The arithmetic of Labour anti-Semitism

Can Jeremy count on your support? Of course he can.

Do Jeremy Corbyn and his jolly Labour friends really hate Jews? An interesting question, that. And probably an irrelevant one.

This in spite of the seemingly never-ending anti-Semitic scandals livening up the Labour Party at every level, from the grassroots to the shadow cabinet.

I’d guess that the proportion of principled anti-Semites among socialists has to be higher than among conservatives, which isn’t to say that the latter are free of blame in that respect.

Socialism is a religion of envy and it can only ever emerge victorious by appealing to that unenviable emotion. And envy needs targets – it’s impossible to envy in the abstract.

Jews are natural candidates for that role, canonised as such by the founding texts of modern socialism produced by its apostles, Marx and Engels, both rank anti-Semites. The two chaps used the words ‘Jew’ and ‘bourgeois’ almost interchangeably – a Jew was to them a bourgeois even if poor; a bourgeois implicitly a Jew even if gentile.

Because Jews place a stronger emphasis on learning than just about any other ethnic group, and a weaker emphasis on drinking and debauchery, they tend to be more economically successful on average. Thus hating them comes naturally to socialists, who can build a tower of class envy on the traditional foundations of religious enmity.

It’s amusing to hear gentile atheists refer to Jewish atheists as ‘Christ killers’. The former don’t care about Christ any more than the latter care about the religion in whose name Christ was condemned. But the aforementioned tower wouldn’t stand without its historical foundations.

This isn’t the most attractive example of modernity developing and modifying traditional values, but a telling example nonetheless.

I realise that I’m oversimplifying a complex phenomenon, but my aim here isn’t to analyse the historical and psychological roots of anti-Semitism in any great depth – not that I’m certain I’d be able to do so even if this were my aim.

I’ve read a few books on the subject, and none of them quite succeeds. For there’s more to anti-Semitism than just class envy or “poor man’s snobbery”, as Sartre described it.

Otherwise it would be hard to explain upper-class anti-Semites, such as the Duke of Windsor, Oswald Mosley and practically the whole Cliveden set. Or, crossing the Atlantic, neither Henry Ford nor J.P. Morgan, both anti-Semites, had a compelling reason to envy Jewish wealth.

Be that as it may, my aim is more modest: trying to understand not the nature of anti-Semitism within Labour, but why such sentiments have come to the surface. Homo politicus, after all, is a peculiar animal, brought into this world for one purpose only: winning elections.

Corbyn may be an anti-Semite of Nazi proportions, but he wouldn’t let it show, and neither would he fail to impose a gagging party discipline on other anti-Semites within Labour ranks, if he felt that expressing overt anti-Semitism hurt his electoral chances.

Even the zoological anti-Semites among the Labour high command would have been told to put a sock in it and desist from comparing Netanyahu to Hitler – even if they felt strongly in their hearts, as Corbyn manifestly does, that the comparison was justified. Let’s win the general election first, lads, would be the message. Then and only then can you have a go at those Jewish Nazis.

The reason the scandals were allowed to develop and enter the public domain has to do with one discipline only, and it’s not history, philosophy, religion or psychology. It’s arithmetic.

There are about 3,000,000 Muslims in the UK, and the number is growing. There are about 250,000 Jews, and the number is dwindling. Subtract the second number from the first, and you’ll get 2,750,000 reasons for overt Labour anti-Semitism.

Labour in its present form has to harvest votes at the margins of the electorate. I never overestimate the intelligence of the average voter, but I still doubt that, for example, Corbyn’s economic ideas will get him many mainstream votes.

Nationalise everything possible, soak the rich with high taxes, give more power to the unions, print and borrow even more billions – such time-honoured ideas have too rotten a track record to have enough mass appeal for Labour to get into government.

You and I aren’t going to vote for them no matter how disappointed or even disgusted we are with the Tories. Such feelings made me vote UKIP at the latest election, but the thought of voting Labour never even crossed my mind.

So which large blocs will vote Labour? Certainly the déclassé welfare recipients, those who favour printing or borrowing billions to beef up the social budget. Probably most ethnic minorities, with the possible and partial exception of the British Indians. Readers of The Guardian (circulation 148,169). The leftie lunatic fringe. Union activists. State employees who have a vested interest in the big state.

And definitely the Muslims, who lap up the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic noises being made by Labour. The Muslim vote may well prove as decisive nationally as it did in the London 2016 mayoral election.

For this vote isn’t spread evenly throughout the country. In many constituencies, especially in the northern half of Britain, it’s dominant, and these may well be regarded by Labour pollsters as swing groups.

Tory pollsters realise this as well, which may be one reason Home Secretary Sajid Javid is widely mooted as Mrs May’s likely successor. This son of Pakistani immigrants just may syphon off some of the Muslim vote, even though Mr Javid is no anti-Semite or Israel-hater.

Alas, most Muslims in the UK are, and it’s for their votes that Corbyn has uncapped the well of Labour anti-Semitism. This stratagem may or may not come from the heart, but it definitely comes from dispassionate calculations.

It’s the arithmetic, stupid, to paraphrase James Carville, Bill Clinton’s strategist. He actually said ‘the economy’, but Corbyn doesn’t have that option.

Papal muddle on the death penalty

In the 1960s, the West underwent a moral catharsis, as a result of which the death penalty was abolished in most places.

One might find it hard to understand why morality peaked at that particular time, in the middle of a century during which more people died violent deaths than in all the previous centuries combined.

After all, before people began to kill one another on an industrial scale, and when society and community were more than just figures of speech, the moral validity of the death penalty was never in doubt.

It was understood that murder sent shock waves throughout the community, and the amplitude of those destructive waves could be attenuated only by a punishment commensurate with the crime.

That’s one salient point in favour of the death penalty; deterrence is another. Many commentators dispute the deterrent value of the death penalty, counterintuitive as it sounds.

But even they would agree that it undoubtedly deters the executed criminal. He won’t come out of prison and kill again, which nowadays happens with every-increasing regularity.

Some arguments against the death penalty do make sense. Such as that condemning an innocent man to death leaves no room for correcting the error.

That’s true, although, unlike Stalin’s Russia, civilised countries don’t execute criminals directly the verdict is announced.

In the US, for example, criminals may spend years, sometimes decades, on death row. That strikes me as sufficient time to get to the bottom of the case.

Still, no system of justice is 100 per cent reliable, and innocent men still may be executed. However, my first instinct would be to improve a malfunctioning system, rather than abandon it altogether.

Hence I’d give serious consideration to tightening the required standard of proof in the sentencing stage, when the death penalty is possible – for example, by replacing ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ with ‘beyond all doubt”.

Another interesting argument highlights the moral effect of the death penalty on the executioner. “You wouldn’t invite him to dinner, would you?” I’m often asked. My usual reply is that neither would I invite a sewer cleaner, but sewers still need to be cleaned.

Such discussions may be interesting because neither interlocutor would have reason to believe that only a fool or a knave would disagree with him. Thus a serious debate is possible – unlike, for example, on the issue of abortion or euthanasia.

Arguments in favour of those simply don’t hold water, and those who put them forth can’t be taken seriously.

The issue of the death penalty is different – in a secular context. However, in a Christian context, doctrine on this issue was established centuries ago, starting from Scripture itself.

That’s why I was surprised to read that Pope Francis has declared the death penalty “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person”.

There now exists, he added, “an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes”.

It’s much better, according to His Holiness, to imprison a criminal for a long time because this doesn’t “definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption”.

Whenever senior church figures make such pronouncements nowadays, I smell a rat, and not just because they go against principles established long ago and happily accepted by great men for centuries. What makes me suspicious is why such statements are made.

The Pope’s language invites such suspicions. ‘Increasing awareness’ among whom exactly? Among serious theologians? Or among those who keep afloat such newspapers as The New York Times, The Guardian and Le Monde?

More and more, rather than leading the masses to salvation, various denominations, including the Catholic Church, kowtow to secular opinion, no matter how puerile and immoral.

The Church should tell the people what’s moral, not be told by them. How long before a Catholic priest officiates a homomarriage, one wonders? Other confessions are already doing it.

And what does ‘the dignity of a person’ have to do with anything? A criminal is punished not for any deficit of dignity but for murder or some such. As anyone who has read Charles I’s scaffold speech will know, it’s possible for a condemned man to go to his death with his dignity intact.

As to ‘the possibility of redemption’, what does the word mean? In a Christian context it usually refers to deliverance from sin and subsequent salvation of the soul. Any believer, and certainly a prelate, ought to know that death, however it occurs, doesn’t ‘definitively deprive’ anyone of this possibility.

Taking a stab in the dark with no statistical evidence close at hand, I’d guess that most opponents of the death penalty in the West are atheists, to whom death is final and irreversible.

Christians, on the other hand, believe that, just as there’s death in life, there’s life in death. And in that life redemption is always possible. Understanding the word as commuting the death sentence to, say, life imprisonment strikes me as a tad vulgar – for a Christian.

It has to be said that many modern Popes found the death penalty abhorrent – none more so than Benedict XVI. His Holiness expressed such views even when he was still His Eminence. But he didn’t go so far as to declare the death penalty ‘inadmissible’ in all circumstances.

To wit: “There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

That ‘legitimate diversity’ is now off-limits for Catholics because Pope Francis has changed the catechism to make the capital punishment ‘inadmissible’. The debate is closed, with the door slammed in the face of prudence, wisdom – and tradition.

The tradition didn’t develop by itself. It’s a long, meandering road signposted by scriptural sources and their great interpreters. Looking at two of the greatest, St Augustine of Hippo and St Thomas Aquinas, neither reached the high moral ground apparently occupied by Pope Francis.

Thus Augustine writes in his City of God: “The agent who executes the killing does not commit homicide; he is an instrument as is the sword with which he cuts. Therefore, it is in no way contrary to the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ to wage war at God’s bidding, or for the representatives of public authority to put criminals to death, according to the law, that is, the will of the most just reason.”

Aquinas is as unequivocal in his Summa: “The life of certain pestiferous men is an impediment to the common good which is the concord of human society. Therefore, certain men must be removed by death from the society of men.

And, just as Aquinas pre-empted most (though not all) theological arguments, he pre-empted Pope Francis’s facile statement about redemption. If the murderer didn’t repent when killing his victim, he’ll probably never repent: “How many people are we to allow to be murdered while waiting for the repentance of the wrongdoer?”, asks St Thomas.

Pope Francis evidently doesn’t trouble himself with such questions. That leads some to ask literally a question that’s often posed figuratively: Is the Pope Catholic?

How did we travel before 1992?

Nice, the Promenade des Anglais, so named in 1860 because no Englishmen were allowed to go there

Flashback: the year is 1990. Britain, still without a firm EU hand on the tiller, resembles a rudderless ship cast adrift in rough waters.

Here I am, my hands, still as firm as the EU’s hands are now, are on the steering wheel of our Audi (I think that’s what I drove then), achieving a feat few now believe would have been possible in the pre-EU days: motoring through Europe.

On that particular run I established a personal best, which I’m unlikely ever to repeat, much less better: driving through seven countries in one day.

Italy, Switzerland, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Belgium and Holland all flashed by… I almost said ‘without a stop’, but that’s not quite accurate. We did stop for lunch in France and for petrol in Luxembourg.

But no one stopped us at any of the border crossings. In fact, when we missed a ‘Welcome to [insert country name]’ sign, only the language of the road signs made us realise we were in a different country.

I remember us saying that the order to turn on the lights at the entrance to a tunnel sounded so much better in Italian than in German.

Comparing Accendere le luce with Achtung! Lichten! tells you all you need to know about the two national characters. The Italian version sounds like a line from a Donizetti opera, whereas the German equivalent evokes a film where a black-clad Gestapo man says: “Ve’ve got vays to make you talk.”

This fond recollection was brought on not by a pang of nostalgia, but by Sky News. This network, in common with its elder brother, the BBC, is committed to drawing in lurid strokes the macabre, dystopic future awaiting us all when (or if) Brexit comes into effect.

To that end the station keeps running snippets of young Britons expressing heart-felt concerns about life in that hopeless future. One such concern is repeated over and over: “How will we be able to travel in Europe a year from now?”

Now the important thing to understand about our young is that they live outside history.

History to them is what happened last Saturday when they went on that pub crawl; the dial is reset in every generation. “It was before my time” is seen as a sufficient excuse for boneheaded ignorance.

Hence they either don’t know or don’t care that British tourists somehow managed to crisscross Europe when the EU wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye.

The twinkle was already sparkling in 1990, but we can go a bit further back, can’t we? For example, in 1860 a well-known thoroughfare in Nice was named the Promenade des Anglais. I don’t think this name suggests that les Anglais couldn’t travel there, do you?

Not just Nice, but also Biarritz. Not just France, but also Italy, Spain, Greece, Switzerland, Germany all heard their native languages spoken with English accents throughout history.

And what do you know? Britain didn’t have to belong to any supranational monstrosity for Britons to go to San-Sebastian or Paris.

And it’s not just tourists. In the pre-EU days we spent several holidays in Tuscany, not far from Arezzo. A mile down the road from us was the house where the British novelist Muriel Spark was spending her later years. How was that possible, I hear those youngsters ask.

And such areas as the Dordogne, Costa del Sol, Brittany, Algarve, Tuscany and Côte-d’Azur were colonised by British retirees long before John Major put his signature on that treasonous treaty.

But hold on a second, says Sky News. Only 20 per cent of Britons living on the continent are retired wrinklies. Most of the expats are young, thrusting people who earn their crust there. Surely they’ll get the dirty end of the stick?

In reply, please allow me to get personal again. My wife Penelope lived in France for 10 years, from age 17, when she entered the Paris Conservatoire, got her degree (like the French students, she paid no tuition fees) and then pursued her concert career from the Paris base. I don’t want to date her, but it was long before 1992.

Though Penelope preferred to live in a monoglot French environment, she regularly bumped into fellow expats working in France. My own recollections are more recent but, when I was still in the advertising business, many of my colleagues had done stints of several years in French, Italian and German agencies – when the EU still went by its maiden name, the EEC.

So my reply to all the inane questions asked by those historically challenged youngsters (“How will we be able to [insert activity]?) is simple. Exactly the way we always did it for centuries before this abominable Leviathan was born.

However, that reply isn’t proffered, nor even mooted, by Sky News, BBC and other mainstream TV channels. Their bias is by itself an answer to another question: “How come TV jobs are only ever advertised in The Guardian, our leftmost broadsheet?”

Protect endangered species

Unlike the elephant, we do forget – the founding tenets of our civilisation

I’m not talking about elephants, pandas, blue whales or snow leopards, even though they doubtless need protecting too.

However, the most endangered species on earth is Homo sapiens. Homos still roam the earth in large numbers, but sapience is rapidly becoming extinct.

I was reminded of this looming ecological disaster by today’s reports, highlighting the plight of a British professor who emigrated from England to New Zealand to teach physiology at Auckland.

The professor moved house lock, stock and barrel, taking all his worldly goods with him. Among them was a 120-year-old upright piano played by the professor’s wife and children. The heirloom had been in the family for 30 years.

However, the musical family ran into a veritable cacophony at the border. The piano was impounded because it was cursed with having ivory keys.

Therefore the antique instrument was in violation of the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. It has to be that inanimate object that’s the culprit, not the professor, who – by way of mitigation – was born some 70 years after the piano committed its crime against modernity.

It took the family eight months to get the instrument out of the pound. But the ivory keys had been removed and buried in the ground, a procedure for which the academic had to pay £100, with the bill for administrative costs yet to come. That’s like the families of executed men in China, who had to pay for the bullets with which their loved ones had been shot.

It’ll cost the academic another £200 to have plastic keys put in, for a piano without the keys loses much of its purpose, although it can still be used as a mute piece of furniture.

This acute outburst of the chronic madness of modernity shows mental collapse on several counts, leaving the clinical diagnosis in no doubt.

The first symptom is practical: ignoring human needs.

Any pianist will tell you that there’s no real substitute for ivory. Plastic keys, even though they’re now better than they were when the madness was first diagnosed, simply don’t provide the same purchase for the fingers – especially when they’re damp, as they often are during a performance.

However, I’m prepared to accept that the plight of pianists striking wrong notes in concert is minor when compared with the plight of elephants losing their tusks posthumously.

The second symptom is legal: ignoring the fundamentals of jurisprudence.

Vandalising an antique piano violates every precept of legality by making the law protecting elephants retroactive. No such law existed at the time when the key-producing animal was killed – people still hadn’t acquired the ersatz morality of which modernity is justly proud.

The third symptom is commonsensical: losing touch with reality.

The elephant that sacrificed its tusks for the keys of that particular instrument is undeniably dead. It has been dead for at least 120 years. Ripping portions of its tusks out of the piano isn’t going to bring the elephant back to life. It’ll remain dead, buried and thoroughly decomposed.

Vandalising an antique piano isn’t going to deter poachers by itself. They’ll continue to shoot elephants, taking the risk of the resulting ivory being buried in the ground when their great-grandchildren are old.

This isn’t to say that elephants or other endangered species shouldn’t be protected. But this should be done by effective policing, not by state-sponsored vandalism.

This is how a reasonably sane person would object to this Kiwi insanity, although my sanity may be doubted in some quarters, namely by my wife Penelope.

But the good professor has been caught in the same pandemic of lunacy that’s destroying the sapiens aspect of man. Hence he objected by saying that the vandalism was “unfair and highly disrespectful for the animal that was slain to give its tusks to make this ivory.

“Ivory on a piano in a sense is a monument which reminds us of the atrocities that have occurred. It’s a bit like removing the names off a war memorial – you have lost the reason for it.”

Let me see if I understand. The elephant’s memory must be cherished the same way the memory of soldiers who died for their country must be cherished. Just as those uncountable cenotaphs remind us of the evil of war, ivory keys remind us of the equally reprehensible evil of elephanticide.

Have I got this right? If so, the professor isn’t just a victim of this lunacy but also its promulgator. For this kind of anthropomorphism, equating humans and animals, is another clinically significant symptom of the modern disease.

Allow me to be unforgivably retrograde for a moment by using the kind of terminology and references that are nowadays decidedly uncool.

Both man and elephant are God’s creatures. However, they occupy different places in the pecking order established in Genesis and accepted as true in the subsequent millennia.

Man is close to God because he’s created in God’s image and likeness. The elephant, even though undeniably cute, is typologically closer to a palm tree than to Homo, formerly sapiens.

Just like the palm tree, the elephant was created to serve man, and the way it can render such service is by providing ivory for piano keys or for decorative purposes.

I also understand that parts of elephant feet and trunk are quite delicious. If so, this is another service the animal can provide, in addition to acting as public transport in some parts of the world.

Getting back to modern notions, 99 per cent of all species that have ever inhabited the earth are now extinct. So far we’ve managed to soldier on without their company and, in the tragic event the elephant sinks into extinction too, I suspect we’ll somehow muddle through.

Personally, I’d like my descendants to be able to enjoy watching elephants in the zoo, as much as I did as a child.

But looking on from wherever I’ll be residing at the time, it’ll give me much greater pleasure to see that my descendants haven’t lost – or rather by then have regained – the notion of the uniqueness of man and subservience of all other living creatures.

Modernity can’t raise beasts to the level of man. Hence the only way of equalising them is to pull man down to the level of beasts.

And not just any old beasts but specifically herbivorous ones: eating animal flesh is another uncool thing, so considered by modern savages in the grip of the modern strain of lunacy.

But even if they accept, begrudgingly, the possibility of eating hamburgers or even – at their most permissive – of wearing mink pelts, they still make ivory not only illegal but also immoral.

Let me tell you, our crazed modern barbarians do draw moral distinctions in funny places. Oh the good old times, when that task was taken out of their hands.