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Tag: UK

May was histrionic. June could be historic.

Saturday, 25 May, 2019

When Prime Minister Theresa May stepped up to the lectern outside No. 10 Downing Street yesterday to announce she was stepping down as Tory leader on 7 June, a weary press and public exhaled a sigh of relief. Yes, there were pious expressions of sympathy from pundits declaring to be moved by her emotional statement, but their tears, unlike those of the genuinely upset Mrs May, were of the crocodile kind. Theresa May will be judged as one of the UK’s worst leaders. That’s the harsh reality. She took office at a time of crisis, but also opportunity. The Brexit vote was a democratic demand for change, but she wasted that opportunity, and then drove Great Britain deeper into crisis.

Theresa May was a technocrat, and the kind of politics preferred by technocrats is best exemplified by the Brussels bureaucracy. Not everyone wants that kind of politics, though. So, what next? Brexit means Boris writes Stephen Robinson in The Spectator. This bit will strike a chord with all those members of the typing class who have struggled with deadlines:

“I can’t say I know Boris well, despite our once having been Telegraph colleagues, mostly on different continents. I cannot say I even like him that much. I resented him when I edited the paper’s comment pages for filing his column three hours late, which meant I couldn’t get home to see my infant children.”

In the end, May was histrionic. June could be historic.


Autumn in the Alps

Saturday, 18 November, 2017 0 Comments

Specializing in what it calls “Aerial solutions for film production,” 5kdigitalfilm is a production facility based in Austria and the UK. Its clip, “Perpetual Change — Autumn in the Alps,” captures the beauty and solitude we experience amidst the great mountains.

“But if there was something roguish and fantastic about the immediate vicinity through which you laboriously made your way, the towering statues of snow-clad Alps, gazing down from the distance, awakened in you feelings of the sublime and holy.” — Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain


Mrs May: The charisma of a carrot

Saturday, 10 June, 2017 0 Comments

Writing about what he calls “Britain’s Election Disaster”, Theodore Dalrymple, a contributing editor of City Journal, says “Theresa May’s political incompetence carries a high price.” His displeasure is such that he goes all ad hominem: “It did not help that she had the charisma of a carrot and the sparkle of a spade,” he notes. And then he gets political:

“Technically, she won the election, in the sense that she received more votes than anyone else, but few voted for her with enthusiasm rather than from fear of the alternative. Her disastrous campaign included repeated genuflections in the direction of social democracy. Even after her defeat, moral if not quite literal, she burbled about a society in which no one was left behind — never mind that it would entail a society in which no one would be out in front, that is to say, a society resting in the stagnant pool of its own mediocrity.”

Many great leaders discovered their greatness only in the wilderness of exile and the bitterness of defeat and although Mrs May is now the subject of ridicule, she might yet develop the “steel” that’s needed for surviving in times of adversity. The clock is ticking, however, and she has, at most, six months to prove that she’s got the stuff of Thatcher within her. If she cannot find it, she will have to live with those carrot comparisons and toast analogies and worse.


Binning Corbyn

Thursday, 8 June, 2017 0 Comments

Nick Cohen describes himself as “a passionate leftist and liberal,” but he won’t be voting for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in today’s United Kingdom general election. Writing in the Spectator’s Coffee House section, Cohen offers a list of facts about Corbyn “which have not previously been collated in one place” and orders them under three headings: “Ethics, Leadership & Electability, and Social Media & Activists.” Nick Cohen says, “The reader can make up their own mind, based on these facts.”

One heading is of particular interest here and is titled “Against peace in Ireland.” Cohen says that Corbyn supported the IRA, opposed the Northern Ireland peace process and aligned himself with terrorists. Sample:

“Corbyn was general secretary of the editorial board of the hard-left journal Labour Briefing which supported IRA violence and explicitly backed the Brighton Hotel Bombing, which killed 5 people and maimed 31 others. In its December 1984 leader, the editorial board ‘disassociated itself’ from an article criticising the Brighton bombing, saying the criticism was a ‘serious political misjudgement’. The board said it ‘reaffirmed its support for, and solidarity with, the Irish republican movement’, and added that ‘the British only sit up and take notice when they are bombed into it’. Alongside its editorial, the board reprinted a speech by Gerry Adams describing the bombing as a ‘blow for democracy’. The same edition carried a reader’s letter praising the ‘audacity’ of the IRA attack and stating: ‘What do you call four dead Tories? A start.'”

Jeremy Corbyn is unfit for high office and British voters should reject him today.

Gerry Adams


Remembering the dead of Manchester

Wednesday, 24 May, 2017 0 Comments

Time upon time since 9/11 we have been forced to confront the face of evil. Like it or not, there are evil people in this world and one of the worst of them, Salman Ramadan Abedi, choose a concert in Manchester to attack three essential facets of modernity — entertainment, independence and enjoyment.

It should not surprise us that this mass murderer adheres to an ideology that hates Western civilization with its traditions of freedom, inquiry and democracy. In his world, cruelty is celebrated, women are enslaved and there is nothing but contempt for the tolerance that tolerates its enemies. After each massacre, we repeat our plea to the leaders of the West that they must impress on the monsters who nurture terrorists like Salman Ramadan Abedi that they will not be negotiated with; rather, they will be destroyed.

To be sure, the UK, the object of so much hatred and envy, is not a perfect society, but for all its faults many of the innocents murdered on Monday night in Manchester were from families who had made their home in Britain because it offered them opportunity and freedom. Let us not forget that when we remember the dead today.

Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine,
Et lux perpetua luceat eis

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord,
And may perpetual light shine upon them.


Appleology and Renishaw

Tuesday, 2 May, 2017 0 Comments

In the grim days of the Cold War, the expression “Kremlin Watching” had relevance. It referred less to the specific building, the Moscow Kremlin, than to what it represented: the Soviet Government. This was an institution that people had good reason to watch with care as the smallest signal might offer an indication of what was happening and what might be expected next. Out of “Kremlin Watching” grew “Kremlinology”, which persists in the English language, being used figuratively to decrypt the actions of large, powerful, opaque institutions.

Apple is one such institution and Apple Watching has become a survival skill for those who wish to understand how modern fortunes are made and lost. Back at the beginning of last month, investors woke up to the news that shares in the UK chip designer Imagination Technologies had plunged more than 60 percent after Apple said it would end a deal to use its products. Apple uses the chips in its iPhones, iPads, and iPods under a licensing agreement and its royalty payments account for about half of Imagination’s revenues. The company’s shares promptly fell 165 pence to 103 pence, valuing it at about £250 million – down from about £765 million before the announcement was made. Why? Apple Watchers revealed that Apple is developing its own chip technology.

But for every downside there’s an upside and that’s very good news for investors in Renishaw Plc. Who? “We are a global company with core skills in measurement, motion control, healthcare, spectroscopy and manufacturing,” says the Gloucestershire-based firm. But there’s more to the story than that. In a recent note to clients, Stephen Swanton of the research firm Redburn pointed out that while Renishaw has never explicitly said Apple uses its technology, a Renishaw probe was shown in an iPhone promotional video as the device’s casing was being machined. Such are the fleeting signs that Appleologists must be alert to.

“The iPhone is now made to a level of precision not far away from that at which Rolls-Royce operates with aero engine fan-blade manufacturing,” said Swanton in a display of the finest Appleology that was subsequently quoted by Bloomberg.

The iPhone 8 is predicted to launch by September, 10 years after the original iPhone premiered. Expect lots and lots of Appleology between now and then.


Brexit: What would St. Patrick do?

Wednesday, 15 March, 2017 0 Comments

St. Patrick Background: St. Patrick was born in Roman Britain. Where exactly is a matter of debate. Claims have been made for England, Scotland and Wales as his birthplace. According to the Confession of St. Patrick, he was captured by a group of Irish pirates at the age of 16, enslaved and then held captive in Ireland for six years. Good Christian that he was, he forgave his captors and the Irish in general. He then set about converting them and his success rate was a remarkable 99.9%, it is said.

What Patrick could not do, however, was help the Irish to understand that they needed to stay on good terms with their neighbours in Britain. The Irish of the fifth century saw the “big island” as place to plunder or to dispose of their excess people and problems and little has changed since.

Foreground: The Republic of Ireland joined the European Economic Community in 1973 on the same day as the United Kingdom and this was no coincidence. Dublin depended greatly on food exports to the UK and being outside the EEC zone would have meant tariffs and quotas affecting its most important market. It was a pragmatic decision, therefore, but there was an element of romance as well in that many in the Irish establishment hoped that the deal would weaken the Anglo-Irish relationship in favour of Europe. And it all turned out for the best in the end. Ireland got lots of lovely subsidies from Brussels, local politicians upgraded to luxury junkets, inward investment from the USA flowed like champagne at Cheltenham and the benefits of Britain were untouched. Note: Irish citizens living in the UK are treated as British citizens in all but name.

St. Patrick But all this changed, utterly, with the Brexit vote. The cat is now among the doves, as peace-loving Patrick might have said. Once Article 50 is triggered by the UK government, Ireland will have to face the fact that it depends on the US and UK consumer so much that almost two-thirds of it goods and services will go to markets outside the remaining EU 27 members. Paddy is now confronted with the conundrum that while he’s commercially and culturally part of the Anglosphere, he’s told by his elites that he should feel closer to Brussels than Boston and it’s giving him headaches. Then, there are the bills.

In 2014, Ireland became a net contributor to the EU. Dublin paid €1.69 billion to Brussels and got €1.52 in return. After the UK leaves and the EU needs to pay those bills, Ireland will be expected to put more in the pot. Then there’s last year’s EU decision against Dublin’s cosy tax arrangement with Apple that could cost €13 billion. If all those giant US companies in Ireland are no longer able to dodge tax and if their companions in London are no longer able to ship their UK turnover across the Irish Sea to be taxed at a much lower Irish rate, the luck of the Irish might run out. But there’s more.

Much of Ireland’s exports are transported through British ports on the west coast, then across the mighty motorways that Paddy helped build before leaving British ports on the south and east coasts for EU destinations. When the UK is outside the Single Market and Customs Union there will be serious administrative and financial challenges to getting goods to their EU markets without quicker and cheaper alternative routes. And the combination of being outside the Schengen Agreement and the Common Travel Agreement means that the Britain’s borders will begin at Ireland’s ports and airports.

Tricky.

People scoffed recently when Lord Kilclooney wrote in the Belfast News Letter that Ireland needs to consider its positon in the EU, but his advice should not be dismissed so lightly. He concluded: “The two alternatives are for the Republic to get special status within the EU or for the Republic to exit the EU the same day as the UK — that would mean there would be no problems at the border and would eliminate the damage now being caused to the Southern Irish economy.”

Paddy doesn’t want to hear this, of course, but Saint Patrick would whisper in his ear what Louis MacNeice once said: “World is suddener than we fancy it.”

St. Patrick


The Johnson Factor

Thursday, 14 July, 2016 1 Comment

The main point of The Churchill Factor by Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, is that one person can make all the difference. Snippet:

“Churchill decides from very early on that he will create a political position that is somehow above left and right, embodying the best points of both sides and thereby incarnating the will of the nation. He thinks of himself as a gigantic keystone in the arch, with all the lesser stones logically induced to support his position. He has a kind of semi-ideology to go with it — a leftish Toryism: imperialist, romantic, but on the side of the working man.”

Boris Johnson The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History

The Churchill Factor


#Brexit: History is in the making

Thursday, 23 June, 2016 0 Comments

History will be made today in Great Britain. Regardless of result of the referendum, we will witness the slow-motion crumbling of two Unions: the UK and the EU. If the British vote to leave, the EU will begin to crumble because the audacious act of departure will mortally wound the “project” and will encourage others to hold similar referendums. If the British vote to remain and England’s desire for independence is defeated by an alliance of multicultural Londoners and Irish, Scottish and Welsh nationalists, the Union will be gravely damaged.

UK_EU A European Union without Great Britain would be forced to confront its founding fallacy of Germany pretending to be weak and France pretending to be strong. Neither Paris nor Berlin wants to face this embarrassing reality, but the absence of London as a diversion will lead to sobriety. Then, there’s the fragility of the eurozone. It may be possible to keep Greece on life support indefinitely, but not so Italy. Its debts are alarming, the unemployment rate is frightening and there’s no growth. As well, Italy straddles that other great EU fault line: immigration. Italy is the country of choice for African migrants and their numbers will keep on growing for the rest of this century.

“History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.” So says a character in that great Anglo-Irish-European novel Ulysses, by James Joyce, and the nightmare of history will return with a vengeance if the “Leave” side wins. Ireland’s borders, internally and externally, will take on new significance and the country may have to rethink its political relationships. The same goes for the Scots, whose nationalists would demand another referendum that might take them out of a non-European Britain. And the Welsh? They play Northern Ireland in Parc des Princes in Paris on Saturday, with a quarter-final place in Euro 2016 at stake.

History is in the making.


Jessie Ware: Tough Love

Saturday, 25 October, 2014 0 Comments

At midnight on 13 October, Jessie Ware tweeted, “#ToughLove my second album can now be yours. Goodnight!” Following the release of her debut album, Devotion, in 2012, Ware was called “the missing link between Adele, SBTRKT and Sade.” Pitchfork says that her latest, “Tough Love” compares to “Prince at his minimalist ’80s best.” This is modern pop + R&B, and along with the Adele and Sade echoes there are hints of FKA twigs and La Roux in the mix.


It’s time to take sides says Tony Blair

Tuesday, 27 August, 2013 3 Comments

Writing in the Times today, the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says that we have reached a crossroads and he wants to know which direction the West will take. Is it going to be talk or action? Blair demands action. Snippet:

Tony Blair In Syria, we know what is happening. We know it is wrong to let it happen. But leave aside any moral argument and just think of our interests for a moment. Syria, disintegrated, divided in blood, the nations around it destabilised, waves of terrorism rolling over the population of the region; Assad in power in the richest part of the country; Iran, with Russia’s support, ascendant; a bitter sectarian fury running the Syrian eastern hinterland — and us, apparently impotent. I hear people talking as if there was nothing we could do: the Syrian defence systems are too powerful, the issues too complex, and in any event, why take sides since they’re all as bad as each other?

But others are taking sides. They’re not terrified of the prospect of intervention. They’re intervening. To support an assault on civilians not seen since the dark days of Saddam.

It is time we took a side: the side of the people who want what we want; who see our societies for all their faults as something to admire; who know that they should not be faced with a choice between tyranny and theocracy. I detest the implicit notion behind so much of our commentary — that the Arabs or even worse, the people of Islam are unable to understand what a free society looks like, that they can’t be trusted with something so modern as a polity where religion is in its proper place. It isn’t true. What is true is that there is a life-and-death struggle going on about the future of Islam and the attempt by extreme ideologues to create a political Islam at odds both with the open-minded tradition of Islam and the modern world.

Blair is right. We cannot be neutral in this clash of civilizations. Which side are you on?