PETER HITCHENS: Yes, Miss Greta Thunberg, back when I was 16 I knew everything too…

When I was 16, I knew everything, as so many teenagers do. Luckily for me, and for the planet, quite a few adults did not immediately fall into a swoon and ask me to take over the world.

The last thing I needed (and, luckily, the last thing I got) was indulgence and praise. The Pope obdurately refused to invite me for tea. The World Economic Forum somehow failed to take an interest in my schemes for world reform.

And after a few decades of similar brush-offs, it began to dawn on me that, perhaps, in a few small ways, I didn’t know everything.

I have a sneaking admiration for Miss Thunberg’s brass neck, even if I think her plans for self-imposed poverty, cold and darkness are unattractive

I have a sneaking admiration for Miss Thunberg’s brass neck, even if I think her plans for self-imposed poverty, cold and darkness are unattractive

I have a sneaking admiration for Miss Thunberg’s brass neck, even if I think her plans for self-imposed poverty, cold and darkness are unattractive

Which, as you may have guessed, brings me to Miss Greta Thunberg, the Swedish schoolgirl before whom our political and media classes were prostrating themselves last week.

Gosh, this has been embarrassing to watch. I have a sneaking admiration for Miss Thunberg’s brass neck, even if I think her plans for self-imposed poverty, cold and darkness are unattractive. But for her worshippers I have nothing but scorn.

Michael Gove, a normally intelligent Cabinet Minister, was reduced to helpless gibbering self-abasement before Miss Thunberg.

Nick Robinson, the increasingly grandiose presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, conducted an interview with her which sounded as if he was kneeling down.

And yet amid the ‘Please tell us why are you so wonderful, exactly?’ questions, Mr Robinson slipped in a query which might have been quite productive if he had pursued it. He didn’t.

Hadn’t she perhaps come to the wrong country, he wondered. Well, quite. Britain already has one of the maddest energy policies on earth, taxing the poor to subsidise windmills and solar farms that don’t work most of the time, blowing up viable coal-fired power stations so they can never again be used even if we run short of volts and watts, relying on French nuclear power, gas and even diesel to fill the gap, and hoping somehow to avoid electricity cuts.

And while we do this, the Chinese despotism is frantically building far more coal-fired power stations than we ever had, and pouring carbon into the atmosphere at such a rate that it cancels out our small but expensive and painful sacrifice many times over. It makes no sense, whatever you believe.

And what was the response of Miss Thunberg to this rather telling point? It was worthy of the slipperiest spin doctor ever to graduate from the school of Alastair Campbell. ‘If I got an invitation to speak with Chinese leaders of course I would go there, if I had a lot of time to go there by train, but actually no country is doing nearly enough.’

Twaddle. With her current status, she could demand such a meeting and get it. Why worry about the distance? She can catch up on her studies in the peace of a railway carriage. From here to Peking by train isn’t that far, and the idea that long-distance train travel is an ordeal is rubbish. It’s far pleasanter than air travel.

Then she changed the subject to a frankly irrelevant dispute about how much Britain had cut emissions, and added, lamely: ‘If we want to change countries like China the thing to do is to stop buying unnecessary things manufactured there.’

More piffle. She is quite bright enough to know that China’s tyrants would listen politely to her, have their pictures taken with her, and then ignore her completely, as they have ignored everyone else on this subject.

Well, unlike all these crawlers, I think we owe Miss Thunberg some respect. She has embraced and taken full advantage of her fame, and why not? I don’t doubt the sincerity of her view. I just don’t think sincerity is a virtue, or that it excuses her from challenge. We should treat her as what she says she is, a major figure on the world stage.

But she has little that is of any use to say, whether you believe that human action is causing climate change or can moderate it, or not.

Abject worship of such people is always wrong. Intelligent disagreement would be far better.

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 Leftie gets a taste of his own medicine

The case of Sir Roger Scruton, a guileless academic driven from public life by the twisting of his words and the howling of the electronic mob, is a warning to us all of a fast-approaching future.

The Left will win in the end because it recognises no limit on how wicked it can be to get its way. It will also win because the ‘Conservative’ Party is a rabble of cowards, which is so afraid of the Left it runs away from a fight before it has even been attacked.

Interestingly, two of the worst poltroons in the Scruton case were Tory MPs who certainly don’t keep quiet about their military careers – Tom Tugendhat and Johnny Mercer. I’ve seen much braver pacifists. But the proper Right, you see, still has morals. It cannot do what the Leftist journalist George Eaton and the New Statesman magazine did to Sir Roger Scruton. Take Mr Eaton’s glee after Sir Roger had been disowned by the Tory Government.

He posted a portrait of himself swigging champagne, accompanied by the words: ‘The feeling when you get Right-wing racist and homophobe Roger Scruton sacked.’

He has since grovelled a bit about this, but I don’t doubt that it is a better picture of his true feelings and nature than the pretend-civilised withdrawal and apology he later made.

Now, if I were him, here’s what I could write about George Eaton: ‘Left-wing journalist George Eaton believes homosexuality is “not normal”, it emerged last night. Eaton claimed in a friendly conversation with a notorious Right-winger that it is “a statement of fact” to say that gays are abnormal. The homophobic remarks of the New Statesman’s political editor will call into question his continued employment at the respected progressive weekly.’

What is my basis for this bag of slime, for words which I would never actually write for real?

During his apparent entrapment of Sir Roger (in which he pretended to be friendly towards a man over whose sacking he would later exult), Mr Eaton said as follows: ‘On homosexuality you’ve been criticised by some for saying, for instance, homosexuality’s not normal. But that seems to be a statement of fact…’

I have here used the same methods as those used by Mr Eaton, but against him. Except that, before writing this, I made great efforts to contact him and to put the charge to him. (I will publish my full email exchange with him on my blog.) And except that I actually don’t believe he meant what he appears to mean.

Nor do I believe he should be sacked, or chased by a mob, or have people celebrate his humiliation by swilling champagne. And that, disgustingly, is why his side will win and mine will lose. Because I and my allies are not like him.

To ALL those who loved the Northern Irish journalist Lyra McKee, my sincere condolences. I am truly sorry for your loss. To all those who have piled into trying to make some sort of political capital out of her untimely death, please give it a rest. There is no ‘peace’ in the Province.

The ‘New IRA’ are the same people as the old IRA, which never disarmed and uses such groups for deniable operations and criminal money-raising. If these ‘Real’, ‘Continuity’ and ‘New’ versions of the IRA truly challenged the Republican high command, they would have been murdered long ago.

It’s a tradition in the movement, going back a century. You have to ask why they haven’t been, and why the police are having so little luck finding the culprit.

 A tyrant’s day at the seaside

Here is our ally, China’s President Xi Jinping, on a day at the seaside. The People’s Republic is so aggressive that it makes the Kremlin look mild-mannered

Here is our ally, China’s President Xi Jinping, on a day at the seaside. The People’s Republic is so aggressive that it makes the Kremlin look mild-mannered

Here is our ally, China’s President Xi Jinping, on a day at the seaside. The People’s Republic is so aggressive that it makes the Kremlin look mild-mannered

Taking a break from oppressing Tibet, threatening Taiwan, stirring up maritime disputes with Japan and Vietnam, shoving Uighur Muslims into concentration camps, strangling freedom in Hong Kong and ripping crosses from churches, here is our ally, China’s President Xi Jinping, on a day at the seaside.

Note that he has abandoned the westernized dress of his early period for a Mao Tse-Tung type suit. All the things we claim to object to about Russia are even more true of China. In fact the People’s Republic is so aggressive that it makes the Kremlin look mild-mannered. 

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