Donald Trump is the least American president in US history

As a schoolboy, George Washington transcribed 110 Jesuitical maxims later published as Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.  In this pamphlet he counsels a regimen of behaviour so meticulous it forbids blowing on a spoonful of soup to cool it and specifies the proper method for dipping bread in sauce. PresidentialContinue reading “Donald Trump is the least American president in US history”

Poorly? Just be grateful you’re not in Wales…

MSPs returned for the inaugural First Minister’s Questions of 2018, rested and refreshed over the New Year and sporting the finest in Christmas-gift fashion.  Johann Lamont snuggled under a fetching ivory woollen scarf while a radioactive tangerine tie threatened to ignite around Jackson Carlaw’s neck. Angela Constance essayed a cranberry painter’s smock that suggested aContinue reading “Poorly? Just be grateful you’re not in Wales…”

Facts are talking down Scotland again

The problem with exceptionalism is that sooner or later everyone wants in on it. The Romans claimed to be exceptional and none but the most contrarian observer of history would seek to refute that. The British at the height of the Empire considered themselves a uniquely bold and industrious force, settler of far-off lands, worldContinue reading “Facts are talking down Scotland again”

Israel’s revival of the death penalty would be a grave mistake

One of the many problems with the effort to bring back the death penalty in Israel is that it never went away in the first place. Israel is only a partial abolitionist, banning the death penalty for ordinary crimes in 1954 but retaining it for war crimes and offences against the state. The last executionContinue reading “Israel’s revival of the death penalty would be a grave mistake”

Two deaths and why lawless social media must now be brought to heel

A two-hour drive from Tokyo, just north-west of Mount Fuji, lurks the sombre sprawl of Aokigahara forest. The Japanese call it Jukai, the ‘Sea of Trees’, for it is dense with softly swaying thickets and devouring tides of silence and solitude. Across 12 square miles of lava rock, Mongolian oaks and hinoki cypresses loom overContinue reading “Two deaths and why lawless social media must now be brought to heel”

Iran’s uprising exposes the left’s shameful double standards

Why is Jeremy Corbyn silent on the protests in Iran? A cynic might say that the Labour leader could hardly be expected to bite the hand that fed him £20,000 for appearing on the state’s propaganda channel. But Corbyn’s motivations are not financial. He and those who share his worldview simply cannot stomach being on the sameContinue reading “Iran’s uprising exposes the left’s shameful double standards”

In defence of Toby Young

Turmoil in the Middle East, a reshuffle rumoured at Westminster, and Toby Young is offending the liberal establishment. So far, 2018 doesn’t seem all that different from 2017. The occasion for the latest sputtering is the Speccie columnist’s appointment to the board of the Office for Students. The OfS is the new regulator of Britain’sContinue reading “In defence of Toby Young”

Show some resolve Nicola – don’t say ‘independence’ in 2018. Same for you, Ruth

It’s resolution time again and I am resolved not to make any since I can never keep them. Last year, I pledged to get back into reading fiction but a quick skim through Derek Mackay’s Budget was more than enough for me. So this year, I have come up with some resolutions for politicians that,Continue reading “Show some resolve Nicola – don’t say ‘independence’ in 2018. Same for you, Ruth”