Saturday 18 February 2023

Quite Reasonable, In My View

A year ago, I did not know that Russia was going to invade Ukraine. Nor, in my view, did ­anyone else apart from Vladimir Putin himself. I thought and said and believed that Putin would be mad to do such a thing, and now think that he was mad to do so. As well as being cruel and lawless, the invasion is a disaster for Russia from which it may never recover.

But a certain type of person nowadays likes to pretend that everyone knew the ­invasion was a certainty, and that even to doubt it was some sort of thought crime. They should note that one of the main doubters was President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine. On February 12 and 13, 2022, news media reported that the much-admired leader was far from convinced that an invasion was coming.

For instance: 'Mr Zelensky also cast doubts on US reports of an imminent invasion, requesting, "If anyone has any additional information about a 100 per cent chance of an invasion, give it to us."'And Ukrainian president Volod­ymyr Zelensky also called on Washington to share intelligence which suggests Russia is planning to invade his country on Wednesday. He told the US, "If you have 100 per cent certain information about a Russian ­invasion of Ukraine, please share it with us."' 

The famed Ukrainian novelist and patriot Andrey Kurkov wrote from Kiev at the same time about how 'Zelensky again reassured Ukrainians and said that everything was under control. He has repeatedly accused Western politicians of exaggerating the danger of a Russian attack.' Quite reasonable, in my view. Intelligence claims just aren’t always right.


Steven Spielberg has made enough successful, profitable films to risk making a dangerous one. The Fabelmans, illuminated by the beauty of Michelle Williams and full of great music, will upset a lot of people. It is pretty much Spielberg’s autobiography up to the age of 18.

And, as far as I can recall, it is the only major Hollywood film to show just how painful and miserable a marriage break-up is for the children of parents who split up. The modern world likes to pretend that divorce is fine and the children cope perfectly well and no damage is done. But this is very often a huge lie, and it is shown here as a lie. It is about time, but it will not be popular.

It is also a clever re-creation of the feeling of much of that strange era, which stretched from the mid-1950s to the end of the 1960s – the once-overarching power of the movies as the most potent art form we had ever seen, Davy Crockett hats, suburban luxury (as it then seemed to be) and then the disturbing sound of the new music that would sweep away almost everything we had known.

How clever to choose the nonsensical lyrics of Da Doo Ron Ron (the work of the crazed Phil Spector) to herald the end of the young Spielberg’s domestic security. Yes, it was all very thrilling and the sound of it still wafts me back to impossibly distant summer evenings. But after it was over, it left a lot of pain behind it.


And still the people whose lives were ruined by a Post Office computer malfunction – which nobody would admit – cannot get justice. Francis Duff, 80, has had most of his compensation for the gross injustice he suffered clawed back in tax and bankruptcy proceedings.

Is there nobody with a sense of justice in government, who can ensure that these unforgivably persecuted individuals can at least live their last few years in serenity and security? Contrast the unfair treatment of these innocents with the uncontrolled, barely monitored spending by officials and MPs awarded government credit cards.


  1. Antiwar realist foreign policy, social conservatism, economic justice, he'll be telling people to vote for you.

    1. "A Burkean conservative, a social democrat and an Anglo-Gaullist"? I may be his best option among candidates at the next General Election. If not I, then who? But he is a dedicated abstentionist. Who knows how much impact that has, but he is.