A few days ago, on the Media Diversified website, a writer called Nafeez Ahmed accused me of promoting genocide. I was apparently the “acceptable face” of “far-right extremist ideology” which remains “inspired by antisemitic ideology” and promotes “stereotypical negative tropes about Muslimised foreigners and minorities”.
Ahmed seized upon a piece I had written about the truly genocidal antisemitism coursing through the Islamic world. For stating that the Jews would defend themselves I found myself, as a Jewish person, accused of promoting genocide. This is as obscene as it is unhinged. For Jews are the principal targets of genocidal white supremacists.
Last Saturday a man called Robert Bowers allegedly walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue where the congregation was celebrating the sabbath and opened fire screaming: “All Jews must die.” Eleven were killed and many others wounded.… Seguir leyendo »
here were, I would say, more members of the National Trust than the Socialist Workers’ Party at the People’s Vote march in London on Saturday. It was not a typical protest rally. Many of the 700,000 men, women and children who gathered to demand another Brexit referendum were at their first demonstration. They had babies in prams and Royal Horticultural Society bags along with their home-made banners. Although the sneerers described it as “the longest Waitrose queue in history” there were plenty of Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s customers too. This was not some kind of croissant-eating metropolitan liberal elite, but middle England, pouring in by coaches and trains from across the country with home-made sandwiches.… Seguir leyendo »
Chaos is coming. How should sensible, moderate Tories, who in their heart of hearts always feared that the last referendum set Theresa May an impossible task, respond? Do we bend our energies to helping a tottering prime minister keep the show on the road? Or do we march with the People’s Vote crowd this morning?
Convinced Leavers, disregard this column: you’ll be wasting your time. Here I shall be seeking not to convert readers to Remain but to offer — to those whose heads and hearts are already with the cause — some thoughts on how we proceed from here.
But why (you’re entitled to ask) does this ageing columnist and long-retired former Conservative MP presume to advise today’s politicians?… Seguir leyendo »
n 1924 Harold Macmillan became MP for Stockton-on-Tees. Witnessing brutal poverty there between the wars, he said later that he had learnt “lessons which I have never forgotten. If, in some respects, they may have left too deep an impression on my mind, the gain was greater than the loss.” The gain was a lifelong conviction that the central aim of domestic policy must be to avoid the horror of mass unemployment. Forget ideological posturing; the job of a responsible Conservative government was to keep people in work.
Almost a century and 25 miles up the A19 later, we arrive in Sunderland, where the Conservatives’ reputation for economic stewardship is dying.… Seguir leyendo »
Like many women I have followed the growing #MeToo movement over the last year with a mixture of delight and horror. Delight that so many assaulted women feel emboldened to speak out and to take no more of the sexual harassment many of us middle-aged women once took for granted from the likes of the mooning news editor in my first job. Horror that it was so prevalent — one in three women experiences sexual violence in their lifetime. Among the victims were strong women I could never have imagined being abused.
But through it all I have felt a certain unease.… Seguir leyendo »
Is there a majority in parliament for leaving the EU without a deal? No. Is there a majority for staying in the single market Norway-fashion for now? No. Is there a majority for Theresa May’s Chequers proposals? No. Is there a majority for a Canadian-style free trade agreement? No. Is there a majority for a second referendum? No. And is there a majority for calling a general election? No.
There isn’t a majority for anything.
So if the country isn’t simply to reach the end of March 2019 still debating as we fall off the cliff, someone is going to have to move.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week, parliament published 100 pages of pro-Leave adverts that appeared on Facebook during the Brexit referendum. Some were what you would have expected. “Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey are joining the EU. Seriously,” read one, with a picture of an NHS doctor with her head in her hands. Of course, they probably aren’t. Seriously.
Others were more niche. One showed sad Arctic fauna, because “the EU blocks our ability to speak out and protect polar bears”. Who knew? Yet more focused on the threat that the EU posed to the British cuppa. “Now the EU wants to ban tea kettles!” said one, offering a small giveaway that these were all the work of the Canadian digital advertising firm AggregateIQ.… Seguir leyendo »
The hard Brexiteers are dead, murdered by reality. A toe twitches here, an unknown deputy chairman of the party resigns there, but that part of the psychodrama is over. Now begins the next act.
This week both the former foreign secretary William Hague and the Labour deputy leader Tom Watson invoked the once impossible possibility of a “second referendum”. Lord Hague of Richmond deployed it as a disciplinary spectre that could take on horrid substance if pro-Brexit Tories did not back Theresa May’s strategy.
Mr Watson said that his party had not ruled out the possibility of a second referendum should there be no Brexit deal that could garner a Commons majority.… Seguir leyendo »
Can we clear something up at the outset? The Russian government is not coming over all outraged because it knows it is being falsely accused of complicity in the attempted murder in Salisbury of Sergei and Yulia Skripal. It has more knowledge of the nature of its own involvement than anyone.
No, its theatrical expressions of outrage stem from quite other feelings. The feeling that it should be allowed to get away with poisoning “traitors” in the UK, as it did with Alexander Litvinenko. The feeling that London, having been more greedy than any other financial centre for Russian mafia money, is not showing appropriate respect to the capo di tutti capi himself — Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.… Seguir leyendo »
Fifty years ago today, about 6pm central time, Martin Luther King Jr stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis and waited for his friends to join him. They were off to dinner, celebrating a court victory.
At that moment, across the way at Bessie Brewer’s Memphis boarding house, the inhabitant of room 5B poked his Remington Gamemaster out of the window of the communal bathroom, took careful aim with the aid of his Redfield scope, and shot King dead.
James Earl Ray did not act alone. From the moment he was arrested, more than two months later at Heathrow airport (he was apprehended with the words “I say old fellow, would you mind stepping over here for a moment”), carrying the proceeds of a robbery of the Fulham branch of the Trustee Savings Bank, he started lying.… Seguir leyendo »
Giving evidence to select committees restores my faith in parliamentary democracy. The questions are well informed; partisan allegiances undetectable; the mood, usually, of high seriousness.
This month I lowered the tone. The digital, culture, media and sport committee, chaired by Damian Collins, is investigating fake news, so I started my evidence by showing how easy it is to impersonate people and organisations on the internet. A few days earlier, I had set up a Gmail account in the name firstname.lastname@example.org. Then I used that email to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts in his name. For good measure I also started setting up a website (damian-collins-mp.org.uk) and another one in the name of the committee.… Seguir leyendo »
Bleak times, these. If the lights are not going out all over Europe they are, at least, flickering. From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, revanchism and nationalist resentment are back in fashion. The theory of marginal gains, long championed by liberal democrats and guardians of what the first President Bush optimistically deemed the “new world order”, no longer feels like manifest destiny.
Most of the world really has never had it so good. Globalisation has been a wondrous, if still incomplete, success for billions of people in Asia and Africa. But gains in the east and south have come at the expense of the west and north.… Seguir leyendo »
In the last days before the European referendum I appeared on the BBC with the Brexit campaigner Andrea Leadsom. I expressed my concern that, because of the terms we would secure, our trade with Europe would suffer if we left the EU. Ms Leadsom was convinced I was wrong.
She patiently explained that German car manufacturers and other European businesses would not allow their political leaders to damage trade with Britain in order to pursue political objectives. We would get smooth, tariff-free trade. European leaders would not — could not — afford to ignore companies like that.
Equally patiently, I put the counter view.… Seguir leyendo »
It is becoming clearer by the day that Theresa May is leading the country towards a Brexit that she does not truly believe is in the national interest, even though she sees it as her duty to implement it. This is an extraordinary position for a prime minister to be in, psychologically as well as politically.
There is no precedent for a leader consciously embarking on a course that they know will make their people poorer and less safe. No wonder Mrs May seems so tortured by her role in No 10. She is like one of the silhouettes of First World War soldiers that are being installed around the country: There But Not There, a shadow leader who commemorates past battles without having any substance herself.… Seguir leyendo »
‘What do you think?” said my daughter, parading up and down the kitchen in a pale pink dress and a pair of heavy black lace-up ankle boots with two-inch platforms. They looked like the sort of thing that polio victims used to wear to increase the length of a limb foreshortened by disease. Torn between honesty and appeasement I made, as usual, the wrong choice. “The dress is lovely. Couldn’t you wear some pretty shoes with it?”
“Omigod you just want to make me look like something out of your childhood,” she said, and stomped out. The boots may be hideous, but they emote effectively.… Seguir leyendo »
To prick the conscience of the world, to spark the kind of outrage that puts protesters on the streets and peacekeepers on the ground, the world’s suffering peoples are required to possess certain qualities. We kid ourselves that our humanity and compassion are impartial emotions, available to all. The truth is that it is easier to feel sympathy for some human beings than for others, and that our reasons for doing so are usually arbitrary.
Sometimes it is kindled by a chance image, like the skeletal Muslims in a Bosnian concentration camp in 1992 or the drowned Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach in 2015.… Seguir leyendo »
George Weah, the former world footballer of the year, has achieved his great goal by winning the presidency of Liberia. There are concerns about his bedfellows and time will tell whether he can meet the hopes of supporters desperate for change. However, this is another personal triumph for a decent man born in a slum who has travelled such distance in life.
Much attention focused on a former footballer’s success in politics. Yet Mr Weah’s triumph means 2017 was bookended by two electoral breakthroughs in west Africa, all the more resonant as demagogues and despots abuse democracy elsewhere.
Mr Weah succeeds Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state, to become Liberia’s 25th president.… Seguir leyendo »
School textbooks in Syria make uncomfortable reading. Jews, pupils are told, reject Allah’s divine truth, their state is illegitimate, Israeli occupation of Arab lands is a crime. A 25-year-old Syrian, whatever his views of Bashar al-Assad, whatever his personal misery, will have been brought up with these unquestioned views and some will have drawn the conclusion: it is impossible, indeed wrong, to live side by side with Jews.
We are seeing the results of this in Europe today. Antisemitism is on the rise, especially in countries that took in large numbers of migrants from Arab countries. At the outset of this month’s Hannukah festival, two Syrians and a Palestinian firebombed a synagogue in Gothenburg, Sweden.… Seguir leyendo »
Almost 40 years ago Spain embraced democracy after a long dictatorship. Since then we have become an open country with a decentralised government in which autonomous communities enjoy the greatest degree of self-government in Europe. But all that is now at risk because of the irresponsibility of Carles Puigdemont and his separatist government in Catalonia.
By riding roughshod over those, like me, who reject his separatist agenda, Mr Puigdemont betrays true democracy. His brand of nationalism and populism is based on contempt for anyone who disagrees and the false idea that there are simple, magical solutions to complex national problems.
This ideology, which has caused so much damage elsewhere in Europe, has also made Catalonia — one of the most important economic regions in Spain — lose countless opportunities.… Seguir leyendo »
When Emmanuel Macron gets angry he often seems merely petulant, a thwarted princeling. Recently, however, in Abidjan, the de facto capital of Ivory Coast, the French president was more convincing, brimming with Old Testament outrage. “These days in Africa there are Africans who enslave other Africans,” he boomed.
The reference was to Libyans holding slave auctions of would-be refugees from Nigeria and Senegal. Some are sold to local farmers, others to building contractors. Deeply in debt to people-smugglers, unable and unwilling to return home, unwanted in Europe, bullied and beaten in Libya’s holding camps, they inhabit a miserable limbo. And as Macron told African leaders, this is not solely a European dilemma.… Seguir leyendo »