Historic, patriotic, intoxicating, mesmerising: “Team GB’s heroic success seems to have re-awoken in us our sense of national pride,” wrote Sir Roger Bannister, the first man ever to run a mile in under four minutes, “a realisation perhaps that, as a people, we have the ability, the drive and the determination to be great.”
Sir Roger is one of Britain’s greatest sporting legends, into which pantheon can now be added the likes of Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy – people whose achievements are not merely exceptional, but truly and monumentally great. And that greatness is measured not only in the extent to which a triumph or victory enters the national consciousness – which is ephemeral – but also in proportion to its longevity in the league tables of history: to surpass is admirable, but to pioneer is unique and non-replicable. There is only one who can be the first. Continue reading →
Only the chosen ever attain the level of fame or notoriety which propels them to first-name familiarity with the wider public. I’m not taking about the manufactured pap of celebrity pop – those who are thrust onto the world stage all carefully processed and packaged, like Rihanna, Beyonce and Bjork (though with a surname like Buomundsdottir, I can understand why she dropped it). No, I’m talking about those whose mononymous identity emerges organically, as recognised by the people. In antiquity, one thinks of names like Galileo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Dante and Raphael, not to mention Jesus and Mohammed. In modern times, there’s Cliff, Oprah, Vangelis, Diana…
How many politicians rise to such dizzy heights of popularity that the whole country knows them by their first name? Of course, you get ‘Call me Dave’ (Cameron) contempt, or ‘Gideon’ (Osborne) scorn. But mention the name of Boris and eyes dilate with visions of huggable amiability: people glow inwardly at the mere thought of his aura; they are endeared to his eccentricity. Continue reading →
Day by day, minute by minute, speech by speech and word by word, the United Kingdom Independence Party looks and sounds increasingly like the Conservative Party in exile – on the economy, law and order, education, defence, patriotism, Christianity, immigration, over-regulation, tax reduction, and their support for private enterprise, traditional marriage and the family, and (of course) the thorny question of the European Union. There is no longer any credible assertion that UKIP is a ‘single-issue’ protest party or pressure group.
And now, just as we have our long-held suspicions confirmed that the Foreign Office is essentially Arabist and ever so subtly anti-Israel, with government officials outrageously asserting that Benjamin Netanyahu uses ‘the incitement issue as a delaying tactic in peace talks’, we hear that Nigel Farage is confronting the ‘strong bias’ against Israel that exists within the European Union. Continue reading →
He 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 →
Any right-minded person will be robustly in favour of the Government’s measures to reduce illegal immigration. Our resources are stretched, community cohesion is fraught, and our infrastructure is creaking, especially in the south-east. Some of the Government’s policies are frustratingly measured and incrementally tedious, but any workable policy which can help stem the tide of the thousands of foreign murderers, rapists and thieves who freely walk our streets is to be welcomed, especially if it can eradicate the formulaic appeals to ‘human rights’, and specifically those to the ‘right to a family life’.
Parliament is, of course, no longer entirely sovereign in these matters, and cannot be as long as there is cross-party consensus on the infinite beneficence of the European Convention on Human Rights, and blind obeisance to the activist judges who meet in conclave to dispense their infallible judgments as though they were discerning and developing sacred writ. Continue reading →
Kenneth Clarke has held almost every senior Office of State. He has been Health Secretary, Education Secretary, Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer. He is presently Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice.
You’d think, with all this experience, that his political antennae would be finely attuned to the will of the demos. But decades of cigars and scotch in smoky jazz clubs seem to have dulled his judgment. Either that, or he never had any – at least where ‘Europe’ is concerned.
According to a ConservativeHome/Channel 4 poll, 83 per cent of Conservative Party members want in In/Out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. This doesn’t, of course, tell us anything about the likely replicability in the wider country: the validity and reliability of the ConHome/C4 data is questionable, not least because participants are not randomly selected and respondents tend to be those who favour change from the status quo. Continue reading →
It was exactly 20 years ago in 1992 that Europe’s élite were tortuously negotiating the Maastricht Treaty, which paved the way for Europe’s single currency. Germany’s Chancellor Kohl was telling us about the importance of building the House of Europe, explaining that if there was no monetary union there would be no political union (and vice versa). President François Mitterrand of France was more than happy to sacrifice le franc for his plus grand projet. Belgian Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehaene assured us that monetary union was the motor of European integration. And President of the European Commission Jacques Delors was busy turning the ERM into EMU and founding the ECB to impose binding budgetary rules upon all Member States. When the currency was named the ‘euro’, it was Spain’s finance minister Pedro Solbes who proclaimed: “Thou art Euro, and on this Euro I will build Europe,” as though the gates of Anglo-Saxon Hades could not prevail against it. Continue reading →