Falling in and out of Europe

It is nearly a year since I decided to divorce The Times after decades of fidelity and embark upon a reckless fling with The Guardian. It hasn’t turned out to be as ecstatic as I had expected. Yes, there is more serious news and comment, but it comes at a price. The price is a relentless pessimism and negativity that infects the entire newspaper. Britain and the world, as presented by The Guardian, constitute a living hell. To anyone contemplating a similar migration, may I suggest that a prescription for Prozac should accompany your subscription.   Continue reading

The Irish elephant in the room

An episode of the Morecambe & Wise Show from 1968, thought to be lost, was discovered recently in Sierra Leone and screened on Boxing Day. It included a lengthy sketch in which the IRA was treated as something close to a pantomime joke. It is safe to say that this sketch could not have been written or broadcast even two years later, which is a useful reminder of how quickly things can change. As they are changing now.   Continue reading

Where is Guy Fawkes when we need him?

In a hundred years’ time, I imagine that the British Psychological Society will still be using the behaviour of the House of Commons during the Brexit saga as an essential case study. It offers adult infantilism, a refusal to confront reality, an abdication of personal responsibility, an utter lack of self-awareness and a mania for scapegoating – all of them on an epic scale.   Continue reading

Do you know the way to plan, José?

Let’s change the subject. This week, of all weeks. Time for some escapism. Football will do. I would like to examine the bizarre recent history of Manchester United. I don’t support United and, up to a point, it is always a pleasure to see the mighty fallen. But what has happened to the club since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement is a useful parable for much else in life, and in particular the mercurial nature of success.   Continue reading

Tomorrow never knows

From the start of the American Civil War until just before it ended, there was no doubt amongst informed opinion in Britain as to how it would end. “I suppose,” the Foreign Secretary, Earl Russell, wrote to the British Ambassador in Washington, “that the break-up of the Union is now inevitable.” The Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Gladstone, agreed. It was all but impossible, he said, that the North could win.   Continue reading