Monday, 11 February 2013

Not Holy, Not Roman, Not Even Much Of An Empire

Who, having been born in Saint Helena, could resist misquoting Napoleon? Not I, gentle reader. Not I.

I reckon that Peter Hitchens is onto something. Those Conservative MPs who voted against same-sex "marriage" have walked into a trap set by David Cameron, identifying themselves for deselection, if not by 2015, then certainly by 2020. In point of fact, fewer did so than either voted in favour or abstained.

Then there is the extraordinary suggestion by Christopher Booker that it is all some giant Europlot. His critics are wrong that the Council of Europe is entirely distinct from the EU; membership of the former, with everything that that entails, is a condition of membership of the latter. But the idea of this thing's being imposed even on, say, Poland, or Malta, or currently topical Romania and Bulgaria, is absurd enough.

Yet that is without mentioning that the Council of Europe's members include Andorra under a Co-Prince who is a Catholic bishop, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Liechtenstein under Prince Alois and effectively also under Archbishop Haas, Russia, Serbia, Turkey and Ukraine. Stop trying to let Cameron off the hook.

No wonder that in this week's Spectator Diary, in between brilliant demolitions of this scheme, Piers Paul Read articulates British paleoconservatives' consistent minority, intensely Catholic position in favour of European federalism. Those same pages have in their time carried it in the words of Stuart Reid, of Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, and of the late Auberon Waugh.

As Stuart once put it to me, "At least the EU's atheism is Catholic atheism." A people which is determined not to reproduce itself is doomed to be replaced by someone, and we may as well be replaced by the Romanians and the Bulgarians, not least considering the alternatives. But what that minority of the Highest of High Tories seeks is simply not on offer. It never has been. It never will be.

Not that I do not necessarily wish that it were. Armed with Catholic Social Teaching, that really would have been a bulwark against Thatcherism and neoliberalism, just as it would now be a bulwark against the ultimate Thatcherite and neoliberal privatisation of a socially vital institution, as also against the EU's increasing militarisation and against the neoconservative wars in which some member-states have participated while most have not, or have done so only very rarely.

Even now, each of the member-states of the EU ought to nominate for life one guardian of the religious and spiritual roots of its culture and polity as embodied by its single largest community of the observant, and one guardian of the secular and humanist roots. In the United Kingdom, lest there be any doubt, that religious community would be the Catholic Church.

In addition, each of the so-called Europarties, one of which has Daniel Hannan as its Secretary-General before anyone starts, ought to nominate for a non-renewable 10-year term one guardian of the religious and spiritual roots of its ideology and support, and one guardian of the secular and humanist roots.

Nothing requiring a Qualified Majority could proceed to the Council of Ministers without the prior approval of the simple majority in each of the four categories of guardian: nominated by the member-states, nominated by the Europarties, guarding religious and spiritual values, and guarding secular and humanist values. Nothing requiring unanimity could proceed without the prior approval of all four of the two-thirds majorities.

Nothing requiring a Treaty change could proceed to the European Council without the approval of all four of the three-quarters majorities. No ruling of the European Court of Justice could have effect, nor could any ruling of the European Court of Human Rights have effect within the EU, unless ratified by all four of the simple majorities.

In this age of electronic communication, costs would be minimal. As they would be in having the Members of the House of Commons elect, from outside their number, 12 guardians of religious and spiritual values, and 12 guardians of secular and humanist values. In each category, each MP would vote for one candidate, with the 12 highest scorers elected at the end.

Furthermore, from each of the 12 regions (which, for all their other imperfections, have nothing to do with the EU; the one here in the North East was literally invented by ITV in 1959), let some means be found of appointing a leader of the largest community of the religiously observant, and a leader in secular thought. In all of these cases, a 10-year term would be appropriate.

Nothing requiring Royal Assent could be submitted for it, nor could any Supreme Court ruling have effect, unless approved by a simple majority in each of the four categories: religious and spiritual, secular and humanist, elected by the House of Commons, and appointed from the regions.

No legislation to apply only in England could be submitted to the monarch unless already approved, both by the majority of the religious and spiritual leaders from the nine parts of England, and by the majority of their secular and humanist counterparts.

In at least nine cases, including six in England, the religious community would be the squarely capitalism-critiquing, traditional marriage-upholding Catholic Church: Scotland, Wales these days, Northern Ireland, the three in the North, the two in the Midlands, and London if it is not now the black-led churches there. At least.

The EU aspect of this might be an expression of my inner Trotskyist where that entity is required. As Trots would push the existing economic order to breaking point precisely so that it will break, so, from time to time, I feel the same way about the EU.

Hell, why not a second chamber, a European Senate, with one member from each member-state nominated by each Europarty, including a British Holocaust-denier and a British gulag-denier, both categories that certainly do exist?

Together with one representative elected by the citizens of each member-state resident in each other member-state: the Poles in Britain, the Britons in Spain, and so on. At present, that would give a not only enormous, but rather poignant, 1066.

Then again, each member-state might also have the right to designate further states whose citizens resident in the EU would each elect a Senator on an EU-wide basis: the Commonwealth, the Francophonie, Indonesia, Moldova, the erstwhile outposts of Lusotropicalism, Equatorial Guinea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

And then any remaining country in the world whose citizens were at least as numerous within the EU's borders as those of any such, or even those of any member-state including Luxembourg or Malta, might also have the right for those citizens to elect one European Senator: the United States if nowhere had designated her, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, North Korea.

Nothing requiring a Qualified Majority could proceed to the Council of Ministers without the prior approval of a simple majority. Nothing requiring unanimity could proceed without the prior approval of a two-thirds majority.

Nothing requiring a Treaty change could proceed to the European Council without the approval of a three-quarters majority. No ruling of the European Court of Justice could have effect, nor could any ruling of the European Court of Human Rights have effect within the EU, unless ratified by a simple majority.

With no suggestion of using electronic communication, costs would be anything but minimal. Why, the European Senate could even meet in whichever of Brussels and Strasbourg was not playing host to the European Parliament at the time.


  1. I agree, having looed at the evidence, the connection between the EU and gay marriage is tenuous at best.

    But, with the ECHR imposing abortion on Ireland, one can see why people fear social revolution is being imposed at federal level.

    You strangely didn't mention what Peter Hitchens also uncovered this week-a 2004 Hansard account of Jacqui Smith explaining to Ed Leigh that civil partnerships were always intended by Labour to be legally identical to marriage in every way.

    And, if this is a "Thatcherite privatisation of marriage" (seems more like a nationalisation of it to me) then why is Ed Miliband passionately in support of it?

  2. You'd have to ask him. Although "passionately" is stretching it a bit. It has never been his or his party's idea.

    He pointedly did not mention it at PMQs the following day, apart from a line about how "nearly half" of Cameron's MPs backed him, and that could have been about anything. Miliband did not refer to the issue itself.

    I cannot imagine anything further from nationalisation, to which of course marriage has always been subject, otherwise there would just be, and otherwise there just is, cohabitation.

    The Jacqui Smith-Edward Leigh story is not news. I suspect that you might just be too young to remember it at the time. For exactly this reason, among others in the same vein from those days, we had thought that this was all resolved. As far as the last Government was, it was. It never had any intention of going any further. That was why it didn't.

    Anyone advocating abortion for Ireland, or at least for the Republic, is now, alas, pushing at an open door, and probably has been for much longer than most people care to admit. Good luck to them further south or, especially, east.

  3. It's not stretching it at all-did you not see his gushing speech on the subject? He didn't just stop at endorsing gay weddings-he went the whole hog in endorsing every socially liberal Blairite policy-from buggery at 16, to abolition of Section 28.

    There's no point dodging this by saying he 'pointedly' didn't mention it the day after helping Cameron ensure its passage.

    Marriage predates the state (it's a Church institution) and is certainly and absolutely not the property of any Government-whether Cameron's or the one before it.

    The best Tory arguments against gay marriage emphasised the fact that the state has no right to interfere in the definition of an ancient religious institution which predates it.

    Easy divorce was the first terrible state interference in marriage-giving the state the power to drag fathers from their property and their children.

    The point that Jacqui Smith made clear, in that exchange, that there was no material difference between civil partnerships and marriage.

    Once you had the one, you were always going to get the other. The name was the only thing that had to change.

  4. You get enough spittle-flecked abuse over this so I won't add to it further, but your recent comment underneath Peter Hitchens' latest column seemed to suggest, ever so coyly, that you now think the 'gay marriage' legislation is likely to go through. I am right in detecting that hint? And does this mean that your detractors were, alas, correct?

  5. That wasn't "gushing". It was a bit of Labour boilerplate for when you have to answer a question but you can't think of anything much to say.

    Which comment on Peter's column? I remain convinced that this will never reach Third Reading.