The SNP: decline and fall (14)

This is brief, because not much needs to be said, so complete is the SNP’s descent from the commanding heights (or whatever) of arrogant Holyrood hegemony, to the current state of bickering, embarrassed, low energy, intellectually barren bewilderment.  It didn’t take long.

So….

45. Alex Salmond kindly provides further proof that he is an unfunny, unrefined bully

Otherwise known as his Fringe show. If Eck  seriously thought that his opening ‘joke’ was actually funny, he has a problem. Given his longstanding propensity to marvel at his own wit,  one doubts he has much insight.  His doubling down insult was actually even worse, via an unnamed spokesman, suggesting that Scottish Labour  – lead by lesbian Kezia Dugdale  – were just miffed as they didn’t get a mention. Classy as always. His successor, Ms Sturgeon, struggled to support him, which may well be the start of a trend (see 47, below).

46. Scottish Nationalist Party leader belatedly regrets the word ‘nationalist’.

Possibly feeling shifty after the confected media/VIP overreaction to Trump’s press conference, Ms Sturgeon, also at the Edinburgh shindig, was put on the spot by Turkish writer Elif Shafak. Nicola claimed, wholly unconvincingly, given the last few years: “If I could turn the clock back . . . to the establishment of my party, and choose its name all over again, I wouldn’t choose the name it’s got just now.”

Really? Tell the zoomers that. Amusingly, whatever you think of them, neither Trump nor Farage ran on ‘Nationalist’ tickets. Unlike Le Pen and Hitler. Perhaps Nicola has finally seen the light.

47. Unemployment is a terrible thing.

It can open the door to bad behaviour and causing trouble, to fill all that empty time. Sacked (by the voters) former MP and ex newspaper columnist Alex Salmond is spending his days hanging round Edinburgh street corners, telling tall stories and claiming it was better when he was in charge. It’s already started (1, 2). One almost feels sorry for Nicola Sturgeon.

Alex Salmond Makes His Last Keynote Speech At The SNP Conference
..worse. Siamese. twins. ever…

Progress

cs lewisA little practical philosophy** from the remarkable, on many levels, CS Lewis. Applicable to almost any situation. Try it.

We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it’s pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake. We’re on the wrong road. And if that is so, we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.

 

**As ever, there is a biblical connection. It depends on what you prefer, but the most poetic translation of Jeremiah 6:16 is a beauty: Put yourselves on the ways of long ago and enquire about the ancient paths: which was the good way? Take it then and you shall find rest. Which is 2,600 year old wisdom with a universal application

Twattish comments: an occasional series – Mick Jagger

Despite Bob Dylan winning his Nobel Prize – the best thing about which was Bob’s indifference/disdain for the whole shebang – pop lyrics are generally asinine. When they’re removed from their protective musical cloak things tend to get even worse.

There are still many gems – I always liked “you ain’t no punk, you punk” (The Cramps, Garbageman) – though rarely ones that involve a multimillionaire self-consciously ‘making a point’.

So here is Sir Mick Jagger (last good song, 1980), who has bestowed on us his lofty thoughts on Brexit:

‘Lock the shutters, bolt the doors, London’s gonna be like Singapore’.

Apparently that’s a reference to the ‘horrific’ thought of the UK becoming a tax haven after Brexit. Mick has obviously forgotten the 70’s. 

His piercing insights on politicians are hard to beat too:

‘The world is upside down, led by lunatics and clowns. No one speaks the truth and the mad-house runs the town.’

He’s obviously keen on rhymes.

mj1
Officer my car ain’t startin’, Even though it’s an Aston Martin… (will this do?)

The SNP: decline and fall (13)

The wind has rather gone out of the sails of the whole SNP schtick. Those heady days of 2014 (up to 18th September that year) seem like last century.

So it seems a bit harsh to continue to point out their failings. However, I’m up for it.

39. The upper chamber beckons…

Here’s a Twitter snapshot series:

snpa1

snpa2

Yup, the Daily Record has mysteriously floated the idea of unemployed Eck hitting the House of Lords – where The Knife has personally sipped at the finest subsidised booze in the kingdom – followed quickly by the Scotsman doing the same thing. Funny that. It’s almost as if Eck is regretting his rash promise about rocks and the sun (his usual), to which the True Believers of the SNP still cling. Don’t hold your breath. Eck’s perceptively brilliant finger-on-the-pulse style of leadership is sorely missed.

40. Indyref is not very popular

Not just amongst us plebeian voters, some of the sharper knives in the SNP box have begun to have doubts. Isn’t that verboten, under party rules? Not sure if the message is getting through though. That kind of authoritarian bullying has real world consequences.

snpf1
…this is actually all true…

41. Experienced hacks are taking the mick

Admittedly @JournoStephen and @davidtorrance have never been SNP flavour of the month, they’re not sycophantic enough, but this piece by the former is a gem of Holyrood observation:

Why, she demanded to know, genuine frustration in her voice, wasn’t Labour praising her achievements? Cruelly, Kezia Dugdale’s group broke into sarcastic applause and cheering. The SNP leader was baffled by it all. You would be too if you got your news from The National and had rules against internal party dissent that make the Chinese Communist politburo look like a model of open debate.

….and Twitter remains invaluable:

snpd1

snpe1

snpdoomed1

…watch the development from the last tweet. Gerald Warner is always precise:

So, a few little local difficulties, then, for the poor man’s Angela Merkel. At least she still has the consolation of being the highest paid politician in Britain, which suggests that, among the political class, remuneration is in inverse proportion to ability.

42. They’re still not good at running things

See what I mean?

snpg1

…and when they do mess up, the UK bails them out.

43. There’s a problem with Labour…

Gordon Brown ruined his own party partly by taking the Scots for granted, and amusingly if  predictably, the Nats are copying him. Corbyn is now going for them. Corbyn of all people – Mr Free Stuff versus the party of Free Stuff. And if you read wise owl @euanmccolm, they don’t know what to do about it.

44. The Fringe beckons…

Salmond promises to talk about his relationship with Trump at this year’s Fringe. Heavily redacted, no doubt

—————————————————————————————————————————-

As I often point out, none of this is about a problem with Scotland as such. It’s all about a problem with the SNP  – who for the most part are bullying, limited, rabble rousing, unimaginative power freaks. They almost never make a legitimate case for independence based on sovereignty, with all the risks honestly explained.

They never will.

what-is-molten-rock_e9b070f7-d7ef-45b5-abac-240b4c3fbf29
…molten rock, in case Eck’s not seen it before…

The brains of Scotland

Hume_Statue
…I’m nothing to do with those people, honest..

In case anyone is interested, here is the list of  Remainers in Scotland who, and I quote: …call for a national debate on Brexit. We ask our fellow citizens, and our politicians, to think again. It is time to call a halt to Brexit.

They wrote to the Glasgow Herald, which is behind a paywall, on 18th July. The Herald excitedly dubbed them a “Who’s Who of Scotland’s intellectual elite”, and made it their front page.

Well, judge for yourself. I am personally unpersuaded.

(Spoiler alert: it is a very boring list, but there’s more stuff at the end if you scroll down)

Professor David Bell, Stirling Management School, University of Stirling; Andrew Bolger, former Scotland Correspondent, Financial Times; Professor Christina Boswell, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh; Professor Sir Harry Burns, Professor of Global Public Health, University of Strathclyde; The Rt Hon Lord Campbell of Pittenweem CH CBE PC QC; Dr Chad Damro, University of Edinburgh; Professor Emeritus Sir Tom Devine, University of Edinburgh; Christine De Luca, poet; Dr Richard Dixon, Director, Friends of the Earth Scotland; Sir David Edward, Professor Emeritus Edinburgh University Law School and former ECJ Judge; John Edward, Former Head of European Parliament Office in Scotland/Former EU Policy Manager, Scotland Europa; Colin Imrie, European policy analyst; Maria Fletcher, Director of Scottish Universities Legal Network on Europe (SULNE); Lord Foulkes of Cumnock; Dr Peter Geoghegan, University of the West of Scotland; Gwilym Gibbons Creative Help Ltd; Dame Anne Glover, Vice Principal for External Affairs and Dean for Europe, University of Aberdeen; Vanessa Glynn, Chair, European Movement in Scotland; David Gow, Editor, Sceptical Scot, Editor, Social Europe; Dr Eve Hepburn, Chief Executive, Fearless Femme CIC; David Hood, Director, Edinburgh Institute for Collaborative & Competitive Advantage; Dr Kirsty Hughes, Director, Scottish Centre on European Relations; Helen Hunter Education Officer (retired); Helen Kay M.A., M.Sc.; Stefan G Kay OBE; Patricia Kelly, retired teacher; Lord Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG; Mark Lazarowicz, former Labour MP 2001 – 2015, Edinburgh North; Graham Leicester, International Futures Forum (in a personal capacity); Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, former Secretary of State Scotland and former High Commissioner to Australia; Dr John MacDonald, Director of the Scottish Global Forum and editor of CABLE magazine; Gordon Macintyre-Kemp, Author and chief executive, Business for Scotland; Dame Mariot Leslie; David Martin, MEP; Monica Martins, Managing Director, WomenBeing Project; Marilyne MacLaren, retired politician and educationalist; Rt Hon Henry McLeish, former First Minister; Maggie Mellon, former executive board, Women for Independence and social work consultant; Professor Steve Murdoch, University of St Andrews; Isobel Murray, Professor Emeritus Modern Scottish Literature, Aberdeen University; Dr Kath Murray, Criminal Justice Researcher; Andrew Ormston, Director of Drew Wylie Projects; Alex Orr, Managing Director, Orbit Communications (in a personal capacity); Robert Palmer robertpalmerconsultants@gmail.com; Ray Perman, author and journalist; Willis Pickard, former editor TES Scotland and Rector, Aberdeen University; Dr Janet Powney, consultant in education and evaluation research; Lesley Riddoch, journalist and broadcaster; Ian Ritchie, software entrepreneur; Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, former Secretary of State for Defence, former Secretary General, Nato; Bill Rodger, Treasurer, European Movement in Scotland; Anthony Salamone, Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser, Scottish Centre on European Relations; Prof. Andrew Scott, University of Edinburgh; Anne Scott, Secretary, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Scottish Branch; Peter K. Sellar Advocate, Axiom Advocates Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh; Prof. Jo Shaw, University of Edinburgh; Dr Kirsteen Shields, Lecturer in Public Law, University of Dundee; Martin Sime, Chief Executive, SCVO; Alyn Smith, MEP; Grahame Smith, General Secretary STUC; Professor Michael E. Smith, Professor of International Relations, University of Aberdeen; Prof Chris Smout, Historiographer Royal of Scotland and Emeritus Professor, University of St Andrews; Struan Stevenson, former MEP and European Movement in Scotland Vice-President; Bob Tait, philosopher and former Chair, Langstane Housing Association, Aberdeen; Lord Wallace of Tankerness, Liberal Democrat peer and former Deputy First Minister; Sir Graham Watson, former President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Party (ALDE Party), former MEP; Dr Geoffrey Whittam, Reader, Glasgow Caledonian University; Fay Young, Director of a digital media company,
c/o 3 Fettes Row, Edinburgh.

That last one is especially poignant.

The must read piece on this self serving malarkey (as all these ridiculous multiple signature proclamations are) is from a genuine Great Scot, David Robertson, a Wee Free minister. He correctly points out that the authors’ views may not be entirely unconnected to their incomes, in some cases. Rigorously objective they are not. Read his whole piece, but here’s a telling excerpt:

Which brings me on to the state of the Scottish intelligentsia.  This is the land of David Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment.   The land which produced missionaries like David Livingstone, politicians of the calibre of John Smith and medical innovators like Sir James Young Simpson. We are the land which created writers like Burns,  Stevenson, Scott, Conan-Doyle and George MacDonald.  We are the land of the radical Christianity of Knox, Chalmers and Mary Slessor.   This is the land where a railway worker’s son like James Mackay can rise to become the highest legal official in the land.   This is a land that even today produces composers like James MacMillan.    Scotland has thrived because of  its intellectuals.  So how have we descended to the state where several of our leading intellectuals manage to produce a letter of such vacuity and banality, that if a student in college had produced it, they should have been failed?!

As he goes on to state:

This is what Scotlands metro-elites regard as intelligent debate nowadays – they talk to each other, tell themselves how important their conversation must be and so they continue in their wee circular world

Brilliant stuff.

 

 

 

Where did it all go wrong? (AKA politics today)

That faintly nauseous feeling engendered by numerous politicians of various tribes, with the high points exemplified by the twin peaks of Blair and Obama in their hubristic primes. Yup, it’s got a name now, which I hadn’t quite twigged before.

Progressivism.

It’s one of those bland words/phrases – think liberalism, neconservatism, social justice – which gets knocked about in the media and the political arena, often without people pausing to consider what it means.

Well here’s the ideal definition:

Progressivism was imported from Europe and would result in a radical break from America’s heritage. In fact it is best described as an elitist-driven counterrevolution to the American Revolution, in which the sovereignty of the individual, natural law, natural rights, and the civil society — built on a foundation of thousands of years of enlightened thinking and human experience — would be drastically altered and even abandoned for an ideological agenda broadly characterized as “historical progress.”

Progressivism is the idea of the inevitability of historical progress and the perfectibility of man — and his self-realization — through the national community or collective… progressivism’s emphasis on material egalitarianism and societal engineering, and its insistence on concentrated, centralized administrative rule, lead inescapably to varying degrees of autocratic governance.

Yup, we can all recognise that, whether we like it or not. I’m a ‘not’. It’s the opposite of true democracy, subsidiarity, respect for others, charitable endeavour etc. A surefire way of stifling altruism and enterprise, of crushing freedom of thought and speech. It’s neither specifically Left nor Right. It is a horrible amorphous blob of state control. It has ravaged the UK (especially Scotland), parts of Europe and is trying to take over the USA.

The author of the above is populist (and popular) Jewish intellectual, Mark Levin.

There is a lot of bullshit about when it comes to describing ideologies, political philosophy, the roles of the state and the individual, all that stuff – but I reckon the above description is a keeper. It always helps to know your enemy.

Stalin poses ad demagod WW2 Propaganda Poster
Raise your hand if you support progressivism!

 

 

 

Poetry Corner: Robert Lowell

quaker1
*

I live near an old whaling port, and the air I breathe is usually sea air.  Having grown up in a city far from the coast I can tell you that it’s very different.  However, by some distance, the most nautical, seafaring, ocean-soaked environment that I’ve ever been to is Cape Cod.  The Perfect Storm is not a great movie, but it does capture something of this essence – life on the edge of a vast and dangerous ocean. Another poet who had a remarkable gift of evoking the sea was Orcadian George Mackay Brown, from another community where the sea, with its gifts and snares, permeates daily life. Interestingly, Lowell visited the rarely travelled Brown in Orkney – see this great little memoir. The only other writing that I’ve come across that’s comparable when it comes to conjuring up images of man and the sea is Masefield’s short and brilliant Cargoes.

Nantucket_NASA_2002
Nantucket

But back to Lowell. A manic depressive New Englander who died aged only 60, in 1977, he was highly successful in his lifetime, albeit life was never smooth for him. Oddly, like Mackay Brown, he was a convert to Catholicism.

This poem is longish, but worth it.  The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket (1946. Try this very brief interpretation)

[FOR WARREN WINSLOW, DEAD AT SEA]
Let man have dominion over the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air and the beasts of the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth. 

I 
A brackish reach of shoal off Madaket— 
The sea was still breaking violently and night   
Had steamed into our North Atlantic Fleet, 
When the drowned sailor clutched the drag-net. Light   
Flashed from his matted head and marble feet,   
He grappled at the net 
With the coiled, hurdling muscles of his thighs: 
The corpse was bloodless, a botch of reds and whites,   
Its open, staring eyes 
Were lustreless dead-lights 
Or cabin-windows on a stranded hulk   
Heavy with sand. We weight the body, close   
Its eyes and heave it seaward whence it came,   
Where the heel-headed dogfish barks its nose   
On Ahab’s void and forehead; and the name   
Is blocked in yellow chalk. 
Sailors, who pitch this portent at the sea   
Where dreadnaughts shall confess 
Its hell-bent deity, 
When you are powerless 
To sand-bag this Atlantic bulwark, faced 
By the earth-shaker, green, unwearied, chaste   
In his steel scales: ask for no Orphean lute 
To pluck life back. The guns of the steeled fleet   
Recoil and then repeat 
The hoarse salute. 
II 
Whenever winds are moving and their breath   
Heaves at the roped-in bulwarks of this pier,   
The terns and sea-gulls tremble at your death   
In these home waters. Sailor, can you hear   
The Pequod’s sea wings, beating landward, fall   
Headlong and break on our Atlantic wall   
Off ’Sconset, where the yawing S-boats splash   
The bellbuoy, with ballooning spinnakers,   
As the entangled, screeching mainsheet clears   
The blocks: off Madaket, where lubbers lash   
The heavy surf and throw their long lead squids   
For blue-fish? Sea-gulls blink their heavy lids   
Seaward. The winds’ wings beat upon the stones,   
Cousin, and scream for you and the claws rush   
At the sea’s throat and wring it in the slush   
Of this old Quaker graveyard where the bones   
Cry out in the long night for the hurt beast   
Bobbing by Ahab’s whaleboats in the East. 
III 
All you recovered from Poseidon died 
With you, my cousin, and the harrowed brine   
Is fruitless on the blue beard of the god,   
Stretching beyond us to the castles in Spain,   
Nantucket’s westward haven. To Cape Cod   
Guns, cradled on the tide, 
Blast the eelgrass about a waterclock 
Of bilge and backwash, roil the salt and sand   
Lashing earth’s scaffold, rock 
Our warships in the hand 
Of the great God, where time’s contrition blues   
Whatever it was these Quaker sailors lost 
In the mad scramble of their lives. They died   
When time was open-eyed, 
Wooden and childish; only bones abide 
There, in the nowhere, where their boats were tossed   
Sky-high, where mariners had fabled news   
Of IS, the whited monster. What it cost   
Them is their secret. In the sperm-whale’s slick   
I see the Quakers drown and hear their cry:   
“If God himself had not been on our side,   
If God himself had not been on our side,   
When the Atlantic rose against us, why,   
Then it had swallowed us up quick.” 
IV 
This is the end of the whaleroad and the whale 
Who spewed Nantucket bones on the thrashed swell   
And stirred the troubled waters to whirlpools   
To send the Pequod packing off to hell:   
This is the end of them, three-quarters fools,   
Snatching at straws to sail 
Seaward and seaward on the turntail whale,   
Spouting out blood and water as it rolls,   
Sick as a dog to these Atlantic shoals: 
Clamavimus, O depths. Let the sea-gulls wail 
For water, for the deep where the high tide   
Mutters to its hurt self, mutters and ebbs.   
Waves wallow in their wash, go out and out,   
Leave only the death-rattle of the crabs,   
The beach increasing, its enormous snout   
Sucking the ocean’s side. 
This is the end of running on the waves; 
We are poured out like water. Who will dance 
The mast-lashed master of Leviathans 
Up from this field of Quakers in their unstoned graves? 
V 
When the whale’s viscera go and the roll   
Of its corruption overruns this world 
Beyond tree-swept Nantucket and Woods Hole   
And Martha’s Vineyard, Sailor, will your sword   
Whistle and fall and sink into the fat? 
In the great ash-pit of Jehoshaphat 
The bones cry for the blood of the white whale,   
The fat flukes arch and whack about its ears,   
The death-lance churns into the sanctuary, tears   
The gun-blue swingle, heaving like a flail, 
And hacks the coiling life out: it works and drags   
And rips the sperm-whale’s midriff into rags,   
Gobbets of blubber spill to wind and weather,   
Sailor, and gulls go round the stoven timbers   
Where the morning stars sing out together 
And thunder shakes the white surf and dismembers   
The red flag hammered in the mast-head. Hide   
Our steel, Jonas Messias, in Thy side. 
VI 
OUR LADY OF WALSINGHAM 
There once the penitents took off their shoes   
And then walked barefoot the remaining mile;   
And the small trees, a stream and hedgerows file   
Slowly along the munching English lane,   
Like cows to the old shrine, until you lose   
Track of your dragging pain. 
The stream flows down under the druid tree,   
Shiloah’s whirlpools gurgle and make glad   
The castle of God. Sailor, you were glad   
And whistled Sion by that stream. But see: 
Our Lady, too small for her canopy, 
Sits near the altar. There’s no comeliness   
At all or charm in that expressionless 
Face with its heavy eyelids. As before, 
This face, for centuries a memory, 
Non est species, neque decor, 
Expressionless, expresses God: it goes 
Past castled Sion. She knows what God knows,   
Not Calvary’s Cross nor crib at Bethlehem   
Now, and the world shall come to Walsingham. 
VII 
The empty winds are creaking and the oak   
Splatters and splatters on the cenotaph,   
The boughs are trembling and a gaff   
Bobs on the untimely stroke 
Of the greased wash exploding on a shoal-bell   
In the old mouth of the Atlantic. It’s well;   
Atlantic, you are fouled with the blue sailors,   
Sea-monsters, upward angel, downward fish:   
Unmarried and corroding, spare of flesh   
Mart once of supercilious, wing’d clippers,   
Atlantic, where your bell-trap guts its spoil   
You could cut the brackish winds with a knife   
Here in Nantucket, and cast up the time 
When the Lord God formed man from the sea’s slime   
And breathed into his face the breath of life,   
And blue-lung’d combers lumbered to the kill.   

The Lord survives the rainbow of His will.

 

quaker4
*

Great Landscapes: Hopper

I guess I’m displaying a degree of ignorance in admitting that I’d always associated Edward Hopper – a real American original – only with  airless city scenes, isolated buildings, lonely people and so on. Like this, in fact:

hopper2
Office in a small city, 1953. Metropolitan Museum, Manhattan

..and it is a work of genius, completely original. Hopper spent a lot of time In Cape Cod though, and he did produce terrific seascapes that are highly evocative of that frankly blessed portion of the planet. So, landscapes of a sort.

However, it was only a random spot on Twitter that alerted me to his other work in New England, and here it is. Lush, verdant magnificence, totally different in feel to his more famous stuff, but quite marvellous.  This was nearly 20 years before the painting above.

hopper-first-branch2
First branch of the White River, Vermont. 1938. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

It turns out that there is a book on this period in Hopper’s life, with this watercolour masterpiece on the cover. More weirdly, in a good way, is this blogger’s realisation that he lives in a Hopper painting. The picture above is the view from his driveway.

How cool is that?

Ayrton Senna: The W126 Mercedes SEC ~ men of taste and distinction (a continuing series)

senna1
…terrible number plate

This is the 6th post I’ve done on this topic, slightly to my surprise (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). They always get regular hits, presumably from people googling Mercedes W126/SEC/coupe. I do it myself.

I previously noted that racing drivers liked to drive SEC’s in their civilian lives, and if you’ve seen the remarkable movie documentary Senna, you’ll know that he was in some ways the greatest of them all, a true archetype.

One of my patients knew him from back in his Formula 3 days, and has nothing but praise for him as a driver, naturally, but also as a man.

Well, the excellent Mercedes Enthusiast magazine has done some detective work and unearthed Senna’s original 500SEC, which clearly has had a harder life than some. It’s been somewhat transformed, but this car has real pedigree, something not very common in the used vehicle market.

As before, here are expandable .jpeg files (just click) and a pdf…

AS6

AS7

AS5

…and…

Anne Frank in 2017

Amsterdam is good in parts, as the saying goes. The red light area is appallingly exploitative and not remotely OK, and the oddly named coffee shops are exactly what you’d expect from a bunch of well paid decadent stoners. Fun for 10 minutes and that’s it.

The touristy stuff is good,no doubt, but like many middle class travellers, my slightly snobby instinct is to avoid the obvious tourist traps. If I’d done this in Amsterdam, and missed out on the Anne Frank House I would have made a very big mistake. The best time to go is not long before it shuts, when the queue has died down.

otto.png
*

I won’t provide a review, just a few observations. Three in fact.

  • Anne herself, despite the diary, is not the main focus. She is a sweet normal girl, but hard to know – something of a cipher
  • The ‘star’ – if you can use the word for such a grim background – is Anne’s father, Otto. Everything about him seems admirable, far-sighted, brave, noble. A suitable figure to invoke on Father’s Day. The famous picture of him staring into space in the house, long after the war, is pinned to my office wall. The house only stands now thanks to him. The Dutch government would have let it be demolished. He was an exceptionally canny reader of people.
  • Anne would have survived the war had they not been betrayed by the locals. Not enough people realise this. Like in so much of wartime Europe antisemitism was never far away, with some notable exceptions. Betraying the Jews could be very advantageous. Lots of countries’ citizens were complicit, with history repeating itself. The Dutch resistance was a sporadic affair – despite its typically Verhoeven over the top production, the film Black Book makes some good points on this.

Why does this matter? Well, antisemitism is now ingrained in the ‘most popular politician in Britain’ – Mr Corbyn – and his wretched schizophrenic Labour Party. He did of course lose the election, despite the hype, but he got a lot of votes. Apart from the demerits of his other exotic policies and affiliations, what this means is that a very large swathe of the British electorate is effectively indifferent to antisemitism. If you ask them, they’re probably against it in a sort of vague it’s-not-a-priority way. That’s not good enough. Particularly in a Western European scene riven by overtly Jew-hating Islamic fundamentalists.

The civilised Dutch could morally atrophy so quickly that they could send a young girl to certain death for short term gain. The Guardian’s Nick Cohen has written numerous powerful pieces on this (1, 2, 3), over a long period. He’s watched the problem grow and grow, in his own political group. As he says: If it is incredible that we have reached this pass, it is also intolerable. However hard the effort to overthrow it, the status quo cannot stand.

It should make us all think.

**two hours after I wrote this, this appeared on my Twitter:

Screenshot_20170618-175244
Golden rule: for ‘Zionists’ read ‘Jews’