I don’t recall exactly when I first met David Cameron, but it must have been in Oxford in 1985 shortly after the beginning of Michaelmas term. I was a third year at Brasenose studying PPE and he was a first year, also doing PPE.
I remember him being friendly and down to earth and canny enough to keep his political views to himself. At the time, Brasenose was dominated by a group calling itself the ‘left caucus’ and while it wasn’t social suicide to be identified as a Tory, it was a bit infra dig. After Cameron twigged that we were both ‘in the closet’, so to speak, he confessed to me that he was a Thatcherite. ‘Dry as dust,’ he whispered. (To read more, click here.)
The Liberal Democrats’ new Brexit policy is quite audacious, to put it mildly. At the party conference last weekend, Jo Swinson, the new Lib Dem leader, announced that she wasn’t going to campaign for a second referendum any more. What would be the point, when she’s already said she’d ignore the result if it was the same as last time? No, from now on the official party policy is to simply revoke Article 50. That is, disregard the outcome of the largest democratic contest this country has ever witnessed and tell the European Union that we’ve decided to stay after all.
You’ve got to admire Swinson’s Chutzpah. She actually called for an in-out EU referendum in the House of Commons in 2008 – official Lib Dem policy at the time. Having been granted her wish, she now refuses to be bound by the outcome and, instead, wants to carry on as if her side had won. As a father of four, I’ve witnessed this kind of behaviour many times. There’s only one chocolate Hob Nob left, so the two younger boys – Freddie and Charlie – decide to toss for it. Charlie calls tails, the outcome is heads, but instead of graciously letting Freddie have the biscuit, Charlie grabs it, bolts out of the kitchen, locks himself in the loo and stuffs it down his throat. But I never thought I’d see this behaviour from the leader of one of the three main political parties. Charlie is 11. Jo Swinson is 39. (To read more, click here.)
I think my colleagues on the pro-Brexit side of the aisle have been a little unkind in their response to John Bercow’s announcement that he’ll be standing down as chief referee in the House of Commons. Yes, he’s clearly done everything in his power to make life as difficult as possible for those MPs who want to implement the result of the 2016 referendum. Yes, his attitude to parliamentary precedent has been completely inconsistent, citing obscure, supposedly binding conventions to obstruct Brexiters one minute, then casually disregarding longstanding constitutional conventions the next. And, yes, the language he uses to express his contempt for any Conservative MP who so much as grimaces at one of his nakedly partisan rulings is unparliamentary, to put it mildly. ‘I couldn’t give a flying flamingo,’ etc.
But all of this is to overlook the vital public service Bercow has performed. Not as Speaker, obviously, but as the living embodiment of Short Man Syndrome. I’m on the small side myself and am constantly at risk of developing a Napoleon complex. When asked how tall I am, I tell people I’m ‘five-foot-eight-and-a-half’ — and that ‘and-a-half’ tells you everything you need to know about how insecure I am. Someone only has to challenge my authority — my kids refusing to go to bed, for instance — and my first thought is that I’m not being taken seriously because of my height. Even if a car refuses to stop at a zebra crossing, I attribute it to my size. But to prevent myself flying into an indignant rage, all I need do is conjure up a picture of the Member of Parliament for Buckingham, spluttering with self-righteous anger like some red-faced, angry dwarf. Once I can see Bercow in my mind’s eye, I know that if I do take umbrage I will just come across as some ridiculous, shouty little twerp. (To read more, click here.)
I didn’t think the smug triumphalism of the Remainer Alliance could get any more nauseating, but this afternoon it did. I’m thinking of John Bercow’s announcement that he’s stepping down as Speaker of the House of Commons and the 90+ minutes of sycophantic tributes from all those MPs who think the electorate made a grave mistake in voting to leave the European Union.
Honestly, the Conservatives should produce a highlight reel and release it as a Party Political Broadcast during the next General Election campaign. Here was the political class in Westminster at its worst – lavishing praise on the Speaker because they’re so appreciative of his efforts to obstruct the will of the British people. (To read more, click here.)
Historically, the private sector has been conservative with a small “c”, acting as a counter-weight to the dominance of progressive ideology in the public sector. But in the past 10 years most large corporations have embraced the full panoply of virtue-signalling mumbo jumbo, from “safe spaces” to “gender neutral” toilets.
At Credit Suisse, they’ve even introduced a “reverse mentoring” programme whereby fresh-faced recruits take senior executives under their wing and teach them how to be better “allies” to their BIPOC and LGBTQ+ colleagues. (To read more, click here.)
Maria Caulfield, the local MP, describes it as “political correctness gone mad” and it’s hard to disagree. The Priory School, a co-ed comprehensive in Lewes, turned children away at the school gate earlier this week because they weren’t wearing the new “gender neutral” uniform.
Teenage girls turned up in skirts instead of the regulation grey trousers and the school’s headteacher had to enlist two community police officers to prevent them going to lessons. This may be the first time a school has called in the authorities to enforce non-attendance.
The school justified its new policy by claiming the new uniform will “address inequality”. You might think it would be simpler to keep separate boys’ and girls’ uniforms and allow the children to wear whichever one they feel most comfortable in. That’s the approach taken by some schools. But apparently that wasn’t sufficiently egalitarian for the Priory.
Not all the pupils share this ultra-liberal zeal. A petition started by a year 11 student objecting to the new policy has attracted 386 signatures. Female students protesting outside the school held up banners that read “choice” and several boys turned up wearing skirts to express their solidarity. Or perhaps just to have a laugh. (To read more, click here.)
The politicians trying to stop Brexit held a rally outside Parliament last night. Calling themselves ‘the Remain Alliance’ and demanding a ‘People’s Vote’, they claimed to be standing up for ‘democracy’ against the ‘unelected Prime Minister’ whom they accused of carrying out a ‘coup’. They included Jo Swinson, Ian Blackford, Caroline Lucas, Emily Thornberry, Dominic Grieve, Jess Phillips, Phillip Lee, Liz Saville Roberts and Diane Abbott.
Incredibly, nearly all of these MPs then trooped back into the House of Commons to vote against Boris’s call for a General Election. Yes, you read that correctly. They passionately denounced Boris for being unelected and then, without pausing for breath, blocked his attempt to hold an election. They pleaded for a ballot in which the British public can once again say whether they want to leave or remain in the EU, and then stopped one from taking place.
Welcome to the looking glass world of the Remainers in which the Conservative leader seeking the consent of the British people before taking us out of the EU is a ‘tinpot dictator’ and the Labour leader who’s been demanding an election on a daily basis for the last two years, but who’s changed his mind at the last minute because he knows the British people don’t support his position on Brexit, is a courageous man of principle who’s defending democracy. (To read more, click here.)