01m18s Year of the Rat. (He showed up right on cue.)
06m13s Brexit Day. (Sorry, macushla.)
09m59s Control-freakery in the managerial state. (Why Brits hate the EU.)
16m54s Brexit came too late. (The lesson from Britain.)
24m57s Attlee was right. (He saw it 70 years ago.)
26m42s My favorite Clem story. (An oldie but goodie.)
28m07s Well done, Your Majesty! (QE2 overtakes FJ1.)
30m06s Naturalization, Swiss style. ("Uh" is the wrong answer.)
32m36s The death of true multiculturalism. (Goodbye, SOAS.)
35m31s Signoff. (With Joyce DiDonato.)
And yes, you heard me right: This week's adverb was "multiculturally." You'll have to wait until near the end of the podcast to learn why.
Last Saturday was, as I told you last Friday, Chinese New Year's Day. Mrs Derbyshire and myself went round to some Chinese friends for a magnificent New Year's banquet. It was delicious. The bat soup was especially good!
And then, the very next day … Well, let's start with the news.
02 — Year of the Rat. This New Year is, as I told you, the Year of the Rat.
Sure enough, the rat showed up the very next day. The New York Times went to press Sunday night with a story about John Bolton, who was President Trump's National Security Advisor for a year and a half until Trump dumped him last September. Apparently Bolton has a book coming out, and some passages from the book were leaked to the media.
In particular, Bolton says in the book that Trump told him he was holding up military aid to Ukraine to pressure them to investigate the business dealings of Joe Biden and his son over there.
That has been a key point in the impeachment trial of the President, although it's not clear why it should be. It's pretty clear that the Bidens were playing dirty pool in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian authorities should be pressed to investigate. Our President does have discretion over military aid.
So there doesn't seem to be anything actually illegal here, certainly nothing that rises to the standard of "high crimes and misdemeanors." It's all just politicians deranged by the 2016 election having been won by a guy from outside the Establishment.
Trump's denied the quid pro quo charge — we'll give you aid if you'll investigate the Bidens — but nobody much believes him. The circumstantial evidence is strong that there was a quid pro quo, and political insiders I've asked, including pro-Trump ones, all assume there was. It's just that no-one thinks the proposed deal was illegal.
And Ukraine got the aid anyway, so it's all kind of moot. That threatened quid pro quo was just another bit of empty bluster from our Blusterer-in-Chief.
So nobody's astounded by John Bolton's accusation; and as a political insider himself, he surely knew no-one would be. So why did he leak it — it's fair to assume it was him that leaked it — while the Senate impeachment trial is going on?
The only answer I can come up with is spite. Trump's dismissal of Bolton last September was not cordial. Bolton's a difficult employee — George W. Bush got fed up with him, too.
One should of course be wary when passing comments on the character of someone you don't know personally. Here on Radio Derb I've had some fun mocking John Bolton, his over-the-top hawkishness towards Iran for example.
Still, I'm sure a case can be made for him. No doubt he's a good husband and father, kind to small animals. Heck, I bet he's a jolly companion down at the pub over pints of ale, with a fund of witty anecdotes to charm and amuse you as you try not to watch him suck the ale-froth from his mustache.
Even in matters of ideology, there are points on which I think Bolton gets it right. Yes, I agree: the United Nations building would do more good for our country, and less harm to the world at large, if it were converted into a parking garage and its non-American employees summarily deported with bans on re-entry. Bolton's not wrong about everything.
Where this week's too-timely leaks from his book are concerned, though, I smell a rat.
03 — Brexit Day. Across the Pond in the Mother Country, today — Friday the 31st — is Brexit Day. The U.K. officially leaves the European Union at 11 p.m. local time. It should really be midnight, but those fool Continentals can't even get the time of day right. They are insisting that Brexit happen at their midnight, which is one hour ahead of the far more ancient and honorable Greenwich mean time.
Well, the hell with them, with their garlic and fascism and watery beer. The Brits can permit them this one last little flourish of power over Albion's sons. Then Britain is free — free at last!
Nigel Farage, who is undoubtedly the hero of the hour, made a fine triumphant speech to the so-called European Parliament.
[Clip: There is a historic battle going on now across the West; in Europe, America, and elsewhere. It is globalism against populism. And you may loathe populism, but I tell you a funny thing: It's becoming very popular.]
Farage's fellow Brexiteers — there are twenty-odd in the fake parliament — then stood up and waved the Union Jack. It's against rules in the pseudo-parliament to wave national flags, so the chair-critter, a fair colleen named Mairead McGuinness, did the angry-nun headmistress thing: banged her ruler against the desk and told them to stop.
That's the Irish for you: always yearning to belong to something big and international so they can boss the British around. They've given up on the Roman Catholic church, but there's still the EU. And tomorrow there will still be the EU, but minus Britain. Sorry, macushla.
Are my ancestral prejudices showing? Make allowance, please. I'm an American; my attachment to Britain is entirely sentimental. Something is due to sentiment, though; and for those particular sentiments, this is a great day indeed.
As Nigel Farage pointed out, the Brits were swindled into the EU by their boss class, under the lie that it was merely a free-trade zone. All through my youth and young adulthood it was referred to as "the Common Market," and that's what people assumed it was. That's what they were told it was.
They were told a lie. The EU was a political project, a bureaucratic extravaganza to feed managerial elites with power and money. Now the Brits are out of it. This ex-Brit offers his hearty congratulations.
04 — Control-freakery in the managerial state. The British Daily Express newspaper celebrated Brexit Day by listing eight examples of EU control-freakery — stupid rules that the EU has imposed, but that the Brits can now drop … although not until the end of this year, under the terms of the Brexit deal. Here are the eight, in brief summary.
One. Bananas sold in the EU can't be too bendy. Precisely, bananas must be, quote "free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers," end quote.
Two. The village of Stilton in Cambridgeshire is famous for its ripe, tangy, soft cheese. Stilton cheese was a favorite of George Orwell's. I have always thought, although the author doesn't tell us, that the cheese in Chapter Four of Jerome K. Jerome's Victorian humor classic Three Men in a Boat must have been Stilton. Quote from that book:
Splendid cheeses they were, ripe and mellow, and with a two hundred horse-power scent about them that might have been warranted to carry three miles, and knock a man over at two hundred yards.
Yeah, that sounds like Stilton all right. And if you belong to the zero point one percent of English-speaking people who know the name Jerome K. Jerome, be aware that there is an even more select Inner Party: the zero point zero one percent of us who know what the "K" stands for.
Well, whether Stilton cheese actually did originate in this Cambridgeshire village is one for the scholars. For the longest time it has actually been made in different places in other counties: Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and — yes! — Derbyshire.
So the manufacturers in those other counties got the EU to make a rule that only they could call their cheese "Stilton." If the actual village of Stilton tried to market a cheese named "Stilton" the EU's legions of lawyers would come down on them like a ton of … cheese.
Three. Nine years ago EU officials, after a three-year study of the matter, concluded there was no evidence to prove that drinking water prevents dehydration. Quote from the Daily Express:
Producers of bottled water are forbidden by law from making the claim and will face a two-year jail sentence if they defy the edict.
Four. Under EU rules, female sanitary products pay a five percent value-added tax when sold — popularly known, of course, as the Tampon Tax. This tax is unpopular with the Brits, I don't know why and really don't want to know, but now they can dispose of the Tampon Tax — with appropriate regard for hygiene, one hopes.
Five. EU fisheries policies prescribe strict limits by species on the fish that can be caught. If your net contains too many black gobies, you have to bring them ashore and hand them over to the nearest Commissar of Fish. Presumably the Brits will now be able to eat them with their chips.
Six. Halogen light bulbs are banned. Gotta buy LED bulbs. Another quote from the Express:
But since the halogen ban was introduced, scientific studies have found LED lights can permanently damage eyesight and disturb natural sleep rhythms.
Seven. The fine old imperial units of measure — feet and inches, pounds and ounces, pints and gallons — were forbidden for selling purposes under EU rules. The Brits have had to use metric. There went our traditional way to remember the speed of light: One point eight billion furlongs per fortnight.
Eight. After another investigation, the EU decided that prunes are not actually a laxative, so they forbade marketers of prunes from saying so.
That's Number Eight; although it would more aptly be Number Two, I guess.
There has been plenty more control-freakery where those came from. Liberated from it all, the Brits will no doubt develop some pettifogging idiot rules of their own.
That's the point, though: the rules will be theirs, subject to scrutiny and revision by their own parliament in London, not imposed on them from outside by gibbering foreigners who sport waxed mustaches, wave their hands when they talk, can't play cricket, and drive on the wrong side of the road. Rule Britannia!
05 — Brexit came too late. I've been taking a light-hearted approach to Brexit there, but there are deep and serious issues still to be sorted out. What exactly will be the rules for trade between independent Britain and what's left of the EU? Will Scotland want independence? What exactly will happen at the border between the Irish Republic — still in the EU — and Northern Ireland, which remains in the U.K.?
Good luck to the Brits for getting good terms on all that. There's a deeper issue, though, not much resolved by Brexit, although every survey has shown it was a major driving force of the 2016 vote for Brexit. That issue is of course immigration.
Brexit does mean an improvement in Britain's control of who comes into the country. EU nationals, except for the Irish, will now be treated like other foreigners. If that means fewer Romanian gypsies and Albanian gangsters, the crime rate should take a dive.
There are mighty forces arrayed against any real immigration restriction, though. Some of them are the same as in America. Quote from a editorialist in the Financial Times:
Can the UK wean itself off cheap labour and if so, how quickly? Food manufacturing and agriculture have become highly dependent on eastern Europeans. ["Brexit gives Britain a chance to fix its immigration policy" by Camilla Cavendish; FT, January 31st 2020.]
Given the huge numbers of Third Worlders currently settled in Britain, I would have thought that chain migration would be a big talking point too, but I haven't seen anything about it in the British press. Possibly that's because the wells have run dry: Entire villages in Pakistan and Bangladesh have well-nigh emptied out, their inhabitants all settled in Britain.
On the other side of the balance sheet, entire towns in England have been taken over by Third Worlders, most famously the old textile-mill town of Savile in Yorkshire. The 2011 census recorded that of the 4,033 people living in Savile, only 48 were white British. All the rest were Muslims from Pakistan and India. I can't find a more recent number, but it is surely even less than 48.
It's the same in London: in the East London borough of Newham, for example, where I bought my first house just fifty years ago next month. Wikipedia gives the 2016 population of Newham as only 27 percent white, and only half of that was white British. I hope someone's looking after my garden there …
There is not much to hope for from Britain's current government. Boris Johnson, the new Prime Minister, is an open-borders neoliberal. He's already twittering about a "points-based" system. He has business lobbies to feed, though, and huge ethnic blocs to appease; so any system he comes up with will be gamed nine ways to Sunday.
It's hard not to conclude, in fact, that Brexit has come too late to preserve Britain as a coherent nation. Decades of mass immigration have not yet destroyed Britain, but they have destroyed Britishness.
The other day I was reading about a gang war in North London. In recent news about this, five men aged 17 to 21, were convicted of a murder they committed last February. They had chased two members of a rival gang into a hairdressing salon and hacked one of them to death with machetes. The other was stabbed eight times and shot but survived.
As the judge passed sentence last week, gang members screamed abuse from the court spectators' gallery. One jumped down into the well of the court and lunged at the prosecuting counsel, but was arrested. You can inspect pictures of the five perps and their victim in last week's British newspapers. All of them are black.
That was shortly after reading my umpteenth article about Pakistani "grooming" gangs abducting and gang-raping underage white English girls while police and public authorities look the other way for fear someone will call them racist if they interfere.
This isn't Britain in any way that I recognize. Sure, Britain had crime gangs before the Great Replacement: I refer you to the novels of Jake Arnott, as advertised in my December Diary. Those were British people, though, whom Britain understood and knew how to deal with. These people I'm reading about in the newspapers are alien savages who loathe and despise the white British, and prey on them without scruple.
Fifty years ago the British ruling classes seem to have decided that to be a fully up-to-date modern country they should have a race problem — like America! They seem to have thought that having a race problem was an emblem of modernity, like decimal currency (which came in about the same time) and yoking the nation to a bureaucratic European superstate.
That is too much insanity — to much for Brexit alone to cure. Britain is finished, holed below the water-line. Those of us who can remember the place when it was a real nation can only mourn what has been lost, as we shuffle off the stage.
We can only hope that other nations, seeing Britain's slow suicide, will hold on firmly to their own nationhood.
Imprimis: Just a final follow-up on the Brexit news, a little historical titbit. Someone, according to the Daily Express again, has unearthed a report from three years ago in a French periodical, the Journal of British Studies — actually, I suppose, Le Journal d'Études Britanniques, although I can't find anything with that exact title.
Well, this study is about euroscepticism, that's opposition to Britain entering the EU, from the very earliest years of the union. It quotes Clement Attlee, who was Prime Minister of Britain from 1945 to 1951 — my second Prime Minister. In 1950, when the euro-project was in its infancy and people were just starting to talk about Britain joining, Attlee said the following thing to the House of Commons, quote:
We are not prepared to accept the principle that the most vital economic forces of this country should be handed over to an authority that is utterly undemocratic and is responsible to nobody.
Attlee was of course right, further fortifying my suspicion that the Western world has been getting collectively stupider throughout my own lifetime.
Item: Attlee was right about most things. He's one of my favorite Prime Ministers. Can I resist re-telling my favorite story about him? Of course I can't. I'll just read it from my March 2017 monthly Diary. Quote:
After Attlee retired from government it was felt proper that a biography should be written. A biographer, Kenneth Harris, was duly assigned. He hiked out to Attlee's house in Buckinghamshire with a tape recorder to interview his subject.
Attlee didn't give away much about himself. Harris found it particularly difficult to get him to talk about his religious beliefs, a thing readers were much more interested in fifty years ago than they would be today. He was finally reduced to asking: "Would you say you are an agnostic?"
Clem (after, one can't help imagining, a long pause for thought): "I don't know."
Item: Also from across the Pond, some monarchy news. No, nothing to do with Harry and Meghan. If you give a fig about that couple, you're listening to the wrong podcast. Anyway, Harry and Meghan have taken up domicile on this side of the pond, curse them. What would have been wrong with Australia, guys? Or the Falkland Islands? Not enough money to be made there, I guess.
No, this news concerns Her Britannic Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, whom God preserve! On January 25th Arad Benkö, who lists himself as the Austrian Ambassador to Georgia, tweeted that the following day, January 26th 2020, Her Majesty would overtake Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria and Hungary in length of reign: 24,826 days.
I haven't checked Ambassador Benkö's numbers, but they look to be about right. Well done, Your Majesty!
And Franz Joseph is up there with Clem Attlee in the ranks of statesmen I admire. Uh-oh: Am I going to quote myself again? I certainly am, although very briefly. In a book review three years ago I referred to the Emperor-King as, quote: "Franz Joseph of the house of Habsburg, a sensible and effective ruler, one of history's great reactionaries." End quote.
Item: West of Austria there is of course Switzerland. Here's a story to warm your heart from the land of cuckoo clocks and bankers. To warm your heart and excite your envy, if you favor sane, democratic immigration policies.
An Italian man who has lived in Switzerland for 30 years applied for citizenship. His application was denied because he didn't know that bears and wolves shared an enclosure at his local zoo.
For Swiss citizenship, you see, you have to prove to something called the Naturalization Commission that you are well-integrated into the area where you live. Knowing which animals share enclosures with which others was one of the test questions.
This story may have an unhappy ending, it's not clear. Apparently the guy appealed the decision, and a court has ruled that the Naturalization Commission was too strict. Pussies!
At least the Swiss have the right idea. Faithful listeners will recall our item two years ago about the Dutch woman who'd been living in a country district of Switzerland her entire adult life and spoke fluent Swiss German, but who had annoyed her neighbors by complaining about the sound of cow-bells. Citizenship denied!
And in a footnote to this week's story we read about an Iraqi woman, resident in Switzerland more than twenty years, who was denied citizenship after answering "uh" over 200 times in her naturalization test.
Far be it from me to second-guess the Swiss authorities' decision, but could it be that this Iraqi lady just has a really bad stutter?
In London there is a college named the School of Oriental and African Studies, referred to by everyone as SOAS. They have a magnificent library, to which I had a reader's ticket when I myself was studying Chinese at a different London college forty years ago.
Back then SOAS was an open and hospitable place. English people went there with an earnest desire to study the languages, literature, history, and culture of Asia and Africa. There were foreign students and teachers from Asia and Africa, too. It was all very collegial and scholarly.
Nowadays, according to a story at the Spectator last week, SOAS is a snake pit of anti-white and anti-semitic agitation. Sample quote:
It was in  that [Valerie] Amos was appointed as director, following an illustrious career as a diplomat, UN official, and now Labour peer. For this she was described in the SOAS student newspaper as a [inner quote] "cog in the colonial machine" [end inner quote] and resistance to her management began immediately, with rubbish reportedly thrown at her office door by students who considered her to be a "Neo-Conservative" stained by her association with Tony Blair's government. ["The strange world of the radically left-wing SOAS university" by Louise Perry; Spectator, January 29th 2020.]
Saddest of all, SOAS is in financial difficulties, with falling enrolments. If, as seems possible, the place has to shut down, that will be a tragedy; part of the larger tragedy of modern multicultural Britain. I just hope some kind billionaire rescues that wonderful library.
The paradox is of course that the older SOAS, the one I remember, was multicultural in a genuine and positive way, full of young English people curious to learn about cultures very different from their own. That all seems like a long time ago now.
My own weekend will be spent in anticipation. Monday morning, February 3rd, I'm going to watch a dress rehearsal at the New York Met, with superstar soprano Joyce DiDonato singing the lead role. Now that is something to look forward to.
The actual opera Ms DiDonato is singing in is Handel's Agrippina, which is about the last years of the Roman emperor Claudius and the scheming of the title character, who is his wife, to have her son Nero succeed to the throne, which of course he eventually did. This was the nastiest kind of imperial court intrigue. Fans of historical fiction will know all about it from reading Robert Graves' Claudius novels.
I got a chuckle from reading the Met's advance flier for the production. Bear in mind, please, that these things are written by some minimum-wage drudge fresh from his college's latest Diversity and Inclusion seminar. Quote:
Handel's tale of intrigue and impropriety in ancient Rome receives its first Met performances, with star mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as the controlling, power-hungry Agrippina and Harry Bicket conducting. Sir David McVicar's production ingeniously reframes the action of this black comedy about the abuse of power to "the present," where it should loudly resonate.
Ah yes: a "controlling, power-hungry" woman … the abuse of power … What comes to mind? What comes to my mind is not, I'm quite sure, what the author of that flier intended.
Well, well. Here to see us out is Joyce DiDonato singing Handel, although from a different opera. In this one, the heroine has been spirited away from her lover into the hands of a stranger. Naturally upset about the turn of events, she sings: "Let me weep over my cruel fate, and let me sigh for liberty."
I am at liberty to tell you that there will be more from Radio Derb next week.
[Music clip: Joyce DiDonato singing Handel's "Lascia ch'io pianga."]