Priti Patel has been Home Secretary for six months, almost to the day.
She seems to be tough and demanding, which is exactly what we want — well, it is certainly exactly what I want — from the person who wields the big stick in one of the great offices of State at this perilous juncture in our history.
She has announced 20,000 more police officers in her war against crime, she has been outspoken about terrorism and she has agreed that it was wrong for the police to stand by and do nothing when Extinction Rebellion protesters in Cambridge barricaded roads in the city and dug up the Trinity College lawns. More of this, please. Much, much more.
Patel is the victim of vicious briefing — MI5 don’t trust her, she’s a witch who tried to sack someone on Christmas Eve! But she is in there; focused, determined and demanding of the bloated, entitled bureaucracy she has inherited — one that has had its own way for far too long
Just because these particular protesters — and others like them — are convinced of the moral superiority of their argument doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to impede law-abiding citizens from going about their daily business.
Or be left unhampered to commit criminal damage under the very nose of Plod.
How did we get to a point where they could? Thank goodness we seem to have a Home Secretary who wants to stop the rot at last.
Ms Patel has also shown her mettle by demanding to see a Home Office report into Asian grooming gangs, although the mandarins are so far resisting. This is another moral outrage.
It should not be within the power of the Civil Service to block access to such an important document.
Although I am sure we could all hazard a guess as to the basis of their reluctance — cultural sensitivities, of course. Meanwhile, the poor girls who suffered at the hands of these brutes have been failed yet again.
Just because these particular protesters — and others like them — are convinced of the moral superiority of their argument doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to impede law-abiding citizens from going about their daily business
My point is that Priti Patel is to be commended for her determination to rock the boat; to reintroduce rigour and authority to a public realm currently fractured thanks to moral weakness and corroded by fashionable Lefty relativism.
Today, tragically, it is not the crime that has been committed but who commits that crime which is deemed to be all-important. Surely this has to end before the very concept of justice becomes diluted by doctrine?
Previous Home Secretaries, such as Sajid Javid, never showed much of an appetite for the fight.
Amber Rudd may have had good intentions, but she was vaporised by her officials for daring to criticise them.
Patel is the victim of vicious briefing — MI5 don’t trust her, she’s a witch who tried to sack someone on Christmas Eve!
But she is in there; focused, determined and demanding of the bloated, entitled bureaucracy she has inherited — one that has had its own way for far too long.
Yet, far from being admired for her rigour, she has been pilloried and smeared. For her troubles, she has been labelled bossy, a bully, a madam.
This from her enemies within and without — and also by Left-wing newspapers sticking the boot in.
Honestly, I could hardly believe my eyes when I read their reports. A bully? That terrible insult that confers instant condemnation today for encroaching upon the mental health of others. Straight in the bin for you, Miss Bully Boots.
And for years we have been told that it is unforgivably sexist to call successful women ‘bossy’ or ‘bitchy’ — for aren’t they merely showing the kind of persistence and resolve that is so admired in successful men?
Yet these cultural niceties never apply to Patel, who is constantly depicted as a scheming intruder who doesn’t understand the world she now inhabits. For her, there is no clemency. Absolutely none.
Ms Patel has also shown her mettle by demanding to see a Home Office report into Asian grooming gangs, although the mandarins are so far resisting. This is another moral outrage [File photo]
On his BBC show in September, even Andrew Marr accused Patel of smirking during a discussion about the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
‘I can’t see why you are laughing,’ he huffed, even though she was doing nothing of the sort.
Hard to imagine Marr deploying such impertinence if he were interviewing, say, Diane Abbott. (Who certainly might have been smirking aplenty.)
Yet the precise and stringent conventions about how to treat women and people of colour vanish when it comes to Priti, who seems to have an open-season target on her back. Why?
Because she is from the political Right. One news website has even accused her of being ‘used as a pawn in white supremacy’, which strips the Home Secretary of her intelligence and authority, reducing her to nothing more than her colour, which is perhaps the most racist thing ever. How insulting.
Meanwhile many commentators — including myself — have been wrongfully accused of racism for airing the slightest peep of criticism about the Duchess of Sussex and her extravagant Soho House ways.
However, different rules apply in this case. You can say anything you want about Priti Patel, for whom none of the safeguards of political correctness apply. She’s a Tory — so it doesn’t count!
Serene Gwynnie, so chic amid the panic
Coronavirus update. Is it time to start panicking? Certainly the panic seems to be spreading faster than the disease. Which is a comfort, but only slightly.
When I came into work this morning there was a big bottle of virucidal alcohol hand gel and a bumper box of tissues on my desk.
‘En route to Paris. Paranoid? Prudent? Panicked? Placid? Pandemic? Propaganda?’ the Goop founder wrote under an Instagram pic that showed her wearing a rather lovely £54 Airinum mask on board a flight
Was somebody trying to tell me something?
No. Standard issue for all. Like offices and public buildings up and down the country, we are under siege from fresh precautions and new rules.
I welcome the social non-touching, the ban on kissing and hand-shaking — I bet millions do — but I do worry about resolve in others.
For so many people today just will not be told what to do, no matter if it is for the public good. Remember those who threatened to break out of quarantine in Liverpool recently?
Meanwhile, Mike and Zara Tindall are refusing to self-isolate following a ski-ing holiday, and reports from the lockdown hotel in Tenerife suggest that guests are not washing their hands or wearing their face masks in public areas, as instructed.
Soon they will be demanding compensation for falling sick, despite their abnegation of personal responsibility.
Men have been warned about beards and moustaches, financial markets are jittery and there are even reports that the coronavirus will cause a shortage of — shriek — wedding dresses.
Just when we needed her most, Gwyneth Paltrow has weighed in on the issue.
‘En route to Paris. Paranoid? Prudent? Panicked? Placid? Pandemic? Propaganda?’ the Goop founder wrote under an Instagram pic that showed her wearing a rather lovely £54 Airinum mask on board a flight.
Trust Gwynnie to choose something so elegant, even in these times of floods and pestilence. I checked online. The masks are completely sold out. Now it really is time to panic.
Llama drama is a whirl of nonsense
The Stranger on Netflix. What the heck is going on? Can anyone help me out here?
Decapitated llamas, Munchausen syndrome by proxy, Paul Kaye’s disgusting crumb-catcher beard (a coronavirus hotspot if even I saw one), multiple blackmail attempts, the man from the Gold Blend ads and Jennifer Saunders as a coffee-shop owner baking phallic cakes.
Based on the Harlan Coben novel, it was a complete whirl of nonsense, save Hannah John-Kamen in the title role. Luminous and passionate in every scene, somehow she made her crackpot intensity real.
I remember her from playing Viva in the truly terrible Spice Girls musical Viva Forever, coincidentally written by Jennifer Saunders.
If Hannah’s career survived that, it can survive anything. And if she has forgiven Jennifer that, she can forgive her anything.
A far better way to bring Whitney’s magic back to life
Yes, I went to see the Whitney Houston Hologram Tour. And, in the words of the great diva herself, it’s not right, but it’s OK.
It seems disrespectful and money-grabbing to me, but others might see it as a joyous celebration of one of the greatest female pop singers of all time.
However, if you want to experience a moment of real Whitney magic, may I direct you to YouTube?
Search for a ten-minute clip recorded at the 21st Annual American Music Awards in 1994.
Then aged 30 and at the height of her vocal powers, she sings a medley of songs — I Loves You, Porgy, And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going, and I Have Nothing.
It is spine-tingling, sad and glorious, all at once. No hologram could ever capture her spirit and her soul. Amen to that.
It seems disrespectful and money-grabbing to me, but others might see it as a joyous celebration of one of the greatest female pop singers of all time
In my many decades of living in London, it is hard to think of a worse mayor than Sadiq Khan.
On his watch, violent crime has soared and, despite his huge budget, he has done nothing about it, preferring to blame ‘austerity’ instead.
He seems obsessed with faddy causes and world stages, instead of the grassroots problems that affect everyone in the capital.
Having Twitter spats with Donald Trump and declaring himself ‘passionate about the climate emergency’ while schoolboys are stabbed on the streets looks like virtue signalling of the worst sort.
This week, he declared he wanted money spent on discovering more rap stars like Stormzy and Dave, rather than on future victims of crime.
That was the last straw for me. Even Ken Livingstone backed the Met Police and brought crime down when he was in charge.
Khan may have won the Heathrow argument this week, but his term has been dominated by his failed anti-Brexit campaign, while his record on violent crime is abysmal.
The mayoral elections take place in May. Polling suggests he is a certainty for re-election. I wonder if that is really true?
A life less ordinary!
Just call me Harry. In many ways it is admirable that the Duke of Sussex (irony alert) just wants to be an ‘ordinary’ bloke.
But there is ordinary and then there is ordinary, isn’t there?
There is waiting in the rain for a bus ordinary; there is can’t afford it until payday ordinary; there is worrying about getting the kids into a good school ordinary.
His kind of ‘ordinary’ seems to be living in a ravishing waterside mansion in an exclusive Canadian enclave — something he almost certainly could not afford without his royal privilege and daddy’s cash.
There is nothing very ordinary about that, is there? Harry’s quest for normality is touching but there is an uncomfortable undertow that makes it feel disrespectful to the monarchy.
By the way, is he going to make the effort on this UK trip to visit his grandmother and ailing grandfather? Let’s hope he finds in his heart to do the right thing.
Just call me Harry. In many ways it is admirable that the Duke of Sussex (irony alert) just wants to be an ‘ordinary’ bloke