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Freedom vs. privacy – speech delivered at the Freedom Festival, Bournemouth, 2015

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one,” wrote Benjamin Franklin.

In common with most pronouncements by Enlightenment thinkers, this is a pithy, epigrammatic phrase. There’s only one problem. It’s not true.

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Shall I compare thee to Oswald Mosley or Enoch Powell, Nigel?

Two months before the general election an open season on Nigel Farage is in full swing, with Tories especially firing at will from the lip.

To be fair, Farage presents an inviting target, what with his tendency to say things that may be correct, but not politically correct.

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Allahu (and Jesus) akbar!

The Reverend Giles Goddard, vicar at St John's in Waterloo, came into some unfair criticism for holding an 'inclusive mosque' service at his church, at the end of which he invited the congregation to praise "the god that we love, Allah".

All those reactionary sticklers for the letter of canon law are up in arms, which only goes to show how far the spirit of reconciliation is away from their hearts. Some even felt that such a hybrid service pushed ecumenism too far.

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Lord Curzon, teaching Muslims (and us) a lesson

The Islamic State has just blown up a 10th century Chaldean Catholic church in Iraq and bulldozed a nearby graveyard.

Of course, multi-culti rectitude demands that we, well, if not exactly applaud such cultural self-expression, then at least acknowledge its validity.

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Attempt on the life of President ‘Oh bummer!’

Only what’s left of Obama’s political life is under attack, I hasten to reassure his fans, though one can detect a distinct longing in some quarters to jeopardise his physical existence as well.

Given that the Republicans control both Houses of Congress, Obama is a lame duck. Still, as he still possesses presidential powers, there’s no shortage of volunteers to cook the bird in orange sauce.

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Medals for murder and other Russian jokes

Col. Putin either has too much sense of humour or none at all. In between those two extremes his behaviour would be inexplicable.

His latest joke, witting or unwitting, came the other day, when he awarded the medal ‘For Services to Motherland’ to Alexei Lugovoi and Ramzan Kadyrov.

The accolade is richly merited in both cases, for both men have indeed provided the eponymous services. Moreover, said services were strikingly similar.

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If you think our politics is bad, just look at culture

What a world we live in. One in which Dave is taken for a conservative, Ed is taken seriously and our cultural gurus aren’t taken for what they are: aesthetically illiterate idiots.

Or Morans, if you’d rather. As in Caitlin Moran, the arbiter of taste at The Times.

Actually, one should take pity on Miss Moran, for she is heart-broken. As she put it in an article a few days ago, “I miss Amy Winehouse, man.” (Note the diction, so in keeping with the stylistic heritage of this venerable paper.)

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My thanks to Nick Clegg and Romanian pickpockets

Nick in particular deserves my gratitude. Every time I’m stuck for a topic, especially when in a jaundiced mood, all I have to do is Google his name.

That never fails: Nick can be confidently predicted to say something utterly risible every day. This reliance on Nick started more than three years ago, when I began to appear in this space.

Then Nick expressed his pride in being multi-culti not only in his beliefs but also in his person. And he was especially proud of having a Russian ancestor in his ethnic mix.

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Who says Labour can’t come up with ground-breaking ideas?

Certainly not me. Not any longer, at any rate, and I regret having in the past described the Labour party as a collection of openly subversive nincompoops.

For the ex-minister David Lammy, MP, hasn’t just proposed a change in law. What he has come up with is nothing less than ditching a fundamental principle of legality.

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The snowplough mystery: an amateur attempt at investigation

Do you know where Moscow’s CCTV cameras are? Neither do I. And, when it comes to surveillance cameras around the Kremlin, neither do the Muscovites, including those who live in the area.

However, they know there are lots of such cameras, keeping a watchful eye on one of the world’s most tightly guarded areas.

It’s not just the cameras either. The area around the Kremlin is crawling with trained FSB killers, there to make sure that nothing disturbs the daily toil of the Kremlin’s residents.

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