Saturday, June 30, 2007

Last chance to light up in public

The smoking ban is only hours away. By this time tomorrow, scenes like this in an enclosed public space will be only a memory. Incidentally, there's a certain leftie blogger who finds the sight of women smoking unbearably erotic.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Le Roi est mort ... Vive le roi

Back to back retrospectives, most successful Labour leader ever, we shall not see his like again, PMQs, tributes, standing ovation (sniff, Dolphinarium doesn't approve of such new-fangledness, shouldn't they have waved their order papers or something?) ... New era, change, priorities, she looks much quieter than the other one doesn't she? schools 'n' hospitals, try my utmost ...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Harman elected Labour deputy leader

Back in the halcyon days of the first Blair government, Harman was secretary of state for Social Security with the cerebral Frank Field minister of state. Naughty civil servants dubbed him brains and her handbag.
Before that, of course, she got in trouble with backbenchers for sending her son to well-regarded grammar school St Olave's. Despite availing her own offspring of the benefits of an overachieving faith school (St Olave's is Anglican) Harman has recently moaned about the much-needed expansion of faith schools.
She's described as having campaigned for 'family friendly' policies, though the term must be understood as being a very relative one, referring to the fluffier kind of policy such as paternity pay rather than anything substantive.
Harman is very well-connected through birth and marriage; she's Lady Longford's neice, Lady Antonia Fraser's cousin and wife of union baron, Jack Dromey. It can't have hurt her career.
Looking on the bright side, at least she beat Alan Johnson.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Justice is done - Kennedy annulment overturned

Its appropriate that today is the feast of St Thomas More (a pioneering feminist, by the way, who championed education for women) as we read with great pleasure that the Roman rota has overturned Joseph and Sheila Rauch Kennedy's annulment. If reports are to be believed the original annulment stank to high heaven. The annulment was granted by the Boston archdiocese to pampered princeling, Joseph Kennedy jnr in secret on the ridiculous grounds that he lacked the psychological capacity for marriage. Sheila Rauch Kennedy was only informed of the secret annulment of her marriage in 1996 a full five years after it was granted! As if all this wasn't enough, Rauch says that the archdiocese refuses to inform those facing annulments that they have the right to appeal to Rome. This is frankly scandalous.
What on earth is going on in Boston? For that matter, what on earth is going on with the American Church? There are something like 60,000 annulments granted in the US each year. It beggars belief that there are so many invalidly contracted marriages in America. Notwithstanding some game attempts at explaining this away, this disgraceful statistic lends weight to the argument that the process is being abused and annulments are being handed out far too easily in the US.
In such circumstances its hardly suprising that there is so much confusion and misunderstanding about Catholic teaching on marriage in general and annulment in particular. Note - annulment is not, repeat not, the same as divorce. And Roman Catholics can not, repeat not, 'marry' a divorced person or 'remarry' after divorce, these being explicitly forbidden by one, Jesus Christ, not an unimportant figure for Catholics.
There's an informative article on annulment with particular reference to the Rauch Kennedy case here and Jimmy Akin does a good job of fisking the original Time story on the annulment here.

Bye Bye Burchill

So its so long Julie. Yes, the self-styled Queen of the Groucho club has announced that she is retiring from journalism. Actually, I'm sorry to see her go. On paper, she was everything this aquatic creature despises: an uneducated provincial anti-Catholic cow. But but ... but there was something about that Birchill bird which gladdened the heart and quickened the pulse. She didn't take herself too seriously, was fabulously vulgar and - on occasion - was capable of turning out some liltingly brilliant copy.

Nick Cohen on What's Left

To Hampstead Synagogue's Community Centre to hear Nick Cohen deliver the 5th annual Isaiah Berlin lecture on the subject of his book What's Left?: How liberals lost their way. He spoke lucidly and not without a touch of genuine pathos at the left's moral decline then tackled questions from an appreciative audience on inter alia, anti-semitism, anti-Americanism, BBC bias and why sections of the left are so obsessed with Israel that they have no space left to be outraged by China, say or Iran. There was some petulant grumbling from my companion that Cohen isn't sufficiently oriented to the working class and that his thesis was muddied by examination of the liberal left along with the hard left. This I dismissed with the irrascible comment, "its all about the wider left, you nit, not just its outer fringes, that's what makes it relevant."
Cohen's ostentatious heresy has certainly ruffled a few a feathers. This is no bad thing. In fact, I venture that Cohen's criticism has not been systematic enough. The left isn't just undergoing a moral crisis, its in serious intellectual decline as well. There are few left-liberal commentators worth reading for either style or content (Cohen is one of the exceptions) and at the amateur end of things, the dominant characteristic of so many left blogs is their overwhelming provincial dumbness.
Does any of this matter? Well, if you want a healthy democratic culture characterised by an educated citizenry, vigorous free press and a menu of genuine political choices, then yes, it very much is. Heretics like Cohen with their propensity to ask awkward but necessary questions are doing their bit to halt the liberal left's almost inexorable slide into flabbyminded irrelevance and for that he deserves our gratitude.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Charles Clarke MP, 7pm, walking round Sloane Square and onto Sloane Street, looking thoughtful. As well he might. The Gord's Day is ever closer, afterall.