Tag Archives: UK politics

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

 The force that brought down the Wall is the force that will get us through the postal strike, and that force is people power

Forget Guy Fawkes – remember, remember the Ninth of November for the fall of the Berlin Wall
The fall of the Berlin Wall 20 years ago freed millions from tyranny and poverty, argues Boris Johnson

 
I am thinking champagne. And cake. And fireworks, of course, not just any old fireworks but some of those truly shell-shocking bits of Chinese ordnance called Harmonious Geese or Whispering Swans.

Far more important than the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot, far more benign in its consequences for world peace and prosperity, we celebrate next week the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – the ultimate triumph of simple human instincts over an evil and degenerate system. Without the Fall of the Wall, millions of people in eastern Europe would still be living in terror of the Stasi or the Securitate.

Without the end of Soviet communism, China would never have launched the turbo-charged entrepreneurial drive that has helped fuel two decades of global consumption and growth, and spread undreamt-of material benefits around the world. Without the end of one oppressive regime in Moscow, another one – in South Africa – might have limped on for a few more years.

Without the Fall of the Wall, Nelson Mandela would never have walked to freedom. How much the greatest political event it was in my lifetime, and how much the best.

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School Discipline

The real victims in all this are not just the teachers. They are the other kids whose education is being wrecked by a minority of badly behaved children

All we need is the politicians to have the guts to take on the bullying parents, the supine education authorities, and the crazed culture of health and safety

 

Teachers need the law on their side
We need a politician with the guts to stand up for reasonable discipline in our schools, argues Boris Johnson
 

Let’s be clear. I am not calling for the return of the cane. I do not want to bring back the great British thrashing. It seems amazing that in our lifetimes otherwise humane teachers would roll up their sleeves, flex the Malacca and – with or without a pervy Terry-Thomas glint in the eye – administer violent corporal punishment to the children they were supposed to be instructing.

My memory of an otherwise idyllic 1970s English prep school is that masters used virtually any weapon of discipline they could lay their hands on. There was the blackboard rubber, a heavy chalky object that teachers would hurl with great force if they saw you staring vacantly during maths. There was the ruler, which could be brought down so hard on the back of the hand that a friend of mine had a contusion that lasted for years. There was the jokari bat, for those who forgot their construe. There was the cricket bat for seriously argumentative types and also, I kid you not, the handle of a nine iron golf club. And then there was the cane. I remember being so enraged at being whacked for talking at the wrong moment that it has probably given me a lifelong distrust of authority.

Bankers’ Fortunes

 the decision of these banks to hand out bonuses as though nothing has changed is unbelievable. The only reason these bankers are still in jobs is because the taxpayer bailed out the system

If you pressed a rifle into the hand of the man in the street and asked him to choose between two targets – an MP or a banker – who do you think would get the bullet? Tricky, eh? It is hard to know which of these two formerly respectable professions has fallen further in public esteem.

Some people might hesitate, like Buridan’s ass, the rifle barrel weaving indecisively between two such luscious hate-objects. Most people would simply call for two bullets.

But then let me ask you a slightly different question. Which of the two species has managed to steer itself most effectively through the crisis? Which type of cockroach has scuttled through the nuclear blast of public disapproval? On the face of it, there is an obvious answer, and it is getting more blatant by the day.

Most of the MPs I know seem to be in a state of nervous collapse. Some of them are on suicide watch. Some of them face the task of sacking their wives and selling the house, or possibly the other way round. Some face penury. Never has Parliament been subjected to such protracted humiliation at the hands of the people.

Then look at the bankers, the bankers whose high-rolling risk-taking triggered the recession that has so exacerbated public rage at MPs. The bankers seem to be waltzing off with a song on their lips and their hands in their pockets – at least, their hands would be in their pockets if they were not stuffed with money. And when I say stuffed, I mean bulging, bursting, ballooning with the biggest bonuses you ever saw.

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Margaret Thatcher’s political legacy

In praise of  Margaret Thatcher, the woman who changed politics forever, exactly thirty years after she became prime minister.

In the course of researching this article I approached an intelligent 15 year-old girl. She had been born three years after Margaret Thatcher left office. She had never seen her in action. She had no personal memories of any of the great controversies of the Thatcher epoch. And, therefore, she struck me as a perfect source for an understanding of the full semiotic range of the words “Margaret Thatcher” in the minds of young people today. This schoolgirl had been taught by good left-liberal teachers. She had read the papers and listened all her life to the BBC, and she had the normal British teenager’s range of cultural references. I tried a word-association test. “So what do you think,” I asked her, “when I say the words ‘Margaret Thatcher’ “? She paused, and then she said: “Billy Elliott.” Continue reading Margaret Thatcher’s political legacy