The BBC’s flagship news and current affairs programme wasn’t in any doubt about who to blame for America’s latest bout of mass shootings. Newsnight’s report began with footage of Donald Trump addressing the faithful at a rally. ‘This is an invasion,’ he warned, referring to the refugees massing on the Mexican border. ‘When you see these caravans starting out with 20,000 people, that’s an invasion.’ It then cut to Emily Maitlis in the studio. ‘That was in May,’ she said. ‘Today, Donald Trump called on Americans to condemn racism, bigotry and white supremacy.’ She added that the President had made these remarks ‘with a straight face’ and ‘with autocue precision’ — completely insincere, in other words – and then pointed out that he had not suggested any new measures for gun control. She concluded: ‘So how much should we align presidential words and terrorist acts? How should America react to a man many blame for amplifying extremism in the first place?’
Those are good questions and it’s a pity Newsnight didn’t take them seriously. There are plenty of reasons not to blame Trump for last weekend’s slaughter. For one thing, the El Paso gunman railed against climate change alongside Hispanic immigration in the manifesto he published before murdering 22 people, and the President is a climate change sceptic, as liberals never tire of pointing out. For another, the Dayton shooter, who murdered nine, was a self-described ‘leftist’ who praised Elizabeth Warren and Antifa, the far-left protest group. Incidentally, the terrorist who charged an ICE detention centre with homemade bombs and a rifle last month was a member of Antifa and referred to his target as a ‘concentration camp’, echoing the words of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic Congresswoman. Yet Newsnight didn’t ask whether the ‘inflammatory rhetoric’ of Warren or Ocasio-Cortez ‘inspired’ these nutjobs. No, it bought into the line peddled by Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke — and countless others — that all mass killings that have taken place on Trump’s watch have been by ‘white supremacists’. (To read more, click here.)
Click here to listen to James Delingpole and me discussing the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, why Trump obviously isn’t responsible and whether his political opponents know that and are blaming him for opportunistic political reasons, or actually believe their own soundbites.
At times, it’s hard not to feel sorry for die-hard Remainers. The latest straw they’ve been clutching at – paper straw, mind you, not plastic – has just been wrenched from their grasp by John McDonnell, scrumpled up into a little ball and then tossed, nonchalantly, into his mouth like a peanut.
At the Edinburgh Fringe Festival yesterday, the Shadow Chancellor told Iain Dale that Labour “wouldn’t enter into coalitions or pacts” if the Government is brought down by a vote of no confidence when Parliament returns in September. In those circumstances, his Party’s priority would be to establish a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn. And if that proves impossible – as it surely would – the only alternative would be a General Election.
So that puts the kybosh on a “Government of National Unity”, which Remainers have been pinning their hopes on. Without the backing of the Labour leadership, there’s simply no way an anti-Brexit coalition could win a vote of confidence in the House of Commons. It is now crystal clear that if Boris’s Government is brought down in September that will mean a General Election – and one that he will almost certainly win, given the disarray among his opponents.(To read more, click here.)
In the wake of the Lib Dems’ victory in last week’s Brecon and Radnorshire by-election, there’s been a lot of talk on the Remain side about the need for an electoral pact between the anti-Brexit parties. After all, the Lib Dem candidate only beat the Conservative incumbent by a margin of 1,425 votes, so wouldn’t have won if the Greens and Plaid Cymru hadn’t agreed to stand down.
On Saturday, the independent MP Heidi Allen wrote a piece for the Guardian, promoting her ‘Unite to Remain’ initiative, which aims to build a cross-party ‘Remain Alliance’ across the United Kingdom, and the Observer ran a story on its front page yesterday saying the People’s Vote campaign has drawn up a list of 100 marginals in which it will advise Remain supporters which anti-Brexit candidate to vote for, regardless of which party they belong to.
In light of these initiatives, some people on my side of the aisle, such as Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice, have argued for an electoral pact between the Conservatives and the Brexit Party. I’ve written before about why I think a formal pact along those lines is unlikely – and it’s been ruled out by both Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – but that doesn’t mean an informal, grass-roots alliance isn’t worth trying. Something like what the People’s Vote campaign has in mind, except advising Brexit supporters which candidate to vote for in key marginals to secure our exit from the European Union, regardless of whether they belong to the Conservative Party, the Brexit Party or even the Labour Party. (To read more, click here.)
As a thought experiment, let’s imagine that Labour wins the next General Election. In fairly short order, many British companies start going out of business, including Hovis Ltd.
So Jeremy Corbyn decides to take it into public ownership. But the Labour apparatchiks in Whitehall know nothing about running a business – shock! – and Hovis quickly starts losing a great deal of money.
Then John McDonnell comes up with a brainwave: Why not impose a toaster tax? Henceforth, anyone who owns a toaster will have to pay an annual fee of £154.50 and the money this raises will then be spent on subsidizing Hovis.
Doesn’t matter if you would no more dream of putting a slice of Hovis in your toaster than a piece of cardboard – you still have to fork out £154.50 a year. If you refuse, it’ll be off to the Scrubs with you, where, if you’re lucky, you can join Rod Liddle, Douglas Murray and me in the journalists’ wing. (To read more, click here.)
Last April, the historian Niall Ferguson called for a NATO of the pen. Inspired by the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty in which 12 Western democracies agreed that “an armed attack against one or more…shall be considered an attack against them all,” he suggested that “professional thinkers—academics, public intellectuals, writers of any stripe” should sign a “Non-conformist Academic Treaty” in which they promise to come to each other’s defense if one of them is “called out” on social media or “investigated” by their employer. Among the victims of these modern-day witch-hunts Ferguson cited Bret Weinstein, Bruce Gilley, Nigel Biggar, Roland Fryer, Samuel Abrams, Peter Boghossian, Jordan Peterson, and Roger Scruton, and said the lesson was clear: “we either hang together or we hang separately.”
This struck me as an excellent idea, but I could also see a practical difficulty. One of the reasons NATO succeeded in deterring Soviet expansion into Western Europe is because it didn’t require any individual country to make the first move in response to Soviet aggression. Rather, NATO provided an institutional framework that enabled the signatories of the treaty to respond collectively, thereby pooling the risk. (To read more, click here.)
I was driving to Gunnersbury Park last Sunday for my weekly 10K run when I caught the tail end of Broadcasting House on Radio 4. The presenter Paddy O’Connell was interviewing George King, the 19-year-old who scampered up the Shard at the beginning of July without the aid of ropes or suction cups. As you’d expect, he was impressive. He first set eyes on Britain’s tallest building as a 13-year-old on a school trip and decided then and there that he wanted to climb it. He embarked on years of rigorous training, taking up boxing and running a 62-mile ultramarathon. Last August, he became the first person to ‘free climb’ the world’s tallest climbing wall in Holland, and he then spent the past eight months reconnoitring the Shard — checking out the various security systems in different disguises. When the day came, it took him 45 minutes to scale the 310-metre building.
What really stood out in the interview, however, was his disdain for other members of his generation. ‘Programmes such as Love Island are reinforcing a very, I think, pathetic mentality for men,’ he said. When O’Connell asked him what experiences would stiffen their backbones, he said: ‘It’s about challenges, it’s about overcoming adversity, it’s about breaking through what you thought was impossible.’ This was music to my ears. Whenever I drone on about ‘snowflakes’, my wife and children take the mickey out of me, pointing out that grumpy old men have been complaining about the softness of the younger generation since the beginning of time. As for Love Island, whose latest series ended on Monday, they’re all huge fans. They’ve bought into the fashionable dogma that traditional masculinity is toxic and welcome the fact that the men on the show devote several hours a day to ‘personal grooming’ — including shaving off their body hair. In their eyes, there’s nothing wrong with these preening popinjays; they’re just in touch with their feminine side. So it was marvellous to hear a 19-year-old on Radio 4 echoing my most curmudgeonly views.
Further confirmation arrived this week when the Times ran a front page story headlined: 'Millennials? They aren’t much cop at police work.’ It revealed the Home Office has carried out a review into police recruitment, in which 244 officers and members of staff were interviewed, and concluded that today’s school leavers cannot cope with the demands of the job. ‘Participants gave examples of recruitment interviews where candidates had stated they do not like confrontation or were shocked by the need to work different shift patterns and possibilities of cancelled rest days,’ the report says. One senior officer complained about how millennials have been ‘wrapped up in cotton wool’, with the result that their mental health is too fragile to handle the day-to-day challenges of policing. (To read more, click here.)
Will the Duchess of Sussex Bring Down Britain’s Monarchy? I discuss the catastrophe that is Meghan Markle and her mission to make the Royal Family ‘woke’ with James Delingpole in our latest podcast. We also talk about the men of Love Island – why the aversion to body hair? – and the difficulty Boris Johnson is going to have recruiting 20,000 additional police officers from General Snowflake. Click here to listen and don't forget to subscribe!