SUNDAY 19  MAY 2024


We need full-on Churchillian action to stem immigration

THREE cheers for Braverman, even the New York Post applauds you for your speech in Washington last week calling for world leaders to do more to tackle illegal immigration that’s driving most of us Brits bonkers.

The US paper ran an opinion piece saying that our Home Secretary Suella made the case for legal, rational and controlled immigration, “better than any American politician has” and slammed Biden for his handling of the issue.

While left-wing journos here were wringing their hands and throwing their toys out of the pram saying her words were just an election ploy, she was doing her bit for Blighty and most of us voters for all parties, who demand the boats be stopped at almost any cost. Stuff the wokeism. And, at the moment the Right has a firm grip on the Tory Party regardless of the liberal jitters.

But as Braverman says just because people are worried about the growing numbers of illegal immigrants flooding into our country it does not mean they are neo-Nazis or vest-wearing, tattooed enemies of the State, as some newspapers, websites and broadcasting outfits make out. Far from it.

 But it’s not only left-wingers and liberals wringing their hands, like the Daily Mirror’s Susan Boniface, who always gets on her anti-Tory soap box when she reviews the newspapers on Sky TV and believes the British public aren’t overly worried about the illegals. Talk about impartial reviews. Poppycock. It’s all Tory fantasy, election stuff, she says, overly excited about Labour galloping its way to power in the polls. Even though a poll last week in the Express showed most voters want to send the illegals packing.

 But even some of the Tory Party’s own MPs are busy doing their bit to put the final nail in the coffin for their defeat at the next election by dumping on the Home Secretary. They really are a bunch of squabbling old boys from the Gentleman’s Clubs sometimes. “Another two cognacs here when you get a moment Jeeves!”

 Tory MP Bob Neill, chair of the justice select committee, told Times Radio that Braverman’s speech was “excessive and unhelpful”. He added: “The rhetoric has got in the way. Saying we face an ‘existential threat’ is alarmist and exaggerated, and that makes it harder to achieve consensus around sensible reform that we want politicians to be aiming for.” What has happened to the Tory united front Bob, eh?

 Are you saying we must chat across the dining tables of the world for years to thrash out the immigration problem? While 2,000 male, illegal African asylum seekers stroll across the road from Scampton’s iconic WWII air base, home of the iconic Dambusters, into the local village pub to sup up with a handful of locals. Likely. It already means a £300million investment scheme and project for the base has been scrapped.

But the MP adds: “We need to have a serious debate about immigration, about how to tackle the refugee crisis, but we need to do it in a calmer way with more measured language.” We’ve been doing that for years haven’t we, mate?

 Don’t these MPs realise that we are sick of the soft talking and tiptoeing around charities, the church, the Do-Good brigade and other countries, even foreign courts. We want some full-on Churchillian action and words.

 Tobias Ellwood is another Pussy Foot Conservative MP, who fails to grasp one of the main reasons the Tories swept to power again … tough action on illegal immigration. Send them back, the voters said at the ballot box. Not that democracy has any meaning now.

 Ellwood told Robert Peston on ITV: “We’ve earned our permanent seat on the UN Security Council because we’ve helped shape international law. We actually support it, we advance it. What we don’t do is then run roughshod through it.

 “I distance myself from some of those Braverman comments, which are clearly designed for a particular audience, and it doesn’t do the Prime Minister any good.” He called the Home Sec’s intervention “a distraction” and said it would be “absolutely wrong” to pull out of the ECHR.”

 Quoting the UN security council like that is a bit of a joke, isn’t it Tobias? I mean, it is already made mockery of by Russia’s presidency of it, that you pay lip service to. Why don’t you do a bit of shouting at Putin?

 Most of us, I suspect, cheered at our TV screens as Braverman called for world leaders to rip up the out-of-date 1951 UN Refugee Convention that is being taken advantage of.

 “Refugees cannot be allowed to shop around for safe havens,” she said. “The convention is being used as providing a right to asylum to those who face discrimination rather than persecution.”

 She mostly meant how people identify themselves, I think. Elton John is already on his high horse about it. Perhaps he could make some of his estate available for refugee encampments. He doesn’t have to sunbathe yards away from a fenced asylum centre.

 With the gender persecution issue, Braverman claimed that as many as 780 million extra people are eligible for resettlement in the world … and most of them will head for Blighty. Nuts! Although I see the bright sparks at the ‘I’ have been in the libraries battling to destroy all her statistics and let us know that there is really no threat to our shores and way of life at all.

 “Nobody entering the UK by boat from France is fleeing imminent peril,” she said. “They should cease to be treated as refugees when considering the legitimacy of their onward movement”. More bravos, Suella.

 Talking on GB News a few days later, Braverman added: “Whether it is New York City, or the border with Texas, whether it is Italy, whether it is the Channel, we need to look again at whether these international rules are fit for purpose.”

 There is little doubt that this invading army threatens our economic structure, culture, well-being and safety. More than 230,000 new school places must be found by 2026 for children coming in, estimates reveal, and one in five British children are now being born to foreign mothers. Meanwhile £8million a day is being spent on putting illegals up in hotels and small boat invasions account for 45 per cent of all asylum cases in 2022.

 Overseas, 70 percent of EU residents are now calling for tough border controls; half the crime rate in Paris is claimed to be down to migrants and most Americans believe their southern borders are being invaded. Musk is even calling for a giant wall to be built. How much longer must this madness go on?

 Most of these boat people are gaming … lying about their age, religion, where they come from; the reason they left and even claim to have families here they are tracking down, says Braverman.

 Every decent person wants to help genuine refugees in some way, of course we do, if they are being persecuted or tortured but we can’t take them all. The UN must find an answer. But not at the price of giving countries away to those who would be unable to run them, or in some cases even work for them. Look at the mess that they are leaving behind. To risk a never-ending tide of illegal immigrants with no papers or background checks, who clearly lie according to our own judges, is madness. How many nut case criminals have we let in … to rape, kill or rob on our streets? Certainly some, as the press reveals.

 Surely, we must protect the legacy of our forefathers and what they fought for. Many of the countries most of these illegals come from have achieved little without help from the West. And we need to keep our culture, way of life, democracy and identity, woven together with a great dollop of patriotism, even when things go wrong. Yes, the dreaded word … patriotism.

 As Braverman says: “It needs to be a high bar if someone is coming to our country fleeing persecution, not a low bar. A country that cannot protect its borders, ceases to be a proper country.” Bravo.



COULD this be the breakthrough we have all been waiting for in the world hunt for the vanishing Duke?

 The initial of his Christian name ‘C’ is stylishly carved on the door to the outside toilet in this remote hideaway in the outback, a Jeep ride away from Alice Springs in Australia. Passengers on Dingo Express buses report sightings of a male recluse, about 6ft 3in tall, who stands in his garden staring into nowhere with a smile on his face in the afternoons and appears to grow cactus in empty vodka bottles by the front door.

 “Apparently he has a swollen foot,” said Chuck Gravure, chief reporter at the weekly Alice Springs Thunderer (circ. 221.5 because the Mayor only reads the sport). “Passengers said it could be gout. He was last seen on the road on his old Waratah motorbike with a pet wombat sitting in the sidecar heading towards Ayers Rock.” Is this another false alarm in our hunt for our much-loved former Express picture editor Chris Djukanovic we wonder? A call is into the Alice Springs paper. We’ll find him.



OK, I know where the on/off switch on my TV mobile box is, but I must be getting lazier. I can’t be bothered to lean over to the coffee table and pick it up by the peanut bowl.

 So, I sit watching a Tesco trolley rescue a man named Billy stuck down a well in the middle of nowhere for about the sixth time. What’s wrong with me? It’s so bloody awful. Fantasy gone mad.

 And in the next ad, I must suffer my favourite actress, Dame Judy Dench, cheapening herself by appearing on TV for MoneySuperMarket to earn a few extra bob for the housekeeping. Ughh! Sad. Or is it? I can’t blame her. I was told that her last TV ad, for Clover butter or margarine, or lump of vegetable oil, or whatever it is, with her late husband actor Michael Williams in the Sixties, paid for her impressive £10million Surrey farmhouse.

 Except that she complains about it collapsing now and being overrun by rats and mice and all manner of creepy creatures. Perhaps that’s why she is doing TV ads again? To pay for local builders and the Pied Piper of Crawley to come in?

 Anyway, as if we’re not sick of supermarket trolleys enough. They even appear on street corners these days, dumped by morons near their homes who can’t be bothered to carry shopping bags. And if I scrape another metal trolley, with a plastic plate on the front saying ‘make shopping fun’ in my car, then I’ll scream in the supermarket car park. The trolley rack is only 10 yards away for God’s sake! Put it away.

 Trolleys, eh? I hate them but can’t live without them. I’m not 18 anymore and can’t carry two 20-can boxes of Fosters’ lager, one on each shoulder to the supermarket till queue and then on to the car boot. Or, at least, not with ease. But why do housewives block the aisles with a trolley each strung out across the gap like a canal lock as they natter about Wendy’s husband who’s just had his bladder removed? And why do trolleys come out six at a time when you are only pulling the one at the front? A bit like those plastic cups in a tube by the coffee or water machine.

 Never mind getting your pound coin back later. As for those trolleys with a mind of their own, that go left when you push right … I won’t go on; I am sure you feel the same. Perhaps that’s why I’m ranting about this awful TV ad. I mean a trolley, acting like a dog to the rescue, bringing a rope as well. Is that the best Tesco can do?

 When it comes to Judi Dench, well, I am just sad that she has cheapened herself this way with being my favourite M in the Bond movies. Such a great actress. OK, it’s not a bad TV ad like so many today. A kind of cinematic campaign taking her on a big spy assignment.

 With the cost of living going through her farmhouse roof, we see her assemble a squad to take the tunnels beneath UK cities to save people money. Quite clever, eh? It’s a dramatic soundtrack, fast moving camera work, with moody lighting. You do feel like you are watching a spy movie.

 Fair enough Judy. You’re still my favourite and good to know you will have enough to sort out the rats now that you are topping up your net wealth of £35 million.



WHEN we tell stories about the 70s in Fleet St, the new generation of silent hacks can hardly believe it … the drinking; the world without mobile phones and computers; HR unheard of; three men in a union to change one light bulb and endless strikes; the smell of hot metal and sweat; the cheque book journalism.

 When you scratch the surface of its history that flowed like the underground Fleet by the basements of the former print rooms, cigar shops, pubs and cafes you will find it all knitted together with a fierce drinking culture … from the top to the bottom of each newspaper.

 For those of us who were part of the infusion of young journalists into the national papers in the 70s and 80s, it was a learning curve in many ways, and we all have stories to tell about life in the newsroom and on ‘The Street’. We were a village, and we quickly got to know other hacks on other titles due to moving around doing shifts on our days off, on the news desks, the subs table and art desks. Mostly due in part to the hallowed four-day week.

 The drinking culture we encountered was so prevalent that serious alcoholics would just disappear for days or even weeks on end when they went on benders. There was no HR to speak of then and the rest of us hacks would just, well, cover-up. The vanishing subs or reporters would eventually return one evening, sit down at their desks and carry on as if nothing had happened. Management turned a ‘kindly’ and blind eye. Meanwhile even their wives didn’t know where they were.

 I was a new kid on the block doing Saturday subbing shifts on the Sunday Mirror (as our good Lord Drone once did). These were the days when Malcolm Munro-Hall (Big Mal) was Chief Sub and Roy Greenslade sat on the table. I noticed that the older journo next to me always took his ‘Doctor’s bag’ briefcase with him when he went to the loo about once an hour. We shall call him David for privacy reasons.

 We were about four hours into the shift when David pushed back his chair, and leaned under the desk to get his case, which he lifted onto the table at the same time as he fell off the chair. But the unlocked case wasn’t positioned well and fell to the floor too, spilling out three half bottles of vodka, a selection of miniatures and a pewter cup. I leaned down to help him to his feet, but he brushed me off as the whole desk looked on. Then he quietly put the bottles, mostly half empty, back in the case, pressed the lock down and walked slowly and unsteadily out to the loo.

 Chief Sub Malcolm came over and leaned on my chair: “Just let it go, Terry, don’t say anything mate.” I sat next to David over the coming few months I was there, and he carried on just the same, although he didn’t fall off his chair.

 Another great drinker who was well known was a Mirror wordsmith and many of us subbed with him on the News of the World, every Saturday, when he was there. He could go missing on benders for days on end, sometimes weeks even … and even start them in the middle of a story. The story would be quietly taken away from his desk and discretely given to someone else. He was a talented and well-respected scribbler who always worked on the big stories. We shall call him Charles.

 There are so many stories about Charles, too many to tell all. But one involves my accountant. Charles had told me that he had run into trouble with the taxman and needed help from an accountant. I recommended mine, who at that time was handling quite a few Fleet St hacks. His name was Paul, and he had a two-storey office block overlooking a dual carriageway in Hadleigh, Essex.

 The appointment day came, and Charles travelled down to Essex by train, apparently angry that there was no carriage bar for his liveners and he had to drain his hip flask. So, when he arrived, he decided to top-up in a local pub on the opposite side of the busy road outside Paul’s office.

 He was two hours late for his meeting and Paul was with another client when one of his staff rushed into his office. A man was trying to walk down the centre concrete of the dual carriageway and it was bedlam as cars swerved, horns blasted and even pulled over.

 Paul looked out of the window at the front of the building as all his staff did. There was Charlie, shouting and waving at motorists as he wobbled his way across to the office block … but just as got to about 10 yards from the safety of the pavement, he decided to give up, it was too dangerous and he turned back, staggering to the other side again. By this time the traffic had stopped, and a crowd had formed. Paul went out and got him in.

 Charlie was a legend and would enjoy telling these stories about himself. Another I will mention next week … it was the worst Christmas he was ever to have. Sadly, he died in a doorway at the back of Fleet Street, I am told. What a waste of a star.



AS doctors joke and vape on the strike picket lines and thousands of their sick patients fight pain with aspirin at home, a look at the National Archives and the Cabinet Papers makes interesting reading this week.

 For back in the days when the NHS was just the apple of Churchill’s eye, long before the arrival of a Labour Government, doctors it appears, were vehemently against it. Just like today they were thinking only of their pockets.

 They fought tooth and nail to stop it because they were too important to work for the State, it seems. They feared the low pay of public service, the loss of prestige and freedom to charge what they liked. Never mind the poor, sick and dying.

 When things came to a head after the election in 1945, Labour Health Minister Aneurin Bevan knew that without them, there would be no NHS, so he was blackmailed into making compromises and not happy, the archives reveal. The doctors were all powerful. The public was split on the issue.

 Finally, Bevan caved into their non-negotiable demands, even more extreme than today’s inflation-busting, economy-wrecking 35 per cent pay increase and agreed that GP surgeries stayed as private businesses and could be bought and sold by the wealthy or doctors themselves.

 Meanwhile NHS hospitals could only refer care contracts to the private GPs on the register. No one else. It was a stitch-up whichever way you look at it. Especially as it included an appendix (so to speak) that only the most senior hospital doctors could offer private treatment. Again, no one else.

But in the end the tide turned, and it turned out to be a wonderful thing of course …

 From the 1950s onwards the scale and quality of the treatment provided by the National Health Service (NHS) improved, and between 1948 and 1973 the number of doctors doubled.

 Anaesthetics continued to advance, enabling longer and more complex surgery. The NHS improved the lives of millions with hip replacement operations, emergency treatment for accident victims and fertility treatment for childless couples.

Vaccination programmes protected children from whooping cough, measles, tuberculosis and diphtheria.

 New technology enabled brain and whole-body scans, and advances were made in the care of the mentally ill. Even cosmetic surgery became available on the NHS. Then in the 1970s things started to go downhill. And here we are today. Stuffed!


“Down the hole, please Harry.”

2 October 2023