UK 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 …

How I wish the prohibition addicts would go cold-turkey

“Prohibition is an attempted cure that makes matters worse – for both the addict and the rest of us.” Thus, the late Milton Friedman outlined the scourge of a generation: how we deal with the drug problem. It has become the misguided moral crusade of major global superpowers to act as noble warriors in the so-called “War on Drugs”, fighting the “good” fight in lands far and wide, myopically neglecting to respond to the bitter consequences and consistent failures. World leaders must wake up and smell the coffee; the criminalisation of drugs merely acts as the worst possible palliative. And we’re hooked. The prohibition experiment’s time is up. Quite frankly, it’s failed on every count. 280,000 heroin addicts in Britain alone, almost £500 million per year spent on keeping UK prisoners in the clink for drug charges, and countless homicide victims despondently cry out for an alternative approach. Outside of …