Friday 30 November 2012

Happy Saint Andrew's Day

God Save The Queen.

There ought to be a public holiday throughout the United Kingdom today, and on Saint George's Day, Saint David's Day and Saint Patrick's Day.

Three fall in these Islands' incomparable Spring and early Summer, while the fourth, today, would preclude any Christmas anything until it was out of the way.

Away with pointless celebrations of the mere fact that the banks are on holiday. If we had proper holidays, as in other countries, then everyone, even shop workers and distribution drivers, would have those days off, as in other countries.

All very Maurice Glasman and Jon Cruddas. Therefore, with any luck, all very Ed Miliband.

Yet More Overmighty Subjects

Do take a look at Matthew Parris's column in this week's Spectator, on how councils are being run by Officers instead of by Councillors.

Open Season

As Michael Portillo declared it to be on the dead during last night's edition of This Week. As he put it, imagine if Lord McAlpine had been dead.

Knowing what we know now, would you have kept any teenage girl in your care away from Sir Jimmy Savile? Yes. Margaret Thatcher, fully briefed by Special Branch and by MI5, has serious questions to answer about her closeness to him, as surely as she has about her reliance on Sir Peter Morrison, and about her mesmerisation by Sir Laurens van der Post. Knowing what we know now, would you have kept any teenage boy in your care away from Sir Cyril Smith? Probably. In both cases, better safe than sorry.

But each of them could easily have afforded the lawyers to have been acquitted, and to have won libel actions. And ought we really to assume the veracity of allegations of molestation made against a celebrity disc jockey and television presenter by the residents of an approved school for, of all people, "emotionally disturbed but highly intelligent girls"? It is not as if they would make up something like this, and perhaps even sincerely believe that it had happened. Is it?

Or of molestation by the single most prominent local politician, also a well-known national figure, made by boys of whom the Director of Public Prosecutions, hardly known for letting Liberal politicians off the hook in the 1970s, could write in 1970 that "the characters of some of these young men would be likely to render their evidence suspect"? In other words, criminal records, or at the very least known to the Police. Ipso facto reliable sources of information, then, would you say?

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that people in either of those categories must be lying. But I fail to see how they must be telling the truth, either. Have they waived any claim to the estate of Sir Jimmy or Sir Cyril? And funny how there is such a frenzy over the corpse of a man notable for having been at the heart of the Zeitgeist between the 1960s and the 1980s while also a matter-of-fact practitioner of daily prayer, of weekly or where possible daily Mass, and of monthly Confession (he told all of this entirely frankly to any interviewer who asked), with his Papal Knighthood and with his Knighthood of Malta.

Who next? Princess Margaret kept the most swinging salon in all of Swinging London. Princess Margaret, who all her life was uncommonly devout even by the standards of senior members of the Royal Family. Not everyone would have agreed with her about that. But no one thought that it, any more than her royal status, prevented her from being, again, at the very heart of Zeitgeist. The ludicrous story of her "secret son" has lately been revived.

Sir Cyril was wrong about asbestos. But nobody is perfect. And he was fighting for a Rochdale industry, which was at least some excuse. In him, there came together several of the best features of the old Liberalism. He embodied individuality, municipalism (it is just priceless that his mother served as a cleaner at the Town Hall during the day and then as his Lady Mayoress at that same Town Hall in the evenings), local communitarian populism, profit-sharing, unashamed provincialism, patriotism in general and reverence for Parliament in particular, traditional family values, the Nonconformist conscience, and the working and lower-middle-class self-help and self-improvement that, as well as informing his strong commitment to education, also placed him in the same tradition as the Rochdale Pioneers of the co-operative movement.

Like them, he came out of Rochdale as a centre of Unitarianism due to the coincidence there of at least two of the movements that coalesced into that denomination during the nineteenth century. One derived from the Great Ejection and was related to such phenomena as the Dutch Remonstrandt Brotherhood, the Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Socinian 'New Licht' within the early Free Church of Scotland, and the descent of New England Puritanism into little more than "the Fatherhood of God, the Brotherhood of Man, and the Neighborhood of Boston"; all alike are stark, and currently timely, warnings of the perils of hyper-Augustinianism. The other derived from the explosive preaching of Joseph Cooke within early Methodism, the Cookite experience being a stark, and currently timely, warning of the dangers of departure from the truths that the Augustinian tradition is both keenest to articulate and most successful in articulating.

But Sir Cyril seemed to point to an earlier time, when Unitarianism was still in some sense Christian rather than post-Christian or whatever it is now. Yes, yes, I know. But on both points, you know what I mean. He was totally pro-life on all issues but one, and even that, his mercifully never realised desire to restore capital punishment (also the position of at least one other Liberal MP of the period), placed him within the tradition that correctly identified an inseparability between uncompromising civil liberty and the vigorous sentencing of those whose guilt could therefore be accepted as having been proved beyond reasonable doubt. His defence of the preborn child was such that his eulogy was delivered by no less a pro-life figure than Lord Alton, who recorded that in the end Sir Cyril had changed his mind on the death penalty.

The likes of Oliver Kamm and Damian Thompson are in no position to judge either Sir Jimmy or Sir Cyril. Among other things, Kamm is financially dependent on the newspaper that prints Page Three. As for Thompson, the Catholic Herald now at least implicitly admits that in his time as Editor-in-Chief he employed the late Fr Kit Cunningham conditional upon his predatory sexual interest in boys, in that it no longer removes my comments pointing this out, so he should take up the matter there if he has any compliant about my saying it.

Furthermore, the latter-day habit of the Police, of ostentatiously issuing moral judgements from the steps of courthouses and such like, ought not to be extended to the dead in the furtherance of raids, both on the now-unfashionable principles that they embodied in their public lives, and on the money that they left behind them. Are the Police being lined up for a cut? I think we should be told.

Of States and Settlements

It is either the UN's favoured option, or else it is a single State with a permanent Arab majority. Take your pick. There is no third way. This way, in fact, you get to offload a lot of the Haredim and others to the Palestinians. I am now pretty much certain of this: Israel is deliberately settling the Crazies in areas that will eventually form part of a Palestinian State, in order to get rid of them when that comes to pass.

People always say that the settlements on the West Bank are making a State there physically impossible. No, they just require that those settlements be included in that State. Complete with their inhabitants, people not above using armed force against Israel's teenage conscripts of both sexes. The Palestinians will be welcome to them. And in fact, they might be happier in a State governed on the common ground between Levantine Sunnism and Levantine Christianity. There will be no Tel Aviv in the State of Palestine.

Meanwhile, I have today been confronted with the old claim that the Palestinians are Syrian immigrants. The whole of what is now Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was called "Syria" for thousands of years, and it was all part of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds. And yes, within both of those entities, though especially within the culturally distinctive Greater Syria (over which Christian sovereignty is the historical norm), people moved around. But it was not as if they had migrated from Bratislava or from Brooklyn.

Pressing On

With the support of 70 or more MPs worthy to be called Tories, since they believe in national identity, in the sovereignty of Parliament, and in the use of State power against attacks on our Biblical-Classical civilisation. As Leveson himself puts it, he can see no difference between day-to-day British newspaper material and that which is marketed openly as pornography.

"Free" press? What "free" press? Gathered together in their huddle deciding what the line should be, and then all sticking to it. A line which always includes "competition" for everyone else, but cartel for them. If it's not politically fixed cartel-mongers pushing the "free" market on everyone else, then it's hired help of transnational foreign powers posing as champions of national sovereignty and of all things distinctively British, and it's the glorified bouncers of glorified pimps claiming to defend family values.

They have had this coming for a very long time. It is comical to watch their hysteria as they realise that the only politician who is still frightened of them is riding one of their horses. Next up, the City. No more states within this State. Or do you not believe in the sovereignty of Parliament?

Rotherham Roundup

UKIP still didn't win Rotherham. It has still never won a seat anywhere. Labour's share of the vote went up. The real story is that a party with five Cabinet Ministers came eighth. Quite who the six between it and the winner were is pretty much academic.

Yet, to take only one among many examples, since the General Election, Farage has been Question Time more often than anyone else apart from Vince Cable, who is a Cabinet Minister. Farage has been on more than all trade union leaders, with six million members, put together! Paul Nuttall has also been on twice. Not bad for never having won a seat.

The BNP beat Respect by only 26 votes. If either a win or a lost deposit had been involved, then that would have meant several recounts. As for postal votes, they are mostly old white people voting as they have always done. Yes, in Rotherham, that means Labour. What of it?

The Very British Jewishness of Leveson

Can you imagine a New York or a Hollywood Jew proposing the statutory underpinning of press regulation? No, of course not. But Lord Leveson is neither a New York nor a Hollywood Jew. Anglo-Jewry was for the most part observantly Orthodox well into the post-War period, and it still very largely so, with Leveson as a case in point. Thus, for example, even Maurice Glasman, who the last time that I saw him tucked heartily into a Chinese meal full of both pork and shellfish but who was brought up kosher ("Making up for lost time"), can draw on the haggadah and the halacha, the Midrash and the folkways, of the old Yiddish East End in order to form and inform Blue Labour.

In so doing, he finds a natural affinity with Catholic Social Teaching and Distributism, with Radical Orthodoxy, with the Old Labour that owed "more to Methodism than to Marx", with the Anglican-based Tory populism that contributed as much as Nonconformist Radical Liberalism to the emergence of the Labour Movement, with the broader Tory tradition or metatradition behind that (far greater than the Conservative Party, itself in any case a fairly recent, and largely a Whig and Liberal, invention), and even with aspects of Islam as explored by Riyad Karim.

Whereas most of American Jewry last long ago decided that the essence of Jewish identity, and even of Judaism, was to be found in a celebration of dissent, argument, strict state secularism, egalitarian and democratic family structures, avant garde educational methods bound up with psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, internationalism in general and liberal interventionism in particular, an openness to people's and organisation's Marxist pasts and to whatever they might have retained from those days, minimal religious observance and negligible religious instruction, all with a view to the highest or fullest degree of individual freedom and self-realisation, themselves defined in terms of all the foregoing.

Initially, it was America that was idealised as the civic embodiment of those principles, by reference to a very particular reading of the Founding Fathers in such terms, and retaining the more or less explicit view that Jews were to form the liberal vanguard, the natural elite, the national or societal conscience. Later, mostly after the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, Israel also came to be so identified, right when she was beginning to stop having even such claim to that as she had ever had. This would of course have been unrecognisable and repugnant to its originators' near ancestors in Central and Eastern Europe. That point is made most starkly by the very heavy rewriting of the Yiddish tales of Sholem Aleichem in order to turn them into Fiddler on the Roof, in which a man dressed like the first audience's great-grandfathers articulates that audience's own prejudices rather than those of its great-grandfathers.

A real life Tevye would have held views far more akin to those of a 1960s New York Jew's Catholic neighbours, mostly of Irish and Italian stock, but also German and East European: unshakeably committed to ecclesial, civil and parental authority, which were inculcated by thoroughly traditional forms of education at the heart of which was the systematic impartation over many years, from early childhood until at least the middle or late teens, of a very extensive body of highly specific religious knowledge which was in no sense up for debate. Again, it was America that was idealised as the civic embodiment of those principles; again, by reference to a very particular reading of the Founding Fathers in such terms. A reading which was absolutely ridiculous considering how ferociously anti-Catholic the Founding Fathers were, but there we are.

Such a synagogue and family-based belief in the capacity of civil, including political, institutions to do good has remained characteristic of British Jews, the last bearers of the European Jewish civilisation that otherwise perished in the Holocaust. The Leveson Report expresses that profoundly.

Dying, Egypt, Dying?

The election of President Morsi could have been for the best. A narrow victory the other way could have been blamed on the Copts. But this way, they had a President whom they could instead have placed under considerable internal and very considerable external pressure to cut a deal with them. Instead, they seem to have decided that they are not going to be at the table, thereby ensuring that they are on the menu.

One quarter of the Egyptian Parliament should be elected on a constituency basis, one quarter elected on a proportional basis, forty-five per cent (an equal number of men and women) nominated by the General Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood, and five per cent (an equal number of men and women) nominated by the Coptic Patriarch.

No legislation could be introduced unless sponsored by at least one MP from each of those four categories, nor could it be enacted without the approval of all four of the General Guide, the Patriarch, and the first and second-placed candidates in a direct Presidential election, termed the President and the Vice-President but enjoying exactly equal powers. Why not?

On social justice issues, the Muslim Brotherhood is not what it was, having changed direction to recant the public ownership and the wealth redistribution for which it used to campaign, and to support Mubarak's land reform reversals. But it could easily be talked into changing back, especially since it is by no means clear how convinced the party at large has ever been about these revisions at the top. Remind you of anyone?

If Iran, Syria, the Palestinians, and the Lebanese coalition including Hezbollah are anything to go by, then the Copts are very well-placed to strike an excellent bargain, in stark contrast to our beloved Israel, Turkey and Mubarak. If the Copts are going to be annoyed over anything, then it is going to be over the retention of the peace treaty with Israel, which they have always strongly opposed.

And the Muslim Brotherhood, founded by British intelligence in order to agitate against independence, has always enjoyed excellent Foreign Office connections; its Anglophilia is exactly what it is so hated by its Israel First, American Second, Britain Nowhere detractors in the Murdoch papers, on Telegraph Blogs, and so on. Commonwealth membership beckons, especially for a country which even still has a currency called the pound.

This is Britain's moment. Otherwise, such are the historic ties and the widespread proficiency in English, that we should expect each of our cities to contain several, and each of our large towns to contain one, of those Coptic churches. One tenth of the Egyptian population would have decamped to the most obvious alternative country from their point of view.

As with the Arabs inside Israel's 1948 borders, why did we never do for them what we later did for the East African Asians, but a generation earlier, when we were still just about in a position to back it up?

Darkest Africa

We have been wrong about Rwanda for a very long time.

If anything, there really were two genocides in Rwanda. But “genocide” is a slipperier concept than you might think. In 1993, the former Bolivian President, García Meza Tejada, was convicted of “genocide” for the deaths of fully eight people. Those may or may not have been the only people whom he killed. But they were the only victims of his “genocide”. And so to Rwanda.

Or, rather, to a kangaroo court in Tanzania, set up by a UN Security Council resolution with no authority to do so, and specifically empowered - again, on no proper authority whatever - to try only members of the former, devoutly Catholic regime, and not of that which overthrew it, namely a direct extension, by means of a Ugandan invasion of Rwanda in 1990, of the only-too-successful Maoist insurrection in Uganda. Thank God that no one is now to be sent from this country, historic refuge of the oppressed, to appear before that kangaroo court.

Théoneste Bagosora was finally convicted (well, of course he was – this sort of thing never, ever acquits anyone) eighteen months after the prosecution’s final submission, and fully twelve years after his arrest, even though his trial had started almost immediately.

That was entirely typical, as is the use of European and American activists as “expert witnesses” even though they witnessed absolutely nothing and were in fact thousands of miles away at the time alleged. As is the heavy reliance on anonymous prosecution witnesses (even though it is in fact six defence witnesses before this “Tribunal” who have been murdered soon after giving evidence), universally known to be paid liars.

As is the routine holding of session in camera. As is the admission of hearsay evidence. As are the rulings that no corroboration is necessary to convict a man of rape even he has pleaded not guilty, and that it matters not one jot if a prosecution witness’s written statement differs markedly from his testimony in court. As is the astonishing principle that a prosecution witness’s inconsistencies are proof of trauma, and therefore of the guilt of the accused. And as are the farcical translation problems.

The remit of this “Tribunal” is frankly racist, providing only for the trial of Hutus, the overwhelmingly predominant ethnic group, for crimes against Tutsis, the historically royal and aristocratic minority. Crimes by Hutus against Tutsis undoubtedly happened. But so did crimes by Tutsis against Hutus.

Neither Maoist guerrillas nor embittered, dispossessed aristocrats are characteristically restrained in these matters. No one knows how many people were killed, often with machetes. The usual figure cited is eight hundred thousand. Perhaps that is correct. Perhaps it is not.

But what is undoubtedly the case is that not all the perpetrators were Hutus, although many were. What is undoubtedly the case is that not all the victims were Tutsis, although many were. What is undoubtedly the case is that no Tutsi has ever been tried, because none can be: that whole people has been declared innocent in advance, and another whole people declared guilty in advance.

What is undoubtedly the case is that an invasion of a sovereign state by a larger neighbour at exactly the same time as the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait has been backed up to the hilt by the West in general and the United States, so that the Americans are now where first the Germans and then the Belgians once were: running Rwanda through a tiny clique drawn exclusively from the Tutsi minority.

And what is undoubtedly the case is that that clique is Maoist, whereas the majority-derived government that it overthrew was headed by a daily communicant, Jean Kambanda, whom it subsequently tortured into confession while illegally detaining him, and whom it denied the lawyer of his choice.

Great Potential, Rapid Progress

James Gallagher writes:

A patient's own blood has been used to make personalised stem cells, which doctors hope will eventually be used to treat a range of diseases.The team at the University of Cambridge says this could be one of the easiest and safest sources of stem cells. In a study, published in the journal Stem Cells: Translational Medicine, the cells were used to build blood vessels. However, experts cautioned that the safety of using such stem cells was still unclear.

Stem cells are one of the great hopes of medical research. They can transform into any other type of cell the body is built from - so they should be able to repair everything from the brain to the heart, and eyes to bone. One source of stem cells is embryos, but this is ethically controversial and they would be rejected by the immune system in the same way as an organ transplant. Researchers have shown that skin cells taken from an adult can be tricked into becoming stem cells, which the body should recognise as part of itself and would not reject.

The team at Cambridge looked in blood samples for a type of repair cell that whizzes through the bloodstream repairing any damage to the walls of blood vessels. These were then converted into stem cells. Dr Amer Rana said this method was better than taking samples from skin. "We are excited to have developed a practical and efficient method to create stem cells from a cell type found in blood," he said. "Tissue biopsies are undesirable - particularly for children and the elderly - whereas taking blood samples is routine for all patients."

Dr Rana told the BBC the cells also appeared to be safer to use than those made from skin. "The fact that these appeared to be fairly stable is very promising," he said. "The next stage obviously is to say, 'OK if we can do all this, let's actually make some clinical grade cells,' we can then move this technology into the clinic for the first time."

Prof Chris Mason, an expert on regenerative medicine at University College London, said there was some "beautiful work" coming out of the lab in Cambridge. "It's a hell of a lot easier to get a blood sample than a high quality skin sample, so that's a big benefit," he said. "However, induced pluripotent stem cells [those converted from adult cells] are still very new, we need far more experience to totally reprogram a cell in a way we know to be safe."

The British Heart Foundation said these cells had "great potential". The Medical Research Council said there was "rapid progress" being made in this field. The term "stem-cell research" is persistently used to mean scientifically worthless but morally abhorrent playing about with embryonic stem cells, together with the viciously cruel justification of this by reference to an ever-longer list of medical conditions. 

The term "stem-cell research" is persistently used to mean scientifically worthless but morally abhorrent playing about with embryonic stem cells, together with the viciously cruel justification of this by reference to an ever-longer list of medical conditions.

The real stem-cell research involves adult and cord blood stem cells, is ethically unproblematic, and has already yielded real results. But it struggles to secure funding, because it is of no interest to those who cannot forgive the Catholic Church either for having educated them or for having educated the wrong sort.

Thursday 29 November 2012

Nightingale Should Sing

Not least about what the SAS was doing in Lebanon.

Probably the most complicated country in the world. Endlessly fascinating.

And in many ways exemplary to the region, at least until the side favoured by Saudi Arabia, Israel and their footmen stages its putsch.

But not somewhere in which there is any British national interest such as to be worth sending our boys to die there.

Please Turn Out The Lights

Who'd move here under this lot? Who wouldn't leave if they could? Work? What work?

They weren't leaving under the last Government, when they had long enough to do it. But they are under this one.

A Good Day To Bury Bad News

Or to burn it.

Energy prices to go, as it were, through the roof.

Except for big companies, which are to be made exempt.

But the media are talking about themselves instead.

Fit To Print

This is Cameron's defining moment. And he stands defined by how hopelessly compromised he is: unfit for office on account of, as Hamlet might have put it, his country suppers.

Three cheers for Sir Peter Tapsell MP, first elected in 1959, and veteran Keynesian and pro-Commonwealth scourge of the EU, Thatcher, the neocons, and now also Murdoch: "Should not ownership of newspapers be restricted to British nationals who are judged fit and proper, as with television?" Yes, it should.

Just wait for the Labour amendments to ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one national daily newspaper, to ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one national weekly newspaper, to ban any person or other interest from owning or controlling more than one television station, and to restrict all such interests to British Citizens who are resident in the United Kingdom for tax purposes.

By all means let half a dozen Blairite throwbacks vote against these, in accordance with the Murdoch line instead. All the easier to identify them for deselection, in that case. But look out for any remaining Tories voting in favour of them. We already know that there is one. 82 years old, but long may he remain. Are there any other Tories left in the House of Commons? We shall soon find out.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Laugh Along With The Common People?

I am as sceptical about Common Purpose as I am about the Bilderberg Group, which stoops to having George Osborne in it.

But the latest edition of Private Eye exposes a right-wing answer to Common Purpose, under the aegis of which traditional Tories such as Roger Scruton and John Hayes are slumming it with the likes of Michael Gove, David Willetts, Matthew Elliott, Daniel Johnson, Janet Daley and Damian Thompson.

The country that spawned it has had the wit to cast out neoconservatism forever. But the thing has migrated east to the land of Cameron and to the city of Johnson. Where people who ought to know better are being drawn into its web.

But this is Fraser Nelson's, and with him The Spectator's, opportunity to declare once and for all whether he and it are paleocon or neocon. Which are they?

The Unparted Sea

Exodus? What exodus? With America now as she is, where would the refugee rich go?

"Oh, lots of places have lower tax rates." I do not doubt that taxes are low in the Congo. But these people want a certain lifestyle. Even more so, their wives and children, especially their daughters, do.

They can get it in precisely two cities on earth, one of which is in the United Kingdom while the other is in the United States, a country to which many of these Russians and Arabs, in particular, will already have been refused entry, or else they would already be in New York rather than in London.

London may be stuck with them. But they are stuck with London. Therefore, they are stuck with whatever tax regime we choose to impose. They have nowhere else to go.

Chinese Whispers

Free Fraser

Except that The Spectator is already in the Parliamentary Lobby.

It may already be registered as a newspaper with the Post Office, as most of the outspoken Fleet Street opponents of the dreaded statutory regulation are.

And it is certainly owned and published by a limited company. A limited company called, of all things, The Spectator (1828) Ltd.

But, in the Spirit of 1828, we cannot be having any of that "State licensing".

Can we?

How To Get Back On Track

The tenth consecutive above inflation increase in rail fares.

In defiance of their own history until recent decades, the Conservatives cannot will the means. We need to renationalise the railways, uniquely without compensation in view of the manner of their privatisation, as the basis for a national network of public transport free at the point of use, including the reversal of bus route and rail line closures going back to the 1950s.

Those trains need to be run on electricity, produced domestically and not least from our vast reserves of coal, rather than on oil, which has to be imported, and that often from unsavoury and unstable petrostates in the Gulf and elsewhere.

And for all the good news for Newton Aycliffe in July, think how many more jobs could have been created if these trains were to have been built here, and not merely assembled here out of parts shipped in from abroad. 

Only public ownership can deliver these things. Public ownership is of course British ownership, and thus a safeguard of national sovereignty. It is also a safeguard of the Union in that it creates communities of interest across the several parts of the United Kingdom. Publicly owned concerns often even had, and could have again, the word "British" in their names.

Ed Miliband and Jon Cruddas, over to you.

By The By

At Rotherham, strong showings for Respect and for UKIP would send messages to both parties about national sovereignty, about traditional family values (including marriage as only ever the union of one man and one woman), and about the central and local government action necessary in order to safeguard them both.

A message to Labour not to offend Muslims, which would not always please some of us, but which would be very useful in the fight for marriage. And a message to both main parties not to offend what would once have been called the white working class. Not identical, but similar, messages would be sent if there were relatively high votes for the English Democrats and for TUSC. By their own standards, the English Democrats have hitherto done well in South Yorkshire.

At Croydon North, strong showings for Respect in the person of Lee Jasper, for UKIP in the person of Winston McKenzie, and at least relatively for Stephen Hammond of the Christian People's Alliance, would send messages to Labour not to offend the African and Afro-Caribbean communities by failing to stand up for public services, for community institutions, for Commonwealth ties, and for traditional family values; again, that would have huge implications for the debate on marriage. Such a result for UKIP would also send such a message to the Conservatives.

The CPA, by the way, seems to attract the list votes for the Greater London Assembly of the Latin Mass crowd, and especially of those with paleocon views about capitalist no less than Marxist materialism. You would be amazed quite where some of those turned up.

I'll Drink To This

I remember 90p a pint (i.e., 45p perunit) in certain workingmen’s clubs nearly 20 years ago. But I should be fascinated to hear of anywhere where it was still the case. Is this going to be the law, or have I misunderstood?

As someone who now drinks very moderately despite a capacity for alcohol long remarked upon by other people, I am not sure what to make of proposals for minimum pricing. They seem to be hitting the wrong target, which is alcoholic drinks stronger than beer, specifically designed for immature palettes, and, yes, priced for the pocket money market, or at least the Saturday job market.

Why shouldn’t I be able to buy four bottles of real ale for six quid? It would take me over a week to get through them. But making anything last over a week because it is worth savouring is not how the adolescent mind works. And being able to appreciate anything worth savouring in that way is not how the adolescent palette works. So why discriminate in favour of the adolescent pocket?

Minimum pricing is not the panacea for this country’s endemic drunkenness, but it certainly has its place. However, we now discover that, even if they wanted to, the alcohol manufacturers could not arrange such a scheme among themselves, since that would be a breach of competition law. Was there ever anything - anything at all - less conservative than capitalism? Oh, well, over to the force that makes family values possible in practice: the State.

A Widow In The Next

As one of the great Anglican liberals once pointed out.

I have been asked to explain yesterday's claim that the 26 Church of England bishops in the House of Lords are always going to be men. The dear old C of E would plump for disestablishment rather than compromise on that. Its theological composition is not what it was 20 years ago. When Forward in Faith and Reform between them can muster more than one third of the vote in the House of Laity, as is demonstrably now the case, then the legislation for women presbyters would undeniably not have passed, and the legislation for women deacons would also probably, almost certainly, have been lost.

This should come as no surprise to anyone, any more than should the fact that half the lay votes against women bishops were cast by women, or that no legislation providing for women bishops is ever, ever, ever going to attain a two-thirds majority in that House. Anyone who does not know the latter either does not understand the admittedly fairly complicated workings of the synodical system, or else simply cannot count. They are like people who thought that Gordon Brown might not have succeeded Tony Blair as Leader of the Labour Party in 2007, or that Hillary Clinton might have been nominated instead of Barack Obama in 2008, or that David Cameron might have secured an overall majority in 2010, or that Mitt Romney might have won the Presidency in 2012.

As for those threatening to decamp to the Methodists or to the URC in disgust, not only do I suspect that they would have to be reordained as surely as if they had crossed the Tiber, but they also largely come from parts of the country with little in the way of an established culture of Nonconformity. Those of us who know it from close up know that people seeking to recreate some liberal Anglican never never land within either of those bodies would be in for the shock of their sweet little lives.

Many laypeople, not to say many ministers, still expect to hear and to deliver regular preaching of substitutionary Atonement, of entire sanctification in the Methodist case, and of fully formed "Calvinist" soteriology in much of the URC. Even more so, they expect to sing of such things. And sing of them they do. Attitudes to alcohol, to gambling, and to Lord's Day observance routinely remain utterly unreconstructed on the ground, and are almost, if almost, always written into the covenant deeds of chapels, halls, and so forth. Then there is the class thing.

But most of all, there is the fact that the trend towards what they would describe as "conservative" or even, absurdly, "fundamentalist" Biblical exegesis (but which is in fact truly radical, and the wellspring of numerous great radical movements in this and other countries' pasts and presents) is as much on the rise, especially within the URC but also among the Methodists, as it is in the Church of England. Look at how much younger, not to say more female, were the laypeople who had voted against women bishops compared with the bishops put up to whinge about it on radio and on television.

By the middle of this century, the Church of England will not be ordaining women beyond the diaconate, if at all; it will certainly never permit same-sex "marriages" to be solemnised on its premises or by its clergy, and it will discipline most severely any transgressors, of whom within 20, possibly even 10, years there will in any case be none. There will be no more Methodist or URC same-sex "marriages", if there are ever any of the former, by the middle of this century, and no more ordinations of women by the end. Or else there will probably be no more, as Americans might put it, "mainline" Methodists and no more URC by that middle, and certainly none by that end.

The ordination of women now ranks alongside the Open Table Communion Policy as a mark of a denomination in terminal decline. The Open Table Communion Policy was therefore opposed most vigorously, first by the Ejected Puritans and their successors, and then by the early Methodists. Are their main inheritor-bodies now in terminal decline? The Church of England no longer appears to be so.


William Hague should not be cowed by the baying of Bibi’s Beasts on the benches behind him, not to say around the Cabinet table with him.

Now is the moment for a Palestinian Declaration of Independence. It must explicitly lay claim to the whole of the viable Palestinian State created on both sides of the Jordan in 1948. Furthermore, it must mirror the Constitution of Lebanon in guaranteeing the Presidency to a Christian even if it guarantees the Premiership to a Muslim (as would have happened electorally anyway), and it must mirror the Constitutions of Lebanon, of Iran, and of Palestine east of the Jordan, the present Hashemite Kingdom, as well as the Palestinian Authority, in guaranteeing parliamentary representation to Christians. It should mirror Syria is establishing Christian festivals as public holidays.

And it should place the new state – not only the Christians, but the State and everyone in it – under the protection of each and all of the remaining sacral monarchies, there being by definition no other kind, in Christendom. This would also be a wider appeal, an appeal to any and every country that regarded Christianity as fundamental to its identity. Does the American Republic so regard herself? Does the Russian Federation? Do the republics of Europe? Do the republics of Central America, South America and the Caribbean? Do the republics, and two kingdoms, of Africa? Does any other country? In each country’s case, how it responded to this Declaration would be its definitive answer to that question.

At the very least, this needs to appear over the names expressing the full authority of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Latin Patriarchate, the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate, the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate, the Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate, the Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate, the Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate, the Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, the Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate, and the Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate. That would have an immediate and a very dramatic impact.

If there cannot be a Palestinian State, contrary to the position of the last Republican President of the United States, then with whom and with what have the Israelis ever been negotiating? Those interlocutors do not seek recognition of a Muslim state; on the contrary, the Palestinian Authority already operates a Christian quota without parallel in Israel, though corresponding to similar arrangements in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Iran.

They do not even seek recognition of an Arab state. Ever since 1993, they have recognised Israel within her borders before 1967, and, although they ought also to claim the territory to the east that a Palestinian State would rapidly come to include, they seek nothing more than recognition of Palestine within the territory captured in that year, the home of everyone who lives there, and if anything an emerging or emerged Orthodox Jewish refuge from godless Zionism. The only problem is with recognising Israel as “a Jewish State”, condemning a fifth of the population, including the world's most ancient Christian communities, to the second class citizenship from which the Israeli Constitution theoretically protects them, however different the practice may be.

We are told that “Jordan is Palestine”. Indeed she is. Jordan as created at the end of the British Mandate. That is to say, including the West Bank. There has never been a state with its border at the Jordan, and the populations of the two Banks are one people. The answer to the question of why anyone ever designed a country so short of water as Jordan is, is that no one ever did. The Declaration of a Palestinian State on the West Bank would be the end of the Hashemite Kingdom, which is just as much a foreign imposition as the Zionist project, and which was imposed by the same colonial power, which therefore bears the same historic responsibility.

The pressure for incorporation into a Palestinian State would be irresistible. That, rather than the destruction of Israel, would be the great national aspiration. And then, following its rapid and its largely, if not entirely, bloodless achievement, that would be the great national triumph. The proposed revocation of citizenship from 1.8 million Jordanians with especially strong family ties across the River, in a country of only 6.5 million, indicates that the Hashemites and their entourage are fully aware of this. Let their fear be proved well-founded.

Meanwhile, Israel needs to move to very extensive devolution to the very local level, Jewish or Arab, religious or secular, Muslim or Christian, and so forth. She needs three parliamentary chambers, each about one third of the size of the present one, with one for the ultra-Orthodox, one for the Arabs, and one for everyone else, the ultra-Orthodox and the Arab being already identified in law because of their arrangements in relation to military service. All legislation would require the approval of all three chambers. Each chamber would elect a Co-President, all three of whom would have to approve all legislation and senior appointments, as well as performing ceremonial duties.

Each chamber would be guaranteed a Minister in each department and at least a quarter of Cabinet posts. Yiddish would be recognised as an official language, the quid pro quo for recognising all the many currently unrecognised villages in the Galilee and the Negev. The major festivals of Judaism, Islam and Christianity would all be public holidays, perhaps, in this post-Zionist dispensation, the only public holidays. The Arab chamber would include the head of each of the above-named Christian communities or his nominee, being an Israeli citizen.

The alliance necessary to pull this off would take an awful lot of effort. But two peoples facing nothing less than denaturalisation could very well be prepared to make that amount of effort. The other lot should have had more children, or bothered to move there from places like London and New York. But they did not.