We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

“Does Britain have free speech?”

The title is quoted from a Quillette article (h/t instapundit) inspired by the following letter to author James Flynn from Tony Roche, publishing director of Emerald, explaining their decision to drop his book:

“I am contacting you in regard to your manuscript ‘In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor’. Emerald believes that its publication, in particular in the United Kingdom, would raise serious concerns. … the work could be seen to incite racial hatred and stir up religious hatred under United Kingdom law. Clearly you have no intention of promoting racism but intent can be irrelevant. …”

In the 1930s, J.R.R.Tolkien’s publisher contacted him regarding publishing ‘The Hobbit’ in Germany. To do so, they were legally obliged to provide an assurance that Tolkien had no Jewish ancestry. Tolkien gave them two courteous letters, saying he would rather they sent the first but he acknowledged it was up to them. The first politely withheld the information. The second expressed Tolkien’s “regret” that he had “no ancestors of the gifted Jewish race”, adding that his pride in his German ancestry would be sensibly diminished if enquiries of this kind pointed to Germany’s future. (Alas, back then, all too clearly they did.) Because it is this second letter that was found in the publisher’s files, it is thought they acted on Tolkien’s request to send the first.

My pride in being British will be sensibly diminished if Emerald’s letter points to our future. My Brexit enthusiasm owes much to my knowledge that one side would let Britain become a place where Emerald could feel less concerned, while the other are determined to give them cause to feel yet more.

Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 “to champion new ideas”, according to its website. I guess you could say free speech is an old idea and banning it is the new idea – though also a very old one. Or maybe ‘champion’ doesn’t mean what I thought it did. Such pride as I ever felt in British publishers was sensibly diminished as I read that letter – and it did not cheer me to think that while the decision may reflect some cowardice or even complicity in Emerald, shocked to find an un-PC book had somehow crept into their planned list, the letter may also be factual and more honest than the activists who would prosecute.

A logical danger in PC illogic

(Normal service – i.e. prose – will be resumed promptly. I promised a follow-up poem about its being too easy to rebut the race scammers – or ‘race hustlers’ as is, I believe, the US term. Here it is.)

ADVICE TO A CAMPUS RADICAL

When true statements are uttered by those you despise,
It’s not logical (nor helpful, narrative-wise)
To shout “racist”, as if hearers will not realise
That from true factual statements do not follow lies.

Don’t unwittingly justify what you oppose,
by discarding all logic for wokeness, like those
intellectuals lacking in intellect who
‘prove’ some true facts are racist (so racism’s true?).

When exam results don’t match what you want them to,
When too few of the prize winners have the ‘right’ hue,
Do not claim that it’s racist to add two and two:
“Mathematics is racist!” says “Racism’s true”.

If school discipline policies are colour-blind
and offender percentage results in each kind
are unequal, don’t say that is racist to do:
saying “colour-blind’s racist” says “racism’s true”.

That slavery is ancient, you should not deny,
Nor that blacks sold the blacks that white traders did buy,
Nor that one culture banned it and forced others to,
Nor that these truths aren’t racist (else racism’s true).

Falsifiable claims enforced by a loud few
Do not silence the minds whose mouths dare not argue;
Best let doubters weed errors in free speech review.
Don’t say free speech is racist; free speech finds what’s true.

Sadly, say what I like about freedom of speech.
How ‘respect’ means first hearing the viewpoint of each,
And how more diverse thoughts could expand your thought’s reach,
Your thought is:   we listen, while you alone teach.

When you welcome illegals, but back of the queue
Is where you put the Copt, Venezuelan or Jew
(anti-‘Zionist’ immigrants being welcome too)
It appears that some racism’s OK by you.

Know from false ideologies, falsehood derives:
You’ll be spreading the hatred, you claiming the lives.
If you war against truths then you will evil do,
For no truth can be racist – else racism’s true.

Too Easy to Rebut the PC Ta-Nehisi / NYT

The long-suffering readers of this blog know that, like Bilbo Baggins, I occasionally inflict poetry upon you (in deference to this blog’s free speech convictions, I also allow the word ‘doggerel’ 🙂 ).

Whether this poem says anything my prose did not say, I leave to readers, but since Ta-Nehisi is being echoed by Democrat candidates, and the NYT is promising to write essay after essay “demonstrating that nearly everything that has made America exceptional grew out of slavery”, how can we avoid restating truths as they reiterate their lies? In pursuit of variety, I therefore offer as poem some thoughts mostly already expressed in prose. (If commenters know other ways of restating timeless truths to resist the fashionable lies of this time, by all means say.)

When white traders sought a profit in black endless tribal wars,
Where the winners sold the losers, pinioned in their slave collars,
Then the winners were the losers, left behind in Africa,
From the losers came the winners, free men in America.

If you thought that reparations were owed you by those you blame
Then the past you should have had, you would endeavour to reclaim –
Live with offspring of keen sellers, whence your captured forebears came,
Quit the nation that stopped buying, if you thought it owned the shame –

Since a man who claims repayment from a country where he’ll stay,
Clutching eagerly its passport (to live there, not go away),
Knows the winners don’t descend from those who won a tribal war;
He, descendant of the losers, knows he is today’s victor.

For we all have ancestors, and all have some who had it rough.
‘Fixing’ that would have no end, quite cause enough to say “Enough!”.
But to insolently claim repayment for great benefit,
When the losers are long dead, and in world terms you’re doing great,

When you say your country owes you yet remain its citizen,
Shows you don’t think you, today, inherit loss from way back then.
Better not repay your country with your self-indulgent hate,
But rejoice its negroes profit as it is again made great.

That it is in one way too easy to rebut these idiots – that the antifa woke mob have a power in their fists and in their administrators’ and media-friends’ fraud that they do not have in their heads – prompts me to write parables and poems to make it interesting. But since we believe diversity of thought is the only diversity of value, ‘too easy’ has its dangers – those words are not just in my title for the rhyme. But that must await my next poem.

Meanwhile (reverting to prose), the whole NYT Ta-Nehisian project is like observing that in the 1850s, while a majority of free U.S. blacks were literate and literacy passed easily from them to slaves, a majority of US slaves were not literate – at a time when the large majority of the world’s people were not literate. It is only because the US population was exceptionally literate for its time that one has any basis for complaint. And southern slaveowners worried about slave literacy only because, in the exceptional US, a literate slave might read that all men were endowed with inalienable rights – and then read a map showing routes northwards – which was not a danger in the unexceptional parts of the world.

(This is another of my “Less economy of truth, please” posts – maybe I should make a tag.)

Humanitarian Combat Fatigue

Recently I had the chance to talk to someone from a boat that had been in the mediterranean rescuing migrants – not one of the PC frauds that are the final stage of the people-smuggling operation, determined to land the ‘rescued’ in Europe or not at all, but just would-be humanitarian rescuers and returners.

What I was unprepared to learn about was something that sounded a bit like combat fatigue – the kind when a man says vehemently “I don’t want to talk about it”, and two hours later can’t stop talking about it. The people-smugglers pack them in, so the engine room is always crowded – maybe with those who did not pay or promise as much as others, maybe with those who were rashly eager, boarded first and got sent below, or maybe randomly. The ventilation is never adequate, and the people-smugglers never care, so typically half are dead by the time they are intercepted. I think the man who didn’t want to talk about it and couldn’t stop talking about it had cleared one too many such scenes – or maybe several too many.

Such accounts reinforce the impression I get from anecdotes on samizdata or elsewhere.

– Firstly, this is a commercial operation in which the people labelled ‘refugees’ are indeed really migrants but they are also more (or do I mean less?) than that. They are a commodity – a collaborating (and also pressured and deceived) commodity.

– Secondly, it is news to me if this aspect gets on the mainstream news. Is it just me (maybe it is – maybe I’ve missed watching counter-examples), or does mainstream media news consistently obscure this basic aspect of the migrant operation?

The equal oppression of the laws

“… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (14th amendment to the U.S. constitution)

Americans, especially right-wing ones, object if laws that protect them are applied unequally – if, for example, it is a crime for government emails to be held on private servers, but not when Hillary does it. But of course, right-wingers, especially American ones, believe that many laws don’t protect; they oppress. (And it is a point of honour in those who call themselves libertarians to believe that even more of the laws are like that.)

In the US, they seem to understand that these two beliefs support each other. The right dislike Obamacare – and were angry when Obama gave some Democrat constituencies waivers and deferrals when introducing it. No-one called them hypocrites for complaining about the unequal enforcement of a law they never wanted passed in the first place. Similarly, no-one seems to have missed the Logan Act during the centuries when it went unenforced, but did even the most fanatic NeverTrumper write “We should be above that” when Trump supporters pointed out that if the act was back in use then John Kerry should be prosecuted under it? Washington’s lobbyist class honours the Foreign Agents Registration Act far more in the breach than the observance, but the MSM seem keener to understate that fact than to denounce as hypocrites those right-wingers who say that now unregistered Republicans have been charged, prosecute some unregistered Democrats.

This attitude, I believe, extends to the first amendment. Legal exceptions to the first amendment (‘fighting words’, ‘clear and present danger’) are few, and the right wants it kept that way. But so long as those exceptions apply to them, the right also want them applied to any left-wing violator. They see that as defending free speech – not betraying it.

Here in Britain, by contrast, confusion reigns. Right-wing blogger Sargon of Akkad jokes about not offering violence to a left-wing politico – and the police visit him. Left-wing BBC comedian Jo Brand jokes about thowing acid rather than mikshake over Farage – and the police do not visit her. Whereupon Brendan O’Neill (who has written freedom-supporting articles in the past) writes in the Spectator (of which the same can be said) rebuking Mr Farage for suggesting that they should have.

(A PC gang once visited a pub where Nigel Farage, his wife and their children were dining, eager to cause harm. And he knows the drycleaning cost of getting mikshake off your suit. So I have a bit more sympathy for Nigel than for any other party leader, even Boris, when he yields to the temptation to wonder whether, despite Brand’s claims, it was not quite only a joke. But let us take it that it was just a joke.)

Brendan appears to be saying the true lover of free speech should not demand “the equal oppression of the laws”. Brendan wants an equal liberation from hate speech laws – Jo Brand must have the right to joke about throwing acid at Farage and Count Dankula must be free to film his dog doing a Nazi salute. I would like that too, but meanwhile,

“It is a settled rule with me to make the most of my actual situation, and not to refuse to do a proper thing because there is something else, more proper, which I am not able to do.” (Edmund Burke)

By criticising Nigel for resisting the double-standard (that Brendan also hates), Brendan implies that Farage’s demand for legal equality, not just Brand’s exploitation of left-wing privilege, is what stands in the way of that equal liberation. I think he is making a mistake – and confusing his mistake with the meaning of ‘free speech’.

I would much rather live in a Britain where neither Sargon nor Jo had a visit from the police – but I don’t. I’d criticise Farage if I thought Jo Brand dissapproved the police visiting Sargon – but I don’t (this pertinent hint merely confirms things I’ve heard her say). Unequal enforcement of the hate speech laws has been an essential part of maintaining them from the start. You don’t fight them by protecting that inequality. Free speech means the state shall not control what we may say. The state has yet more control when it does not just ban speech but bans it arbitrarily. So when people try to end that arbitrariness, they may not be failing to “disagree with what you say but defend your right to say it”, as Brendan claims; they may be defending free speech.

For clarity, let me illustrate with an example programme. Imagine (but don’t hold your breath for it) that PM Boris (radicalised by how he’s been treated, and heading a party purified by defections, internal deselections and/or external Brexit Party rivals) announces a bill to roll back the attack on free speech (e.g. repeal every such law since 9/11). However, he also announces that, while this bill slowly works its way towards the royal assent, his government, to protect equality before the law, will prosecute a backlog of unlawfully-suppressed cases from those years – remarks that were ever so woke, but were also hate speech as defined by the equitably-phrased laws, uttered by people who had also demanded the laws punish far less hateful remarks of their opponents.

– To Brendan (I would guess if I had only the Spectator article as my guide), these prosecutions would be no better than evil revenge, discrediting the cause and making the return of laws against ‘hate’ speech more likely.

– To me, they would be a good way of educating the public about what was wrong with those laws, and also a way to make the left think twice about reimposing them the moment they got back in power. But, beyond these tactical points, they would also uphold the principle of equality before the law.

We will not lack for mind-broadening frenemies to defend even after tolerating ‘equality before the law’ arguments against the loudest “I can say it but you can’t” enforcers of the double-standard. The woker-than-thou of today love purging the woke of yesterday – they will supply.

Equality before the law is good in itself. Demanding equality of oppression before the law is a way to expose a dishonest process. Think carefully before judging it a betrayal of our war against the hate speech laws’ evil goal, rather than a way – that can be both honest in itself and effective – of waging it.

The inclusiveness of ‘You didn’t build that’

“You didn’t build that” (Obama)

If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Prisoner then you’ve seen Portmeiron, Sir Clough Williams-Ellis’ Italianate architectural fantasy on the Llyn peninsula in Wales. In politics, Sir Clough was sometimes less of an individual than in architecture – he could echo the fashionable leftisms of his set.

One day, the state noticed what he was achieving at Portmeiron and ‘gave’ it protected status. After that, anybody who wanted to do any more building there had to satisfy the bureaucrats. “I was rather surprised”, said Sir Clough, “to discover that ‘anybody’ included me.”

Recently, Nancy Bass Wyden, wife of Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat), had a similar experience in De Blasio’s New York. I wonder if she was similarly surprised when all her democratic party connections and all the 11,000 signatures on her petition against it did not prevent De Blasio adding one more bureau to the list of those who get to tell the increasingly-titular owner of the Landmarks bookstore what she can and cannot do. (And if you think none of these bureaucrats would notice if Landmarks ever seemed overeager to push an off-message book then I have a bridge in De Blasio’s New York that you can ‘own’ every bit as much as Nancy owns Landmarks.)

Ayn Rand’s architect hero in The Fountainhead has one solution for what to do when the state steals your building – blow it up – but I’ve always found that a bit negative. Trump has, I suppose, at least ensured that whatever excuse they ‘trump up’ to attack his buildings, it won’t be by declaring them much loved landmarks that must be preserved. But I’ve yet to think of a general solution. Buildings, alas, cannot vote with their feet.

Don’t let them have a double standard about their double standards

Recently, the Daily Mail told me what the Guardian chose not to – research in the tapes made by the FBI of Martin Luther King suggest they were more embarrassing than just those impertinent recordings of a man when intimate with his wife that the narrative assured us was all they were.

Of the truth or falsity of these new claims I will say nothing. Truth is the daughter of time, and I think it wise to keep an open mind for at least a little more time. The point of this post is different.

Although it’s been old news for years (these stories may revive it), there was a time when the narrative was very invested in assuring us that Robert Kennedy signed off on this bugging in all innocence. Poor Bobby just thought the bugging would prove that Dr King was not a communist sympathiser, and so discredit the racially-motivated rumours. How upset he was to realise – too late, alas – that racist J Edgar Hoover had used it otherwise. Like ex-KKK member the ultra-liberal senator Byrd, and that other Kennedy after his belatedly-reported car accident, Bobby got the absolution that all get who get with the PC programme.

Meanwhile, on the other side of this ledger, Dr King is now accused of joining the elite in enjoying the 60s sexual revolution in 1964, a few years before it was announced to us commoners – and, much more seriously, of being the accomplice in a rape. That is, it is claimed that very hard credible evidence exists of Dr King’s doing more determined and greater evil than Justice Kavanaugh was accused of doing without a shred of credible evidence.

Reacting to this, some have asked

Should we change the name on every school, park, and boulevard across the nation named after him as if he were the inverse of Robert E. Lee

Others quote a commenter to one of the early reports urging that when statues and street names are threatened by the PC, the name of Dr King can be mentioned

NOT in the spirit of “Whataboutism”, but in order to remind them that there is no incompatibility between celebrating the achievements of people in the past and acknowledging that those people had – as we all do – major flaws.

(“major flaws” reminded me of Laurie’s enraged “Rape is a ‘moral lapse’ !” response to the comedian’s – arguably lesser, as we eventually discover – guilt in Watchmen.)

To be fair, other names besides General Lee are being bandied about. Of Jefferson at least, there is both contemporary accusation (“He sold the offspring of his lusts at the block to swell his profits”, said Hamilton) and some later evidence (I do not know if the “him or his brother” aspect of the DNA evidence has been fully resolved); did Jefferson “tremble for my country when I think that God is just, that his justice will not sleep forever” because he had memories of which he was not proud? Of some others, we know only that on the old south’s plantations (where white control was strongest) between 1% and 2% of the babies born were of mixed race, which is one guide to the probabilities on either side of any debate about a given insufficiently-known individual. No doubt some master-slave sex was consensual – in a sense. Though the old south did not equal an Arab harem’s ability to give its occupants no alternatives and compelling motives, one does not have to OD on PC and MeToo to see what could be said about the limits of that sense – but one does have to OD on them not to see that the absence or presence of overt refusal and misery on the part of the woman says something important about the character of the man. If the tapes only showed Dr King anticipating the fashionable left-wing mores of the later 60s with women (over whom he had authority) who were overtly consensual, former admirers would not call it ‘nauseating’.

Of General Lee, I long ago said that I admired his character, but was glad his cause lost. Of Dr King (if this prove true) I will one day say that I’m glad his cause won but do not admire him – very much the reverse. And I will indeed not mention him with General Lee in any spirit of what-about-ism – because there would be a great gulf fixed between the characters of the two men. King would indeed be an inverse of Lee – inverse in cause and inverse in character, and those two the inverses of each other. Let’s have no new double-standard, like an adversity-qualified SAT score, about what makes a decent human being.

Or, as powerline remarks in passing,

For what it is worth, however, I think that American heroes like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant and Ronald Reagan were of far higher moral character than King.

Me too!

Resisting ethnic prejudice by other means

Germany resists islamophobia. German law seeks to purge the public domain of such offensive views.

Germany also resists anti-semitism. The German government’s anti-semitism commissioner has warned Jews to avoid being Jewish in public.

The BBC sees the German far right behind the rise in anti-semitism that prompted the commissioner’s advice. Is it just me or are they ignoring a rival explanation?

Also, is it just me, or is the German method for resisting anti-semitism rather different from the German method for resisting islamophobia – so different, in fact, that their advice to Jews resembles what their law demands of ‘islamophobes’: become invisible in the public domain lest you cause offence?

I wrote a poem about this a while back.

Do please feel free to say that it’s just me and there is really nothing more to see here. After all, I expect that’s what the German government’s anti-semitism commissioner would say – but he might be only obeying orders, or only obeying the anti-islamophobia law.

As annoying?

We’re confident that North Carolina’s politics will annoy us from the right as much as California’s does from the left, but we’re equally confident that center-right North Carolinians won’t try to personally and professionally ruin us for daring to disagree with them.

The quote is from a comment to this article (that I found from instapundit). The commenters – Californians who have decided to vote with their feet – complain they’ve seen one too many

smart, talented colleagues fired, and their reputations blackened, because they had the temerity to utter a heterodox opinion, or made it known that they voted for a Republican, or were insufficiently enthusiastic about adopting the latest politically-correct newspeak.

They expect to be as annoyed by NC’s right-wing politics as by CA’s left-wing politics. It may be just their way of expressing it. And I suppose it will be a culture shock (understandable they’ve not moved to Texas, or Alabama – or Samizdata 🙂 ). But I have a hard time imagining being as annoyed by politics that will allow me to dissent as by politics that will punish any hint of dissent.

But maybe that’s just my typical right-wing focus on the honesty of the process rather than the nobility of the goal.

Elections have consequences – and so does arranging that they don’t

There’s a Snoopy cartoon that starts with Linus telling Violet he is running away from home. “I know a joke about running away from home”, says Violet. “A boy at a street crossing tells a friend he is running away from home. ‘Then why are you waiting here?’, she asks. ‘I’m not allowed to cross the street without permission.’, he explains.”

“That’s a riot”, replies Linus sourly, gazing down at the kerbstone on which he is standing.

Winning a referendum, electing a president – with hindsight, we can see these were not so much victories as winning the right to fight. They did not force the deep state to obey – they forced the deep state to fight. While some crudely expressed their entitlement (“The Electoral College should ignore the outcome” or “Just declare him insane”, and “Hold another referendum” or “It was only advisory”), more professional liars began a longer-term strategy to undo what was voted.

Two years later, we have reached stage two: as with Harvey Weinstein, everybody knows – and everybody knows the insiders always knew. In the US, there was no collusion, just a lot of cheating to pretend there was. In the UK, May and collaborators lied (quite a lot) to get the power to tell us we can run away from the EU just as soon as the EU gives us permission. In the US, the media’s collusion story is over. In the UK, all the papers are talking about who will succeed May. And all that means is, the deep state can be made to stand and fight.

– If you can frame a president, and the only price you pay for failing is that you didn’t succeed, then (to paraphrase the Brighton bomb terrorists) Trump has to be lucky every time; the deep state only has to be lucky once.

– If no vote is so solemn, so pledged to be decisive before and after by government and opposition, that its decision can’t be delayed forever, then votes don’t control what the deep state can do; the deep state controls what votes can do.

It’s been quite an education, watching it unfold. But they’ve had to be just a bit obvious to get here – so now they can be made to stand and fight.

“The night before the Nazi-Soviet pact was announced, I dreamed that the war had started. It was one of those dreams which … reveal to you the real state of your feelings. It taught me .. that I should be simply relieved when the long-dreaded war started.” (George Orwell, ‘My Country, Right or Left’)

In Britain, it begins with a fight for the soul of the Tory party. Some of us used to point out that our hate speech laws were not imposed on us by the EU against our rulers’ will – that May loves them, that Corbyn adores them, that Brexit was only ever going to be the start. Now we have been taught the worthlessness of establishment promises. We know there is no Brexit without a leader who wants it – and deselecting MPs who don’t. The struggle we hoped to start sometime has become the unavoidable fight of today – and we have some very angry allies.

In the US, it begins with a fight for consequences. The usual suspects intend to show that fitting up Trump has no consequences, but being un-PC has grave consequences. Trump can drain the swamp now or drown in it next time – and he has quite a lot of evidence.

The deep state, the establishment, the ‘experts’, the people who know best – they will fight. It’s our achievement (helped by their errors) that they will have to. I don’t know who will win, on either side of the pond, but

“for myself, I am an optimist; there does not seem much point in being anything else.” (Sir Winston Churchill)

What I do think is that politics tomorrow will not be like politics yesterday – that in a deep sense, what the deep state has done has already had consequences.

The balance of forces

Guido presents evidence that we have God on our side, along with the Queen, 63% of voters, a large part of an infuriated Tory party, and the army (or at least, the parachute regiment – I’ve lived next door to a para, and suspect they would be enough). 🙂

By a possible majority of one vote (at this moment I write), parliament is not on our side but on the side of endless procrastination – nor it would seem is the PM on our side. (I’m not quite sure what happened to “I’ll stay for as long as you want me”, but I assume it’s the same thing as happened to all the other promises.)

Having God on your side is good, but if I understand the theology correctly, He protects free will by using His power to warn, not compel – and helps those who help themselves. A coincidentally-timed lightening strike is welcome – and hilarious – but while I invite all who so wish to pray hard, we should not expect lightning to strike May and Corbyn as they shake hands. 🙂

Having the Queen on your side is good (noting that all is report and she would act sooner than she would formally say in public). Normally, like the almighty, her majesty warns but does not compel. In my opinion, the more letters that arrive at Buck Palace (acknowledging her wise convention of staying out of it normally but expressing calm loyal support for her right to act when Parliament behaves irregularly), the better, and they can certainly do no harm (most of us will have already written to our MP, some with far less reason to think it could have any effect). IMHO, be brief, be polite, be properly-phrased and don’t lecture her on what action to take, just say how loyally you’d support her taking action.

Having the voters on your side is good (if it is so – opinion polls are unreliable, of course, and a bit all over the place, but less so in both respects than parliament at the moment). However the voters cannot easily compel before an election.

We also, I hope, have ourselves – the brexitters – on our side. Guido is one of those brexitters who wanted May’s deal accepted for fear of worse. I respect such people despite disagreeing with them. Now is time for both sides of that debate to leave recriminations since that ship would appear to be sailing, for better or worse. Let’s look at those options.

1) For worse: Ramsay MacDonald was the last PM to betray their party and form an alliance with the opposition and a few like-minded turncoats. Being the nominal head of an overwhelmingly other-party coalition made him largely powerless domestically, so he concentrated on foreign policy: Ramsay MacDonald was the pacifist PM of the UK during Hitler’s first three years in power. This was very useful to Hitler as he moved from its being a military parade to remove him in 1933 to having 36 infantry divisions and 6 armoured ones with which to object in 1936. That precedent is not encouraging.

2) For better: precisely because May is putting up such a sneaky fight, Brexit has proved a stronger lever than I ever hoped for exposing those who are Tory in name only, and enraging the party against them. I doubt anyone is joining the Tory party at this moment but urge all who are there to stay, pro tem. Tearing up your party card in public is a great way to warn, but remember you must not actually resign if you are to use your (imminent, I hope) chance to compel.

The Joke and the Reality

April Fool’s day is the day to tell a story that seems real but is in fact a joke. Yesterday was the day when a joke became astonishingly real for me.

Sunday morning, I was casually shown this picture on a friend’s phone. On a brexitter’s blog, it would be no surprise. On that friend’s phone, sent her by her children, it told me the joke was going viral. I laughed appreciatively – and reflected that whatever diminishes the respect anyone still feels for “Parliament knows best what to do on Brexit” was good.

QueenInstructs00onParliamentMission

Just what her majesty has told James Bond 007 (licensed to kill) to do with all members of parliament is not explicitly stated – appeal to their (very) latent honesty as regards keeping promises, perhaps? But I saw that it was of course a joke, utterly unreal – the Queen is portrayed uttering a swearword!

That afternoon I saw the Sunday Times. The Times is the ultimate establishment remainer newspaper. It is Sir Humphrey Appleby’s newspaper. Imagine my shock when I read on the front page, illustrated with a picture of her, that

“The Queen has a constitutional role to play in Brexit … The Queen may block a soft Brexit …”

Were parliament to seize control of Brexit, then (this establishment remainer paper stated – in more or less the words I am writing here) Mrs May could well advise the Queen to withhold assent. As the private chats between her majesty and her prime minister are confidential, it did not say – nor would we perhaps know – whether that would be the result of Mrs May begging the use of every lever at her disposal or of the Queen pointedly advising Mrs May to advise her so. Far more important to me was this explicit statement that, in our current state, when Parliament cannot or will not act, or not within the rules, the Queen can – not by invoking any extraordinary prerogative power but as an ordinary constitutional act. I saw that last week but I was very surprised to see an establishment endorsement of it over the weekend.

Like everyone else – like Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Etc. Etc. – like everyone in the UK and the EU, with the possible exception of Elizabeth R – I don’t know what is going to happen next. But beware making a joke. The papers may report it for real that afternoon.

In other news, while many marched in London, some acquaintances marked the absence-of-Brexit day by climbing the Cumbrian hill called ‘Great Cockup’. It is next to ‘Little Cockup’ but they felt the latter summit was not so appropriate a destination.