those pigs who clearly think themselves more equal than others, why not give it a try?