The Darkest Hour

Robert Henderson

Main Cast[

Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill

Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill

Ben Mendelsohn as George VI

Lily James as Elizabeth Layton

Ronald Pickup as Neville Chamberlain

Stephen Dillane as Edward Wood, 3rd Viscount Halifax

Nicholas Jones as John Simon, 1st Viscount Simon

Samuel West as Anthony Eden

David Schofield as Clement Attlee

Director: Joe Wright.

This is a deeply  unsatisfactory film. It is very watchable but also infuriatingly blemished with ahistorical nonsenses .  In addition   although it gives a more positive picture overall  of Churchill’s personality  than does the other recent film portrayal of the man,  there is still much which does not fit readily  with what we know of Churchill  from contemporary newsreel, his writings and  the decisions he made. It also intrudes into the film a piece of political correctness so crude and clumsy that it takes one’s breath away.

The film covers the period  from  immediately before Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister in 1940   and  the  weeks immediately following   his promotion  to that office.   Hitler is sweeping through  Europe. Most of the British Army is trapped in Dunkirk and  in danger of capture.   Although better equipped  militarily than in 1938 Britain is still short of planes and warships.    For appeasing politicians  like Halifax and the most senior military officers faced with this dire situation there are plenty of all too persuasive reasons to seek  terms with Hitler, not least because it looks as though most of the British Army will  be lost at Dunkirk.   Churchill  believes that   a large scale  evacuation  of the army can be achieved and insists on  overriding the doubters by  mobilising not only the Royal Navy but any private ship including  (some very small craft) to assist in the evacuation. He also orders a small  British garrison  under  Brigadier  Claude Nicholson in Calais to engage in what is effectively a suicide mission aimed at distracting the Germans from the evacuation from Dunkirk.

Amongst those who have their hands on the levers of power Churchill is alone in unequivocally wanting to fight on and is the only one who is resolutely opposed to having any truck with Hitler.  It is true that the film depicts Churchill at one point  wavering over the idea of seeking terms with Hitler and Mussolini  (there is no solid historical evidence for this)i, but whether  this  wavering was genuine or not, in the film  Churchill, boosted by the success of the Dunkirk evacuation, soon changes his mind and returns to his belief that Britain must fight on because  Hitler cannot be trusted.

Whatever the  emotional drivers  were which led Churchill to be implacably opposed to making peace with Hitler,   on purely rational grounds there were cast-iron reasons for taking such a  stand. Hitler had already shown by 1940 that treaties and promises made in speeches meant nothing to him. He had begun by moving into the Rhineland in 1934 despite this being forbidden by the Treaty of Versailes in 1919.  The Anschluss  which joined  Germany and Austria  occurred in 1938 despite this being forbidden by   the 1919 Treaty of Saint-Germain;  the Munich Agreement of 1938  which restricted Germany to the Sudetenland  was a dead letter after Hitler took possession of  all of Czechoslovakia  in 1939 and also in in 1939 Germany  overturned the 10-year non-aggression pact  between Germany and Poland signed in 1934 by invading Poland, an act which sounded  the starting gun for WW2. All of that happened before Churchill became PM.  In addition 1941  saw Germany break  the Molotov-Ribbentrop  Pact  ( signed in 1939)   by invading Russia.  The revisionist case that  Britain should have stood aside and allowed Hitler free rein  to attack Russia and thus retained both the Empire and global significance goes against all we know of Hitler’s mentality and actual behaviour . The best the UK could have hoped for was to be a vassal state of Nazi Germany and the worst would have been to be militarily occupied as Hitler broke whatever  Vichy-style  agreement he had made with the UK.

The jaw-droppingly clumsy piece of political correctness is a piece of pure fiction. It  involves Churchill suddenly deciding to travel on the underground, something he had only done once before during the 1926 general strike.  He enters a crowded carriage  where he is recognised and he  begins  canvassing opinion  from his fellow passengers  who  are all  white workingclass  people  (many verge dangerously close to being stage cockneys)  bar one, the   sole exception being  a black West Indian. Everyone is  gung-ho for fighting on.

After Churchill has finished canvassing opinion  he  begins to quote   Macaulay’s poem Horatius  (“Alone stood bold Horatius/ But constant still in mind/ Thrice thirty thousand foes before”). The West Indian  takes up quoting  the poem. Which he does flawlessly  Not impossible  but  improbable that a black West Indian  would  have been on an underground train  in 1940 and  lottery win  improbable that one would have been  in a random carriage supposedly chosen by Churchill and straightforwardly absurd that he would have been e able to faultlessly quote  MaCaulay .

This example of the obsession with the falsification of reality that is political correctness  comes from the same stable  which routinely  has blacks routinely playing  authority figures such as police chiefs, generals and judges in  American . ( Ironically  this discriminates against other non-Caucasian groups who are rarely given the same privileged status).

Does it matter that an historical drama plays fast and loose with the facts? I think it does because  in any society  human beings need to have a narrative about the place they  live in, how it got to be what it is.. This is especially so in a country  such as the UK whose elite have adopted a creed (political correctness) which runs contrary to reality.  Cicero had it correctly when he wrote that to  be ignorant of what occurred before you were born is to remain always a child and the thing about children is that they are very easily manipulated.

Following the fictitious underground scene Churchill goes to the House of Commons and makes his “We shall fight them on the beaches” speech, a speech which is represented as growing from his  putative experiences in the Underground carriage.  It is all rather cartoonish.

On top of this nonsense there is the unsatisfactory portrayal of Churchill’s general personality and habits.  Oldman,  with the aid of  considerable  make up has  a half-way decent   physical resemblance to Churchill  and impersonates the voice  well enough. Yet something is missing.  Oldman’s Churchill is portrayed, as he is the film Churchill,  as someone who  is  perpetually at war with other senior politicians and military men who frequently treat him as a ridiculous and dangerous adventurer at best and as contemptible at worst.  Admittedly this is early in the war when Churchill  had still to grow the reputation he had by 1945 and it is also true that many in his own party (the Tories) did not trust him , but  it is difficult to believe that he would have been treated so cavalierly when he was not only PM but also leading the country at a most difficult time.

The other problem with this Churchill characterisation is that he is portrayed as being weak at various points and in various ways.  Apart from the  supposed wavering over seeking terms with Hitler and Mussolini, the film has him engaging in a transatlantic  phone call with Roosevelt and is almost in tears whilst  begging unsuccessfully  for help. His wife reprimands him like a naughty boy.  Yet if one looks at Churchill in newsreel and still photos of the period  he comes across as a much tougher personality than that which is portrayed  and certainly not one given to panic.  Moreover, his behaviour both as soldier and war correspondent show him to  have been physically brave and his opposition to appeasing Hitler from an early stage, which alienated many in his party, showed he had moral courage.

On a more trivial level of misrepresentation  the film also depicts Churchill  as more or less perpetually lubricating himself with alcohol and satisfying  a monstrous cigar habit . Churchill did undoubtedly drink and smoke a great deal but it should be remembered that he lived to be 90  and carried the most colossal  responsibility during five years as prime minister despite the fact that he was  65 when he was appointed Prime Minister May 1940  and 70 when the war ended in May 1945. Consequently it is more than a little difficult to imagine him being so dependent on alcohol if not tobacco.

Oldman’s s role is so dominant  that the rest of the cast  are somewhat cast adrift. Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill  has the most substantial role after Oldman and  being the fine actress she is makes the most of what little there  is.   Stephen Dillane  passes muster as Halifax, being waspishly aggressive, Ronald Pickup is a plausible Neville Chamberlain and  Samuel West as Anthony Eden  is through accident or design  appropriately s lightweight as a personality.   Lily James as Churchill’s personal  typist cum secretary  Elizabeth Layton has a fair amount of screen time  and was decorative but rather featureless. But in truth all these parts are too trivial to make much impression overall.

The surprise in terms of the substance of his role was   Ben Mendelsohn as George VI. He  has more screen time than one might imagine for a constitutional monarch, lending support and encouragement to Churchill .

Curiously,  Attlee is scarcely mentioned after the beginning of the film in which he makes a shrieking condemnation of  Chamberlain  utterly at odds  with  his known quiet ironical style .

There is one good thing to take from the film; the power of Churchill’s oratory came through.    Churchill had one of the most memorable  and distinctive of voices which was very compelling.  Add in his literary talent  and it still makes  for a heady brew.

I cannot in all conscience recommend the film but if you do go to see it bear in mind that it is predominantly  fiction not fact.


The threatening implications of cryptocurrencies

Robert Henderson

Cryptocurrencies  are  best thought of as fiat currencies without a country backing them.   A fiat  currency  is  one in which the money is not based on a valuable commodity like gold or silver but on something of little or no intrinsic  value such as paper money  or coins made with base metal.   It is  made legal tender by law.  Its market worth is based on confidence, both domestic and international.   That confidence is a reflection both of how the currency actually performs,  the regulatory regime which governs the currency  and the general standing of the issuing authority which is normally a nation state. Cryptocurrencies have no national  or supranational body  (such as the EU’s  ECB) which can be held to account if things go wrong  because they are created by private individuals or corporations  and are as yet largely unregulated by governments.  Consequently,    they lack the reassurance which a stable and well run advanced  country  can bring.

Crypto- currencies are created in various ways. The   most famous  Bitcoin is supposedly based on a limit of 21 million BitCoins which can either be “mined” using complicated software,  IT expertise and serious  energy usage or bought from exchanges with real-world currencies such as the Pound Sterling or the US Dollar. Other cryptocurrencies  currencies  such as   XRP, which is owned by Ripple , creates a set number of coins and then sells them.  Fractions of currency units such as Bicoin can be purchased.

But however a cryptocurrency is created it has the obvious disadvantage that  only those who initiated the currency truly know  how it is being run or will be run in the future . They may claim that only a certain number of currency units are being created or are available to be mined but no one knows if that is so now or will be  in the future.


To these potential drawbacks can be added  huge volatility. From a  $20,000 high in December it  is now at less than $8,000.  It might be argued that for example  gold is also volatile but the difference is that gold  always has an intrinsic value . There is no chance that gold would ever become worthless or seriously cheap  and consequently even if it has its ups and downs holding it can never be an unequivocal disaster.   Cryptocurrencies could all too  easily   become worthless very quickly.

The volatility is primarily  driven by “bubble mania” whereby people pile in to a market caught up by the frenzy of the moment ,  but another component is  surely the  number of cryptocurrencies which are appearing. Investors climb into  the cryptocurrency which looks  the best prospect for growth at  any moment.

Cryptocurrencies are also vulnerable to fraud and theft  throughhacking.  The  most recent admitted example affected the  Japanese exchange CoinCheck.

More banal  disadvantages  are the high transaction fees, long wait times and lengthy identity checks. There have also be practices which have shut out would be buyers and sellers  especially  at times when  serious  volatility occurs.

No one to make restitution if things go wrong

Potentially the greatest problem with cryptocurrencies is there is no person or institution which can be held responsible if things go wrong . They have largely operated without state interference although that is beginning to change. The head of the Bank for International Settlements, Agustín Carstens  recently warned  “If authorities do not act pre-emptively, cryptocurrencies could become more interconnected with the main financial system and become a threat to financial stability…” He also described Bitcoin as “little more than a   ponzi scheme”,

This type of concern  has led governments to begin  taking the first faltering steps to regulate  crypto currencies and banks have begun to stop the purchase of cryptocurrencies using credit cards  to purchase them.

States are also moving to investigate the possibilities for running their own cryptocurrencies . These  apart from the possibility  of inadvertently undermining a country’s economy in the same way that non-state cryptocurrencies might undermine it, also raises the possibility of  governments indulging in widespread surveillance of any cryptocurrency transaction made.

Governments could also act to damage competitor countries .  For example China is reputedly ideally placed to undermine Bitcoin because much of the computing power required to sustain  BitCoin is within China.

More broadly there are some important questions which remain to be answered. These are :

  1. What will be the relationship between real life currencies and cryptocurrencies? The danger is that if cryptocurrencies become a competitor to real life currencies they could undermine them.
  2. How can cryptocurrencies be put under state control other than by banning them? The answer is surely that it cannot be done  for two reasons. First,  even if the size of the  issued  currency is restricted, for example, the maximum number of Bitcoins,   there could be no restriction   on what the value of  a Bitcoin could reach.  Second, cryptocurrencies  are  designed  to be  universal. Whatever a government might want to do a successful cryptocurrency will still be available  because the blocking of websites relating to them is never going to be perfect.  For this reason a cryptocurrency owned by a state would also be problematic.
  3. How would cryptocurrencies affect international finance or trade?  There is obviously potential  for huge amounts of  money to be redirected. For example,  If  the  Pound  is used to buy cryptocurrencies  where do the Pounds go? Potentially anywhere in the world.  Because  it will probably be hoarded  that will  decrease the velocity of circulation of the money. That would hinder economies.
  4. Could a country be left with a severe deficit in real life currencies  and a large hoard of cryptocurrencies and be unable  to settle public debts or pay for public services because they cannot pay for those things with  cryptocurrencies?  A large advanced economy would probably not be at risk of that but many small  first world economies and  developing economies, even  China and India, might well get into a real mess.
  5. How will cryptocurrencies fit in with fractional reserve banking? This is the normal practice of banks (at least in the West) reserves equal to only a fraction of its deposit liabilities. The idea is based on the assumption that the reserves will be sufficient to meet any likely demands from depositors wishing to withdraw money  because only a fraction of deposits will ever be requested  over a short period of time.  If the demand for cryptocurrencies continues in its seemingly insatiable way the reserves which are now deemed sufficient could easily prove to be grossly inadequate.
  6. Will cryptocurrencies become as simple to use as a swipe card, credit card or even cash? Well, Bitcoin has been going for ten years and is still complicated to use  and effectively impossible to “mine” for the vast majority of  people. Nor is it of much use when it comes to making everyday purchases.  The number of opportunities to purchase with cryptocurrencies will doubtless  increase but their use in unlikely to be as easy as using a card or cash for quite some time. Moreover, unless the volatility problem is overcome living using just cryptocurrencies would be akin to living in a country with a very heavy dose of inflation. A person paid in a volatile cryptocurrency  might receive the equivalent of £100 on a Friday and find it worth £60  by the following week.
  7. If states allow cryptocurrencies to trade in their territory, the question arises will governments eventually have to protect deposits of cryptocurrencies as they do deposits of real life currencies  like the  Pound?  If they  do  exactly what would they be insuring? After all a  private cryptocurrency might simply drop to zero value.  Of course real life currencies can suffer serious devaluations but at least in the case of countries  such as the UK and the USA governments and central banks have some control over the currency. With a private, that is, non-state cryptocurrency , governments and central banks would probably have no meaningful control. In such circumstances insuring bank deposits of cryptocurrencies might be impossible because of the  potential cost.

The head of the Bank for International Settlements, Agustín Carstens  was not far wrong when he likened Bitcoin to a Ponzi scheme. It is not  a Ponzi  scheme as such,  but the fact that Bitcoin is still largely unregulated and there is no nation state or supranational agency behind it means that it and the increasing number of cryptocurrency competitors means that it is essentially resting on the same utterly  insubstantial foundations that eventually always catch up with the Ponzi scheme, the need to keep generating confidence to lure in more and more suckers.

Just on the facts cryptocurrencies bear an uncanny  likeness to snake oil. Governments need to get a grip.

The Death of Stalin

Robert Henderson

Directed by Armando Iannucci

Based on the comic book  Death of Stalin by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin

Main Cast

Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov –Deputy General Secretary

Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev  – General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union

Olga Kurylenko as Maria Yudina – pianist whose family has fallen foul of  the Soviet regime

Michael Palin as Vyacheslav Molotov – Foreign Minister

Simon Russell Beale as Lavrentiy Beria  – NKVD head

Paddy Considine as Comrade Andreyev – the head of the radio station

Andrea Riseborough as Svetlana Stalina  – Stalin’s daughter

Rupert Friend as Vasily Stalin – Stalin’s son

Jason Isaacs as  Marshall  Georgy Zhukov  – the leader of the Red Army

Adrian Mcloughlin as Joseph Stalin

Paul Whitehouse as Anastas Mikoyan  – Vice-Premier of the Council of Ministers

Paul Chahidi as Nikolai Bulganin  – deputy premier and minister of defence

Dermot Crowley as Lazar Kaganovich   – Minister of Labour

Running time

107 minutes[1]

If an entire  society can become a lunatic asylum Stalin’s  Russia was  that society.  Imagine a world in which the present  is  at the forefront of your mind all the time.  No one is  safe. The most slavish devotion to  the party line and Comrade Stalin did not guarantee your  safety for the party line might change from day to day or an informer  tell a lie about  you  or simply recount an unguarded remark  you made.   If  a person said as little as possible that might be taken as a  sign that  they were secretly disloyal; if they made a great display of loyalty it could be interpreted as a subterfuge to disguise their revisionist or worse counterrevolutionary  true self. Being a senior  member of the Party  did not make someone  any safer  than a peasant and indeed  probably  made you more vulnerable to being executed, for few were the  senior Bolsheviks  from the  revolutionary days  who died of old age. It was a madhouse in which rationality  and consistency were dangerous  traits  because the norm was  a trembling neurosis  focused only on the immediate present and its precarious nature.   Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon captures the general atmosphere  of the  time and place well.

It is important to take this historical reality  on board before seeing the film because there is much in it which would otherwise  seem absurd. The reality of Russia under Stalin’s rule was every  bit as  chaotic as the film’s depiction of it. Pathological paranoia was the norm and never more fevered was it  than in the  last years of Stalin’s life.

The Death of Stalin   manages to be both funny and sinister. It is tragi-comedy with the emphasis heavily on the comedy.   Imagine The lives of others with jokes. The all pervasive  fear  is  brought home  as the film opens. It  begins with a  Mozart  recital  being broadcast by Radio Moscow.  The performance ends and the head of the radio station (Paddy Considine) has a call from  Comrade Stalin (Adrian Mcloughlin )who requests a  recording of the performance.   But the recital has not been recorded and panic breaks out as Considine frenziedly sets about arranging for the concert to be performed again despite the fact that many of the audience have left,  the pianist Maria Yudina (Olga Kurylenko  ), a  woman with a  grudge against Stalin because of what has happened to her family, is reluctant to perform a second time  and the  conductor faints and   injures himself so seriously he  cannot conduct the second recital and a new conductor has to be  hurriedly found from those who have just been sentenced to the Gulag or worse.  Superficially this is Keystone Cops but the palpable fear turns the scene serious.

Stalin receives the recording but  a note from Maria Yudina  has been slipped into the record sleeve. This  lambasts Stalin for what he has done to the country. Stalin laughs  but this brings on a  brain haemorrhage which renders him speechless and immobile.  Those close to Stalin call for the best doctors to  be   brought  to treat him from motives which include  fear that he may recover and they be found wanting in getting him medical help if they just leave him to die, fear of what will follow if he does die or in the case of his housekeeper  simply  genuine concern for him. But there is a problem:  because of the so-called doctors plot all  the best doctors have been executed, sent to the Gulag or exiled.   A few of the disgraced doctors are hurriedly brought back to Moscow  but Stalin dies. Then the fun starts as the Central Committee members begin to manoeuvre either for power themselves  or simply to keep themselves safe.

It is rare when a film with a decent sized cast has no duds.  This is one of the rarities. The film  has one of the great film monsters in the shape of the head of the  NKVD  Lavrentiy Beria (Philip Russell Beale ) and probably the most feared man in Russia  after Stalin.  Beale is a compelling  actor and here he has a coach and four  to drive as hard as he wants in the villain stakes.  Looking  like a  cross between Mr Toad and a  Humpty Dumpty  laced with venom,  he dominates the film. Throughout he is a buzzing manipulator moving from one senior member of the Central Committee to another, his mere presence being a threat.  His scheme is to use Malenkov as a shield behind which he can pitch for ultimate power himself. Eventually  Beria overreaches himself by becoming too directly threatening and suffers the same arbitrary  injustice  he has meted out to others, being shot immediately after a  “trial” and his body burnt where it lay.

The real Beria was  an  especially nasty  piece of work.  Sadists with real power   are bad news at any time and Beria was one of the worst.  Not only did he have people killed without conscience ,  he liked to torture them  mentally and physically.  Suppose that  a husband and wife were to be shot, Beria  would ensure that the wife was shot first in front of the husband. Beria also had a great appetite  for rape which he indulged by taking  wives and daughters of “factionalists”, “revisionists,  or “counterrevolutionaries ”, factionalists or any other woman who took his  fancy  and could be arrested as an enemy of the state or otherwise manipulated.

Steve Busceni as Krushchev  has  the meatiest part after that of  Beria and carries it well, as a man who if seriously tainted by the horrors of Stalin’s time    is  more realistic  about the realities of human nature than most of those  who served and survived Stalin.  He acts with the minter of labour   Lazar Kaganovich   (Dermot Crowley  )  to thwart Betria, most notably by countermanding Beria’s orders that trains shall not ruin to Moscow and that the Red Army be kept in barracks leaving the NKVD to control the streets.

Michael Palin is a marvellous Molotov, the great  Soviet   survivor who outlasted the purges of the 1930s and died at the fag end of Soviet Rule  aged  ninety-six,  a man who so completely bought into the need  to be subordinate that he pathetically applauds the imprisonment of his wife  as being the “right thing”. He is a man to whom things happen, a leaf blown in the wind. Jeffrey Tambor as Georgy Malenkov  is a  nonentity  who nonetheless  gets some delusions of authority from the fact  he is the deputy first secretary  and thus legally, if one could use such a term about the Soviet Union,  Stalin’s successor.

Andrea Riseborough as Svetlana Stalina  – Stalin’s daughter – manages to be both paranoid and strangely innocent;  Rupert Friend as Vasily Stalin – Stalin’s son – is a boorish drunken   incompetent  lacking any  distinction other than being Stalin’s son.

Isaacs’  Marshall Zhukhov (the head of the Soviet army)  is a splendidly swaggering  absurdity with his torso covered more by medals than the cloth of his uniform  who announces his presence with “Right, what’s a war hero got to do to get some lubrication around here?” But the bombastic  Zhukhov is the key to preventing Beria from   gaining power because it is only when he agrees to back the overthrow of Beria (providing all the other members of the Central Committee agree)  that the act can take place.

The moment which got the biggest laugh from the  cinema audience I was part of  was  a wind up of  Krushchev   by   Marshall Zhukov.  They are having a private conversation and Krushchev  suggests   that Zhukov  should  join him and other Soviet leaders in a bid to seize  power  and do for Beria. .  Zhukov responds with  “ I’m going to have to report this conversation, threatening to do harm or obstruct any member of the Presidium in the process of…”  Krushchev looks terrified  until Zhukov bursts a out laughing and says  with delight  “ look at your fucking face!”  But there are plenty of other genuinely funny moments including the chaos of the organisation of Stalin’s funeral which Beria has manoeuvred Khrushchev into organising with the intention of neutralising him while Beria attempts to seize power.

This is indubitably the film I have most enjoyed in 2017.  Don’t rob yourself of a treat by missing it.


Film review of Churchill


Brian Cox as Winston Churchill

Miranda Richardson as Clementine Churchill

John Slattery as Dwight D. Eisenhower

James Purefoy as King George VI

Julian Wadham as General  Bernard Montgomery

Danny Webb as  Field Marshall   Alan Brooke

Jonathan Aris as Air Chief Marshall  Trafford Leigh-Mallory

George Anton  Admiral Sir  Bertram Ramsay

Steven Cree as Group Captain James Stagg , a Royal Air Force meteorologist

Angela Costello as Kay Summersby chauffeur and later as personal secretary to Dwight D. Eisenhower

Richard Durden as Jan Smuts   South African general  turned politician

Ella Purnell as Helen Garrett (Churchill’s secretary)

Director:  Jonathan Teplitzky

Script by Alex von Tunzelmann

This was a disappointing film in terms of its general theatrical quality which veers towards the melodramatic ,   but even more because it is a travesty of Churchill’s character. That fine actor Brian Cox might have been made for the role of Churchill and with a script which reflected Churchill’s  personality , opinions  and behaviour   accurately I have no doubt that he  would have produced a great depiction of  the man. But here he  is  bound by a script which  makes  Churchill seem like a tempestuous child, and child who more often than not could be  side-lined  and insulted to his face despite being Prime Minister  in the midst of a most terrible and threatening  war.  It is difficult to think of any scene involving  characters with power and influence  which shows him as s being the dominant character, for example, he does not chair the meetings with Eisenhower and the other military men. In real life he did.

The film is set in the four days before D-Day and the execution of t   Operation Overlord, the invasion of  Normandy.    Churchill  is portrayed as being pathologically anxious that the  invasion should not be another  bloodbath like Gallipoli in the Great War, a failure for which Churchill had been widely  held wholly or largely responsible. As a consequence the film  has him interminably prevaricating over the   D-Day landings  and after the decision is made to  invade Churchill is shown   praying  for unfavourable weather  to stop the operation: “Please, please, please let it pour tomorrow. Let the heavens open and a deluge burst forth such as has never been seen in the English Channel. Let the sea churn into peaks and troughs and tidal waves!”

That passage encapsulates the tone of the film.  Churchill is not seen as being either in command or as  a figure of authority but as a man frightened for his reputation and perhaps his soul.   So strong a part of the film was the  obsession with the failure at Gallipoli I could not help wondering if this was in some part   a consequence of having an Australian director Jonathan Teplitzky.  Australians are frequently more than a little angry about Gallipoli even  today and blame the British for the loss of Australian lives there. Film scripts are not sacrosanct and  It would be interesting to know if the subject of Gallipoli loomed  as large in the initial script as  it did in the film.

The historian Andrew Roberts has unreservedly  slated the film for its many inaccuracies relating to Churchill’s state of mind leading up to the Normandy landings, viz: “The only problem with the movie–written by the historian Alex von Tunzelmann–is that it gets absolutely everything wrong. Never in the course of movie-making have so many specious errors been made in so long a film by so few writers.” Roberts attacks the film on the grounds that it wrongly shows Churchill as dithering over D-Day, being seriously at odds with his wife, at war with the generals and being bullying to his staff.

To  the lack of historical accuracy  about events  and Churchill’s state of mind can  be added  the portrayal of  his physical state .  Churchill in real life was far from the physically lumbering man obese to the point  almost of physical handicap that was depicted in the film.  He played polo into his fifties and rode to hounds into his seventies  (in 1944 he was seventy) . This physical misrepresentation   fed into the  picture the film painted of Churchill being a man who by that stage of the war at least was a spent force at best and a positive hindrance to the successful prosecution of the war.

The depiction of Churchill’s relationship with the military is also improbable.   He is shown displaying a chronic fault of  Hitler, namely, playing at being a military mastermind  by suggesting  different strategies  such as decoy operations to mislead the Germans, tactics which fed into the film’s  Gallipoli complex.   There are also some startling and incongruous in the circumstances language involving the military with  Montgomery  calling Churchill a ‘bastard’ to his face and casting aspersions on his commitment  to the Normandy landings  by accusing Churchill of  ‘doubt, dithering and treachery’. The PM  later  describes  Montgomery (not in Montgomery’s presence)  as a ‘Puffed-up little s**t.’  It all seems very unlikely, not least because it implies that  the military not  the politicians were the real government of the UK at that time.

In fact the film plays to that idea for there is a  strange  absence of other British  politicians in the film and or   indeed of any  civilians in position of authority and influence.  For example,    Churchill’s leading scientific advisor Frederick Lindemann   had a very close relationship with him and  the two met often  during the war.. It is a little odd that he did not appear at all because apart from his value as a scientific advisor Llindemann  had a real friendship with Churchill and at a time of great stress for Churchill it is probable that he ill would have welcomed having  Lindemann around.

Then there is Churchill’s relationship with his wife Clemmie.  She is  shown as  being very ready to criticise Churchill either directly through confrontation as when she scolds  him for his drinking and indirectly by  her general  behaviour towards him which includes her apologising for Churchill’s behaviour towards his staff .  She is also shown slapping him at one point for which there is no evidence.   There is also rather too much angst from  Clemmie  about how Churchill had neglected her and a feeling that somehow her life has been unfulfilling.  Churchill is shown playing up to this, at one point  saying ‘I would understand if you left me. I’d leave me if I could.’  Real?

Even if there had been any substance to this behaviour would Churchill’s wife  have been  raising it just before D-Day?  However, again the evidence for such behaviour  is lacking.  This element of  the filmic Clemmie’s   behaviour smells  suspiciously like an inappropriate and anachronistic  feminist implant designed to show that men behaved “badly”, that is, displayed politically incorrect behaviour, in 1944 and women spiritedly rebelled against such  treatment.   The fact that the scriptwriter Alex von Tunzelmann is female may have something to do with this , a suspicion strengthened by  her  being a Guardian columnist. It would be very interesting to see Tunzelmann justifying her script in terms of historical accuracy.

Is the film worth seeing?  Probably not for  as a pure piece of drama it fails. The action flits from scene to scene  in rather stilted  fashion which robs the film of cohesion and leaves the impression  that each scene is being ticked off as having covered a particular issue as a stamp collector might  congratulate themselves on having acquired a particular stamp to add to a set.  Nor apart from Churchill and just about  his wife is there much character development for the film has a substantial number of historically  important  characters but little time is  allotted to each.  These  supporting characters are,   as one can more or less take for granted in a film manned by British actors,  adroitly executed  in as far as their very limited roles  allow. Within the  confines of this  hindrance  of Julian Wadham’s  Montgomery stood out.

That should be enough  to say don’t waste your money. However Dunkirk is one of those films which has an importance  beyond its qualities as a film. Its effect is to turn Churchill from a war hero into an irresolute,  fearful and   incompetent. In fact the misrepresentation of  Churchill  is  so complete that it qualifies as character assassination . The danger is that it will colour the public’s view of the man.   Consequently, see it  so that you can afterwards refute its view of Churchill.    In short, it should be seen  for its faults not its virtues .



Film review of Dunkirk



Fionn Whitehead as Tommy, a British Army private

Mark Rylance as Mr Dawson, a mariner and Peter’s father

Tom Glynn-Carney as Peter, Mr Dawson’s son

Jack Lowden as Pilot Officer Collins, a Royal Air Force Spitfire pilot

Harry Styles as Alex, a private in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Aneurin Barnard as “Gibson”, a French soldier masquerading as a British Army private

James D’Arcy as Colonel Winnant

Barry Keoghan as George, a young man who helps to crew Dawson’s boat.

Kenneth Branagh as Commander Bolton the pier-master during the evacuation

Cillian Murphy as frightened soldier

Tom Hardy as Farrier, a Royal Air Force Spitfire pilot

Michael Caine appears in a spoken cameo role as Fortis Leader

Director Christopher Nolan

The year is 1940. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) has been sent to  Europe to help repel  the Germans. This fails and the BEF eventually make their way to Dunkirk, a French port  six miles from the Belgian border. Here they wait, more in hope than expectation, to be  evacuated back to Britain. But against the odds  between  27 May  and  4 June over 300 thousand, British,  colonial and French troops were evacuated, most by Royal Navy  (RN) ships but some by civilian boats, many  very small,  crewed  by  a mixture of RN personnel and civilians. (Small boats were useful  because they could get near enough to shore  for soldiers to wade out to them.  Larger boats had to either wait offshore to have soldiers ferried to them or they used a form of jetty called a mole to take people on board. )

The Germans did not press forward into Dunkirk with their army as might have been expected . Instead they attacked using  planes and submarines. Why they took this course is unclear but it was sanctioned by Hitler.  It may have been Goering persuading Hitler to allow the Luftwaffe to  gain the kudos of finishing off  the British forces.  it might have been Hitler believing  that once the British forces were out of continental Europe they would never come back. It could have been caution on the part of Hitler and his generals. Whatever the reason during the week the evacuation lasted the troops on Dunkirk beach  were  subject to bombing   and British vessels  engaged in the evacuation  were bombed and torpedoed. That is the bare bones of Dunkirk.

The brutal reality of  war has often  not been represented honestly or convincingly in films, but  the graphic opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan arguably changed that and most war films since have been much more unsparing of the audience’s squeamishness.   Indeed, modern film makers have taken to heart the American civil war general  William Sherman’s remark   “War is hell” and created Hell on the screen.   Christopher  Nolan does so here.   Consequently, the film scores very well  when it comes to the military action, giving  a graphic depiction of the multiplicity of ways of dying in action and the sheer violence and randomness  of the killing and wounding. The effect is  to  give a nihilistic quality to many of  the scenes. Whether someone lives or dies has  no particular purpose.

The aerial battles between three Spitfires providing cover to the  men on the beach and the ships taking them off   and their fights  with German fighters and bombers  are particularly compelling , perhaps because such warfare  has the shape  of single combat and the manoeuvres of planes flying fast but not at supersonic speed while  attacking with machine guns  rather than missiles  has an intimacy that the blind destruction of men on the ground absolutely lacks. The Spitfire pilot had to get close to his target and fire his guns in sustained bursts. .

All of this makes for a complicated story to tell. To address this fact Nolan has decided on an impressionistic  style rather than a straightforward chronological narrative. He does this by dividing  the film into three separate sections entitled   land, sea and air.

The  quick  flitting from one piece of action to another the film does not give great  opportunity for character development  but   Mark Rylance as Mr Dawson, the  civilian  skipper of a small boat, knits together the progress of the sea  story and as a representative of the “small ships”.

James D’Arcy as Colonel Winnant and Kenneth Branagh as Commander Bolton the pier-master during the evacuation represent  the  experience of senior officers  while Fionn Whitehead as Tommy and  Harry Styles as Alex  give a backbone  to the experience of the private soldier.

Spitfire pilots  Jack Lowden as Pilot Officer Collins  and Tom Hardy as Farrier do the same for the air action.

Rylance  oozed  calmness under fire and  brings what he always does to the screen,  an intensely sympathetic personality  while Hardy is coolness personified, with a courage which is anything but showy.  He is a man who is brave whilst doing what he does out of a sense of duty.

The one character that I found unconvincing  was  that  of Cillian Murphy,   who plays a frightened soldier  whose nerve has gone after having been in a ship which was torpedoed.   The Dawsons  pick him up on the  way to France and the soldier in a state of panic tries without success to get Dawson to turn about and head for England.  Somehow he never managed to make his mental anguish seem anything other than histrionic.

The film  has its historical  inaccuracies and omissions. Next to nothing is made of the French army’s resistance which hindered the German advance on Dunkirk and the considerable damage that occurred in Dunkirk is absent.  But neither is the British rear-guard action to allow most of the BEF to reach Dunkirk and be rescued . The   idea of the  film is to show the British experience at Dunkirk and in  the English Channel r ather than try to give  the complete picture of the action around and about Dunkirk and indeed within  Britain itself ,  where the families  of  both the stranded BEF men and of those who  had sailed their small boat  like the fictitious Mr Dawson  might have been included in the story.

Whether  the viewer finds  the limited scope of the film  satisfying or not it,  is nonetheless a legitimate dramatic  device to concentrate on the direct experience of those on the beach and the British forces by  sea and air  which facilitated the remarkable evacuation of some 190,000 British soldiers and  120,000  French ones. If the film had been expanded to take in the French and German warfare  relating to Dunkirk or the behaviour of the relatives and friends of the servicemen trapped in Dunkirk it would have been an entirely different film .

Dunkirk  has its limitation as a coherent  drama but taken as a whole it is an invigorating and exciting production. It gives a vivid idea of the immediacy  and multiplicity of danger which war brings and the sheer helplessness of humans caught in its coils. . That is reason enough to see it.   But there is also another reason .  The World Wars left their mark long after they were over  and not just in terms of the dead and wounded.  It left its mark on the survivors.  I  was born in 1947. The war loomed very large in my childhood and  even my early adult years. One regularly  met ordinary people who had done extraordinary things: landing on the beaches on D Day; serving  on the convoys to Russia;  flying  Spitfires and Hurricanes in the  Battle of Britain or  flying sortie after sortie with Bomber Command. The result  was a toughness in people generally but particularly in those who had seen  action, which is lacking today. It is a film which will speak especially to people who remember what the war was like and its aftermath.


To understand history one must understand the religious mind

Robert Henderson

“Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly;

Man got to sit and wonder ‘why, why, why?’

Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land;

Man got to tell himself he understand.” ( Kurt Vonnegut  Cat’s Cradle )

Trying to understand history  without understanding the religious  mind  is like teaching  someone the vocabulary of a language without explaining how the grammar works.  Nor is  the religious mind simply concerned with what are generally  called religions. Such minds  can be  and often are  attracted by secular  ideologies  such as Marxism, Fascism  or political correctness.  These are substitutes for what are normally called religions. Beneath  such formalised ideas  there is the natural human preference for the culture and people in which an individual has been raised.  Social animals need habits and humans being the social animal par excellence require very sophisticated ones.


The idea of memes comes from the evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins. A meme is the mental equivalent of a gene. They  contain ideas.  Dawkins  introduced  the word  to the world in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene.   The meme,  like a gene,   is self-replicating and can undergo mutation. It affects  behaviour creates cultural.

There was nothing entirely novel about such an idea,  it having been discussed in Darwin’s time.  For example,   T. H. Huxley  believed that ‘The struggle for existence holds as much in the intellectual as in the physical world. A theory is a species of thinking, and its right to exist is coextensive with its power of resisting extinction by its rivals.’ (Huxley, T. H. “The coming of age of ‘The origin of species” (1880) Science. 1, 15-17.) But Dawkins gave the idea a new clarity and set it against the background of genetics.

Memes can form entire ideologies such as religions or  political theories like  Marxism or  they may be a stand-alone  social rule such as wear black to a funeral or don’t eat with your mouth open. Memes like genes can be beneficial, harmful or neutral in their effects.

It might be though that judging  a meme as objectively  good or bad is impossible,  but it is possible if the judgement is based upon  the evolved nature of a particular society.  For example, if a society is a warrior society, individuals with a penchant for violence can, other things being equal,  be valuable.  Conversely, a society in which non-violent behaviour is the norm the violent mentality will be a handicap to the individual who has it and a danger to the efficient functioning of the society.

The  problem of consciousness

We are in a prison of  self-consciousness amplified by high intelligence and  above all  language.  Both these things set humans apart from any other organism. These qualities  naturally lead to attempts to explain what humans   perceive to be reality, a reality which will often seem threatening, especially if the person is living in a society which has no science to explain natural phenomena such as volcanic eruptions, thunder and lightning,   plagues and  floods.

Imagine the existential context of a hunter gatherer band. It is not that its members are innately stupid or ignorant. Indeed, they will have a considerable repertoire of useful  and essential skills from understanding how to trap and kill animals,  where to gather berries and nuts, how to make tools and other artefacts. But their  world will be a constant source of wonder and bewilderment. They will have not have  any  idea of why  rivers flood, volcanoes roar as they belch lava  or the sun appears to die every day  and gradually burns  less brightly  as the year progresses before returning with regained vigour.  To these phenomena will be added the dangers and fears which result from  living amongst dangerous animals and in competition with other groups of humans who do not belong to their band or tribe.  Magic is  the only means these people  have of making sense of what they  experience and most importantly it is  an ostensible means of controlling reality.

Magic can take a wide variety of forms.  It will not necessarily involve a god because the belief may come simply from a belief that if X is done Y will follow.     Drawing  a scene of a successful hunt on  a cave wall supposedly  makes a successful hunt more probable; the casting of a spell supposedly  makes a woman fertile;   the drinking of a potion is said to cure   a  sick child; the sacrificing an animal or human  to the gods  is done to  ensure  a good harvest or victory over another tribe.

Of course the desired outcome of the magic will often not materialise, but  it will sometimes  by pure coincidence. Moreover, it is not always by mere chance. The Shaman of the band will probably have a knowledge of  plants which may indeed have a positive effect as a result of by  trial  and error over many generations –  indeed some animals self-medicate – and there is also the powerful placebo effect which when linked to ritual is likely to be heightened.  The performing of ritual will in itself will have a reassuring effect.

But even if failure to produce the desired result  of magic  occurs it will not automatically be taken as evidence of the futility of the magic but  more likely be  attributed to  the god’s disfavour or merely  to  the magic not being strong enough or the time unpropitious .

Magic  may be as the author of the Golden Bough James Frazer defined it,  “a spurious system of natural law as well as a fallacious guide of conduct; it is a false science as well as an abortive art”, but it is still a psychological comfort, not least because as with true science it provides rituals to follow as well as the belief that they are shaping reality.


Magic in the form of superstition  is very common even  in  advanced modern societies. More often than not  it has nothing to  do with formal  religion. Sportsmen in particular  are notoriously superstitious:  insisting on dressing in a certain sequence, using a favourite bat or racquet, taking the field in a team sport in a particular order and so on, but few humans are entirely untouched by it.

Looked at rationally such behaviour seems absurd to those who live in societies in which rational scientific  explanations can be given for most things and even where such an explanation cannot be given people will believe  that one exists but has yet to be discovered.  Yet  the grip of scientific rationality is only skin deep.  No matter how rational humans  think themselves the majority,  and probably the large majority , will still  use  such psychological tricks to  deal with the stress of  self-consciousness .

What this tells us  is that even  though  there is no  rational basis for believing such rituals will have the effect desired,  they  can undoubtedly provide an individual with psychological comfort and a sense that in some way the individual has exercised some sort of control over situations which do not lend themselves to any rational solution.

The step after magic and superstition

If magic  is what might be termed the innate human response to self-consciousness the next step is the creation of  formal religion This  will have holy texts and develop a sociology to encompass larger populations than the band or  tribe.  The population will have moved from a nomadic to a settled way of life.

Some like Hinduism will have multiple gods, others  such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism will have a single god. Buddhism,  at least in its purest form,  has no god.  But belief in the supernatural  is something all formal religions require including  Buddhism , because that faith even in its purest seemingly most rational form  requires the believer to accept the reality of   rebirth with the eventual end of nirvana.

Nor is magic dead within formal religions. Even  a sophisticated religion such as Catholicism  has some decidedly primitive aspects, for example, the doctrine of  transubstantiation  requires  a belief that the bread and wine given in the   Eucharist are   literally transformed into the blood and flesh of Christ.  Nor will all practices not compatible with a particular religion be ended by the religion’s putative dominance. The widespread belief in and persecution of people accused of being witches in   Europe in the early modern period is a classic example of this.

Religion as an organising principle

Larger settled populations  require more sophisticated social structures.   Religion has an innate  organising quality which aids the formation of such social structures.  This has routinely meant its has been used to justify  monarchical  power  either by the monarch wielding the religious authority themselves or by having a religious caste which either  justified the right of the monarch to rule  or which exercised  the monarchical authority itself.

The belief that the worship of God in a certain way was integral to the good order and fortune of a country and its people is strong in most religions. A failure to follow the “right” form of religion could mean disaster for a people.  Any misfortune could be ascribed to a failure of faith or of observance.  The Black Death was put down to precisely that while the destruction of the Spanish Armada to England in 1588, in which the weather played a significant  part,  was  attributed by  the Spanish to some lack in their society and as a sign of God’s favour by the English.

The potency of religion

It is important to understand that religious belief is not something simply imposed on people or just  a habit acquired through their upbringing.   The sufferings of those who have refused to deny their faith are truly extraordinary. The Inquisition did not simply condemn people out of hand. Those who had taken up a variety of Christianity other than Catholicism were frequently  excused from punishment if they recanted.  Faced with death by burning at the stake many chose that death rather than recanting. Some, like Archbishop Cranmer, recanted than went back on their recantation and  were  burnt. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs all too graphically bears witness to the sufferings borne over the centuries.

Religion and the  secular mind

To understand the religious mind is also to understand the mind of those  gripped by a secular  ideology,  for the  psychological and sociological outcomes are the same as those experienced by the religious. That is particularly true of totalitarian ideologies such as Marxism or political correctness which offer the promise of an eventual  future  state in which  the ideology is fully realised.

Marxists believe that the movement of the dialectic through history will inevitably lead to the state of  Communism.   That belief is psychologically the equivalent of going to Heaven for the Christian or  Paradise for the Muslim or Nirvana  for the Buddhist.  Something similar happens when the politically correct  encounter  human behaviour   which brutally contradicts  their view of the world. They  do not draw the obvious conclusion, namely, that   political correctness is a incompatible with  our  evolved  nature. Instead, they say it shows that that  more  time must be spent  in educating the politically incorrect  to believe  that the  mores of political correctness are the only way to behave and believe.

One of the most peculiar secular ideologies,  which has been around since the early 19th Century,   is the quasi-religious devotion to laissez faire economics which for its true believers, the neo-liberals,  means holding  rigidly to the idea that free markets and free trade  are a sure-fire means to greatly increase  general prosperity and  that it is rationally  the only  economic system to follow.  This might seem a very dry subject  to engage people emotionally. Yet  its believers  tend to become extremely agitated if a contrary view is put to them and more often than not refuse to offer any contrary argument or facts when faced with an opponent of  their  creed.    In short they display all the signs of the religious believer.

Why does it attract followers?  For the same reason any ideology is adopted. It offers itself as an algorithm to order the world.  It is sometimes hailed as a general libertarian good by its proponents  which could engage the emotions,  but few people who claim to be libertarians actually live their lives by the creed.  A much more plausible explanation,   at least for the true believers,  , is that these are people who find the idea of a neat mechanical ideology  which tells them just stand back and don’t interfere with the market   intellectually satisfying. In addition, like all ideologies, sacred or profane, laissez faire allows its followers to believe that action is being taken to control the world. Ironically,   intellectually and emotionally  it offers just what Marxism does, an  eventually utopia which comes about automatically when economic life takes on a certain shape.

The fact that humans are so susceptible to the lure of  ideologies and habit  must mean that this behavioural trait serves some vital  evolutionary purpose because otherwise it  would not  have persisted.  The purpose is to unite and order a society.

The Grenfell Tower block fire and its aftermath

 Robert Henderson

The fallout from the Grenfell Tower (GT) fire is turning it from a very serious and traumatic physical disaster  into a political vehicle for the Hard Left who have been openly encouraged by  the  leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn  who has called for empty properties owned by the rich in the area to be commandeered and used to house those rendered homeless by the fire , while the shadow Chancellor John McDonnell  designated  the deaths murder by political decisions and called for a  “Day of Rage” on the streets.  The street level response to make this into an anti-Government matter  really took off  when  the revolutionary left became involved.  Mustafa al-Mansua  a  Jeremy Corbyn-supporting political activist  was identified as being the organiser of the  protests in Kensington Town Hall.

The newspapers, blogs and especially the broadcast media are now alive with claims of gross neglect and even murder by those in authority.  The strange thing is those making the noise are not those most intimately connected with the disaster. Media interviews with  people who either lived in the block or  those who knew people who lived in the block who were either dead or missing have not been  paeans of rage against the rich or the government. Most interviewees have been rather quiet, subdued and shocked but not bursting with anger against the authorities.

The response of the Government

The response of the Government has been jerky. To begin with the Government largely left the emergency services to get on with the job. The PM Theresa May turned up eventually  but did not meet  any of those living in the GT, confining her visit  to meeting members of the emergency services. Jeremy Corbyn did meet people who lived in the block. The contrast between May and Corbyn’s was used as the tinder to light the Hard Left’s bonfire of rage.

After days of  dithering the Government released £5 million to defray the immediate costs of  providing support for the surviving residents of the block. A public inquiry was rapidly announced and a retired Appeal Court judge  appointed to head it.  Eventually, people  from outside of the Council were appointed by the Government  to run the  Kensington and Chelsea  housing department.

The judge appointed to head the public inquiry  Sir Martin Moore-Bick has been the subject of an immediate campaign  to remove him from the position.  A black Labour MP and one-time minister David Lammy  led the way by citing Sir Martin’s  disqualifications for the role as  being the fact that he is   a  “white, upper-middle class man”.   The key word here is white. Try to imagine a black  man being appointed to such a role and a campaign immediately starting  up to thwart his appointment because he   is black.  Difficult isn’t it?

Most contentiously   promises were made by  Theresa  May in the Commons  that the immigration status of the GT residents would not be checked:

“I would like to reassure people that we will not use this tragic incident as a reason to carry out immigration checks on those involved or on those providing information to identify victims or those assisting with the criminal investigation.

 “We will make sure that all victims, irrespective of their immigration status, will be able to access the services they need including healthcare and accommodation.”

The Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan gave the same assurance :

 “No action must be taken against anybody in Grenfell Tower who comes forward.

“There may be some people who are sub-letting, breaching their tenancy agreement.

“There may be people who have got friends and family visiting, who they are worried about if they report them because they haven’t got immigration status.

“All of those people should feel confident that if they come forward and speak to the authorities, that no action will be taken.

Making such a blanket promise  is reckless  because it could be used as a precedent for not deporting  many illegal immigrants  on the ground that they had suffered some trauma whether as an individual or as one of a number  in some disaster like the GT fire.  Applying the rule to the GT residents could also lead to difficult situations where a GT resident turned out to be not only an illegal immigrant but someone  guilty of criminal acts either here or abroad. Are we really to believe that British officials will turn a blind eye to such people?

There is a third problem associated with the immigrant status promise.  The Government may already have an idea of  the number of illegal immigrants  involved. It may be embarrassingly large. If so it would be in the interest of the Government and the politically correct left-liberal politicians generally  not to have  to admit that so lax are checks on the legal status  of  immigrants  that many illegal immigrants were not only able to come to this country but somehow jump the huge queue social housing . But even if there was only a small number of such people in the GT it would still raise embarrassing and serious questions about the UK’s immigration control and the checks that Councils make on applicants for social housing.  The problem vanishes if the immigration status of GT survivors is removed from the table.

The Government appears to be having second thoughts about illegals. Today (6th July) it is reported that those here illegally can stay for up to a year  if they help the  Public Inquiry and come forward before the end of August.  The Government has also announced a relaxation of benefit rules such as not paying the “Bedroom Tax” if the flat they  move to is larger than the one they have lost.

The support given to  survivors

Apart from the £5 million from the taxpayer mentioned above  many millions more  have been raised by people making private donations to various funds for the survivors. From these sources those who lost a family member or members will be awarded £20,000 for each family member lost.

This raises two problems. The first is the efficiency and competence  and indeed honesty with which the money  is distributed.  Already one  person Anh Nhu Nguyen has been charged with obtaining money by falsely claiming to have lost his wife and son in the fire.  It is alleged that he got   nearly  £10,000 from the fund set up to disburse the £5million from the taxpayer before the alleged fraud was discovered. Nguyen  is also charged with getting food and various goods from  different charities by making the same allegedly false claims.   If this is true, and it is only an allegation at present,  then it casts grave doubts on the competence of those giving out money or goods, whether they be public servants or private bodies such as charities.  There is also the possibility of corruption by those controlling the money either through straightforward embezzlement or through collusion with claimants. The  Government should make it clear now that a strict audit of the disposal of the money from the taxpayer and from private donations will be made.

The second problem is the question of creating a precedent. The private donations are one thing but does the £5 million given by the taxpayer mean that anyone losing their home through fire from now on  will be treated similarly? Don’t hold your breath waiting for it to happen.  The reality is that the Government response to the GT fire has been wholly exceptional. 303 people died in fires in England in 2015-16. It would be very  interesting to know what Government assistance was given to the survivors and family members not involved in these  fires or indeed to anyone who lost a home and/or family members in other accidents.

The treatment of the GT  survivors  has been exceptional also in the assurances given by the Council of finding new accommodation within or near the Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Most dramatically ,    68  newly built permanent homes have been purchased  in Kensington Row,  an upmarket development in the borough, for a reported cost of £10 million.  These  will be offered to the GT residents by the end of July.  (Some of those  who had paid £1 million plus  to live in the non-social housing part of the development greeted the news  with dismay).  Again the question has to be asked would people suffering  the loss  of a  home on an individual basis be treated like this?

The  mainstream media response

The UK media response has been rather odd. Both the GT  itself and the immediate area in which it is set have  many people drawn from  racial and ethnic minorities. Since the fire  many of the GT residents interviewed are,  judged by their accents or by biographical information they have provided,  first generation immigrants. Shocking as the fire was I suspect that there will be quite a few native Britons who have sought and failed to get social housing   who will be  wondering how it is that first generation  immigrants have been able to get such accommodation when tens of thousands of native Britons have failed to do so despite  being on Council housing lists for many years.  Understandably  the allocation of  very scarce social housing  to immigrants  causes a great deal of resentment amongst the native white workingclass and increasingly amongst the native white middle class who struggle to pay ever more extortionate private rents.

All of this leaves the UK  mainstream  media with a dilemma: on the one hand they want to trot out the usual politically correct cant about the joy of diversity, how enriching it is, how the sun would fail to rise were it not for the huge number of immigrant workers in the UK and so forth.  On the other hand the UK media is rather twitchy about publicising the reality of exactly how much social housing goes to ethnic and racial minorities and generally it is reluctant to show parts of London (or parts of other cities such as Leicester) where the number of white faces is  startlingly  small.(Astonishingly  in these supposedly non-discriminating  times there are  a considerable number of housing associations in the UK which restrict tenancies to particular racial and ethnic groups  – needless to say  white British or white English housing associations have the same degree of existence  as unicorns).  This is because the  mainstream UK media  know that the reality of what is happening to the UK is  both dismaying the native population and is at odds with the multicuturalist politically correct happy clappy  internationalist story the media – especially the broadcast media – regularly sell.

The result of the competing desires and concerns of the media  in this particular set of circumstances was a nervous and muted commentary on the heterogeneous nature of the GT and its environs at the beginning gradually expanding to more adventurous praise of the joy of diversity as time passed and mediafolk thought it was safe to bring out the old political correct mantras because  the ghastly nature of the event had  naturally  engendered  sympathy for the victims.

The  serious issue to be addressed

Stripped of  all the political posturing and ineptitude there is a very serious issue  to be addressed.  Something has gone very  wrong. Individual tenants and the  tenants association for the GT  had raised concerns about fire safety before the fire. Not only was no action taken but the block was recently renovated which resulted in the cladding of the exterior of the building with material which was flammable. Apart from burning the cladding may have both intensified the fire because it provided insulation and it could  also have funnelled the flames upwards.

But there is something missing from the Grenfell Tower story. If the type of cladding used  was seriously inflammable it would be reasonable to expect many fires involving such  cladding because it has been widely used not just on residential housing but also places of work, hospitals, sporting venues and other places of entertainment.  Yet the type of fire seen in the GT  – a very rapid movement over most of the block – seems to have been unique in the UK, certainly in its intensity and tragic results..  This suggests there is something novel about the GT case which acted as an accelerant, that is,  something which drove and intensified the fire. I would suggest the  novelty was  the communal gas supply system which was put in recently which  had reservoirs of gas on each floor. . Eye witnesses to the fire described how as the fire reached a new floor explosions were heard. This presumably was gas exploding. If so that gas may well have been the accelerant energising the fire upwards.  None of this is to suggest the potential dangers of cladding should be ignored. However, it is important to understand exactly how the fire got out of control so rapidly and to make a rational assessment of the dangers of fire other blocks with cladding present.

Could more have been done to save people during the fire? One thing which might have saved at least some of those who died was not done. It was very simple: get all the tenants to flood their flats by blocking their sinks and plugholes and  turning their taps on at full blast. That would to a degree have obviated the fact that the upper stories could not be reached by fire brigade  hoses.  The fire brigade were in contact with many by phone and could have used a loudhailer system to alert everyone else who was in the building.

Did  Right-to-Buy influence fire safety in the Grenfell Tower?

There is a complication I have not heard raised since the fire, namely, the effect of the policy of Right-To-Buy on Council properties with multiple habitation. Right-To-Buy is a Government scheme which originated under the Thatcher Government in the 1980s. It is a confidence trick whereby public assets (houses and flats)  are sold to individuals  who have been a  tenant  in a Council or housing association property for some years  at a hefty  discount from the market price . Hence, the Government has sold that which belongs to everyone .

The effect of Right-To-Buy on a  tower block such as  GT means that responsibility for the block will no longer be straightforward. Take a concrete example. Suppose a flat which is privately owned is above one which is Council owned and the top flat floods the flat below. The Council will say the owner of the flat which caused the flooding is liable to make good the damage to the Council flat . Easier said than done often enough because many flats bought under Right-To-Buy are sold on to private landlords who are looking for rental property. Such landlords are frequently very difficult to either track down or if they can be contacted, less than willing to make good the damage.  Consequently, the tenant can  be left in limbo while the freeholder and leaseholder fight it out.

The complications caused by  Right-To-Buy may have been behind the extraordinary fact (according to the Council) that Grenfell residents said they did not want  sprinklers fitted  because of the upheaval  this would cause. This could have been the leaseholders of flats whether occupying or renting out a  flat  did not want the sprinkler systems fitted because (1) their leasehold agreements would normally require the leaseholder to make a contribution towards their cost and/or (2)  where the flats are  rented out  at commercial rates the installation of sprinklers might  make renting them out difficult while the installation was proceeding.

But even if the tenants/leaseholders  said they did not want sprinklers or any other fire safety precautions  the Council as the freeholder  should and could have overridden their wishes.

The failure of the authorities to produce a comprehensive list of those who died

The failure of the authorities to produce a list of those who died in the block is unsurprising because  potentially there  are eight classes of people who could have been  living there :

  1. Council tenants and those living with them.
  2. Private tenants and those living with them  in flats purchased under Right-to-Buy  which are still owned by the Right-to-Buy  purchaser.
  3. Private tenants and those living with them in flats owned by people  who bought  a flat originally purchased under Right-to-Buy  from either the Right-to-Buy purchaser or from someone who purchased the flat after it had already been purchased  from the Right-to-Buy purchaser. For  example, the Right-to-Buy purchaser sells it on the free market to someone who then in turn sells it to someone else on the free market.
  4. Leaseholders and those living with them who purchased under Right-to-Buy and live in the flats they purchased.
  5. Leaseholders and those living with them who live in flats which they either  purchased   from someone who obtained the flat under Right-to-Buy or  from leaseholders who purchased  the flat  after it was sold on following the Right-to-Buy purchase.
  6. Those who have obtained control of a flat illegally. For example, someone obtains a legal tenancy then “sells” the tenancy to someone who assumes the identity of the “seller” and takes control of the property and pays the rent. Alternatively the flat might simply be given to a friend or family member without telling the Council. The Council will assume that the person living under a bogus name is the original legal tenant
  7. This who are living illegally in a sublet part of a flat. These are sublettings which have not been authorised by the Council.
  8. Visitors in the GT on the night of the fire.

Of those eight categories the only readily identifiable people will be the Council tenants  and the leaseholders who live in the  flats.  These details would have to be known to the Council because rents have to be collected and leaseholders need legal documents showing  they are the leaseholder and  giving the conditions of the lease.  But  that would only provide one person per flat  whose name would be  known to the Council.

The Council will also have details of leaseholders who were renting out properties.  However, leaseholders who rent out are often difficult to track down because their contact details are not up to date or they use a company to manage their properties.

Even with Council  flats the position is not necessarily simple (see 6 and 7) . Flats may have been taken over by people other than the legal tenant or part of a flat may have been  sublet illegally. The Government has  announced that there  will be an amnesty for illegal sublettings but whether those who have illegally sublet know about the amnesty or trust the promise is another matter.

There is a further fly in the ointment. There may be people from  the block who are  illegal immigrants and consequently are reluctant to come forward to identify themselves. Nonetheless, it is not unreasonable to think that if there are those here illegally they will still be  reluctant to come forward.  As mentioned above  Theresa May and Sadiq Khan’s  have given assurances that no check will be made on the immigration status of any resident of the GT.  However, it is probable that those who are illegally here will like the  illegal subletters  either not have heard the assurances or do not believe them.

Notwithstanding these difficulties the Council  has many sources of information which should allow them to build up a fair picture  of how many people were killed in the fire and who was living there. It is probable that a majority of the flats were  legally occupied Council or leasehold properties.  Even if only 50% of the surviving  residents have  made themselves known to the Council  they would be able to give  not only information about  those living with them  but at   least basic details of their near neighbours.  In fact the situation is much better than that with the Council saying that they have spoken to someone from 106 of the 129 flats in the block.  This should allow  a well founded estimate of the people who lived in the block and  their identities.

In addition the Council will have  Council tax records, the electoral register, social work records .   Internet searches on databases such as the Electoral Register  or even simply putting a tenant or leaseholders name and address into Google  are worth a go.

If it proves  possible to circumvent the privacy  provisions of the Data Protection Act,  what could  be very effective would be  the setting up of a website with all the known names of tenants, leaseholders and any other people already identified as resident in the tower block with an invitation to the public to send in any details of others  they think lived in or  were simply visiting the building on the night of the fire.

To date the death count is 80,  but “Police investigating the Grenfell Tower fire have recovered 87 sets of human remains but cannot confirm they are from 87 individuals.”

What is a plausible number of  residents  for the GT?  Reports say around 600. If that is correct it looks as though quite a few have simply gone AWOL.

The overall impression the aftermath of the   fire has left

The first thing to note is the unpreparedness of the Council.  They were completely out of their depth. The Council’s ineptitude was  made more potent by the leaping on the bandwagon of victimhood and blame by  all shades of the left from hard left activists to leading members of the Labour Party.  The Government , already in a profoundly shaken and demoralised state after the disastrous election result in June,  with a Prime Minister lacking precious little credibility  and the mainstream media making great play with the idea of the callous haves not caring about the have nots, reacted with something close to panic and kept giving away  more and more ground.

But there was another force at work. Many,  probably the large majority of the residents of GT were either first generation immigrants or from  ethnic minorities born in Britain. This  brought political correctness into play. Imagine if the tower block had been overwhelmingly  inhabited by white Britons. Would the response have been so fervid? Would the hard left have been out in such force? Would a black MP like David Lammy have been accusing the authorities of covering up the true death toll? Would millions of public money have  been shelled out or 68expensive  flats  to rehouse those who had lost their homes?  Or would the authorities and the politically active have been much less interested? I will leave those questions to the reader to answer.

In the West  with easy contraception and abortion humans need security to breed

Robert Henderson

Security is what the vast majority of humans want.  It is part of our evolved nature. If you offer a man or woman a guaranteed income of £25,000 pa or a ten percent chance of gaining an income of £100,000 pa most will choose the certainty of £25,000.

When it comes to having and raising a family in a country which has readily available contraception and safe abortion practices a sense of security becomes vitally important.   Without those two hindrances to producing children birthrates will normally look after themselves by at least maintaining a population and in all probability increasing  it if the availability of the essentials of life – food, clothing, heat and shelter – is sufficient to maintain increasing numbers of people.

Where contraception and abortion are readily available individuals can and frequently do refrain from having many children. That is the case in rich industrialised countries where the number of children a couple have is to a very large extent a matter of choice.  Because of this  birthrates in the West are currently  either  below replacement levels  (which require 2.1 children per woman) or  are only just meeting the replacement level . Moreover,   the Western  countries which do meet the replacement level often  do  so only because of  the higher fertility rates of black and Asian  immigrants  and their descendants , who at least for several generations after the initial act of migration  maintain a higher rate of breeding than the  native white populations of the West.

Why are the native populations of the West failing to reproduce in sufficient quantities?  The fact that abortion and contraception are readily available is part of the explanation, but the reduction in children is also the consequence of changes in general social circumstances and the mentality of people rather than an immediate cause.   Infant mortality is low so having a large family to guarantee that enough children survive to adulthood is no longer necessary.  In addition, the creation of full blown welfare states means that people are no longer necessarily dependent upon their children for help in their old age so they do not see their children as an essential  insurance policy for their future.

There are attempts to explain the decline in births in the West by claiming that fertility is falling.  This does not meet the facts. Take abortions.  185,824 were undertaken in England and Wales in 2015. The birthrate for England and Wales in 2015 was 1.83 with 697,852 live births. Had no abortions been performed in 2015 the England and Wales birthrate would have been comfortably over the 2.1 replacement rate.  In short, the UK (and the West generally) does not have a fertility problem but an abortion problem.

But none of this explains why reproduction has become so depressed that it has dipped below replacement level. Contraception and abortion together with the changes in social organisation mentioned above might explain if most people were stopping at, say, three children.  A proportion of the population will simply decide for whatever reason that they do not want children,  most people still want to have children and most people actually have children. The problem is they frequently do not have enough children to replace themselves. So what is going on? The missing element is insecurity.

Cultural insecurity

The huge numbers of unassimilable immigrants which have been allowed to settle in the West have not only depressed the material conditions of the Western native populations (especially the poorer parts of those populations) through competition for jobs, housing, welfare, health and education. They have also  by their failure to assimilate created a constant and growing anxiety amongst the native population, especially those parts of the population which have found themselves living in areas heavily settled by racial and ethnic minorities.

Allied to the changes wrought by unassimilated immigrants is the grip political correctness has on Western societies.  This is an ideology which covers an ever wider range of subjects in which “discrimination” is zealously   detected by its adherents , but at its core lies the idea of multiculturalism.  This asserts  that all cultures are equal and results in the  pretence that the native culture and native population have no greater status than that of the immigrant derived  communities and  that consequently  all immigrant cultures should retain their ancestral ways. The result of this is  the creation of ghettos in which the larger immigrant groups live lives that are separate from the rest of the population and to all  intents and purposes  the ghetto represents a  colonisation of the areas affected    All of this is dangerous  for both the native population and the immigrant because  it promotes anger amongst the native populations and unreasonable expectations amongst the minorities created by immigration.

The politically correct internationalist elites have gone to great lengths to suppress  resistance by the native population to mass immigration and its consequences.   The culture and ethnic interests of the minority populations are relentlessly promoted while  the culture and ethnic interests of the native populations are suppressed.  Any criticism of immigration or its consequences is met with accusations of racism which both the mainstream media and politicians promote routinely. Punishments are exacted such as hate-filled media witch hunts, the loss of a job and, increasingly, criminal charges for saying politically incorrect things about immigration and/or its consequences. The fact that similar though generally lesser punishments  are meted out to anyone who it is claimed has  breached other aspects of political correctness – most commonly  accusations of homophobia and sexism – intensifies the sense of claustrophobia which  the imposition of strict limits to what may and may not be said naturally creates.

To the suppression of complaint about mass immigration Western elites have added the denigration of the native cultures from which they have sprung.  The history of countries such as the UK and USA are constantly portrayed as something to be ashamed. Collective guilt is laid upon the shoulders of the current native white populations for the existence of colonialism and the slave trade. Anything which is praiseworthy in white history is suppressed or diluted by ahistorical claims that it was not really the work of the whites or that if it was whites who were responsible they were only able to produce the praiseworthy thing because of white oppression of non-white peoples. Any expression of national feeling by the native white populations is immediately decried as nationalism at best and racism at worst.

The constant brainwashing has its effects,  for example,  in 2112 a substantial minority of English people said   when questioned that the St George’s flag is racist, ,  but it  is by no means wholly  successful in obliterating the non-pc feelings of much of the population. The politically correct find in particular the resistance of the native poor to eagerly  assume the politically correct agenda tiresome at best and   unforgiveable at worst.  As a consequence the white working class have gone from being the salt of the earth in the 1950s and 1960s to being seen as irredeemable now.

There is also another cultural aspect. It has become fashionable in the West to say that large families are antisocial, that breeding freely is a form of selfishness for it both takes up resources and  endangers the planet  because Western countries use per capita  much more of the Earth’s resources (especially energy from fossil fuels)  than the developing world.   This has given those who could afford to have as many children as they wanted,  or at least many more than they do have, a pseudo-moral  “green” reason for not breeding freely, something they can readily  ensure with reliable and easy to get contraception and abortion.  This pseudo-moral reason is bolstered by  people in the media peddling the same idea and by the social circle of each individual doing the same. It is all part of the Western guilt trip so assiduously  developed and tended  by  the politically correct.

Material insecurity

The feeling that a person is not culturally secure in the place where they live is the most fundamental and corrosive cause of insecurity, but even without that there are plenty of material circumstances which can rob people of their security,  for example, a lack of affordable and secure housing, the absence of a secure job which pays enough to raise a family and inadequate schools and medical services.

The wealthier people are the more security they both have and feel they have.  For the rich having as many children as they want is purely a social and personal choice because affordability does not come into it. But the truly rich are by definition very limited in any society and the creation of ever increasing differences in wealth stemming from the combination of globalisation and laissez faire economics has led to the shrinking of the proportion of Western populations which can really feel economically secure. Today what were once the comfortable middle classes are feeling the pinch, especially those who have not got on the property ladder.  In most parts of the UK  the only way a mortgage can be afforded by those getting on the property ladder  today is for both the man and woman in a relationship to work full time, something which inevitably reduces the enthusiasm for and opportunity to have children. But  even the dual income property purchase   is increasingly a pipe dream as property prices have reach absurd levels  with the average UK price in  2017 being £317,000. In fact purchasing a property is becoming impossible even for those with what would be regarded as very  comfortable incomes.  To the horrendous price of property  can be added the insecurity generated by the fact that jobs are no longer secure even for the highly educated and skilled.  Consequently, the middle classes are feeling more and more insecure and less and less likely to have more than two children.

But if the middleclass are struggling to keep up appearances the poor in the West are really in the mire. They suffer from the same problems as the middle classes, the cost of housing and the insecurity of jobs, but in an  amplified form, not least because they rely much more on state provision than the middle classes and state provision is being squeezed  by the legacy the 2008 crash, the continued extravagance of an Aid regime which currently costs around £13 billion pa,  the cost of being in the EU,  the  offshoring of jobs to the developing world,  and most obviously and painfully  to the ordinary Briton  by the  huge numbers of immigrants arriving in the West who compete for healthcare, school places, social housing and jobs, especially those which have traditionally been done by the native Western poor.

Historically a sense of security for the poor has largely come from them  providing aid to one another, either individually or through organisations which helped and protected the poor such as churches, trade unions, friendly societies and the co-operative movement.  Such mutual help is almost gone now amongst the native poor  in the UK (and most of the West). This is partly because state-provided  welfare has substituted for  the help from churches, trade unions, charities and suchlike and partly  it is down to the fact  that the  native poor  have had their social circles fractured  either  by being  shifted from the areas  they used to dominate  to places where they are not  in the majority or they still live in their original  areas but these have been subject to  mass immigration of those who cannot or will not assimilate. Either way this has produced the same end of the native poor living in areas which they do not dominate.

The particular problem of housing

At first when the native British poor were moved from the slums after WW2 there was a plentiful supply of what is now called social housing and was called council housing then. These were let on lifelong tenancies, tenancies which could also be passed down the generations.  This  provided a secure base to raise a family.  Private rents were also controlled. This situation remained until the 1980s.

In the 1980s Margaret Thatcher did two things to greatly reduce the social housing stock. She created a Right-to-Buy for those in council housing which steadily reduced the existing stock of publicly owned properties to let at rents which those on low wages could afford and came close to killing off the building of new council housing. Controls on private rents were also removed.

The shrinking of housing at reasonable rents was temporarily ameliorated by the relaxing of the rules controlling mortgages so that those on even modest wages could afford to buy a property. This together with  Right-To-Buy initially swelled the number of owner occupier but d that id not last  for  UK owner occupation rose to a high of 71% in 2003 but has since sunk to 64%.

Had pre-1980 levels of house building been maintained with immigration at per-1997 levels there would have been something of a housing shortage but nothing like the crisis we now have.  The problem is that immigration did not stay at re 1997 levels but skyrocketed under Blair and has remained huge ever since . In 1997 the estimated UK population was 58 million, today it is 66 million. Most of this huge increase is down to immigration.

In recent years the  UK has been building less than 200,000 new build  homes pa.  Immigration in the year to September 2016 was 273,000. The idea that the UK can somehow build itself out of the current chronic shortages is clearly nonsense as things stand.


The absence of a secure affordable home is surely the biggest material  barrier to starting a family, but insecurity of work runs it a not too far distant second  and of course bleeds into the question of whether a secure home can be afforded.   Margaret Thatcher came to power with a mission to reduce state ownership through the privatisation of all  the large nationalised industries and a desire to see market forces produce what was blithely called “creative destruction”  of our manufacturing  industry (much of which was off shored)  while the  British coal industry was wilfully destroyed. This resulted in a huge loss of  jobs  of the sort which had been the  staple of the native working class.

The  increase  in immigration has led to competition not just for skilled jobs but also the unskilled and semi-skilled  work.   Wages have been suppressed by this competition   and cemented into place by the payment of in-work benefits  which have become an excuse for employers to keep wages low and to generally degrade conditions of employment. For example, there is the growth of self-employment  from necessity rather than inclination and the rise of the zero-hours contract which does  not guarantee any work  but supplies work  only when it suits the employer. A person might work 40 hours one week and 15 hours the next and zero hours the week after.  This may suit  a student or  a couple where the person who is on a zero hours contract is working  not provide the basis for a couple to start a family.

Finally, there is the threat posed by robotics and AI systems to employment. This has not reached the point where most jobs can be done by robots and/or AI systems.  Nonetheless  the technology has already  devoured many jobs, especially  manual ones,   and the thought of what may happen as robots and AI systems get ever more powerful and intelligent will play on the fears of people  especially if they have been made redundant through the introduction of such technology.

This is one case where the overwhelming majority  are ultimately “all in it together”

All of these  sources of insecurity come together to suppress Western reproduction.  This is unsurprising. If couples cannot get a secure home and are  constantly  uncertain about whether they will be employed the next week; if they can only get low paid work; if they are constantly fighting   with immigrants over  public goods such as healthcare and education; if  they have no social support as once the poor had; if they  are constantly  told they should be ashamed of their country  and that it is selfish  to have many children is it any wonder that with ready contraception and abortion  that Western  countries have birthrates below replacement level?

If insecurity is the answer to low birthrates  then the answer must be to increase the sense of security  within  Western populations by raising morale by ending mass immigration,  improving security of employment  and engaging in massive house building programmes to dramatically increase the available property which is either within the scope of people to buy or  allows them to rent at a reasonable price with the type of security of tenure found in the best publicly owned rental property.   There also needs to be a clear understanding that the native populations  of Western countries have priority over  foreigners and  an  end to  multiculturalism .

The perilous demographic  position of Britain  (and  Western nations generally)  can be seen in the fact that whereas it was the native British poor who were at risk of experiencing crippling insecurity fifteen or twenty years ago, today it is virtually anyone who is either not unreservedly rich or is old enough to have bought a property before prices rocketed  is living in a  seriously insecure world .  No longer can the better off  think that they are safe. Moreover, even the  rich must wonder now and then  if  they are secure  as the number of stable and  prosperous countries   in the world diminishes through a combination of mass immigration and  terrorism.

Why the universal wage is a non-starter

Robert Henderson

The universal or citizen’s  wage is finding favour in various political quarters. This is remarkable because it is very obviously hopelessly  impractical.

The idea of the universal wage is  that every adult in a society should receive  a payment from the state. It is predicated on these two rules:

  1. The payment should be enough on which to live.
  2. It will replace all forms of direct welfare which provide money to the individual. Indirect welfare such as healthcare and education would continue as now.

If the payment is  not enough to live on then it will  be impossible to do away with  welfare  payments because not every  person can be assured of a job  which pays enough to allow them  to live by combining the universal wage with  their earned money.  Moreover, there will always be substantial numbers who cannot find work for substantial periods of time.  Then there are the  old who are over retirement age,  children and  the disabled or ill who cannot work. Again, unless the universal wage is enough to live on,  benefits in the shape of additional payments would have to be made which  would  again break the second rule described above.

The amount needed to live

At what level should the universal wage be set? In the UK it would be difficult for any  person to provide for all their basic needs on  less than £10,000 pa and in most parts of the country £10,000 would be grossly inadequate if the person does not own  their own home or live in council housing or its like.

It would be possible to pay different amounts according to the cost of living in different parts of the country, but that would mean reintroducing large scale public administration to work out who gets what. That would breach  the second rule.

To allow a person to live in any part of the country when they have to pay  a private market rent or bear the burden of a huge mortgage  would probably mean a universal wage of £20,000 although even that would be pushing things in London and other parts of the South East of England.

£20,000 might fund a single person, but even two people living as a family would find it difficult to raise children on a combined £40,000  if they did not own their home or  live in affordable housing in much of the UK.    If we are to believe the  estimates  the media   frequently make of  what it costs to raise a child in the UK we would think £10-15,000 a year would be required for each child .   The Fostering Network   charity estimates that the weekly maintenance cost of a baby is £164 and for a 16-year-old  or older £245. Most people will think that is much higher than most parents actually spend,   but £5,000 a year on average for a  child is probably realistic.

The population of the UK was  officially  estimated at 65 million in 2015. It has probably risen to about 66 million by now,  but for the sake of arithmetical co0nvenience I will take the population to be 65 million.  In  2015 the age distribution was as follows:

UK Population   0 to 15 years (%)               16 to 64 years (%)            65 years and over (%)

65,110,000             18.8                                           63.3                                              17.8

Rounded to the nearest whole number that is 81% over the age of 16 and 19% under the age of 16. That gives approximately 52 million  people over the age of 16 or older and 13 million people under the age of 16.

If the £20,000 adult payment is used  (52 million x £20k)  that would  cost    £1,08 trillion.

If the £5,000 under 16 payment is used  (13 million x £5k) that would cost       £130 billion

Total  Cost                                                   £1.38 trillion

That is greater than the estimated UK Government expenditure for the present financial year,  viz:

Estimated Government revenue and expenditure for the year 2017/18 

Revenue        £744 billion

Expenditure  £802 billion

Clearly the £20, 000 adult and  £5,000 child  universal wage would be impossible  as the cost  is not far short of twice the total estimated expenditure by the UK government for the financial year  2017/18.  Even if the universal wages for adults and children was half that it would cost  nearly £700 billion leaving just over £100 billion to fund  for everything else a government is expected to provide such as healthcare, education, defence and roads. Clearly £100 billion  would be a hopelessly inadequate for that task.

But dismal as those figures are the position is far worse because the government’s tax revenue will be set to plummet because if the universal wage is enough to live on  two  things will happen:

  1. Many people will opt to work fewer hours, take less demanding jobs or cease paid employment altogether.
  2. Consumption will shrink substantially reducing tax paid on purchases.

Hence,  trying to fund the universal wage by orthodox means  through would meet with  a double problem, far less money coming in and far more going out. A wonderful recipe for governmental  financial catastrophe.

As this would be a permanent state of affairs government borrowing would not be a solution.  There  would be nothing to stop a government attempting to pay  for the universal wage  by doing what has been done with Quantitative Easing (QE) , namely, magic it out of thin air, but that would lead to at best hyperinflation and at worst the complete  collapse of the currency.  That experiment would not last long.

What is certain is that simple arithmetic tells you the universal wage is completely impractical It   fails because it  either has to be set at a level which would allow the individual to live without working, which means it is  far too expensive,  or its proponents are driven back to making additional payments for those who cannot live on the universal wage because of different regional costs of living (particularly the cost of  housing)  or circumstances such as old age or disablement or sickness.


Racial preference in babies 

Robert Henderson

Two studies by researchers in Canada , US, UK, France and China examining the response of babies of six to nine months old to people of different races  have shown  the babies to have a preference for people of their own racial type

The first study  (published in Developmental Science) tested the response of babies to associating music with own-race faces   and other-race faces with the result that from six months happy music began to be associated with own-race faces and sad music with other-race faces.

The second study  (published in Child Development) found that   “Infants rely more on gaze cues from own-race than other-race adults for learning under uncertainty”  and  six to eight months old babies  were “were more inclined to learn information from an adult of his or her own race than from an adult of a different race.”

The studies involved “babies who had little to no prior experience with other-race individuals. “

Dr. Kang Lee, professor at OISE’s Jackman Institute of Child Study  and the  lead author of the studies states  “The results show that race-based bias already exists around the second half of a child’s first year.  This challenges the popular view that race-based bias first emerges only during the preschool years.” ……

‘“When we consider why someone has a racial bias, we often think of negative experience he or she may have had with other-race individuals.  But, these findings suggest that a race-based bias emerges without experience with other-race individuals,” said Dr. Naiqi (Gabriel) Xiao, first author of the two papers and postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University.’.

Racial bias is natural

That racial bias is either directly inbuilt or at the least developed very early  in humans as a response to  the racial type which surrounds them should surprise no one because it is a  natural result of homo sapiens being social animals. Behaviours and physical differences which signal that an individual belongs to a particular  social group are a  sine qua non of being a social animal for without such signals trust cannot develop and without trust there can be no social animal.  That humans should be biologically  programmed to respond more favourably to those of the same racial type is an example of the necessary signals required  to determine the boundaries  of their  human group.

Those who will not have natural selection determining human responses to racial difference at any price will doubtless claim that if there is racial bias at such an early age it is environmentally determined, that it is nurture not nature. For example, it might be thought that a  baby’s  preference is for  those who have provided care for the child during the early months after birth. Plausible enough at first glance . However,   the research demonstrated  that   babies showed a general preference for those of racial type like their own  not simply a preference for individuals with whom they are familiar. Of course this could be the consequence of being accustomed to same race faces – remember that the babies  were specifically chosen to have had little or  no experience of different race faces and  the babies  could have  been imprinted with a positive response  to same-race faces and to see other-race faces as either unrecognisable as faces or simply  as not being faces containing the trigger qualities to inspire trust.

But even if nurture did determine the infants’  preference for those of the same race by making  babies  identify with the race of those who  cared from them  for the first six months   or so of their lives the nurturists would still be faced with the problem  that there must be an innate behaviour in babies which  makes them favour those  of the  racial type who brought them up in the first six months or so  of their out of womb  existence.   Even if every baby was removed from their parents and given to those of a different racial type to raise – an obvious and deeply sinister absurdity –  the  babies would, if it is nurture at play,  still end up favouring the racial type who raised them in the early months.  Racial bias would not be eradicated merely shifted from the baby’s race to another race with,  presumably, the  baby then favouring  those of a different race to themselves.

Beyond infancy

The significance of the research reaches far beyond the behaviour of  babies. If the babies naturally develop a preference for those of  the same race as themselves, whether though an innate preference or because of the race of those who raises them,  who  will be in the vast majority of cases the same race as the baby,  then it is reasonable to expect that preference is carried through to adulthood and through adulthood.

Nothing  better demonstrates the  natural tendency  of human beings to  remain racially distinct than the remarkably low rate of inter-racial breeding even  in circumstances  where there is every opportunity for  it,  most particularly in the great cities of Western Europe and  North  America, where the populations are increasingly varied and the prevailing  elite ideology positively encouraging of such liaisons.

Even   societies which have had very racially mixed populations for a long time  display a  remarkable  ability to maintain retain racial distinctions over  very long  periods  of time – Brazil is an excellent  example of  this,  with social class being very much graded by skin colour. To argue that racial difference is  not important to the choice of a mate is as absurd as arguing  that the attractiveness of a person is irrelevant to the choice of a  mate.

In  Freakonomics Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner  cite a study made of a  US dating site (the full story is on pp 80-84).  The site is one  of the  largest  in  the US and the data examined  covered  30,000  people equally  divided  between San Diego and Boston.   Most were  white  but there was a substantial minority of non-white subjects.

The  questionnaire the  would-be  daters had to  fill  in  included  a question  choice on race as “same as mine”  and “doesn’t matter”.   The study  compared  the responses  by white would-be  daters  (those  from non-white were not analysed) to these  questions with the race of  the emails  actually  sent soliciting a date.   The result  in  Levitt  and Dubner’s words was:

“Roughly  half of the white women on the site  and  80  percent  of  the white men declared that  race  didn’t  matter to them. But the response data tell a different story  The white men who said that race didn’t  matter sent  90  percent of  their e-mail  queries  to  white women. The  white women who said race  didn’t  matter sent about 97 percent of their e-mail queries to white men.

“Is  it  possible that race really didn’t  matter  for  these  white women and men and that they simply  never  happened  to browse a non-white date  that  interested them?”

Or,  more likely, did they say that race didn’t matter  because they wanted to come across  especially  to potential mates of their own race as open-minded?”

In short, around 99% of all the women and 94%  of all men in the sample were  not  willing  to  seek a  date of a  different  race.   How  much stronger  will  be  the tendency to refuse to breed with a  mate  of  a different race?

Another  way  of testing the desire to remain racially separate  is  to look at social class and inter-racial  breeding. The higher up the social scale a  person is the less likely they are to have a partner of a  different race – if you doubt this try to find examples of the rich and  powerful who  have  a  partner of a different race. Those who  have the most choice overwhelmingly choose members of their own racial type, despite the fact that they have the protection of their wealth and position  to shield their spouses and children  from the effects of racial discrimination.

If sexual desire will not commonly override the natural disinclination to remain racially separate nothing will.

The fact of identifiable races

The  fact  that  humans  have external  racial  differences  which  are sufficiently distinct to allow  people throughout the world to  broadly categorise an individual into categories such as  white and  black is in  itself  indicative of the innate human tendency to  breed with those who are racially similar, even though for several thousands of years large human populations of different racial types have existed in close proximity. If  human beings did not have an innate preference for those who racially resemble themselves, humanity  would have bred itself  into something approaching a uniform racial type, at least in those parts of the  world  which  were not very isolated – different  races  have  had regular  and  numerous  contact  with each other  for  at  least  three thousand years. The alternative explanation to an innate tendency is the truly fantastic one that Man everywhere spontaneously developed cultural barriers to breeding which had nothing to do with any innate tendency. If anything is a social construct it is not race but the liberal idea that Man is a single species.

Race is  much stronger as a mediator of who to mate with than ethnic (cultural) difference – think of the very  high proportion of those in Britain who have Irish/Welsh/Scottish/English mixed ancestry. Nonetheless, ethnic differences are culturally potent amongst racially similar populations. For example, on either side of the England/Scotland border,  the inhabitants  born and raised close to the border retain Scots and English accents even though they may have lived their entire lives only a few miles apart.

Because the tendency to mate with those of a similar race is so strong  and universal,  both in place and time, it is reasonable to conclude  that the  behaviour  is innate and that cultures  necessarily include  the requirement for a member of the society to be of a certain racial type. The  consequence of this is that someone of a different racial type  is effectively precluded from full integration because one of the criteria for  belonging has not been met.  That is not to say,  of course,  that many  of the habits of mind of an alien culture may not be  adopted  by someone  of  a  different race.  What is withheld  is  the  instinctive acceptance  of the alien and his or her descendants  as members of  the society. Just as no human being can decide for themselves that they are a member of this or that group, no individual can decide that they belong to this or that nation because it is a two-way process: the other members of the group they wish to join have to accept them as a true member of the group. (Stephen Frears the English  film director once wryly remarked that he had known the actor Daniel Day-Lewis “before he was Irish”).

Assortative mating

There is a widespread  biological behaviour  known as assortative mating.   Members  of  sexually reproducing  animals  select  mates  by certain criteria.  In that much loved laboratory animal,  the fruit  fly drosophila,  this may be the number  of sternopleural bristles;  in Man it  includes  many criteria including racial type.  Other  human  prime assortative criteria are size, intelligence, education and class.  Some of  these criteria such as education and class are more clearly  linked to  nurture  than  Nature,  but even they can be  direct  or  indirect expressions  of   qualities which are at least largely innate  such  as intelligence. I  say  direct  or  indirect  because  the  beneficial qualities  may not be in the individual, for those with  superior education and high social class may lack the  innate qualities of their parents  or earlier ancestors and their privileged position may  simply be a residue of the superior innate abilities of their parents or other ancestors.

For the purposes of inter-racial mating, size,  intelligence, education and  class all come into play. There are clear average  differences  of size  between the three major races:  blacks largest,  whites  in  the middle and Asians smallest.  This would mean that on average members of one  racial  group  would be less likely to choose  another  member  of another racial group. The differences in IQ would have the same effect, with  blacks  being  less likely to mate with the  other  two  races because their IQ is further removed from them than  they are from  each other. Differences in IQ will also be reflected, directly or indirectly in  educational achievement and social class and hence in  mating, for example,  if a minority population of blacks amidst a  majority  white population  have proportionately  more people of low education and  low social  class than the white majority,  something which  should  happen other  things  being equal because of their inferior  IQ  distribution, they are less likely to mate with members of the white majority simply on the grounds of education and class.

The hopeless and dangerous quest for behavioural change

The lead author of the two studies Dr. Kang Lee has no doubts about the  scope and power of racial preference,  but  like so many  academics who  work  in the field of racial difference  he wants to try to fit his findings into a politically correct shape, viz:

“Implicit racial biases tend to be subconscious, pernicious, and insidious. It permeates almost all of our social interactions, from health care to commerce, employment, politics, and dating. Because of that, it’s very important to study where these kinds of biases come from and use that information to try and prevent racial biases from developing,” he said…..

“These findings thus point to the possibility that aspects of racial bias later in life may arise from our lack of exposure to other-race individuals in infancy,” …

“If we can pinpoint the starting point of racial bias, which we may have done here, we can start to find ways to prevent racial biases from happening,” he said.

“An important finding is that infants will learn from people they are most exposed to,” added lead writer  Dr. Xiao, indicating that parents can help prevent racial bias by, for example, introducing their children to people from a variety of races.

The idea that babies could  be programmed to not differentiate between different racial types is practically impossible .  The impracticalities range from most people not having ready   access to people of other races or the social contact which might allow babies to experience people of other races to the fact that there are in practice many different racial types  beyond the basic racial classifications of white, black and so on, for example, an Ethiopian  looks radically different from a Nigerian and a Mongolian very different from a Han Chinese.   In short, the idea that showing babies people of different  races would not condition them to react to all racial  types in the same manner.  Moreover, is it realistic to imagine that people would generally  be willing to seek out those of a different race to accustom their children to  different races? I think that most people would think that extremely improbable.  What then, state coercion to force such  associations?

The experiments also leave some important questions untested.   What happens with  mixed race babies  where the parents are not mixed race?  For example, how  would a child born of a white father and black mother respond to such an experiment?  Or how about a child born of a black father and a Chinese mother?

The belief that behaviour which is innate can be eradicated  is downright dangerous because an innate behaviour evolves for a good reason. The reason for the preference in this case is to  maintain  the integrity of the group to which the individual belongs.   If it was possible to change the bias towards those of the same race the logical result would be to weaken the group to which  an individual  belonged.

It is also extraordinarily  difficult to see how such a change might be effected  because if the behaviour is innate by definition it would be what the individual  naturally wants to do.  If pressed on the subject the politically correct would say it was a matter of education,  by which they mean indoctrination or brainwashing. This of course is what many Western elites have been practising for the past fifty years or more as they have  gradually placed  political correctness at the centre of  Western  politics. But despite the immense attempt at politically correct indoctrination (which begins in schools at a very young age) mixed with threats of penalties such as the loss of jobs, the exclusion from most public offices and  criminal charges  for saying politically incorrect things , preference for those of the same race has remained stubbornly unmoveable amongst most of those upon whom the indoctrination  has been  practised.

But the politically correct  indoctrination and threats  are not  even handedly  applied.  In the West it is the white native populations which bear the brunt of these practices.  Indeed, racial  and ethnic minorities are effectively left unmolested by the politically correct.  The result is to  allow these minorities to  have free rein to still exercise the innate preference for those of the  same race and by extension the  same ethnicity, while the white native populations are constantly denigrated and increasingly punished by the state and the mass media if they  attempt to do the same, namely, to  favour their own racial type and their own cultural practices.  The result is to strengthen the racial and ethnic minorities in the West and to weaken the native populations.

Of course most people amongst the native white populations of the West will supply the politically correct words when they are in  public but it is remarkable that so many native white people , including those with a public profile, do breach the politically correct  diktats, something which is doubly remarkable because of all the politically incorrect sins it is those which deal with race and ethnicity which attract the heaviest penalties. The fact that people so often behave in such a politically incorrect fashion when it comes to race and ethnicity tells its own story, namely, they still have the innate preference for their own race and ethnicity and the attempt to make them deny this, or at least pretend to deny it,   produces a kind of emotional claustrophobia which results in a politically incorrect transgression.

Perhaps in the future it may be possible to genetically change the way human being relate to those of a different race but there is no sign of any  possibility of that at present. But suppose it was possible, how could such a profound alteration in the human psyche be embraced by any society which called itself free or democratic?

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