Laura Perrins: How did you feel when it became clear Vote Leave had won the referendum?


Peter Hitchens: I realised this in early June when a chance encounter revealed to me that the old Labour working class vote was going heavily for Leave. Once this was clear, I was sure that Leave would win, and immediately wrote this ( as well as taking a small bet with a pro-Remain colleague, and saying to everyone that I knew that I was now sure Leave would win. Columnists have a duty to make judgements of this kind publicly, as well as to take clear positions).


As I had already said that I did not expect Leave to win in columns and postings earlier this year, had never wanted a referendum, refused to vote in it myself because I believe in Parliamentary supremacy, feared that such a vote would not get us out, did not and do not trust the leadership of the Leave campaign,  and feared that it might cause a constitutional crisis, my feelings were mixed. I had to concede that I had been wrong about the chances of a victory for Leave, which is never much fun.  


I was delighted that the Remain Campaign and its self-satisfied and snobbish supporters were going to receive a slap in the face with a wet haddock. I was, and remain, concerned about how this will eventually work out. Readers of my column and blogs will have seen my articles on this.


LP: The establishment Vote Leave are beginning to pivot/triangulate already on their campaign promises. Dan Hannan is talking about retaining free movement of labour (as opposed to people) and ‘that we want a measure of control.’ This is very different, and certainly not as snappy as ‘Take Back Control’. Should we be surprised?


PH: No. The Leave campaign was from the start a very odd coalition, and the most conservative people in it are the Old Labour working class voters who rightly feel betrayed, morally and economically, in global multicultural liberated Britain. Many of the campaign’s supporters are Thatcherites, economic liberals, globalists and committed free traders who have no principled objection to open borders. I think the actual outcome of these events may fall well short of what many Leave voters hoped for. This was predetermined when such people as Alexander ‘Boris’ Johnson, Michael Howard, and Michael Gove placed themselves at its head.


LP: Winning the referendum is a very different thing to making Brexit a reality? How do think this will pan out?


PH: Prepare for surprises. If I were the EU leadership (and we must assume they are intelligent and cunning), I would begin with a ‘hard cop’ routine, of aloof resentment, with hints of menace. Then, when enough silly panic had been spread in Britain (this is what the Bad Losers’ Alliance – which has now replaced the Remain Campaign – are now working on, very hard) they can come up with a new offer, which at the very least keeps us in the single market and requires a large contribution from us, and at the very most requires either a new referendum or the endorsement of the public in a snap election.


LP: You say in your column in The Mail on Sunday that Brexit is an opportunity for new political party, with social conservatism at its core. How can this happen?


PH: It is a remote possibility, but there is an opportunity for it, if those in favour of independence (sorry, I hate the expression ‘Brexit’) demand a swift general election, in which candidates are required to state their preference on independence versus continued subservience.


Such a demand would divide the major parties so completely, and would with luck dominate the campaign completely, that it could force the realignment of our party system. What we need, roughly, is one party taking the Polly Toynbee view, and a rival party taking what you might call the Peter Hitchens view (the real divide in this country).  This has for many years been my aim, and I still believe it is the only hope for this country. I haven’t had much luck with it so far, as it is too simple for most people to understand, and too easy to do for most people to want to attempt it. But perhaps the swampy mess caused by this unconstitutional referendum might persuade enough people that it is in fact a good idea.


LP: Will you lead it?!


PH: I am an ageing, lazy, home-loving scribbler with no political experience and a dislike of compromise. I shouldn’t have thought I was well-suited to such a job.


LP: It seems David Cameron was the true liberal metrosexual to the end, crying in 10 Downing Street, after his resignation speech. For, me this sums it up – totally self-indulgent to the end? In fact on BBC News you did take some delight in knowing aides to David Cameron were crying as the results came in. Of course, if any of them had travelled past Oxford they might have seen it coming. How did they get it so wrong?


PH: They never intended to hold a referendum. It was a promise made on the assumption they would not win a majority, and they could claim to have been forced to abandon it by their coalition partners. The Tory manifesto, full of absurd promises, is strong circumstantial evidence of this . But even stronger is Mr Cameron’s decision in 2013 (the Electoral Registration and Administration Act) to alter voter registration in a way that would damage Labour, particularly by making students less likely to register, in post 2015 polls. Of course this also affected the pro-EU vote. The last-minute panic extension of voter registration showed that this had been a grave mistake.


LP: The Conservative party will have the mother of all leadership battles. I predict that having removed one liberal, slimy, old Etonian another liberal, slimy old Etonian will take his place. It is like they are made in a factory somewhere?


PH: I think they’re all miserable enough without us needing to be rude about them personally. Surely, the really fascinating question is this. In 2003, after the media-backed putsch against Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory Party replaced him in EIGHT DAYS, choosing Michael Howard as a unity candidate. This was done to save the Tory Party. Surely at this moment of alleged national crisis, when Mr Johnson plainly has an unchallengeable mandate, they can do the same rather than waiting around till October. The rules haven’t changed since 2003. Why don’t they?


LP: It is a pretty depressing state of affairs, to wade through all this slurry, if in the end we remain in the EEA, we retain free movement of people, and we have another Blairite Prime Minister. Are we masochists?


PH: No, but we are suckers for an appealing short cut. In my experiences, short cuts are seldom as short as they claim, and often don’t get you to your destination at all.  Ukip was a short cut which led nowhere. So may the referendum be.


In a country governed by Parliament, the only way out of the EU is the way by which we entered it in 1972 – through Parliament (not, as David Dimbleby seems to think, following the confirmatory plebiscite in 1975). A majority in Parliament has to pass an Act to leave (interestingly the Act taking us in was passed by a cross-party coalition, which never stood as such for election, on that programme), and a government committed to leave has to pursue the negotiations and reforms which result, probably lasting for ten years. For this, we need a national party committed to that to stand in an election and win it. Which is where I came in.


  1. The reluctant to power are the best suited of having it.

    Create a party Peter and fill it with the rest of us reluctant power holders. Our credo could be a nihilistic view of ourselves as a Government; so, that we constantly undertake to get out of people’s lives, business, finance, money, health and education.

    • I’m afraid that when those reluctant to power eventually decide to take the plunge they are on the escalator to hero-worshipped megalomania that the rest threw themselves on so willingly. It’s in our imperfect genes. Sadly.

      • It isn’t ‘in our genes’. That’s the attitude that got us here ‘might makes right’ and ‘we can’t know reality’ that man cannot then be moral, that morality must be imposed by an authority without any connection with reality.

        Create a government that is strictly delimited and is defined in terms of its defence of liberty and property rights only. That requires a temporary Government in the role of a wrecking ball which must always move towards its own destruction. This is entirely possible because moral men can and do exist, reality is reality and we can and must know it. There are people who will take advantage if the mechanism exists to enable them to do so; that mechanism is an expansionary Government given to protectionism of its people and therefore of itself. Where the fear exists of freedom, so tyranny will come to pass.

        We can, should and must change our philosophy in order that we can institute a new kind of delimited Governance.

          • Circular reasoning. What you are saying is that is that it is true, because it is true. Where is your proof ?

        • We all recognise that the opportunity to steal can corrupt good people. That’s why accountants put controls in place to remove the opportunity, even where staff are trusted.
          If there were better controls, limiting the power of individuals in government, we would do better, genes or no genes.

          • ‘Can’ and not ‘does’ . I would question your definition of ‘good’ people if they are prepared to steal. Theft does not bring reward if ones virtues preclude theft as a suitable means to obtain a value.

            People don’t steal and kill because of ‘controls’, they do so because it makes them feel bad and results in repercussions because of their actions. Ironically ‘controls’ create the very circumstances they were designed to prevent.

            As an example, the accountant in our company managed to steal £500K before he was discovered. It is the age old question of who regulates the regulators.

            All that is required is detection and objective justice. An eye for an eye. We should stop telling people they are incapable of moral behaviour because that is a lie. People know what they are doing, they only need to be told they are wholly responsible for their actions and that justice will be served by acting immorally.

            Accountants aren’t there to act as controllers, or regulators on morality, but to inform of the profits and losses of an enterprise.

          • It all depends on what you mean by “controls”
            Presuming your second paragraph has a typo, I would suggest that some “controls” in that situation are society’s view of thieves and the repercussions you mention.
            Sorry, but accountants are there to make sure that profits and losses are correctly stated. To do that they need to know there are controls /regulations in place and working properly so the numbers that come out at the end can be relied upon to give a true and fair view.
            Yes, many companies have poor accountancy controls which allow staff to steal – indeed sometimes they are so poor the staff see it is an invitation! Ticking auditor’s boxes does not necessarily constitute a good approach.
            I agree people should be required to take responsibility for their actions, that actions should have consequences, and the age old question of who regulates the regulators needs proper consideration.

          • Yes, of course we need detection and justice. Part of that must be down to the individual who runs a company. Losses, even theft, are simply part of the business cost and like all costs, they must be minimised in order to maximise profit. It’s fair to call it control. However, the company owner isn’t simply trying to manage the business, they also seek justice for theft and property destruction once that detection has taken place.

            Outside of the bubble of internal business fundamentals we have private individuals who also need law and justice, but this isn’t ‘control’. We have contracts and activities by which the individual must act as his own accountant. The individual has to secure themselves against fraud and theft, but when this fails, then they must use the law to get justice.

            I’m saying that the Government is not, and shoukd not be in the position to provide ‘controls’, only law and justice.

          • Only in the land of pre-crime 🙂 ‘minority report’.

            As I’m a controls engineer I consider a system that regulates itself in general use, but shuts down in the event of an unpredictable catastrophic event. Just like the fire brigade isn’t a control on outbreaks of fire, or an ambulance doesn’t control illness.

            The point of objective law is that it removes the requirement of individual ‘force’ from society and not that it controls crime that may occur. It would be impossible to apply crime ‘control’ by Government because it would not be objective. Instead it would assume guilt prior to proof of guilt and that is not justice, it is tyranny. It can act as a deterrent, but that’s not really its purpose, just as an insurance policy doesn’t stop a house burning down, or your car being stolen.

            Government expands objective law making into subjective legalise. An example in the USA is the anti-trust laws. A company can be prosecuted for undercutting, price gouging, or cartel price fixing. In other words, there is no way a company can avoid being a victim of anti- trust laws because whatever they do, they can be convicted.

            We cannot stop a Government misbehaving. What we can do is to limit their power by statute and remove the mechanisms which allow them to apply subjective legalise. Get them out of everything except for objective justice. I don’t even think they should touch any form of procurement including the military.

  2. ‘Why don’t they?’ I fear it’s because activating Article 50 or electing a new leader quickly will enable them to fudge long enough to find a way to bypass the wishes of the 17 million.

    • Article 50 is a trap, an EU regulation for the benefit of the EU. We should repeal the European Communities Act 1972, a British law which severs the relationship. The economy of the EU depends to some large extent on UK buying EU products. Merkel will get a hard time if the German car market is hit, same with Hollande and French produce. We don’t have to cosy up and cajole the EU like adolescents trying to get mummy to buy them the latest fashion fad. The boot is on the other foot, let’s make the EU cajole us.

      • Thanks for clarification. Then why not get cracking and repeal the 1972 Act? It’s the lack of action that bothers me…

        • Done – thank you very much for the link. I think with petitions like this, the real effect is to lend reality to a possibility, just by propagating the idea.

      • The EU is already navel gazing with plans to make the rest of the EU into a single massive EZ type disaster with central control by Brussels. We haven’t even left yet.
        We need to have plans with actions ASAP to build trade to the rest of the world to compensate Better airport access for the rest of the world, aid to companies exporting to the rest of the world etc. The EU has decided it is going to tank so whatever deal we get won’t help.

      • Following the Article 50 route to negotiate single market access is a complete dead end if we demand (as all components of the Out campaign accepted) an Australian-style points-based immigration system.

        The reason – four of the East European EU members have categorically ruled out any restrictions on free movement of labour – and unanimity is required for Article 50 to operate.

        • Except that after two years we are out anyway. which is the ‘Prime Directive’ so to speak. It would be nice to have a decent trade agreement with the EU but it is by no means essential – we will have shifted huge volumes of trade elsewhere by then if they are still mucking about.

      • I’ve asked a question there (under a post by Dr No, and alluding to his menttion of how many times his “Flexit” tome has been downloaded), anyone here have an answer:

        And 80 to 100 thousand downloads over the last 3 days!

        But I haven’t, and have neither the time nor the inclination to read hundreds of pages of legalese.

        So can anyone tell me what’s to stop the UK sending the EU a Dear John note saying it’s not you it’s us, we’re invoking that Article 50 thingy you keep obsessing about, and we’re quite happy for you to keep all the 30% food tariffs and 10% car tariffs. Byeee!

        And then if they come back and say there’s no need to fall out, or rush into things, maybe we could sweeten some path to reducing the tariffs on wine and cheese and BMWs and Peugeots (aren’t some made in the UK?!) and Fiats and, ermmm, Minis. You don’t have to go cosying up to the US and Japan, and Australia and the like. Is there anything we, the EU, could offer you, the UK, to NOT accept EU tarrifs?! Anything you’d particularly like? Anything we, the EU, could offer you in exchange for tariff free access to the UK/England & Wales + NI maybe?

        To paraphrase the SNP MEP: pleaeeeeese, we BEG you!!!!!

        • Unfortunately it is just not that simple. Our government has been progressively enmeshed further and further into the EU with each treaty over the last 44 years. Extracting ourselves is going to be a long slow process, especially if we are going to try to avoid serious economic damage from doing so. Richard North’s flexit plan is for a slow staged withdrawal and is by far and away the more realistic plan on the table.

          • You mean those lovely, honest as the day is long, never told a lie, in fact cannot tell a lie, (unlike those nasy, LIE! telling LIARS!! – jab fingers while spitting out the words in the LIARS!!! direction – in the Leave camp!), Remainers were being not entirely open with us when they swore blind that the EU has had hardly ANY impact on our laws, that almost NONE of our laws come from Brussels, never mind the LIE! of 62% spread by the LYING!! LIARS!!! at Brexit?!?!

            I’m shocked! Nearly speechless!!

            You’ll be telling me next that we should have suspected something hadn’t been entirely above board when one of the FEAR Tactics, sorry,points of information helpfully shared was thet if we voted Leave the government would be tied up in knots for decades, IF NOT ETERNITY, trying to disentangle us from all the Red Tape.

            And the ensuing political paralysis would crash the economy, destroy the country, ruin not just knuckle-dragging bigoted xenophobic swivel-eyed loony-fruitcake Little England Brexiter’s grubby little chav children, but, more importantly, the lives of little Olivia and Oliver.

            And probably start World War Three!!!

  3. ….the most conservative people in it are the Old Labour working class voters who rightly feel betrayed, morally and economically, in global multicultural liberated Britain.
    There are many millions of these who voted leave.For their take see

    Labour would have to go against all its internationalist multicultural liberal values to attract these voters. That’s not going to happen.
    I suspect this means Labour will do very badly in the next election as it no longer can count on the votes of the many millions of these people. Even if Labour has a million members that’s chicken feed in a general election.

    • Thatcher understood that working class people have aspirations too which was part of her success. Hull in your video looks thoroughly defeated – shame on Prescott who cannot of not noticed.

      • The two main parties have had many decades to something or even anything. They chose to do nothing, decade in, decade out.

        Their main interest is spending on London at the expense of the rest of the country. Its hardly surprising so much of the country is poor.

        London gets 24 x more infrastructure spend per resident than the north east.

        London authorities dominate the list of highest per-pupil funding, with
        the City of London getting the most at £8,595 ahead of Tower Hamlets
        (£7,014) and Hackney (£6,680.05)
        Cambridgeshire is the worst funded per-pupil at £3,950, followed by South Gloucestershire (£3,969) and Leicestershire (£3,995).

  4. It seems we won’t have a Prime Minister until September. That’s a big deal.

    Who cares if there isn’t a leader of the Tory party. Whilst Cameron was right to resign in my opinion, he hasn’t the authority any more to do anything (just like a football manager who loses the dressing room, Des). So should have given a 2 week deadline for a replacement.
    Now is not the time to have no-one in charge.

  5. No, sorry… we don’t need a socially conservative party. We need a liberal Conservative party. The world has moved beyond socially constrictive norms. Harking back to 2.4 children with happy wifey at home looking after baby while hubby dons his trilby in the morning and heads out to work on the 08:22 from Clapham Junction is to wilfully ignore the realities of modern life in Britain.

    What we need is a confident economically literate governing party that is interested in promoting the good of the economy and leaves people’s private lives alone. “Social conservatism” is basically a synonym for hating other people who live differently to how you live and would prefer them to live. Holding onto that hate is simply like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies. It doesn’t do the holder of the opinion any more good and just poisons the entire community for no good reason.

    Government has no business moralising. Leave that to churches.

    • I totally disagree. What we have now is a new religion. And one that allows no dissent. A live and let live attitude is one thing. When you are prepared to coerce me into teaching staff telling my children you can have 2 mummies or 2 daddies or that you can choose whatever you want to be – make and remake don’t exist. When less than 3% of the population can force colleagues at work to “celebrate gay pride week” that is morally wrong.

      • So you think you should have a right to tell people who want to live their lives differently to you that they may not?

        In any case I didn’t mention homosexuals/phobia or anything approaching it. You made that leap yourself and it makes your prejudice very obvious.

        For me conservatism stands for good governance, economic competence and keeping the hell out of other people’s bedrooms unless they invite you there!

        • So you think you should have a right to tell people who want to live their lives differently to you that they may not?

          Absolutely; there is even a word for it


          Remember them?

        • I have no intention of telling them how to live their lives. I object to them forcing their lives on to me and the majority of the population, especially children.

      • yes – because “progressivism” as opposed to liberalism is a religion. And so it’s adherents are convinced they are self evidently right and so no heresy will be permitted. All must convert – for their own good of course.

    • One could certainly advocate a Michael Oakeshottian approach of Conservatism-as-a-tendency: “To be conservative … is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, to prefer the tried to the untried, fact to mystery, the actual to the possible, the limited to the unbounded, the near to the distant, the sufficient to the superabundant, the convenient to the perfect, present laughter to utopian bliss.”, and advocate that if change occurs, it will do so naturally and in spite of the best efforts of those seeking to impose it. Such would be a “social conservatism” of a sort that does not presuppose that “otherhood is bad simply in virtue of its being ‘other’.”

  6. It seems to me that leaving the EU the Peter Hitchens’ way we would wait for ever without it ever happening. The best we could hope for would be the EU collapsing, which it is likely to do sometime, but we could be far more integrated with the EU by then. If we had voted for Remain this time there is no doubt integration would have been pushed through with speed and gusto. At least the UKIP way something is happening now before we have completely lost all our sovereignty.

  7. If the Tories stitch up the voters and we retain retain free movement of people with ongoing budget contributions to Brussels expect major gains for UKIP at the expense of both Labour and the Conservatives. They will run on an out means out campaign.

  8. easy supply of labour is one thing. Unlimited and uncontrollable supply of anyone who feels like showing up is quite another.

    This latter is not ‘free movement’ but a catastrophic economic policy failure, as you will see if you look at a) treasury coffers and b) anywhere that is not London.

    The Single Market is overrated.

    • It’s basic supply and demand – do they teach that in the E alongside the PP at Oxford?

      If there is a virtually unlimited supply of un- low- and semi-skilled labour, then the price of that labour will fall. Only the imposition of a minimum wage prevents the total collapse of wages at the bottom end.

      The people doing well out of globalisation had a choice – be greedy or share it around. They chose the former, and now they’re reaping what they sowed.

      • Fine.
        Here is what we need to do.
        1. Stop those foreign johnnies ”fram cammin ere an stealin are jorbs.”
        2. Get our own, home growed tattooed Chaveratti out plucking carrots, tatties and cabbages out of the dirt in Lincolnshire.
        3. They can be housed in barracks, do it for the dole money, and loose it if they shirk.
        Seems fair and proper to me.

        • While you’re obviously a troll, here’s some alternatives

          1. Limit inward migration in semi-skilled jobs to those companies who can prove that they have in place apprenticeship and training schemes for local youngsters. For low-skilled and unskilled work, have a fair and non-racist green card scheme to allow a carefully controlled number of migrants from anywhere in the world, rather than an uncontrolled number from a bunch of white European countries.

          2. Have you ever picked strawberries in a field in Kent? I have. It’s horrible and nothing will spur you on to do better for yourself quite like it.

          3. Or we could tax the weath of the well-to-do, especially their second homes and buy-to-let portfolios. Maybe then they’ll sell up and release the housing stock for the young people who desperately need it

      • An imposed minimum wage policy works against those on low wages. Sounds good, fools the Labour party, but never works. It is the politics of socialist France. Employers must make a profit, otherwise no business, no jobs. Employers will find ways to get round an imposed minimum wage, they stop taking on new staff, they must to save their businesses. Unfortunately these avoidance tactics never favour the low paid.

  9. It’s interesting that the Remainers are complaining that they should have won, and that because they didn’t, there should be a second referendum.
    This could be a pyrrhic victory, especially if the EU fails because other countries leave!

    • Aye, a 2nd referendum would take place at a time when the economic predictions of Project Fear will have been shown to be false, after more EU centralisation (eg. common army proposals) and crises. Plus the British public will be cheesed off with having their first vote ignored.

  10. “continued subservience” – I prefer the word “absorption”, we were (and perhaps still are – but I hope not) on the way to being absorbed into a European state

  11. A new socially consevative party isn’t going to emerge anytime soon. Wishful thinking won’t help. The euphoria caused by the referendum result is beginning to disconnect some people from political reality.

    The cosmopolitan elites are faced with rebellions both here and in America. Brexit and Trump are two sides of the same coin. But the high and mighty still run the institutions and control the economy. The consensus of patrician opinion has been disturbed by the Brexiteers but not overthrown.

    It would probably require revolutionary violence to break the mould in British politics. Thankfully, that’s not going to happen.

    • The remainers know what happened last Thursday. Thoughtful ones with their heads, thoughtless ones by instinct. They know that Thursday was a revolt against them, and everything they stand for. A revolt against the subversion of democracy, and it’s replacement by technocratic oligarchy.

      Oligarchy freed from the shackles placed on governments by wiser generations who knew that one of the few constants of history is that power corrupts. The nu-elite and their mobs believe themselves to be too intelligent, too well-educated, too civilised to fall prey to the avarice and greed which has always been attracted to power.

      Their large salaries, low tax rates (or tax free), benefits, pensions are mere incidentals – to attract higher calibre candidates – and the large corporations suggesting and drafting new and tighter regulations are performing a public service. Of course the state – at whatever level – should look into every nook and cranny of personal and business life. People will do the wrong thing otherwise.

      The enlightened nu-state is far too important to allow comprehensively educated people ignorant racists a say!

    • Corbyn is rebelling against the elite. His MPs don’t want him but the Labour members are fully supportive, and they are the ones who vote. If the MPs put up an alternative leader to Jeremy, Jeremy is automatically included in the selection, the members vote, he is voted in again. I’ve never been a Labour supporter but Corbyn has my respect for being anti political elite, and prepared to dig his heels in.
      Meanwhile over to the other side Tory MPs also throwing their weight about. Cameron is finished, he brought it on himself, but they are so miffed they are demanding that his successor be anyone except Boris. Never mind that Boris appeals across parties, is always a vote winner and is the electorate’s favourite, this is all about revenge and spite. Again members vote, on a ballot of two so the elite now have to ensure Boris is not one of the two. Which is probably why they seem to need so much time to come up with a new Leader. They want May, a Remainer of course. If it goes anything like the Labour leadership selection, they will arrange for May and a nonentity like Nicky Morgan to be on the ballot paper, and the nonentity is selected.
      Parliament needs to learn that it is isn’t about them. They are the servant of the people, not the other way round. No wonder the so-called elite voted Remain, they hate opposition, we are to do as we are told, argument is not allowed. They despise democracy just like the EU. They need to get out of their Westminster bubble and tour the country. You soon see why Brexit won the referendum. It is an enormous 2 fingers up to those who patronize us, who think we are the little people who can be ignored, we should know our place, be seen and not heard.

      • Boris was as insincere in his support for Brexit as he has been in every other political stance he has held over the years. That’s why he’s been ducking for cover or backtracking ever since the vote. A narrow defeat is what he was playing for and what he wanted. He will lose enormous amounts of good will once he has to head over to Brussels and plead for things the EU have no interest in giving him.

      • I think he’s got the dividing lines wrong, though. No place for a Gladstonian liberal like me.

        Somebody who believes in laissez faire, limited government, the self-help which produced co-ops, mutual societies, friendly societies, permanent trades unions.

        The free trade which needs no international bureaucracies to govern and regulate, nor rules and regulations intended to limit competition and prefer existing large corporations. Who knows that the most implacable opponents of free markets are said large corporations- who have nothing to gain, but everything to lose, from a genuine free market.

        The people who turned Britain from a war-ravaged aristocracy into the workshop of the world in the space of 50 years.

        Where do we fit into Peter’s new party system?

        Not that we fit into the current one:-(

        • Things fell apart when pragmatism – making things function in the most parsimonious way, not political expediency of the kind we’ve become used to – took on ideological trappings. It makes absolute sense that infrastructure as important as the railways and public services were nationalised. They are a national asset, not trading tokens in a battle for votes. Similarly steel and car manufacture warrant support in the same way and for the same reasons, they are part of the bigger picture of the nation’s health.

          Those assets were not simply sold off, they were pumped full of unprecedented amounts of public money before being priced for sale. No doubt BR could have produced the railway of the future if they’d been gifted the same blank cheque. That should not suggest that I’m ideologically wedded to filling the country with bureaucrats, paper shufflers and people on the national payroll. Britain is a trading nation, we make stuff (very well given half a chance), and we flog it.

          Labour support and a conservative mindset only became oxymorons (and then in the mouths of others) in recent decades. Both my father and aunt were immaculately turned out, of life long Labour voting habits and never rose to salaried positions. The were supremely self-supporting, practical and hard working which at no point skewed their social conscience into sloppy thinking. They would have recognised the Blair-Cameron axis for the narcissism it is in a moment.

          • I disagree with this. The railways were not gifts from God. They were not fixtures and fittings which suddenly appeared one weekend.

            They were a transport network created by private companies, using monies raised from free and voluntary investors. Private companies which built a railway network which connected every city, town and large village in the country.

            All the nationalised industry did was take an axe to that network. To cut it away from large parts of the country, and create bottlenecks in large parts of what remained.

            But isn’t it brilliant that our opinions about this can now be debated in earnest? That our votes on the future of the railway network will mean something, once again? That you can blame me, and I can blame you, and nobody will be able to blame an unelected overlord again?

          • Much of the railway system was broke before the war, and the pressure of hostilities finally saw it off. The LNER was months from bankruptcy, and nationalisation gave its shareholders a windfall they could never have dreamt of, ditto the rest of the Big Four.

            Lines that didn’t pay have been closed since the railway mania of the C19th. What was different under Beeching is the Tory party were up to their necks in road building, so instead of a pragmatism we saw opportunism. Passenger counts were conducted in wakes weeks, timetables were altered against the flow of traffic, and footplate crews were told not to make connections. The system was made untenable and in a classic piece of verbal legerdemain we discovered roads are an investment, while railways are subsidised.

            The point being that both Conservative and Labour have been guilty of spinning for as long as I can remember, but naked self interest has become unremarkable rather than the cause for opprobrium and scorn.

          • What “saw it off” was the post-WW2 realisation that it was cheaper to nationalise the railways than pay them what they had been promised for what they had done during ww2.

            And when you nationalise an industry you thereby take the risk that a different government will do something to it which you disapprove of: a risk which arises only because you nationalised it.

            Then we had Major’s EU mandated “privatisation” – a privatisation which made little sense, not because privatisation was a bad idea per se, but because it removed the operators from the tracks they were operating on.

          • Major’s privatisation was a complete dog’s breakfast. It became attractive to buyers based on sweeteners of public money. Even Thatcher recognised the ideological nature of the transfer. I had a neighbour who worked for BR, was made redundant with privatisation, and immediately re-employed on almost three times the salary to do the same job.

            People need to recognise that when an industry requires continued public investment, it is privatised in name only. It fits the prevailing mood, with none of the risk that built it in the first place. None of the arrangement is “businesslike”.

    • We have effectively been a socialist state since probably after WW1, infiltrated and slowly cooked in our own juices by cultural Marxists. It has taken a while but finally we are starting to rebel against this but it is only the opening shots of a long and bloody battle.

      • I can’t see the rebellion, if that’s what it is and not just a protest that will pass, leading to the birth of a new political party. Remember the Social Democrats? That party didn’t last long despite being led by some “heavyweight” politicians at the time.

  12. As usual Hitchens is overthinking the situation. The people want out. They want good relations with Europe but with control over our borders, laws, commercial regulations and borders. Now it is up to parliament to achieve this. That is what the people want. The internal politics of the parties is secondary.

    • They wont get it.
      They will get:
      An EFTA agreement designed by Europe , not by the UK.
      All for a fee of circa 85% of what we currently pay.
      The continuation of free movement.
      Suck it up, losers.

    • He’s not, he’s thinking about the situation, not overthinking it. You’re not really addressing anything he’s saying, just ignoring it.

    • It would seem that the people who actually WON the vote (the alienated folks in English and Welsh council estates, the ones that the pollsters didn’t catch and who weren’t expected to turn up) want a return to the welfare state and well paid meaningful forms of mass employment of the pre-Thatcher years. But, ehm, they won’t be getting that from Johnson or Gove (who blatantly didn’t want a victory, but rather a narrow defeat so that they could have taken power as the darlings of their party’s grassroots while still having their great Goldstein to bang on about). I’ll say this, they might have gotten it from Peter Hitchens, but not from anyone that is likely to be in a position of power any time soon.

  13. Thank god for Scotland and wee Nikki.
    The SNP MEP got a standing ovation in the EuroParl today.
    I think we will be ditching you little Englander racists soon…..

    • Wee Nicola is a political Manoeuvrer . There is no way she will get another referendum and no way that the EU wants to take Scotland on. Scotland voted to stay in the UK and they took part in the Referendum as part of the U.K. It is laughable that Scotland wants independence from 4 country Union to be a no account country in an EU state of 27+ countries. Some independence!

      • Who knows. What amazes me is when people vote for the UK to Leave the EU and then think Scotland shouldn’t be allowed independence. If that is you, maybe you might want to reexamine your thought process.

        Only problem with that is it will disintegrate the UK further, which as someone who is half Welsh and half English I would find sad.

      • But sustained membership of the EU was one of the main arguments of the No campaign in 2014. Scotland last week also voted to remain in the EU more decisively than they voted to remain in the UK in 2014 when, as said, they were voting to remain in a major EU member state. The Brexit vote is a game changer, in anyone’s book. It would be ridiculous for Scottish people not to be asked the question given the enormous change in circumstances. The answer may not be any different – once the dust settles, several questions will still have to be answered by the Yes movement and Scottish voters may yet choose the UK over the EU – but the question is valid. You’re also mistaken in another way, which you wouldn’t be if you followed Scottiah politics closely. Nicola Sturgeon does not want a referendum, now or anytime soon. She wants one she knows she can win and she will only have that once questions are answered more confidently. She has been speaking about seeking to maintain Scotland’s status in the EU (‘reverse Greenland’ etc.) as has been clearly mandated by two thirds of Scottish voters.

    • If you would rather have oligarchic technocrats as your masters, then that’s up to you.

      Free democrats are used to ridicule from the unfree. We recognise that ridicule is the only thing left to you when you have no meaningful say in your own governance, and no stomach to demand one.

    • You’ll soon find out that ‘being a free country’ and ‘ditching English racists’ are two very different things. Oh and will Brussels be prepared to support free higher education and the like? Hint: look at Greece, Spain and Italy.

    • ‘My enemy’s enemy is my friend’ – a simple error of logic and a classic trap down the ages for fools.

    • utterly meaningless as Strugeon’s trip to Brussels to try and cut a deal has been completely rebuffed – sent home with nothing.

    • Scotland must have a way of joining the EU before it is independent of the UK. Because without England, Wales and NI, Scotland is going to have to suck money out of the EU at an unprecedented rate, otherwise how are they going pay for all the freebies they get that I currently pay for.
      Wee Burnie knows this.

      • Actually the opposite concern is more apt. Since the collapse of the oil price, Scotland has been a net benefactor from the UK (though it hadn’t been before). If it were to join the EU as an independent state, so to speak, it would certainly be a net contributor. This could be a stumbling block for the SNP, depending on how vigorously they’re opposed. The very unionist and quite conservative David Torrance’s most recent article in the Herald is quite interesting on this.

    • Hmm, the EU needs another welfare dependant state sucking on the teat like it needs a hole in the head. They are corrupt not stupid.
      So if we are racist for wanting independence from a corrupt authoritarian state what does that make you?

    • Can’t happen soon enough – English are weary of pouring ever more billions into Scotland to support the socialist state that Scots desire but can’t afford. Think the EU will bail Scotland out? Good luck with that!

    • “I think we will be ditching you little Englander racists soon….”

      LOL at the irony.

  14. Madness is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Well, the main parties and the media have huffed and puffed at the UKIP house time and time again and it’s still standing.

    “Ukip was a short cut which led nowhere.”… In your dreams, Hitchens. Just why would a party which election after election increases its share of the vote be “leading nowhere”?.

  15. You should tone it down a bit, “LP”. You sound rather hysterical. We don’t care what you think. You’re supposed to ask questions and then let your interviewee give their view. Not spit boiling hot bile at them in the hope that they’ll start chucking it around in turn. Glad to see that Hitchens didn’t indulge you. But very unprofessional of you.

  16. what a load of waffle

    boris as unelected by the public tory pm, while the country burns

    well done bright sirs

  17. I’m assuming, possibly incorrectly, that if new parties were to form, it would have to be after a general election is called. If that’s the case, I do wonder if Mr Hitchens might use his Trotskyist skills to start a new party. It’s true enough that he’s ageing, since we all are, and perhaps his other alleged deficiencies might be a hindrance, although you can colour me sceptical about the laziness, at least when it relates to public matters. Still I wonder if he might be the one to form such a party and get it started. Alternatively, perhaps he could mentor some young, willing soul?

    • If this were to breach the treaties Britain has with the EU we could be expelled without any settlement.

  18. With Labour in collapse we can expect a large contingent of UKIP MPs returned from Labour heartlands. Whether UKIP are a credible party or not, that needs into consideration. ..

  19. They are delaying picking a new leader I suspect because it creates time to undo the results of the referendum.

  20. I believe in Parliamentary supremacy, but only if the members of Parliament are selected , not by the central organisations of Political Parties, but by their supporters in the constituencies – a ground up, not top down procedure. The American system has its faults, I am sure, but it is superior to ours. It is a more democratic system which does something, although not a lot, to control entrenched power.

    I would also want a system which would put a brake on elective dictatorship, so that when a party is elected to power through lies and deceit, and proceeds to abuse the Constitution as did New Labour especially and to a lesser extent the Tories, a mechanism is in place to stop it.

    I see no reason why a government should get away with this kind of behaviour. If a commercial company lied about and concealed it’s intentions the way New Labour did about its ‘project’, the perpetrators would be behind bars.

    Politicians who deliberately set out to deceive are guilty of a far more heinous crime than commercial fraudsters, since their crime involves a whole country rather than a mere commercial undertaking.

    A system of referenda would stop a deceitful government in its tracks before any damage could be done.

  21. It is heart-warming news that New Zealand is offering to lend the UK trade negotiators and, with Australia, to fast-track a trade agreement. I’d much rather do without a purgatory period in the EEA.

  22. Why does Laura Perrins only put the boundary at 40 years ago only, as to where its gone wrong?


    Not 50 years ago, or 55 years ago.

    Or 60 years ago (dare anyone) before there were any teenagers. – Because you have your own self-interest and to placate your readers and their memories they still have.

    Or even further back to the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s.

    Your readership (apart from a few) don’t go have memories that far. – And would be too much of a wet even if they could.

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