Fox hunting

How to beat cancel culture

One of the most extraordinary features of the ‘cancel culture’ is how well it works. All decent people hate it, but it happens. Why? The key is speed. The bosses of big businesses, universities, quangoes, museums etc. are absurdly frightened by the sudden ambush. Some once-exalted alumnus or benefactor is ‘revealed’ on Twitter as having got money from slavery or worked for the British Empire or used a rude word in 1895. Out comes a petition against him, accompanied by a bit of spray-painting and a shouty demo, and he’s done for. In 99 per cent of the cases, the ‘revelation’ is not new, the alleged evil has been known

The madness of murdering badgers

Buoyed by its huge popularity in the opinion polls and the fact that it is managing Brexit so well, the government has decided to further endear itself to the voters by shooting hundreds of thousands of badgers. Its cull of these creatures, previously limited to a few specific areas (where it has been staggeringly unsuccessful), is to be rolled out nationwide. This, then, is what we might call a Hard Brocksit strategy and it was revealed late on a bank holiday weekend in the hope that nobody would notice. But we did notice. It is not known yet how exactly these animals will be despatched. Previously the hunters have sprinkled

The Spectator’s Notes | 28 September 2017

You can see why Theresa May said in Florence that the British wished the European Union well in its plans for greater integration, while choosing a different path ourselves. There is no point in causing antagonism over what we cannot prevent. But in fact greater European integration will do great harm to all Europeans, including us. The rise of AfD in the German elections was caused almost entirely by Mrs Merkel’s extraordinary decision to admit a million Middle Eastern migrants in a year. The spread of the Schengen area — proposed by Jean-Claude Juncker — combined with recrudescent migrant pressure can only confirm freedom of movement as the impossible issue

This is the worst Tory campaign ever

I am trying to remember if there was ever a worse Conservative election campaign than this current dog’s breakfast — and failing. Certainly 2001 was pretty awful, with Oliver Letwin going rogue and Thatcher sniping nastily from behind the arras. It is often said that 1987 was a little lacklustre and Ted Heath had effectively thrown in the towel in October 1974. But I don’t think anything quite matches up to this combination of prize gaffes and the robotic incantation of platitudinous idiocies. To have suggested that the hunting with dogs legislation might be subject to a free vote in the House of Commons was, whether you are pro hunting

We owe it to hunt staff to repeal the ban

Though I don’t think much of Theresa May’s paternalistic soft-left politics, I do like her no-nonsense style. That Q&A she did for the Sunday Times where she was asked ‘Sherlock or Midsomer Murders?’ — ‘I’ve watched both’ she replied — was hilarious in its Olympian imperviousness to the convention, established by Tony Blair, that prime ministers must kowtow at all times to popular culture and sentiment. So too was the extraordinarily unevasive answer she gave when asked recently why she was committed to allowing Conservative MPs a free vote on rescinding Tony Blair’s fox-hunting ban. ‘As it happens, personally, I’ve always been in favour of fox hunting,’ she said. Me

Side-saddle is sexy

These days there are more than 1,000 members of the Side Saddle Association. Well, of course there are. People go to Bisley to shoot muzzle–loaders with black powder instead of modern rifles with laser-sights; people prefer Bugattis to brand-new electric cars. And of course it’s a bit mad. We mustn’t go around criticising things just because they’re mad; that would leave us all terribly vulnerable. I once rode side-saddle with three members of the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. No, seriously. They were all saddlers, fascinated by this unexplored aspect of their craft. I joined them at an event hosted by the SSA, expecting to find it horrible and unnatural,

Sabs don’t want to stop fox-hunting; they never did

Devotee of the old ways though I am, I can just about understand why a misguided animal lover might oppose fox-hunting. If you enjoy eating KFC while pretending the chicken you are eating hasn’t suffered, then it follows that you will worry about the feelings of a fox who would rip the same chicken to pieces if it were kept in nicer conditions. It doesn’t make any sense, or help animals, but it is something sentimentalists do. I cannot begin to understand, however, why such a person would oppose pretend hunting. I can grasp perfectly well why one would have to sneak around if one were hunting foxes. But I’m

Ten resolutions that should make my next 50 years pass more smoothly

Very soon now I shall reach my half-century. I would have preferred to keep the horror a secret but there’s no point. My stock-in-trade as a me-journalist is: everything — good and bad. Also, I have a Wikipedia entry and, perhaps worse, a Facebook page which announces to the world how old you are — and you wake up to find hundreds of people you scarcely know wishing you Happy Birthday, and you’re expected to be gracious about it: like, thanks for reminding me, you’re too kind. Anyway, I thought that now I’m old and wise I’d make some resolutions. Perhaps they’ll help the next 50 years to pass more

Letters | 28 May 2015

Why we don’t need mayors Sir: There are a number of arguments against Steve Hilton’s call for more than 10,000 mayors (‘We need 10,000 mayors’, 23 May). One is that such an idea ruptures the whole tradition of British municipal administration, under which a system of elected councils is maintained to which executive officers are answerable. Another is that it may be doubted whether there is enough administrative talent available to exercise a substituent mayoral system effectively and efficiently. Politics will always get in the way, for one thing — a factor that our present system of councils takes into account. Form is not so far encouraging, either. Mr Hilton

James Delingpole: I told Radley school pupils how to rebel. But I’m not sure they want to

For two blissful days last week I was at Radley College — what you might call the posh person’s Eton — as the school’s Provocateur-in-Residence. Delightful place: like an especially agreeable gentleman’s club with a first-rate school attached. My only criticism — and it’s not really a criticism, more a rueful observation — is that even in this Helm’s Deep of immense soundness, the Orcish forces of lentil-eating progressivism have begun tunnelling beneath the walls and infecting the defenders of western civilisation with their malign and slithy creed. Or to put it another way: if you cannot rely on the boys of Radley College to stick up for man’s unalienable right to hunt foxes,