Thursday 30 November 2023

Two tier everything

 

During the demonstrations against Israel in London a phrase began to be used that I had never heard before, two tier policing. It became obvious that the police were treating crowds calling for Jihad and the destruction of Israel very differently to crowds demonstrating about anything else or indeed individuals. But the phrase has a wider application. It’s not so much that we have two tier policing. We have two tier everything.

Some of this two tier everything is rather ludicrous. If white people wear Mexican hats they may be accused of cultural appropriation. But what are the rules of who can wear what? Well, lots of forms of clothing were invented in Europe. But no one says it’s cultural appropriation if a Mexican wears a suit.  



The rules are these. People from ethnic minorities can wear what they want. They can style their hair how they want. They can take part in European folk dancing. They can listen to the Beatles. They can play Beethoven on the piano. They can speak any language they please with any accent. No one will ever call it cultural appropriation.

It’s only if white people have dreadlocks or play rap or reggae or wear native American headdresses or African robes or speak with a Jamaican accent that we have cultural appropriation.

Two tier everything extends to television and films. If you are putting on a performance where some of the characters are black or Asian it is obligatory that they be performed by black or Asian actors. It makes it difficult to stage the Mikado anymore which was originally designed to be played by English singers because it is a satire on English society. It means that Othello can no longer be played as it originally was by a white actor.

There is some sense in this. I generally prefer authenticity in film and television. I would be quite happy if only black and Asian people played black and Asian characters. Most old films with white people made up to look Asian don’t really work.

But two tier everything means that it only works one way. It has now become obligatory in any adaptation of a nineteenth century novel to have black or Asian actors playing the parts of white characters. Frequently in historical dramas we have black and Asian actors appearing anachronistically either when we know that the historical figure was white or when it is highly unlikely that there would have been black or Asian people present.

This extends even into historical research of dead plague victims. There were tiny numbers of ethnic minorities in Britain even in 1939 a few thousand at most. How many were living in London in 1346? Yet we have researchers desperate to find racism by examining skull sizes in order to accuse Londoners of racism when hardly anyone at the time had even met a black person. No one is doing research on skulls in Nigeria to show that white people were the victims of racism. It would be considered ludicrous, not least because two tier everything means black people cannot be racist.

This means that while we know that black people in West Africa were involved in capturing slaves and selling them across the Atlantic, no one ever asks their descendants for reparations, and no one ever blames them for the sins of their fathers. Likewise, while we know that slavery was a part of the Islamic world from the beginning no one ever asks for reparations from Muslim countries.

When we talk about slavery every form of slavery that ever existed including in European countries, China and Russia is ignored. The only slavery that our two tier thinking pays any attention to is the Atlantic slave trade. Here it is also ignored that the Royal Navy spent a fortune in lives and money to eradicate the Atlantic slave trade and the United States Army fought the bloodiest war in its history to do the same.

But how did we end up with two tier everything? The reason is that in the United States until the 1960s the aim was to treat people equally and without prejudice. Everyone deserved the same chance to succeed. No one should be held back by racism or any other prejudice. Treat everyone like an individual was the ideal not as a representative of a group. But this ideal changed.

Gradually in the 1970s a new theory emerged that viewed race through the idea of power. Certain groups were powerful, white people, but sometimes also Asian people and Jewish people. There arose a hierarchy of victimhood. It meant that if you were a victim, i.e., you were lacking in power you could essentially say or do anything, and it would not be racist.

There is no evidence for critical race theory. No one discovered it by means of experiment. No one proved it by means of reason and logic. But gradually it has worked its way into the Western world as being something that is beyond question.

It explains why a black woman can goad Nigel Farage. She knows that she can say or do anything and nothing bad will happen. If he makes the slightest slip of the tongue or even looks at her the wrong way he will be cancelled. She can’t be racist because she is black. He is automatically racist because he is white.

So, if a black or Asian person deliberately targets a white woman and rapes her while calling her the most insulting things based on her skin colour, he will have committed a crime, but it won’t be racially motivated.

Likewise, there is only white privilege because white people are in the position of power, and this applies even if the black person is wealthy and employs the white person as his cleaner. It even ludicrously applies one assumes if you live in Poland in a small village where there are no black people.

But two tier everything means that there is no equivalent of black privilege in an African country where there are only black people. There is no Asian privilege in an Asian country where there are no other ethnic groups.

This idea is dangerous. It puts people living in the same society in opposition to each other. Instead of working together to eliminate prejudice and racism we end up with one group continually looking to accuse the other of the unforgivable sin of racism while being immune from that sin themselves.

This is the reason why Meghan Markle arrived in Britain looking desperately for racism. She was a McCarthyite looking for Racism under the beds. Of course, she found it, how could she not? But she only searched so assiduously because she knew that she could not be accused of anything.  

If you continually accuse one group of a crime that another group is unable to commit, the first group will eventually rebel against this way of thinking. If you forbid people saying what they are thinking quite legitimately because it is racist, they will in time say it anyway and disregard your accusation of racism. The danger is that you will end up with worse racism than if you allowed people to speak freely and listened to their concerns.

You end up with rioting.

It is not racist to be concerned about the demographic makeup of the UK or how rapidly it is changing. It is not racist because every country in the world would have the same concern.

It cannot be that it was wrong for Europeans to colonise North America, but that it’s just fine if far larger numbers are arriving in a much shorter time in Europe. But here too there is two tiers thinking. While there are Native Americans, there are no Native Europeans. We are not even allowed the concept.

Critical race theory I think explains the change in the way that the Left has responded to the conflict in Israel. It treats Jewish people like white American settlers and the Palestinians like the oppressed Native Americans and black slaves. Whatever the Israelis do is always and automatically wrong because the Jews have the power. Whatever the Palestinians do no matter how heinous is always and automatically not antisemitism but a justified response to oppression.

How else do you explain the contortions of certain commentators desperate not to believe anything bad happened on October 7th?

Critical race theory abolishes antisemitism even though the Jewish people are the most oppressed race in history. It justifies and excuses the modern equivalent of Holocaust denial and allows people to parade through the streets of London calling for the eradication of the Jews in the Middle East with impunity.

If your theory leads to this, rethink it.

It is time we returned to the concept of equality of opportunity and working together to lessen everyone’s prejudice and racism with tolerance and forgiveness for the mistakes that people from every race make. It is time we were allowed to speak freely about our concerns without worrying about two tier policing and two tier everything else.

Instead, we have created a two tier Britain that cannot live with itself and whose population cannot live with each other.


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Tuesday 28 November 2023

The Scottish Spring has turned into Winter

 

From early 2015 to early 2023 it felt like SNP rule was permanent. It felt like that to Nicola Sturgeon too. It didn’t much matter how well or badly SNP politicians behaved. The various scandals were either not reported or else didn’t make any difference. The SNP did not have enough support to really push for independence, but it had enough to stay in power permanently.

In this the SNP was like Labour in the years prior to 2014. It didn’t much matter what Labour did when it ruled Holyrood with the Lib Dems and it didn’t much matter what it’s MPs got up to at Westminster, it could pretty much guarantee that whenever there was an election it would get the most seats. Labour didn’t have enough support to achieve socialism, but it had enough to stay in power permanently.



The prosperity of western Europe rests on three things and wherever these three things are genuinely present there is prosperity. They are democracy, free markets and the rule of law.

The problem with Scottish democracy is tribalism. It means that we have a tendency to vote for the same people no matter how incompetent or corrupt. The key to politicians performing better for any country is to kick them out when they perform poorly. It is for this reason that the Conservatives are likely to lose the next General Election badly. Voters may not be enthusiastic about Labour, but their judgement on the Conservatives since 2011 and especially since 2019 is that they have ruled poorly and should be replaced.

But democracy also depends on responding to voters. We have representative government. MPs don’t need to do everything voters want, but there is a problem when voters think there is a not a realistic choice and a realistic way of using their vote to get the change they want. This happens when all of the parties with a chance of winning meet in the centre and offer the same policies. It also happens when as now the Government promises to tackle an issue such as immigration when it has no intention of doing so and instead deliberately increases it.

There is a problem with free markets in western Europe and it is one of the reasons why we are all poorer. Governments keep thinking that they know better than the market. There are price controls on flats in Scotland. There are minimum prices on beer. There is a minimum wage. Let the market decide. You will be better off in the end.

During the pandemic we paid the wages of vast numbers of people to sit at home, while paying the unemployed their benefits to do exactly the same.

Since 2008 there is a sense that the western financial system is a confidence trick held up by central banks working together. We have lost the idea of money being grounded in the realities of work and trade. Instead, we have a bubble continually blown into, waiting to go pop.

The rule of law is what prevents a country being corrupt. The main difference between prosperous countries and poor countries is corruption. In Scotland it’s still the case that if you are stopped by a blue light you cannot expect to bribe a police officer. You don’t need to pay a backhander to get a job or a medical appointment or for someone to fix something at home. But we do have a problem with corruption and if we are not careful it will spread and make us poorer.

Under Nicola Sturgeon’s rule in particular the Scottish Government became not only secretive but under the control of a tiny number of people. We know almost nothing about what happened behind the scenes.

By contrast we know huge amounts about what went on in Downing Street. Dominic Cummings takes a trip to Durham, we find out about it and he is questioned. There’s a party, we find out about it, there are pictures, people have to resign. How did the Government decide it’s Covid policies? There are WhatsApp messages, there are people being interrogated.

But in Scotland we know nothing. All we had is Sturgeon appearing on TV every day trying to charm the voters. The rest is secret.

I thought it was always going to be this way. But no.

We had a Scottish Spring. Suddenly we got to have a glimpse into the inner workings. Reporters began to report. We read about scandals involving the SNP. People were arrested, although not charged. But then our Spring stretched into Summer and on it stretched into Autumn and by the beginning of Winter it feels as if the Russian tanks have arrived to crush what looked for a brief moment like hope.

The issue is not whether someone wastes £11,000 watching Celtic games in Morocco. The amount of money is trivial in terms of Scotland’s budget. The issue is that such a person doesn’t care about wasting public money and then assumes after wasting it that he will get away with it.

This was the lesson that Nicola Sturgeon told her subordinates. Don’t ask questions. Just keep voting for whatever I tell you to vote for. If things go wrong, I will protect you and no one will ever know.

This sort of thing and worse was commonplace. Waste vast amounts of public money on ferries or foundries, get a free trip here, get some expenses there. No wonder we have SNP politicians treating a job as an MP as a sort of Rotten Borough that gives them access to the good life.

But now we find Michael Matheson hanging on to his job. Now we discover that the Scottish chief of police can get a free ride to Gateshead, and we begin to wonder if it is us that is being taken for a ride again.

No one anymore expects there to be charges due to the SNP’s financial scandal. Vast amounts of public money has been wasted on the investigation, but that will just go alongside the money wasted on the iPad, the ferries and the motorhome.

The danger for Scotland is that like Prague in 1968 we have our moment when we might get real democracy, free markets, and the rule of law, but somehow we miss it because too many people want their free iPads and free taxi rides home to Gateshead.

Don’t rely on Humza Yousaf being useless. I have a feeling someone less useless is influencing events now and doing rather well putting the cover back on the Scottish bed lest someone anyone else of importance has to lie in it.

There is still a chance. We still have a General Election and then a Scottish Parliament election. If the SNP lose half its MPs as a response to corruption and especially if the SNP ceases to be the Scottish Government, there may just be a chance to sack people who abuse their power, convict people who commit crimes and make it absolutely clear that corruption will be punished either by the loss of your job or better still prison.

Democracy above all else is about kicking out the useless and corrupt in the hope of getting something better and if that doesn’t work kicking the next lot out too.


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Saturday 25 November 2023

Palestinian nationalism undermines the SNP

 

I don’t know if every Scottish nationalist is also a Palestinian nationalist, but certainly large numbers are. The SNP leadership is certainly pro-Palestinian. That’s perfectly reasonable. Sensible people can support the Palestinian cause. There need be nothing disreputable about that. But there is something of an inconsistency between what Scottish nationalism tells us about the Scottish people and what Palestinian nationalism tells us about the Palestinians.

One of the oddities of Palestinian nationalism is that throughout history since the Islamic conquest of the Levant in 634-641 there was no attempt to create a Palestinian state. Indeed, the present borders of Israel and the occupied territories only came into being after the First World War. Before that Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire and was indeed divided between the Mutasarrifate of Jerusalem and the Beirut vilayet. It was Britain that created somewhat arbitrarily the borders of what Palestinian nationalists call Palestine.


The story of this region since the late 19th century has been heavily influenced by mass migration. Jewish people originally lived in Israel during Biblical times, but there were only a few thousand Jews in Palestine prior to Zionism. The vast majority of Israelis can trace their ancestry to the region back no further than the twentieth century.

But this is where Scottish nationalism comes into conflict with Palestinian nationalism. The Palestinian supporters universally deplore Zionism. But Zionism is merely the process by which Jewish people migrated to Palestine and then when enough had arrived fought to create an independent Israel from British ruled Mandatory Palestine. Why should it be that the SNP is allowed to fight to escape British rule and create an independent state, but Israel is not allowed?

Palestinians and their supporters regret Zionism and would have preferred that Jewish people had never arrived in Israel, but instead had stayed in Eastern Europe, North Africa or elsewhere in the Middle East. They see the migration of the Jews as being the cause of the Palestinian Nakba that saw large numbers of Palestinians displaced from their homes during the Arab Israeli war of 1948.

But why didn’t the Palestinians take the Scottish nationalist view that each new arrival is a new Scot and as Scottish as anyone whose family has lived in Scotland since time began. This is the supposed foundation of Scottish civil nationalism. It is racist to suppose that Humza Yousaf is not Scottish because his family came from somewhere else. It is racist to say Nadia El-Nakla Yousaf’s wife is less Scottish than Robert the Bruce. Indeed, according to the SNP anyone who has the right to live in Scotland is Scottish and ought to be able to campaign for Scottish independence or to rejoin the EU just like anyone else.

Well, that’s fine, but why doesn’t Nadia El-Nakla apply the same standard to the migration of Jewish people to Palestine? They migrated to Palestine just as her family migrated to Scotland. By the same logic they should be no different from the original population.

The Palestinian argument depends on Palestinians being the indigenous population of Palestine and the Jews being an illegitimate population because they migrated there. If Palestinians don’t think this then why are they complaining about Israelis most of whom were now born in Israel? If the indigenous have different rights to the descendants of migrants, which is the logic of the Palestinian argument, then it would have consequences for much of Europe including our First Minister and his wife.

Around the time that Zionism began, there were tiny numbers of ethnic minorities in Europe. There were very few black people and very few Muslims. But we can’t live in a world where the migration of Jews is some sort of outrageous catastrophe, but the migration of 44 million Muslims to Europe during the same time span is cultural enrichment. That would amount to Muslim migration good, Jewish migration bad, which is obviously antisemitic.

Let’s say that the migration of new Scots continued to increase, and the population of “old” Scots continued to decline. Eventually there may be a majority of new Scots in the area around Glasgow and these new Scots led by the descendants of Humza Yousaf and Nadia El-Nakla may decide that they would prefer where they live to be independent from the rest of Scotland. They campaign for an independence referendum and win.

But how is this different from what happened in Israel? The descendants of migrants obviously have the right to choose to be independent from other people, otherwise it would be wrong for Humza Yousaf to campaign to be independent from other parts of the UK.

The problem with the SNP argument is that it is on the one hand deploring mass migration to Palestine but encouraging welcoming and indeed rejoicing in mass migration to Scotland. But one of the lessons of the Arab Israeli conflict is that mass migration doesn’t always lead to a society that is at peace.

In an ideal world Muslims and Jews, Palestinians and Israelis would never have come into conflict at all. They would have shared Mandatory Palestine with no need to fight about it. They would have been friends and good neighbours.

But if even Scottish nationalists cannot bear to live in the same country as English people because they vote Tory, how can they argue that Jews and Muslims should live in a single state after 75 years of warfare. To argue that it was wrong to partition Palestine into a Muslim state and a Jewish state is to argue that it is wrong to partition Britain.

Israel has made good efforts to live as a multifaith multiracial country. There are large numbers of Israeli Muslims, Druze, and other faiths. There are also Israelis of all races. They all have the same rights as citizens. To call this Apartheid is to misunderstand the term.

But the Palestinians only want to live with other Palestinians. If there were ever to be a two-state solution the Palestinians would want zero Jews to be living in that state. Most Palestinians and privately many of their most prominent supporters would rather there were no Jews living in the Levant at all.

But if perpetual conflict hatred and an inability to live together in peace is the result of mass migration to Palestine, why should we suppose that here all will be well?

It would be great if we all just treated everyone else as fellow human beings and didn’t care about where they came from or what they believed. But if that were the case there would be no motivation for Scottish nationalism, which depends on their being a distinction between the Scottish people and those living in other parts of the UK which is such that it cannot be reconciled but instead requires separation.

But then the mass migration of far more people to Europe than every went to Palestine is in danger of leading to a similar conflict over land, scarce resources and political control. This after all is the history of the USA.

It is certainly necessary that we treat every new arrival as equally Scottish or British. The alternative is degrees of citizenship and discrimination. But if Palestinians think of themselves as the original people who were displaced and developed their sense of identity in part because of the mass migration of Jewish people, are we quite certain that something similar might not happen here?

Careful about complaining that the Jews are migrants, and the Palestinians are indigenous and that means the Jews have no right to be there. You wouldn’t want to cut yourself on that claymore, it’s sharp.


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Friday 24 November 2023

This autumn has changed everything.

 

I hadn’t heard anything at all about Geert Wilders for years. I vaguely remember there was some connection between him, and Pim Fortuyn the Dutch politician murdered in 2002. Wilders made a film that was hostile to immigration in general and Islam in particular. He had a strange hairstyle. Then nothing.

I don’t follow Dutch politics. There is a problem with the British media. We follow every detail about US politics, but we don’t even know the names of the parties in the Netherlands. There might be the odd story about France or Germany or Italy, but who can name the Prime Minister of Belgium?  It means we don’t understand what is going on around us.



Wilders won the Dutch election, but he will have to form a coalition and he only has about a quarter of the seats, so whatever he is planning to do won’t happen. The Quran won’t be banned, nor should it be. It is vital that we all try to understand Islam. Freedom or religion is a crucial right. The Netherlands will continue to accept asylum seekers. To try to ban all asylum seekers is to try to ban Anne Frank and her family from coming to the Netherlands.

Even so the victory of Wilders will change everything about Dutch politics and perhaps in time European politics. This autumn has changed everything.

Most people like to think of themselves as moderate in their politics. Most people try to treat others decently no matter their race or religion. Most people do not oppose moderate levels of migration or helping people who have genuinely been persecuted. I don’t believe that suddenly a quarter of Dutch voters have become far right racist thugs. They are just tired of nothing being done and they are also frightened.

We have had it easy in western Europe since 1945. There are few places in the world as wealthy and as free. It has also made us complacent. So long as I have a decent job can buy what I want and go on holiday once or twice a year why should I pay attention to how my country is changing, why should I complain?

This is still the case in Britain. Most British voters are absolutely horrified by the Pro Palestinian anti-Israel demonstrations. It’s not just what these people are saying that horrifies us it’s their numbers. When they call for Jihad, we begin to hope they don’t mean to carry it out here. Who would stop them? The police?

So too when it is announced that nearly three quarters of a million people arrived in the UK last year and six hundred thousand this year, we can still just about shrug our shoulders. They are mainly in London and other big cities and anyway the overwhelming majority of the British population is the same as it always was.

But then you begin to wonder about the statistics. Last year’s figure was revised up by one hundred and fifty thousand as the method of estimating turned out not to be accurate. They are guessing. They have no idea how many people actually are arriving or staying.

I don’t believe the census figures at all. When I go to a supermarket in Aberdeen the census tells me one thing, but my eyes and ears tell me another.

But still nothing will be done in the UK. It’s not bad enough yet. We have a large population. What does it matter if it is 67 million or 69 million? So, we will go on for a while yet voting for either Conservative or Labour.

But it’s different in the Netherlands, which is a tiny already densely populated country of 17 million. If one and a half million can come to the UK in two years, they could equally well come to the Netherlands. Worse they could equally come to Ireland, which has a population of 5 million.

Ireland has gone from being 86% white Irish in 2006 to 76% in 2022. Far more migrants have been “planted” in Ireland in the past two decades than in the first two decades of the 17th century. The demographics of Ireland is being changed permanently and very, very quickly.

It may be that you rejoice in this. It may be that you welcome it. But you certainly can’t complain about it, or you will be called the equivalent of Geert Wilders.

The problem is what on earth can you do? The UK left the EU in part so that we could control our borders. But it didn’t work. The Conservative Party wanted to increase migration. But let’s say you really wanted to limit migration and illegal migration too. Look at what happened when the Government tried to send illegal migrants to Rwanda. First, we’d have to leave the European Court of Human Rights, then we’d have to break this treaty, then we’d have to break that treaty, then we’d have to disobey the United Nations. It turns out that to send one illegal migrant to Rwanda you have to become a pariah state. To do anything you have to go become Geert Wilders. You have to cease being a moderate. But who wants to be an extremist? No one. So, we do nothing.

It is easier in a large state like Britain to do nothing. For us the real problems are twenty or thirty years away, perhaps more. We can be complacent for a while yet. We can luxuriate in our moderation.

But in Belgium the original Belgian population is down to 65%. Other small European countries could see their demographics changed radically by an extra million here or there and what is going to stop that million?

The EU has free movement and open borders. Once you arrive anywhere in the EU you can travel where you want. In many western European countries there are large communities from everywhere in the world who will help you, tell you the rules and get you a job.

We have low birthrates, because we are comfortable, can’t be bothered and nothing must get in the way of our two holidays. But I think the European population has just noticed the consequences of our complacency and indeed our decadence.

There will be a continent called Europe and countries called the Netherlands, but unless something is done to change the direction of travel, they won’t be remotely like they were in 1945. It’s not even clear that you will hear Dutch in Amsterdam fifty or a hundred years from now.

After all I hardly hear Doric in Aberdeen now.


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Tuesday 21 November 2023

The failure of education

 

The biggest change in the past thirty years is the politicisation of education. It explains everything that is happening at the moment.

I can remember a very long time ago taking part in a debate on the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Each team of debaters was assigned the side of the argument when we arrived. I was on the Pro Palestinian side.



The debate proceeded with points made about history, points made about UN resolutions, points made about morality and points made about international law.

The result was that people who might privately support Israel had to argue the Palestinian cause and vice vera.

This sort of thing was commonplace back then.

My school education involved no politics at all. There was no mention of equality, let alone equity. I learned the basic facts of human reproduction with nothing whatsoever about homosexuality let alone transgender.

I learned nothing about slavery, nor did I learn anything about Mary Seacole who hadn’t been discovered yet. There was almost nothing about the British empire. No one was encouraged to feel guilty about the past.

There was nothing taught about race or racism, not least because in neither my primary nor secondary school were there any black people.

School involved mainly being taught facts. Later at university there was more scope for argument, but at no point was the correct answer governed by politics. Often there was no correct answer, just good arguments and poor arguments.

By the time I was coming to the end of my university studies there were the beginnings of politicisation of certain subjects, but it was still possible to avoid it. I could argue for anything I wanted, but the arguments rarely if ever touched on politics even in the vaguest sense. I was usually unaware of what tutors or lecturers thought of current affairs or political issues in general. It didn’t come up.

Education used to involve almost complete freedom of thought. People were rarely if ever banned from speaking. Each topic could be approached in a multitude of ways. It was necessary to doubt everything, criticise everything and assume nothing.

All of this has been overthrown.

Education today from primary school right through to the highest levels has become almost entirely political. There are still a few sciences and some aspects of other subjects which can escape, but nearly everything else is viewed through a left-wing prism. Worse its not the left-wing that existed decades ago, which was based on reason, and which tried to use argument to persuade everyone else. No. Unreason has completely triumphed.

It’s hard to get across how stupid, boring and pointless it all is. If you study literature, it invariably involves the study of either race, homosexuality, gender, disability or some other form of progressive politics.

If you study history, it invariably involves some aspect of colonialism, slavery, race and decolonisation.

If you study philosophy, you no longer explore everything from Plato to John Stuart Mill, but rather have to read philosophy that a few decades ago would not have been called philosophy in the western tradition at all. Hindu philosophy or Taoist philosophy may be interesting. It may be worthy of study. But it is a different subject to Kant and Hume, Berkeley and Locke.

Subjects today are studied because of the race, gender, sexuality or some other characteristic of the person rather than because they have the intrinsic merit to be studied. You end up having to read bad books.

The standard of study today is incomparably lower. If you wanted to study German as an undergraduate, it was assumed that you spoke the language fluently and you would begin reading German literature from day one.  Now many require a language course.

If I needed to read an author who wrote in a foreign language it was assumed I would learn that language by myself. Now French poetry is read in translation. What’s the point? Poetry is what is lost in translation.

Expanding access has lowered the standard for everyone, but worse it has been combined with an enormous expansion of the subjects for which the correct answer is determined politically.

If you are doing a course on colonisation and slavery, try arguing for the benefits of empire or that every country has at one time had slavery . If you are doing a course on critical race theory, try arguing for another way of understanding race. If you are doing a course involving discussion of sexuality and transgender, try doubting any of the letters or numbers in LGBTQIA2S. If you are doing a course on the Middle East conflict, try arguing for Zionism.

When we are in primary school there is little scope for original thought. We just repeat what the teacher tells us. But this has become the model for the whole of education. It is not only worthless as education, it is positively harmful because it teaches ignorance and dogmatism.

When the Osama bin Laden’s letter to America went viral and huge numbers of educated young people found themselves agreeing, we reached the reductio ad absurdum of education. When people in their twenties shout “From the river to the sea” without knowing what river, they are shouting about and without knowing that it involves the removal of the Jews living there we find that education has given them opinions without knowledge. Worse it has deprived them of the ability to think critically and for themselves. They repeat after the teacher like infants on their first day of school.

The perniciousness reaches its peak when vast numbers across the world can be antisemitic because they think it is impossible to be racist about Jews. If a black man cannot be racist about a white woman, even if he is raping and murdering her because she is white while using the worst insults he can come up with about her skin colour, then it follows on the same logic that when brown Palestinians attacked Jews (some of whom are white) that isn’t racist either, but rather an act of decolonisation.

This leaves us with. “The brown Palestinians are powerless, the Israelis have the power. The Palestinians are justified in doing anything. The Israelis are unjustified in responding in any way. The only thing the Israelis can do is go away, or preferably cease to exist.”

I am concerned about the conflict in Gaza. I hope there is a solution that gives both sides some of what they want. But I am also concerned now about the reaction to the conflict here.

There is enormous ignorance about the history of Israel. There are grotesque comparisons with the Holocaust. There is an unwillingness to believe anything the Israelis say while believing everything Hamas says. There is unbelievably widespread antisemitism and hatred of Israel with zero understanding of the nature of warfare or an understanding of the present conflict in its historical context. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1948 is in historical terms a small war with relatively low casualties. There are any number of wars with less than 20,000 deaths that most of us have never heard of.

If we continue to allow children to be educated from primary school onwards in the way that they are without knowledge and without critical thinking, while teaching them to believe without question things that are impossible such as a man can become a woman, the next irrationality won’t be about Israel or about Jews, it will be about us.

Twenty or thirty years from now someone who is incapable of debating or even understanding both sides of the argument, who knows nothing and who believes in logical contradictions will be in charge.

 

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Saturday 18 November 2023

But does the EU want Scotland?

 

In the Scottish Government’s latest paper An independent Scotland in the EU we learn that the SNP thinks that it would take between two to five years to join the EU. This is despite us learning that civil servants had previously warned that it could take up to eight years.

The truth is that no one knows how long it might take for an independent Scotland to join the EU or indeed if it ever would. It would depend on political circumstances in the Scotland, the former UK and the EU, which are impossible to predict.



The UK in the 1960s fulfilled all of the criteria for joining the then EEC, but General de Gaulle famously said Non. He correctly predicted that the UK would not get on well in the EEC and thought it would hinder the EEC’s goals.

Who can know which EU Government might object to Scotland joining the EU? Perhaps none would, but also perhaps there would be an EU Government that did not want to encourage secession in its own state.

But let’s say that the SNP is right and EU membership would happen quickly. This means that its proposal to use Sterling after independence would have to be of very short duration. The paper admits that Scotland would have to have its own currency to join the EU, so in order to be ready to join in less than five years it would have to begin immediately the process of setting up that currency. Alternatively, Scotland could wait to join the EU.

But again no one can possibly know when the economic conditions for Scotland setting up its own currency would be ready or indeed how long it would take. No advanced country has tried this. Would our Sterling mortgages be redenominated in Scottish pounds? Would our pensions be paid in Scottish pounds. But this would require negotiation. If you work for an English company based in Scotland how many Scottish pounds would you get per month after independence? No one knows.

The SNP admits that there would be a hard border between England and Scotland. This has always been obvious. Scotland in the EU would have to apply EU regulations on the trade with non-EU former UK goods. It would also be necessary to convert currency. So, something I buy on UK Amazon now would cost a different price in Scottish pounds and would be subject to trade regulations that it presently avoids. I wonder if I would get it the next day.

Just as the Deposit Return Scheme might have involved companies outside of Scotland deciding it wasn’t worth selling their bottles and cans in Scottish supermarkets so companies might decide that it wasn’t worth selling their products in the small Scottish market as it involved too much paperwork.

The paper argues that Scotland would remain part of the Common Travel Area and that Scots would gain the same rights as Irish citizens to free movement both within the EU and within the former UK. This is perfectly possible. The former UK Government might well decide that cultivating good relations with Scotland was the best strategy just as it did when Ireland became independent. But this would not be up to the Scottish Government, it would be something that would have to be negotiated along with everything else.

The Scottish Government accepts that Scotland would have to join Schengen but thinks that it could obtain an opt out from having to check passports at the border between Gretna and Berwick. But membership of the Common Travel Area would be given only if the former UK electorate responded to Scottish independence with the good will necessary to offer free hospital treatment and benefits to Scots who had voted to leave the UK.  It would be a political decision taken outside Scotland.

There would be passport free travel between Scotland and the rest of the EU, which means anyone who arrived in the EU could immediately fly to Scotland. Why use a dinghy to cross the Channel if you can fly to Glasgow and get a bus to London. This doesn’t happen with Ireland because it is not part of Schengen. It is this above all that allows Ireland to stay in the Common Travel Area. Perhaps the Scottish Government thinks it could have passport control between the continent and Scotland. But that would require not being part of Schengen at all.

Likewise promising to join the Euro while openly telling the Scottish electorate that you would never quite manage to do it, might lead to a modern General de Gaulle to say Non, we’ve had enough of people treating the EU as a pick and choose menu. Either promise seriously to join everything or begone. There is no use pointing to Poland. It joined the EU in 2004. Anyway, it is already a member. It’s Scotland that is the supplicant.

The SNP persists in its idea that the UK is a voluntary union of nations and that therefore Scotland was a member of the EU, taken out against its will and that the process of rejoining would be easy because it was already a member. But this is historically illiterate both about the UK and the EU. The UK is not a federation, nor is it a confederation, which leaves it being a unitary nation state which joined the EU as one country and left as one country. The UK was never a voluntary union, because it was never a union. It is the result of a union, which happens to call its parts countries. Scotland was never a member of the EU no more than Corsica or Catalonia are members now.

If Catalonia were to become independent from Spain it would have to join the EU from scratch, it would not be able to argue we were already a member. Well, what is the difference between Catalonia and Scotland? Hundreds of thousands of Spaniards have been on the streets objecting to the Spanish Government’s amnesty for Catalan separatists, what if some years from now they were on the streets objecting to Scotland’s membership of the EU because of the precedent it might set about Catalonia?

Even on a best-case scenario where the SNP got everything it wanted Scottish independence in the EU would only attract you if you already supported it for other reasons. It’s clearly a worse situation than we have at present. Who wants a trade border with our biggest trade partner? Who wants to go through the uncertainty of a Scottish pound, when we have no idea how much it might fall against Sterling. Who wants even the possibility of passport controls when driving to England.

If Scotland achieved independence, it would never join the EU. The conditions are too onerous. It would remain as closely aligned with the former UK as possible and would never make the steps necessary to join the EU. It is much more likely in fact that a future UK Government decides to reverse Brexit rather than either Scotland voting to leave the UK or voting to join the EU after that.


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Thursday 16 November 2023

Are you ready for the President of Scotland?

 

It’s 2050 and President Humza Yousaf is completing the 25th year of his reign. The UK General Election saw the number of SNP seats halved, but by a remarkable stroke of good fortune the SNP held the balance of power at Westminster just as the Catalan separatists held the balance of power in Spain in 2023. Just as Pedro S├ínchez promised not to make a deal with Catalan nationalists so too Keir Starmer had ruled out any deals with the SNP, but faced with the choice of risking a new General Election or trying to run a minority government he thought why not give the SNP a second referendum? After all it is bound to lose with Humza Yousaf leading it.

But the prospect of independence brought a previously unthinkable reconciliation between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon. Once more they appeared to be looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. Scottish independence was won by a single percentage point.



But this is where the problems began. It turned out that the Scottish nationalists were right. Scotland not only prospered, it boomed due to a hitherto unknown find of gold under the Cairngorms (the British Government had kept it secret). Scotland had been sitting all these centuries on one giant lump of gold and all we needed to do was mine it and sell it and none of us would ever have to work again.

Meanwhile without Scotland’s cash cow the former UK defaulted on its debt and split up leaving England ruled by an extreme right wing Tory Party worse even than the one that had come to power in 2019. English people were desperate to escape and sought refuge in Scotland.

Initially Scotland had wanted unlimited migration from everywhere, but then Scots began to realise that the lump of gold under the Cairngorms divided between 5 million Scots would make everyone wealthy, but if it was divided between ten or fifteen or even twenty million then the original five million wouldn’t be anything like as wealthy as if they had kept it to themselves.

There were too many starving English people with no work desperate to gain access to the wonderful public services and generous benefits available in Scotland. There were 56 million of them, there were only 5 million of us. What was to be done?

President Humza Yousaf decided to build a wall between Gretna and Berwick. He decided to leave the EU because too many European wanted to share Scotland’s gold. He decided to limit migration to the most deserving cases in Gaza, the West Bank and wherever else he had relations.

But it was no use already in the first five years after independence one million English people had found a way into Scotland. Some pretended they wanted to be students, when in fact all they wanted was to be able to live in Scotland and have a share of oor gold. Others were given work visas because they had skills that Scotland needed. Others learned Gaelic and in fact the Gaelic speaking population of Scotland increased to one million as Gaelic courses became best sellers among in the desperate hovels of England.

Net migration from England to Scotland reached an incredible peak of 600,000 per year. The population of Scotland reached six million, then seven million and the proportion of foreign-born people reached nearly fifty percent in Edinburgh.

Two new football teams were created one called Anglians the other called Blighty. They actually dared to fly the cross of Saint George at football marches in Scotland and held up banners supporting the English Republican Army that was fighting to regain Wales.

Soon English accents became so common in Scotland that Scots found it impossible to speak Scots and be understood in the shops of Glasgow. It would have been fine if Scots had learned Gaelic too, but unfortunately Scottish speakers of Gaelic remained tiny compared to the millions of English Gaelic speakers.

It gradually became clear to the Scots that there would soon be a minority of English speakers let alone Scottish speakers in Scotland.

In a desperate measure Humza Yousaf promised to limit migration from England, but every day English people got into dinghies at Berwick and sailed the few miles over the border. The Scottish navy tried patrolling both here and the Solway Firth but being humanitarians, they ended up rescuing more desperate English people than they stopped.

Humza Yousaf pleaded with the English to stop the illegal migrants sailing to Scotland. He paid the English hundreds of millions per year to stop people buying dinghies and sailing them to Scotland, but the perfidious English just pocketed the money and pretended to stop the dinghies.

If migration on this scale continued the original Scots would soon be outnumbered by the new Scots. Worse the new Scots were Tories and whenever there were wars between England and Wales, they marched through Edinburgh complaining about how wicked the Welsh were for not letting England win. Some people wondered if these new Scots actually cared more for England than Scotland.

Finally in desperation Humza Yousaf decided to send all English asylum seekers to Russia and paid Russia millions of pounds to look after these English people in Siberia. But the Scottish Supreme Court told him that he couldn’t.

His first thought was to send the English to Rockall, but it proved too difficult to get them there and stop them falling off, so he finally decided that all asylum requests would be processed on Raasay and when that was full, he would begin building camps on Rannoch moor.

By this stage it was getting desperate. Scotland had so many people from the south of England that it elected a Tory Government, and the new First Minister was Rishi Sunak’s daughter with Borish Johnson’s son as Foreign Secretary. This Government had a policy of giving a referendum on Scottish independence versus reunion with England.

So it came to pass that in 2051 Scotland voted to rejoin England. There were now so many English people in Scotland (or new Scots) that they voted to remove all statues of Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and other oppressors of English people and chose to rename Edinburgh as LondonEdinburgh and Glasgow as LiverpoolGlasgow.

In fact, so many English people had arrived in Scotland that it was felt by the majority that just as the Scoti named the country after themselves so too it would be better to call it North Anglia.


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Sunday 12 November 2023

Is there anything that can be done?

 

For many years I have been reading Douglas Murray. I read his columns in the Spectator, and I have read many of his books. Lately since October 7th I have been listening to his podcasts and interviews. Many others have too.

The first stage is to recognise that we have a problem. One of the difficulties is that even to state that there is a problem is to invite being described as a racist or an Islamophobe.



But this is false. There are Muslims from all races. More importantly as I argued recently there is no equivalent phobia about Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists. Nobody is racist about Rishi Sunak’s Hinduism. People may be racist about his family origins in India and his brown skin, but it is much more likely in modern Britain that he will be criticised for being a Conservative.

So, we must distinguish opposition to radical Islam from racism. Many Palestinians look the same as Israelis. When Hamas attacked Israeli civilians, it was because they were Jewish, not because of what they looked like. Likewise, when the IDF responded it was not because of the skin colour of Gazans, but because of what Hamas had done.

The problem many British people have with the hundreds of thousands who are marching against Israel has nothing whatsoever to do with skin colour. If 300,000 Hindus marched through London to celebrate a Hindu festival people might find it inconvenient, but it would cause little or no controversy.

So, what is the problem with radical Islam? In the past decades it has become clear that radical Islam is a threat to our safety. The West has been involved in a number of wars with radical Islam. There have been numerous terrorist attacks carried out in the name of radical Islam. Many Islamic countries whether radically Islamic or not, have laws and customs that a lot of British people find disagreeable, unpleasant and contrary to our values.

I am completely unbothered how people live and the laws they follow in Saudi Arabia or Iran. If I went to visit any of those countries, I would expect to follow their rules. That’s why I don’t visit. But I don’t want to bring this way of life to the UK.

Until recently in British history there was no threat from radical Islam. There was no one to march through the streets in 1948 complaining about the formation of the state of Israel. There was no question of anyone blowing himself up in a terrorist attack and to be fair most Muslim countries at the time were fairly moderate and caused the rest of the world little trouble.

But suddenly we have people shouting words like Jihad and quoting verses in Arabic about killing Jews and marching through London about a war that does not involve Britain. There are people wearing headbands that look like those worn by the terrorists who murdered, raped and mutilated Jewish people. There are people waving black flags that look like the ones ISIS terrorists waved.

It may well be that most of the demonstrators don’t really mean what they say. They are angry about a war that involves Jews attacking their fellow Muslims and they say the worst things they can imagine about Israel, and they are as supportive as they can be to the Palestinians who they side with.

The marches have been unpleasant and intimidating. People have said and shouted disgraceful things, but I am unaware of any deaths that have resulted from the marching.

But how do you tell the difference between someone who only pretends to support Jihad and radical Islam and someone who really does? I think this is what is worrying so many British people. What if only 10% of the crowd of 300,000 really supported Jihad. That would be 30,000 people, living here.

As Mr Murray has ably pointed out once you accept that there is a problem the question then becomes what if anything you do about it?

The thing you don’t do is get the Far Right involved. Violence against the marchers won’t solve the problem, it will make it worse. No one should be unpleasant to Muslims living in the UK. Muslims have all sorts of different beliefs just like the rest of us. Treat people as individuals rather than representatives of a group.

The first thing to recognise is that the problem has been caused by mass immigration. The Faroe Islands do not have a problem with Jihad, neither does Poland and most other Eastern European countries.

The problem of radical Islam does not apply to every ethnic minority. Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists are not likely to be Jihadists nor black Christians from the West Indies and Africa, nor people from Hong Kong. So again, the issue is not one of race.

The problem is not even a problem with Islam. The vast majority of Muslims living in the UK are peaceful, law-abiding model citizens. But some Muslims in the world are fundamentalists and some do believe in radical Islam. If that were not the case, we wouldn’t have the problems we have.

So, if we are going to have mass immigration it might be worth screening people to check that they don’t have views that are contrary to the values of most British people including most Muslims.

People from countries where radical Islam or Muslim fundamentalism is the dominant ideology might only be allowed visas to come to the UK if they could demonstrate that they accept Western values about tolerance, homosexuality and religious pluralism.

If hundred of thousands of people march through London shouting slogans that might constitute hate crimes, or which we might consider to be threatening to our security, it might be worth finding out who they are.

It might be possible one week to block off the streets on which people are marching and require each marcher to provide evidence of his identity. Some of the marchers might prove to be living in the UK illegally, or on temporary visas. The British Government might reasonably point out that they might be happier living somewhere where people shared their values.

Other people might have dual nationality or be able to obtain dual nationality. They too might be invited to live somewhere which better fitted their values. Others might be convicted of various hate crimes and incitement to violence.

Of course, none of these things can happen unless British voters support it and vote for a government that has the will to address the problem. It would especially be necessary for ordinary Muslims to contribute to the aim of making Britain a country where Jihadist views are unacceptable.

I don’t think anything like this will happen. It’s not bad enough yet. There are too many who would condemn even the attempt to do anything. There is not the political will to even admit that there is a problem let alone try to solve it. Instead we merely have cliches that no one believes anymore.

Mr Murray has been better than anyone in pointing out the problem and in suggesting what might be done. The difficulty is that the police and political parties think that even trying to do anything would inflame the situation and turn pretend Jihadists into real ones. Perhaps they are right.

But if we continue down the path, we are on ten years from now there will be marches with 500,000 and in twenty years marches with one million by then it will be too late even to limit the damage. Jihadist views then will be not merely acceptable, but commonplace.


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Saturday 11 November 2023

Peace is always hard won

 

November the 11th and the Remembrance Sunday that follows it are important because we value peace. In 1920 when people queued to lay flowers many feet deep at the newly built Cenotaph, they had more reason to hate war than any of us living today. Most of them would have lost friends, or husbands or sons in the Great War. We have only experienced relatively small wars since 1945. There is very little chance indeed of young men being conscripted and sent to die today. But the peace we have enjoyed was hard won.

It's worth remembering that the Great War began with an act of terrorism. Two people died, because Serbians claimed territory that they considered to be occupied by the Austro-Hungarian Empire. These two deaths led to the deaths of between 15 and 22 million people.



The similarity with the conflict in Israel is obvious. Imagine how the Austro-Hungarian Empire would have responded if 1400 people had been raped, murdered and mutilated. Imagine how any country would respond.

The cost of defeating the Central Powers in 1918 was high indeed. It cost each side involved four years of trench warfare. Defending trenches was far easier than attacking them because of the invention of the machine gun and the modern rifle. It took the development of new forms of warfare to bring about breakthrough in 1918. It cost millions of lives to learn the lessons of the Somme and Verdun. It also cost us the Russian Revolution, the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the end of the Second Reich, the partition of Ireland, the genocide of the Armenians and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

Was it worth it? In terms of self-interest there are good arguments for Britain not getting involved in either the First or the Second World Wars. The UK was in an incomparable worse position in 1945 than in 1914. But it is impossible to know what would have happened if we had not declared war. Perhaps there would have been no Russian Revolution. Perhaps if Germany had defeated France in 1914 there would have been no rise of Nazism. But also, perhaps something worse would have happened. All we know is what did happen.

It wasn’t enough to defeat Germany in 1918. The peace that was so hard won had to be won again. We hoped that the Great War would be a war to end war, but small wars continued and then an even Greater war.

This too is the lesson of Arab Israeli conflict. Israel hopes after each war that it can also lay flowers round a memorial so high that they symbolise the loss and also the hope that there will be no more wars, but each time it defeats one enemy the enemy it has to face is worse.

The Great War was despite its horrors fought in a reasonably civilized way. The Germans committed atrocities in Belgium in 1914, but on nothing like the scale during the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Prisoners of war were usually treated well. There were no death camps. There was no mass murder of civilians.

But having defeated one Germany in 1918 we found ourselves fighting an incomparably worse Germany in 1939.

So too Israel faces an incomparably worse enemy in Hamas and Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad than the forces it defeated in 1948, 1967 and 1973. Where previously Israel was fighting a Sadat or even Arafat, with whom it was possible to negotiate, now it is fighting psychopaths, religious fanatics and maniacs.

While we were fighting Kaiser Wilhelm II, Hindenburg and Ludendorff we were likewise dealing with people who were still rational and who fought according to the rules. Later in 1939 we too were fighting maniacs.

Germany is today a friend and an ally. It is a democracy. It probably the least militaristic major country in Europe. Its people are frequently pacifists. What changed between 1939 and 1945?

Peace was hard won again. What changed Germany was that we showed the German people the consequences of fighting two world wars and invading France three times since 1870. The consequences were as follows. Millions of German soldiers died. Most major German cities were destroyed. Germany was partitioned and lost forever the whole of Eastern Germany that once stretched as far as Lithuania. The Red Army repaid the savagery with which Germany invaded the Soviet Union.

Germany learned its lesson.

It took two world wars to make Germany peaceful. Was it worth it? Yes. We have a peaceful neighbour that will never attack anyone ever again. But it didn’t occur because of pacifism, it didn’t occur without civilian casualties and the horrors of war. It would be childish to suppose we could have defeated Germany otherwise.

The attack on Israel that took place on October 7th was far worse than anything that took place in the Second World War. I have never read of anything remotely as savage.

Hamas are religious maniacs and psychopaths. If they were to defeat Israel as the demonstrators in London want, there would be a second Holocaust that might surpass the first in its cruelty.

How do you stop this? How do you bring about peace to the Middle East. Negotiations are one way, but only if you have an opponent that wants to negotiate. You can’t have a two-state solution if Hamas wants to wipe Israel from the map.

Israel has gone through its Great Wars. It was fighting states like Egypt, Syria and Jordan until 1973. It was dealing with people with whom it was possible to negotiate. But now Israel is in a war like the one that began in 1939. It’s a fight for existence against a foe that hates Jews and wants to finish the job started at Wannsee, continued at Treblinka and which all but wiped out European Jewry at Auschwitz.

Well, the lesson of the Second World War is clear. Hamas, the Palestinians, and the Arab World in general have not learned their lesson yet. Israel must show the consequences of war to be such that Palestinians give up war and embrace peace.

More generally the world since 9/11 has discovered in radical Islam sometimes called Islamism an opponent which is willing to use terrorism indiscriminately. The people who flew planes into the Twin Towers or who cruelly ran the Islamic State (ISIS) or who carried out terrorist attacks in many European cities are ideologically identical with those who attacked Israel on October 7th.

Imagine in 1940 there were a march of Blackshirts through London telling us how wonderful the Nazis were and how just it was for Germany to regain the land that it lost to Poland in 1918. This is the moral equivalent today.



Israel’s fight is our fight because it is the same fight. It is not a fight against ordinary Muslims who want peace just like we do. There are Muslims in the IDF fighting terrorism, just as there are Muslims in the British Army as there have been for centuries.

We will tolerate the marching. Better by far to let them march than one drop of blood be spilled. But part of the lesson that must be learned by radical Islam worldwide must be learned here too.

We gained peace after two world wars because we had unity as a British people. We were willing to defeat evil in the Great War and a still greater evil in the Second World War, because we understood that it was our duty to do so and that the sacrifice was worth it.

We have a new evil it is if anything worse and more dangerous than the one we fought in 1939. If hundreds of thousands of people think they can march through London in support of terrorism with no negative consequences I think and certainly hope that they will in time learn that they are mistaken.

 

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