All posts filed under: United Kingdom

The Petulant Campaign Against Eric Kaufmann

Sir Roger Scruton—the prodigious conservative philosopher—once noted of his time at Birkbeck that it was “traditionally a left-wing place, haunted by the fear that somewhere, somehow, a conservative might have infiltrated the corridors.” Though he added that “the students were terrific because they were all grown up.” One suspects that if Scruton were still alive, he’d reconsider his opinion of the students. On May 19th, a Twitter account called “Birkbeck Students Anti-Racist Network” posted a long thread denouncing one of the academics at that institution, the political scientist Eric Kaufmann. In typical self-righteous fashion, the thread begins, “Kaufmann is a politics professor & former head of that department at Birkbeck … We want to publicly denounce him as a white supremacist and racist apologist.” (Accusing Kaufmann of being a “white supremacist” is particularly risible, given that the man is not only Jewish, but part Chinese and part Latino.) The first tweet includes an image where Kaufmann appears next to a dog, with a whistle in his mouth. Emanating outward are his supposed “white supremacist dog …

Lesbians Aren’t Attracted to a Female ‘Gender Identity.’ We’re Attracted to Women

There is commonly held to be a difference between a sexual preference and a sexual orientation. Sexual preferences include preferences for blondes over brunettes, or macho men over pretty boys. At the more exotic end, they can include predilections for cars, chandeliers, and dalliances with farm animals. None of these are sexual orientations, though. Opinions differ on what makes an orientation an orientation, but my preferred explanation says that for a preference to count as an orientation, it has to be stable in individuals, widespread among the human population, and have a range of relatively important social consequences. Two such orientations are heterosexuality and homosexuality. They are defined in terms of specific patterns of attraction. You are heterosexual if you, a member of one sex, are stably sexually attracted only to members of the opposite sex to you. Alternatively, if you’re stably attracted only to members of the same sex as you, then you’re homosexual. If you’re stably attracted to both sexes, you’re bisexual. In addition to these terms, equally applicable to both males and …

Support for Scottish Independence Wanes as the SNP Is Engulfed in Scandal

I live in Scotland. The country known for its beautiful scenery, bagpipes and kilts, and that iconic Scotch whisky. Remember the spelling, or you’ll be put in your place, for Scots are a much more direct bunch than their southerly neighbours. But Scotland is not open to visitors at the moment thanks to the pandemic, so we have all this scenery and whisky to ourselves. What we presently can share with outsiders, however, is a political farce worthy of a banana republic. At the centre of it is First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, the leader of the Scottish National Party, whose reputation hangs in the balance, and at stake are her dreams of securing independence for Scotland. The debacle over the Alex Salmond case has been covered extensively, and it’s as fast-moving as a political TV drama. The central questions are: did Sturgeon intentionally mislead the Scottish Parliament, and was there a conspiracy to take down Alex Salmond, the former First Minister and Sturgeon’s ex-best friend, orchestrated by Sturgeon and her close circle of trusted allies? …

Scottish Nationalists in Turmoil

Who would have thought that Scotland’s largest party would be roiled by sex scandals? Sex is not normally seen as part of Scotland’s national brand, but it is now and it has not added lustre. The Scottish National Party (SNP) has, for nearly 90 years, sought the break-up of Britain, believing that the Union of 1707 between Scotland and England was illegitimate. It was attained by bribery of the Scots parliamentarians, thereby destroying the Edinburgh parliament and absorbing political Scotland into Westminster government. The home of eccentrics and literary men and women, nationalism was for a long time regarded by most Scots as a tartan fringe and a wasted vote. Before and during the Second World War, some of its leaders even leaned towards the Nazis, in the cranky hope that a German victory over England would deliver liberation for Scotland. To this end, the most prominent Scots writer, Hugh MacDiarmid, wrote unpublished poems calling for the Luftwaffe to destroy London, “the earth’s greatest stumbling block and rock of offence.” The electorate remained unconvinced. Nevertheless, …

Corruption: Greasing the Wheels of the World

One December evening in the late ’90s, I met a friend in a Moscow restaurant. I drank two zero-alcohol beers that night—an eccentric posture, in a Russian-Georgian restaurant—and then drove back to my borrowed flat in a car lent to me by my successor as the FT’s Moscow Correspondent. In Russia, no alcohol is permitted at all when driving—a law fashioned, it would seem, to allow the city’s GAI (Gosurdarstvennaya Aftomobilnaya Inspektsiya, or state traffic police) to supplement their low pay. As I was passing one of the new luxury hotels, a thick bundle of clothes propelled on boots and topped with a badged fur shapka waved his stick before my windscreen and motioned me to pull over. He told me to wind down my window, and stuck his head in. “Dikhnite!” (“Breathe!”) he instructed. Then he smiled, stepped back, saluted, and told me to get out of the car. He asked for my passport, and as he looked at it he told me I had been drinking. Yes, I admitted, but only zero-alcohol beer. …

How the Trans Pledge Damaged the Labour Party

Is political correctness just a storm in a campus teacup? Not if its effects ripple through the concrete structures of society, leading to major consequences. Consider PC’s effect on the electoral fortunes of the mainstream Left. Centre-left parties are struggling across the West, and one reason is their “cultural turn” away from economic issues toward the politics of identity. Yet their inability to adapt to electoral realities is not just ideological, but exacerbated by a political correctness which hands radical activists the ability to silence dissent. This stymies efforts to move to the centre on cultural issues, leads to a doubling down on progressive stances, and powers ideological purity spirals. The result, as we shall see, leaves swing voters feeling cold. In the US, centre-left commentator Noah Smith argues that the “woke” Democratic candidates–Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julian Castro, even Kamala Harris–did poorly in the primary, flaming out relatively early. Only Elizabeth Warren remains, and her performance in the polls has been lacklustre. Whether wokeness is strong enough to shackle frontrunners like Bernie Sanders, and …

The British Conservative Party Should Stop Cancelling Conservatives

Two weeks ago, the Edmund Burke Foundation convened a conference on national conservatism in Rome. The conference committee, of which both of us were members, brought together hundreds of academics, politicians, students, and journalists from across Europe and the US to discuss the most important political development of our time—the revival of the idea of the independent national state.  In the two weeks since the conference, the organizers and certain participants have been subjected to a torrent of smears from UK media and political sources. It’s no surprise that the Guardian and Buzzfeed took the lead in condemning a conference of conservatives as an anti-Semitic event “packed full of racists, homophobes, and Islamophobes.” These have become familiar tropes of the anti-intellectual Left.  But one aspect of the attacks should trouble anyone who regards himself or herself as a conservative: The reaction of the UK Conservative Party to criticism of one of its own MPs, Daniel Kawczynski, who attended the conference to give a talk on Brexit. Not only did the Tories fail to come to …

Grooming Gangs and Indifferent Police: What Have We Learned After Rotherham?

Victoria Agoglia was reported missing 136 times between February and September 2002. Whenever she returned to her residential care home she was thought to be drunk or to have taken drugs. Staff at the home were aware of a “pimp” who appeared to be in his mid-twenties and who was thought to have been supplying her with drugs. “No attempts were made to verify his age,” one reported. Victoria told her social worker that she had been injected with heroin by an older man. This information was not relayed to the police. Astonishingly, Victoria’s “drugs worker” thought an appropriate course of action was to make the girl agree to smoke rather than inject heroin. Within two months, Victoria was dead after a 50-year-old man injected her with the drug. This tragic and appalling case is detailed in a new review of “the effectiveness of multi-agency responses to child sexual exploitation in Greater Manchester.” As in similar cases in Rotherham, Rochdale and elsewhere, there were numerous victims and the perpetrators were Pakistani-Muslim. As on other occasions, …