BIRMINGHAM, England — I’m at Britain’s Conservative party conference, testing the water to see whether Brexit is ever going to happen or whether it’s all over and we might just as well kill ourselves now.
Do you want the good news or the bad?
I’ll get the bad out of the way first, which isn’t really news because you know it already. Britain is currently being governed by a bunch of muppets.
They are useless: Conservatives in name only. Timid, entirely lacking in principles, and led by undoubtedly one of the feeblest, most uninspiring, most excruciatingly dogmatic and wrong prime ministers in British history.
Do you like the meat in your hamburgers pink in the middle?
Look, I’m not judging you if you don’t. If you like your burgers tough, chewy, tasteless, sterile, then you go, girl!
All I’m saying is that for those of us in Nanny State Britain who like their burgers underdone properly (ie pink in the middle) these are difficult times.
There are loads of fancy burger joints opening up all over the country, but most chefs insist – quite belligerently in some cases – that they will not serve their meat cooked any less than medium because Health and Safety regulations forbid them from doing so.
Yes, yes, I appreciate that under-cooked minced beef can indeed harbour a variety of unpleasant bacteria; that when you consume this stuff, you are taking a risk.
But that surely is the blessing of being a grown up in a free country. You – not the state – decide what is and isn’t good for you. You make the trade-off – delicious, melt-in-the-mouth, unctuous pink minced steak v the risk of a bad tummy – not some finger-wagging bureaucrat. This is what freedom means: the ability to take calculated risks – risks which, by nature, will on occasion lead you to come unstuck. But that’s OK. Life’s like that. That’s the deal, for better or worse. No one gets out of here alive. But that’s no reason for us to stop doing everything that is fun while we’re waiting for the worst to happen.
This is why my favourite new Conservative is Liz Truss. She has just given a brilliant speech at the London School of Economics on the subject of liberty. And burgers.
Here is the relevant passage:
Or take burgers. I keep being told by excellent burger producers, whether it’s the Burger Shop in Hay-On-Wye or Bleecker Street in London, that there are strict restrictions against selling medium rare.
Why can’t I as a consumer decide, as I would be in most parts of the USA, or France?
Regulations against my tastes in burgers may see a little trivial, but they are symptomatic of a broader malaise.
Unnecessary red tape restricts business and consumer freedom, so I believe we should cut it wherever we can.
Dear President Trump,
It is being reported in the UK media that you have grown tired of Prime Minister Theresa May’s “school mistress” tone.
Join the club, Mister President. You only have to put up with her briefly, at events like today’s G7 in Quebec. In Britain we have to endure her pretty much 24/7 and she’s a national embarrassment. The last thing we’d want you to think is that she is in any way emblematic of English womanhood; or indeed of British conservatism.
Theresa May is what we call over here a frost. It’s not about you: she’s like this with everyone. Anyone who has had dealings with her will tell you the same. She’s prim, distant, cool, earnest, faintly disapproving. And don’t be misled by the slinky fashion she sometimes affects – the leather trousers, the flashes of (admittedly very well-turned) leg, the designer leopard print shoes: it’s an aberration, not a reflection of some inner funster just waiting to burst out. No one has ever accused Theresa May of being fun. Because she isn’t.
UK Environment Secretary Michael Gove has declared war on crony capitalism.
He won’t get any credit for this – not while we are (quite justifiably) hating on his dog’s vomit-pool of a government for its despicable failure in implementing Brexit. But he should because what he’s saying is important.
Here is what he told the Policy Exchange think tank:
Economic power has been concentrated in the hands of a few and crony capitalists have rigged the system in their favour and against the rest of us.
Over recent decades, debt has fuelled growth in an unsustainable fashion – indeed growth has been built not just on irresponsible levels of borrowing but an unsustainable approach towards natural resources.
‘Our politics, culture and regulatory models have worked against innovation, indeed have been pushed in that direction by powerful incumbents.
‘Many of our fellow citizens, especially those without the qualifications and connections to work the existing system, have seen less and less value placed on their work and themselves.’
I didn’t mean to insult all Cocker Spaniels. Of course, I recognise that with the right training their natural intelligence can be channelled and they can be made into the most excellent gun dogs. But as anyone has ever owned a spaniel can confirm, they are also prone to being quite exceptionally idiotic and useless.
Nowhere near as idiotic and useless as Britain’s current prime minister, especially where Brexit is concerned.
Every now and then, I find myself having to explain to Americans what has become of the amazing Brexit revolution, which they heard about a lot at the time (the vote was in June 2016) because in many ways it was the precursor to the Trump revolution.
When I tell them that virtually nothing has been achieved in the two years since, that the Remainer establishment has been doing everything in its powers to frustrate the democratic will of 17.4 million Leave voters, they’re astonished.