Many British conservatives look at America’s Republican Party with envy. They have a slate of talented potential candidates for the 2024 US general election, and what with increasing numbers of Hispanics and black Americans voting for the GOP, they are likely to triumph in this year’s midterm elections in the face of a crumbling Biden administration that has pandered to the left over trans and cultural issues. They are also confronting many other problems that have started to destroy America’s self-confidence such as critical race theory and Black Lives Matter. It is a good time to be an American conservative right now.
Compared to the Republicans, the British Conservative Party is like the black sheep of the Western conservative family. Anyone who did their research on Boris Johnson before he gained the highest office in the land, such as me, knew his time as prime minister would be short and full of scandal. Those who knew this Conservative leadership race was inevitable suspected that the selection of candidates to replace Boris would be underwhelming. But there was one person who changed this year’s Tory leadership election: Kemi Badenoch.
It was always unlikely that she was going to win. Kemi was an equalities minister, an unknown government position. Her profile was quite low before she entered the race. I have no doubt that she wanted to win the Tory leadership contest and implement the changes she talked about. However, arrogant Tory MPs thought they knew best and eliminated her. The truth is that she was too radical for them. Regardless, she has transformed Conservative leadership races forever.
The reason why I made a reference to the culture wars the Republicans are fighting in the US above is because the UK is facing the same issue, and whilst Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak were clashing over the best way to generate growth, Kemi was the only candidate to discuss the impact of political correctness on Britain. As Louise Perry wrote for The New Statesman, she is a black woman from Nigeria who is resistant to groupthink.
Perry further explains that it wasn’t the fact that Badenoch is a black conservative that distinguished her from her talentless rivals; it was because she demonstrated how wrong her critics are about the assumptions often made about ethnic minority individuals in politics. She does not succumb to groupthink on Black Lives Matter in Britain, which would have made her the perfect person to take on that group’s victimhood mentality. They believe black people are victims of institutional racism. Their influence over British politics has increased since the death of George Floyd, and whilst the gutless Keir Starmer bent the knee for Black Lives Matter, Badenoch never did. If she became leader of the Conservative Party and prime minister, she would have proved the UK does not have a problem when it comes to institutional racism.
Furthermore, Badenoch had a plan to deal with political correctness. She is against gender-neutral toilets and she is opposed to throwing money at staff wellbeing coordinators (whatever they are). Despite being an immigrant herself, she also pledged to end the illegal Channel crossings that Boris has failed to deal with. Badenoch said she would do ‘whatever it takes’ to tackle illegal immigration, and in my opinion, that is a huge hint that she would have eventually pulled the UK out of the European Convention of Human Rights that thwarted the recent Rwanda flights. She stood out as a woman of principle, unlike Penny Mordaunt who proved to be nothing more than a fraud by reversing her previous pro-trans positions.
As a result of her anti-PC stance, Badenoch enthused the Tory membership base. There were numerous ‘Back Badenoch’ hashtags on Conservative Party members’ Twitter profiles, which further disproves Black Lives Matter’s theory on institutional racism because a mostly white, middle-aged party was so excited about the prospect of a Nigerian black lady becoming Tory leader. Her ideas were music to their ears.
And it is no wonder they were so enthused by Badenoch’s ideas. As Frank Feudi wrote for Sp!ked, Boris’s record on tackling political correctness is dreadful. Whilst he remained opposed to trans ideology in principle, last October him and his wife Carrie attended a Stonewall event at Conservative Party Conference, an organisation that has done more than any other to impose trans ideas upon society. Tucker Carlson also claimed Boris’s failure was that he did not govern like Trump, who took a tough stance towards the culture wars throughout his presidency. Boris even said himself he did not want to engage in a culture war. It is no wonder his cowardice paved the way for excitement about Badenoch amongst Conservative activists.
The Conservative Party is heading for defeat in 2024. Though Labour might not win a majority, I cannot see either Truss or Sunak being able to reverse the damage Boris has inflicted upon the political system and this country. They have been in power for too long and the lack of originality from the two remaining leadership candidates shows they are out of ideas. Their best outcome before 2024 would be to lose to a Labour-led government, retain a reasonable number of seats so that they can win again in 2028 or 2029, and elect Badenoch to provide the Tories with some fresh thinking and new policy positions.
It is a relief to say that the Conservatives have finally found a refreshing new candidate with bold ideas. Nonetheless, it is a pity that out-of-touch Tory MPs felt that she was not leadership material this year, and that they knew better than their members who help them get elected. The Conservatives would be wise to at least provide Badenoch with a cabinet position. But for now, they have made a dreadful mistake and they deserve to lose in 2024. The Tories can only redeem themselves by electing Badenoch as leader in the aftermath of an embarrassing electoral defeat.
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By Dustin Lovell — 4 months ago
California—The Golden State. Land of sunshine, Hollywood, and endless beaches, and destination for tourists from all over the world, especially for those seeking to get away from colder climes during the winter holidays.
However, for residents, over the past decade such California dreamin’ has become more and more just that—a dream. I usually try to resist writing America-centric articles, but, as a CA native living in Los Angeles County, I feel the need to warn friends and readers in other parts of the world about what is actually going on here, especially as vacation season approaches. While for most people life is generally fine outside of the city centers, crime, homelessness, and their economic consequences are becoming less avoidable, and I feel it incumbent on me to dispel the naive idea that Hollywood is anything like in the movies.
But before laying out examples of what’s going on here, I’ll lay out the policies and figures that have allowed, if not encouraged, such things to grow, especially over the past couple of election cycles. While not exhaustive, nor the beginning of the state’s problems, the main culprits for the current state of affairs are Proposition 47, so-called zero-cash bail, and Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, all of which amount to a gross machine that benefits criminals at the expense of law-abiding citizens.
Touted, in Orwellian irony, as the Safe Neigborhoods and Schools Act, and partly authored by then San Francisco DA Gascon, 2014’s Prop 47 ‘reduces’ crime by downgrading ‘nonviolent’ crimes and drug possession from felonies to misdemeanors. Written against a 30-year-fermented spectre of the 1980s’ War on Drugs, Prop 47 was presented to a seemingly more sympathetic and enlightened public as a way to address the costs and racial disparities of prison overcrowding (the construction of more prisons being apparently both too expensive and too stigmatizing). Simply put (and, depending on where one is, common to see), shoplifting items is no longer a felony so long as they’re under $950, and drug possession, even of drugs like Rohypnol and fentanyl, would now count as a misdemeanors. In practice, the law has led to the release of repeat offenders, who continue to convey drugs and fill trashbags with less than $950 in merchandise to presumably be kept or fenced elsewhere.
Prop 47’s effects have been compounded by the state’s elimination of cash bail for suspects picked up by police. Usually, if a suspect cannot pay bail, they must wait in prison until their arraignment; zero-cash bail means those arrested for misdemeanor and non-violent felonies (with ‘non-violent’ covering a lot of ground that many argue it shouldn’t) can be released same-day, to the bewilderment of their victims and the disheartening of the cops who arrested them. In its initial form as part of the emergency policies from CA’s 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns (its then iteration put in place to protect already jailed prisoners from the virus by keeping it out amongst the public), zero-cash bail led, like Prop 47, to an almost immediate rise in repeat offenders. After ending in July, 2022, it was reinstated in May, 2023, with a grace period before later reimplementation, when an LA County Superior Court judge ruled detaining offenders ‘solely for the reason of their poverty’ to be unconstitutional (with ‘solely’ arguably covering even more ground than the above ‘non-violent’). While, since it went back into effect a month ago, only three percent of arrests were due to repeat offenders (a three percent that could have been prevented), twelve cities are, nonetheless, suing the county to get rid of the program. With little immediate consequence beyond a slap on the wrist, and benefitting from the DA Office’s backlog of over 10,000 cases yet to be filed, offenders old and new have predictably been emboldened to commit new crimes before they have even been charged for previous ones.
Of course, zero-cash bail was not an invention of 2020; it had been pushed for years by progressive advocates of judicial reform who allege bail to be an unfair punishment of the poor and minorities. Like Prop 47, zero-cash bail was sold to voters as the best means to provide equity for disenfranchised communities unfairly oppressed by supposedly too harsh sentencing and too costly bail schedules. This perspective is maintained by many voters, as well as the politicians they elect and reelect. One such politician is, of all people, LA’s current District Attorney.
Another tool in LA’s soft-on-crime machine, DA George Gascon moved south after pushing empathy-based policies in San Francisco, to spectacular lasting effect, to spread the same. On his election, Gascon declared that his office would not prosecute criminal enhancements—felony firearm possession, gang affiliation, multiple-strikes status, &c—that would require adding jail time to conviction, and that he also planned to retroactively review even death-row cases to remove such enhancements to give lighter sentences. Such a blanket refusal to enforce established criminal law would, one would think, seem tantamount to a de facto cancelation of it—something under the purview of legislature and courts, but not an executive. Either way, with such radicalism Gascon started his tenure being lenient on criminals, present and past, while working against law enforcement and public safety.
Put in place to ostensibly reduce prison populations and mitigate racial disparities in conviction numbers, Prop 47, zero-cash bail, and Gascon’s backwards approach to crime have had effects visible across the state, but especially in inner cities. One of the most glaring effects has been the growth of homeless encampments on sidewalks, in vacant lots, and under road overpasses. Freed from the worry that their drug habits and the theft that supports them will land them a felony, and assured they will be quickly released if they actually do get picked up, the homeless have become a local fixture in LA over the past decade. Indeed, even in Pasadena, a veritable Hollywood Producers’ Row, one can now see tarps, trash, and transients, the forward envoys of future encampments. Whether any countervailing NIMBYism towards this new ad hoc infrastructure will provoke residents to change their voting habits remains to be seen, but more on that below.
While most residents and tourists can avoid the fire and biohazards posed by these encampments, there are, nonetheless, the dangers posed to people and businesses, with immediate as well as lasting effects. Contrary to the romantic stereotypes behind the policies, the participants in the current crime wave are far from the downtrodden Jean Valjeans and Aladdins that many predominantly Democrat CA voters sympathetically assume. As could have been (and was) predicted by anyone to the right of the Prime Minister who is allegedly not Castro’s illegitimate son, leniency towards crime has produced more of it, with smash-and-grab thefts, often during business hours, becoming a daily occurrence (for example this, or these, or yet this, or this, or that, or this, or this, et cetera). And theft always carries the implicit threat of violence, as the manager of my local Ralph’s grocery store learned when confronting a thief this past September. Because of stories like this, chain store employees have been ordered not to engage with thieves so as to avoid insurance liability, reinforcing the sense of entitlement displayed by thieves (property and business insurance is a whole other topic I don’t have time to explore; in short, by rendering businesses uninsurable, the above policies are precluding future entrepreneurship in the state touted, for now, as the world’s fifth largest economy).
After putting even basic necessities under lock and key did not work, retail mammoths like Target have, predictably, shut down or plan to shut down CA locations. Furthermore, food spots as seemingly staid as Starbucks are starting to pull out due to safety concerns. In addition to removing day-to-day resources (and revenue) from inner cities, stores that theoretically have the most to gain from tourists are leaving them bereft of amenities—from coffee and food to toiletries to diapers to medicine to everything else that might make their stays near key landmarks more enjoyable.
One might rightly say that with planning and situational awareness most of the dangers surrounding in-store theft can be avoided. Indeed, while these are always one’s own responsibility, first, they are now expected by law enforcement. Displaying the ‘blaming the skirt’ mentality of Gascon’s approach to criminals and their victims, LA police earlier this year advised people not to wear jewelry in public. Unfortunately, in addition to punishing locals with the consequences of their actions (both in what they wear and in whom they vote for), such approaches affect visitors, too. Tourists not keeping up with LA politics may not have heard the advice—and might suffer the consequences of their assuming a baseline of social trust in the City of Our Lady of the Angels.
And theft is not the only, or even worst, crime residents and visitors need to worry about. Indeed, while there are three years of incidents to choose from, two recent cases show just what DA Gascon thinks of law-abiding citizens in relation to criminals. In September an adult woman harassed and beat up a thirteen-year-old after school at a McDonald’s. Despite her being caught on camera by multiple witnesses, the woman’s sentence was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor at the request of DA Gascon, whose office cited the fact that the teenager may have escalated the interaction—presumably by putting her hands up to protect her face—thus expanding the above skirt-blaming to apply to underage girls. In a more recent case that’s perhaps too close to the above idiom for comfort, a woman in Long Beach was sexually assaulted in broad daylight by a homeless man who, grinning with pants unzipped, lifted her dress and thrusted against her so vigorously that it knocked her down before he was pepper sprayed and chased off by a bystander.
Despite the man’s having been caught on camera, and despite its being against the requests of Long Beach City Prosecutor (who, in his request for a felony charge, had to coddle to the DA’s sympathy for criminals by emphasizing the rehabilitation the man would receive), Gascon initially charged the man with a misdemeanor for sexual assault (presumably for the groping) and vandalism, citing the lack of evidence of the man’s intent to actually commit felony rape. The decision’s having provoked outrage from many directions, the DA eventually charged the man with a felony, but the fact that this was not the initial charge speaks to the disconnect between Gascon and the cities and citizens he has sworn to protect. What more the DA’s office needed to discern a man’s intent than his pressing his exposed member against a woman’s backside I won’t presume to know, but one thing is clear: despite claiming, in campaigns, to stand for children and women, DA Gascon sees them both as culpable when attacked, and treats violence against the latter the same as mere property crime.
One should not miss the correlation between that last story and public transit. Tourists expecting LA public transit to be like that of their home countries should be warned: it is now a truism that to ride public transit is to risk being harassed, which, now, always carries the threat of violence. While such occurrences certainly precede the last decade (I’ve personally witnessed them when riding the subway), stabbings on and near public transit are becoming more frequent. Indeed, incidents of violence are so frequent on transit that drivers and conductors do not even stop for them, even when it places LA Metro in legal liability. Granted, at this rate if they stopped for every instance of crime they’d never get anywhere.
Such stories can leave one wondering where the police are in all this. The answer? Just as frustrated as the rest of us. Predictably, LA’s legal leniency to crime, added to the extra scrutiny on police across the country (see ‘the Ferguson Effect’), has left many police discouraged and looking elsewhere for work, if not retiring early, with few willing to fill their vacated positions. One would imagine this would cause celebration among the ‘abolish the police’ lobby (a formidable presence in LA—a recently elected member of the City Council openly advocates the policy direction). However, the dearth in law enforcement has prompted the city to raise law enforcement pay and bonuses to entice people to take the, sadly, thankless job.
And, again predictably, the lack of police protection will more and more be filled by citizens willing to defend themselves. Recently, when a man came into their jewelry store armed with a hammer and a can of bear mace, one family did just that. Interviewed on local talk radio, one of the family members articulated what many are feeling across the county: ‘We had to do something…I don’t feel secure anymore in this city…These people are robbing because they don’t want to work, not because they were born poor…I don’t think it’s fair, you know?…Politicians are not working in favor [of] the small [business] owners or [of] the regular citizens. They’re just working in favor of [criminals], you know?’ This sentiment is felt by others; on hearing the DA would not initially treat her incident as attempted rape, the Long Beach woman mentioned above has purchased a taser and plans to get a gun permit. She is part of a growing number of voters from the usually pro-gun-control LA who are rediscovering the value of the Second Amendment—a trend only augmented by the Jewish community after the outbursts of antisemitism following Hamas’s attack on Israel.
As I’ve mentioned, such policies and perspectives are advocated in the name of reducing prison populations and mitigating disparities of minority representation in crime statistics. If you’re a liberal progressive who wants to be the virtuous hero and get rid of systemic racism, you’ll vote for these policies! What are you, a RaCiSt TrUmP sUpPoRtEr?! And, indeed, this is effective political rhetoric in California; unable to shake the cast of being, as the Governor claimed his own 2021 recall was a solely partisan Republican plot (somehow possible in a majority Democrat state, in a county with even higher Dem. percentage).
Gascon’s two previous recalls failed to garner enough signatures to oust the man. As I hope I’ve shown, this has mainly been a win for criminals, not voters—primarily minority. This, unfortunately, is a common story. Like many well-intentioned progressive policies that lead down the primrose path, soft-on-crime approaches to public safety meant to allegedly help minorities have ended up hurting them the most, Black and Hispanic people making up the wide majority of LA’s violent crime victims.
Thankfully, the recalls for Gascon were not the final word, and, with the effects of his policies being harder to ignore, Gascon will, hopefully, be replaced in Spring 2024 by a tougher-on-crime candidate (which is a low bar at this point). However, that would depend on voters’ connecting the dots between policy and outcome, as well as placing their own public safety over rhetorical kneejerks and partisan allegiance. I have encouraged my own liberal friends that, things having moved so far left in California, to consider voting for other policies and candidates—even, *gasp*, Republicans—would not be hypocritical but, rather, completely consistent with their values. Nonetheless, part of my optimism often involves the belief that, yes, things can always get worse, and that sometimes they have to for people to learn.
I usually hesitate to blithely throw around the word ‘tragic,’ tragedy requiring the added element of some kind of fateful choice or circumstance that produces the unfortunate outcome, but in California’s case I think the adjective fits—but not simply because we’re getting the policies and persons we voted for. In fact, California’s political elite has a history of ignoring voter decisions. While CA Attorney General, current Vice President Kamala Harris refused to defend her own state’s law (affirmed twice by voters) identifying marriage as being between a man and a woman when it was brought before the Supreme Court. Similarly, despite CA citizens’ voting in 2016, albeit by narrow margins, to speed up the penalty process rather than repeal the death penalty, when our Governor of One Hairstyle but Many Nicknames (Nuisance, Newsolini, Newscum, Gruesom…) entered office in 2019 he placed a moratorium on the death penalty, regarding his own personal predilections as trumping state law. DA Gascon is, thus, in good (or bad) company.
If anything, the tragedy of California is in our naively following the same, ever-sweetening pied piper songs of those we elect without recognizing the ever-souring and more dangerous opposite direction in which they are leading us—and not ousting them when they directly ignore our decisions.
While informing CA readers of what’s going on in LA County and convincing some to reconsider their voting patterns would be a great boon, this article’s focus is, in the end, on warning those outside of the state about what to expect should they choose to visit. Don’t get me wrong: I love southern California, which is why I am so saddened and angered by the direction it has gone—and did not need to go. Furthermore, my love stops when it places people in danger, and it behooves me and other Californians to try to prevent others from being victimised by our choices. With a lack of public law and order, things have gotten much less predictable in LA, and, while residents who have not left the state may have the werewithal to handle it, visitors expecting Hollywood to align with their expectations may be in for a rude awakening.
Even scenic outlooks far from the city center are not free from threat, much less the freeways through the inner city. Popular food spots, from restaurants to taco trucks, now carry more risk of crime, and, while some efforts to reduce the presence of homeless encampments are moving forward, housing advocates and opponents of programs like 2020’s Project Roomkey are contending over whether to require all hotels in the city to fill unbooked rooms with homeless individuals, possibly landing future tourists in rooms next to drug addicts. Add to all of this the artificially (because of taxes) high gas prices, toxic algae and sewage at select beaches (and, what with runoff from the homeless encampments, virtually the whole coast after a rain), and unavoidable looneys apparently confused about when Pride Month is, and Hollywood is a very different town than is portrayed in its movies.
Nonetheless, if people are intent on coming to California, they can certainly have a wonderful time—there is a lot to see and much fun to be had. With Pacific Coast Highway running along the ocean from Santa Monica to Monterey, as well as the High Sierras and Yosemite, the Redwoods, and Death Valley (ironically one of the state’s safer places to visit), California is made for road trips. Locations like San Diego’s Balboa Park and nearby Zoo, Pasadena’s Huntington Library and Gardens (which, among other exhibits, boasts prints of Shakespeare from his lifetime), and Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific are great for those wanting to see the sights while getting in their steps and tiring out their kids. There are also theme parks like Universal Studios, Six Flags Magic Mountain, and, of course, Disneyland. With prudence, planning, and flexibility, travelers can easily have a great time, so long as they avoid certain areas, keep their car doors locked, and watch their luggage until arriving at their hotel room. If one has access to previous visitors or a local who can direct them on which sights to see and which to skip, so much the better.
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By Sarah Stook — 4 months ago
“We, the undersigned student organizations, hold the Israeli regime entirely responsible for all unfolding violence.
Today’s events did not occur in a vacuum. For the last two decades, millions of Palestinians in Gaza have been forced to live in an open-air prison. Israeli officials promise to “open the gates of hell,” and the massacres in Gaza have already commenced. Palestinians in Gaza have no shelters for refuge and nowhere to escape. In the coming days, Palestinians will be forced to bear the full brunt of Israel’s violence.
The apartheid regime is the only one to blame. Israeli violence has structured every aspect of Palestinian existence for 75 years. From systematized land seizures to routine airstrikes, arbitrary detentions to military checkpoints, and enforced family separations to targeted killings, Palestinians have been forced to live in a state of death, both slow and sudden.
Today, the Palestinian ordeal enters into uncharted territory. The coming days will require a firm stand against colonial retaliation. We call on the Harvard community to take action to stop the ongoing annihilation of Palestinians.”
Authored by the Harvard Undergraduate Palestinian Solidarity Committee and co-signed by over thirty other student groups at the elite university, this statement has started to cause problems for its signatories.
Resignations have occurred. Groups have backtracked. Names have been sealed. Why? Because for once in their life, these kids are going to be on the receiving end of the anger that they often direct at others.
Responses to the horror in Israel have been varied. Whilst a good majority of people are horrified by the atrocities that have been committed, not everybody has been so sympathetic. Some have outright celebrated what has happened. Others have been more measured in their response, instead doing the ‘both sides’ tango that they are excellent at dancing.
Such an example is at play here. The students and societies at Harvard who wrote this letter may not have actually straight up endorsed the atrocities that have occurred, but they did lay the blame squarely at Israel’s feet.
The backlash has been sudden and all-encompassing. Academics, fellow students, businesses, politicians and all other types have roundly criticised the groups and students who signed this letter. Those who have been named have distanced themselves from the letter.
The list of groups and names have been removed from the statement in order to apparently protect them from repercussions. Unfortunately for them, the list remains readily accessible.
If these people were so sure of this viewpoint that they signed a statement such as this, it begs the question: why have they decided to step back?
It’s simple really. They’re terrified of facing the consequences that they demand of others.
Take for example a woman named Ryna Workman, President of the NYU Law Student Bar Association. Ms. Workman, who had been a summer associate of the prestigious Winston and Strawn law firm, had a job offer rescinded by them. She had written a statement online refusing to condemn the actions of Hamas, all while once again blaming Israel.
With such actions costing a student from a top college a job, it’s no wonder that those who signed the Harvard statement are melting away like the Wicked Witch of the West. These students attend the oldest and arguably most elite college in the US, and are primed for their pick of summer internships and jobs in some of the top organisations possible. If their names are attached to controversy, then their necks are on the line.
Considering Harvard students wish to permeate a culture in which one can easily be shunned for their actions, it’s fair that some might be unsympathetic to their plight. In 2020, students petitioned for any official in the Trump administration to be banned from engaging with the college in any official capacity. Its scores on self-censorship and free speech are abysmal. Students actively keep their opinions to themselves. Harvard is no bastion of freedom.
These students don’t care if other people suffer for their thoughts, but God forbid they can’t work for some human rights lawyer during the summer holidays.
For years, there have been people who have believed that the rules don’t apply to them. They have kept themselves on the right side of the opinion divide. Their voices have been the loudest. They’re the good guys. They’ve never had to worry about their views being scorned. They’ve always been safe. Now, however, they’ve crossed the line that they set down, and they’re reaping the consequences.
Considering how many presidents, members of Congress and Supreme Court Justices have attended Harvard, it’s more than likely that these students will be the ones running the country one day. Even if they’re not in the top branches of government, they’ll be the lawyers standing up in court.
Harvard is a place that opens doors. They don’t want those doors slammed in their face. It’s just a pity for them they’re the ones usually on the other side of that door.
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By Daniel French — 1 year ago
The King has allegedly asked the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to mediate in the current royal drama with a view to repairing things before the Coronation. Reading extracts of Prince Harry’s ‘Spare’ I can’t but help think that though this is intervention is to be welcomed there is a sense in which Harry is typical of a lot of modern men who have been let down by the one spiritual organisation that is meant to guide them over the pitfalls and perils of this mortal coil.
Harry’s complaint is that he is ‘spare heir’ and therefore a marginalised victim of the system, or what the royals dub ‘the Firm’. This is a difficult premise to swallow in the light of a life of opulent privilege. Anyone who takes up the daily recitation of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer will soon be confronted with a different of ‘spare’ that might as well come from another planet because it is so in-modern. “Spare thou them, O God, who confess their faults, restore thou them that are penitent.” If only Harry had been shown how to orientate his life on this concept of ‘spare’ things might have turned out differently.
Tragically Harry’s nuggets in ‘Spare’ betray an arid post-faith intellectual landscape where the classic virtues are absent. Humility, forgiveness, duty, sacrifice are sidelined whereas woke truisms and Californians therapy gobbledigook are at the fore. Did no one at Eton or in his confirmation classes drill in the Mosaic Ten commandments hanging up in many school chapels, least of all “Honour thy father and mother?” (Exodus 20.12) As he plotted with his ghost writer to disclose every petty family squabble did he not stop to weigh up the terrible dishonour it would bring to his father, the now present king? Perhaps those charged with his spiritual upbringing gave up too early? All indications from ‘Spare’ is that the teenage happy-go-lucky cheeky-chappy Harry was early on inhaling the wrong incense and needed a more bespoke approach to his religious instruction. As it is he now declares himself predictably as “spiritual but not religious.” Yawn!
To borrow from the gospel of Mark, for what shall it profit a man, if he shall gaineth the biggest deals with Netflix, Spotify and Random House, and lose his own soul? It’s easy to dismiss religion and then tune out the meatier questions because they do not suit or harmonize with the confectionary lite buffet that presents itself as DIY “spirituality”. What do I know anyway, I’m just a vicar? To Christ’s haunting question “What can he give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8.37) Harry’s industrious accountants have “done the maths” and monetized this to a balance sheet of around a quarter of a billion pounds, give or take.
If only Harry had embraced the manly faith of his late grandmother, Her Majesty the Queen, then he wouldn’t be sinking in a quagmire of seances, quack therapists, and crystal healers. They saw you coming, Harry! And, to add comedy to tragedy he is stupendously oblivious to the singular truth that is apparent to everyone else on the planet, ie, that this is not going to end well for him. The ton of cash from the books and TV series will not save his soul from disintegration. It will add to the mental inferno. He now stands at the event horizon of an implosion, a galactic supernova which is the all consuming black hole of his fragile ego. And yet who cannot forget that when his grandmother deployed ‘spare’ it was always in the context of the misfortune of others. “Let us this Christmas spare a thought for those in the world who are less fortunate than us.” Spare indeed.
I feel sorry for Harry because he is a victim. He is a victim not of any antics at Buckingham Palace but a victim of himself and his ego. He is his own worst oppressor. The pathetic thing is that we the plebs are all rather enjoying it. Hands up, I confess this has brightened things up from the rainy normal January blues along with the prospect of paying half my stipend on an exorbitant heating bill. That’s why Spare is flying off the shelves. It’s an Easterenderseque tittle-tattle of royal soap opera that makes our bored and wayward souls horny.
Could the Church have helped to prevent this? My worry is that the current Anglican iteration is so panicked about appealing to wokism that Harry probably wouldn’t have been able to distinguish it from his wife’s current expensive appetite for tree hugging West Coast workshops. “Commandments? Oh, don’t concern yourself too much, they are merely ‘suggestions’ Your Highness for lifestyle enhancements. ” Here is a man displaying a profound lack of Christian catechesis. He thinks he can have God on his own terms.
Maybe as Anglicans we should take the blame, as a religion we have failed him? Biblical fluency would have slammed the brakes on this kind of misadventure years ago. Regular and proper prayer would have constructed a spiritual fortress with a moat and a high vantage point that laughs off the psychological hobgoblins and foul fiends. In Spare Harry talks of an RE teacher at Eton walloping him with a heavy Bible. Clearly not hard enough.
Harry is typical of a lost generation of men starved of meaning and direction. He and those on the other end of the spectrum who drool over the ridiculous Andrew Tate, are like pelicans wandering a neon wilderness tapping at leftovers and carcasses. Whereas Harry has an army of sycophants and celebs to tell him what he wants to hear, these men and boys scuttle around the cyberspace of Tik-Tok, Instagram and Youtube to collect morsels of ready made prejudices. Some of the more intellectually inquiring find solace in New Atheism, but increasingly the gleeful nihilism of Dawkins adds up to little succor these days.
Most youngish men dropping into their Anglican parish church will soon realise that they are misfits in a club that struggles to connect with their concerns or knows what to do with them. Politically correct sermons are also a big turn off. The average vicar it seems has yet to learn from the Jordan Peterson rockstar phenomenon which points to younger generations (men and women) lining up in their thousands for a psychologically full-on wrestling of a demanding meaning to life. This is why he packs auditoriums whereas many of us have half empty churches. Key to this is inverting the victimhood narrative and saying instead “Get your house in order and be a positive force in the world, by the grace of God, you can do it.”
Tragically the Anglican existential need to cosy up to the culture zeitgeist can put it on the wrong side of history, repeatedly. Just over a hundred years ago vicars and bishops casually deployed eye watering jingoistic rhetoric from their pulpits to rally this same constituency of young men to the trenches. The most infamous being the manipulative monster that was Arthur Winnington-Ingram, the bishop of London. He gleefully toured the country and packed churches where he signed up sixteen year olds to the Front. His crazed sermons including rants of “Kill the Hun!” Thank God we can’t imagine Sarah Mullaly or Justin Welby doing this. But, it does at least highlight there was a period in history where young men and princes like Harry Windsor were seen as the saviours of our civilisation even if the salvific work they were asked to shoulder was in reality a big con, an industrial scale slaughterhouse.
Having dipped my toe in the media world I now find myself at the receiving end of a mailbag of letters and emails mostly from Millennials, men (but not exclusively) around Harry’s age and lower who have found Christianity afresh. For various reasons lockdown prompted a considerable number to reevaluate the old faith. Typically they are rebels and misfits who find that the best way to dissent from the woke globalist revolution is to grasp Christianity. The gospel is for them the new anti-globalist movement. I see in them a hunger for demanding gospel which is both generous and orthodox, intellectual and spiritual stretching. They do not want to be fobbed off with social justice platitudes and are prepared to suffer well for their faith, even job loss is necessary. This is an energized constituency that for some reason the Church is apathetic to. Please, please bishops wake up!
So, what urgent spiritual advice could be given to the Duke of Sussex? Clergy, if the prince happens to trip into your confessional let’s not pander with the gushing words of “there, there!” He requires a direct approach. This is because he is like the earnest rich young man in the gospels who is strangulated by his possessions, privilege, and status and ends up walking away from Christ? Doesn’t he see that raking in millions and millions while surrounding himself with the Hollywood luvvies is the proverbial camel that he will never never never squeeze through the eye of the needle? No amount of Elizabeth Arden cream can help either. He needs to give it all up for a radically simpler quieter life.
Is any of this feasible for a royal like Harry let alone all those lost men the churches fail to inspire? Harry doesn’t need to go back to Edward the Confessor to find a role model. He could look no further than his quirky yet saintly great grandmother, the forthright Princess Alice of Battenberg, the Duke of Edinburgh’s mother. She had her troubles with mental health and ended up in and out of sanitariums. Opinion was divided over whether she was a mystic or a nut. Yet, unlike all the made up woke gongs that Harry and Meghan have received, Alice had a real award for her work in saving Jews from Nazis. Israel recognises and honours her as a righteous gentile. She also sold everything and became an Orthodox nun. As a no nonsense woman, she would be the last person on the planet to ever describe herself as a “victim”. She rolled up her sleeves and got on with life doing endless good without fanfare or neediness. I suspect history will ‘spare’ her a bigger and more godly footnote than Harry Windsor unless he seriously and radically changes his ways. And for bishops and archbishops maybe the lesson is that a church that preached and presented an Alice Battenberg Christianity, might not only reach out to guys like Harry but also find a remedy for its own seemingly terminal decline.
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