International Politics

Don’t Be Afraid To Listen

  “Upon my word, I think the truth is the hardest missile one can be pelted with.” — George Eliot (Middlemarch) Oxford and Cambridge Universities have an awful lot in common.  And last week was no exception.  By inviting polarising political figures from the left and the right – George Galloway and Marine Le Pen, respectively – both institutions reaffirmed what is at once perhaps the most sacred and the most imperilled of all our values: the freedom of speech. Le Pen was shuffled past protesters into the Cambridge Union last Tuesday – an organisation that prides itself on being a forum for all kinds of discussion and debate – to deliver a lengthy diatribe about the EU’s dilution of national identity.  The patina of xenophilia and inclusiveness that she wanted to solidify for the audience was derided and scoured away once the floor was opened to questioning.  In short, her politics …

An Interview with Peter Hitchens: Shouting into the Wind

“I didn’t arrange that,” Peter Hitchens blushes.  A stranger has just told him of her appreciation for everything he stands for and, for once, he’s been caught off guard, disarmed by praise.  The stone wall of rhetoric, dogmatic conviction and obduracy against which I’ve been fighting an attritional struggle for the past hour is felled in an instant.  And I can’t help feeling relieved. We’re in Starbucks showing our solidarity with their tax avoidance – well, Hitchens is.  “I’m a very bad interviewer,” he opens, slipping into the rich baritone of the ‘Hitchens’ voice that so melodiously beguiles and bewitches, “partly because I’m usually more interested in myself than the other person.”  And he has reason to be.  After all, Peter Hitchens is a hell of a lot more interesting than most other people; I’ll give him that.  Columnist and blogger for The Mail on Sunday; author of five books …

On the right to bear arms

It’s at times like this when I can feel every inch of the 3,675 miles that separates London from Washington DC.  Oakland, Aurora, Oak Creek, New York City, Minneapolis, Brookfield, Newtown – and that’s just 2012’s mass shootings.  I could fill this entire article with the names of the wounded and the dead.  It’s almost too much to take in.  Never has the American anti-gun lobby had more ammunition.  And yet, as it stands, I’m more inclined to despair for it than to hope. What took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School was beyond nauseating, beyond horrific.  Another mass murder, another gun-wielding maniac, another tragedy.  The day itself may not have been about politics, but its aftermath should be.  And when Newtown is finally left, out of sight of the cameras and the speculators, to pick up the pieces, I wonder what – if anything at all – will have …