Restrictions on Free Speech

Blair's crackdown on freedom is an inspiration to tyrants If you looked behind David Cameron at yesterday's Question Time, you would have noticed something odd. Several MPs were wearing similar and very garish ties, decorated with the kind of motif you might see on a pavement on a Saturday night. This Jackson Pollock baby-vomit neckwear was, in fact, a sign of respect. It was to mark the passing of our colleague Eric Forth, the knuckle-dustered and fob-watched libertarian Tory, whose death is being mourned by people more deeply than they might have expected while he was alive. Continue reading Restrictions on Free Speech

Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown has resurrected a heresy that rattles the Church Jesus had a baby, yes Lord. Jesus had a baby, yes my Lord. It sounds pretty blasphemous, put like that, doesn't it? The only reason I dare to begin with those words is that they represent the beliefs of growing millions of otherwise sane British adults. Yup, folks, we all seem to be swallowing the new gospel. You on the Tube, madam, turning the pages with such narcosis that you miss your stop: you believe it, don't you? Continue reading Da Vinci Code

Rural Payments Agency

Acres and acres of madness - and they call this reform At the bottom of the garden we have a paddock, and on evenings like this I can think of no lovelier place on earth. The buds have budded. The trees are in leaf. The lambs are making a racket. The rabbits show a boldness that verges on insolence. Everywhere I look I see nature transpiring at every pore with the green joy of photosynthesis. I see the hawthorn blossom, rolling for miles in great gunsmoke clouds. I see the shade starting to lengthen from the old oak, and the lovely rickety fence, on which I sometimes balance champagne bottles and shoot them off with an airgun, and I lie down on the springy grass and look up at the pale moon in the blue sky and I breathe a sigh of deep and unchallengeable contentment. Sometimes, you know, I just can't believe my luck. Because it turns out that I am not only the possessor of a magnificent paddock. I am a farmer. Yes, folks, I am a Tibullan agricola. I am Marie-Antoinette. I have managed to hitch my wagon to the gravy train of the CAP and clamp my jaws about the hind teat of Defra. By virtue of possessing 0.3 hectares of grass, excluding the dilapidated outside privy, I am apparently eligible for subsidy! Continue reading Rural Payments Agency

Local Elections

The essence of the Tory approach is that there are still plenty of ways of beautifying the world and sparing the taxpayer
Fed up with feeble Labour? Only you can put the boot in Not so long ago, there appeared in these pages one of the best letters I have ever seen. It was a letter from a retired lieutenant-colonel. I have a feeling he lived in Gloucestershire and, even without having his precise words to hand, I can still feel the incandescent heat of his indignation. It was one of those letters that smelt of the freshly spilt coffee and still echoed to the sound of the freshly smacked breakfast table. You could almost hear the air coursing from his nostrils in a great double-barrelled parp of rage that sent the crumbs of egg and toast scattering from his moustache, over the discarded edition of the morning paper and into the lilac-scented lap of his adoring wife of 50 years. Continue reading Local Elections