Danny Finkelstein reminds us where we are…
“…. in truth, the choice we face now is no different to the one we faced at the beginning of the lockdown. The more we relax restrictions, the more people will mix. The more people mix, the more people will get it. And the more people get it, the more people will die.
The public can hardly be told: “You won’t die if you get it now because we’ve passed the peak so it’s too late for you to start dying”. Or “your mixing isn’t lethal now because we’ve already had a lockdown”. Viruses don’t work like that. It will carry on until it’s been stopped by a vaccine or ameliorated by treatment or until it has been caught by all the people who are going to catch it and killed all the people it’s going to kill.
And this is true for every country, whatever stage of the contagion they are in. It’s one of the reasons it is pointless to start making judgments about how well or badly Britain has done compared with other countries. We don’t know because we are all only at the beginning. We will only know when it’s over.”
Jeremy Corbyn has finally issued a detailed response to the revelation that he wrote a gushing foreword in praise of a deeply anti-Semitic book… by writing a letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews attacking Danny Finkelstein for having dared to reveal it. True to form…
Corbyn dismisses the accusations of anti-Semitism against him as politically-motivated smears: “the latest in a series of equally ill-founded accusations of anti-Jewish racism that Labour’s political opponents have made against me”. He then goes on to attack The Times and Finkelstein himself:
“I note that the Hobson story was written by a Conservative Party peer in a newspaper whose editorial policy, and owner, have long been hostile to Labour.”
Strange how Corbyn passed up the opportunity to discuss his other views about exactly who has “unbelievably high levels of influence” over the media…
There isn’t even a hint of an apology in the letter, instead Corbyn says that he is “deeply saddened that the mischievous representation of my foreword to the book will have caused real stress in the Jewish community”. Newsflash for Corbyn: if there’s one thing that has the UK’s Jewish community seriously concerned – it’s him.
Lord Finkelstein on the parliamentary deadlock….
“…the real problem is that if parliament is stuck on how and, in a substantial minority of cases even whether, to achieve Brexit, it is not because it fails to represent reality or public opinion. It is precisely because it does represent reality and public opinion.”
Invitations are going out this week for the launch party of Onward, the new Tory think tank promising to come up with ‘retail’ policies to win back under-45 voters. Onward was the brainchild of Tory MP and former Osborne SpAd and Policy Exchange director Neil O’Brien, with Nick Faith, the former PX comms chief who now runs WPI Strategy with Sean Worth. So is it just Policy Exchange Mark II?
Onward’s main aim seems to be to bring the Cameroon and May brands of Tory party politics together. Last summer O’Brien and Faith organised a dinner at the home of Tory donor David Meller (don’t mention the President’s Club), who hosted Nick Timothy and JoJo Penn from May’s inner circle, top Cameroon Nick Boles (a former PX director) and a number of younger ambitious MPs. Onward’s director will be former May adviser Will Tanner, its chair is Osborne confidant Danny Finkelstein (former PX chairman), and its board members include former Cameron advisers Kate Rock and Kate Fall, ex-Osborne aide Eleanor Wolfson, and Craig Elder, who co-ran Cameron’s digital campaigns in 2015 and the referendum. Their main financial backer is Martyn Rose, who ran Cameron’s National Citizens Service.
The plan is to create a party-oriented think tank for MPs rather than wonks, which combines Timothy’s statist agenda with the more liberal politics of the Cameroons, and has both Remainers and Brexiters on board. They have signed up MPs from the left and centre-right of the party, from Ruth Davidson and Tom Tugendhat to Michael Gove and Kemi Badenoch. It will have some external authors but most of the reports will be written by MPs.
The danger for Onward is it goes down the road of expensive, interventionist, big-state policies which mean higher taxes, more spending and more borrowing – social democracy with a blue-wash. A May-Osborne fusion could mean more cumbersome policies like the energy price cap, HS2 and ever-creeping vice taxes. Guido also fears the instinctively more liberal, small-state, low tax MPs may fail to resist the temptation to drift leftwards as they seek wider support ahead of the next leadership contest. Number 10’s hopeless lack of a domestic agenda means the Tories are crying out for post-Brexit polices, or, perish the thought, policies that could actually be implemented while Brexit is taking place. They won’t beat Corbyn with lite versions of his policies…
Twitter’s most irritating lawyer Jolyon Maugham outdid himself on pomposity this morning during a spat with the Times‘ genial Danny Finkelstein. Jolyon began by sending Fink a link to his blog claiming the UK can still revoke Article 50 and Remain in the EU. When Danny pointed out the weakness of his argument, Jolyon responded with a level of arrogant sneering impressive even by his standards of hubris.
“Non or very junior lawyers think as you do. That the law is an intellectual creature existing only in the abstract… you are not a lawyer.”
The even-tempered Fink calmly won the day, tweeting:
“He argues in an intolerable way and I can’t stick it for long. I end up thinking life is too short to be talked to like that. So I go away but always come back later because he has arguments you need to grasp and consider. Only then he does it again and off I go. It’s quite dispiriting because it is so unnecessary.”
Even by the stuffed-shirt standards of the English Bar Jolyon is an über-arse. Danny speaks for everyone – including judges and fellow barristers – who has had the misfortune of engaging with Jolyon on Twitter or in court…
Danny Finkelstein calls for an inquiry into the Miners’ Strike:
“…let’s have an inquiry into the way thousands of people were trying to stop lorry drivers going about their business in a free country. And about the barrage of bottles, stones and broken fencing thrown at the drivers.
Let’s inquire into the intimidation of working miners in their homes and as they made their way to their jobs, choosing to work rather than obey a strike called without a ballot.
Let’s inquire into the death of David Wilkie and try to find out what was in all those maps and papers Kim Howells felt he urgently needed to dispose of. Let’s find out what the hundreds of miners in Merthyr Vale were thinking when they decided that the appropriate reaction to the guilty verdict on the men who orphaned Wilkie’s young children was to walk out in support of the killers rather than the dead man.
Let’s have an inquiry into the way that Arthur Scargill brought the dispute about and the role of his union and its supporters in the encouragement of what became major incidents of public disorder. Let’s look at the role of left-wing fringe organisations and outsiders in mobilising menacing groups designed to frighten others into complying with their political demands.
And maybe we could call someone from the KGB and the former Soviet government before the inquiry. We could try to find out about more about how they funnelled money to the NUM.”