Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Magazine article The Spectator

The Spectator's Notes

Article excerpt

When I was asked to write the foreword for the document which launched the Nothing British campaign this week, I hesitated. The campaign draws attention to the BNP's abuse of military symbols and its attempts to recruit servicemen and their families. It is a good cause, but I am slightly suspicious of the easiness with which middle-class people parade their 'courage' in standing up to the BNP - 'yielding to no one' in their detestation of its 'loathsome' attitudes - when it actually requires no courage at all. If there is an establishment conspiracy to suppress the BNP, that can only feed the myth upon which it thrives. But I eventually agreed to help the campaign because of its specific focus on the armed services. We do not know how lucky we are to have non-political armed forces, and that political detachment needs constant policing. The current chaos in defence policy makes the ranks vulnerable to the politics of resentment. We may imagine that we have never encountered this problem before, but a version of it was widespread at the end of the second world war. The left gained control of the Army Bureau of Current Affairs, and preached to servicemen who, with reason, were fed up with the status quo. It was the forces' votes which produced the Labour landslide of 1945. The belief that the state could 'win the peace' just as it had won the war plunged this country into errors from which it has never fully recovered. Luckily, the BNP are much stupider than the mid-20thcentury left. But they are socialists - national socialists - peddling illusions about equality - for white people - and a siege economy.

It is conservatives, not the left, who are best placed to oppose them.

Although it is fun deploring modern trends in the entertainment of children, the last 20 years have been far more creative than when I was growing up. Nothing much new happened with any medium between about 1955 and 1990. The Jungle Book seemed the same sort of thing as Pinocchio, but worse. Cinemas closed down; little got started. Our children, born in 1990, have had the opportunity of computer games, email, Facebook, Photoshop, Wii etc. All offer new imaginative possibilities. For me, the outstanding addition has been the computergenerated cartoon. Toy Story is lovely, full of the excitement which comes when a new artform emerges: it could not have happened any other way. Now Up, which I attended on Saturday night, wearing 3D spectacles, competes with Toy Story for the top slot.

Because its heroes are human, rather than toys, Up makes slightly less perfect use of the possibilities of the genre: it has no single character to rival Buzz Lightyear. On the other hand, its choice of theme is bolder and deeper. The hero is old and he and his wife tried and failed to have children and now she is dead, and nothing in the film reverses this sadness. This makes the inevitable happy ending much more truly happy than it would otherwise be. In fact, the film is so much better than almost anything with real actors that you wonder why Hollywood bothers any more with all their tantrums, lawyers and fees. You also wonder why computergenerated cartoons for grown-ups cannot take off too. They could be the beginning of the end for celebrity culture.

As people agonise over the failings of Parliament, they often lament the power of the whips. …

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