Saturday, 16 June 2018

Andrew Neil and Michael Portillo beat up a befuddled old man (AC Grayling) on live TV - why did no one call 999?

The elderly philosopher somewhat redeemed himself...

...after what must have been a dreadful ordeal by posting this characteristically gracious tweet:
Ah yes - the old "when they go low, we go high" strategy. 

Grayling is often described as "Britain's leading philosopher". That, of course, is incorrect. Britain's leading philosopher - as any fule kno - is Sir Roger Scruton, who I was privileged to have as my philosophy supervisor at university. I still remember that day, some 45 years ago, when he proffered  this excellent advice: "Scott, me old son, as you're evidently fated to become one of the outstanding thinkers of our era, let me offer you the following tip:  if you're ever made to look an absolute arse on national television by people you evidently consider your intellectual inferiors, your best response is to launch a whiny, mean-spirited, ad hominem attack on them. Whatever you do, don't put forward any rational arguments, and never for one moment even consider the possibility that you might be wrong. I mean, where would we be if philosophers suddenly started questioning their own irrational prejudices?"

Judging by AC Grayling's behaviour, one can only presume that he received similar advice in his youth. 

I'm not absolutely sure that "Last laugh still to be seen" actually makes sense, but if (as I suspect) the prof is implying that Brexit will never happen (at least, not any meaningful version of it), I suspect that he's correct. The House of Commons is evidently crawling with politicians whose contempt for democracy matches that regularly displayed by the unelected gauleiters of the EU. Or by AC Grayling, come to that.


  1. Grayling has been filmed advising the EU to offer us the worst deal imaginable so that the British people will turn it down. If he gets his way that's exactly what they'll do.
    What an arrogant ass!

    1. The one thing I really will never understand about people like Grieve is why they spent so much time and effort getting in to Parliament - and staying there - if they're so keen on unelected foreign bureaucrats imposing laws on this country. Do they really want to end up as members of a powerless debating club? And do they seriously imagine that, if Britain wasn't already in the EU, the British people would now vote to join it, given its current prospects, and given that we now know for certain that the end-game is an undemocratic, borderless European superstate run for the benefit of German industry and French farming?

  2. There is every chance that Roger gave precisely that advice to Anthony Clifford G. They worked together for years at Birkbeck.

    Andrew Neil "goaded" Anthony Cliffor G by asking for the evidence supporting the contention that Brexiteers had been manipulated by the Russians. Mr G didn't have any evidence. That's not goading. That's interviewing ...

    ... and getting a surprising result from someone who goes on to try to appeal to the scientific method. Research scientists start with a hypothesis, Mr G started to say, and then they set out to prove it or at least disprove it – the opposite of what Mr G is doing which is to assume that the hypothesis is true without, evidence.

    A dreadful performance.

    And hugely enjoyable.

    1. I don't know about you, but if the silly old twit keeps destroying the reputation of philosophy with his irrational outbursts, I'm going to start claiming to have a degree in Geography or Media Studies - I don't want people automatically assuming I can't think straight!

    2. It's a worry.

      I was once the beneficiary of Jungian reverse synchronicity. I booked the family in to see Prof Grayling lecturing at the Cambridge alumni weekend several decades ago on the subject 'What is a scientist?' ...

      ... only to find on the day that we were to be hugely entertained by Prof Sir Michael Frayling who gave examples of how scientists followed Hollywood. He showed a photograph of Einstein before a Hollywood film with a mad scientist in it came out. Albert E looked like a boring patent office clerk with neatly brushed hair. Then a photograph of Mr mc² after the film came out – hair all over the place, eye focus plaited.

      Thank you Carl Gustav for saving us.

  3. aWikipedia on the corn laws:

    In 1820, the Merchants' Petition, written by Thomas Tooke, was presented to the House of Commons. The petition demanded free trade and an end to protective tariffs. The Prime Minister, Lord Liverpool, who (falsely) claimed to be in favour of free trade, blocked the petition. He argued, speciously, that complicated restrictions made it difficult to repeal protectionist laws. He added, though, that he believed Britain's economic dominance grew in spite of, not because of, the protectionist system. In 1821 the President of the Board of Trade, William Huskisson, composed a Commons Committee report which recommended a return to the "practically free" trade of the pre-1815 years ...

    1. 1846 and all that

      All very interesting, you may say, but why is this Moss person rabbiting on about the Corn Laws?


      Has there ever been anything like it? Anything which has engaged the entire British public and sown so much discord? Anything which has so split political parties? Anything so important and difficult?

      Historians will correct me but, answer, my guess, the agonies of the Corn Laws.

      For 31 years 1815-1846 all us Brits had to pay way over the odds for bread and other staples because it was supposed to be good for the economy (especially if you happened to be a large-scale arable farmland owner).

      And for 31 years Westminster argued to and fro until like a bolt from the blue Peel defied two-thirds of his own party and repealed the wretched laws.

      At which point free trade happened and prices went down and wages went up and the economy did rather well, project fear eat your heart out.

      That was then. And now? Is there a lesson there, in history? Customs unions are bad, so are tariffs, and free trade works?

      We've managed to emulate the incompetence of so many post-Napoleonic politicians and officials. Can we now also emulate the outcome, please?

      It's that or vassal statehood, "remain" in the sense of regaining the status quo ante isn't on the menu, even some "remainers" agree.

      The choice is becoming easier by the day.

    2. That is a very interesting point, Mr Moss. What is POTUS's steel tariff but a contemporary version of the Corn Law, with imports deliberately priced out of the market to protect domestic interests? However, that illustrates a wider point, which is that there is little appetite globally for free trade other than on the part of consumers panting for all those lovely cheap shoes and frocks made in Bangladesh sweat shops. Most countries operate some sort of tariff system and have in place other barriers to trade, either individually or collectively, most obviously in the giant Masonic lodge that is the EU. These are difficult to dismantle. even if there is the will to do so.

      One of the odd things about the Brexit debate is how quickly it has turned into a damage limitation exercise. There are very few people advocating an obvious option to give the people what they appear to have voted for, which is to try and turn us into a low tax, light regulation, business-friendly trading economy free from as many international obligations as we can manage. Instead we appear to be heading for one of the various existing EU-lite models, with perhaps one or two pricey add-ons just for us.

      Sadly, the choice doesn't appear to be becoming easier by the day, unless you are seriously considering emigration.

    3. The Corn Laws analogy does indeed seem apposite. It split the Tory Party back then, just as the EU (or EC or EEC) has been threatening to do pretty much ever since the darn thing came into existence. The Conservative Party has been anti-free trade for much of its existence: I don't think Tony Benn was altogether wrong when he described Mrs. Thatcher as more of a Manchester Liberal than a traditional Conservative. As for what Mrs. May believes in - God knows! Perhaps she'll actually get round to telling us one day.

      As for what sort of Brexit (if any) we end up with, I'm beginning to suspect that the EU will have collapsed and Britain will have been renamed NHSland before we get a chance to find out!

    4. Good article by Juliet Samuel in today's Telegraph.

      Today's debate is framed as "Brexiteers" v. "Remainers". Evident from Ms Samuel's article, "Remain" is a dish no longer on the menu, it is impossible to go back to 22 June 2016 and any suggestion that it is possible is a deception.

      The choice is now "Brexiteers" v. "Vassals". Use of the word "Remain" and all its cognates needs to be contested.

      Given a meaningful vote, even parliament might reject "Vassal".

    5. Thanks for that, Ex-KCS. Emigration, no. You're right of course about the damage limitation atmosphere, the absence of any attempt at a statement of the positive possibilities. Like one of those picnics where everyone thought someone else was bringing the corkscrew, there was no vision when we opened the hamper, let alone a plan.

      As I understand it, Prime Ministers do what their Cabinet Secretary tells them to do. So when David Cameron told Sir Jeremy not to prepare plans for Brexit, that was Sir Jeremy instructing himself. Culpably badly, history will say, while acting for Theresa May as well. After all, he and his colleagues might actually have known what to do.

      If you are politely trying to elicit my useful recommendations, I'm afraid I must disappoint you. No Lee Kuan Yew, I.