Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Instaurare Omnia in Christo

It is beyond my competence to comment on the Holy Father's apparent extension to the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X of jurisdiction to hear Confessions, at least for the duration of the forthcoming Jubilee Year.

But we must be clear exactly what Lefebvrism is, and is not. For, of course, the SSPX thinks that this Pope is a Modernist. It has thought the same thing about the last four, the only others under whom it has ever existed.

Lefebvrism is certainly not "just traditional Catholicism", or even just Catholicism as widely practised during the Pianische Monolothismus.

Rather, it makes sense only in certain very specific terms peculiar to France. Terms that, for very French reasons, it assumes to be universal when they are not.

Lefevbrist devotional and disciplinary practice is an obvious expression of, if not direct Jansenist influence, though probably so, then at least the strain in the French character that made it receptive to Jansenism.

Likewise, Lefebvrist theory and organisational practice are no less obviously expressions of Gallicanism, and sometimes of very advanced Gallicanism indeed.

For example, rule of the SSPX is by a General Chapter in which not only do bishops and simple presbyters have equal status, but it is considered an aberration that the Superior-General is at present a bishop, rather than being a simple presbyter to whom the Society's bishops would be, and in the past have been, subject. Shades of the extreme Gallican attempts to prove a Dominical institution of the office of parish priest.

Lefebvrism gives perhaps the first ever formal institutional shape to the situation created by the seventeenth century, which began with three competing parties in the French Church, but which ended with two, the Gallicans and the Jansenists having effectively merged against the Ultramontanes due to the deployment of Gallican ecclesiological arguments against the Papal condemnations of Jansenist soteriological ones.

By the wayside had fallen such features as Jansenist belief, with the sole if notable exception of Pascal, in the infallibility of Papal definitions ex cathedra, and Gallican use of belief in Our Lady's Immaculate Conception as a mark of party identity due to its having been defined by the Council of Basel.

The popular attraction of the Lefebvrist clergy in terms of the old Latin Mass and traditional or "traditional" devotions echoes that of the Gallican clergy in terms of the old diocesan Missals and Breviaries and a sympathy for the entrenched local devotional practices reviled, like those entrenched local liturgical forms, by the Ultramontanes.

The French Church, or an idea of the French Church, is assumed to be fundamentally autonomous, so that the incompatibility of Dignitatis Humanae with a very specifically French Counter-Revolutionary theory of the relationship between Church and State means that it is the Conciliar Declaration that must yield. This is simply taken to be self-evident.

In reality, such a position is as schismatic and as heretical as John Courtney Murray's attempt to conform Dignitatis Humanae to the American republican tradition's reading of the First Amendment as taught to high school students, an approach comprehensible only within Manifest Destiny and all that.

That has therefore ended up, for now, in George Weigel's signature to the Project for the New American Century, and in the public support for the Iraq War on the part of the late Richard John Neuhaus, known to George W Bush as "Father Richard".

American "conservative" Catholicism sees the American Church as autonomous as surely as does American "liberal" Catholicism, and freely disregards Catholic Teaching on social justice and on peace as surely as the other side freely disregards Catholic Teaching on bioethical and sexual issues.

As a result, both alike are blind to the Magisterium's brilliant and unique global witness to the inseparability of all of these concerns.

In both the French and the American cases, there is a strange inability to recognise that what one was taught at 13 or 14 might not always be the last word on any given subject.

Well, they are dealing with a new, and a very different, Pope now.

The Lanchester Review: Radical Politics of Anachronism

Matthew Cooper on Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn, and the history of American and Canadian Populism.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Prerogative

It is not news that Jeremy Corbyn agrees with the changes to the Royal Prerogative that were proposed by David Davis in the latter's Parliamentary Control of the Executive Bill 1999.

Speaking of Executives, it certainly would be news if the one in Northern Ireland were to collapse. But that is extremely unlikely to happen. Quite simply, far too much money depends on its continuation.

It is also possible that Unionists in Northern Ireland have begun to realise how little sympathy they could expect in Great Britain.

Consider the abuse that is heaped on Scotland and the North of England, while Wales is simply ignored, for the expense that we apparently incur by, at least in the North's case, being denied the infrastructure that the South East assumes as a matter of course.

Well, Northern Ireland is in a different league, with a colossal public sector alongside numerous other features a great distance removed from the views of The Times or of The Sun, or from those of most readers of the Daily Mail or of the Daily Telegraph.

As well as the spending, the Britishness that Unionism in Northern Ireland exists to defend includes a very high level of political participation by fundamentalist clergymen, acting as such. Does that sound remotely like Britain?

The name of Margaret Thatcher is abominated by Unionists from Northern Ireland in terms that I have never even heard from ex-miners. The latter just swear a lot, and compare her to Hitler. But the former very literally damn her to Hell, with the full rhetorical force of the King James Bible.

Everyone has always known that the IRA was still in existence. But the Good Friday Agreement had put a lid on most of its activities in Northern Ireland, as well as on all of them in Great Britain. People in Great Britain prefer it that way, and are now very well used to it that way.

So, if there were any hint of a return to IRA activity on the Mainland due to the withdrawal of both Unionist parties from the Executive, then the message from the Mainland would be unmistakable: "We are not, under any circumstances, going through that again. You are on your own."

A thoroughly aristocratic Conservative Government simply withdrew from the Kenya of Happy Valley and all that, and the most petty bourgeois of Conservative Prime Ministers finalised the independence of Zimbabwe.

She also sent Nicholas Ridley to negotiate a transfer of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands to the Argentina of General Galtieri, with nothing more than a temporary leaseback arrangement under which the British Government would continue to administer the place for, and on behalf of, the junta in Buenos Aires. It took Peter Shore to see that one off.

Indeed, Thatcher was so close to that junta, that when she did finally have to send a taskforce because the Argentinians had taken her at her word and moved in, then the ships in question had been about to be sold at a knocked down rate. Sold, of course, to Argentina.

It is 33 years since the Falklands War. 33 years after VJ Day, the only remaining British possessions in Asia and the Pacific were Kiribati, which became independent a year later; the Pitcairn Islands, the current population of which is 56; the much-abused Chagos Islands; and Hong Kong, which Thatcher was negotiating to transfer back to China, without the slightest reference to that great city's numerous inhabitants, only three months after the end of the Falklands War. So much for any argument from blood and treasure.

I come originally from one of the British Overseas Territories, but I have lived most of my life in one of the parts of England that suffered most as a result of Thatcherism. Those Territories are astonishingly indulged by comparison with those areas.

Following the purely political decision, which has turned out to have been staggeringly short-sighted in economic and strategic terms, to destroy the industries of entire villages, towns and cities, those villagers, townspeople and citizens have endured 30 years and more of "Why don't you bloody well move, then?", as if they had anywhere else to go.

But the population of a small pit village, at the other end of the earth and of very distant British descent indeed, is not only lavished with largesse, but imagines that it reserves the right to take the United Kingdom to war for a second time if that situation should ever arise. No one tells them to get on their bikes. Or, at any rate, not yet.

They had better hope that no serious threat to their current situation ever did present itself. The larger Unionist party in Northern Ireland already seems to have got that message.

For, if Argentina did ever again flex its muscles in the face of Falkland Islander intransigence, or if Unionist withdrawal from power-sharing ever did threaten a return to IRA violence on the Mainland, then the voice of Middle England would turn out to be, not even Jeremy Corbyn as he really existed, but Jeremy Corbyn as reported by his enemies.

Monday, 31 August 2015

In The Bin

What a disappointment Tim Farron has already turned out to be, denouncing Jeremy Corbyn for his opposition to torture and for his regret at an extrajudicial execution.

That regret, at least, was openly shared at the time by Boris Johnson and by Barack Obama.

This was supposed to be Harry Cole's first big scoop as Westminster Correspondent of The Sun. But it did not appear in the paper, only on the website.

It featured only a pair of neoconservative rent-a-quotes, the utterly discredited Liam Fox for the Blues and the utterly embittered Ian Austin for the Reds.

Even the Daily Mail, in picking it up, managed to give the proper context, more or less discrediting the whole thing by so doing.

I have been ruminating for some time on the absence of serious political coverage and comment in the country's largest-selling newspaper.

It has now sent Cole to the Lobby, and it regards Katie Hopkins, Louise Mensch and Toby Young as commentators worthy of its readers.

The truth is that that looks like a public school joke on those readers.

Yes, they buy the paper for the football and The X Factor. But if you think that that means running little or no politics, then run little or no politics. The Daily Star still sells healthily.

It does not, however, have staffers who hold parliamentary passes, still less who attend the Lobby briefing.

Nor does it have Rupert Murdoch as not only its proprietor, but also its Editor-in-Chief.

Blunt Weapons

The Royal Navy was the mightiest that the world had ever seen, before nuclear weapons were even thought of. Now, though, we have only the nukes.

And half a billion pounds to create 600 jobs. Imagine if Jeremy Corbyn had suggested spending half a billion pounds to create 600 jobs.

Perhaps, in order to expose Trident "renewal" for the extremism that it is, Corbyn needs to espouse it?

Then again, fringe mavericks are not made Chairmen of Foreign Affairs Select Committees.

Crispin Blunt's public doubts about this batty scheme, like his strong support for the Palestinian cause, obviously indicate the private views of those of his partisans whose secret ballots, for so it now works, have put him where he is.

The Extremists In British Politics

Kevin Maguire writes:

So what did the Tories do during Labour’s leadership battle?

The extremists in British politics are the Conservatives swerving far to the Right of Maggie Thatcher.

Turning Britain into a chumocracy by axing 50 elected MPs after stuffing the House of Cronies with sugar daddies, lovers and ballot box rejects would complete Cameron’s coup.

Power to the people in this Tory revolution means the obscenely wealthy spivs and speculators who bankrolled the party’s power grab, as working people and the ­disabled pick up the tab.

Welfare axeman Iain Duncan Smith hammered another nail in satire’s coffin by spouting nasty gibberish about a supposed “sickness benefit culture” in the gilded offices of Barclays Wealth – a beneficiary both directly and indirectly of billions squandered on a ­corporate welfare, from tax gifts to bailouts.

Islamic State’s beheader-in-chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi can quote the IDS precedent should he seek an invitation to address a feminist meeting or the International Red Cross.

The Tories exploit Labour’s ­introspection and the fury of potential losers in the leadership race.

They denounce Jeremy Corbyn for exciting a social movement instead of themselves energising voters, portraying themselves as sensible moderates on the central ground and Labour a party about to be led by an extremist.

It is a gigantic propaganda lie and Labour either pulls itself together and exposes the truth or the party will go down divided. 

It will never to be forgiven if it favours civil war over fighting the Tories – whether Corbyn, Cooper, Burnham or Kendall is crowned leader.

Because cutting inheritance tax for the richer is obscene, not fair, when the kids of a few wealthy families will stand on the shoulders of the disabled. 

George Osborne’s invention of a pay rise that reduces the incomes of millions of low-paid families is the financial trickery of a Con-man.

Dictators would blush at the shackling of workers in trade unions, planned by a party in the pocket of Mayfair hedge funds seeking a green light to buy firms and cut wages or axe staff.

Conservative broken promises are piling up, from caring for the vulnerable to childcare.

The Government’s repeated missing of his own noxious immigration target is a lethal combination of failure, inadequacy, fears and smears.

So Cameron, not Corbyn, is the dangerous extremist in British politics.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Paper Tigers

The real message of this summer has been that the right-wing papers only matter if their target cares.

If he doesn't, then nor does anyone else.

And he doesn't.

Jez We Can.

Islands In The Stream

Today is the ninety-eighth birthday of Denis Healey. Ask him about the Chagos Islands. It is no wonder that Oliver Kamm loves him so much.

And it is no wonder that the President of the Provisional Government of Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands has endorsed Jeremy Corbyn.

As to Corbyn's 30-odd-year-old remarks about the Falklands War, their reporting today is an important insight into just how controversial, by no means only on the Left, that conflict was at the time.

The point that money could be found for these things, but not for anything else, is even timelier now than it was then.

Still, that would be as nothing compared to a second war for the sake of fewer than three thousand people at the other end of the earth, who positively revelled in the fact that they were anything up to nine generations removed from this country.

Would there be public support for that? Really? I mean, really?

One thing about Margaret Thatcher is beyond dispute. She is dead.

The Lanchester Review: Donald Trump, Plutocrat Unbound

Ian Oakley explains that Trump is the Republican Party's worst nightmare, because he is exactly the candidate that it now deserves.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

So Much

Or, not so much.

The Conservative Party has a Leader who cast his first vote in 1987. But is he a barrow boy made good? Not exactly, no.

Moreover, he is to be succeeded in this Parliament by a man who could not vote until Margaret Thatcher had left office, and who is the son and heir of a 17th Baronet.

Meanwhile, eight years after Tony Blair's departure, Labour is to be led by a man who was first elected to Parliament on the same day as Blair, and Gordon Brown, were, but who is slightly older even than they, and who voted against their Governments 500 times.

He believes that Blair ought to stand trial for war crimes. His campaign has no organisation beyond the trade unions and the networks of Left activists who are by no means all within the Labour Party, something that also applies to the unions. He has been endorsed by no national newspaper apart from the Morning Star.

So much for Margaret Thatcher. So much for Tony Blair. So much for the people who voted for certain parties purely because they favoured either or both of Thatcher and Blair. So much for the newspapers that endorsed them both.

And so much for the proprietor of those newspapers.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Moral and Pastoral?

I am laughing myself silly at Harry's Place, which would ordinarily be screaming blue murder that the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford was now someone like Nigel Biggar.

An Anglican clergyman, but who belongs more to the world of American fundamentalism, he is merrily plugging a book that could have been written by John Hagee or Pat Robertson, and which has very much been written for their audience rather than for British Evangelicals, who are by and large a very different lot indeed politically.

But in so plugging, Professor Biggar continues to defend the Iraq War. So, he must be all right, really.

Mustn't he?

A Pre-emptive Alternative

It is no disrespect to any of the newly ennobled, to say that David Cameron is obviously testing the entire system to destruction.

Cameron is no fool, and he will have something very specific in mind as a replacement. Whatever that is, it will be disastrous for anyone other than his own party, and his own faction of that party. A pre-emptive alternative is urgently needed.

No one much likes the 12 regions that were invented by the Major Government, which did so quite independently of the EU, for all that body’s many other faults. But they are there. They will do. They are just going to have to do.

In each of the 11 regions of Great Britain, lists of Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat candidates would be submitted to the electorate. Any member of the relevant party in good standing within that region would have the right to appear on that list, simply by self-nomination.

As voters, each of us would vote by means of the time-honoured and the comprehensibly British X for one candidate on each list, and the six highest scorers would be elected. Casual vacancies would be filled by the next highest-scoring candidate who was willing and able to step up.

Thus, there would always be 66 Labour, 66 Conservative and 66 Liberal Democrat Senators, expressing the wide variety of perspectives within each of their respective traditions.

Furthermore, each of us would vote for one other party that, by contesting elections to the Senate, barred itself from contesting elections to the House of Commons. The top name on each of the five highest-scoring lists would be elected, with casual vacancies filled off the list.

And each of us would vote for one Independent from as many as wanted to stand, with the top five elected, and with casual vacancies filled as for Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat Senators.

In Northern Ireland, each of the DUP, the UUP, the SDLP, Sinn Féin and the Alliance Party would have four Senators elected in the manner of the principal mainland parties, with a further five elected from other parties by the same means and subject to the same conditions as in Great Britain, together with five Independents.

Thus, each region would have 30 Senators, giving a total of 360. Undoubtedly, UKIP and the Greens would each give up one MP on a good night, for certainly 11 and probably 12 Senators on a permanent basis. Correspondingly, the SNP and, more regrettably, Plaid Cymru would not contest Senate elections.

All manner of Left parties would win at least some Senate seats when they would rarely, if ever, have won Commons ones.

The Liberal Party might reasonably expect a seat in the South West, and the SDP, which also still exists on a very small scale, might just about manage one in Yorkshire and the Humber, its main centre being Bridlington.

Certain commentators would be told to put up as Independents, or to shut up. They would gladly put up.

Corbyn: To The Right of the SDP

James Meadway writes:

There’s been a lot of excitable chatter about Jeremy Corbyn’s economic policies.

Newspaper pundits and Labour Party grandees have queued up to denounce his plans as a return to the dark days of 1983.

This is the year Labour stood in the election on a left-wing platform, and lost by a landslide to the Tories, led by Margaret Thatcher.

The talking heads have a point. Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto is close to one of those from that fateful year.

But it’s not Labour’s. It’s the Social Democratic Party’s.

The SDP was set up by a small group of leading Labour Party figures, disenchanted with Labour’s shift to the left.

They stood, in 1983, in alliance with the old Liberal Party.

They are today best remembered for splitting the anti-Tory vote, and so helping Thatcher to two successive election wins.

This is their 1983 manifesto. And here is what Jeremy Corbyn says about the economy.

The SDP denounced Tory spending cuts and called for carefully selected increases in public spending and reductions in taxation… to increase public borrowing to around £11 billion” and to “to reverse the reduction in public investment”.

Corbyn, too, attacks Tory spending cuts and calls for “public investment in new publicly-owned infrastructure”.

But unlike the SDP, Corbyn thinks “Labour should not run a public deficit”. Corbyn is more fiscally conservative than the “moderate” SDP.

There’s more.

The SDP called for government spending to directly create 250,000 jobs over two years, plus another 100,000 in the NHS and social services.

In total, they wanted to reduce unemployment by 600,000 in two years.

Unlike the SDP, Corbyn sets no target for reducing that level and does not call for the government to directly create jobs.

Corbyn has called for monetary policy to be used to boost investment, in the form of “People’s Quantitative Easing”.

The SDP wanted less “restrictive monetary policy and management of the exchange rate” to help create 400,000 new jobs.

Both the SDP and Corbyn are concerned about what the SDP call “excessive” pay in the private sector, with the SDP pushing for a “Prices and Incomes Commission” to regulate pay.

Both agree on the need for an industrial strategy, backed by investment in high-tech research.

But the SDP also wanted to radically expand the range of worker participation in their businesses, including a mandatory employee right to information.

The difference is clear. Corbyn’s economic policies, today, place him to the right of 1983’s moderates.

If we must make decades-old comparisons, perhaps this is the one to make?

A Zero-Hours Contract With Life

Giles Fraser writes:

Politicians may have inadvertently stumbled upon a radical new way to address spiralling NHS costs. It’s called assisted dying, and it’s back before the House of Commons again next month. Though, in fact, it’s not a new way at all.

Euripides had the same idea 500 years before the birth of Christ: “I hate the men who would prolong their lives / By foods and drinks and charms of magic art / Perverting nature’s course to keep off death / They ought, when they no longer serve the land / To quit this life, and clear the way for youth.”

We have an aging population. Globally, the number of over-65s will triple by 2050. Currently there are four people of working age supporting each pensioner in Britain. By 2050 that dependency ratio will be two to one.

As the number of elderly people rapidly expands, so a far greater burden of care will fall on the young. Taxes will rise to meet the demand of pensions and NHS costs. Conflicts over intergenerational fairness will intensify.

No politician will ever come out and say that those who “no longer serve the land” should choose suicide. No, assisted dying, its current proponents insist, must only ever be a personal choice in a very specific set of circumstances.

But let us not pretend that this “personal choice” is unaffected by wider economic realities.

For as a rapidly expanding elderly population makes increasing demands on healthcare, so the pressure to ration “expensive” treatments will grow – with what counts as expensive being continually recalculated downwards.

And here the wider pressure – cultural, social, economic – will inevitably press towards a greater take-up of the suicide option.

Yes, it will be a “personal choice”. But it will be a “personal choice” in the same way poorer people have a choice in supermarkets – a choice with few options.

And that’s hardly the sort of freedom that this slippery word choice evokes.

You don’t have to go back as far as Euripides to see this in action. In modern day Greece, austerity has led to a 35% increase in the suicide rate over the last two years. Was this a “personal choice”?

If we structure society in such a way that many people have desperate, miserable lives, what sort of choice is it when people choose to kill themselves?

Maud lives round the corner from me in south London. She is 90 and on her own. She remembers a time when everyone knew everyone else, and when there was genuine community solidarity.

Nowadays people come and go, she says, and young people can’t be bothered with the elderly. She is often lonely. “Even the doctor came round to see me and asked me if I wanted to commit suicide,” she says.

This is the shadow side of liberal freedom. It’s a young and healthy person’s ideology, suited for the well-off. It amounts to the renunciation of our obligations to each other and to the vulnerable.

As everyone is encouraged to make their own individual choices, strong and stable communities are dissolved. From this perspective, even ethics gets done in the first person singular not the first person plural.

It’s the freedom to do what you bloody well like and sod the rest.

Caring for each other is just another choice, just another option. It’s up to the individual to decide. And whatever the choice they make – to care or not to care – it is inviolable precisely because it is a choice.

When Maud was young her generation fought a war for freedom. To borrow philosophical terminology, it was a war for negative freedom – a war against external oppression.

But in the late 20th century, particularly under the influence of the liberal economics of Thatcherism, the sort of freedom we began to value flipped from negative freedom to positive freedom – the freedom to realise one’s own individual goals.

It became all about self-realisation, all about me and what I want. And assisted dying is its ultimate expression.

For by eroding the long-term mutual obligations we have to each other, in sickness and in health, we have arrived at the existential equivalent of a zero-hours contract with life, a contract that can be terminated at will.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Capability Assessment

This, including the barely credible story of the battle to obtain it, is news.

It is by some distance the biggest news in Britain since the General Election.

Except, apparently, to the BBC, which I desperately want to support, but which tests the loyalty of so many of us to that loyalty's outermost limit.

Speaking of tests, the Work and Pensions Secretary who inflicted this murderous regime on a grateful nation was Yvette Cooper.

The "feminist economist" who also abolished Income Support.

Our Only Current Hope

Peter Oborne writes:

With barely two weeks to go until the election of a new Labour leader, a British establishment project has been launched to stop Jeremy Corbyn at any cost.

Plan A involves halting Corbyn before he reaches the winning post.

Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, David Blunkett, Alastair Campbell and most of the leading Blairites have already been deployed. Their mission looks like failing.

So Plan B is also in place in the event Corbyn wins. The intention is to make it quite impossible for the MP for Islington North to lead the Labour Party.

Most of the mainstream media as well as the majority of Labour MPs and party donors are part of this conspiracy to nobble the front-runner.

Even though I do not share many of his views, the purpose of this article is to make the case for Mr Corbyn. My argument will be a familiar one to those who follow political events across the Muslim world. The

Western powers always assert that they support democracy. But the truth is different. The West only likes democracy when democracy produces the right result. When it produces the wrong result the West dislikes democracy very much indeed.

In Iran in 1953, in Algeria in 1992, in Egypt in 2011, Muslim leaders swept to power on a powerful popular mandate.

However, Iranian nationalist prime minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953, as much as Mohamed Morsi in Egypt in 2011, failed to fit in with Western agendas and both were soon swept away in coup d’etats. 

(The same happens in Europe. In 1992 Danish voters opposed the Maastricht Treaty and European monetary union. They were made to vote again. Likewise the Irish voted down the Lisbon Treaty in 2008, and were made to vote again in order to secure the correct result.) 

Some Labour strategists envisage that Jeremy Corbyn should be duly defenestrated if he becomes Labour leader in 15 days time - so that Labour supporters can be made to vote again.

I am not a Labour voter, let alone a member of the Labour Party with a vote in the current election.

However, I am certain this would be a disaster for British public life. Mr Corbyn is the most interesting figure to emerge as a leader of a British political party for many years.

This is because he stands for a distinct set of ideas and beliefs which set a new agenda in British politics.

If he wins on 12 September, he will be the first party leader to come from right outside the British mainstream since Margaret Thatcher in 1975. 

Thatcher defied the British economic and social establishment, outraging powerful interests within her own party and the country at large as she did so. 

If he becomes Labour leader, Corbyn will come up hard against the British foreign policy establishment. 

For two decades both main parties have shared the same verities about British foreign policy. They have regarded Britain as automatically subservient to the United States. 

This in turn has meant that we have interpreted the partnership with the Gulf dictatorships - such as Saudi Arabia and UAE - as central to Britain’s Middle East focus, while taking the side of the Israeli state against the Palestinians.

No matter which party was technically in power, British foreign policy has remained unchanged. David Cameron is indistinguishable in foreign policy terms to Tony Blair. Indeed, the former prime minister has become one of Mr Cameron’s most valued foreign policy advisors.

Jeremy Corbyn would smash this consensus.

To understand the background, it is helpful to read a work by Britain’s greatest 20th century historian, AJP Taylor.

In 1957 Taylor published The Troublemakers, a compelling study of the dissenting tradition in British politics. 

“A man can disagree with a particular line of British foreign policy while still accepting its general assumptions,” wrote Taylor. “The Dissenter repudiates its aims, its methods, its principles.” 

Corbyn is the most prominent modern representative of the British dissenting tradition as identified by AJP Taylor. 

This means that his antecedents include Tom Paine, author of the Rights of Man and supporter of the American revolutionaries against the British redcoats at the time of US independence. 

They also include William Cobbett, who had to flee Britain to find a home in the United States in the days when the US lived up the principles of its founding fathers and really did support freedom, justice and democracy. 

John Bright, the liberal politician who more than anyone else stopped Britain intervening in the American civil war on the side of the confederacy, is another. 

AJP Taylor’s dissenters are by no means always right. Most of them were against war with Hitler. 

But they also opposed the Boer War and World War One (Ramsay McDonald resigned the chairmanship of the Labour Party and Lord Morley resigned from the cabinet in protest against the war with Germany in 1914) and the 1956 seizure of the Suez Canal. 

In general they are Little Englanders, opposed to foreign adventures of any kind. They tend to be unpopular and isolated. 

But Taylor noted that “if you want to know what the foreign policy of this country will be in 20-30 years time, find out what the Dissenting minority are saying now”. 

Let’s now examine Jeremy Corbyn’s own record. 

He opposed the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He argued for talks with the IRA long before this became official policy. He has been ridiculed for talking to Hamas and Hezbollah. 

By one of the deeper ironies of modern history Tony Blair is now (as Middle East Eye recently revealed) in discussion with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, in which enterprise he has the backing of David Cameron.

Most people would agree that on the most intractable foreign policy issues of our time Corbyn has tended to be right and the British establishment has tended to be wrong.

What Corbyn does or thinks today is likely to be vindicated a few years later.

Hard though it is for the British establishment to stomach, Corbyn’s foreign policy ideas have generally been more balanced and far-sighted than those of his opponents.

This certainly does not mean that he is always right. I believe that he has been naïve about Vladimir Putin, ruler of an authoritarian state which is founded on corruption and violence.

He has been unwise to contemplate British withdrawal from NATO. Denis Healey, who as Labour’s international secretary played a role in shaping Clement Attlee’s successful post-war foreign policy, was withering when Tony Benn (another antecedent of Corbyn) proposed this idea: “deserting all our allies and then preaching them a sermon”. Corbyn is open to a similar charge. 

I would defend Mr Corbyn’s personal talks with terrorists. But terrorist and extremist groups need to be confronted, and their ideology rejected, even when one seeks dialogue with them.

Nevertheless Corbyn is our only current hope of any serious challenge to a failed orthodoxy.

Blair and Cameron have both adopted a foreign policy based on subservience rather than partnership with the United States, which has done grave damage to British interests.

In the Middle East this approach has ensured that we are confronting a growing terrorist threat in the region with an ever-decreasing base in popular support, and actually hated by an ever-growing population who identify Britain with their oppressors. 

There is no country in the Middle East, or around the world, where Britons are safer, or can do business more securely, as a result of Blairite policy. 

Mr Corbyn’s critics always claim that they want democracy. But do they really? They only want democracy, so long as democracy does not threaten the interests of their powerful backers. They want a democracy which leaves everything the same.

Corbyn is mounting a direct and open challenge to the British system of government of international alliances as they have worked since Tony Blair became Labour Party leader.

If he wins, he must be allowed to lead his party and to make his case.