Nicola Sturgeon, who claimed this week that ‘Scotland is rich enough, strong enough and big enough’ to take its place ‘among the proud, independent nations of the world’, is a slippery fish. She claims the case for Scottish independence will be strengthened by the UK’s departure from the European Union and yet she campaigned for Remain during the referendum and has done what she can to obstruct Brexit since. For instance, the 35 SNP MPs voted against Theresa May’s withdrawal bill three times. If they’d voted for it on the third occasion, it would have passed.
Does Sturgeon feel obliged to oppose Brexit because she’s convinced it will eventually happen and when it does she wants to be able to claim it’s a union-ending catastrophe she tried to prevent? That’s a slightly odd position for her to take, given that ending the union is her number one priority. I suspect she’d prefer the UK to be in the EU when the next Scottish independence referendum takes place — assuming there’ll be another — because she recognises that leaving will actually weaken the SNP’s case. (To read more, click here.)
I was in the green room at ITN’s Gray’s Inn Road headquarters on the night of the 2017 General Election and I wasn’t enjoying myself, not least because Owen Jones was there, whooping with delight every time a constituency was called for Labour. After it became obvious that Jeremy Corbyn had had a better-than-expected night, he couldn’t resist coming over to rub my nose in it. “Your ‘Tories for Corbyn’ campaign doesn’t look so clever now, does it Toby?” he said.
That was a reference to a bit of fun I had during Labour’s 2015 leadership contest when I urged conservative-minded voters to join the Party and vote for Corbyn. Thanks to Ed Miliband, you could become an ‘associate member’ with full voting rights for the princely sum of £3. The only other hurdle was an online form you had to fill in explaining why you wanted to join and I made the mistake of saying, “So I can vote for Corbyn and consign Labour to electoral oblivion.” That was enough for my application to be blocked, although – typical Labour – my £3 was never refunded.
In the end Corbyn won by a landslide, polling more votes than the other three candidates combined, so if any Tories followed my advice it didn’t make any difference. But since then I have experienced occasional pangs of regret nevertheless. When Owen button-holed me on election night, my rejoinder was that if Yvette Cooper was leader, Labour might have actually won, but the words rang hollow. With 40% of the popular vote, considerably more than Tony Blair polled in 2005 (35.2%) to secure his third parliamentary majority, it was only thanks to the collapse of the Lib Dems (7.4%) that Corbyn didn’t end up in Downing Street. Knowing that Tim Farron was the only thing standing between a minority Tory government and full-on socialist Armageddon wasn’t a good feeling. (To read more, click here.)
It remains to be seen whether Boris Johnson can persuade a majority of MPs to back his new deal on Saturday, but the mere possibility that he might succeed – and take us out with a deal on October 31 – is driving Remainers round the twist. If you thought Brexit Derangement Syndrome was bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.
A clue as to how the provisional wing of the Europhile Army is likely to react was provided by the historian Simon Schama in a tweet: “Should this non-government succeed in forcing our exit from the EU on Halloween let all of us who bitterly mourn ring funeral bells and light bonfires of rage and grief and resolution at 12pm – up and down the nation.”
Actually, if we do leave on October 31st it will be at 11pm, not Midnight, but let’s gloss over that fact. The image of Remainers wandering the streets, ringing bells and carrying burning torches, is reminiscent of a scene from one of Hammer’s Dracula films. Will Simon and his mob of bug-eyed zealots be looking for heretics to burn on these “bonfires of rage”? Brexiteers planning to celebrate with street parties of their own may want to be on their mettle. (To read more, click here.)
Click here to listen to James Delingpole and me talking about NBA’s Kowtowing to a China, the #TrumpVideo, whether we’d support Boris’s Withdrawal Agreement and the season finale of Succession https://ricochet.com/podcast/london-calling/the-red-menace/
The Guardian ran a story on its website today headlined: ‘Hate crimes doubled in England and Wales in five years.’ Alarming if true, but is it?
The story is based on some data released by the Home Office today which, on the face of it, does appear to show the number of hate crimes increasing. The number of hate crimes recorded by the police in England and Wales in 2018-19 was 103,397, up from 94,121 in 2017-18, a rise of ten per cent.
But drill down into the report, and the picture becomes more hazy. The word doing most of the work here is ‘recorded’. Yes, the number of recorded hate crimes has increased year-on-year, but how do we know that isn’t due to the police being more likely to record hate crimes? In fact, the Home Office acknowledges that ‘increases in hate crime over the last five years have been mainly driven by improvements in crime recording by the police’. (To read more, click here.)
I ventured out into Westminster earlier this week to take a look at the Extinction Rebellion protest and it reminded me of the Edinburgh Fringe. I don’t just mean the sheer number of people in fancy dress, such as the Red Rebels with their red robes and white face paint, or the men in gas masks. I mean it was like a huge piece of political street theatre written by a brilliant satirist.
Wherever you looked there were little comic vignettes. At one point, having become slightly numb listening to one activist after another condemn ‘western consumerism’, I popped into Pret a Manger, only to be confronted by protestors politely queuing up to buy vegan baguettes. I could have sworn some of them were the very same people who’d been holding up signs saying ‘End Capitalism’ moments before. Then there was the hearse parked in Trafalgar Square, complete with a coffin in the back labelled ‘Our Future’, which immediately got a parking ticket. (To read more, click here.)
Listen to me talking to Douglas Murray about his new book The Madness of Crowds by clicking here. This is the 56th Quillette podcast, which has been going for less than a year and already has an audience of over a million listeners.
The Labour Party’s manifesto in 1983, when Michael Foot was leader, was famously described as “the longest suicide note in history”. But the next one looks to be an even bigger exercise in self-harm, judging from the last week’s conference.
The flurry of policy announcements was hard to keep up with, but included a second Brexit referendum, zero carbon emissions by 2030, and a fleet of new electric cars for government officials. Oh, and completely open borders, with brand new arrivals entitled to full citizenship, including the right to vote. Each proposal was more doolally than the last.
But the icing on the cake – the ornate signature at the foot of this new suicide note in a red, felt-tipped pen – was the pledge to scrap private schools and confiscate their “endowments, investments and properties”. So not just outlaw several hundred education charities, some of which date back to the 15th Century, but steal all their assets too.
It’s hard to know where to start with this one. (To read more, click here.)