Millwall aren’t half as racist as you think

Where would you rather come from, Pakistan or Liverpool? Assuming you were somehow given a retrospective choice in the matter. It is not too tough a call for me. I could just about suffer being accused of a ‘cheeky’ wit and perhaps a sense of victimhood — both qualities maybe unfairly associated with Scousers — simply for the benefit of being born in England: it’s Liverpool for me, all the livelong day. This was the question posed, in an extremely offensive truncated form, by a minuscule sub-section of Millwall supporters during the side’s otherwise heroic victory over Everton in the FA Cup last Saturday. By minuscule I mean something well

Is France on the verge of class war between Yellow Vests and Red Scarves? | 28 January 2019

The first thing that struck me when I emerged from the metro station onto the Place de la Nation was the amount of corduroy. It was without doubt the trouser material of choice for the middle-aged men participating in Sunday’s inaugural Red Scarf (Foulard Rouge) rally in support of the Republic and its institutions. As I meandered through the crowd, which numbered only half of the 20,000 hoped for by the organisers, I was also surprised by the number of blue and gold flags. Some demonstrators were waving the EU banner and others were wrapped in it, like football fans on their way to a World Cup match. I spied a

Alex Salmond’s arrest is the latest twist in an extraordinary drama

This morning Police Scotland announced that a 64 year old man had been arrested and charged with unknown offences. Not just any 64 year-old man, however, but Alex Salmond, former first minister of Scotland, twice leader of the SNP, and the politician who, more than any other, led Scotland to the brink of independence. Even if Salmond did not quite achieve that, his SNP still replaced Labour as the natural party of government. Salmond will appear in court this afternoon. I wrote about this for last week’s Spectator: here is the article.  Amid the wreckage of a Brexit process that has disrupted every aspect of British political life, it is

In defence of Diane Abbott

The question I had hoped to pose this week was this: “Do people dislike Diane Abbott because she is black and a woman, or because she is useless?” But then I worried that we would come to a fairly definitive conclusion a long time before my allotted 1,000 words had been used up. “The latter, I think,” is the response I have heard time and time again, both from Labour supporters and Tories. For the entire day before Abbott’s appearance on Question Time, in which she thinks she was treated badly on account of the colour of her skin and her gender, my wife had been bouncing around the house

On Nobel Prize winners and Mastermind losers

I once worked my way through two whole books of IQ tests devised by Hans Eysenck and by the time I had finished I was much cleverer than that self-publicising ass Einstein, according to the helpful chart, and quite possibly the cleverest person ever to have walked on the face of the earth. So I came to two conclusions. First, that — as I had long suspected — I was indeed the clever-est person ever to walk the earth and it was pleasant to have this suspicion of mine validated. And second, that one can learn to excel at IQ tests, despite the insistence from their promulgators that they are

Save the rabbits from the predatory BBC

For a while, as a 13-year-old, I was obsessed with rabbits — the consequence of having read Watership Down by Richard Adams. I tried to share my enthusiasm for the book with my parents, but my father told me that he thought the scenario depicted by Adams was ‘improbable’. However, they did consent to take me to that indeterminate, shifting area where the novel is set, with its back legs in Berkshire and its front paws in the last remaining unspoilt quadrant of Hampshire. We were on the way home from a holiday at some grim Methodist guest house in the West Country and were undoubtedly tired from the drive.

Why MPs should not stop legal aid reform

There is never more excitement on the Left than when a Tory MP recants and concludes that his heartless party and its callous social policies are wrong. So it was on Friday when Nigel Evans, MP for Ribble Valley, announced that he had had a ‘road to Damascus conversion’ and realised that David Cameron’s legal aid reforms – which reduced the eligibility for legal aid – had made life harder for those who found themselves on the wrong end of a court case. It wasn’t pure altruism which had led him to this conclusion – Evans himself was acquitted on nine charges of sexual assault in 2014. While the case

Rod Liddle’s twelve terrors of Christmas

1. Santa – the Man Loose fitting but matted nylon beard, fake optical twinkle, cheap red suit. The distinct whiff of Jack Daniels and ammonia when you close. If he’s such a big shot, why is he drawing unemployment benefit for eleven months of the year? Something scary and offkey about him. And there are good reasons why the children are no longer allowed to sit in his lap for a cuddle. 2. Santa – the Concept Why would anyone half way normal want to live at the North Pole on a bunch of rapidly melting ice floes? Or stay up all night delivering presents to children of doubtful deservingness.

Leo Varadkar is being played like a fiddle by Brussels

A few decades ago, Irish people would march through the streets of London to holler at the British government: ‘Hands off Ireland!’ As an Irishman, I wish Irish people would now take to the streets of Dublin to say to Leo Varadkar’s government: ‘Hands off Britain!’ For Varadkar’s meddling in British politics, his and his minions’ attempts to scupper Britain’s break from the European Union, is profoundly anti-democratic. What we have here is a foreign leader interfering in Britain’s domestic, democratic affairs. It was wrong when the British did that to Ireland, and it is wrong for the Irish now to do the same to Brexit Britain. The way Varadkar,

The nine lessons of Brexit

The stakes could not be higher now. We face the biggest political crisis for at least a couple of generations. The risks are now both a democratic crisis and an economic one. We just cannot go on as we have been: evading and obfuscating choices – indeed frequently denying, against all evidence, that there are unavoidable choices. And the public will understandably not, for a very long time, forgive a political class which on all sides of the divide fails to level with it on the choices being made. This feels a rather unseasonal theme but as we are approaching Christmas I thought I would therefore talk about nine lessons

My foolproof recipe for a better world

It is always a pleasure to watch Paris burning. On the surface a civilised country, but scrape a little deeper and France is revealed as a nation of kind of faux-Arabs (aside from that rapidly growing proportion who are actual Arabs): easily incensed into an incandescent toddler fury at real or imagined iniquities, things not working out quite the way that they had hoped. An inchoate existential rage, hilariously — in this case — exhibited by people wearing those absurd yellow fluorescent jackets. They have latterly realised that their leader, Emmanuel Macron, is a smarmy, loquacious, incompetent idiot with strange sexual tendencies. We knew that all along. We told you

Lord save us from Le Carré

Thank the blessed Lord it’s over. Not Brexit, or Theresa May’s flailing and spastic governance. I’m talking about John le Carré’s The Little Drummer Girl, which has been serialised on the BBC on a Sunday evening, just when people want to watch something interesting. I watched it with the missus, and by episode two decided I would much rather spend my Sunday evenings assaulting my own head with a claw hammer. But we persisted with this expensively shot garbage because we are a married couple and therefore think it right and proper to engage in joint activities and stick with them regardless of how distressing and unpleasant they may be

Why sex is welcome in Derby Cathedral, but the Holy Bible isn’t

Nic Roeg’s art-house thriller from 1973 Don’t Look Now was most famous, or infamous, for its lengthy and explicit sex scene. I think it’s fair to say that the lugubrious (and in 1973 near ubiquitous) Donald Sutherland gave Julie Christie a very thorough seeing-to, involving the first act of cunnilingus in a mainstream movie. Even after being trimmed a little it still received an X rating, but did well enough at the box office. It was shown again quite recently — in Derby Cathedral, for reasons which quite elude me. In its unedited form. The dean of the cathedral, Stephen Hance, observed that the film would not be showing God

Haters gonna hate hate

If we are to ban states of mind, my vote would be for self-righteousness first, followed by sententiousness, with maybe imbecility as third choice. That would criminalise most of the people in the country I cannot abide, including all of the Lib Dems, Momentum and Justine Greening. Sadly, the state of mind which the government wishes to ban is that rather more useful quality, hate. You are not allowed to hate anything any more, except for hate itself. But at least in hating hate you can really let yourself go, even if it is usually a wholly imaginary hate that you are hating. You can spew out your bile suffused

May’s Brexit deal: 40 rebuttals to Downing Street’s 40 rebuttals

Is a deal better than no deal? After Mr S attempted to answer that question over the weekend by publishing 40 horrors lurking in the small print of Theresa May’s Brexit deal, No. 10 got in touch with 40 rebuttals to Steerpike’s 40 horrors. Still with us? Well, episode three of this series is finally here. Mr S thanks 10 Downing Street for conceding many of the 40 points on the Withdrawal Agreement, and for engaging in all of them. In the spirit of friendly discussion, here are all 40 of Steerpike’s responses. ———————————————————————————– First, a note on ambiguity: In its rebuttals, No10 accepts ambiguity over how the document might

Michael Gove will not resign from DEFRA

Michael Gove is staying as DEFRA Secretary. Yesterday, Theresa May offered him the job of Brexit Secretary. Gove said that he could only do that job if he was given the opportunity to pursue his own course. May said that she wanted the Brexit Secretary to stay on the exact same course she had plotted. So, Gove turned down the job. May, though, asked him to stay as DEFRA Secretary and Gove has now decided to do so. So, why is he staying? Well, I understand that he didn’t see what would be achieved by going. It might doom this deal, but there would be nothing to put in its

How smoking saved my life

I almost got killed this week. I went for a very early morning walk in a New Hampshire forest, in the icy rain. Black coat, black hood, black trousers. And so the hunter saw this hunched, awkward, shambling black beast, stumbling over sodden logs, and immediately raised his rifle to his eye and cocked the trigger. One thing, and one thing only, saved me. The armed cracker, looking through his telescopic lens, thought to himself: ‘Hey, it’s a bear — but it’s… smoking a cigarette?’ And so, at the last second, refrained from pulling the trigger. I had this brush with death related to me, with great glee, by the

Hell hath no fury like an irate teenage girl

Something troubling is happening to our girls. I noticed it again most recently at this year’s Battle of Ideas — the annual festival of free speech staged at London’s Barbican by Claire Fox. It’s a wonderful event, where ex-revolutionary communists like Claire rub shoulders with Thatcher-ite radicals like me and we’re reminded how much we have in common. I feel right at home among the bright, engaged, friendly crowds and when I speak I generally get a warm reception. But there are always exceptions, aren’t there? On this occasion the trouble came from a bloc of teenage girls in the audience for my panel. Judging by their accents and dress

Brett Kavanaugh and the death of white liberalism

This article was originally published on Spectator USA. With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court has a solidly conservative majority for the first time since the New Deal. Just how conservative this new majority is remains to be seen: Chief Justice John Roberts disappointed the Republican right when he voted to uphold the legality of Obamacare in 2012. But if Roberts is no Antonin Scalia (the paragon of what most conservatives look for in a justice), he is no Anthony Kennedy, either. And with two of the four liberal justices on the court in their 80s, the prospect of a 6-3 or even 7-2 conservative majority is not

Why is no one sticking up for marriage?

I took part in a debate organised by the Times this week about reform of our divorce laws. Well, I say a ‘debate’. There wasn’t much of that. Not much in the way of dissent. The four other panellists, who included a government minister, all wished to liberalise our divorce laws. And it was chaired with great impartiality by Sir James Lawrence Munby, who was until recently the president of the Family Division of the High Court of England and Wales. He made a stirring ten-minute speech on why we need to liberalise the divorce laws. Yes, it was like one of those exquisitely balanced Newsnight debates, then. The audience