The Spectator: The Importance of Being Trolled

TwitterEver since a Twitter troll was elected 45th President of the United States, the Twitterati has agonised over who to blame. But since it was Twitter that gave American voters unfettered access to Donald Trump’s brain, they really ought to be blaming Twitter itself. It’s not possible to say anything balanced or nuanced in 140 characters — that’s a format for jokes, insults and outrage. If you want to seize the world’s attention today, you must troll or be trolled on Twitter.

And since this is the one skill at which Trump is utterly unrivalled, he’s now busy trolling both America and himself. When a man with barely any followers once tweeted him in the middle of the night to say: ‘I firmly believe that @realDonaldTrump is the most superior troll on the whole of Twitter’, Trump retweeted it to his millions of followers: ‘A great compliment!’

In 2017, our ability to write books, act in films or even govern appears to be measured in Twitter followers, not talent. So there will be no stopping Trump or his disciples here in the UK, Katie Hopkins and Piers Morgan. Were it not for Twitter, Hopkins would be a failed Apprentice candidate, not a highly paid commentator for Mail Online. Morgan would be a disgraced former newspaper editor, not a television host engaging in Twitter spats with J.K. Rowling. Unless Twitter ends, there will be no end to them.

At its worst, trolling is utterly repugnant, a sickening spectacle, and no one gets anything out of it. This was the case last year when Leslie Jones, star of an all-female remake of Ghostbusters, was hounded off Twitter after the alt-right tweeted racist abuse at her. It was also the case in 2013, when a PR consultant named Justine Sacco was hounded off Twitter by anti-racists after she tweeted: ‘Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!’ But whereas the forces of good Twitter, quite rightly, felt bad for and fell in love with Leslie Jones, almost no one sympathised with Sacco; they thought she’d revealed herself to be a racist — and therefore a vicious troll.

No one ever points out that the difference between a troll and a troll victim is as complex as that between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. Nor that being trolled can have unbelievably positive results for your career. The pop star James Blunt, for instance, has reinvigorated his fanbase as a result of retweeting all the abuse he gets on Twitter. He has been hailed (in a Buzzfeed article viewed almost a million times) as ‘the trolliest troll of all Twitter trolls’ and millennials love him for it.

Blunt must relish getting trolled — and so do many journalists, though they’d never admit it. I once sat in a restaurant with someone who’d written a perfectly innocuous article for Grazia magazine and became positively giddy when her bleeping BlackBerry showed she was being trolled as ‘a feminazi’ by hordes of maladjusted losers on Twitter.

As Jamie Bartlett explains, ‘Being trolled by strangers on the net gives you the chance to show how hard things are for you, how right you were, and how noble and magnanimous you are in sharing your suffering with the world.’ In his book The Dark Net, he notes, ‘It is very rarely mentioned that the victims of trolls are far more often privileged, wealthy, happy, and successful than their perceived oppressors, who are often frustrated, jealous, and lonely.’

Bartlett’s theory is neatly encapsulated by the example of Owen Jones, who announced this month that he was ‘taking a break’ from Twitter because he couldn’t stand the abuse he gets. Owen is the author of two best-selling books, Chavs and The Establishment, and has amassed half a million followers. But he didn’t just close his account and shut up shop. He posted a sanctimonious, self-pitying 1,000-word status update on Facebook that attracted 10,000 ‘likes’, 2,400 comments and 1,000 shares. And three days later he was back tweeting out articles and videos. He got a lot of attention, bolstered his media profile and further maximised his earning potential. Meanwhile, all those who ‘trolled’ him remain as poor and ignored as they ever were — and vilified to boot.

The term ‘troll’ is not borrowed from fairytales — it refers to a method of fishing. It is, in the words of internet expert Derek Powazek, ‘a behaviour online where someone would leave a lot of lures to snare people, to entice them to get angry’. If you are not famous, you might feel that you’ve been trolled for years before Twitter was even invented by highly paid opinion-formers and pundits whose views you don’t agree with but have had to listen to on programmes such as Question Time.

Before Twitter, you’d shout impotently at them on the television when they said something you didn’t like. Now, you can tweet your rage straight at them online and — if they read all their tweets — they’ll hear you. But one must never, but ever, make such excuses for a troll. So one must not point out, for example, that Owen Jones has made a lot of money claiming to be the ‘voice’ of the ‘disenfranchised’ and now doesn’t like it when the ‘disenfranchised’ find they have their own voice, thank you very much — and use it to swear at him.

The same goes for fashionable Twitter feminists who have won fame claiming to speak for anyone who has a vagina. I’ve lost count of the number of women who tell me (privately and in the strictest confidence) that they’re sick to the back teeth of being told ‘How to be a Woman’ by Caitlin Moran. One says she particularly hates Moran’s claim ‘I now live in Crouch End and my walls are painted in fucking Farrow and Ball and I have a cleaner but I will feel working-class to the day I die.’ She wants to respond, ‘Your cleaner has a name, she’s not a pot of paint and you’re not fucking working-class, are you?’ But if she tweeted that at Moran, this would constitute abuse, which is what ‘trolling’ has come to mean.

It is acceptable to be almost anything in the 21st century except a Twitter troll — for there is no person more despicable and deserving of punishment, especially when tweeting rape and death threats. I have been threatened with rape in real life, so I do know how unbelievably ill-making it is. But at the time I was alone with a drunk man in central Moscow who could have done it if he’d wanted to — it wasn’t a threat tweeted at me over the internet. And since he didn’t do it, he would not have deserved to go to jail for saying he would.

Yet when two Twitter trolls sent drunken threats of rape and worse via Twitter to Caroline Criado-Perez, who campaigned to put Jane Austen on the £10 note, and were sent to prison, Criado-Perez hailed it as a ‘brilliant day for women’. No one questioned how one privileged middle-class woman with 37,500 Twitter followers (currently represented by the Wylie Agency for a book about the ‘gender data gap’) sending two of life’s losers (one of whom was a 23-year-old woman) to jail for writing offensive words represented some sort of victory for women.

Feminism used to be a battle for equality. But now, if you were to listen to Criado-Perez and co., you’d think it was the fight for special victim status. Several prominent Labour MPs have launched a campaign to ‘Reclaim the Internet’. And yet since a Demos Twitter survey last year found that half of the misogynistic language came from women, this is really just a movement for women of high status seeking to silence women of lower status who want to send crude tweets at them.

We should be defending freedom of speech, saying: ‘I disapprove of what you tweet but I’ll defend to the death your right to tweet it.’ But this is not the ‘correct’ narrative. We are supposed to cheer en masse, instead, for Jack Monroe, who won £24,000 in libel damages from Katie Hopkins after malicious tweets upset her. Monroe didn’t prosecute on her own account, though — she did for the rest of us, saying, ‘I hope it teaches people to be a bit nicer to each other.’

What it’s taught me is the only way I’ll ever get anywhere in this life is if I get mercilessly trolled on Twitter. All I need to make it, à la Monroe, are enough hate-filled tweets to fill ‘six A4 ring-binders’. And as long as I’m not raped or killed in real life I’ll be laughing. Overnight I’ll go from a penniless hackette no one has rightly heard of to the reincarnation of Joan of Arc with 98,000 followers. If no one else has quite grasped the miraculous power of being trolled, Monroe seems to understand precisely what it’s done for her. Thanks to her Twitter fanbase she managed to crowdfund a cookbook in a single day. Now her Twitter bio reads not ‘cookbook author’ or ‘campaigner’, but ‘Ask not for whom the bell trolls; It trolls for me’.

As long as Twitter continues to dominate western society, and all our worth is summed up by the number of Twitter followers we have, the election of Donald Trump will simply be the ultimate symbol of a simple truth: that the only surefire way to triumph is to embrace the joy of trolling.

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Julia’s Baby by Emily Hill: The Spectator Christmas Short Story 2016

The Spectator – Illustrated by Morten Morland

Julia should not have come to the wedding. That much was clear as soon as she arrived. Late, she was, and massive in belly. Her hat festooned with tropical fruit; her dress — hideously colourful. She made the hinges shriek on the great church door and winced, as it slammed shut, with a shudder. Puffing out her cheeks, she waddled slowly towards the nearest pew. She had a fist jammed into the small of her back, as if she were expecting to give birth at any moment.


Everyone turned round to stare. The vicar got confused, forgot his lines, began to stammer. The bride stood at the altar, in an ill-advised orgy of organza and tulle, said something no one heard. The groom started coughing and the best man also. A hissing came from the bridesmaids, taffeta skirts bristling, as they squirmed to get a better view. Someone, somewhere, committed a laugh.

(You cannot remove heavily pregnant people from weddings, as a general rule.)

Flushed, Julia did not appear to notice. She settled in at the back, stared up at the angels in the eaves. Felt her hat, caressed her bump, sang the hymns over-loudly.

The wedding passed off as weddings usually do. Julia did not interrupt. If there were any just cause or impediment, Julia declined to mention it. The bride threw up her ornate veil, the groom seized and kissed her. The organ struck up in triumph. The wedding party swept down the aisle, plump in love, flawless with smiles. Everybody cried. Just as you’d expect.

Outside, the sun shone and died, shone and died, as clouds raced across the sky. Julia disappeared. Confetti was thrown, dried petals flew off, the gravel path littered with silvery shreds. Two turtle doves were let out of a box. One dazed itself, flying out disorientated, straight into the church door. The other refused to perform at all, sat cooing where it was comfortable. The photographer set about his formations. The maid of honour, humiliated in mauve, frowned between shots. The tiniest bridesmaid misplaced her violets and started to cry.

Then the rain came down, in sprightly gusts, so the bride and her mighty dress were borne back inside church, dabbed down with handkerchiefs and rearranged for the car. And it was while the wedding party was stood in the vestibule that a thin plume of smoke was spied, rising from a distant tombstone. Julia crouched there, lighting one fag off the end of another. She must have thought no one was looking.

The scandal reached the reception before Julia did. It was agreed that she had done very well to keep her figure, her slim ankles, shapely legs and slender arms. But if that was how she managed it…

Julia did not seem to mind that she was getting wet. She pulled her ghastly hat down further on her head. Finishing her cigarette, burying the ash, she picked at the blackened moss that filled up the cracks in the gravestone. She tore up a handful of grass to scrub down the letters. The shower ceased and the sun emerged with a little more conviction.

There wasn’t a space for Julia at the wedding breakfast, but she sat down before a plate, crumpled the name tag and dared anyone to move her. Many of the guests, who knew the whole sorry saga, were hoping to draw her out. But Julia just smiled, her eyes glassy, giving answers of remarkably few syllables. After some prodding, she at last came to admit that it was a boy, and she was going to call it George. Another woman, in a dubious hat, asked if Julia had a picture.

‘Of the foetus?’ asked Julia in the lull as the room laid down its dessert forks for the speeches.

The best man’s speech was not a success. Seeing Julia before him, he had to ditch half his routine and all of his jokes. He settled for a rather pitiful story about the tightness of the groom’s running shorts.

When the groom had thrown Julia over, almost eight-and-a-half months previously, everyone had expected her to go to pieces. For Julia was the sort that would. And Julia duly fell apart, over the weeks and months. When first she found out, she would not believe it. Carried on as if everything were normal, refused to give the groom up. So the bride had to step in, to clarify matters. Then there were a series of confrontations. Firecrackers through the groom’s letterbox. Vandalism of the bride’s car. Julia had stapled a letter, full of bitter accusations, to every lamppost on the street.

The bride had wanted to call the police. The groom said it would blow over. And so it did. All hushed up, so that now no one was sure what Julia did or did not do. The only thing anyone knew for sure is that Julia had disappeared to her mother’s house. Nothing more was heard. The groom forgot to feel bad, made a proposal. The bride tried on wedding dresses, set her heart on the church with two spires. Neither of them had wanted a long engagement. The groom had been through one of those.

As the big day approached, the bride felt it only right to issue an invitation to Julia and her mother, Julia’s mother being her godmother and Julia her oldest friend. But neither Julia nor Julia’s mother had made any sort of reply and the bride credited all concerned with doing the decent thing.

The bride was not to know of Julia’s subsequent history.

Of Julia. Sobbing Julia. Hysterical Julia. With one leg hoisted over the Highgate death drop. Julia. Persuaded down. Much to her own embarrassment. Julia three days later. Caught in a scarlet bathtub. Minus a pint of blood. Julia. Patched up in the hospital. Julia. Sobbing Julia. Unable to sleep. Taking all the tablets at once. Found just in time. Another admission. Stomach pumped. (No heart to be mended.)

And there lay Julia. Julia’s sobbing mother. Julia’s sobbing sister. Hysterical, the lot of them.

But tonight Julia seemed pretty much serene.

As the guests became increasingly drunk, everyone began to discuss, quite openly, the father of Julia’s baby. The whole marquee was doing the maths. If Julia was due any day now, and the groom had left Julia less than nine months ago then it was perfectly probable, creditable even… For Julia was a loyal sort, everyone knew that. She was not the sort to cheat and lie, not as attractive as the bride, not as engaging as the bride. But all the same.

The bride and groom took to the parquet. Their first dance marred by the death looks of the bride. The groom, poor man, near death without the looks.

Julia was faring quite well. She had chosen a seat with a magnificent view, on the edge of the dance floor. A great space cleared around her but she did not seem to mind. Julia’s hand flitted to pacify the kickings from within, as she swayed, ever so gently, from side to side. Smiling vaguely to herself, thinking her thoughts.

She had been spied, from under the door of a toilet cubicle, nipping from a hip flask she had hidden in her handbag. She had then shared the contents with the flower girls who had discovered her. They were all of 12, and were now turning various strange shades to clash with their unflattering dresses.

Some time later, when the music stopped for the cake to be cut, everyone held their breath and tried not stare in Julia’s direction. It would not have been polite. At a certain point, Julia must have forgotten she was not supposed to be seen drinking, and had finished off the table wine. Now Julia had her face down in a flower arrangement, groaning at volume, her last cigarette burning a hole in the opulent tablecloth.

The bride’s expression could not be read. Certainly there was contempt and incredulity in her eyes, but her smile confused it. Bravely, she plunged a knife into the swan-shaped cake, with her new husband’s hands about her waist. But as the camera began to flash, her features broke out in fury.

She strode over to Julia, cake knife in one hand, a fistful of her dream dress in the other, ready for the showdown.

Julia roused herself. Shaking her head, she brought herself up to her full height and clamped both hands on her great belly, fingers spread. Julia stood proudly in the middle of the room: so much taller than the bride — always had been, always would be — and possessed of riches that the bride, in her tight white corset, had not.

Julia opened her mouth. And Julia said, pointing at the groom:


Only four words. And she said them very loudly, just like that.

The marquee erupted. The bride began to shriek. The groom collapsed. The father of the bride had the best man by the lapels. The flower girls were sick on their shoes, everyone screamed, the place turned into deafening riot. So no one had their eyes on Julia as she slipped out.

Heavy and waddling, she made her way, crab-like, towards the exit.

Outside, the night was cool and fresh and, as she neared the car that waited for her, Julia’s tread became surer, her stature more erect. Julia wrenched open the back door, tossed her hat on to the back seat and clambered in.

As the car moved off, Julia watched as the marquee receded from view.

And the car rushed ahead, down the empty track. Julia took one last glance behind her. When the last of the lights were eclipsed by trees, she hitched up her dress, withdrew a little knife from the recesses of her purse, and started to sever the uncomfortable prosthetic bulge strapped tightly to her middle.

May’s Beard

nick-timothy-beardThe Spectator

This week, the Tory party conference ought to be gripped by the question, who the hell is Nick Timothy, the vizier with all the power? To suggest that Theresa May’s joint chief of staff is the man behind our new PM’s manoeuvres is apparently misogynistic, but I’m a woman and I’ll say what I like. May’s regime change has been riveting, yet a core mystery remains: who precisely is in charge? We endured endless TV debates before last year’s election, but the person currently running the country was not on the podium. Now he’s in a Downing Street back office, luxuriating behind his lavish beard.

And it’s the beard that really mesmerises me. Nobody seems to know anything about Timothy, and he is shy of public statements. But is he not making a massive one with his bushy facial growth? It practically screams: ‘I am the most powerful unelected adviser in living memory.’ None of the last 16 Conservative leaders has been bearded; the most recent was Lord Salisbury in 1902. When Stephen Crabb crashed out of the Tory leadership race after sexting a young lady regarding his ‘downstairs situation’, it only proved my nan’s foolproof axiom: ‘Never trust a man with a beard.’ Close your eyes and picture a bearded leader. (You’re thinking of a dictator.) Our last Iron Lady would never ‘tolerate any minister of mine wearing a beard’.

The Labour party’s current woes are neatly encapsulated by Jeremy Corbyn’s grizzled mien. It states clearly: I’m completely un-electable. New Labour’s success was predicated on the demise of Peter Mandelson’s moustache. As Lucinda Hawksley explains in her indispensable monograph, Moustaches, Whiskers & Beards, Mandy and Blair waged war on facial hair in the 1990s after market researchers found that voters were enamoured of a clean-shaven visage.

But with Blair long gone, Britain has experienced a beard boom. Men can now buy beard books, beard dyes and have a beard wash at Harvey Nichols. Perhaps Timothy was following fashion. Last year, even the Church of England sought to capitalise on the trend when the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, recommended vicars grow beards to reach out to Muslims. In January, he singled out for special praise two priests in the East End who had cultivated beards ‘of an opulence that would not have disgraced a Victorian sage’. The Revd Cris Rogers of All Hallows Bow explained: ‘One guy approached me and said, “I can respect you because you have got a beard.’’’

Historically, beards were interpreted as a badge of age and wisdom. Timothy is only 36, but he probably commands more respect than the entire cabinet put together. Mrs May barely trusts anyone — yet regards him as indispensable. If you read a quote attributed to ‘a close ally of the Prime Minister’, you’re privy to the thoughts of one of three people: Mr May, Mr Timothy or — if expressing bloody outrage — May’s other joint chief of staff, Fiona Hill. Timothy, however, is the one who writes policy. He likes grammar schools, so the decades-old consensus against them has been overturned — and no one particularly cares what Justine Greening, nominally Education Secretary, thinks about the matter.

It’s quite possible Timothy grew a beard for primal reasons he doesn’t quite grasp. Research by the University of Western Australia suggests that beards are intended — like the cheek flange of the orangutan and the upper-lip wart of the golden snub-nosed monkey — to attract a mate and petrify sexual competitors. But modern women, contrarily, do not fancy them. Analysis of the dating app Tinder showed that three-quarters of women prefer a beardless man: hardly surprising in the age of the Brazilian wax, when women are expected to have their pubic hair painfully ripped off because young men greet it with abject terror. Facial hair is said to grow faster when a man is not having sex, so it’s not astonishing that men en masse suffered the beard style of goldrush miners and militant jihadis. (Poor loves.)

Beards, I am reassured by a millennial, have now peaked. So the fact that Timothy retains his might be interpreted as evidence that he is stubborn, like his boss. But it is worth recalling that great minds loathe beards. Nasa has never allowed a bearded man on the moon. Alexander the Great ordered his soldiers to shave before battle. Elizabeth I laid the foundations of empire by instituting a tax on any beard of more than two weeks’ growth. Today, beards make you 51 per cent less cheerful, 38 per cent less generous and 63 per cent more likely to win a staring contest — against another man.

Yes, I think we can divine a lot about Nick Timothy, thanks to that beard. And one key test of Mrs May’s government will be whether or not he shaves it off.

Londoner’s Diary on May’s Beard

‘The Spectator has devoted a whole page to the subject of Nick Timothy’s beard — Theresa May’s joint chief-of-staff is known for facial hair that would make a Viking envious. The article’s author, Emily Hill, cites research that suggests “like the cheek flange of an orangutan and the upper-lip wart of the golden snub-nosed monkey”, a lush beard “is designed to attract a mate and petrify sexual competitors”. She also notes Alexander the Great insisted soldiers shave before battle. What will go first, the beard or Article 50?’

Londoner’s Diary

The rise and fall of the Cameron Chumocracy


All political careers end in failure — it’s the dynastic death throes you want to watch. The leader departs with a wave and a whimper; the acolytes slither in blood and guts and gore. And so it was with David Cameron. While he made a dull speech in the drizzle outside Downing Street and his wife wore a nice dress, the Chumocracy he had presided over for 20 years and more tore itself apart behind the scenes. Gove knifed Boris — and botched it so badly that he died of self-inflicted wounds.Theresa May traipsed over bloodied corpses, defenestrated the rest, and by all accounts relished hacking apart theChancellor of the Exchequer.

The Chum-ocracy was dead… long live the Chum-ocracy! ‘Governments of chums won’t die off,’ onenotorious Westminster insider claims. ‘May has appointed her own in Damian Green and Alan Duncan. But with Cameron it was more extreme — he emerged through all three institutions that breed British prime ministers: Eton, Oxford and CCO [ConservativeCentral Office]. Wheneveranyone new was appointed to his staff, the lobby’d look up his name in the back ofFrancesElliot’s biography and find that whoever it was had been at Dave’s stag party or on one of his villa holidays.

‘There was a very telling archive clip that played on the news when Cameron resigned which showed him out-canvassing for the first time as a parliamentary candidate in Witney: he was accompanied by Ed Llewellyn, who’d been a friend since Eton, and was his chief of staff when he resigned. Cameron has always turned to his friends for help. When he needed money to fund the Conservative party he turned to Andrew Feldman — the same chap who’d raised the money for his college ball. What made Cameron a good friend also made him a bad politician because he never asked if there was anyone better for the job.’

To understand Cameron’s Chumocracy, I started to plot out his relationships on a piece of paper:starting with the friends he made at Eton, then at Oxford, through his PR career and life at CCO, on to Notting Hill, Westminster and No. 10. I started out drawing clear lines linking schoolmates to flatmates, Bullingdon buddies and policy wonks, but pretty soon exactly the same people started popping up in new guises — as fellow MPs, cabinet colleagues, party donors — and the lines started to veer into ever more deranged spirals as everyone turned out to be linked, several times over, to everyone else. Even their pets were connected, most notably in the marriage that took place between the bichon frises of George Osborne and Michael Gove. Snowy and Lola’s union may well have ended — like the friendship between their owners, according to the Sun — in bitterness, recrimination and muchbarking, but once upon a time everything was bliss. ‘I have thepictures,’ Mrs Gove, a.k.a. Daily Mail and Spectator Life columnist Sarah Vine, boasted at the 2014 Westminster Dog of the Year contest. ‘There was a ceremony with flowers.’

Canine union may have been an aberration for the Cameroons, but christenings were common and were used in much the same way as marriage in medieval Europe — to seal nascent political alliances. Rachel Whetstone, long-term partner of Tory strategist Steve Hilton, stood as godmother to David and Samantha’s eldest child, Ivan. At the time Whetstone worked for Michael Howard. Some time later she had an affair with Samantha’s stepfather, leaving an irate Cameron towonder if godmotherhood could, retrospectively, becancelled. Sam Cam is also, by all accounts, on non-speaks with Vine —godmother to her youngest child. Their husbands had once been the closest political chums, so they’d spent New Year and half-terms together. But when Mrs Gove gave herself a makeover as Brexit’s Lady Macbeth, Samantha was furious and Westminster insiders say they’ll never kiss and make up.

Even private moments such as bath time were grist to the Camerons’ social milieu. ‘My wife and I were once invited, with our children, to “dinner à quatre”, at the Camerons’ Oxfordshire home,’ recalls one guest. ‘When we arrived, as an opening salvo, we were asked if our kids would like to share a bath with their kids — who were then in one. It was like that bit in E.M. Forster’sA Room with a View when Mr Beebe was highly entertained because Freddy greeted George with, “How d’ye do? How d’ye do? Come and have a bathe.” With Cameron, everything was socialising. It’s a trait of English upper-class life that everyone else finds hard to understand. He wanted to look around him and see all nice people and good eggs.’

Of course, outsiders — oiks and bathtub refuseniks — were rarely permitted a glimpse of the Cameron clique. Occasionally, though, they had to be auditioned, such as when Cameron was searching for a potential chum in a trade too grubby for his natural allies to thrive in — journalism. His media advisers, Andy Coulson and Craig Oliver, were both appointed after passing muster at Sunday lunch. And, as my perfectly placed source points out, such intimate tests did pay off. Unlike the Blairs, about whom each successive home-help — from Alastair Campbell downwards — competed to share details ever more humiliating than the last,Cameron’s employees have kept schtum. Even after going to prison, Coulson has stayed loyal to Cameron, never spilling the braised beans.

Nick Clegg, however, is still smarting from his involvement with the Cameron project. A Westminster old boy, he initially seemed like Dave’s kind of chap, so at their first meeting in Downing Street he was honoured with helping Dave assemble an Ikea cot. Next, Clegg and his wife Miriam were put to the Sunday lunch test, where Mrs Clegg disgraced herself by sneering at Sam Cam’s offer of roast chicken with Hellman’s mayonnaise.Miriam absolutely refused to be drawn into the Cameroon set and her frostiness may or may not have contributed to Cameron’s decision to reallocate the deputy leader’s grace-and-favour home to his long-term and ultimate ally, Chancellor Osborne. ‘This is terribly awkward,’ Clegg recalls Cameron saying, when raising this vexatious issue. ‘The thing is… George has for so long had his eye on Dorneywood… He’s very close to me…’

Yet for all such canny manoeuvring, it was the social niceties that did for Cameron in the end. Just as Boris Johnson’s leadership ambitions failed because he took the weekend off to play cricket with Earl Spencer (incurring the ire of Gove), Cameron’s relaxed approachcompletely ruined him when it came to the Brexit vote. Dave had carefully curated a coterie of yes men ever since he was eight years old (which was the last time anyone told him what to do, according to his late father). He was so cut off from the rest of the populace he could not foresee imminent doom: relying not just on the utterly hopeless pollster Andrew Cooper, but all the smug Remainers to whom he later gave gongs. As bloodymesses go, the Chumocracy’s was not the first, and it certainly won’t be the last — but it is, perhaps, the one that gives rise to the most schadenfreude.

Why Hillary Clinton’s nomination is no triumph for feminism

The Spectator

Women of the world unite! Back Hillary Clinton! Otherwise, prepare to be damned to that special place in hell that former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright insists exists ‘for women who don’t help each other’!

Exclamation marks are crucial to discussing Hillary Clinton for President. If you don’t deploy one at the end of each sentence, people might think you’re hopelessly depressed that a woman is about to become leader of the free world. We’re supposed to be excited that a woman has just clinched the Democratic nomination. It took America 227 years to get so far. Never mind that the woman in question is widely disliked by a majority of women. Ignore the fact that she was nearly beaten by a kooky 74-year-old socialist called Bernie. Progress marches on. ‘People are talking about revolution,’ said Albright, at a rally for Hillary in February. ‘What kind of a revolution would it be to have the first woman president of the United States?’

The answer is: none. Yes, it could be wonderful — symbolically — if the most powerful person on earth were female. But if Hillary beats Trump to the White House, it won’t be feminism’s ultimate triumph, it’ll be one more victory for the institution of marriage. And, by my feminist standards, if that symbolises anything, it’s regression. Achieving power by means of marrying, and putting up with, a really shitty husband is something women have been doing for centuries. Yet no one points to Catherine the Great and says, ‘That’s the way to do it, gels!’ At least Catherine, when she got to power, knifed her cruel spouse, confident that she could rule much better by herself. Hillary has not only ridden the Clinton machine all the way to where she is today; she promises Americans that she’ll rely on her husband to govern. In May, she reassured voters in Kentucky that Bill will be ‘in charge of revitalising the economy because, you know, he knows how to do it’.

And yet still the young women of America have been lambasted for flocking to Bernie Sanders. These poor ignorant dears, the argument seems to run, will keep voting according to politics rather than what’s really important — a candidate’s sex. But surely it makes no sense to vote for Hillary because she, like you, boasts two breasts and a vagina? Margaret Thatcher sprang into power entirely thanks to her own smarts, cleaving to her own political vision, which she implemented, ruthlessly, through three elections. And feminists of the fifth wave never claim that as womankind’s great leap forward. Mrs Clinton, by contrast, has no message, no vision and no creed beyond, as Christopher Buckley recently pointed out in these pages, ‘I am so owed.’

And for what is she owed? Standing by her man, of course. The young women of America are too young to remember the deeply unedifying exhibition the Clintons made of themselves in the 1990s. Back then, Bill referred to his wife as ‘the First Liability’ because everything she touched — in the words of Martin Amis — turned ‘out to have the word gate tacked on to the end of it’. Worse still was how Hillary stuck by her husband as he stuck his penis into any woman willing — plus, according to Juanita Broaddrick, at least one who wasn’t. And she didn’t just stick by him; she helped him stick it to each and every member of her own sex who had the temerity to complain. And she continued to dance to Tammy Wynette’s tune even after he left office, as he gadded about the globe with billionaire Ron Burkle on a plane dubbed Air Fuck One. Now, Bill is too ill to carry on philandering, but he was at it as recently as 2008 when ‘a bimbo eruption’ — as a Clinton troubleshooter delicately put it — threatened to derail Hillary’s nascent campaign. Fortunately, Obama won.

The most appalling thing about Hillary Clinton is that she makes Donald Trump seem like a crazed feminist choice for 45th president — for at least he’s making a feminist argument. The Donald has been busy pursuing a line of attack first put forward by none other than America’s radical feminist-in-chief, Camille Paglia. ‘Hillary Clinton’s feminism is a fraud,’ Paglia wrote in an email to the Daily Beast last year. ‘She rode her husband’s coattails to wealth and power, and she has amorally colluded in the vilification and destruction of female victims of her husband’s serial abuse.’ In January, Trump started tweeting, ‘I hope Bill Clinton starts talking about women’s issues so the voters can see what a hypocrite he is and how Hillary abused those women!’

I don’t like sympathising with a misogynist billionaire whose ideas are as mad and bad as his hair — but he has a point. It matters how you get to power, and trampling all over your less powerful sisters without once stopping to help is not the way to do it. When I was a teenager, Bill taught me how men in power are allowed to treat women, while Hill stood by and watched. The most powerful man in the world appeared, with livid face, on television, on permanent loop, claiming that he ‘did not have sexual relations with that woman’, the 22-year-old unpaid intern whose best dress turned out to have the presidential ejaculate all over it. Hillary appeared to disregard the whole existence of Monica Lewinsky, just as she did any other woman Bill discarded as a used receptacle for semen and cigars.

Had Hillary divorced the oily bastard, acquired a clear set of political principles and made it on her own, I’d be the biggest cheerleader there ever was for Democratic candidate Rodham. But she hasn’t and she didn’t. She stuck by Bill, cynically, because she needed the man. That, to me, is no sort of womanhood at all. And I’m content to burn in hell for all eternity for saying so.