Is Prince Charles a Yank in disguise?

The other day Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, asked Prince Charles what the weather was going to be like this month.

“Som man mai lyke of that I wryte”

HRH responded with alacrity: “Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote the droȝte of March hath perced to the roote and bathed every veyone in swich licour, of which vertu engendered is the flour; when Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth…”

“Are you quite off your rocker?” interrupted the duchess. “What’s that gibberish you’re spouting?”

“What’s the matter, wench?” said HRH. “Don’t thou understand Middle English, thou modern ignoramus?”

This dialogue is imaginary, but it’s plausible. For, as we’ve found out, Prince Charles favours fifteenth-century usage over Johnny-come-lately modern English. Or at least that’s what his staff claimed to ward off accusations of HRH’s crypto-Americanism.

The accusations surfaced in response to the letter of condolences HRH wrote to Manny Macron, in which he spelled words like ‘realise’, ‘agonising’ and ‘civilisation’ with the American ‘z’, rather than the British ‘s’.

Everybody is too quick to criticise [sic] the royal family, but this time the criticism was ill-founded, according to HRH’s staff and the experts drawn in to provide support. Don’t you know that the -ize suffix comes from Old Greek, which Prince Charles speaks with the fluency of an agora orator?

Moreover, the prince is so engrossed in England’s glorious past that he routinely prefers Middle English usages. So don’t be a royal pain.  

The conservative in me rejoices. For, betwixt you and me, now that our monarchy has been divested of executive power, its main function is to provide a sturdy axis around which England’s past, present and future revolve in unity.

Alas, so far HRH has manifested his commendable linguistic conservatism only in choosing -ize for -ise. And, even though his amanuenses claim this usage is “correct”, it isn’t. It was correct in the fifteenth century; in the twenty-first, it’s American.

It’s just that the first Anglophone settlers had arrived in America before the shift from -ize to -ise and other evolutionary changes occurred in the mother country. Hence some American usage and much of American pronunciation come from the time between Chaucer and Shakespeare, not between Kingsley and Martin Amis.

I doff my hat, or would do if I wore one, to any manifestation of conservatism, no matter how eccentric. It’s important, however, not to overstep the line separating conservative from obscurantist.

For sometimes it’s good for even reactionaries like HRH and me to make concessions to newfangled locutions, or as HRH would doubtless put it, “forthi good is that we also in oure tyme among ous hiere do wryte of newe som matiere”.

That way educated people earn the right to put a stamp of approval on some usages, while denying it to others. True conservatives resist only unnecessary and subversive – not any – change.

(Speaking of education, the only exam I ever had to re-sit at university was History of the English Language. I got hopelessly confused by the Great Vowel Shift, which the examiner pointed out with scorn.)

At this point, the conservative in me steps aside, and the cynic takes over. For I don’t really believe either in HRH’s affection for Middle English nor, if truth be told, in the depth of his classical education.

Assuming it was he, rather than his speechwriters, who wrote the letter in question, its orthography is more likely to reflect HRH’s urgent desire to come across as modern and upbeat, not at all lah-di-dah.

Since America is the reference country of modernity, the use of Americanisms is supposed to deflect any suspicion of upper-class snobbery. However, affection for Americanisms transcends class barriers.

Thus the word ‘kid’ has all but replaced ‘child’, for all my protestations that, in order to produce a kid, one has to have sex with a goat. Even then success is far from guaranteed – after all, all those Welsh shepherds have so far failed to sire a lamb, haven’t they?

Contrary to what many Americans, and now some of their British imitators, seem to think, ‘momentarily’ means ‘for a moment’, not ‘in a moment’.

‘Guy’ is a poor substitute for ‘chap’ or, if you will, ‘bloke’. ‘A penny for the Guy’ is the only acceptable use of that word in Britain, and then only on a single night in a year.

Contrary to so many speakers, ‘amount’ is used only in reference to uncountable nouns, such as ‘beer’, while ‘number’ is the proper way to refer to countable nouns, such as ‘pints – although, if my former colleagues are anything to go by, pints can be uncountable too.

And so forth, ad infinitum. This isn’t to say that all popular solecisms come to us from the US. The British themselves are perfectly competent at mangling their own language. They are, however, so good at it that they don’t need outside help, thank you very much.

Actually, if I wanted to find fault with the prince’s letter, I’d concentrate on other parts of it. For example, he addresses Manny Macron in French as Cher Monsieur le Président and signs off as Très cordialement à vous.

Everything in between is in English, which brings to mind Mark Twain’s brilliant travel book The Innocents Abroad that chronicles the first voyage taken by American tourists to Europe.

One of the ‘innocents’ was dismayed not to find any soap in his French hotel room, which feeling he expressed in a letter to the owner (I’m quoting from memory): “Monsieur le proprietor, Sir: Pourquoi n’avez vous pas du savon in your establishment? Est-que vous pensez that I’m going to steal it?…”.

That innocent traveller (who also thought that the French for it was travailleur) didn’t know better, but perhaps HRH should have done. It’s best to avoid an epistolary Babel and write either in French or in English, but not in a mixture of the two.

All in all, HRH’s speechwriting staff seems in need of freshening up, so that it myhte not in such a wyse expose the prince to mockery. I’m not volunteering my services; however, I did fail an exam in Middle English, and if that isn’t a proper qualification, I don’t know what is.

What if it wasn’t an accident?

The Notre-Dame fire was still raging when the French police already knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was an accident.

What does it have in common with Notre-Dame?

One must congratulate French detectives on their speed of action. They broke the previous record in institutional arson investigation that had stood for 86 years.

For it was on 27 February, 1933, when the Nazis’ hold on power was still tenuous, that the Reichstag building caught fire. The Nazis immediately declared that the communists were responsible, but their ‘immediately’ was nowhere near as immediate as the French record-breaking swiftness the other day.

Hitler’s men only pinned the blame on Georgi Dimitrov (head of Comintern espionage in Europe) and his henchmen hours after the fire had been put out. Obviously, the methodical Teutonic mind can’t move as fast as the impetuous Gallic one.

But once the Nazis settled on the culprits, they broadcast their findings to the world. They then used the publicity to suspend civil liberties and outlaw the Communist party, along with all other opposition.

All senior communists were thrown into Dachau and Buchenwald, and most of them perished there. The smaller fry were lucky enough to escape to the Soviet Shangri-La. They were then thrown into rather colder concentration camps, where most of them also perished.

The Nazis had a vested interest in publicising their, possibly bogus, findings at a hysterical volume. The word ‘accident’ was never mentioned, and wouldn’t have been even if it had described the incident accurately.

My contention is that the French authorities also had a vested interest in publicising their, possibly bogus, findings. The word ‘arson’ was never mentioned, and wouldn’t have been even if it had described the incident accurately.

There exists a whole genre of history called ‘What if…?’ What if somebody had assassinated Lenin in 1917 or Hitler in 1933? What if Japan had attacked the Soviet Union from the east just as the Germans were closing in on Moscow? What if France and Britain had invaded Germany in 1936, after the remilitarisation of the Rhineland?

Opportunities for speculation are endless, and it’s not always futile speculation. Analysing the unrealised possibilities of the past may help assess not only the situations of yesteryear, but also the lie of the land at present and in the immediate future. The ‘What if…?’ genre is legitimate, and, if used judiciously, it can be enlightening.

Now, I’m not invoking some freshly baked conspiracy theory. I possess no evidence that the Notre-Dame tragedy was caused by arson, and I do think the accident version of events is perfectly plausible. After all, it’s during restoration that ancient structures are at their most vulnerable.

Or not so ancient, come to think of it. Some 25 years ago, restoration was done on the building I live in, and it was built as late as 1898. One of the chaps working on the outside of my flat left his acetylene torch on and went off to exercise the inalienable right of the English worker to have a tea break. As a result, my bedroom, along with most of my clothes, was badly burned, and I smelled like a barbecue pit for a week thereafter (much to my colleagues’ hilarity).

So yes, the Notre-Dame fire could have been, probably was, an accident. But what if it wasn’t?

What if the police had taken longer than an hour or two to conduct their investigation? What if they had found out it was a case of arson? What if subsequent investigation had discovered that the fire was set – and I know my imagination is running away with me – by a group of Muslim zealots led by Mohammed Somebody-Or-Other?

Would they then have arrested the group and publicised their investigative breakthrough? Of course not. The Gallic mind may be impetuous, but it’s not as impetuous as that. The authorities wouldn’t have wanted to cause an outburst of public indignation.  

For the French tend not to internalise their rage. If it were revealed that Muslims tried to destroy France’s greatest cathedral, the rage would spill out into the streets. Can you imagine the ensuing mayhem, considering that a routine rise in diesel taxes could cause months of rioting?

Suddenly if temporarily, all those who describe themselves as atheist or agnostic would turn into Catholic crusaders. The spirit of St Bernard of Clairvaux and Louis VII would flare up in their hearts, and woe betide any Muslim they could lay their hands on.

At the very least, there would be mass disturbances complete with the usual French delights, such as barricades, cobbles and torches. What’s even worse from the standpoint of Manny’s government is that anti-Muslim parties, such as Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, would milk the situation for all it was worth.

Manny would joyously have every French cathedral blown up if that could extend his stay in the presidential palace. So what’s a little subterfuge among friends? An innocent ruse de guerre, that’s all.

Such speculations don’t have to come true to be awful. It’s bad enough that they are plausible.

P.S. And speaking of blowing up cathedrals, the past master of that art, Stalin, is regaining his erstwhile prominence in Russia. In a recent Levada Centre poll, 70 per cent of the respondents believe that the butcher in the Kremlin played a positive role, versus only 19 per cent who assess his role as negative. In 2008 these numbers were 39 and 38 per cent respectively.

Our abused Lady of Paris

I first saw Notre-Dame in 1979, and it was the first Gothic cathedral I had ever seen.

The spire is no more, and much of the roof is gone. But Our Lady still stands

Houston, where I lived then, wasn’t known for Gothic architecture. Moscow had only one, quite ugly, late-Gothic church, and even that had been converted to a recording studio. And my interest in Our Lady was at the time purely academic, which is to say tepid at best.

It so happened that in the evening of the same day the magnificent German organist Karl Richter was playing Bach at Notre-Dame, and my interest in both Bach and Richter (whose harpsichord performances I had heard at Moscow Conservatory) was closer to febrile than tepid.

There I sat for three hours, listening to music by the greatest composer played by the greatest organist in the greatest cathedral. That was as close to ecstasy as I had ever come – the combination shook me up, and at first I thought the effect was purely aesthetic. Yet the next day I realised it wasn’t that, at least not just that.

I’ve never had just one mystical, Damascene event that would open my eyes on the spot. Rather my road to Christianity was long and meandering, and it was cumulatively signposted by many experiences. But if I had to single out the most powerful one, that was it.

Since then I’ve visited most of the great cathedrals of Christendom, and a few of them are probably as glorious as Notre-Dame, some perhaps even more so. But none has come close to usurping the special place Notre-Dame claimed in my life.

How many others could tell similar stories? Thousands? Definitely. Millions? Probably. Tens of millions? Possibly.

For Notre-Dame, Our Lady of Paris, has stood, nay towered, for 850 years. It took a hundred years to build, from the mid-twelfth to the mid-thirteenth centuries.

As with all great cathedrals built at the time, some of the funding came from the Church, some from wealthy patrons – and much of it from private worshippers, many of them impoverished, who each donated what he could, if only a small brass coin or two. Most of them weren’t interested in French Gothic architecture. All of them adored Our Lady.

The Lady suffered through the ages, and how she suffered. Modernity was adumbrated by the Huguenots who expressed their urgent need to obliterate – sorry, I mean to reform –  Christianity by destroying and vandalising its ancient shrines. Notre-Dame was bruised and vandalised, but it wasn’t destroyed. Our Lady still stood.

In 1793, when modernity was in full swing, and cannibalistic revolutionaries were murdering thousands of people and devastating hundreds of churches, Notre-Dame was rededicated to the Cult of Reason and then to the Cult of the Supreme Being.

Intoxicated by their love of reason, the ghouls caused untold damage to Notre-Dame. Many of its treasures were vandalised or stolen. The 28 statues of biblical kings were mistaken by those champions of reason for French kings and summarily destroyed. As were all the big statues on the main façade, except that of the Virgin herself.

Those reasonable ghouls took their revenge on Our Lady by replacing her on several altars with the Goddess of Liberty, and then – as a taste of things to come in the Soviet Union – converting the cathedral to a warehouse.

All in all, some 80 per cent of Romanesque and Gothic churches perished during the revolution and the first post-revolution century. But Our Lady still stood.

The twentieth century, specifically in France, saw no pressing need to raze Notre-Dame: it was enough to vulgarise it, to abuse the cathedral’s sacred meaning. Ushering in their much-vaunted laïcité, the French government turned all churches, including Notre-Dame, into its possessions.

But not into their cherished possessions. Starved of funding and bereft of parishioners, hundreds of churches (including some in my neck of the bois) have gone to wrack and ruin.

Notre-Dame too has had its share of neglect. The Republic, in its munificence, has granted the monopoly of religious worship in the cathedral to the archdiocese. What it has never granted beyond a derisory level is funding.

And it takes money to maintain the ancient structure through the centuries. Visitors bring in some income, as do the few remaining communicants. But the government wouldn’t loosen its purse strings. Money is needed for more important things, like importing millions of immigrants, financing the catastrophic unemployment rate and saving ‘the planet’.

Let’s also not forget blowing countless millions on silly projects that seduce large wads of voters. And, in a country where 92 per cent of the population describe themselves as atheist or agnostic (one day someone will explain to me the valid difference between the two), the Catholic vote is trivial – certainly as compared to, say, the Muslim vote.

The archdiocese has managed to keep Our Lady upright thanks to its tireless fundraising all over the world, mostly in the US. But centuries of neglect have taken their toll.

Before now Notre-Dame has had only one major restoration, in the mid-nineteenth century. It was inspired by the popularity of Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – not by a sudden religious revelation. (I could never understand what made Hugo so popular, but then there’s no accounting for French tastes.)

Since then nothing, apart from sandblasting the grime off the blackened cathedral and restoring its limestone to its original colour. Still, black or beige, Our Lady stood.

But she tottered. She never had systematic loving care, which she deserves for both her spiritual meaning and her physical beauty. And when a major restoration project finally came, no thanks to the government, she was too frail to withstand it.

I don’t know what caused yesterday’s inferno – I don’t think anyone knows yet. But even assuming that no anti-Christian Herostrates set the cathedral on fire, neglect alone could have made the disaster possible, nay likely. Our Lady still stands, but only just.

Now Manny Macron and Anne Hidalgo, the socialist mayor of Paris, are shedding crocodile tears. They promise to spare no expense to rebuild the cathedral, having given none to protect it. Rebuild as what, one wonders.

A mosque? Another KGB centre, like the smaller one close to the Eiffel Tower? A warehouse, for old times’ sake? Or will Notre-Dame still be allowed to attract millions of Nikon-snapping tourists from all over the world?

Our Lady has stood for 850 years, come what may. Those who know how should pray that she will continue to stand in eternity, warding off all ill-wishers. Prayer is all that seems to be left.

Save our planet and win a valuable prize

“Fancy a torch-lit walk around Stonehenge? Fine, but first you’ll have to walk there from London.”

London isn’t quite burning, but it’s paralysed. Up to 30,000 Extinction Rebellion cretins are blocking major routes because they want the government to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.

Essentially, these present-day Luddites want to revert to the ecologically pure world before the Industrial Revolution, when energy was solely produced by water, wind and muscle.

One suspects they’d still wish to keep certain benefits of industrialisation, such as, to mention a few, electric lights, painless surgery, computers, mobile phones and modern medicines, none of which would be possible to deliver without offending ‘our planet’, and the cretins’ delicate sensibilities, with carbon emissions.

They want to destroy scientific and technological progress, which is the only kind that modernity can boast. We’ve created a moral, social, intellectual and aesthetic hell, but at least we’re comfortable living in it. Now the cretins want to take even that away from us.

The former Archdruid of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams thinks bringing London to a standstill is a small price to pay if we really want to atone for our sins. I’m sorry to be quoting at length, but every word in the archdruid’s homily is pure gold (of the fool’s variety):

“We have declared war on our nature when we declare war on the natural world. We are at war with ourselves when we are at war with our neighbour, whether that neighbour is human or non-human.

“We are here tonight to declare that we do not wish to be at war. We wish to make peace with ourselves by making peace with our neighbour earth and with our God [or gods, as the case may be with druids].

“We confess that we have polluted our own atmosphere, causing global warming and climate change that have increased poverty in many parts of our planet. We have contributed to crises and been more concerned with getting gold than keeping our planet green. We have loved progress more than the planet. We are sorry.”

How this man acquired a high ecclesiastical office, not to mention a reputation for a towering intellect, is beyond me. But then modernity in general is beyond me.

One sine qua non characteristic of a sound, never mind towering, intellect is an ability to correlate one’s conclusions with the available evidence, sifting the latter to separate fact from interpretation and interpretation from speculation.

When it comes to anthropogenic global warming, never in history has so much mischief been caused by so many on so little evidence. (The archdruid says “global warming and climate change”, which to anyone who understands English should mean that climate change is distinct from global warming and thus may well include global cooling. But then this gigantic intellect is incapable of using language precisely.)

The only scientific discovery made not by scientists but by the UN, anthropogenic global warming doesn’t stand up to serious investigation, of the kind that involves comparative data gathered over millennia. In the very least, some doubt should persist, which would mitigate stridency.

But even supposing for the sake of argument that some warm weather has been caused by energy production, I’d say we should take the rough with the smooth.

Do we really want to go back to the times when most babies failed to reach their first birthday, when epidemics and famines killed more people than wars ever did, when every visit to a dentist or a surgeon involved excruciating agony that many didn’t survive, when a journey of 100 miles took a week, when… well, you don’t need me to explain what scientific and technological progress has done for us.

Let’s just say that, if the 10 million Londoners replaced every car with a horse, the resulting pollution would be a lot worse and much more malodorous.  

It’s an outrageous, idiotic lie to say that science and technology increase poverty. The good archdruid should check his facts before mouthing off. In his own lifetime, people in under-industrialised China and India used to starve to death in their millions.

Now they don’t, and anyone whose Christianity isn’t sullied with pagan admixtures should thank God for those polluting mines, wells and factories – and by the way it’s not Britain and other Western countries, but third-world powers that contribute most of the carbon emissions.

But the Extinction cretins, including clergymen who ought to know better, don’t realise, or refuse to acknowledge, that ‘our planet’ was created to serve man, not the other way around. If that concept is too difficult for them, then they should at least consider the polluting effect of gridlocking London traffic – and the possible cost to life incurred by crawling or stationary ambulances and fire engines.

I suggest that the police treat this madness as ecoterrorism and deal with it the same way they would deal with any other form of terrorism. Things like tear gas and water cannon would come in handy, and if our cops are too squeamish to use such expedients, they could have France’s CRS seconded to London.

The Christian in me balks at suggesting the use of live ammunition, but, as far as fantasies go, this one isn’t without a certain aesthetic appeal.

Social justice is injustice

Let’s hear it for social justice (personally, I’d rather not)

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith’s interview proves that he tends to say the right things, if not necessarily ground-breaking ones.

As I was ticking my imaginary boxes, he said that a Corbyn government would destroy Britain [tick], that the Labour lead in the polls is a temporary blip caused by Tory ineptitude over Brexit [tick, a hopeful one], that under no circumstances should the Tories contest the EU elections [tick], that Theresa May should go [tick, a big fat one], that Tories must deliver Brexit in one form or another [tick, a qualified one], that marginal pro-Leave parties may siphon off enough votes from the Tories to let Corbyn in [tick].

And then, as my mental pen was running out of ink, he used a term that has the same effect on me that the word ‘culture’ reputedly had on Dr Goebbels: social justice, something to which the Tories are devoted, and no one should forget that.

One would hope that a major politician would know how to use words in their real, as opposed to bogus, meaning. Alas, that hope is guaranteed to be forlorn.

Political words are these days never used in their true meaning – unless you think that ‘liberal’ really means increasing the power of the individual vis-à-vis the state; ‘conservative’ has anything to do with the Conservative Party; or Labour are indeed out to protect the rights of the working man.

Political vocabulary resides in the virtual world. In the actual world, justice means getting one’s due, what one deserves – as often distinct from what one desires.

Thus, though I’d like to be half a foot taller, I don’t think it’s unjust that I am not: I’ve done nothing to deserve the extra six inches. Conversely, I’d like to have a billion pounds, but I’m sure it’s just that I haven’t: I’ve never pursued money with sufficient dedication.

Justice is also another word for the law, which too is supposed to ensure that each individual gets what he deserves, conviction or acquittal, punishment or mercy. So far, so clear.

But what does ‘social justice’ mean, especially when uttered by a government official? This is yet another instance when a term is used in the exact opposite of its real meaning. For in this context ‘social justice’ means ‘social injustice’: people getting what they desire but don’t deserve.

This isn’t an argument against the welfare state – not because such an argument wouldn’t be valid, but because in this context it’s irrelevant. It’s language that concerns me now.

Forcible redistribution of wealth by the state (which is what its servants mean by social justice) may be right or wrong, merciful or corrupting, useful or useless, productive or counterproductive.

One thing it can’t be under any circumstances is just: those whose wealth is redistributed do nothing to deserve expropriation; many of those towards whom the wealth is redistributed do nothing to deserve such largesse.

In fact, if true social justice operated in Britain, millions of welfare recipients who now live in decent lodgings, eat three squares a day and have enough left over for a few pints, tattoos and a pair of designer trainers would be starving in the street.

By reaffirming his party’s commitment to social justice, Mr Duncan Smith in fact re-establishes its socialist credentials – as if we needed a reminder. Again, I’m not arguing pro or con. I’m simply upset about the gross lexical solecism.

P.S. So upset do I get about such matters that at times it’s best to forget about them and focus on the beauty of nature instead.

Driving through the gently undulating countryside of rural France the other day, I was happy to see violently lurid yellow patches breaking up the soporific monotony of green fields. As if by itself, drifting in from the crisp, scented air, a question floated into my mind: Is it rape or rape that’s in season?

Peter on the road to EU Damascus

A sight for Peter Oborne’s sore eyes

Peter Oborne has had a Damascene experience. He has changed his view on Brexit from leave to remain, and he explains why in a rambling article.

Now if I were predominantly, as opposed to mildly, cynical, I’d put that about-face down to ulterior, pecuniary motives.

You see, Oborne’s prose has been steadily declining over the past few years. His detractors ascribe this deterioration to an excessive fondness for alcohol, that scourge of Fleet Street.

However, his writing is still good enough for the Mail, and Oborne’s bosses would be happy to tolerate the bibulous hack – provided he toed the line.

But the line changed a few months ago when the Leaver Paul Dacre was replaced as editor by the Remainer Geordie Grieg. For the hack to continue toeing the line, he had to change the direction – or risk taking bread off the table.  

However, since I’m only mildly cynical, I shan’t explain Oborne’s change of heart by such lowly motives. I’ll accept his integrity as a given and take his arguments at face value.

Alas, the face value is close to nil. According to Oborne, Brexit has paralysed the system.” The political system is indeed paralysed, but not by Brexit.

Brexit has to be exculpated here for the simple reason that it hasn’t happened yet. What has had a paralysing effect is the government’s mendacious, borderline treasonous, efforts to torpedo Brexit – and hit the constitution by ricochet.

This underhand effort has been spearheaded by Mrs May, who, according to Oborne, has “shown immense fortitude and determination which has won her the respect and admiration of decent people.”

Since neither I nor any of my friends obviously qualify for the distinction of being decent, none of us feels much respect and admiration for the woman who has perfidiously conspired with EU chieftains to defy not only the popular vote, but also the parliamentary mandate that turned Article 50, and therefore Brexit, into a law.

But then one can’t argue against admiration in a man’s heart. As Pascal put it, the heart has its reasons that reason knows not of (le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point).

Unfortunately, one gets the impression that reason isn’t Oborne’s strong point. Throughout the piece he uses the locution “we Brexiteers”, as in we Brexiteers realise that “Britain’s departure from the EU will be as great a disaster for our country as the over-mighty unions were in the 1960s and 1970s.” With Brexiteers like this, who needs Remainers?

Oborne’s respect and admiration for Mrs May are based on his respect and admiration for her awful deal, which Oborne regrets has “zero chance” of passing.

My problems here start with the word ‘deal’. This word has drifted into politics from commerce, where it has horse-trading implications.

Two parties, say a car maker and a tyre manufacturer, identify an area of mutual benefit and thrash out a deal. The former undertakes to use nothing but the latter’s tyres on all new cars, while the latter agrees to lower the wholesale price by 10 per cent.

Everybody’s happy, the deal is done. But politics uses a different vocabulary that features words like ‘alliance’, ‘treaty’, ‘agreement’ and so forth. ‘Deal’ legitimately appears only at the intersection of politics and commerce, as in ‘trade deal’.

But a trade deal is only possible between two sovereign, autonomous parties. In my example, if the tyre manufacturer were not a separate company but merely a division of the car maker, the latter would be issuing orders, not seeking deals.

Extrapolating from companies to countries, trade deals by definition are only possible between two sovereign commonwealths, not between, say, a central government and one of its provinces. Thus HMG could sign a trade deal with China, but not with Sussex.

That establishes a normal sequence of events when one country wishes to leave a federation (which is what the EU is in all but name). Politics must precede economics: the country first establishes its independent, which is to say legally equal, status with the federation and only then discusses trade and other economic arrangements.

Yet key words like ‘sovereignty’, ‘independence’ and ‘constitution’ don’t appear even once among the 5,000 words of Oborne’s piece. It’s all about horse-trading, which is indeed putting the horse before the cart.

In the process, Oborne doesn’t just tug but positively yanks at our heart strings: “It’s a decision which will not just viscerally impact the lives of our children. But also our children’s children. And their children too.”

At least our children’s children’s children’s children will be free of the visceral impact, whatever that means. In fact, the impact Oborne talks about exclusively isn’t visceral but economic, but I agree that ‘visceral’ sounds more sophisticated.

“A clumsily executed Brexit,” he writes, “will hit us in terms of lower incomes, lost jobs and industries, worse public services and restricted opportunities.”

What, no wheelbarrows full of hyperinflated banknotes, no children (and their children) dying of malnutrition, no patients writhing and shivering in unheated wards? I’m disappointed that Oborne’s palette is so short of the black pigment.

That’s it, the whole argument. Everything else is just a variation on the same theme, re-ingesting food already digested. Such as: “The economic arguments for Brexit have been destroyed by a series of shattering blows.”

But not at all. The shattering blows have rained not on Brexit but on the whole nation that has had its will denied and its constitution debauched. Once again, for those who suffer from Oborne’s learning difficulties: Brexit hasn’t happened yet. Hence its economic consequences are a matter of pure speculation, which on the Remain side features nothing but scaremongering.

Oborne generously admits that not all foreign companies will up sticks and leave, but he gleefully enumerates those that have already done so, such as Nissan.

Yes, he acknowledges, such companies invariably state that Brexit has nothing to do with their decision, but they do so only “for political reasons”. I can’t for the life of me imagine what those political reasons might be. I see Nissan as an industrial concern, not a political entity, but then Oborne’s vision must be more acute than mine.

If he’s so worried about this, a real, as opposed to our spivocratic, government could create a stampede of foreign companies falling over themselves to move their business to Britain. All it would take is slashing, or better still eliminating, corporate taxes and getting rid of the red tape.

This would be a healthy idea in any case, Brexit or no Brexit. After all, Manny Macron, when he was still France’s finance minister, threatened that Brexit would turn Britain into another Jersey or Guernsey. My answer was then, as it is now, a resounding “yes, please”.

Even Mrs May mooted that sort of thing when she was still pretending that a no-deal Brexit could happen. Winking and nudging in the direction of her EU Parteigenossen, she’d threaten for the cameras to introduce such measures in an extreme situation. Of course, for our socialists, Lite or Full Strength, sound economics can only be a punitive measure.  

But enough about economics. As I’ve written a thousand times if I’ve written it once, first things first.

From its inception, the EU has been a purely political, not economic, project, and leaving it must be a purely political, not economic act. Once that act has been consummated, then economic negotiations should start, ideally delivering a mutually beneficial deal.

However, the political act of secession and re-establishing sovereignty can’t be subject to negotiations or deals even in theory. The American colonies didn’t seek a deal with George III before declaring their independence – they knew that secession is an inherently unilateral act. Too bad Oborne doesn’t know it.

Britain is neither a supplicant nor a mingent pupil asking to be excused. It’s futile asking the EU’s permission to leave because such permission can’t possibly be granted. Hence there’s nothing to negotiate.

But even assuming for the sake of argument that a deal is possible in theory, one ironclad precondition for it in practice is that both sides negotiate in good faith. This is demonstrably not the case.

Neither party wants Brexit to happen, the EU openly, HMG perfidiously. Hence the muddle and seemingly unsolvable problems: neither side wants a deal. They both want Britain to remain, while the EU seeks the extra benefit of discouraging other members from similar audacity.

“I’ve heard the argument that people want to get it over with and ‘just leave’,” writes Oborne. “That’s reckless, stupid and could inflict incalculable damage.”

Now that we resort to that kind of language, it’s stupid and ignorant to believe that any deal is possible in the matter of preserving Britain’s ancient constitution.

The EU isn’t anti-democratic, explains Oborne. It’s merely undemocratic, although all its members are democracies. (He obviously doesn’t appreciate that different types of democracy exist, and they are seldom compatible.)

It’s not exactly like Napoleonic France or Nazi Germany, which is why there’s really no need to resist it the way Britain resisted those regimes. And not a single EU member threatens military aggression against Britain. (No, they just threaten a Napoleonic-style economic blockade if we become truly sovereign.)

A man capable of such statements shouldn’t throw words like ‘stupid’ about – his glass house may shatter. A country may be deprived of its sovereignty by violence or subterfuge – or it may surrender it voluntarily. The result is the same in all cases: sovereignty replaced by vassalage. That’s what “decent people” seem to want.

Beware of fascism

When things get to that stage, it’s too late

The word ‘fascism’ has suffered a hyperinflation and consequent loss of meaning. In the eyes of some, for example, it’s an umbrella covering such rather different personages as Adolf Hitler and Margaret Thatcher.

Since Lady Thatcher was really a Whig, and the same word describes her and Hitler, one may infer that Hitler was a Whig too, if not exactly of the Rockingham variety. Meaning that no term can be as broad as that and still denote something concrete.

Hence one has to specify exactly what one means by fascism. So here’s my definition: it’s a systematic attempt by mob or state (typically first by one, then by the other) to make people submit to a pernicious ideological ethos that deliberately perverts morality, culture and common sense in pursuit of power.

The political slogans brandished by a fascist mob, or whether it’s described as right-wing or left-wing, are to me immaterial. It’s the core that matters, not the veneer.

Normally associated with fascism are goose-stepping militarisation, suppression of all liberties, hysterical rallies, concentration camps, genocide – but they only become prevalent after fascism has conquered.

They are, to use the terminology favoured by the Marxist variety of fascism, only the ‘superstructure’. The ‘basis’ is a tectonic shift of ethos, so gradual that each subsequent stage barely registers, appearing as it is to be a logical progression from an already accepted fait accompli.

Before the people are subjugated violently, they are subjugated culturally and often unwittingly. They are not only not taught to think, but are actively indoctrinated not to think.

The mob (otherwise known as ‘public opinion’), supported by government cajolement or diktat, is telling people what to think and not to think; what to feel and not to feel; what to say and not to say. And people obey on pain of ostracism or worse.

By the time the real nastiness arrives in the shape of an unapologetically oppressive regime, everyone has grown too enfeebled and complacent to resist. Only two options remain: to jump on the fascist bandwagon or to be crushed by it.

We are in Britain today going through that priming stage, with the old certitudes roundly mocked, displaced and often criminalised. The process has an accelerator built in; it speeds up as it goes along. Things that a few years ago were unthinkable, are now not just acceptable but solely acceptable; yesterday’s perversion becomes today’s norm; yesterday’s lunacy, today’s normality.

Merely listing the evidence supporting this melancholy observation would take more space than this format allows. Therefore, I can only offer a few starters for a thousand, and an assurance that these examples are typical.

Under mob pressure, Jordan Peterson, a popular social psychologist, has had his offer of Cambridge fellowship rescinded because “his work and views are not representative of the student body”.  

A general remark: professors are there to inform the views of the student body, not to represent them. Specifically, Prof. Peterson is guilty of refusing to accept the fascist ethos of political correctness.

He won’t mangle the English language with mob-dictated grammar, meaning he dares use the masculine personal pronouns. He brands as “cultural Marxism” the notion of a permanent war between the oppressors and the oppressed permeating every aspect of life. He describes the concept of white privilege as “a Marxist lie”. Worst of all, he uses the word ‘Marxism’ pejoratively rather than admiringly.

Prof. Peterson doesn’t just drop such gems and leave it at that. He presents cogent arguments, which in any other than a fascist culture could only be countered with other arguments. But fascists don’t argue: they scream, froth at the mouth, bully, threaten and dictate.

In that spirit, the philosopher Roger Scruton was sacked as housing advisor to the government for saying, among other ‘controversial’ things, that homosexuality isn’t normal. Sir Roger should have been more up on his terminology: normal is what agrees with the neo-fascist ethos; abnormal is anything that contradicts it.

Hence a perversion practised, according to the largest survey I’ve seen, by just over one per cent of the population is normal if the mob says it is – and heterosexuality is morally neutral at best, a survival of the oppressive past at worst.

Interestingly, unlike the brown variety of fascism, the red version always normalises homosexuality (along with abortion, cohabitation and ‘sexual freedom’) as a WMD in its war on tradition.

Thus the first modern country to legalise homosexuality was Soviet Russia between 1917 and 1934, a place and period not otherwise known for a laissez-faire attitude to life. Only when the Soviet red darkened towards brown were the anti-homosexuality laws introduced – and enforced.

Do those who sacked Sir Roger think homosexuality is normal? They don’t. They don’t think, full stop. Thought doesn’t come into this: they simply fear the backlash from the neo-fascist mob and take preemptive action just in case.

Especially since Sir Roger got deeper in hot water by insisting that ‘Islamophobia’ is a political term used by those who wish to stifle serious debate. What do those mandarins and other fruits think it is, a rigorous medical condition? Agreeing with the underlying politics is an act of submission to the neo-fascist mob; denying that the term is political, an abject surrender.

Moving from the academic field to the football pitch, the midfielder Adam Johnson has just been released from prison, having served three years of his six-year term.

Now, six years is a hefty sentence in our punishment-shy jurisprudence. Burglars, car thieves and muggers get nothing like that on first offence, and seldom on the subsequent ones. So what heinous crime did Mr Johnson commit?

He had sex with a star-struck 15-year-old girl, and the age of consent in the UK is 16. Apparently, it wasn’t even what the porn industry calls ‘full-pen’ sex, just some unspecified sexual activity, probably of the oral kind.

Now have you noticed how, when UK laws differ from continental ones, they tend to be harsher? It’s only in that way that Britain insists on upholding her sovereignty.

For example, I’ve just driven across France, where the motorway speed limit is 11 mph higher than in Britain. Add a civilised 10 miles to that limit, and you can actually get where you’re going.

In this matter too, the age of consent in France is 15 and in Germany, where the permissive Weimar spirit evidently lives on, it’s 14. Thus, had Mr Johnson played away from home in those countries, he would have broken no law.

Still, the law is the law and, by getting fellated in Britain, Mr Johnson did break it. However, it’s useful to remember the ancient distinction between malum prohibitum and malum in se.

In secular morality the footballer’s transgression falls into the first category: something wrong only because it’s prohibited, not because it’s inherently wicked.

One way or the other, Mr Johnson was punished and, as the old phrase goes, paid his – in my view exorbitant – debt to society. Case closed?

Not at all, according to the mob. Mr Johnson didn’t just break the law; he aided and abetted the perennial oppression and exploitation of women, which is just the sort of thing Prof. Peterson calls a ‘Marxist lie’.

Once a paedophile, always a paedophile, screamed the mob, as if the groupie was five, not 15. Mr Johnson isn’t a paedophile; he’s a sex offender. It’s that difference between malum prohibitum and malum in se again.

Anyway, I thought prison rehabilitates criminals, doesn’t it? Surely it’s a social service rather than a punitive institution, or at least that’s what the mob insists it is?

Well, that depends on the nature of the crime. When it’s committed against an individual or his property (murder, assault, robbery, burglary, theft), then yes, it’s society’s fault, not the criminal’s. But when it’s committed against the ethos, in this case that of women’s victimisation by men, predominantly by white Christians, then no rehabilitation is possible.

Hence no football team will hire Mr Johnson (who’s still a good player) – for the same reason that Cambridge uninvited Peterson and the UK government sacked Scruton. A braying neo-fascist mob is too powerful to be denied.

I don’t know whether the British public is primed (corrupted) sufficiently to welcome the fascist government of the Marxist variety that may well take over within months. I only hope that some people still know creeping fascism when they see it.

With this law I thee divorce

Job done.

Marriage is the building block of the family; family is the building block of society. And society is by definition at odds with the modern political state, which rightly sees family as its competitor.

The very nature of the modern state demands the transfer of the maximum amount of power from the periphery to the centre – this irrespective of the state’s political system. Each family, however, is its own unit of local power, and the potential for conflict is vast.

That’s why the modern, as opposed to traditional, state would ideally like to abolish marriage and family altogether: it doesn’t suffer challenges to its power lightly. Today’s political state in the West may still not be strong enough to bring about such a final solution, but it certainly tries to do all it can to cause systematic erosion.

This explains the steadily accelerating avalanche of laws that compromise the institution of marriage. One can discern this animus behind laws legalising civil partnerships, both homo- and heterosexual, though – and it’s good to know we still have something to look forward to – not yet interspecies.

Removing all stigma from homosexuality and then actively promoting it is another trick the state uses liberally (I’m using the word ‘liberal’ advisedly). Legalising homomarriage follows ineluctably, which makes a mockery of marriage as a sacramental union between a man and a woman.

Snapping the last remaining links, however tenuous, between marriage and sex is another widespread stratagem, and the state enforces this separation through the educational system it controls and the all-pervasive pornography it encourages.

My yesterday’s subject, endorsing and promoting sex change as a manifestation of free consumer choice, also rebounds on marriage, if in a less direct fashion.

Social benefits for single mothers is another trick, with the provider state squeezing its bulk into the slot previously occupied by the provider father, making him redundant and reducing the incentive for marriage.

Loosening the link between marriage and childbirth as a corollary to that is a parallel development, and it works wonders too. About half of all children are born out of wedlock, with the state typically assuming the paternal responsibility.

Easy divorce on demand is another battering ram of modernity smashing marriage to smithereens, and the easier the divorce, the greater the force with which the battering ram is swung.

That’s why traditional states used to make divorce either impossible or, more usually, at least rather difficult. Couples had to come up with valid reasons for divorce, and it had to be consensual. In the absence of consensus, with one spouse resisting divorce, the dissolution of marriage was harder still, although ultimately not impossible.

Essentially, while the last vestiges of the traditional state and society survived, an understanding existed that marriage was a good thing and hence divorce wasn’t. As tradition faded away, so did the obstacles in the way of divorce.

Such is the context of the new law announced yesterday by the justice secretary. In three months divorce will become so easy that marriage will lose any aspect of commitment – just as it has already lost any aspect of lifelong commitment.

The general intent is to make divorce quick and painless. It’s not that divorce is exceptionally hard already, what with half of all marriages ending in it. Yet the remaining marriages soldier on, and the state clearly finds this situation intolerable.

According to the new law, divorce will no longer be contestable: if one spouse wants it, there’s nothing the other spouse will be able to do – the marriage will be dissolved within six months.

Nor is a valid reason for divorce any longer required: neither party has to be at fault or claim that the other party is. All it will take is a simple statement that the marriage has broken down, and where do I sign, thank you very much.  

Justice Secretary David Gauke said: “While we will always uphold the institution of marriage, it cannot be right that our outdated law creates or increases conflict between divorcing couples.”

This one sentence contains everything one needs to know about the place marriage occupies in modernity, at least in its British manifestation (actually, no country I know personally is dramatically different).

A minister claiming that the government “will always uphold the institution of marriage” is tantamount to a mass murderer claiming that he will always uphold the sanctity of life. And the second half of Mr Gauke’s sentence can be simplified to mean that it’s not right that we should have any obstacles in the way of divorce.

But the key word there is “outdated”. How, when and why were the laws putting dampeners on divorce made outdated? Or, for that matter, by whom?

Oh well, I think I’ve already answered those questions. All I can add is that, for the likes of Mr Gauke, any law that maintains some connection with traditional society is outdated by definition.

Then again, he’s a member of our Conservative government. It’s that adjective that has actually become outdated – worse still, it has become a barefaced lie.

New vacancies at gender-bender clinics

Dr Johnson presciently commented on transgender therapy

“It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all,” said Dr Johnson, who rivals Shakespeare in the number of entries into quotation dictionaries.

Admittedly, his remark was directed at dogs walking on hind legs. But the quip is so universal that it applies to transgender-therapy clinics, or rather my feelings about them. Replace ‘surprised’ with ‘disgusted’, and there you have it.

Being the reference modern country, the US is way ahead of us in concocting these dystopic institutions. They have 40; we have only one, with two branches. But give us time: transatlantic saplings usually take a few years after transplantation to reach full luxuriance.

Our solitary gender-bender clinic is very much in the news these days because its five employees have quit, citing fears that children are being misdiagnosed.

A boy as young as three (3!!!) may be slightly effeminate, which to modern ideologues can mean only one possible diagnosis: inside him there’s a girl struggling to get out. The boy is then prescribed hormone blockers to prevent the onset of puberty. (The hormones are different, but the general idea is the same for not very girlish girls.)

By the time he reaches 16, the poor lad is ready for huge doses of oestrogen and surgery, expertly designed and deftly performed to turn him into the kind of sideshow that used to entertain punters at county fairs.

Those five employees follow in the footsteps of a dozen others who objected to how the clinic operated. However, as far as I know, none objected to the apocalyptic disaster of such freak hatcheries existing at all.

If gender dysphoria is indeed a widespread clinical condition, one would think that it would have spread as widely eight years ago as it does now. Yet that’s not the case: the number of children referred to the clinic increased from 94 in 2010 to 2,519 in 2018.

Since to the best of my knowledge dysphoria isn’t a disease or, even if it is, it’s not contagious, some extra-medical factors have to be at play here. The issue isn’t medical, but existential.

A distinguishing, possibly the defining, belief of post-Enlightenment modernity is that man-god has ousted god-man, or even killed him according to Nietzsche. That means that man has usurped God’s powers and claimed full sovereignty over his life, body, destiny – everything.

God’s will no longer exists; it’s man’s own will that has dominion over nature and himself, as part of the natural world. This presupposition ineluctably leads to the certainty that human nature in general, and certainly every person’s nature in particular, can be remodelled and irrevocably changed to conform to some ideology.

This notion would never have occurred to any sane person in the period that preceded Jesus Christ’s rise to superstardom and going simply by his initials (“Hey, JC, JC, would you die for me?”).

In those days, people believed that every person was created by God in his own image. Hence barging into a person’s body or soul with a surgical knife (other than for a genuine medical need) or political diktat was seen as not only insane but also grossly blasphemous.

Like most Enlightenment concepts, that empowerment of the individual was bogus: man didn’t acquire real sovereignty. All he got was a chance to transfer sovereignty from God (and therefore himself, as a person carrying a particle of God) to secular opinion formers, who were seldom blessed with moral and intellectual integrity.

Those chaps have indeed proved their knack at forming opinions, by such expedients as executions, torture, concentration camps or – at the milder end – simply by unlimited propaganda, corrupt and unsound education, and diligent work at smashing up every cultural survival of Christendom.

Those operating at the two ends, the violent red and pacific violet, rely on different methods, but their objectives are identical. Both wish to remake human nature in the image of some secular deity, be that communism, fascism or deracinated, lobotomised  multi-culti New Age.

Compared to such a lofty task, reshaping the nature of a single person is child’s play. All it takes is some pharmacological advances, new surgical procedures and – above all – a society ready to accept, legitimise and welcome those freak assembly lines.

Ever since the reference country of modernity enshrined pursuit of happiness in its founding document, unhappiness has become an affront to everything modernity holds dear. It’s ready to cross the line separating eudemonic from demonic to expunge unhappiness from the human condition.

Best of luck with that, but the goal is a desert mirage: the closer one gets the further away it moves. Unhappiness is dialectically linked with happiness: since one is impossible without the other, it’s best not to worry about it.

Effeminate boys or masculine girls may be unhappy about their sexuality (which is what dysphoria actually means – it’s unhappiness medicalised), and they deserve our sympathy.

One way or the other, they are in for a rough ride – but we can all pray that they find solace in things that matter more than genitalia: the life of the mind, spirit and pursuit of truth, for example. All those things, that is, that modernity is busily trying to marginalise, if not criminalise.

Puny aspirations, puny thoughts, puny culture, puny morality – these are the hallmarks of any society pursuing the satanic aim of reshaping man, be it spiritually or surgically. For underlying it all is soulless nihilism and, ultimately, despondent hopelessness.

For the practical ramifications of such lovely things, check the blood-sodden history of the twentieth century, the first one in which Enlightenment values held sway from beginning to end. And we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, to use the phrase popular in the birthplace of transgender therapy.

Are all politicians equally bad?

A little reminder of the difference between bad and evil governments

Well, yes and no. Most of our politicians are indeed very bad. But not equally.

This is an important distinction because, while the differences between variously good governments may be trivial, those between variously bad ones may be a matter of life or death – and I don’t mean this figuratively.

That’s why I only partly agree with Peter Hitchens who dutifully presents a catalogue of Tory policies that are no better, or actually worse, than those proposed by Labour.

He’s correct when saying that the Tories concentrate their attacks on Corbyn personally, rather than on Labour philosophies and policies, because they “have always been far closer to Jeremy Corbyn than they like to admit… the Tories’ wild, Trotskyist policies on marriage, ‘equality’, ‘diversity’ and education actually aren’t much different from Mr Corbyn’s.”

All true. He could actually go even further by suggesting that this ad hominem focus presents Labour with a ready-made electoral strategy: replace Corbyn as leader a fortnight before the election, declare that all problems have thereby been solved and win by a landslide.

This is all good political journalism – but not particularly nuanced political thinking. For one thing, it’s always misleading to compare the apples of one side’s actions with the oranges of the other side’s promises.

Experience shows that every opposition party everywhere promises things it then doesn’t do in government – and does things it never promised. This is the immutable law of democratic politics to which there have been very few exceptions (Trump comes close to being one).

It’s common for the masses to be sufficiently disillusioned with corrupt or ineffectual governments to believe that any change could only be for the better or, at least, couldn’t possibly be worse.

This is a tragic misapprehension. Things can always get worse, as the democratically elected Messrs Perón, Mugabe, Putin, Chavez and Macîas Nguema (who gratefully murdered a third of the population of Equatorial Guinea that had voted him in) could have testified.

Also, the two most satanic regimes in history, Bolshevism and Nazism, came to power on the crest of popular enthusiasm enhanced by contempt for their predecessors, the Provisional Government in Russia and the Weimar Republic in Germany.

Hitler was actually elected, if not exactly by winning a sweeping mandate. The Bolsheviks came to power by a coup, but Lenin too was widely seen, for a week or two at any rate, as an improvement over Kerensky.

It’s incumbent on political commentators to point out to the masses that they are wrong, and explain why. To do so, it may be useful to go beyond the nitty-gritty of comparative policies and apply the old-fashioned, nay obsolete, standards of good and evil.

The Tories, ineptly not to say catastrophically led by their last three prime ministers, exemplify everything that’s rotten in modernity generally and modern politics particularly.

They are feeble of mind and character, self-serving, spivocratic, dishonest, ignorant of constitutional matters, indifferent to British sovereignty and so on: you can probably extend this list, and Mr Hitchens certainly could.

But one thing the Tories aren’t is evil. Much as I despise, say, Mrs May, much as I’m certain she’s unfit for any elective office other than perhaps PCC membership at a poorly attended Anglican church in the Home Counties, I can’t say that she hates Britain and actively wishes to destroy it.

Her asinine, vacillating policies may well have just such an effect, but I can’t honestly list malice aforethought (mens rea in jurisprudence) among her motives.

Corbyn and his gang of Marxist subversives are a different matter altogether. They hate everything Britain stands for, except possibly her exploitable potential for labour unrest. They love all our enemies not because they necessarily share their ideas, but because they are indeed our enemies.

When in power, they’re likely to abolish the monarchy, drown Britain in a flood of alien immigration, subvert our laws and constitutional liberties, destroy what’s left of private enterprise, drive millions out of the country and push those undeniably awful Tory policies to cataclysmic levels – all because they are driven by visceral hatred, resentment and envy.

In short, they are evil, and history shows that evil rulers do evil things regardless of the method of their ascent to power.

Now, Britain has had numerous rotten governments, such as the last five. But she has no experience, and hence little dread, of evil ones. The British may well be unaware of what happens when a merely bad government is replaced by an evil one – and, unless someone explains the difference very soon, they may learn it the hard way.

Perhaps, by way of prep work, the British ought to be reminded that evil does exist, and the categories of good and evil may serve political analysis better than a mere comparison of electoral planks. But that may be asking too much.

P.S. Yesterday’s two FA Cup semi-finalists, Wolves and Watford, are managed by Espírito Santo and Gracia respectively. This was the first time that the Holy Spirit clashed with Grace, and the latter won. Also, the only goal in the other semi-final was scored by Jesus. Footie is replete with Christian messages, wouldn’t you say?