Daniel Hannan: ‘How We Invented Freedom & Why It Matters’

Published by ConservativeHome

Dan Hannan 3Daniel Hannan “bestrides the Atlantic like a majestic combination of Winston Churchill and Piers Morgan,” says Boris Johnson on the dust jacket of this book. The precise form of that disquieting chimera troubled my mind as I began to read the Introduction. But because Boris is an astute appraiser, judicious classicist and discerning patron, I settled down to what he promises will be a feast of anthropological scrutiny, philosophical insight, political polemic and epigrammatic anecdote.

And that is exactly what you get – a narrative survey of a thousand years of evolving liberty expressed in page after page of clear-headed contemplation and premium prose. Hannan’s essential research question is: ‘What made the Anglosphere miracle possible?’, and the answer, in short, is to be found in the peculiarly English conception of liberty which incrementally defined an island nation, helped shape an empire and still interrogates the world. We obviously weren’t the first to free captives: that dispensation is found throughout classical antiquity. But the English and then the British were foremost in the conceptualisation of the principles of self-determination – individual rights, private property and personal liberty – which led inter alia to the common law, jury trials, religious pluralism, representative democracy, free markets, the rule of law and the abolition of slavery. Continue reading

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Chosen and Anointed by God – the 60th Anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation

Published by Daily Mail

Queen Coronation 1953On 2nd June 1953, the Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher crowned Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ceylon, Pakistan and sundry other realms and distant territories. She was anointed on King Edward’s Chair in Westminster Abbey, where a thousand years of monarchs have sworn their oaths to God and made promises to their peoples. The Prime Minister was Winston Churchill. Continue reading

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Music, Hymns, Poetry and Scripture – the solemn majesty of Lady Thatcher’s funeral

Published by ConservativeHome

Lady Thatcher St Mary Undercroft 2

The chimes of Big Ben did not strike 10am. For three whole hours they were silenced in reverence, as London paused and the flags of England bowed. Draped in the red, white and blue of the country she loved, the coffin carrying the body of the late Margaret Thatcher made its way out of the Crypt of St Mary Undercroft, past the statue of Richard Coeur de Lion, the kingly symbol of England’s enduring Christian faith; and then past Cromwell, sword in one hand and Bible in the other, forever reminding us that the people are sovereign, Parliament is supreme, and God makes the law. And then she passed by Churchill, the last prime minister to defend these islands against invasion and the indignity of surrender to a foreign power.

Emmeline Pankhurst looked on, smiling at the fulfilment of her revolution. Nelson and the proud lions of Trafalgar joined in the homage – with spontaneous applause from the thousands who lined the streets to honour the longest-serving prime minister of the 20th century. She was, by popular consent, the greatest of our post-war leaders: after Churchill, the most remarkable and heroic of this second Elizabethan age. An intimate service in a Grantham chapel would have left the world asking: “What ceremony else?” So, black horses, a 1.5 ton gun carriage, cathedral bells, the insignia of the Armed Forces and the Queen herself all joined together in tribute to The Lady. Anything less would have shamed the nation. Continue reading

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The Coalition rides roughshod over the Constitution

Published by Daily Mail

Queen coronationI have for many years opposed amending the Act of Settlement 1701, in particular those historic clauses which refer to the Protestant Settlement between the people, the Monarchy and the Established Church. I understand, to some, that this puts me in the ‘extremist bigot’ category, somewhere above Enoch Powell but still a little way beneath the Rev’d Dr Ian Paisley. That was the view taken by the Catholic Herald back in 2005, when they demanded that Michael Howard dismiss me as a Conservative parliamentary candidate over articles I had written on the matter for The Spectator two years earlier (which had been evaluated by the Chief Whip, no less). But there was no reasoning with the ‘something-of-the-night’ autocrat. Thankfully, more mature minds (like Charles Moore, William Rees-Mogg, Ann Widdecombe and Boris Johnson) fully understood my concerns, which were based on theological knowledge and constitutional history rather than any irrational prejudice or ‘bigotry’. Continue reading

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Guy Fawkes’ Night is a perpetual celebration of liberty over tyranny

Published by Daily Mail

Parliament burningI don’t know David Cameron very well: I’ve met him on four or five occasions, the most interesting of which was sitting next to him at a dinner a few years ago, during which we discussed some serious issues relating to education and a few more weighty matters of political philosophy. On education, he appeared to agree with everything I said. On philosophy, he appeared to agree with everything I said. His mission seemed to be to nod and smile benignly; to appear pleasant, intuitive and empathetic.

I know Dominic Grieve rather better, having met him dozens of times since he entered Parliament (he’s my MP) and having been his association deputy chairman in Beaconsfield. He is also pleasant and articulate, though more cerebral than intuitive, and more intellectually incisive than reassuringly empathetic. Continue reading

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Douglas Carswell: ‘The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy’

Published by Daily Mail

Douglas Carswell referendum5If Douglas Carswell had been born 400 years ago, he’d have been burned at the stake. There’s a touch of superstitious wizardry about his unnerving prophecy heralding the end of politics, and a fin de siècle inevitability about his sceptical doom and gloom. His problem is that he’s a Roundhead in a party of Cavaliers; a radical Whig in a sea of resolute Tories. He’s not just an irritating nonconformist; he’s a theo-political heretic. And we all know what happens to them.

But before they meet their grisly end, they tend to preach subversive sermons and write revolutionary tracts in the hope of winning a few souls to salvation. Carswell’s fiery homilies eventually brought down Speaker Martin – the first to be ejected from the Chair of the House of Commons since Sir John Trevor was forced to resign in 1695. Carswell now blogs profusely and incisively about how the oligarchical elite feed like parasites on the people, and how a corrupt and compromised Parliament is incapable of holding the Executive to account. ‘The End of Politics and the birth of iDemocracy’ is an analysis of the murky political morass into which we’ve sunk, and an observation of the emerging technological solutions. Continue reading

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The Colorado shooting is a Groundhog Day tragedy

Published by Daily Mail

Aurora Colorado vigilIt was a casual midnight massacre in a cinema during a screening the new Batman movie ‘The Dark Knight Rises’. And now, just as with every passing mention of Pearl Harbour, Dunblane, or September 11th , this film will most likely be forever synonymous with the tragedy.

Clad in gas mask, ballistics helmet and body armour, the audience thought the shadowy figure was part of the theatre experience, until he released gas-emitting devices and opened fire. But the story is a familiar one: a lone and unsuspected gunman enters a building and fires indiscriminately, targeting whatever moves – men, women and children, this time including a six-year-old girl.

And so the United States of America is (once again) in mourning. The number of dead and injured makes this incident the largest mass shooting in modern US history: Aurora, Colorado, 2012 (70 victims) now follows Fort Hood, Texas, 2009 (37), which followed Northern Illinois University, 2008 (21), which followed Virginia Tech University, 2007 (59), which followed Columbine High School, 1999 (39), which followed Springfield, Oregon, 1998 (25), which followed Killeen, Texas, 1991 (45), which followed Jacksonville, Florida, 1990 (14)… Continue reading

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George Soros warns of Germanic eurozone Reich

Published by Daily Mail

george sorosHe didn’t use the word ‘Reich’, of course: he’d be sensitive to shadowy historical undertones and averse to Godwin’s tendencies. But by warning that Germany risks being the centre of an ‘empire’ that ‘caused the collapse of the eurozone’, he certainly raises the spectre of a Fourth Reich, doubtless to the delight of those who have long believed that the ECSC/EEC/EC/EU is just a German racket to achieve by incremental treaties what they could not accomplish with bombs and bullets.

Soros warnt vor deutschem Weltreich’, read headlines in the German press. According to the multi-billionaire financier, the Reich re-emerges as the mechanism for effecting German foreign and economic policy: it is the kingdom or realm for the realisation of the dreams of kaisers long gone and chancellors not so long gone. Continue reading

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Enoch at 100: a re-evaluation of the life, politics and philosophy of Enoch Powell

Published by Daily Mail

Enoch at 100The very mention of the name of Enoch Powell still divides the firmaments. There is no nuanced via media of opinion on the man: either you love him as the rightest of minds, or loathe him as a deranged bigot. Either he was a prophet of God and enlightened philosopher, or the spawn of Satan and reactionary extremist. For many –  if not most – his premature demise was the salvation of the Queen’s multicultural peace. For others – the undoubted minority – it was the greatest philosophical injustice since the execution of Socrates.

John Enoch Powell was born 100 years ago this year, and this collection of commemorative essays, speeches (in their entirety) and poems (some quite touching) is edited by Lord Howard of Rising with a Foreword by Iain Duncan Smith. It is published by Biteback and will set you back £25. Continue reading

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Everything but the inspiration

Published by The Spectator

Melvyn Bragg

Whenever the BBC broadcast a major national celebration or royal event, they wheel out a Dimbleby to maintain the hereditary principle. If they want a probing political interview, they sacrifice the victim to the snarls of Paxman or the claws of Humphries. If they want election night gravitas, up pops the psephologically effervescent Peter Snow. They are all Auntie’s heavy hitters; sans pareil when it comes to pomp, circumstance, inquisition and exposition.

The Corporation has never really nurtured a broadcasting aristocracy for the arts and culture. So perhaps it comes as no surprise that they poached Baron Bragg of Wigton (aka Melvyn) from ITV to present their flagship documentary to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. Maybe “poached” is unfair: ITV ditched his South Bank Show a couple of years ago, since which time he’s been available for hire. To many, he is the doyen of high-arts-fused-with-popular-culture broadcasting, so you might expect a state-broadcast flagship documentary about the inspired Authorised Version by the enthused Melvyn Bragg to be, well … inspired and enthused. Continue reading

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