Monday, 19 February 2018

Libel Watch: Day Nine

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Only Too Open And Transparent

This is just embarrassing.

We have a Prime Minister who, even while effectively conceding that Jeremy Corbyn has been right all along about tuition fees, seeks to deflect from that staggering admission by lining up with complete fantasists such as Jan Sarkocy, who claims that Czechoslovak intelligence organised Live Aid, and Anthony Glees, whose barking mad book on the Stasi even the CIA dismissed as "unintelligible".

Give it up, Theresa May. Give it up.

In From The Cold

I had never quite thought of this, but it is obvious now that I have. Regardless of age, next to no one in Britain quite believes that there ever was a Cold War. It is seen as the background to James Bond films, and that is it.

To be an exception to this, to be altogether convinced that the Soviet Union was real at all, is to be marked out as the kind of person whom Geoffrey Palmer depicted in Fairly Secret Army and The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin. A joke then, and a joke now. Rightly or wrongly, that is the case.

Incompetently dropped while Parliament was in recess, this "story" is really about Brexit. It is about replacing Jeremy Corbyn with a supporter of the Single Market and the Customs Union. That is also obvious, once you think of it. Thank goodness that the people behind it are so inept.

Save The Children

While the children of the working class are legally kidnapped on the tiniest, if any, pretext, the McCanns of the present age are Brendan Cox and Toby Young.

Both are self-confessed sexual assailants, and Young is also a self-confessed supplier of Class A drugs who consorts with at least one advocate of the rape of drugged children.

Yet each retains the care, and in Cox's case the sole care, of small children.

Not Fitting

No, you may not have cannabis oil on the NHS. If cannabis contains an active ingredient that is of benefit to Alfie Dingley, then that ingredient needs to be identified and prescribed. When you need aspirin, then you do not just go and ingest bark.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Farage's Farewell?

That forthcoming appearance on Question Time will either be valedictory for UKIP, or it will be valedictory for Nigel Farage himself. Then again, if it is the latter, then it will also be the former.

Telegraph From The Other Side

The Telegraph titles are now the most hilariously downmarket rags, picking up the Agent COB drivel and serving it to its only conceivable audience.

That is the institutionalised elderly who once strutted about in funny uniforms of their own devising as they noisily "plotted" to overthrow Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan.

Even all the other Telegraph readers, if there still are any, will laugh out loud at them now, just as they did then.

Found Wanting

If the cuddly faces of neoconservative foreign policy, such as Oxfam and possibly Save the Children, are no longer to receive public funding, then where is that money to go instead? I propose that it go to War on Want, instead of Wanting War.

Hurt and Offence

Specifically, the Jo Cox Foundation's funding of the White Helmets, which is hurtful and offensive to the point of mass murder.

The British Government's funding of the White Helmets, and of the "Free Syrian Police", ought to be diverted to our own emergency services.

You know what you have to do, brothers and sisters. You know what you have to do.

Fee Bargaining

We either fund the whole of higher education, all the way up to doctoral level. Or we charge fees at every stage of the process.

But in either event, apprentices and trainees must enjoy all the benefits afforded to their peers in further and higher education, and vice versa.

Notice that, even after the fall of Toby Young, this Government is still engaged in a most un-Tory attempt to dictate what universities should teach.

Turning The Tables

Of course all primary schools teach and test times tables, and always have done. How many more of these public school fantasies about state schools do we have to endure? As many as they can pack in before the next General Election, that's how many.

The Problem With Gavin Barwell

Grenfell Tower. Ignore anything else. His complicity in Grenfell Tower is what makes Gavin Barwell morally unfit for public life.

Trust and Responsibility

It's driving instructors now, is it? Much easier simply to raise the age of consent to 18.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Libel Watch: Day Eight

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

10 Years On

Kosovo is a complete nightmare. It is very high time to listen to the people who have been right all along about these things. One of whom stands a very high chance of becoming the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

"A Broken Child"?

Nikolas Cruz is 19. Tamir Rice was 12. Make your minds up.

A New Campaign Patron

I am honoured and delighted, almost beyond words, to announce a new Patron of my Campaign. He is Davey Ayre of Stanley Crook, the Joint Secretary of Durham Trades Council (although he takes on this new role in a personal capacity) and a legend of the trade union movement, most recently in his stalwart and ongoing support for Durham County Council's Teaching Assistants.

Davey served for over 50 years as Secretary of the Crook Branch of UCATT, the construction workers' union, and he was blacklisted for life from the construction industry. He has attended my court hearings, and he has promised to do so again, if at all possible, on 11th April, should the forces of evil be so wicked and so stupid as to proceed with their action against me.

As a Campaign Patron, Davey joins Councillor Alex Watson OBE of Consett North, who served for many years as the Executive Leader of Derwentside District Council. Meanwhile, George Galloway has never formally resigned the position. He needs to come to terms with the fact that he is never going to be let back into the Labour Party. But let us not be distracted. Welcome, Davey Ayre. I am honoured and delighted, almost beyond words.

Aux Armes, Citoyens

Of course Emmanuel Macron is bringing back compulsory military service. In the mercifully unlikely event of a restored Thatcherite or Blairite Government in Britain, then that would happen here, too. A century after the First World War, there is no excuse for a continued failure to see that Liberalism is inherently militaristic.

Throughout the First World War, Britain still had a Liberal Government. It stood alongside the French Radicals against the German National Liberals. British Liberalism, French Radicalism and German Liberalism were not, and are not, exactly the same thing. But there was, and there is, a pronounced family resemblance. And they all have the same enemies, just as they did a hundred years ago.

The principle of National Liberalism, of the singular mission of a particular Great Power to conform the world to the Liberal vision even by the force or arms, was not in dispute. The only dispute was as to which Great Power had been entrusted with that mission. But there was a Germany before Unification, and even as part of Unification Germany had to retain many decidedly pre-Enlightenment features. There was a France before the Revolution, and anyone may still see all manner of aspects of her. We all know about the United Kingdom and her predecessor-states.

In the end, of course, only one Great Power, and arguably only one political entity at all, has ever been founded specifically as the Liberal one, expansionist and interventionist accordingly. The expansionist and interventionist wars of recent decades have brought out strains of both conservative and left-wing opposition in that country, often alongside each other. But they need to acknowledge that they are fundamentally opposed to that country's founding ideology itself.

Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity?

The FBI was too busy pursuing this "Putin Dun It" drivel on behalf of Hillary Clinton to bother keeping tabs on an armed and dangerous neo-Nazi in Florida.

No More Kicks In The Teeth

The cost of NHS dentistry is obscene. If they do not have to put up with eye and dental charges, or prescription charges, or hospital car parking charges in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, then we do not have to put up with them here. You know what you have to do, brothers and sisters. You know what you have to do.

Allotted Places

On Jeremy Corbyn and Czechoslovakia, as well as the equally vanished East Germany and the Soviet Union, see here. In 1989, he was one of only five British MPs to support those countries' striking workers against their governments.

Of course Gavin Williamson knows that drivel about how Corbyn engaged in decades of Bond villainy from his allotment will not be taken seriously by any serious person. But not everyone is a serious person.

Tiny though the number of ageing Red Alert veterans and wannabes is, that is the body that would elect the next Leader of the Conservative Party, in the unlikely event that any such election were ever permitted to be held.

As a staunch Remainer, and as the man who knows all about everyone else's sex lives, Williamson expects to be the only duly nominated candidate. But he is hedging his bets, just in case.

That is all that this is. But this is what it is.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Libel Watch: Day Seven

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Hard-Headed Common Sense


On this day, 15 years ago, I joined about one million others in central London to march against the impending Iraq war. We were not just part of the biggest political demonstration in British history, but the largest simultaneous protest event in the world, with millions marching in every continent. We gathered in Hyde Park and heard many famous voices speaking out against the war, from Labour politician Tony Benn to playwright Harold Pinter.

When Jeremy Corbyn took the stage, he too was a familiar face to all peace march veterans and Islington residents like myself, but less so to other members of the crowd. But his words stirred the souls of everyone present. He asked why we could afford to spend billions on a war nobody wanted while children around the world were dying of poverty and starvation. And he warned of the risks in invading Iraq: “It will set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery and of desperation that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, the depression and misery of future generations.” 

How terrifyingly right he was. And again when he made the same arguments in respect of Libya and Syria. In the 2011 debate on Libya, as a backbencher under Ed Miliband, Corbyn warned: “We have not thought through the implications of what we are doing.” I for one should have listened, rather than obeying the Labour three-line whip. 

And as party leader, his speech in the 2015 Syria debate – pilloried by the Tory government and Labour critics at the time – now reads like the cries of Cassandra. Corbyn warned that with no credible Syrian opposition forces, no long-term strategy and no plan for a political settlement, the refugee crisis and civilian casualties would only grow, and mission creep was inevitable.

“Is it right,” he asked, “for us here in Westminster to see a problem, pass a motion and drop bombs, pretending we are doing something to solve it? That is what we did in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. To oppose another war and intervention is not pacifism; it is hard-headed common sense.” Instead, he said, all Britain’s efforts should be directed to producing a peaceful and just political settlement to the war. More than two years on, that goal is further away than ever, even though the justification for the US-led coalition’s intervention in Syria – denying Islamic State a haven – was achieved months ago. 

Just in the past four weeks, we have seen unprecedented levels of escalation, aggression and land-grabbing by the competing foreign powers enmeshed in this terrible war. he US announces plans for an “open-ended” occupation of northern Syria; Turkey launches a brutal assault on Kurdish-held areas; Russian and coalition bombers trade devastating blows against each other’s proxy armies; Israel launches its biggest air strikes inside Syria for 36 years in response to Iran sending a drone across its borders; and the Gulf states continue to feed money and weapons to the dwindling opposition and jihadist militias. 

Needless to say, none of these acts have been justified by reference to international law or a UN mandate; they are instead what always happens when the world order ceases to apply and wars of intervention become a global free-for-all. That is not just mission creep, it is mission explosion. Ask the British government how our own personnel are involved in current efforts and you get obfuscation. Ask what they are doing to help stop this awful slaughter and you just get a shrug. The Tories have long since abdicated any pretension of principled global leadership. 

And what is bitterly depressing about the situation in Syria is this: it may be the prelude to something unimaginably worse. Iran is nine times the size of Syria, with a population three-and-a-half times as big as Syria’s before the war. This month, the New York Times published an important comment piece accusing the Donald Trump administration of employing exactly the same playbook used before the Iraq war to manufacture a pretext for battle with Iran. It estimated coldly that such a conflict would be “10 to 15 times worse than the Iraq war in terms of casualties and costs”. 

This was not written by some anti-war campaigner like Seymour Hersh or Bernie Sanders, but by Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to US secretary of state Colin Powell. Wilkerson warned simply: “I helped sell the false choice of war once; it’s happening again.” In other words, the only lesson Trump and his colleagues have learned from Iraq, Libya and Syria is not how catastrophic military interventions can be, but how best to market them. 

Millions of us marched with Corbyn 15 years ago. And make no mistake – we may soon need to march with him again. Or better still, we can put him in office the first chance we get and finally have a British prime minister committed to the vision he offered that Hyde Park crowd: “To live in a world free from war.”

"The Worst Prime Minister In Living Memory"?

Theresa May, for all her many faults, is only the third worst Prime Minister of this century's four so far. Simply by not starting a war (although she is highly complicit in Yemen), she is better than either David Cameron or Tony Blair was.

Blair and Cameron both won overall majorities, but their respective successors, who did not, have still proved to be better Prime Ministers. State educated children of small town clerics, they have tried valiantly to clear up the mess left by the Flashmen who preceded them.

Directly Back To War

The DUP wants Ministers to be appointed at Westminster, to take on the responsibilities that are not being exercised at Stormont. Of course, they mean themselves, which would create a formal Coalition. But DUP Ministers exercising direct rule from Westminster, and that at a time when the Border might be going back up, would start the war all over again. I do not say that lightly.

Despite having an overall majority, Gordon Brown wanted to make Paddy Ashdown Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and Tony Blair did put Ashdown on a Cabinet Committee. Remember that, when certain people squeal and squeal and squeal that I intend to have Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Independents on my constituency staff, and that people from across the political spectrum (in practice, mostly the Left and the Old Right) will participate in the use of my Westminster office as a national and international centre for the formulation, articulation and implementation of the alternative to neoliberal economic policy and to neoconservative foreign policy.

I am moving away from my uncharacteristic agnosticism about Proportional Representation, even if I am still not convinced as to any specific alternative to First Past the Post, and even though I can still see the problems with all of them. If this country does not like coalitions, then it has a very funny way of manifesting that dislike. Two of the last three General Elections have resulted in hung Parliaments.

First Past the Post is giving us coalitions, anyway, and it is going to continue to do so. But what of Ministers from a party that would lose its deposit in any constituency in England, Scotland or Wales? People who did not like the last Coalition could punish the Liberal Democrats for it, and they did. (For some reason, they did not also punish the Conservatives for it. I cannot understand why not.) But the huge majority of the electorate has no means of punishing the DUP.

Czech Your Facts

Or you end up looking as stupid as this.

Death At The Writs

Oliver Kamm is facing humiliation in the High Court at the hands of the great Neil Clark. In his "defence", Kamm has cited Neil's retweeting of me, saying that my Twitter feed contains "numerous antisemitic and homophobic tweets". So Neil's is not necessarily the last writ that he will ever receive.

Meanwhile, remember that the ongoing criminal action against me (for so it is, although I meet people every day who assume that it has been dropped) has been directly organised by Kamm, complete with a Times report that was strikingly heavy on insider information. He can share Simon Henig's cell for conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

A Brexit-Free Question Time

By popular demand, apparently. The sheer boredom of the electorate with this whole subject was already evident even before the referendum. And now, UKIP is about to go bust. But then, you always could win the Leadership of that with too few votes to have won some inner city council seats. Think on.

Calling Them Up, Calling Them Out

If 74 per cent of the over-65s want to bring back National Service, then tell them to do some. National Service ended 58 years ago, so no one under the age of about 75 has ever done it. And only men did post-War National Service, anyway. Tell those three quarters of elderly women to sign up, if they think that it is such a good idea. After all, they never had the chance at the time.

Former members of the Armed Forces comprise a large part of the Conservative Party's active membership, but they comprise a tiny part of the population at large. That is an overlooked fact among those who find Jeremy Corbyn's 40 per cent of the vote incomprehensible. The last men were called up in 1960, so hardly anyone has ever been in the Armed Forces. It is just that a lot of them are Conservative activists, and that a lot of Conservative activists are them.

This suggestion does, however, feed into the same strategy as that Agent COB business which, since the BBC never picked it up, never happened. That, like the rather vigorous policing of demonstrations, is how Britain works. Welcome to our world.

Anyone who might ever have considered voting Labour in a million years either will not hear about this carry on over somewhere called Czechoslovakia, or will not believe it, or will not care about it. But the Conservatives are down to quite this sort of core vote strategy: people who are not only over 65 (often by quite a bit), but off-the-chart right-wing with it. Wrongly, but very interestingly, they have given up even trying to persuade anyone else to vote for them.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Libel Watch: Day Six

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

Cruisers and Parity

It is is the kind of thing that only children believe, that countries have "Special Relationships" because they speak the same language, or have relatively similar institutions, or even have populations of mostly common ancestry (which in any case Britain and the United States have not had since the nineteenth century, just as, for example, Britain and Australia no longer have). Was that true of German-speaking Europe before any of the Unifications? Well, there you are, then. And, as Peter Hitchens writes:

I am terribly bored by the EU issue, which seems to me to be shadow-boxing while the two sides work out how much strength they really have, and can realistically use, and the negotiations move slowly towards the final weeks in which all will necessarily be resolved in a messy and unexciting compromise. So let us have some history instead.

I am constantly fascinated and appalled by the pseudo-religion which now surrounds the late Sir Winston Churchill, especially in the United States. A US Navy destroyer is named after him (though as USS Winston S. Churchill, not USS Sir Winston Churchill).

An entire Wren Church, St Mary Aldermanbury, destroyed in the London Blitz, has been transported piece by piece to Fulton, Missouri, and re-erected there in his memory. Outside that Church is one of many more or less frightful sculptures of the great man, graven images which dot the Land of the Free.

Not to mention the famous bust which sometimes is, and sometimes is not, kept in the Oval Office in the White House. Though quite why we should be pleased to see it there, I do not myself know, having observed the chilly non-existence of the ‘Special Relationship’ at close quarters in 1990-95. 

Actually, Churchill was not especially sentimental about the USA, a country he knew far better than most British politicians, from many visits over many years, and also because his mother was American. I believe he understood perfectly well, in 1940, that his decision to fight on would make us, thereafter, an American vassal state. I also believe he quite rightly believed this better than the alternative, which would have been, at best, a dingy future as a played-out and disarmed empire on the fringe of a Europe controlled by either Hitler or Stalin, or perhaps both of them.

While researching my forthcoming book The Phoney Victory, I was looking for a quotation I had recently seen but not noted, from Clementine Churchill, in which, as I recall, she warned him against hoping for too much from the Americans. I couldn’t find it. But I did find two other interesting quotations.

One was a 1927 Cabinet memorandum, in which the then Chancellor of the Exchequer was discussing American attempts to build up their Navy’s cruiser fleet to rival Britain’s. Churchill, who had actually been on US soil in 1895 when a very bitter dispute broke out between the two countries over the Venezuelan border with what was then British Guiana, had no illusions about the two countries being naturally friendly.

He wrote, ‘We do not wish to put ourselves in the power of the United States. We cannot tell what they might do if at some future date they were in a position to give us orders about our policy, say, in India, or Egypt, or Canada, or on any other great matter behind which their electioneering forces were marshalled.’ (Quoted in Churchill and America, Martin Gilbert, Free Press (Simon and Schuster) London and NY 2005, p. 104. The source is ‘Cruisers And Parity’, Cabinet Memorandum 20 July 1927, Cabinet Papers.)

Of course, Churchill knew perfectly well that the USA would, once it had the power, use it to ease us out of all these spheres. Which it duly did. The thing that remains in doubt is this. Had Britain been more careful about when and how it entered a European war after Munich, would its power and wealth have survived for longer? Or was our rapid decline into insignificance, which has dominated my own lifetime, inevitable?

Churchill's assumed ‘shoulder to shoulder’ view of the USA was also not wholehearted during the 1940 crisis. His close aide John ‘Jock’ Colville recorded him growling, on 19th May 1940, ‘Here’s a telegram for those bloody Yankees!’ (Gilbert p. 186, Gilbert's note refers to Colville Papers for 19th May 1940).

Churchill’s worshippers may believe in a sentimental Special Relationship. Their hero was far too clever and well-informed to do so.

15 Years On

15 years ago today, there was the largest demonstration that Britain has ever seen. It was addressed by Jeremy Corbyn. Sadly, everything has come true that was predicted by those who marched against the Iraq War, and many others of us who were unable to join them.

That includes the prediction that there would be further such misadventures, every one of which has also been opposed by Corbyn, as he had also opposed their precursors in Kosovo and Afghanistan. In all fairness to Theresa May, while she has failed to oppose any of those wars, those who say that she is the worst Prime Minister in living memory need to face the fact that she has yet to start any, either.

Always at the front of the Start the War Coalition, however, is The Sun, which today indicated that the Conservatives were down to a core vote strategy, the core in question being people who thought that Czechoslovakia still existed, and who still used the word "Commie".

Our governing party clearly believes that if the 1970s National Frontists and private militia types in the nursing homes are not going to vote for it next time, then no one is. But the Conservatives are wrong about that. There is going to be another hung Parliament. You know what you have to do, brothers and sisters. You know what you have to do.

The Blunt Question

Exactly what could Jeremy Corbyn have told a Soviet Bloc spy that that Bloc's own people at the very heart of MI5, MI6 and even the Royal Households, as well as at least one Minister in the Thatcher Government, could not? Call that The Blunt Question.

The Patience of Angels

"Just you wait," a wise man told me soon after the Angel of the North was built amidst huge controversy. "Within a few years, they'll all love it, it will be on tea towels for tourists and everything, and they'll deny that they were ever against it." On this twentieth anniversary of the Angel of the North, he was even more right than he knew.

Mind Your Language

"Catholic equals Nationalist equals at least aspirantly Irish-speaking", whereas "Protestant equals Unionist equals militantly non-Irish-speaking"? That whole thesis is contrary to the plain facts of history.

Whereas early Nationalist leaders were often highly scornful of the Irish language as a bar to progress, no small contribution to saving it was made by eccentric Anglo-Irish grandees and enthusiastic Protestant clergymen, staunchly Unionist in most cases.

Douglas Hyde, the son of a County Sligo rector and born in an Ascendancy "Big House", became the first President of the Republic while remaining an observant Protestant, a dedicated Irish-speaker and educator in that medium, and an adherent to a political position fundamentally Unionist rather than Nationalist, which was probably why Fine Gael, pushed into declaring a republic by a coalition partner, gave him the job.

Sinn Féin may be creating a network of publicly-funded Irish-medium schools in order to banish the Catholic Church from the education, first of the Green side in the Six Counties, and then of almost everyone in the Twenty-Six.

But at least as sterling, in its way, was the work done for the language by the late Reverend Dr Eric Culbertson, country parson in County Tyrone, Honorary Clerical Vicar Choral of Armagh Cathedral (not the Catholic one), Deputy Grand Chaplain of the Orange Order, member of the Council of the Evangelical Protestant Society, and outspoken critic of the Good Friday and Saint Andrews Agreements. He stood in a long, long line.

Not that Sinn Féin wants an Irish Language Act for that reason. It wants one because thousands of Sinn Féin voters and members would have to employed in order to enforce such a thing. But hey, ho. The normalisation of politics, indeed.

In The Rough

A rough sleeper who was a regular sight outside Westminster Tube station has been found dead there, practically on Parliament's doorstep.

Why is there any other news than that?

Where Is The Daley Lady?

Can you see who is missing from this photograph?


Stale PIE Famine Relief?

I am glad that we are witnessing the ongoing collapse of neoliberal, neoconservative Big Charity. 

That is the the world of Bernard Kouchner and his acceptance of the position of Foreign Minister under Nicolas Sarkozy. That is the world of Brendan Cox and his use of his late wife's Foundation to fund the White Helmets. That is the world that talks of "sex work" and which takes a hazy view of ages of consent, not least because it makes so much money out of abortion.

But none of this would be a story, several years after the events, if Oxfam had not criticised what is now the staggering level of poverty in Britain. I know how these things work.

I have spent more than 20 years, since I was (just) still in my teens and had never seen the Internet, trying to get the story out about Harriet Harman and the Paedophile Information Exchange. I have paid a terrible journalistic and political price for it, but I have no regrets.

Media that always knew about it simply ignored the whole thing, banning me from their websites and what have you, until a period of no more than two weeks when they needed to distract attention from Patrick Rock. Normal service was rapidly resumed, and it has continued ever since.

And now, the plan is advancing to make Harman the next Speaker of the House of Commons. The only outside chance of stopping that is to put the only person who would dare to mention her past, me, into the House of Commons. Please give generously. Very many thanks.

Off The COB

It was in fact Michael Stewart, the Foreign Secretary under Harold Wilson during the escalation of American military action in Vietnam, who was a paid agent of a foreign power. As was Sam Watson, the General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association, in the days when the CIA considered it worth recruiting the holder of that office.

Watson conspired to close pits, he opposed all local strikes, he supported the sacking of his own due-paying members, and he secured for the Durham miners the lowest wages in the country, a situation that was not rectified until the strikes of 1972 and 1974. But there is a room named after him in the Knesset building, which is not the kind of honour that is conferred on a casual acquaintance. So that’s all right, then. Isn’t it?

There is something quite charming about the people who tried to bang on about the IRA and all that, which went on well into the 1990s yet which 40 per cent of the electorate has still either forgotten or never knew about, but who are now trying to bang on about the Cold War, which in that case may as well have happened a million years ago on the Moon. Good luck with that. You are the only people who care, and you were never going to vote for Jeremy Corbyn, anyway.

In seeking to smear Corbyn, The Sun relies on the expertise of the notorious Walter Mitty and fantasist, Anthony Glees. Glees’s only job is running a research centre that is obviously intended to give the impression of connections to, “security, I can say no more.” It is based at an institution that famously exists to confer Professorial rank for media purposes on ageing New Right cranks. I still hold a staff card at what is genuinely Britain’s spookiest university, and I know a fake when I see one.

What a far less hysterical time the Cold War was. Everyone with any sense knew that it was all lies. People who could not see that, including those who imagined that a threat of domestic revolution existed, were a joke even at the time. But we shall come back to them. The Soviet Union had neither the will nor the means to invade Western Europe, never mind the United States. It had no desire whatever for alternative centres of Communist power. It would in any case collapse under the weight of its own contradictions, exactly as and when it did.

Consider quite what Britain was like in those decades without the world’s coming to an end, or the United Kingdom’s constitutional order collapsing, or either party of government’s adopting Marxism-Leninism, or anything like that. The intelligence services were so riddled with Soviet agents from top to bottom that it was a standing joke even among the general public. Such penetration extended even to the Royal Households. As the exposure of two dead Ministers as Czechoslovak agents has demonstrated, it also extended to the very right-wing elements both of the Labour Party (John Stonehouse) and of the Conservative Party (Ray Mawby).

Professing oneself a Communist was always perfectly respectable at the very highest levels of British society, where it was treated as just another aristocratic eccentricity. Wogan Phillips, second Baron Milford, sat as a Communist in the House of Lords for 31 years until his death in 1993: throughout most of the 1960s, and throughout all of the 1970s and the 1980s. He still called himself a Communist even after the party had dissolved itself in 1991. Eric Hobsbawm ended up as a Companion of Honour, unlike either Tony Benn or even Michael Foot, despite the fact that that would have been the obvious gong for both of them. It is notable that, unlike the second Viscount Stansgate, the second Baron Milford never disclaimed his peerage.

In point of fact, the latter’s party was a moderating force, especially over and against sections of the Labour Left, which contained people whose views, Trotskyist and otherwise, were far more extreme. Throughout its history, the Communist Party of Great Britain was avowedly and actively opposed to a violent revolution in this country, holding, as Lenin had done, that its objectives could and should be attained wholly within and through the British constitutional and parliamentary process. By the 1970s, especially, by no means everyone on the Labour Left took that view. Most still did. But by no means all. And Labour had had a problem with Trotskyist infiltration for as long as there had been Trotskyists at all.

The CPGB was full of intelligence agents, but the intelligence agencies were full of Eastern Bloc agents, and so on, and on, and on, and on, and on. We shall never know the extent to which the turning of those wheels within wheels prevented or resolved industrial disputes, precluded those disputes’ escalation, and so on. Certainly, the CPGB was capable of highly fruitful co-operation with the trade union and Labour Right, much of which was very Right indeed and had all the British and American connections to match.

Compare and contrast the successful partnership between Mick McGahey and Joe Gormley in 1972 and 1974 (against a Conservative Prime Minister loathed by the overlapping worlds of MI5, MI6 and his party’s own right wing) with the failure of McGahey and Arthur Scargill in 1984 and 1985. The Communist had wanted to hold a national ballot, and had always remained open to compromise. He had wanted to reintegrate the UDM without rancour once, as he correctly predicted, its patrons had discarded it. He always called Scargill “that young man”, and he declined ever to write his memoirs or to authorise a biography, since “differences must remain within the family,” which said it all.

McGahey used to appear on things like Any Questions. He was as respectable as that. His union, with the closest ties of any to his party at home, and with an unmatched internationalist tradition stretching deep into the Soviet Bloc, effectively controlled around 85 per cent of the nation’s energy supply for many decades. It did not strike at all between 1926 and 1972, or between 1974 and 1984, an extremely unusual approach during those periods even for trade unionists with vastly less, quite literal, power.

The NUM was also a huge voting bloc at Labour Party Conferences, joined by the numerous Constituency Labour Parties that it effectively controlled. It sponsored enough MPs to make a significant difference, considering the normal size of Labour Governments’ majorities, if any, historically. For almost the whole of that period, only MPs had a vote in Leadership Elections. Look at the Leaders elected.

Like those on the mainstream Labour Left Tribune, certain staffers on the Morning Star were and are members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery and Lobby, as their Daily Worker predecessors also were. Such membership required and requires full security clearance to go about the Palace of Westminster, and Lobby membership gives access to twice-daily briefings by the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman. The Daily Worker and then the Morning Star participated in all of that throughout the Cold War, as did Tribune. Did the Realm fall? Well, there you are, then.

Joan Maynard managed to sit not only as a Labour MP but as a member of that party’s National Executive Committee while also, with several other MPs, on the Editorial Advisory Panel of Straight Left, a newspaper and a faction that had been set up because of the feeling that the Communist Party was going soft. In 1979. She served with distinction on the Agriculture Select Committee. Her Straight Left colleague James Lamond was on nothing less than the Public Accounts Committee. For many years, all of them under a Conservative Government and most of them under Margaret Thatcher, he was on the Speaker’s Panel, chairing Standing Committees of the House. Parliament survived.

Pat Wall sat as an MP while probably the single most important Trotskyist thinker in the world at the time. His fellow-Militant Dave Nellist won Spectator Backbencher of the Year. Mildred Gordon was an MP while the widow of a leading American Trotskyist and the wife of Trotsky’s bodyguard, who as her husband presumably held a House of Commons pass.

None of this is to condone any of those positions or factions. For example, the Communist Party could be violently anti-Catholic in the Scottish coalfields. There was also more than a touch of that, motivated in no small part by the Catholic backgrounds of many of the participants, to the activities of the Militant Tendency on Merseyside, and perhaps also in certain parts of London in those days. But all of it does provide some context.

Not least, it provides some context to the most uncritically spook-dependent British Government of all time, which came to power in 1997. That Government was both laden with, and surrounded by, veterans of extreme left-wing organisations. Of course those veterans did whatever the intelligence services told them. They were the intelligence services. Ah, what very different times.

The Marxism Today for which Tony Blair wrote is long gone. He was the only politician at the founding meeting of Demos. But Demos is now chaired by David Goodhart, a stalwart attendee and speaker at Blue Labour events. Formally, the Communist Party became the proto-Blairite Democratic Left, which became the ultra-Blairite New Politics Network, which became Unlock Democracy, which is still there, in a building bought thanks to the largesse of Lenin. Still there, but directed by a Lib Dem.

Unfortunately, however, the spirit of Jimmy Anderson and Major Harry Truscott remains very much a feature of the present age. Not least on the staff of The Sun. Some of them believe that both the Sino-Soviet Split and the fall of the Soviet Union were faked. Many of them believe that the KGB murdered Hugh Gaitskell in order to install Harold Wilson. All of them believe that Wilson was a Soviet agent. They really, truly, honestly believe these things.

They are convinced that Scargill was trying to stage a Red Revolution on the 1917 model, and that Gormley had more or less done so in 1974. It never occurs to them that the Heath Government, which in any case they profess to despise, was “toppled” by nothing other than the votes of the electorate, four years after that same process had installed that Government.

The theory of the Great Red Peril, including The Enemy Within, continues to be propounded, but tellingly by people who for the most part are not employed by academic institutions, and if they are, then only by the kind that would make Anthony Glees a Professor. The same was true of that theory at the time. As it also was, and very largely still is, of the economic theories to which Thatcher, who was as illiterate economically as she was historically and geopolitically, was so attached.

Across the full range of her agenda, the intellectual guiding lights hated the Conservative Party, not least when they were nominally members of it. They had no roots in it; nor had she. Not uncommonly, they had Marxist roots instead. The Conservative Party hated them back, which led it to hate her, until eventually it became the only organisation ever to succeed in getting rid of her. She then spent 15 years a joke figure, and just under another decade as one of those extremely old people who are only waiting for the end.

But even during her Premiership, it was not as if there were no ties to the Soviet Bloc. And on the other side of the Sino-Soviet Split, Thatcher fully deserved her designation by Red Star as “The Peking Plotter”. She never saw a Maoist whom she did not like. She installed Mugabe, having refused any other settlement, and she even arranged a knighthood for him. Then there was Ceaușescu. Then there was Pol Pot. When Nelson Mandela died, her flame-keepers could be heard criticising him and his for their criticism, in turn, of Steve Biko.

We ought to be governed by people who understand all of this.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Libel Watch: Day Five

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

The Mogg, Not The Mug

Ignore Boris Johnson, for whose appointment as Foreign Secretary relations with the EU (as well as International Trade) had to be taken away from the Foreign Office, and who no more voted Leave than Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell or Richard Burgon voted Remain.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, now he voted Leave, all right. Of course I agree with Rees-Mogg on, to use the shorthand, the Catholic moral stuff, just as of course I agree with him about the EU, or at least about the need to withdraw from it. But for precisely those reasons, he will never get enough parliamentary support to make it onto the ballot for Leader of the Conservative Party.

I find his rise a fascinating phenomenon. But the Conservatives do not have Labour's sentimental side, so they will not put someone on the ballot in order to be nice, or to please the members in the country. Especially after the Labour one like that went and won. Still, Rees-Moggery is a telling feature of a political age in which at least some of the old rules simply no longer apply, even if those ones certainly do.

Rees-Mogg is not really a sound paleocon on foreign policy, so far as I can tell. He did not vote against the wars in Libya and Syria, and he seems to be very anti-Russian and all that. I do not get his friendship with Jess Phillips, either. But his appeal to the young is preparing the ground for a generation of more traditional Tories in terms of more than dress sense, vitally important though that is.

What Rees-Mogg most definitely is not, is anything to gladden the heart of Peter Hitchens. If you want opposition to crony capitalism, support for economic protection, repudiation of Thatcherism, renationalisation of the railways and the utilities, cancellation of Trident, derision of anti-Russian hysteria, rejection of neoconservative wars, and defence of civil liberties, then the potential Prime Minister is elsewhere.

Meanwhile, ignore Boris Johnson.

Yellow Lines, Red Lines

I do not know how I had never thought of this before. There should only ever be double yellow lines on one side of a street, with free parking on the other. You know what you have to do, brothers and sisters. You know what you have to do.

The man who put me onto this is the Henig-sceptic's Henig-sceptic. See if you can guess his name from the following, receipt of which has been acknowledged by the Chief Executive of Durham County Council, terry.collins@durham.gov.uk:

Dear Mr Collins,

Please advise such persons as it may concern that I myself have been advised by ... to issue counter-summonses against them for false and malicious allegations, for victimisation, for conspiracy, for professional negligence, and for libel. I trust that that will not be necessary. Very many thanks.

Yours sincerely,

David Lindsay

But anyway, yes, there should only ever be double yellow lines on one side of a street, with free parking on the other. You know what you have to do, brothers and sisters. You know what you have to do.
 

Hearts and Flowers

Not all roses are red. And violets are violet. So there. 

The Flower-Crowned Skull of St Valentine may be venerated at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, in Rome. 

Far more edifying than anything else today, as I am sure that we can all agree. 

Ora pro nobis.


Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Libel Watch: Day Four

The Leader of Durham County Council, Simon Henig, was so afraid that I was going to be elected to that authority, that he faked a death threat against himself and dozens of other Councillors.

Despite the complete lack of evidence, that matter is still being pursued by the Crown Prosecution Service as part of the attempt by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Alison Saunders, to secure a Labour seat in one or other House of Parliament.

If I am wrong, then let Henig and Saunders sue me. Until they do, then this post will appear here every day that the post is delivered.

The Circle of Life



Seen from the peak of Tow Law this coming July, and with the unmistakable voice of Sir Elton John in the background, the shaman Ben Sellers, watched by the proud parents, presents to the Pride Lands of North West Durham the newborn heir of Laura Pidcock and Daniel Kebede. Hakuna matata.

In all seriousness, I am one of very few people in this constituency to have known Laura and Daniel since before Laura became the Labour candidate here. I wish both of them and their unborn child all the happiness in the world. My differences with Laura are political.

And here's another one. In point of fact, however pro-EU the Labour Party membership may be, it is above all pro-Corbyn. Were a ballot of the kind suggested here to be held, then the members would give the Leader whatever he had said that he needed, and that certainly would not be opposition to Brexit, or even to withdrawal from the Single Market and the Customs Union.

But Laura says that, despite her own pretty thoroughgoing left-wing Euroscepticism (Daniel, meanwhile, campaigned vigorously for Leave), she would oppose Brexit if the members of the Labour Party voted against it. I would not, and not only because I am not a member of the Labour Party.

I would have been in favour of withdrawal from the EU regardless of the outcome of the referendum, and regardless of whether or not there had ever been one. My reasons for that are the same as the reasons why I am opposed to the Government's legislation on the subject, which constitutes an Executive power grab such as Tony Benn would have fought tooth and nail.

Laura speaks of "the sovereignty of the membership". But, while extraparliamentary action is essential in bringing issues to Parliament's attention and then in keeping them there, and while MPs who failed to address those needs must be removed either by their wider electorates or by their local parties, that is precisely because the only ultimate means to the economic and political ends that Laura and I share is the sovereignty of Parliament.

You know what you have to do, brothers and sisters. You know what you have to do.

Boarding Pass To The Sky

Who would be the three members of the Editorial Board of Sky News? The channel already gives the only regular broadcast gig to Kevin Maguire, a man of undeniable “senior editorial and/or journalistic experience”. What would be the comeback from the BBC or The Guardian to that appointment? There would not and could not be one.

Bested By The Beast

"That wouldn’t be the same Dennis Skinner who pledged he’d retire from the Commons at the same age as a Derbyshire miner? Are there any 86 year old miners out there?"

So tweeted someone called Simon Hoare in celebration of the Great Man's recent birthday. He and Skinner should walk around Hoare's constituency of North Dorset and see which of them more people recognised.

There have of course been no working miners in the ordinary sense since, with the able assistance of the Kinnocks, Hoare's party closed all the pits. But as a Member of Parliament sponsored by the NUM, Skinner is still carrying out one of the traditional jobs of a pitman.

So yes, there is still at least one 86-year-old miner out there.

Some Good Hope After All

I hold out no hope for the coming Presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa, the Butcher of Marikana. But the fact that the removal of Jacob Zuma is at last under way, without a tank on the streets, is proof that, for all the economic failures since the turn to neoliberalism in the post-Mandela era, South Africa's constitutional democracy remains robust.

It is now a matter of record that until as recently as 1990, the United Kingdom had a Prime Minister who bestrode the world stage agitating for an all-white state in South Africa, and who bizarrely believed that there had been one until 1910. There is now a statue of Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square. But there will never be one of her. Nor should there be.

Content and Discontent

Just as, if there is software that can require age verification for pornographic websites, so there is software that can simply block those websites altogether. And just as, if there is software that can block "extremist" content as defined by Amber Rudd, so there is software that can block pornographic content as defined even by its own makers.

Common Miconceptions

You thought that the British monarch was automatically the Head of the Commonwealth, didn't you? Most people do. And of course the two offices will continue to be held by the same person, for the same reason that Britain will continue to have a monarchy: no one can agree on anything better.

The only purpose of the Commonwealth is to hold the Commonwealth Games. There is nothing wrong with that, of course. But there is nothing more to it than that, either. You do not ever have to have been part of the British Empire in order to be in it. You do not in principle have to be in it in order to have the Queen as Head of State. Wars between its members, even with the Queen as Head of State on both sides, are far from unheard of. It has never been a single trading bloc.

As for "the Anglosphere", let's not even get started. Purportedly Tory Anglospherists should consider very carefully that by far the hardest place to sell the idea would be Canada. In India, the culturally Anglophile Indian elite of the immediate post-independence decades was never representative, and it is now a thing of the past.

In any case, consider well over a hundred years' worth of anti-British protectionist politicians on the monarchist Australian Right (legendarily the hardest people with whom British Ministers ever have to negotiate) at least as much as on the Left. Or consider the Canadians, who banned the acceptance of British peerages and honours in 1919, who enforced that against Conrad Black in 2001 and thus required him to relinquish his native Canadian citizenship, and who waited a full week after Britain had done so before declaring war on Germany in 1939. Next to those, Narendra Modi is a positively obsequious colonial satrap.

The New Right used to despise the Commonwealth. Powellites had principled objections, while Thatcherites regarded it as a nest of those who failed to show due deference to the Great She-Elephant. One shudders to think what Powell would have made of "the Anglosphere".

Rough Figures

23,000 properties in Britain are owned by 11,700 companies registered in the British Virgin Islands. Meanwhile, in the last couple of weeks, rough sleepers have been found dead on the streets of Leicester, Bournemouth, Bristol, Leeds, Colchester and Sheffield, and there are plans afoot to fine rough sleepers £100 for lying on the streets in the winter.

Feasting On The Carcass

Again.

There is nothing quite like the accountancy racket as New Labour set it up.

For it was Patricia Hewitt who told speakers at Labour Conferences, "Do not use the word "equality"; the preferred term is "fairness"." She it was, a mere Press Officer, who, in a sign of things to come, was not told where to get off for having presumed so to instruct her betters.

She went on to help found the Institute for Public Policy Research, and then, soon after Tony Blair became Leader, to become Head of Research at Andersen Consulting.

That was a position for which she had no apparent qualification beyond her closeness to the Prime Minister in Waiting. In 1997, she entered Parliament, he entered Downing Street, and the Labour commitment to regulate such companies was dropped.

As was the previous Conservative Government's absolute ban on all work for Andersen in view of its role in the DeLorean fraud. Andersen paid just over £21 million of the £200 million that Thatcher and Major had demanded, barely covering the Government's legal costs.

It went on to write, among other things, a report claiming that the Private Finance Initiative was good value for money. That was the only report on the subject that the Blair Government ever cited, since it was the only one to say that ridiculous thing.

As Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Hewitt tried to give auditors limited liability. It took the Conservative Opposition and the Bush Administration to see her off.

But the Conservatives are New Labour now, even in these very last days of it all. Clearly, there is still plenty of carcass left on which to feast before the bitter, bitter end.

The High Tory Journal: What Is Conservatism?

Aren Pym writes:

As a classical conservative, I am often burdened by questions of people who are not educated in the distinction between neo-liberalism, classical liberalism, libertarianism, and other individualist ideologies that come under the umbrella of "conservatism" in the United States of America and the Conservative Party of the United Kingdom, and what I believe to be true conservatism, the ideology that was founded by Edmund Burke in the 18th century that is designed to uphold the often demonised pillars of society such as rule of law, family, hierarchy, and most of all tradition. Edmund Burke's philosophy was created in reaction against the enlightenment and the French Revolution, and Burke predicted the disaster the French Revolution would become.

The Differences of Libertarianism and Conservatism.

Libertarianism and Conservatism have links but also many major differences. The political battle before the invention of socialism was between the Whigs, the libertarian party of completely unregulated trade and civil liberties, and the Tories, the party that promoted traditionalism, monarchy and a hierarchical and ordered society. Hence why to a conservative such as myself, the fact that people confuse libertarianism and conservatism so frequently is completely inadequate. Libertarians believe that the freedoms of enterprise should override morality, whereas conservatives, while we also believe in lower levels of restriction on markets, believe that there should be laws around trade to stop free markets overriding morality.

Libertarians are progressive on social issues, for example most libertarians believing it authoritarian to regulate abortion and that the individual should have the decision. Another key difference is that conservatives are inherently in favour of the family, whereas libertarians believe in a market-led society that encourages people to spend their time and effort into their career rather than into starting a family. Libertarians are found on all wings of the political spectrum, depending on their economic views whilst conservatives are exclusively to the right-wing of politics.

Unfortunately, most British "conservative" prime ministers have followed the doctrine of libertarianism much more than the doctrine of conservatism in recent years, particularly since Thatcher. However, there is an active wing of the party with growing popularity led by Members of Parliament such as Jacob Rees-Mogg and in the past members such as Enoch Powell and Peter Tapsell, who are believers in the traditionalist conservatism of Burke rather than the neo-liberalism promoted by almost all conservative leaders post-Thatcher.

Does High Toryism have high hopes for the future?

High toryism, although an old fashioned ideology is certainly growing in popularity, even amongst the youth. The discontent with the European Union and growing patriotic sentiment to do with immigration and our soverignty as a nation has certainly correlations with high toryism and traditional conservatism. Backbench M.P Jacob Rees-Mogg was essentially made famous by his contribution to brexit and as one of the conservative figures who has stood in favour of brexit, hence his growing popularity amongst the members of the conservative party, topping inner party polls to become the next leader of the party.

If a traditional conservative has won favour over the membership of a party that has for years drifted towards modern conservatism and neoliberalism, then yes there is certainly a hope for traditional conservative views in the United Kingdom and other European countries.

I was going to write that this post was astonishingly good for Aren’s age. But the truth is that it is just astonishingly good. Welcome to the blogosphere, Aren. You are going to be a very important voice in this Postliberal Age.

As Professor John Milbank wrote in his commendation of one of my books, “Before Red Tory and Blue Labour there was David Lindsay. He was arguably the first to announce a postliberal politics of paradox, and to delve into the deep, unwritten British past in order to craft, theoretically, an alternative British and international future. It is high time that the singular and yet wholly pertinent writings of this County Durham Catholic Labour prophet receive a wider circulation.” And now, the next generation is emerging. That gives me great satisfaction. Very great satisfaction, indeed.

Ah, Sir Peter Tapsell. A Keynesian and pro-Commonwealth opponent of the Eurofederalist project from the very start, he consistently opposed the neoconservative wars all the way back to Kosovo, and he called for a return to the division between retail banking and investment banking. In their seasons he identified the money markets, the media moguls and the intelligence agencies as the heirs of the nabobs and of the Whig magnates whom past generations of Tories had made it their defining cause to cut down to size and to subject to the sovereignty of Parliament. A worthy tradition, indeed.

Enoch Powell’s best ever line was when Margaret Thatcher said that she had been influenced by his books. He replied that, “She cannot have understood them, then.” He was wrong about immigration, at the time. Wrong about economics, although his followers were and are much worse than he was. Wrong in his inability to see that the implementation of his economic views was impossible without the huge-scale importation of people as much as of anything else, as part of that system’s overall corrosion of everything that conservatives exist in order to conserve

Wrong to scorn the Commonwealth. Wrong in the bitterness of his anti-Americanism. Wrong to support easier divorce. And wrong to give aid and succour to the Monday Club, although he never joined it, when it was supporting the Boer Republic set up as an explicit act of anti-British revenge in a former Dominion of the Crown (a move fiercely opposed by Nelson Mandela and the ANC, for all their other faults), and that Republic’s satellite, which first committed treason against Her Majesty and then very rapidly purported to depose her, removing the Union Flag from its own, something that even the Boer Republic never did.

But Powell was also right. Right to line up with Tony Benn and against Margaret Thatcher on Europe. Right to oppose both capital punishment and nuclear weapons, the two ultimate expressions of statism as idolatry, on which latter he again correctly sided with Benn against Thatcher, and on both of which he in fact shared the views of many High Tories. Right to use the full panoply of central government planning to make significant additions to the National Health Service, and always to remain a stalwart defender of it.

Right to oppose the subordination of our foreign policy to a foreign power. Right to denounce the atrocities at Hola. Right to support Britain’s nonintervention in Vietnam. Right to oppose the first Gulf War, which we fought as if buying oil from Saddam Hussein would somehow have been worse than buying it from the al-Sabahs (or the al-Sauds). Right to reprimand Thatcher that “A Tory believes that there is no such thing as an individual who exists without society,” pointedly referring to Tories, an age-old culture or series of subcultures, rather than to the Conservative Party, a late and strictly conditional vehicle for Toryism.

Right to oppose abortion, and experimentation on embryonic human beings, unlike Thatcher in either case. Right to support the decriminalisation of male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. Right to predict that the Soviet Union would collapse anyway, and to see Russia as our natural ally. And right to fight against grotesque erosions of our liberties, such as reversals of the burden of proof in certain cases. His present-day admirers and detractors alike should learn the lessons.

As to Burke himself, the Independent Labour Party was said to include “even a variety of Burkean conservatism”. Like almost anything by Wilberforce, Shaftesbury, Disraeli, Chesterton, Belloc, or any Pope since 1891, almost anything by Burke would be screamed down in the Conservative Party that Thatcher has bequeathed, never mind in UKIP.

It is Burkean, not to support, but to oppose, the ruinous reduction in provincial disposable incomes by the abolition of National Pay Agreements. It is Burkean, not to support, but to oppose, the further deregulation of Sunday trading. It is Burkean, not to support, but to oppose, the replacement of Her Majesty’s Constabulary with the National Crime Agency.

It is Burkean, not to support, but to oppose, the devastation of rural communities by the allowing of foreign companies and even foreign states to buy up our postal service and our roads. It is Burkean, not to support, but to oppose, and to seek to reverse, the privatisation of the Royal Mail, which has severed the monarchy’s direct link to every address in this Kingdom. And it is Burkean, not to support, but to oppose, the disenfranchisement of organic communities by means of parliamentary boundaries designed by and for “sophists, economists and calculators”.

Of course, you would get none of that from Jacob Rees-Mogg. Quite the reverse, in fact. Tapsell, Powell or Burke would have made mincemeat of him. But in any case, Rees-Mogg would never secure the parliamentary support to make it onto that most improbable of things, a ballot for Leader of the Conservative Party. Ann Widdecombe was supposed to have been the next Leader once, and look where she is now.