When Boris Johnson parted company with Dominic Cummings at the end of last year, it was inevitable there would be trouble further down the line. To pick a fight with one of Britain’s most formidable campaigners and his allies was always going to have consequences. It’s now becoming clear what they are.
Some of the revelations from Johnson’s enemies are quotable: for example, the allegation that he said in private he’d rather let ‘bodies pile high’ than allow a third lockdown.
When Boris Johnson made the extraordinary decision last week to brief newspapers that Dominic Cummings was behind a series of leaks, the move seemed close to kamikaze. He had chosen a target who isn’t exactly known for walking away from a fight. And there’s another, more serious question: why did nobody in No. 10 stop him?
Johnson has always been an impulsive politician, but he has also employed people who can act as a moderating force.
In modern Britain, the quickest way to prove that you’re a good person is to show that you love animals. People share cat videos and pose with dogs in pictures for dating websites. Anyone who is seen to hurt animals — like the Danish zoo that culled a giraffe or the lawyer who clubbed a fox — is sent to a special circle of social media hell.
Those who participate in field sports reside in this inferno: the men and women who shoot, stalk or hunt.
In its new report, From Lament to Action, the Church of England has decided to focus on race. Now, there is no question that racism exists within all cultures, but the Judaeo-Christian tradition has always been opposed to it. Christianity emphasises the common origin of all humans, made in God’s image, and contemporary science corroborates this moral and spiritual insight. The Church is right to set its face against racism.
In his recent State of the Nation address, Vladimir Putin said that if challenged by another state, Russia’s response would be swift, harsh and ‘asymmetrical’. An unusual word, but anyone who has been paying attention to the developments in cyber warfare will know what he means. Despite Russia pulling back more than 100,000 soldiers positioned on the Ukrainian border, British troops will shortly join Ukrainian counterparts to prepare for any misadventures from the Kremlin.
Are citizens of liberal societies permitted to question liberalism? In theory, the answer is yes, given liberalism’s commitment to ‘free thought’ and ‘the marketplace of ideas’. Such tolerance is rarely in evidence in practice, however — a reality illustrated in hilarious fashion by a writer for a Washington magazine who recently decried ‘cancel culture’ even as he insisted that: ‘It’s absolutely necessary to de-platform public intellectuals who object to liberal democracy.
It’s classified by the government as an ‘elite’ sport but you’ll struggle to find it mentioned in the national press. The current European champion is a Briton — Robert Lambert — but I’d be surprised if many people reading this have ever heard of him. It was once reckoned to be Britain’s second most popular spectator sport but the weekly numbers attending this summer’s shortened league season will be in the low tens of thousands.
Crematoriums are burning so many pyres that they have run out of space and wood to keep up with demand. Vehicles filled with bodies queue outside the funeral homes for hours. People are dying in the streets, some laid out on stretchers, while ambulances wait in vain outside every hospital in the city. This is what a collapsed healthcare system looks like.
There are 4,700 Covid intensive care beds for Delhi’s population of 19 million.
Zut alors! The court of King Boris gets more like Versailles each day. With some talcum powder on that ramshackle hair, the Prime Minister would be the image of Louis le Something after a night on the Tuileries. His government, meanwhile, totters towards the tumbrils. Le Marquis d’Ancock, Comte de Raab and Le Petit-Maître Gove all cower in the corridors of power, fearful of ‘À la Bastille!’ being barked by sitting pretty Mme de Patel, or a strictly formal dressing-down from His Holiness, L’Abbé Rees-Mogg.
Folajimi Olubunmi-Adewole died last weekend saving a woman’s life. Hearing her cries as she fell into the Thames from London Bridge, the 20-year-old, known as Jimi, handed his phone to a friend, told him to call the police, and with another passer-by dived into the river. The other man and the woman were rescued. Jimi was not.
His family have called for his heroism to be publicly remembered. A few minutes’ walk from the flowers left for Jimi on the riverbank sits an unassuming remnant of Victorian public-spiritedness, inspired by the same desire to remember everyday heroism.