Virtue signalling

I stink at virtue signalling

The lodger looked at me blankly and pronounced wearily, as though intoning something he was tired of parroting, that I was putting vulnerable people at risk by not having the vaccine. I stifled a yawn. Can anyone really still think this? A half-hearted argument of sorts ensued while I was washing up and he was heating his microwave dinner in which neither of us could really be bothered. I tried to politely point out that it was a good job an irresponsible person like me was so foolhardy and fearless about Covid or he would not have found a room in the middle of lockdown, especially since he works at

High life | 16 August 2018

Gstaad I need it like Boris needs a bleach job. Another birthday, that is. Birthdays tend to make your life pass before you in a flash. As it does, I imagine, when facing a firing squad or a samurai intending harm. I mention samurai because I recently dreamt of living in a feudal society where they ruled supreme. And how happy I was until I woke up. Now soulless bureaucrats rule instead of samurai, and it makes for a crappier world. Looking back — well, there’s not much point in looking ahead, is there? — I regret some things, like missing out on an education in the classics. But most

Will Remainers ever learn to forgive?

When I mentioned on social media recently that I’d lost friends because of Brexit, I was quite surprised by the vehemence of the response. Lots of fellow Leavers had stories to tell about friends who now cut them dead or former clients who would no longer work with them. Many said they prefer to keep secret how they voted in the referendum for fear of the repercussions. This intolerance is especially bad if you’re a student. One undergraduate described to me how his politics professor had opened a lecture with a slide reading ‘Brexit is shit’ — apparently ‘to the cheers and adulation of the entire lecture theatre’. Another student

Rod Liddle

Why are businesses so terrified of idiots?

I am boycotting Center Parcs. Admittedly, this is not going to have an enormous impact upon my life. It’s a bit like announcing with great pride and fervour that I am boycotting Clare Balding or Pakistan or goat’s cheese. All of those things I am perfectly able to live without and already do so. I will never eat goat’s cheese, visit Pakistan or watch Clare Balding. I did once visit Center Parcs, mind — about ten years ago. It was excruciatingly awful — the kids hated it as much as we did. Extortionately expensive, restrictive, boring and full of who I can only describe as ‘tossers’ cycling along tarmacked lanes


At the start of the year, a Facebook friend messaged me, telling me that she and a chum had been asked to leave their north London book group (how I hugged myself on reading those words!): she for posting a link on Facebook to a Spectator piece by me — pleasingly and rather reasonably headlined ‘The Brexit divide wasn’t between young and old but Ponces and Non-Ponces’; her friend for liking it. I was naturally fascinated, my curiosity driven by righteous indignation and unrighteous glee. I asked for more information and Judith — my penpal’s suitably heroic name —wrote back: ‘The last line from the email of the man who

Would I still hate actors’ rants if they all agreed with me?

I feel a bit sorry for Piers Morgan. On Tuesday, Ewan McGregor was due to appear on the sofa with Piers on ITV’s Good Morning to talk about the Trainspotting sequel, but he failed to turn up. Later, the actor explained on Twitter that it was due to the journalist’s remarks about the women’s marches that took place last weekend, in which he described some of the participants as ‘rabid feminists’ and suggested he should organise a men’s march in response. I had a similar experience about five years ago when the actor Matthew Macfadyen pulled out of an interview he was due to do with me. Like McGregor, he

How the left wastes its energy

There are only three infallible rules in advertising. Be distinctive. Make a lot of noise. And try to feature a cute animal somewhere. Had Donald Trump followed my advice and bought a springer spaniel he would have won California. For a man with such tiny hands to be elected to the world’s highest office, I think we can all agree, is a tragic loss to proctology. But it is also a remarkable lesson in how to play the media. Hillary had $2 billion to spend; what Trump miraculously found was that with each outburst of political Tourette’s, he got more airtime than her, and for free. So eager were the mainstream

A new taste of Twitter nastiness

Whenever I hear a leftie complain about being abused on Twitter, I think: ‘You should try being me.’ A case in point is the journalist Caitlin Moran, who has often taken up the cause of feminists threatened with violence. Among other things, she campaigned for a ‘report abuse’ button in the hope of making Twitter a safer place, more in keeping with ‘the spirit that the internet was conceived and born in — one of absolute optimism’. A noble sentiment, but I couldn’t help taking this with a pinch of salt after the abuse I’ve suffered at the hands of feminists on Twitter. Take the time I appeared on a

Letters | 14 January 2016

Borderline case Sir: Alex Massie (‘The painful truth for Ruth’, 9 January) correctly identifies the challenges facing the Scottish Conservatives. But he is wrong to say it will ‘never’ be the moment for a Tory revival. Tax devolution is a game-changer. For the first time in years, the Conservative party gets to fight a Scottish battle on its strengths of economic competence; meanwhile, the SNP finally gets to demonstrate how to eliminate austerity and raise public spending — all without raising taxes. (In a low oil-price environment.) Toxic Tories? Not half as toxic as Labour are now. Post-referendum, voter positions are deeply entrenched and a party that can’t even agree on

Letters: The immoral Vladimir Putin

Putin the gangster Sir: Putin is a gangster’s gangster. While he ruins Russia economically and diplomatically to keep himself in power, he behaves like a renegade in Ukraine and Syria (‘Putin’s triumph’, 10 October). He is a stirrer and an adventurer, who causes danger in the world and to his fellow citizens. In 2011 he suggested that Russia should join the EU in a common market reaching from Lisbon to Vladivostok. That would be a good idea if the country were ready in terms of human rights and law and order, for Russia’s obvious political destiny is as a bridge between Europe and Asia. But Vlad changed his tune straight

I invented ‘virtue signalling’. Now it’s taking over the world

To my astonishment and delight, the phrase ‘virtue signalling’ has become part of the English language. I coined the phrase in an article here in The Spectator (18 April) in which I described the way in which many people say or write things to indicate that they are virtuous. Sometimes it is quite subtle. By saying that they hate the Daily Mail or Ukip, they are really telling you that they are admirably non-racist, left-wing or open-minded. One of the crucial aspects of virtue signalling is that it does not require actually doing anything virtuous. It does not involve delivering lunches to elderly neighbours or staying together with a spouse