Charles Moore Charles Moore

My memories of Sir David Barclay

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Even with its 27 amendments, the US Constitution is only 7,591 words. I keep it beside me, and find in it — as Sir Walter Elliot found in the Baronetage — ‘occupation for an idle hour, and consolation in a distressed one’. The final part of Section 3 of Article 1 is relevant in this distressed week: ‘Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to Removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of Honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.’ To use, after Donald Trump’s departure, a device designed to remove a president seems strange. Surely there are two important things to reconcile — to make sure he cannot hold office again; and to find ways of convincing more than 70 million Trump voters that the process used is just.

Twice last week, almost unreported, electricity generators were able to command a mad price. On Thursday evening, it reached £1,400 per megawatt hour; on Friday, £4,000. The typical price is £40 per megawatt hour, so the shortage of power on Friday multiplied the price 100 times. The changing pattern is ominous. There were no price spikes above £1,000 before 2016. Until last week, there had been ten since that date, so two such events in two days is quite something. The lucky recipient of the top price was West Burton power station in Lincolnshire. Things could get worse in the autumn, as we leave wicked old fossil fuels behind. We may begin to shiver when the wind fails to blow.

I am sorry that the rest of this column takes obituary form. Sir David Barclay, who has just died, was co-proprietor (with his twin, Sir Frederick) of The Spectator since July 2004, a longer reign than any since the early 1950s.

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