Back from our USA summer holiday.

While I was away my podcast discussion with turbo-polemicist James Delingpole appeared. Here it is. Or via iTunes.

James is good at being beyond provocative. Here is his book Watermelons (Green on the outside, Red on the inside haha) attacking all sorts of different ‘climate change’ tendencies. Plus he has a super second-hand car, as I saw for myself when he appeared here to interview me.

I finally plucked up the courage to listen to this podcast and rather enjoyed it. He asks all the obvious Delingpolistic brash questions:

  • Isn’t the FCO full of pinkos and traitors?
  • Won’t the treacherous civil service try to thwart Brexit?
  • Isn’t Islam a threat to civilisation?
  • Isn’t Trump a Good Thing?
  • High time to back Assad, as everything else hasn’t worked?

To which extended and (if I say so myself) quite interesting answers come aplenty.

I especially liked the fact that at the beginning of the discussion he roundly denounces wishy-washy ‘pragmatism’, yet by the end of it, as I point out the complexities of modern diplomacy, he ends up proposing it himself haha.

A couple of specific points I made:

A UK civil servant who is now close to retiring has spent his/her whole professional life working within an EU context. It’s not surprising that such people might pause for thought in weighing up for Ministers’ benefit the costs/benefits of different approaches to #Brexit.

Civil servants have also faced many successive governments elected on an explicit platform of staying in the EU. So don’t blame them for our EU membership.

We should not forget that ‘EU’ rules are only part of the impossibly dense modern networks of European and wider internationally agreed rules and regulations and standards governing pretty much anything. See the reason my sofa does not blow up if you drop a cigarette on it. Or the infamous Crawford family High Chair saga. Picking a new path through these jungles of process is genuinely difficult.

As globalisation develops, we get galloping integration (good) and galloping dis-integration (bad) at the same time. This is stretching to breaking-point if not beyond the capacities of governments and institutions to cope. See eg quasi no-go zones emerging even in some European countries: once the visible legal order starts to fray in this way, popular faith in the national system as a whole may quickly be called into question. Thus ‘populism’.

And the ‘migration’ debate. What rules in fact now make sense? And are any rules now practically enforceable, given how well-organised nimble groups of mobile migrants can be thanks to cell-phones etc? If not, what?

All these issues test the idea of loyalty and trust. Cultures are different. Some beliefs are compatible with modern democracy. Some may not be. Where do ultimate Christian and Islamic loyalties lie?

Trumpism is on to something deep and important in pondering new ‘walls’ to control migration into the USA. Without unambiguous control over who sets the rules, no society can hold its borders or survive.

We may not be heading back to the 1930s. Why not the 1730s or even 1530s, where loyalties and the reach of rules were much more ‘local’ with murky no-man’s-lands in between?

And plenty more.

Listen for yourself.