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Kathleen Burnett
Kathleen Burnett
6 months ago

Another great essay from Kathleen Stock, thankyou.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
6 months ago

Totally agree; she’s in a class of her own; super focused, very intelligent and funny to boot. Never rambles, never bores and never disappears up her own fundament. What’s not to like ?

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

I can imagine how she’d have scared the wits out of those humourless trans fundamentalists. No wonder they had to force her out.

Ross Jolliffe
Ross Jolliffe
6 months ago

Agreed – academia may be holding back any number of others’ careers.

Tom K
Tom K
6 months ago

Spot on. I have no intention of ever listening to any of these clowns’ podcasts. Alastair Campbell in particular is about as toxic an individual as I could ever imagine. But I’d happy sign up for one by Kathleen Stock.

Last edited 6 months ago by Tom K
Jane Watson
Jane Watson
6 months ago

I remain unconvinced that there is any correlation whatsoever between IQ and gumption. There is, however, some evidence that high IQ can be associated with autism. People with autistic traits often have tunnel vision and an inability to see the bigger picture. They can be highly focused and quick ‘learners’ but often struggle to see the wood for the trees.

I’m sure Rory Stewart thinks he’s brilliant, but the reason some politicians connect with the public is because they have skills other than intellectual. People with low empathy (including many with high IQ) don’t actually know that they have deficits – which is why they don’t ‘get’ Trump or BoJo. They don’t recognise abilities that are foreign to them.

The average person can see and appreciate when someone is clever, but also not so clever that something’s a bit lacking.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Most critics ‘get’ Bojo and Trump, and why people have voted for them. Lies, bluster and scapegoating are not a new Playbook and a long history of working. Fighting against that though is essential as it’s a false prospectus more designed to benefit the conveyor than the supporter.
However I entirely agree that telling supporters of such like ‘you are stupid’ inevitably going to get the wrong reaction. At same time if you are triggered by scapegoating, and other such reflex, it can’t be entirely ignored.

Paul T
Paul T
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

You don’t appear to get anything.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Another unexpected finding from some research I did on different cognitive ‘styles’ is that high ‘systemisers’ (low on empathy) often believe that people are ‘moulded’ by influential others. I don’t know if they think it’s just the ‘stupid’ people who are easily influenced, but it would explain a lot.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

It is the people who dumb but who like to think of themselves as smart that are easily moulded. Heaven forbid that they should ever be caught holding a low status opinion.
People who have no pretentions towards being smart are in a better position to spot who is wearing no cloths

Samuel Gee
Samuel Gee
6 months ago

Interesting also is the point made by Jonathan Haidt in “The Righteous Mind”. That we all indulge in motivated reasoning. We react emotionally first according to our own prejudices and then look for evidence and justification for them. Clever articulate people are very much better at providing and articulating that post hoc justification.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“…Lies, bluster and scapegoating are not a new Playbook…”

No they are not. So I’m curious if you think that Balls, Osborne, Stewart, and incoming, Starmer, Reeves, Rayner et al, are telling any porkies themselves?

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Ordinary people are really not quite as stupid as you think they are, you know. We don’t vote for Trump and Johnson because we like or believe them, we vote for them because they are the only alternative on offer to the incompetent and greedy elite that currently rules over us.
The mess we’re in now on both sides of the Atlantic wasn’t created by Boris or Trump. It was created by the politicians and bureaucrats that you support.
You should do a little work on the snobbery and class hatred because it’s blinding you to what is really going on.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Er, I didn’t agree with j watson’s first sentence either. But he didn’t say anything about which politicians he supports. Nor does he express snobbery and class hatred. He said something you don’t agree with. Thanks for demonstrating exactly what a witless response looks like.

Last edited 6 months ago by Coralie Palmer
Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

His inference is clear: people who vote for Trump or Boris are ‘stupid’ (but we shouldn’t say so). That is an entirely class-based position to adopt. After all, what is ‘free movement of labour and capital’ if it is not class war? It’s perfectly reasonable for people who are negatively affected by neo-liberal policies to vote against them whoever the candidate is.
Also, you should read some more of his comments. They make it quite clear that he’s a Blairite.

Isabel Ward
Isabel Ward
6 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

But anyone familiar with his posts would be familiar with his politics and it’s not conservative so the witless response is yours.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago
Reply to  Hugh Bryant

Well said

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

A large part of the reason why people vote for the likes of Bojo and Trump is because it so annoys people like you and and it is the one thing they can do which means that you cannot simply dismiss them as deplorables and ignore them

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

You do seem, rather subtly, to have suggested their dim

David McKee
David McKee
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

I’m not sure that’s an accurate assessment. I happen to be autistic, so you could say I have a working knowledge of autism. Stewart’s problem (and he has a problem) is not tunnel vision, much less autism. Rather, he expects instant and effortless success. For example (according to Wikipedia), he joined the Conservative Party in 2009, and within months, was chosen as the candidate for a safe seat. Nearly everyone else serves a lengthy apprenticeship of fighting unwinnable seats.
Stewart’s formidable gifts have stood him in good stead, but not in politics. Party politics is a team sport. Stewart, like Boris Johnson, thinks a lot of himself. Unlike Johnson, he does not hide this behind a smokescreen of bonhomie. I would be willing to bet that Stewart is one of these people who does not suffer fools gladly. We all know the type.

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

Thinking a lot of oneself is perhaps not uncommon in politics, or in any field where one seeks to become a ‘leader’? One reason it has been said that people who seek power should be the last to be trusted with it.

Some people are genuinely more popular than others; this is quite difficult to engineer but is perhaps easier if one doesn’t start from the premise that those who don’t bow to our superiority are ‘fools’?

My comments weren’t meant to ‘diagnose’ Rory Stewart, or anyone else, but to make the observation that ‘intelligence’ does not guarantee that someone will be effective in a role that requires broad skills, of which one is the ability (and desire) to communicate with ‘ordinary’ people.

Saying that Boris Johnson’s ‘bonhomie’ is a ‘smokescreen’ rather supports my theory that you either don’t recognise BJ’s social skills or think they are faked?

David McKee
David McKee
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Oh, Stewart can communicate, when he puts his mind to it. He proved that in the first televised hustings for the 2019 leadership contest. He expects people to greet him with shouts of acclamation. When they don’t, he gets bored and huffy.
BJ, on the other hand, uses charm by the bucketload and like a cudgel. I’ve met him, so I know this from first hand. The BJ we know does not exist. It’s a carefully scripted act.
Your basic point, that intelligence is helpful but far from sufficient, is sound though. This (https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/ministers-reflect) provides a rather more balanced picture.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

An interesting short piece on Stewart by Janice Turner in the Times yesterday said exactly the same thing. When he was in parliament she had interviewed him at length and found him intelligent and likeable. But he simply could not bear criticism and got very huffy when the published interview wasn’t sufficiently adoring.

Ross Jolliffe
Ross Jolliffe
6 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

All this may be right: Rory’s book, The Places In Between, is a good read but there were instances when he obliged poor Afghans to make significant efforts for him with an apparently oblivious entitlement that left me puzzled. Annoyingly, we can’t find perfect people for leadership!

Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

I would say he has tunnel vision about himself & his views in that he thinks that is all that matters.

George Venning
George Venning
6 months ago
Reply to  David McKee

I think that’s a deeply perceptive point. I think that what makes so many of the people at the centre of public life so awful is that, for so many of them, their experience is of generally being feted, and congratulated on all their success.
Well done on getting into Oxford, on graduating with a brilliant degree, on your successful business/career at the bar/in the city, on winning your seat on accession to the front bench.
I suspect that, even for those from modest backgrounds, their very success in getting from there to the heart of Westminster gives them a deeply odd perspective on life and on how the world works for most people. I’m not saying that we should deliberately put some quota of life’s failures into parliament. I’m saying that some of the most interesting people in public life haven’t just experienced “life outside politics”, they’ve also had experience of not succeeding.
Angela Rayner, Mhairi Black,

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

You are right in that IQ does not necessarily reflect the ability to process information or reason well.

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Stewart clearly thinks that he should be at the centre, or the head, of government. To me, the humble-bragging about “running an NGO” says the exact opposite.
Whatever the field and effectiveness of NGO’s their main skill tends to be heroic profligacy with other people’s money – particularly public money. Secondary skills include using their generosity with donated funds to virtue-signal, to self-aggrandise and, above all, to self perpetuate the organisation.
When, ever, did we see an NGO or a charity announce “Well, that’s it, job done. We’ve been so successful that we’re closing down now.”
I rest my case. I know exactly what Mr Stewart is, and to quote Rowan Atkinson, ‘I wouldn’t trust him to sit the right way round on a lavatory’ – especially if there was a camera or a source of finance nearby.

Last edited 6 months ago by Albireo Double
Bret Larson
Bret Larson
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Which is why people make the best decisions for themselves and government needs to work to minimize its footprint so people can retain their labour and use it as they see fit.

Tom K
Tom K
6 months ago
Reply to  Jane Watson

Quite apart from anything else, Stewart is far, far too ugly to make it as a senior politician.

William Murphy
William Murphy
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom K

P J O’Rourke described politics as show business for ugly people and Stewart seems to have adopted aspects of show business by his self publicity and broadcasting with the unspeakable Campbell.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
6 months ago

I’m sure these guys are all just spectacular – witty, intelligent, insightful – we’re just too stupid to appreciate it. Of course, we will never know because these guys spend no time outside their cloistered social circles.

P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Not many people do.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  P N

Which isn’t a problem until you’re running the country and actually need some understanding of people who aren’t like you. A quality which appears to be an automatic disqualification for any cabinet post.

Last edited 6 months ago by Coralie Palmer
AC Harper
AC Harper
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I suspect good ideas are not the resource bottleneck preventing progress – there are plenty of clever people around after all. The scarce resource appears to be determination, grit, gumption and pure bloody mindedness.
Even if these guys are spectacular and if they were elected they would still need to drive their ideas through their parties, the Houses of Parliament, the QUANGOs and the Civil Service.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Amongst whom we might spot the odd vested interest

Ron Wigley
Ron Wigley
6 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Jim Veenbaas. Like Londons Lefty Lawyers, better to be too stupid than to appreciate them!

Chris Hayes
Chris Hayes
6 months ago

There’s no doubt that Stewart is an intelligent and well educated man, but there’s a lingering shroud of mendacity about this individual: his time with the Army was between school and University, i.e. as some sort of “six-week-special” so not a soldier in any meaningful sense. 
And only in an Evelyn Waugh novel would someone with a couple of year’s service in the FCO be appointed Deputy Governor of an Iraqi province….His actual title according to his wikipedia page is Deputy Governorate Coordinator, which sounds more like someone who organises diaries for the grown-ups rather than a Deputy Governor: so Gareth, rather than David Brent.
Moreover, there’s also more than a touch of exaggeration about his “trek across Afghanistan” which actually wasn’t a two-year journey, but as far as I can garner started at the end of one year and ended the start of the next. So some 36 daycamping trip.
And then there’s his tenure at Harvard as a lecturer. Stewart is bright, no doubt, having received a first class education at Eton and Oxford, but his highest qualification as far as I can see is a BA – plus the exaggerated experience, of course. That does not get you tenure at Harvard. It may get you an internship, or a short scholarship – but swashbuckling professor Stewart, coming to save us all from populism and voting for things that he thinks might not be good for us – like some Cumbriana Jones – he is not. 

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
6 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hayes

Excellent.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
6 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hayes

Well, I suppose you feel better after all that.

Richard Craven
Richard Craven
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Well, I suppose you feel better after all that.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Rory Stewart has far wider experience than most people. In the land of the blind the one eyed man is king but he is no T E Lawrence, Richard Burton, John Masters or Dickson.
John Masters – Wikipedia
H. R. P. Dickson – Wikipedia
Anizah – Wikipedia
Dickson was wet nursed by woman from the Anizah Tribe and was treated as member of it.
I would suggest the main conflict between the West and Islamic World is the rejection of the freedom of women to sleep with whomever they desire. Does Rory Stewart have the ability to resolve this conflict so everyone is happy : if so, this will be a major achievement?

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
6 months ago
Reply to  Chris Hayes

Sour, much? I don’t take him at his own estimation either but the picture you paint of a Jeffrey Archer in disguise is just daft.

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
6 months ago

Agreed, we need more clear water between the political parties, as we have been increasingly in the era of the uniparty from Blair onwards and are now living in a world of stakeholder capitalism and technocratic authoritarianism. I’ve read all of Stewart’s previous books, but I doubt if I’ll read this one.
Despite liking Stewart’s accounts of Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Scottish Borders, I gradually cooled towards him as a politician. I’ve never been tempted to listen to even a single minute of his love-in with Campbell. I like Balls too; I know I’d enjoy a pint with him, but I’m not tempted by a similar show with him and Osborne (whom I view as the architect of the greatest transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the wealthy in history).
Prince Myshkin is Dostoyesky’s idiot, and is not from ‘War and Peace’.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
6 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Yes, I noticed that.

Sheesh, it’s only about the world’s most famous book and he can’t get it right.

‘Buddha, he’s the one from the Bible, right??’

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Was that Stock’s or Stewart’s blunder? Or both?

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
6 months ago

It was in italics, so possibly Stewart.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Thank you.
My thoughts exactly. Eton has a lot to answer for.

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
P N
P N
6 months ago

Yes because the 5 years between the ages of 13 and 18 are the only ones that count and everything a person does which you don’t like can be attributed to those 5 years, whilst the 1,000 children who attend the school at any one time are the same.

Last edited 6 months ago by P N
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  P N

Eton is very good at inculcating confidence and charm which go a long way in certain careers. However, the confidence is often misplaced with regard to ability. Stewart has the confidence to know though he may not know as much as other people have done, say T E Lawrence, he is the one eyed man amongst the blind and has the the ability to charm those who know far less than him.
The question which is not asked does Stewart know far less than needed in order to understand the complexities of the problems and hence arrive at solutions?
T E Lawrence wrote his undergraduate these on Crusader Castles and travelled in Middle East; he then spent years four living amongst and managing the Arab labourers at the dig at Carchemish before the start of WW1 and then worked in the Arab Bureau in Cairo. By his nature he was exceptionally able to divine the Beduin character.
In order to produce peope with the expertise of T E lawrence, H. R. P. Dickson or a Percy Cox.
Percy Cox – Wikipedia
People need to live for years amongst the people, speak their languages and all the dialects, understand the religion, history, culture, trade, character, figthing skills, marriage traditions, relationships between families and clans, etc. In the Arabic world and many other countries one needs to know the blood relationship between peoples which may extend to the fifth cousin. On a basic level loyalty starts to brothers and sisters with the same Mother. Where a man has married several wives, seniority usually goes to the oldest son of the most senior wife. It was said the influence of St John Philby was because he understod the blood connection of the all the princes and princesses of The House of Saud.
St John Philby – Wikipedia
When it comes Afghanistan how much of the Taleban attitude is in fact Pashtun Nationalism and how much of the politics is based upon family and clan relationships?
Stewart may be the best we have but is he good enough?

Nik Jewell
Nik Jewell
6 months ago

I see the article has been corrected to ‘Prince Andrei’.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

For which you, quite deservedly must take full credit.

ps. Interesting that someone in HQ UnHerd is actually paying attention, is it not?

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Beat me to it

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
6 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

With you on all of that except Ed Balls. His attempts at misrepresentation and shouting down of Kathleen Stock on GMB reveal exactly who he is. Watch him being utterly outclassed here:
https://youtu.be/auP1nbrZ4Mo?si=NhqVvZa9HfbuvcrR

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Thanks for that, which I hadn’t seen.
Besides ‘eating too many buns’, MrBalls obviously needs
“re-educating through labour”!

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Jane Watson
Jane Watson
6 months ago

Thanks for that.

P N
P N
6 months ago

“With you on all of that except Ed Balls.”
Osborne wasn’t responsible for the transfer of wealth. That was the independent Bank of England.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago
Reply to  P N

Quite so.

Matt M
Matt M
6 months ago

That’s very funny Simon. Stock runs rings around those two halfwits (I’m not sure who the blond is but she isn’t troubling Mensa any time soon).

Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
6 months ago

Balls has class? Who knew?

P N
P N
6 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

“(whom I view as the architect of the greatest transfer of wealth from ordinary people to the wealthy in history)”
On what grounds? Osborne wasn’t doing the money printing, nor was he responsible for the loose monetary policy which drove up asset prices. In fact, he was actually engaged in reducing the money supply by shrinking the deficit and the state.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago
Reply to  P N

I’m embarrassed that I failed to spot this little error

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
6 months ago
Reply to  Nik Jewell

Yes, I’ve had absolutely the same attitude to Stewart. I do think he is very clever, erudite in a posh, post-colonial sort of way, and his travel adventures are impressive. But this patrician stance of “if people would just think a bit more, care to raise their IQ slightly, they would all come round to my way of thinking” is very off-putting.
Won’t be reading the new book and I avoid anything even vaguely relating to Alistair Campbell.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
6 months ago

The worst example I’ve yet seen of the pompous, self-congratulatory punditry of the failed elite is a video on youTube in which Andrew Marr tells us how Starmer’s Labour is going to fix Britain.
Do you think Andrew Marr ever once asked himself whether a system under which, thanks to the monopoly power of the BBC, he was able to pay himself considerably more in a year than a paramedic earns in a decade, might need more in the way of change at the top than just the replacement of the Tories’ tweedledum with Labour’s tweedledee.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
6 months ago

Kathleen Stock is someone who is actually clever and it shines through this article.

Paul T
Paul T
6 months ago

A truly intelligent politician would listen to the people of the country, not dismiss them as fantasists, racists, homophobes, xenophobes etc. and work on easing their fears by diluting them. Not so with Labour; they are determined to foist a world view that many don’t share by providing a never-ending series of bribes for their votes. Do people really so readily ignore the shy-Tories effect which delivered Boris Johnson a huge majority? Do you think he is going to be quiet come the election? Do they really think that the votes which gave Johnson that huge majority are going to roll over and vote for people that call them fantasists, racists, homophobes, xenophobes etc.? The press are manipulating us all in their never-ending search for newer headlines. The only reason they want Labour in is because they want new and sensational headlines, at the expense of the country, to drive clicks and ad revenue.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

“Stewart is still mired in the classic patrician attitude of the educated liberal who equates “clever” with “good” with “what me and my friends think”.
Well done Ms Stock that sentence says it all! Stewart is a classic WET, his perpetually pained expression makes one think he is plodding towards Golgotha. His ideas are little more than another version of Plato’s Republic, and completely unrealistic.
Give me Ed Balls any day.

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago

The Great Kathleen scores many bullseyes here. The insufferably smug attitudes of the ‘elite’ (sort of) political MTS – media tart set for one. But I do not accept that the likes of Osborne or the thug Campbell are nice dinky ‘centrists’. They all have bowed the knee to the five progressive apocalyptic horsemen shredding our nation. The extreme and dangerous cults of DEI Net Zero/ESG and the Doom Loopers of Open Borders, Neo Socialism and Welfarism. Rory is at least maverick adventurous and eccentric. The majority are just crass with no life experience outside administration and politics.

But what articles on these guys and the Ranting Rayner ignore is The Elephant in Room – what one can call the Great Detachment. A huge chasm has opened up since 2016 between people and private enterprise and Them – the failing vampyric political class + Blob + crappy wfh public sector + nasty striking Super Rich Doctors + voluntary and charity sector + Civil Service + Regulatory Technocrats..all cushioned by now incredible unaffordable pensions and 95% ‘progressive’.

They form a Separate CLASS, bound together largely by their having the pension pillow and having won a stake in the Great Property Heist. They are The Propetocracy. This greed they deny. But it lies at the very heart of their Remainiac/ersatz new European identity and hatred of anything (esp Brexit) which threatened their wealth and privilege. We should stop pretending that we are now not riven and divided. And stop pretending that this Diktat Happy Zil Lane class (unapologetic for overseeing crippling decline) has the interests of the whole nation at heart. They hate the very word. They have a different identity now. Centrist and paternal it is not.

Karen Arnold
Karen Arnold
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

I think a big part of the problem is we have a professional politician class, many educated in PPE, they have a high level of self regard and quite a lot of contempt for the majority of the population, even the educated. They are referred to as centrist, but I don’t think they are, their behaviour suggests we should do and think as they wish, that is authoritarianism trying to pass as reasonable. Perhaps we should look at the system in Switzerland, then the views of the electorate should have more influence.

Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago
Reply to  Karen Arnold

That has some truth. But I still argue there is something NEW abroad. Oxbridge & private schools have long dominated the Establishment. But the New Order post 90s political Establishment – as I described it – is totally different in scale. And radically different in actively harbouring an ideology (liberal progressivism) like the Soviet CCP. See the ‘Proud Woke’ Fool May. Clueless groupthunk failurem And this elite is operating as an economic class: a Remainiac Propetocracy. This is unprecedented. And by the way, EDI is whittling away meritocracy in Oxbridge. The vetoed top students are heading off to the US, so ensuring the further decline in the quality of the grads pouring into the State Blob.

Karen Arnold
Karen Arnold
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

EDI will also have a negative effect on bright graduates from ordinary backgrounds who will find themselves overlooked for not coming from favoured groups. It will create a valid sense of injustice.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Karen Arnold

We have a bureaucratic oligarchy recruited form upper middle class suburban homes with arts degrees who have little or no experience of life outside of their bubble AND what is taking place in other countries and technology.
The BOs do not create organisations but take them over and run them for their benefit. The BOs can be found in the top three levels of an organisation. The NHS was not created by BOs but decades later the primary beneficiaries are the BOs.
The land owning officer of WW1 had far more connection with people on their estate and with the men they lived and fought together than the suburban bureaucratic oligarchy.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

It’s not particularly new.
What we have now is just the inevitable consequence of a long period of peace, prosperity, cheap energy and low interest rates.

Two world wars in the 20th century gave us a golden period of social cohesion, economic equality and meritocracy. We had an elite class who had proven themselves in the hardest time our country ever faced.

Soft times breed soft people and corrupt leaders. Now to be a member of the elite requires not talent, hard work and leadership but the ability to lie and cheat your way to the top.
Our leaders hate us because on some level they know how useless and worthless they are.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Britain created a bureaucratic state in WW2. Many of those were innovative and industrious, endowed with a spirit of adventure and enterprise were either killed, worked overseas or emigrated. Those who took control of Britain were the bureaucratic and leaders of un and semi skilled unions ( not skilled craft unions) who felt inadequate when outshone by the innovative and industrious endowed with the spirit of adventure and enterptrise.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
6 months ago

Kathleen is a prophet of our times. These upper middle-class men have already failed and have created the very conditions they now claim to be able to fix. The nation-state is dying and control has been ceded to global instititions who themselves have little real control over actual events and seek merely to manipulate ‘the narrative’ with social psychology, censorship and increasing authoritarianism. National governments are just helpless puppets. To make up for this, even as they fail at their main and historic tasks, they pretend to be able to micromanage everything about our lives from health to education to the weather; reducing the once authoritative and independent professional and technical class to mere workers. Meanwhile the people, cast adrift, ape their ‘betters’ and descend into crass materialism, worship of celebrity, sexual promiscuity and petty corruption. Nothing good can come from such an elite whose only priority is its own survival. Moral and material regeneration must emerge from below and government must be exercised locally as infrastructure and institutions fail and people and communities begin to eschew authority and cater to their own needs. I suspect it will take either a major disaster or a huge religious revival to make the circumstances necessary for this to happen; in the meantime it behoves us all to become as self-reliant as we can under the circumstances.

Last edited 6 months ago by Martin Smith
Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin Smith

Much of what you say could be aplied with equal force to managers in companies.

Martin Smith
Martin Smith
6 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Yes, incompetence and vanity everywhere.

Charlie Two
Charlie Two
6 months ago

stewart is a classic public school bullplopper. he didnt walk unarmed across afghanistan on his own; his relatives sorted oassage for him. he didnt run an iraqi provence. when pushed on it he demurs, backs off and gets strangely modest, relying on the term “basically ran”. did you or didnt you? i dont t hink you did. he wasnt a ‘soldier’. he did the usual public schoolboy trick of contacts and connections getting him a short service voluntary commission – a 5 month piss up. that doesnt make you a ‘soldier’. he briefs journalists to use certain terms as if they were their own rather than directly from him. in short, he’s a talentless narcissist whose only talent is self promotiuon.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago
Reply to  Charlie Two

I work at an independent school for boys (not Eton) and to be fair to the lads, they are overwhelmingly lovely. However, there is a tacit “We will lead” among some. Still lovely, still clever but it makes me a little uncomfortable

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
6 months ago

Is it their fault? or is it an embedded part of the school ethos for which ultimately you and your colleagues are responsible? It is a long time since 1969 but I remember sitting in a room with a map of the world on the wall coloured pink – and unchanged since 1947 – being lectured on why we were lucky in that we were being endowed by the school with powers of natural leadership probably best utilised as District Officers in (no longer existent) African colonies. Even at nine I thought it was utterly deranged (and made the mistake of saying so). By 1975 it had been adapted and I was being told that British industry was suffering due to the lack of decent man management from public school trained leaders. By this stage I was convinced my teachers were clinically insane and had started taking my philosophy from Monty Python instead. I doubt the message is as explicit today but – by the sounds of it – it has only been re channeled and not eliminated. Whose fault?

Last edited 6 months ago by Alex Carnegie
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Public schools did produce leaders when conditions meant boys were tempered by physical and mentally by adversity and their mettle was tested running remote areas, on the battle field, on construction sites, mines oilfields , etc. Pre WW2 boys were boarding from a young age, they bathed in cold water, swum in cold water beatings were common, sports were boxing /gymnastics, rugby, cricket, rowing, fencing shooting, riding and academic study comprised Classical and European Languages, History, Maths and Sciences. Their bodies underwent a Spartan training and their minds an Athenian one. As Orwell pointed out the greatest duty was to die for Britain.
Two family friends were tortured by the SS for months. One describe it as unpleasant and told his daughters he was knocked around a bit; somewhat of an understatement as his wife recalled years of nightmares.
However, today, life is far more pampered and there appears to be too many with a sense of entitlement, a false sense of confidence based upon their bodies and minds not being tempered by adversity and their mettle being un-tested: Cameron, Johnson and Osborne come to mind. Whereas Ernest Shackleton, T E Lawrence, Freddy Spencer Chapman David Stirling and Paddy Blair Mayne inspired people to live and conquer their fear of death.

rupert carnegie
rupert carnegie
6 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

The regime you describe still existed in the 1960s but, as you say, it has changed since. Was the inflexion point the 1980s? I am not sure. But the physical and intellectual toughening aside, there was still something on top – an inculcated confidence in their powers of leadership. I remember talking to a relation who had been a 17 year old midshipman on the first day of the Gallipoli landings. What struck me most was not the physical endurance or his courage but that at one point he encountered a 30 year old corporal cowering on the beach and after failing to persuade him to return to the frontline a hundred yards away, drew his pistol and calmly told him he would shoot him if he did not. And meant it. I don’t think entitlement quite captures that level of self belief.

rupert carnegie
rupert carnegie
6 months ago

No idea why UH has changed my name again.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago

I once asked my Father what guns he had fired in WW2. His reply was ” Everything from 0.38 inch to 6 inch ” . I asked why he needed a 0.38 on a ship ? “To keep order on the lifeboats”. My Father was eighteen when he went sea and when he said ” To keep order in the lifeboats” he went grey “. At the age of eighteen my Father was given authorisation by the British Government to kill in order to keep order on a lifeboat.
Up to 1945 Britain bred a sufficiently large percentage of men and women with the toughness to win WW2.
What I think is ignored is that those in combat from 1939 to end 1942 was that it was not a matter of life or death but a matter how one died. To quote Captain Edward Kennedy of a Merchant Cruiser HMS Rawalpindi when faced by two, 11 inch pocket battleships
“We’ll fight them both, they’ll sink us, and that will be that. Good-bye”.
HMS Rawalpindi – Wikipedia
The percentage of those educated in public school with the spirit of Captain Edward Kennedy RN appears to have declined.

rupert carnegie
rupert carnegie
6 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

I am sure that the physical toughness is less evident with the abolition of cold baths etc but, as I suggested above, I get the impression that there are still lingering traces of the psychology. I was very struck by how Blair and Cameron leapt with both feet into the Afghan and Libyan adventures (OK Cameron soon leapt out). I found it hard to avoid the conclusion that both had felt the pull of a Kipling spirit they had absorbed at their rather traditional schools.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago

They sent others into combat with an inadequate understanding of the sitution and inadequate equipment. I went to meeting with Stewart and raised the point that we had becom involved in countries in which today we have a woefully inadequate understanding of the complexities and he agreed. I suggest post WW2 Britain is as Field Marshall Viscount Alan Brooke said in 1942
on the lack of good military commanders: “Half our Corps and Divisional Commanders are totally unfit for their appointments, and yet if I was to sack them I could find no better! They lack character, imagination, drive and power of leadership. The reason for this state of affairs is to be found in the losses we sustained in the last war of all our best officers, who should now be our senior commanders.”[22]
Stewart is the best of the bunch when it comes to understanding the Middle East.
Jugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen/Saudi Arabia and Libya have layers of complexity going back perhaps 3,000 years which create the fault lines between peoples. Cameron, Blair and our suburban upper middle class office workers post 1960s liberal types not only do not understand but do not want to. A Syrian Christian priest said to me ” The 9/11 attack was statement that religion was important to the attackers”. We have leaders who do not comprehend that religion can be important to some people.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
6 months ago

Oh no, just like Blair, that other rockstar manqué. Ed Balls never got over his success on Strictly.

Who can forget the Chinese amazement at Tony and Cherie’s winning rendition of ‘When I’m 64’ ?

Just before he was asked whether he had blood on his hands after the death of weapons expert David Kelly; and that reptile Alistair Campbell who unleashed the attack dogs has the temerity to show his face in public.

What next ? Nadine Dorries on Only Fans?

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
6 months ago
Reply to  Mike Downing

You’re tempting me.

If we pay £1, does she take an item off, or does it cancel out if someone else offers £2 for her to put it back on ?

Last edited 6 months ago by Dumetrius
Mike Downing
Mike Downing
6 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Seriously, it would soon lose its appeal and become the eighth circle of hell, like the grimy village bathhouse full of spiders in Crime and Punishment; a black eternity .

jonathan carter-meggs
jonathan carter-meggs
6 months ago

Excellent dissection of these entitled and righteous nobodies. I once went to a private dinner with some very big ex-grandees and you should have heard them slag off the voter! They despise everyone except themselves. I also bumped into Cameron randomly a few weeks ago, he really wanted to shrink into the ground and seemed sadly very small. Where are the intelligent greats we are expected to follow? Starmer anyone….ha ha ha.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
6 months ago

Do ‘the sharpest minds ones knows’ usually call a referendum and then immediately have to resign because they’ve no idea how to implement it?

Or introduce their Australian sugar farmer mate to the finance industry . . . and then suddenly Switzerland loses half it’s economy?

How sharp are we talking here?

Last edited 6 months ago by Dumetrius
Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
6 months ago

I could not care less about Rory Stewart and Alistair Campbell’s podcast or most of this article – very well written as usual but basically a powerful mind grappling with a third order problem – but embedded in the middle was nugget of pure gold:

“Running a country these days involves oversight of hundreds of highly complex systems and sub-systems — economic, technological, judicial, diplomatic — directed at whatever goals currently judged socially desirable by voters or their representatives. Yet as Stewart said in an interview this week: The truth is… politicians don’t really know what’s going on. And yet we pretend to the public that we do.”

This is a savage inditement of how this country operates.

I blame Maggie Thatcher for much of this. She may have got some other things right but she totally messed up the politician / civil servant / technocrat relationship with her enthusiasm for minister-managers and belief that “advisers advise, ministers decide”. 

A minor quibble is that it is baloney. The sheer volume of government business means that many decisions have to be taken by technocrats or bureaucrats.

The first serious point is that very few politicians could manage a whelk store. Even those that can such as Michael Gove learnt through trial and error; his first serious job left half the Education department traumatised and on Valium. Most politicians are unfitted by skill set, experience or temperament to manage large organisations. Politics is about this week and keeping options open; management about making firm decisions several years ahead and pursuing long term strategy. There is a basic incompatibility.

It would be far better if politicians focussed on talking to and understanding the public – and what they want or need – and setting overall objectives i.e. played Chairman of the Board not MD. Both Boris and Trump have imperfections but they did at least do what only politicians can do – connect with the public, identify their neglected requirements and propose solutions. The technocratic elite had barely noticed that 30-50% of the population was suffering as the result their policies of globalisation, automation and immigration. They certainly could not connect.

The second serious point is that this idea poisoned the relationship between ministers and civil servants and demotivated and demoralised the latter. The British had a Rolls Royce civil service in its 1940-60 heyday – it could move mountains and organised WW2, the NHS, etc – but now we have a clapped out Ford with wonky steering that keeps ending up in the ditch – and which struggles to move a molehill. Since 1980 and Maggie Thatcher we have watched an ever accelerating decline.

One can debate the solutions but the first thing is to acknowledge the problem. Indeed what point is there discussing many other issues until we once again have politicians connecting with the public and an effective mechanism for implementing solutions. 

While we are at it, we also need a drive to eliminate the pervasive soft corruption that is filtering through the system.

Last edited 6 months ago by Alex Carnegie
Jacqueline Burns
Jacqueline Burns
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

I think you meant ‘advisers advise, ministers decide!’ At last, I hope you did.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
6 months ago

Whoops. Thanks. Corrected.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Interesting that on today’s 13.00hrs Radio 4 News it was reported that Wandsworth Prison was only 61% manned on the day of the ‘Great Escape’ last week!
I gather that figure is about the daily average for MOST of the Civil Service .

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

You make really interesting points and I ought to do you the courtesy of reading your words again except that this passage struck me

“It would be far better if politicians focussed on talking to and understanding the public – and what they want or need – and setting overall objectives i.e. played Chairman of the Board not MD”

Who are the public? There are too many confounding, confusing voices from the wise to the barmy.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
6 months ago

You are right. A cacophony of voices – especially when one adds in the astroturf impersonations of the public. Nevertheless it is still quite something that the US system could not hear the 40% odd of the population who now form Trump’s base but have been shouting ever louder for over thirty years about their economic woes. A sort of reverse Emperor’s clothes situation. Instead of seeing something that wasn’t there they could not see – or rather hear – something that was and was growing ever larger. Structural and/or wilful deafness? It should not have required a very weird outsider to point out what should have been obvious to conventional politicians.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Leaving half the Education Department on Valium was fine by me. I suspect that those twisting their hankies in therapy were a mixture of the Baa Baa White Sheep brigade and the We know best contingent. The real culprit was David Cameron who removed a powerful, change-driving minister just as he had begun to make headway for fear that he might upset people.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago
Reply to  Alex Carnegie

Those running Britain post 1945, Civil Servants, Politicians, Academics, Lawyers , The Media, etc failed to understand what was happening in the World. Those who did, worked overseas and took no part in influencing British policy. Major failures: failed to perceive rapid increase in industrial and technological power of the USA, West Germany, Northern Italy and Japan and now China and India ;closure of Suez Ship Canal; development of electronic and later computer control systems; rise in price of oil, nature of the EEC and EU as a political not a trade entity. Britain joined the EEC for trade reasons, all other countries viewed the EEC as politcal entity to prevent war, hence our different views.
Britain has not been invaded for nearly a thousand years and our boundaries are 1500 years old. This gives a completely different perspective to people have lived along a line from Switzerland, northwards along the French/German border through Belgium and Northern France to the Channel, who have experienced war and destruction of their homes, every few decades.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
6 months ago

If Rory Stewart is such a poor judge of character he thinks it’s ok to have chummy conversations with Alastair Campbell of all people I don’t see how we can honestly be expected to listen to anything he might have to say or take him seriously in any way.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Exactly, well said Sir!

Chipoko
Chipoko
6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

My view entirely!

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
6 months ago

“If you asked a searching question about an incoming piece of legislation, you were mocked. If you knew more than the average person about a particular policy area, this would be treated as a positive reason to keep you away from it.” Neither the elected members nor even the cabinet have much relevance to legislation. That’s exclusively within the purview of the inner sanctum around the PM. I find it irritating in news items when members of countries’ legislatures are decribed using the terminology “lawmakers”. They would be much more accurately described as “lobby fodder”. Either Mr Stewart is being disingenuous or he must have been ever so slightly naive if he did not realise this when he entered parliament. I suspect that he is frustrated that he wasn’t fast-tracked.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Is the ‘Willie Dalrymple’ mentioned by Ms Stock by any chance the Scotsman who writes disparaging books about the British Empire, does anyone know?
If so, I met him some years ago at a reception given by the British Ambassador in Delhi and was astonished to see that he turned up wearing ‘native kit’!
His excuse was that he owned, and lived on a farm near Delhi. Most of my cohort thought he was suffering from a very bad bout of ‘jungle fever’.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago

File this amongst “things that never happened”!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

.comment image

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago

Oh, I have no doubt that Mr Dalrymple dressed like that. You just weren’t there to see it!

John Murray
John Murray
6 months ago

I recall from my college days wearing exactly that kind of outfit while travelling in India, it is very practical for the country’s heat. If he lives out there, showing up in it seems perfectly reasonable.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  John Murray

At the time my ‘cohort’ just thought he was showing off at best, or making a political point at worst.
His subsequent behaviour now seems to have confirmed the latter.

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago

Dalrymple is wearing Muslim garb and has aligned himself with the Mughal Empire. India is increasingly being dominated by Hindus, especially Dravidians and the computer software industry has moved the economic centre of gravity southwards ( Bangalore ). Tata are a Parsi family who fled from Persia.
Dalrymple is likely to be more of a liability than an asset when it comes to exporting to India.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Have you ever seen HMS Trincomalee, a ‘Leda’ class frigate, built by a Parsi firm in Bombay in 1819.
She currently resides in Hartlepool!

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago

Was the ship built by the Wadia Family ?
Wadia family – Wikipedia

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

Yes, along with few larger ones.
She, the Trincomalee is very similar to the famous HMS Shannon which gave the USS Chesapeake such a thrashing in 1814. Arguably the greatest single ship action under sail of all time.

Last edited 6 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago
Reply to  Charles Hedges

He is wearing ” kurta pyjama” which is the favourite garb of Congress politicians when they like to ” go slumming” in the Hindi heartland aka the ” cowbelt”.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Thank you so much for those ‘technical’ details.
I very much doubt if Mr Douglas Jardine would have approved!

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago

No! See you are still sticking to his ” line”
I don’t approve too of this attire

Last edited 6 months ago by Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago

As far as I know, India is technically still a part of the Commonwealth and thus it should be the British ” High Commissioner “, not Ambassador.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Thank you, my mistake.
In fact I think the reception was held in his private residence, one of those ‘Baker’s ovens’ as they are called.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago

HC UK is latter day I think? It’s in a zone built after Herb left. The Lutyens Zone bungalows are rather graceful still despite various ” simian”attacks.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

2, Rajaji Marg, Meena Bagh, wasn’t that a Baker building?
Engaged Tuscan columns, white exterior, a sweeping staircase, and a vague whiff of Ancient Rome?

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago

His local aide Sir Sobha more likely. Baker did the grand sweep of South and North Block and Kingsway. The building you mention I think is more Sir Sobha’s Folly.
Calcutta had the best EIC and Raj era buildings. Governor’s House modelled on Keddleston Hall. Belvedere. General Post Office. Writer’s Building. Treasury Building. Fairlie Place.Barrackpore. A host of others.
Befitting of the ” Second City of the British Empire” in my humble and parochial opinion.

Last edited 6 months ago by Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Thank you!
Sadly on all my pilgrimages to India I have never made it to Calcutta. I have always wanted to see Government House, but apparently access is very restricted, as it is also to Fort William.
Undoubtedly Calcutta deserves the title of “Second City of the British Empire “ for the very reasons you state. There is none other worthy of such a title.
Most of us forget that Delhi only became the capital in 1911 was it? Prior to that Calcutta was the seat of ‘Imperium’.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago

Unfortunately the advent of the Marxists since 1977 ruined most of the buildings. There is still the Victoria Memorial though.
Government House is restricted, but the Belvedere Estate now houses the National Library and is open access.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

I gather the Governor of West Bengal now resides in in Wellesley’s Government House. Do you think a personal letter might gain access to the great public rooms?
Completed about 1803 it makes the White House completed about 1797 seem rather parochial, which is just as it should be.

rupert carnegie
rupert carnegie
6 months ago

Thanks

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago

You could try! There is a local Deputy British High Commissioner too, and the latest Governor is a former mandarin, so the ” twain” should ” meet”.

https://www.consulkolkata.org/britain.html

Last edited 6 months ago by Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

My Club has a number of reciprocal arrangements with Clubs in Calcutta, so perhaps one last chance, assuming that my Chief of Staff agrees.

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago

Like the city the clubs are also in atrophy mode.
Among them Tolly( Tollygunge) is the best in terms of ( tropical)sylvan surroundings and golf- swimming. The Bengal Club still dares to keep some EIC men’s portraits in its dining room.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Well that sounds encouraging, in that they still exist!
By way of reciprocation, should you ever be in NW England, Lancashire in fact, may I recommend ‘The Inn at Whitewell’?
In a very isolated and simply beautiful location at the southern end of the Forest of Bowland (FoB), about eight miles from Clitheroe.
It was rejuvenated by the late Richard Bowman*, who played for Lancashire in the 50’s. It has only about 20 uniquely splendid rooms, all complete with a small cricketing ‘library’. (Each of the room keys has a cricket ball attached!)
Splendid food, roaring fires, and magnificent vistas of the FoB to the north.
All in all “worth seeing and WORTH going to see”.

(* Known off course as D*ck, but the censor/algorithm would go ballistic if I typed that, such is the way of the world we now live in.)

Sayantani Gupta Jafa
Sayantani Gupta Jafa
6 months ago

Thank you!

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
6 months ago

An intelligent essay from KS as usual. However I am left wondering exactly what she has in mind for the way forward. Not technocrats, not centerist dads, not neoliberal free marketeers, not the anti-growth Greens, not anti-capitalist lefties, and certainly not corporate identity politics. And presumably she doesn’t seriously think that that likes of Johnson and Trump had/ have any answers – they are more like a cry of desperation. Some kind of nostalgia for pre-blob and pre-woke days perhaps? But then again as a gay women presumably its not that simple. In any case in the world of the internet it can only ever be nostalgia.
The problem of the age seems to be that we enjoy identifying what we don’t like, but exactly what we’re for is a little more tricky.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

I think that’s fair. KS is a philosopher, but having been rudely defenestrated from Sussex she’s now making a successful living by offering often penetrating analysis on any number of cultural issues (in addition to a more recent tenure at Austin, Texas i believe). Inevitably, her area of expertise can’t stretch over every aspect of our cultural lives and whilst this article is a successful takedown, it’s almost certainly wiser of her not to proffer her own opinions as to the way forward, even if she has them, and even though this falls foul of the tendency you describe, of which we’re probably all guilty.

Last edited 6 months ago by Steve Murray
Walter Marvell
Walter Marvell
6 months ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

A very fair point. But are there not a few fundamentals we can agree are preferable to the New Blob/Woke Tecchno Order?? Free Speech. Proper free speech, included a non partisan BBC. An end to divisive toxic DEI; just a commitment to fairness and oppprtunity for all. Surely wealth creation and the dynamism of private enterprise could be an old value someone in the pol sphere might champion,? A society shorn of aggressive entitlements and individualism? Honest law? Hard working impartial civil service? Lower taxes? There are so so many values we no longer support. But we all have known them. Surely there is path out??

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
6 months ago
Reply to  Walter Marvell

I wish it were that simple. Many of the values you list, when thought through, point in opposite directions. The woke techno-order is simply the dynamism of private enterprise picking up on the latest fashions to flog more stuff. If it didn’t work they wouldn’t do it. And being serious about fairness and opportunity means considerable state intervention so difficult to square with lower taxes. (Opportunities for kids near where I live in the north are not even on the same planet as similar kids in Kensington) Not quite sure what you mean by aggressive entitlements and individualism, but we’re ruled by a whole class of entitled individuals from private schools and Oxbridge. But surely that’s freedom of the individual isn’t it?

R S Foster
R S Foster
6 months ago

…the infuriating thing is that they clearly believe that if they were in charge, all would be well…when it is actually, mostly, their fault.

When the Berlin Wall fell, the world got more dangerous, not less…but they took a “Peace Dividend” instead of re-arming.

In 1997 Blair could have imposed root and branch reform on the NHS and Welfare State…but just shoveled more money into them….using tax receipts that should have rebuilt infrastructure to instead create an army of needy clients.

They decided that in education, “All must have prizes” instead of finding and investing in the best and brightest, but making sure all could read, write, do sums…and lead a decent and orderly life.

They always preferred bankers to makers and doers…

…in essence, they fell like starving men on the nonsense of Fukuyamas “End of History”…because it felt so much more cosy and progressive and modern…than Samuel P Huntington’s vastly more prescient “Clash of Civilisations”.

And now, if the West is to survive, our Sons and Daughters will need to pay a price that they have been constantly reassured is no longer even possible.

They are a disgrace, and a permanent silence from the whole lot of them is long overdue…

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
6 months ago

Democracy is about the people getting what the majority want. There’s no caveat about “provided the clever ones agree it’s sensible”. Perhaps there should be but there isn’t.

Tyler Durden
Tyler Durden
6 months ago

With a Lib-Lab election victory in sight, yhe British political class is primed and ready to work for the euro again.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
6 months ago

They’ve turned into dowager politicians, the bunch of hypocrites.

Roderick MacDonald
Roderick MacDonald
6 months ago

Never, ever get on the wrong side of that photographer. He’s made Rory Stewart look like Frankenstein’s monster.

michael harris
michael harris
6 months ago

Don’t bother with the editorials. Just look at the photo choice. No words, body language!

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
6 months ago

As she writes, we have many clever politicians; what we need are more who are intelligent.

Melissa Martin
Melissa Martin
6 months ago

“Soon after giving a maiden speech comparing himself to Scott of the Antarctic, he found himself hiding in the toilets rather than voting as directed by the whips.” Fabulous.

Last edited 6 months ago by Melissa Martin
Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago

Though it’s been said before, her work on these pages is outstanding. I inevitably find her writing fascinating and full of understanding of the good, bad and mediocre.

I agree with her sentiments entirely but think the rather more robust language in which pseudo experts are condemned by Nassim Taleb even more powerful. What those smartypantses like Stewart, Balls and the rest of them fail to see is that, no matter how big are their brains, the complexity of the problems they believe that they can solve is far greater.

I believe that the only way out is to make the state smaller and give more responsibility to individuals, small local charities and councils. This is, in itself, a tough problem but, like Liz Truss’ budget, points us in the right direction. To continue to trust those who claim expertise and to know how to lead us to salvation, well, there’ll be teardrops to shed.

Last edited 6 months ago by Jonathan Andrews
Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago

Liz Truss’s budget?!?! We have a comedian among us!

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
6 months ago

We have higher taxes and as high interest rates as she managed and not prospect of change.
She made a big error in promising a huge subsidy to energy bills but the tax cutting (especially corporate taxes and the 45% rate were spot on).
I put that 45% one in especially for you Mr Champange

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

Her powers of comprehension are limited so don’t expect a reply soon.

Champagne Socialist
Champagne Socialist
6 months ago

“We have higher taxes and as high interest rates as she managed and not prospect of change.”
Want to try that one again, sonny?

Last edited 6 months ago by Champagne Socialist
Sue Ross
Sue Ross
6 months ago

Great, acute, article.
I stopped listening to The Rest is Politics over a year ago, when it became painfully clear how much Alistair Campbell disdains gender-critical women (‘red-faced golf club bores’) and spineless RS is on the issue.
And RS made f***-all difference to the prison service.

Phil Richardson
Phil Richardson
6 months ago

Excellent essay. However, there are a few issues abroad today that are so fundamental that reasoned disagreement seems hardly possible. I suspect the author knows precisely what they are. It’s implausible to call upon our common humanity when we can’t reliably locate it in the political context.

John Tyler
John Tyler
6 months ago

The ending to this article is especially fine: highlighting the difference between clever and wise. A lot of people are clever, but I’d rather have wise governors any time!

Louise Henson
Louise Henson
6 months ago

Stewart, meanwhile, already has a very popular podcast with Alastair Campbell called “The Rest is Politics.’
Campbell belongs in a bear pit. Stewart damns himself unreservedly simply by associating with him.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
6 months ago

 Liz Truss tells him: “I don’t believe in rural affairs, Rory. I think there is no relevant difference between rural and urban populations.” 
Wow, I’m impressed. I didnt really know anything about Truss, but now I see why she got the big job. I too believe there is no difference between the populations. There is after all, alot of mixing.
The only difference is that politicians can play politics between the two. Meaning, get what you want and get somebody else to pay for it.
So things like CO2 taxes on petrol, well, if you walk to the grocery store, the tax is alot less then if you have to drive 50km round trip.
Its sad that politicians setup their narratives to buy votes from metro jurisdictions and think that commodity production can be off-shored.
Sooner or later it will be terminal.

Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
6 months ago

What puzzles me is why a serious thinker like Stewart hangs out with a lightweight like Campbell. It’s like Barbara Castle hanging out with Barbara Windsor, they’re not on the same wavelength.

Lesley Rudd
Lesley Rudd
6 months ago
Reply to  Malcolm Knott

Money, pure and simple

R MS
R MS
6 months ago

The more I think about this article the more I dislike it.
The key point seems to be the lazy conflation of a technocratic consensus with a centrist consensus. They are chalk and cheese. Apples and pears.
There is for example an overwhelming international economic technocratic consensus Brexit will lower UK per capita GDP relative to what it would have been absent Brexit by imposing significant trade barriers on the UK. The only serious economists dissentienting from that are a tiny handful like Minford way outside the consensus.
Does that make the consensus centrist? Of course not. It a consensus of ‘everyone, everywhere, bar a handful’, including many on the right, centre, left and far left.
If you don’t like that consensus there are two intellectually serous ways of dealing with it. Take it on at the technical level and prove it wrong. Experts can be wrong. Go for it. Or say ‘fine, but I still want Brexit for this, that or the other reason even though the country will be poorer’. That fine too. Technocrats don’t run the country in a democracy and the people acting through politicians can override them. That’s why ministers decide. Not the civil service.
What is not an intellectually serious approach is to say call the economists ‘centrist dads’ or ‘a Remoaner elite’ or just ‘we’ve had enough of experts’ – pick your tribe, pick your insult. They are all the same.
If you don’t like the Brexit example we can play the same game with planning reform,. Or reform of the housing market. Or reform of the tax and benefit system. Or social care reform. There are also technocratic consensuses on all of these. None of them remotely, in everyday political terms, centrist. In fact they are far too radical for our politicians to touch as they fear the electorate. But that’s democracy.
Honestly Kathleen. cut out the intellectually lazy sub-populist ‘centrist dad’ rhetoric. You’re better than that. I kinda agree with you re Stewart and The Rest is Politics – far too cosy for me so I ditched after a couple of listens. But in writing this somehow you ended throwing baby out with bathwater.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
6 months ago

There’s a saying in my country. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. The technocrat establishment politicians are just playing the political game as it’s always been played in their lifetime, as a dichotomy of left and right, liberal and conservative, capitalist and socialist, individualist vs. collectivist. Over time, politics and the law of averages brought these forces closer and closer together, so they look increasingly like the same pole, and they lose their relevance. These days the center left and center right are not much farther apart than a man and his shadow. No, the players aren’t the problem. What we need is something few of us have seen in our lifetime. What we need is to change the game, and that’s hard. It usually requires a dynamic individual with broad appeal, like an FDR, or some crisis, or both to really shift the political poles. My best guess is that the new political poles look something like populists vs. technocrats, but I could easily be wrong.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
6 months ago

The major failure of those running the UK since 1945 has been the inability to discern the technological and industrial development of other countries. First the massive industrial expansion of the USA during WW2 and the 1950s: West Germany 1948 to 1963, Northern Italy 1945 to 1975 and Japan from early 1960s.
The major aspect was the education and training needed to move people from un and semi skilled jobs into skilled ones. The 1967 closure of the Suez Canal came after the development of transistors resulted in ships increasing in size from 50K to 500K T meant only very large mines, steel works and ships were ecomically viable.
The introduction of electronic control systems between 1967 and 1977 meant the massive over manning of un and semi skilled labour in low value engineering, mining, steel, merchant ship building and cars resulted in many British businesses making losses. To make matters worse, strikes increased costs for clients and quality was reduced.
Britain had the largest shipping companies in the mid 1950s and by late 1980s they had been sold, so no orders for steel.
Britain had the most advanced aeroplanes in the 1940s to early 1960s but the wrong decisions by politicians and civil servants destroyed the industry.
A simple test for these bright people. What are the major technological and trade challenges for Britain over the next 25 years and what are the skills required and how many people are needed ?
This is not about intelligence but discernment. Three Nobel Prize Winners upported Hitler in the 1920s; George Bernard Shaw and The Dean Of Canterbury supported Stalin in the 1930s and Sartre , Nobel Prize Winner supported Mao in the late 1960s.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
6 months ago

“multi-millionaire architect of Tory austerity under Cameron”
What austerity?

James Kirk
James Kirk
6 months ago

Campbell a Liberal? Tosh. He was practically Goebbels in his day. Now his, and the irrelevant losers, Stewart, Balls and Peston’s fangs are pulled, there are new more incompetent dangerous players on the board like Starmer and Rayner. These fools should dissolve back into the shadows whence they came.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
6 months ago

There is no surprise in BallsUp and Osborne sharing a podcast. Cameron and Osborne’s government was a Tony Blair tribute act.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
6 months ago

“Even when people agree about all the relevant facts in some domain, their radically different values will affect how they each respectively order and prioritise those facts, and what outcomes they then favour.”
Well yes, in the past – people in possession of a shared set of facts legitimately could disagree on fiscal policy, for instance.
Those days are gone though. The left and the right do not agree on facts. 
Most people nowadays are ideologues, pretending to be rational. Yer average right winger or leftie largely is impervious to changing facts. Locked into a deepening vortex of self-righteousness and vicious superiority, their opinions are only capable of becoming more entrenched.  

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
6 months ago

Kathleen Stock has many fans, myself included, as demonstrated by the resposes here. Her criticisms are interesting, and she tries to be fair, but she doesn’t offer any suggestions of who her ‘wiser ones’ might be. While I don’t care for Osborne or Balls, I do think Stewart has talent and experience to offer that they do not. He’s obviously not a political ‘operator’ –being reasonable isn’t enough to convince enough of the public to side with him, but let’s not throw him in the trash. He doesn’t deserve it.

Peter Styles
Peter Styles
6 months ago

Without doubt, the most perceptive article posted in the recent past.

V Reade
V Reade
6 months ago

Good points raised by Author of the article.
Another aspect of the ‘Rest is Politics’ podcast (which I actually enjoy) is the way the participants avoid discussing the issues they actually disagree on. When it starts to get heated on, say, the Iraq War, they back off. Also, their different positions on the Brexit referendum are never really addressed. I mean, Rory Stewart supporting a ‘soft-Brexit’ is a bit different from Alistair Campbell’s ‘People’s Vote’ position. Why not discuss it?

R MS
R MS
6 months ago

The weakest essay I’ve read from Ms Stock – actually the only really weak one.
The fault? It seems to conflate two completely different things.
At the end it is talking about how to lessen political polarisation and tribalism in the public at large and makes the unastonishing point that robust open debate and free speech conducted in accordance with hard edged liberal norms a la Berlin and Hitchens is the way to go.
Fine. I agree.
But the rest of the essay is about something totally different: effective policy making. And if Stewart is making the point that it helps is ministers are across the detail and care about the substantive merits of what they are doing rather than just political effects, that seems obvious too.
Does anyone seriously think the general public are going to have anything to say beyond the highest level of generality on the intricacies of, say, planning law reform, or technical reform of the tax and benefit system? Of course not. Ministers have to canvas the public in elections on the general approach they want, then they need the detailed grip to deliver. Civil servants can’t do that on their own. They need ministers to decide. That’s democracy. And if the ministers don’t have the knowledge or focus, well, look around you.
I would be surprised if Stewart is saying knowledge always leads to consensus. But if he does that is plainly wrong. But if he simply wants knowledgeable and serious ministers rather than the current Bluffocracy, and is making the point such an approach by politicians will on average tend more to consensus on at least some policy issues even if not others than the present Punch and Judy Show, that is right. Just look at how both parties have each from time to time come up with similar proposals for social care, only to shoot them down for political advantage when the other side makes them.

Martin Terrell
Martin Terrell
6 months ago

Very good. Maybe time for a wise philosopher to rule the country?

One point the new centrists never address in their wit and wisdom is whether they have any responsibility for what came after them? If they were so brilliant, they’d still be running the country and not opining on podcasts.

P N
P N
6 months ago

“With a straight face, the multi-millionaire architect of Tory austerity under Cameron…”

Boring and irrelevant ad hominem. Britain was and still is living beyond its means. We are relying on the taxes of future generations to sustain our lifestyle; that is taxation without representation for our children and grandchildren. Any attempt to rein in borrowing and public spending should be lauded and the fact that it was attempted by a wealthy individual does not lessen the need for it. Poor journalism.

T Doyle
T Doyle
6 months ago

Kathleen Stock is amazing. This is a great article exposing the disingenuousness of the so called mainstream who are just wolves in sheep’s clothing.

George Venning
George Venning
6 months ago

To be fair to Stewart, the point about citizens’ assemblies is precisely not to build consensus for whatever politicians would have thought of in the first place.
The point is to draw in a wide range of opinions (which is why the assembly is appointed by lot or sortition) and have the members of the assembly build the consensus out of what they can find to agree on.
That is how they worked in Ireland over the deeply contentious issue of abortion. It worked well enough to win the subsequent referendum on the set of proposals that had emerged.
And, to my mind, a citizen’s assembly is precisely what should have happened in the aftermath of the Brexit Referendum because there was this huge mandate to leave but not on what terms. But, somehow, all of the political parties decided that no further consultation of the electorate was necessary before they (who had unanimously opposed Brexit) determined what sort of Brexit we should have. It was demented.
And the outcome has pleased no-one.
I am by no means certain that staying in the customs union would have been what the assemly would have ordered. Because an assembly would have been aware that this meant accepting European rules that we had no hand in making and thus reducing rather than increasing our sovereignty. Soft Brexit was the Brexit proposed by the people who hadn’t wanted to leave in the first place and who were interested in “harm reduction”. So, I suspect that and assembly would have proposed a hard Brexit – because what is the point of Brexit if you can’t diverge? If you’re going to leave, you should leave in a way that has at least the potential for an upside. Shouldn’t you?
And an assembly could have proposed that, knowing that there would have to be a referendum on whether to accept their proposals and that, in that referendum, the public would know exactly what they were voting for.
And then, faced with the realities of a specific form of hard Brexit, I think that referendum would have been defeated. Probably narrowly but still – there was never any majority for hard Brexit (or a soft one actually).
And that would have been rather sad because the centrist Dads would all have said “I told you so” and gone back to being insufferable on a cross-party basis. Which is the real reason so many people voted to leave in the first place – because it’s what those gits in Westminster didn’t want.
But I think it would still have been preferable to what we’ve ended up with.

Last edited 6 months ago by George Venning
P N
P N
6 months ago

“With a straight face, the multi-millionaire architect of Tory austerity under Cameron tells us that new podcast will “expose how the powerful become powerless when faced with economic forces they can’t control”.”
Is this supposed to make some kind of argument or point? This is just a slur, an ad hominem that adds nothing. Disappointing. Stock may be the darling of Unherd because she’s brave enough to stand up to the trans ideologues but if this is the level of her writing, I don’t think I need bother reading much of her stuff.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago

A bit of the regular red-meat critique of likes of Stewart, Campbell, Centrists Dad’s. One suspects regular UnHerd writers work on a rotation to churn out this stuff for the base.
However that aside the Author states ‘what the public needs …, reasoned disagreement between people who differ radically on both facts and values, and yet who don’t resort to lazily dismissing each other’s characters or intellects in the process’. And who could disagree. But how do we get there? The Author is silent, and of course most of her Article is a take-down of character carefully camouflaged. There is no actual Policy debate and analysis of pros/cons in her Article at all. But to be fair she’s hardly alone. The reflex to tackle the man (or woman) rather than Ball is ubiquitous, and we all have that reflex.
My cynicism about this Author is the paucity of suggestions on what one does to make things better. This Article also lacks any analysis on why the likes of ‘Rest is Politics’ suddenly so popular. The two protagonists are really yesterdays men so why? And what’s it telling us? That would be more interesting and informative. Instead the Author is just performative.

Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Just like my cynicism to almost all of your posts, you offer very little insight and solution but are full of sophistry.
Maybe you would like to explain why the Joe Rogan podcast is so popular, is it because the audience is stupid or suffering from false consciousness. Do you think we could have reasonable discourse if Campbell wasn’t such a pub bore and a bully, who thinks his opinions are only the right ones (anger and rudeness aren’t arguments). How about a political class and media that dealt in evidence and objective truth and not in ideology or “narrative”.
Thirty years of technocratic incompetence delivered by the aforementioned yet they still believe they’re the guys to solve all our problems, the chutzpah is astonishing.

Last edited 6 months ago by Andrew Raiment
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Isn’t Campbell Gaelic for ‘crooked mouth’?

Peter Kwasi-Modo
Peter Kwasi-Modo
6 months ago

The Gaelic spelling is “Caimbeul”. It can mean crooked mouth, but, more charitably, it could refer to the way a person distorts their mouth when he/she hears something which induces scepticism, maybe “wry mouth”. So in this case, the name is ironic, since it is Alastair Campbell’s utterances that induce sceptiism in everybody with a modicum of critical faculty.
BTW “Cameron” (“Cam sron” in Gaelic) means “crooked nose”.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago

An excellent answer, thank you.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Jeez AR the Centrist Dad theme really drives you into rant-mode. Bizarre given Centrist Dad’s not exactly out there with Pol Pot or, say Kim Jong Un. Or maybe in your world they are?
However, re: Rogan – I’d suggest it’s in part because he has a good guest list. Certainly those I’ve tuned into were because of the Guest he was interviewing which he did well.
As regards Campbell & Stewart – I posed the question why did the Author not offer some explanation for their Podcast popularity? One can disagree with their politics, that’s fine, but I think the popularity even surprised them. So what do we think is going on? The Author sought to do a bit of a take-down but ignored why they may have generated a decent size audience. Be a test now to see if you repeat.

Last edited 6 months ago by j watson
Andrew Raiment
Andrew Raiment
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

“A bit of the regular red-meat critique of likes of Stewart, Campbell, Centrists Dad’s. One suspects regular UnHerd writers work on a rotation to churn out this stuff for the base”.
This sounds like rant JW, perhaps I was responding in kind. Centrist Dad is a stupid term, I’m surprised it’s gained such traction. I’m a centrist (though I lean slightly to the right), these charlatans are technocrats.
Maybe Ms Stock didn’t feel it necessary to delve into the popularity of the podcast; Brexit, the loss of political influence etc. Misery loves company, perhaps it’s simply some form of displacement activity. The audience mirrors its presenters.

j watson
j watson
6 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Raiment

Re: first para in your response – wasn’t meant as a rant. Just highlighting a v noticeable trend in Unherd articles. You can almost set one’s watch by it. In many ways it has an element of the comedic. (That said I always read her articles)
Maybe Author didn’t feel the need to delve into the popularity dynamic, and yes I’m sure many audiences reflect presenters. Nonetheless a take down I found just performative rather than offering any real observation. But she was on the ‘rotation’ I guess.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

How about contributing a non-performative Comment occasionally …

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
6 months ago
Reply to  Ian Barton

“Pigs might fly”.

Gorka Sillero
Gorka Sillero
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Mate, you are still drinking Tony Blair’s kool-aid, don’t believe you can lecture anyone in this establishment

michael harris
michael harris
6 months ago
Reply to  j watson

You are ‘the base’ my man.