Category Archives: politicians

The non-entity in Number 10

A politician who excites only contempt

Dalrymple notes that Theresa May, the British prime minister,

has only one clear policy: to remain prime minister.

To be sure, he says,

every politician aims to stay in office as long as possible. Nevertheless, one would still hope that those who attained it had some idea what to do with it. A politician with only ideas is dangerous, no doubt, but one entirely without them is contemptible.

A stranger to strategy and tactics

May, writes Dalrymple,

pins her hope of remaining in office on not offending anyone too deeply, neither to the right nor to the left of her. At a dinner party, this might be a good principle, but politics is not a dinner party. Those who try to offend no one also please no one, and in times of crisis give the impression not of compromise and flexibility but of lack of principle and pusillanimity.

Faced by the challenge of Brexit, May,

who seems like a stranger to strategy and tactics, has opted for an evasive immobility, perhaps in the hope that something will turn up and prevent her from having to make any painful decisions.

Politics is not a dinner party


Life is far too short

Dalrymple writes:

The life of Man being but three score years and ten, nothing on earth would induce me to read Hillary Clinton’s memoir of her electoral defeat.

If he had two millennia rather than only two years to go, he would not read it. In fact, he says,

no memoir by any modern politician would tempt me to read it, since the main characteristic of such politicians is mediocrity tempered by unbridled ambition and lust for power. Better to reread Macbeth. Hillary Clinton, after all, is Lady Macbeth to Bill Clinton’s Felix Krull, the confidence trickster.

The nature of politicians

The doctor-writer picks up a copy of S.L. Sutton’s 1972 volume in the series ‘Invertebrate Types‘, which Dalrymple says does not in point of fact refer to current British politicians such as David Cameron (‘morals of a jackal and backbone of a mollusc’) or Theresa May (‘Machiavelli minus the cunning’).

A Machiavellian minus the cunning

The British prime minister chose her battleground with the perfect eye for defeat

Theresa May, writes Dalrymple,

proved an apt pupil of the David Cameron school of political incompetence. Lacking principle, she was not even good at being unprincipled.

She had

the charisma of a carrot and the sparkle of a spade. As she presented herself to the public, no one would have wanted her as a dinner guest, except under the deepest social obligation.

Consequence of having a pusillanimous, do-nothing approach to a society resting in the stagnant pool of its own mediocrity

Her disastrous campaign

included repeated genuflections in the direction of social democracy. Even after her defeat, moral if not quite literal, she burbled about a society in which no one was left behind — never mind that it would entail a society in which no one would be out in front.

Theresa May: the charisma of a carrot

But egalitarianism

is like Islam: just as a moderate Muslim can always be outflanked by someone more Islamic, so an egalitarian can be outflanked by someone more egalitarian: and no one will ever believe that the Conservatives are more devoted to equality of outcome than Labour.

Theresa May: the sparkle of a spade

So incompetent, she could be humiliatingly outflanked by a man such as this

The cultural triumph of psychobabble

Theresa May: the little ones shall experience distress no more

The British prime minister, Dalrymple reports, has

spotted an opportunity to demonstrate to her sentimental electorate how much she cares for even the least of them by announcing that she wants to put a mental health professional, i.e. form-filler, in every school.

There is, says Dalrymple, a new social contract:

I will listen to your shallow clichés about yourself if you will listen to mine.


compassion by proxy, at taxpayers’ expense, is typical of the behaviour of modern politicians, who need to show their electorates that they are not the heartless or ruthless ambitious nonentities that they might otherwise appear to be. An uncritically sentimental population is a perfect flock to be fleeced in this way, sheep for the shearing.

May’s project, Dalrymple points out,

is also typical of the process of simultaneous work creation and work avoidance that marks the modern state, a process that turns it into a trough from which many may feed.

Latrine-cleaners and politicians

Dalrymple writes:

Someone has to do politics, just as people have to do other unpleasant jobs, such as cleaning lavatories.

How Trump lets the side down


Can you forgive him?

This compulsion to keep election pledges

The leader of the free world, Dalrymple notes,

seems to be doing what is unforgivable in a democratic politician, for it will make life difficult for all the others who come after him: he is keeping, or trying to keep, his election promises.

Could anything, asks Dalrymple,

better prove his complete lack of probity?

The blue pencil


‘Just as real meaning sometimes creeps inadvertently into politicians’ speeches, so some words escape the blue pencil,’ says Dalrymple.

Colonic irrigation courtesy of the taxpayer

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.21.48The Department of Health’s tie-up with the Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health is, writes Dalrymple,

an invincible alliance between bullying bureaucracy and social snobbery, between administrative cynicism and ignorant folly.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.18.40Providing homeopathy on the NHS

is part of the persistent attempt by the government further to debase and demoralise the medical profession. The point is not to raise the status of alternative medicine, as Prince Charles has no doubt been gulled into believing, but to lower the status of orthodox medicine.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.23.46This is because

doctors are trusted by the population, while politicians most certainly are not: therefore they, the doctors, represent a danger to the politicians. The people who will pay the price for the wicked folly of the Department of Health will be the British people, who will come to be treated by a professional body of uninterested timeservers while their rulers seek first-rate medical treatment elsewhere — that is to say abroad.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.31.08Dalrymple has no objection to irrational whims involving

  • colonic irrigation
  • healing crystals
  • chakras in the earth
  • hopi candles

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.20.03But he sees no reason why he or any other taxpayer should fork out for them.

No doubt the Department of Health will present its position on alternative medicine

as being broad-minded and socially inclusive. There is another way of looking at it: the Department of Health is embezzling taxpayer’s funds for partially hidden, political purposes.

Charles II touches a patient for tuberculous swelling of the lymph glands

Charles II touches a patient for tuberculous swelling of the lymph glands

By all means

let the Prince of Wales spread propaganda for his brand of hocus-pocus. Let him touch people for the King’s Evil, if he and they so wish — the revival of the ceremony might add to the gaiety of the nation. But medicine is too serious a matter to be left to amateurs such as the Department of Health.

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.26.10Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.24.31Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 08.19.33

A continent limping towards the abyss

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 23.36.42Dalrymple points out that ‘ever closer union’

resuscitates old national stereotypes and antagonisms and increases the likelihood of real conflict.

He notes that politicians and bureaucrats,

like all people with bad habits, are infinitely inventive when it comes to rationalising the European Project, though they’re inventive in nothing else.

  • Without the Union, they say, there would be no peace; when it’s pointed out that the Union is the consequence of peace, not its cause, they say that no small country can survive on its own.
  • When it is pointed out that Singapore, Switzerland, and Norway seem to have no difficulties in that regard, they say that pan-European regulations create economies of scale that promote productive efficiency.
  • When it is pointed out that European productivity lags behind the rest of the world’s, they say that European social protections are more generous than anywhere else.
  • If it is then noted that long-term unemployment rates in Europe are higher than elsewhere, another apology follows.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 08.42.50The fact is that for European politicians and bureaucrats,

the European Project is like God — good by definition, which means that they have subsequently to work out a theodicy to explain, or explain away, its manifest and manifold deficiencies.

The personal interests of European politicians and bureaucrats,

with their grossly inflated, tax-free salaries, are perfectly obvious. For politicians who have fallen out of favour at home, or grown bored with the political process, Brussels acts as a vast and luxurious retirement home, with the additional gratification of the retention of power.

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 23.41.11The name of a man such as Herman Van Rompuy,

whose charisma makes Hillary Clinton look like Mata Hari, would, without the existence of the European Union, have reached most of the continent’s newspapers only if he had paid for a classified advertisement in them.

Corporate interests,

ever anxious to suppress competition, approve of European Union regulations because they render next to impossible the entry of competitors into any market in which they already enjoy a dominant position, while also allowing them to extend their domination into new markets. That is why the CAC 40 (the French bourse benchmark) will have more or less the same names 100 years hence.

Dalrymple reminds us of the European Union’s role in corroding civil society.

Suppose you have an association for the protection of hedgehogs. The European Union then offers your association money to expand its activities, which of course it accepts. The Union then proposes a measure allegedly for the protection of hedgehogs, but actually intended to promote a large agrarian or industrial interest over a small one, first asking the association’s opinion about the proposed measure. Naturally, your association supports the Union because it has become dependent on the Union’s subsidy. The Union then claims that it enjoys the support of those who want to protect hedgehogs.

The best description of this process is

fascist corporatism, which so far lacks the paramilitary and repressive paraphernalia of real fascism. But as the European economic crisis mounts, that distinction could vanish.

One should not mistake the dullness of Eurocrats

for lack of ambition, or the lack of flamboyance for the presence of scruple. History can repeat itself.

Dalrymple says that whenever he reads the French press on the subject of the European crisis,

I’m struck by how little questions of freedom, political legitimacy, separation of powers, representative government, or the rule of law feature, even in articles by academic political philosophers. For them, the problem is mainly technical: that of finding a solution that will preserve the status quo (there is no such solution, but intelligent people searched for the philosopher’s stone for centuries).

As for the British political class,

it is composed largely of careerists,

and in the world of the Eurocrats,

ignoring arguments is the highest form of refutation.