Bye-bye elections for the d’Ancona types?

It’s not the Labour victories in Middlesbrough, Rotherham and Croydon North by-elections that spell big trouble for the Tories. It’s that UKIP polled second in two of them.

‘Whichever way you look at it, UKIP is on the rise,’ commented Nigel Farage. Well, not the way Matthew D’Ancona looks at it, or rather would like to.

On the eve of the Tory debacle d’Ancona wrote a typical harangue, yet again emphasising not so much UKIP weaknesses as his own vacuity and ignorance. 

The ignorance begins to shine through in the very title of his Evening Standard article: ‘UKIP is a state of mind, not a party.’ This is true, or rather a truism. All political parties are, or at least originally were, based on principles reflecting a certain state of mind.

It’s only when a party’s leaders and their hangers-on have neither any principles nor much of a mind that it becomes something else, usually an electoral basket case. Today’s Tories are a bright, well, not very bright, example of this.

If d’Ancona means that, unlike other parties, UKIP reflects a wrong state of mind, then by all means he should say so. And then, to be considered anything other than a chap with learning difficulties, he should show convincingly where UKIP’s mindset is wanting.

Actually, he does take a stab at it, after a fashion. According to d’Ancona, ‘What it [UKIP] objects to is modernity: the pluralist, globalised, fast-changing world in which we all live.’ Such an objection constitutes an irredeemable vice – God forbid we find anything wrong with modernity, as defined by d’Ancona. His definition can be gleaned from his own cultural preferences.

When he was still editor of the Spectator, he once flew to Los Angeles to attend a party thrown by Elton John, that crystallisation of modernity. This really tells you all you need to know, for someone with a modicum of intelligence and taste wouldn’t cross the street, never mind the world, to rub shoulders with that lot. Why, even Tony Blair attends Elton’s parties.

If that’s what modernity is all about, then d’Ancona is welcome to it. But what about its specific features that are supposed to vex UKIP so?

Even though it no longer is a single-issue party, UKIP is undoubtedly a central-issue one. The central issue is that the UK should govern itself, rather than submitting to an utterly corrupt and tyrannical foreign body.

Let’s assume for the sake of argument that this is misguided. But not ‘pluralist’? The last time I looked, 60 percent of Brits agree with UKIP on this. A seditious thought crosses my mind that d’Ancona and his ilk have their own, more tightly defined, concept of pluralism. The word, according to them, means general acceptance in Notting Hill, Islington and Hampstead.

Their denizens, as a rule securely protected from economic vicissitudes by their parents’ trust funds, don’t mind our entire constitutional history being debauched by countries whose own constitutional history is at best patchy.

Nor do they pay much attention to the purely empirical evidence for the economic, social, political and cultural disaster summed up by the initials EU. What matters is that they can use the EU good offices to move themselves from the margins of British society to the rotten core of a bigger entity. Their little minds are scared of the soubriquet ‘Little Englanders’. ‘Big Europeans’ sounds so much better – so much cooler. Cool Britannia, in the Tony Blair, Elton John sense, can only happen within cool Europe, they have no doubt on that score.

That UKIP rejects the destructive aspects of globalisation is no doubt true. Yet one finds it hard to cast the first stone in view of the current global catastrophe perpetrated by the very people who worship at the altar of internationalism. Are the Islington set even aware of this? Do they care?

D’Ancona’s affection for ‘fast change’ is generally symptomatic of people who assume that all change is for the better. This is a fallacy, and a destructive one at that. To cite one example, a change to a society where Elton John represents the acme of cultural attainment isn’t progressive. It’s regression to our pagan past.

Back in the seventeenth century, Lucius Cary, 2nd Viscount Falkland, encapsulated the essence of conservatism before the word was even invented: ‘Where it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.’ This is ‘the state of mind’ that has defined conservative thought ever since.

Discounting the likely possibility that d’Ancona may regard a change from William Byrd to Elton John as necessary, there is nothing conservative about a party that champions the cause of progressivism. Because this cause is so dear to the hearts of d’Ancona and the Tory spivocracy he adores, British conservatives have been effectively disfranchised. That’s why UKIP, with its consistently conservative position on every issue that counts, is doing so well.

One problem with d’Ancona and other Dave cronies is that they aren’t very bright. Just listen to d’Ancona’s spirited defence of Rotherham Council, which took away three adopted children from a couple because they are both UKIP members.

‘Given UKIP’s strong position on immigration generally, and EU migration particularly — was it wise to place the three EU migrant children with two of its members? The chance of something going wrong was small — but appreciable.’

D’Ancona is too stupid to realise that, rather than castigating UKIP, he’s praising it. This generous, self-sacrificial couple gave a loving family to three children because the little ones were human beings in distress. This charitable act rises above any political considerations; it shows that UKIP members are driven by noble impulses, not petty animosities. That is more than can be said for the monstrous Council or indeed for the pathetic d’Ancona.

He proceeds from the same logic as those who claim that people who are opposed to the EU hate Europeans. In this instance d’Ancona’s underlying claim is that those who wish for Britain to remain Britain do so because they hate foreigners. The Rotherham couple has proved him wrong, not that he’s capable of realising it.

With mouthpieces like this, no wonder the Tory party is reeling. They sense that in the next election people will vote for Labour Full Strength, rather than their own Lite version. The only way for them, and the country, to avert this disaster is to listen to the only sensible voices out there, the true conservatives. These are increasingly to be found only within the ranks of UKIP.       







Mr Bumble, where are you when we need you.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t recall Mr Bumble and his immortal ‘the law is a ass.’ Dickens probably didn’t think he was uttering a prophecy, but that’s exactly what it has proved to be.

I had the chance to mutter the Bumblian phrase yesterday, when taking my car in for a routine check. Now most people can talk your ear off with horror stories inspired by garages and mechanics. I can chip in with a few of my own, but they all go back at least 20 years.

Since then, ever since we moved to Fulham, I’ve been going to a local garage just down the street, and the experience has always been pleasant.

The business was started some 40 years ago, and the founder has never missed a full workday on Saturday, never mind the rest of the week. His son is also always there, and he’s as hard-working, knowledgeable and obliging as his father, though without the old man’s hard edge normally associated with self-made businessmen.

I doubt the two of them have ever taken a course in customer relations, but I’m certain they’d be qualified to teach one. They make the customer feel comfortable in the knowledge that the job will be done well and quickly. If a repair is unnecessary, they’ll say so. And the price they charge will always be fair.

Moreover, they routinely provide free services. Not just checking one’s levels and tyre pressure – most garages will do that. But once the old man spent an hour applying some mystery compound to a few scratches on my paintwork and then refused to accept any payment. His son, as outgoing as the old man is grumpy, gives me invariably useful automotive advice and once, when I was looking for a new car, gave me several issues of What Car? for free, to save me a walk to a newsagent’s.

Yesterday I met an 18-year-old youngster, the third generation of the same family, who has just started working in the garage. But his grandfather isn’t there to witness this generation shift. A month ago he was murdered by a burglar, in the house where his son and grandson grew up.

I had read about the murder in the papers, but without realising I knew the victim. When Mark, his son, told me about it I was shaken, while he bore his grief with traditional English stoicism, something rapidly falling out of fashion. ‘A burglary gone wrong,’ he quoted the police.

That statement presupposes that some burglaries go right, according to form, all perfectly civilised. A vicious criminal breaks into a house, helps himself to whatever he fancies and walks out whistling a merry tune. The owner offers no resistance, smiles benignly, thanks the burglar for his custom, then calls his insurance company first and, if he has nothing better to do, the police second.

Of course things don’t always go according to plan, and some burglars may fancy not just a few electronic gadgets but, say, the woman of the house, or perhaps the man if they practise an alternative and equally valid lifestyle. Occasionally, they may fancy a bit of nonsexual violence. Some of them may be homicidal maniacs. Others may be so drugged up that they can kill just for the fun of it.

So the occasion is replete with possibilities one doesn’t normally expect from other social encounters, such as having tea with the vicar. That’s why some people resist burglars – this without realising that they’re in fact resisting the modern ethos.

This was inadvertently made clear to me by an erstwhile colleague who reacted indignantly to my offhand remark that, if I found a burglar in my house, I’d do all I could to kill him. ‘How can you say that? The man is just doing his job!’ was my colleague’s reaction. Right. Just doing his job. Like a butcher, a baker and a candlestick maker. No moral difference – and increasingly no legal one.

The ratio of burglaries to arrests is about fifty to one, and burglaries to convictions hundreds to one. That means that the police make only nominal attempts to solve such crimes, and the judges only token efforts to punish them.

Clearly they act under instructions from government officials, who also regard burglary as just another job. Their  motives are clear enough.

Though I know one aristocrat who once did time for knocking off a corner shop, it’s a safe, if non-PC, assumption that most burglars come from the underclass created and cultivated by our spivocracy to ensure its own self-perpetuation. All that good work would go to waste if the government went all out to punish burglars. Let’s put it this way: welfare recipients deliver more votes than Fulham house owners.

God forbid someone would resist a burglar, perhaps even injure him. It’s the house owner who’ll go to prison, not the brutal criminal. The spivocrats know which side their bread is buttered.

The old man must have resisted. I’m sure it wasn’t the thought of losing his TV that made him so obstreperous. It was probably a sense of injustice: he started from very humble beginnings, worked hard every day of his life to make a good life for his family and to be able to afford a few expensive trinkets.

And now he was supposed to hand them over meekly to some worthless scum who has never worked a day in his life. The law offered him little protection, so he had to protect himself. And he died for it.

Since the burglary had ‘gone wrong’, as opposed to just right, the police actually caught the murderer. ‘He’s a 19-year-old south European,’ was how Mark described him. He didn’t specify the exact origin, but – call me a bigot and report me to our thought police – I’d bet a small sum the murderer is more likely to be Rumanian or Bulgarian than French or Italian. Nothing wrong about those people of course – the law, which is to say the EU law, says all are equally welcome.

You know what Mr Bumble would say about our laws, domestic or foreign-imposed, so I shan’t repeat it. Mr Griffiths at Shelby Motors, RIP.

Russia and Syria introduce a new monetary unit: a tonne

Yet again Russia teaches the West a valuable economic lesson, which one hopes will soon be heeded.

The first lesson was that when the state nationalises the economy, it had better murder everyone who disagrees, for otherwise this commendable effort will fail (François Hollande, ring your office).

The second lesson was that when the state denationalises the economy, its reins should be passed to a frankly criminalised elite. Otherwise the state will lose control first and face second, when trying to regain control by violent means.

And now a new, up-to-date lesson for our incoming Bank governor: the amount of quantitative easing (queasing for short) should be denominated not in monetary units but in metric tonnes. That way we won’t know what’s going on and will persist in the misapprehension that our rulers do.

The Russians have shown the way by printing 240 tonnes of Syrian banknotes and shipping the lot over to help Assad pay his bills. Some of the bills have been presented by the army, and it would be imprudent not to honour these at this particular time. How many piastres to a tonne? Until we calculate the answer, we’ll remain blissfully in the dark about the true scale of cooperation between the two fraternal regimes.

It has to be said that the Russians have form when it comes to printing currency other than their own. In fact, while Lenin (d. 1924) was still alive his secret police founded two laboratories, one of poisons, the other of counterfeiting.

The first has been in business ever since, producing for the needs of its idealistic state a broad range of educational tools, from bog-standard cyanide to sophisticated polonium. The latter compound was in 2006 used to highly publicised effect in the centre of London, reminding the world of the Russians’ continuing commitment to innovation.

The other laboratory is presumed dormant, but only because the evidence for its ongoing efforts is mostly circumstantial. For example, after the advent of simon-pure democracy in 1991, and especially after the collapse of the rouble in 1998, most business in Russia has been transacted in cash-and-carry dollars.

Now it ought to be remembered that before the advent of simon-pure democracy, possession of even a minute amount of foreign currency was an instantly imprisonable offence. Possession of cosmically high amounts, say $10,000, was grounds for a death sentence, usually carried out hours after being passed.

It therefore stands to reason that until 1991 only trivial amounts of foreign tender were in private hands. Suddenly a lot of green appeared out of the blue: overnight, billions of dollar banknotes began circulating through Russia’s anaemic economy. Where did they come from? Part of me, the cynical part, has to think that the second KGB lab had something to with it.

This time the Russians have used their time-honoured expertise to prop up Assad’s regime for which they feel an affection that’s only partly attributable to the billion-dollar defence contracts they get from Syria. It’s of course a law of human nature that most states feel kinship for governments that resemble them.

Thus Westerners, the less switched-on ones, have this warm feeling for any democracy, no matter how manifestly bogus or predictably short-lived. The Russians too have displayed this kind of emotion throughout their history.

For example, Russian tsars were inveterate supporters of monarchs anywhere in the world. Under Peter the Great, a derogatory remark not only about him but also about any foreign monarch was a capital offence. And his father, Tsar Alexei, expressed his unequivocal support for Charles I, then recently beheaded.

When the English Muscovy Company, which had enjoyed a near monopoly on Russian trade since Elizabethan times, applied for an extension of its licence, it was floored by the short uppercut of the tsar’s ukase: ‘Inasmuch as the said Anglic Germans have slaughtered their own King Carolus to death, we hereby decree that none of the said Anglic Germans shall henceforth be admitted to Russia’s land.

The Bolsheviks also felt more affinity for either Mussolini or Hitler than for any democratic statesmen. That’s partly why they entered the Second World War as Hitler’s allies by attacking Poland 17 days after the Germans. Ribbentrop summed up this friendship neatly when declaring at a Kremlin banquet that he felt as if he was among his own Parteigenossen. Stalin replied by saying, ‘I know how much the German people love their Führer. I’d like to drink to his health.’

Continuing this fine tradition, the Russians still support every tyrant in the world, your Hugo Chavez or Hamas types. That by itself is par for the course. But their recent money airlift to Assad introduces something new, yet another useful lesson Russia teaches the world.

Forget those puny wheelbarrows full of useless Weimar banknotes. As queasing shifts up through the gears, money should be measured out in plane loads. Admittedly, this would necessitate certain adjustments to our language, such as introducing the phrase ‘You look like a 100-weight of dollars.’ But it would be a small price to pay for a truly advanced economy.









Nigel Farage simply doesn’t get it

His actions in the last few days clearly demonstrate that Mr Farage has lost the plot. Not only does he continue to assail every ideal held dear by us progressive people, but in fact he doesn’t seem to grasp the very nature of modern politics, its ultimate raison d’être.

So what is the purpose of politics? More specifically, why do people enter this field? What are they trying to achieve?

Do they wish to dedicate their lives to serving their country? Do they hope to make things better for all of us? Do they aspire to promote liberty, justice and prosperity?

If you picked any one of these possibilities, you’re as hopelessly clueless and naïve as Mr Farage. For the true, ultimate purpose of politics, its desired and only end is OFFICE. Spelled just so, in all caps.

OFFICE! That’s why so many able and other young men, along with an appropriate quota of women, enter politics. For it’s not knowledge but OFFICE that is power. First obtaining and then hanging on to OFFICE for as long as possible isn’t the means of politics. It’s the end.

Nigel Farage achieved this end earlier this week when he was as good as offered a cabinet post by the Tories. The qualifier is necessary here for procedural reasons only. For Mr Farage wasn’t given a written contract, handed a pen and asked to sign. It’s just that Michael Fabricant, the Conservative Party’s vice chairman and its hair most apparent, floated the idea by Dave.

If you think it was just two comrades-at-arms chatting in a Commons restaurant over something red and reassuringly expensive, think again. It could have been done quietly, but it wasn’t. The gist of the discussion was immediately leaked to the press, which was then effectively used as the middleman asked to convey the deal to Mr Farage and gauge his reaction.

The deal was too good to turn down. Farage was to call off his UKIP hounds in every constituency where a Tory candidate had a remote chance of winning. As a reward he would fulfil his mission in life by securing OFFICE. As a little extra, he would get his silly referendum on Europe, so his ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’, in Dave’s moderate phrase, could choke on it.

Had such a deal been in place at the last election, the Tories would have picked up an extra 20 seats, enough to form a government on their own. The absence of such a deal in the next election will probably cost the Tories even more, what with UKIP well on its way to becoming Britain’s third party.

So Nigel Farage was offered OFFICE. A simple nod of his head and his life would have been fulfilled. All he had to do was toe the line, meaning he’d have to keep his mouth shut when told to. He would also no doubt have had to accept any meaningless wording of the referendum’s big question, but so what?

Naturally ‘the fruitcakes’, which is what true conservatives are called these days, would have felt betrayed. There would have been much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. But in the end they too would have shut up for they would have had nowhere else to go but into Dave’s welcoming embrace.

This wouldn’t have been a high price to pay. It would have been no price at all. For Nigel Farage was offered OFFICE!

And – are you ready for this? – he turned it down. How he dares call himself a politician is beyond any sensible person who understands what politics is all about. It’s not any set of principles. It’s not bono publico. It’s OFFICE. Mr Farage is clearly unfit for his job.

He didn’t just betray the essence of politics, he also was rude about it. ‘We could have a proper discussion,’ he said, ‘[only] if Cameron went… It’s very difficult for us to believe anything David Cameron says…’ You’d better believe every shifty word, Nigel, or kiss any chance of OFFICE good-bye.

Not only did Mr Farage spit into the hand ready to feed his ambitions, but he also had the bad taste to explain why.

‘We believe that Britain should [have] a government,’ he wrote in The Telegraph,  ‘accountable to the British people and none other.’ What a quaint, outdated, ‘loonie’ idea that is.

Moreover, it’s one clearly designed to mollify those despicable fat cats, who care about profits only and possess none of the real politicians’ altruistic, disinterested craving for OFFICE. Farage went on to prove just that: ‘In taxation terms, we have long called for those on the minimum wage to be taken out of the taxation system entirely.’

Well, maybe he proved something different, but just as ‘fruitcake’. Next thing you know he’ll be advocating a reduction in overall taxation. Call for the men in white coats.

And then Farage really showed his anti-progressive, ‘closet racist’ colours by saying, ‘In education, our support for… grammar schools… is something that is driven by a belief in equality of opportunity rather than some mirage of the perfect educational establishment.’

Equality of opportunity means that the capable and industrious, regardless of their background, will come out ahead of the stupid and indolent. If that’s not ‘closet racist’, I don’t know what is. It’s not equality of opportunity we want but equality of outcome and if that means everyone will be equally ignorant, then so be it. Even better, for an ignorant electorate will unflinchingly continue to vote for the likes of Dave or Ed.

And for such ‘loonie’ reasons Farage turned down OFFICE? And then an opportunity to make an eight-figure income, just like Tony, Dave’s idol and role model? Why, probe him, and he’ll probably mouth something about principles, honesty, patriotism and other such incidentals. Just goes to show how little he understands politics.

Indeed, Nigel Farage doesn’t just challenge the Tories. He and his party challenge our whole political class, the spivocracy that is ruining Britain. Clearly a man like that has no place in British politics. He’ll never be fit for OFFICE.





Boris’s epiphany on the road to Brussels

As a progressivist of long standing, I welcome Boris Johnson into the fold. Finally, and not before time, he has had his Damascene experience.

As Boris was riding his bicycle to the BBC studios the other day, he saw a flash of lightning and heard a clap of thunder. He screamed and lost consciousness. Or is it conscience? One can get terribly confused with all those cognates.

Anyway, when Boris came to he had a vision of Barroso standing by his side. “Boris why do you persecute me so?’ asked José Manuel. “You’re a berry-berry bad boy. Don’t you know what progress means? It means Brussels, among other things.”

“Thank you, Lord!” screamed Boris. “I’ve seen the light!”

He then pushed the bike aside, jumped on the nearby progressivist horse and rode it to the studio, where he carried José Manuel’s revelations to the world.

“Before I had my visionary experience,” spake Boris, “I drank! I caroused! I dallied with loose women!! Just a week ago – one week! – I was one of the few Tory lost sheep supporting an in-out referendum. But then José Manuel came to me and he showed me the way and the truth. It’s not an in-out referendum we need for our salvation. Only a referendum menu will save us from our own wickedness! A menu of all EU laws! We look at it, say yes to those we like and no to those we don’t like! Long live José Manuel! Long live progress! Alleluia!’

Of course a distinct possibility exists that José Manuel and other EU leaders may have a thing or two to say about Britain’s piecemeal membership, such as ‘Hijo de puta inglès’. But Boris’s party will allay their doubts by finding the right question to ask in the referendum, when it comes.

They’ll let José Manuel guide their hand as they inscribe “Do you think it might be a good idea under some undefined future circumstances to ask Brussels to give us back some of our sovereignty?” Yes, that’s it. Vote yes or vote no, it wouldn’t matter one way or the other. Happiness all around, salvation guaranteed. We’ll all go home singing the Progressive Hymn: “You put your left boot in, you put your right boot out! In out, in out, spinning all around! In out, in out, that’s what Boris is about.”

Seeing the spiritual light always rewards the man intellectually. True enough, his conversion enabled Boris to add the kind of subtlety to his thinking that’s beyond the reach of his erstwhile friends, infidels one and all. “With great respect to the in-outers, I don’t think it does boil down to such a simple question,” he said.

And then Boris let those simpletons have the benefit of his newly acquired nuanced thinking. If we left the EU, he explained, “We wouldn’t have any vote at all. Now I don’t think that’s actually a prospect that’s likely to appeal.”

I’d go even further and say that this prospect is likely to appal. But note the irrefutable truth in every revelation vouchsafed by Boris. If we’re no longer a member of the EU, we won’t have a vote in it. Who could argue with this? Now that Boris has said this, it sounds simple, like all eternal truths. But without him we would have stayed in the dark.

Now listen to this, you lost sheep of Brussels: “I think it would be a good thing at the right moment to settle the matter and ask people, ‘are you basically in favour of being in or out?’” That’s Boris speaking last week, before he fell off his bike. Just goes to show how a religious experience can change a man.

The march of progress rolls on, and Boris is now in step. He’ll be Tory leader one day, inheriting the throne of St Dave. But in order to get there, he ought to realise that, though the road to salvation ultimately leads to Brussels, there are many pit stops along the way, each housing a progressive issue of its own, and none can be skipped.

As a current example, consider the related issues of female episcopate and ‘gay’ (as opposed to morose) marriage. These are both virtuous, solid ideas, but the way they’ve been put forth isn’t progressive enough.

Perhaps Boris should next capitalise on his American heritage and propose a British answer to the notion of affirmative action, which has proved to be so productive in the States. It’s not enough to have women bishops consecrated, and homosexual couples married, in church – there’s nothing affirmative about it.

Boris proclaimed aim should be redressing the evil of tradition haunting our society since time immemorial. The truly progressive, and therefore unstoppable, measures would be to have only female bishops and only homosexual marriages. After all, both groups have suffered two millennia of discrimination, and they now deserve compensation.

Wouldn’t you like to see a woman bishop declaring a happy couple ‘man and man’? José Manuel and the rest of our progressive world would.

Oh yes, and of course even the natural, not just adoptive, children of UKIP members must be taken away and raised as wards of our progressive state. What a fitting punishment for apostasy that would be, and not a moment too soon.

Keep at it, Boris, carry the word to the heathen Brits. That’s how you’ll become a truly righteous man. And what is more, you’ll be a Prime Minister, my son.


A respectful answer to Tom Utley

I’ve never met Mr Utley but, judging by his work, he is a decent man without a rancorous bone in his body.

Moreover, his wife drives a London bus. Considering the pay structure at the Mail, Mrs Utley probably does so not out of dire necessity but as a hobby. If so, she ought to be saluted for proving that endearing English eccentricity is still extant. Mr Utley isn’t just a nice man, but also a lucky one.

Though self-admittedly an agnostic, Mr Utley, unlike his Mail colleague Andrew Alexander and everybody at The Times, is not a religion hater. He claims he respects the C of E, venerates the prose of its texts (those the Church itself unfortunately doesn’t venerate any longer), and he sounds as though he means it.

That’s why the questions Mr Utley raises in his article on women bishops deserve kind answers, not the contemptuous dismissal which is the lot of those whose animus towards God overrides their mental faculties.

Lamentably, many things he says, along with his conclusions, are still wrong. Some, however, aren’t. For example, he points out it’s illogical for the Church first to ordain women as priests, then refuse to consecrate them as bishops 20 years later. Indeed it is.

In fact, I know several Anglicans, as conservative now as they were then, who supported the first folly but opposed the second one. Their opposition to women bishops is therefore slightly compromised, but this doesn’t make it intrinsically wrong. To use a popular cliché, two wrongs wouldn’t make a right.

This aside, there are also important differences between bishops and parish priests. These have to do with apostolic succession, originating with the first Bishops of the Church, the twelve apostles, passing down to the bishops they consecrated, then on to those consecrated by them and so forth, to the present day.

Hence, while ordination of women weakens the already disputable claim Anglicanism lays to being an apostolic church, consecration of women bishops would demolish it. This would effectively turn the C of E into another Protestant sect, one of dozens. Those who not only respect the Church as a social and political entity but also love it as a sacred institution would find it intolerable.

That the Supreme Governor of the Church is at this historical moment a woman is an undeniable fact, but one that doesn’t rate the importance Mr Utley attaches to it. Mostly symbolic anyway, this title refers to the complex interaction between the secular and sacred realms in the English constitution.

Its origin goes back to the regrettable break with Rome caused partly by Henry VIII’s libido. Mercifully, however, subsequent monarchs have had only a steadily attenuating influence on the Church, and no sacramental role too play. The whole issue is interesting and debatable, but it has little relevance to the problem at hand.

Mr Utley hails women priests’ ‘huge contribution to keeping the leaking hulk of the C of E afloat’, which changed his otherwise conservative mind on female ordination. I don’t know how closely Mr Utley follows church affairs, but those of his fellow conservatives who do would question the size of this contribution.

The more intelligent among them also tend to regard the very presence of women priests as the biggest leak, one caused by the Church succumbing yet again to faddish secular pressure. Does Mr Utley know many female priests using the KJB and the Prayer Book, whose prose he rates so highly? If not, this is further proof that female ordination is a negation of every conservative principle he holds dear, not to mention the first two millennia of ecclesiastical history.

In fact, Mr Utley himself kindly provides another proof of this by saying that the Synod vote contradicts ‘the views of most of the British public who… regard the vote’s outcome as a gratuitous and baffling insult to women.’ The fact that this argumentum ad populum can be plausibly put forth at all is sufficient to argue in favour of disestablishment, which is the only debate where it belongs.

And surely a man who describes himself as a reactionary Tory can’t possibly believe that the majority is always right? Surely an intelligent man can’t possibly think most Englishmen are sufficiently conversant with the theological, historical and philosophical aspects of the issue for their views to have much value?

Mr Utley clearly underestimates the effect comprehensive education has had on ‘the British public’. And he is mistaken if he thinks that the Church should emulate our politicians by replacing its mind and soul with focus groups. The Church isn’t yet a purely political setup, Mr Utley, though it’s undoubtedly moving that way.

The C of E is indeed the national, established Church, but it’s still run, or rather ought to be run, on principles different from those applied, say, to the British Arts Council or the Social Service. Its allegiance should be to God, scripture and church tradition – not to the latest PC fad shoved down the throat of our brainwashed masses.

Mr Utley is absolutely right when he points out that Christ first revealed his resurrection to a woman. I’d go even further and say that moreover a woman was vitally involved in the incarnation, even though an omnipotent God could have achieved the same end without her. That he chose not to emphasises the unique status of women in Christianity, which is equal, and in the case of the Virgin superior, to that of any man.

Men and women are equal before God – but it’s a logical solecism to aver that ‘equal’ means ‘the same’. They both serve God, but they must continue to serve him in different ways. Christ himself communicated this nuance by first revealing his resurrected self to Mary Magdalene but then never consecrating her as an apostle. The logical inference from this was accepted as, well, Gospel by every believer for two thousand years.

Mr Utley respects the Church. That’s why he ought to refrain from repeating the facile arguments of those who hate it. He can do better than that.

Pent-up hatred splashes out in Rome

The vicious attack on Spurs fans in Campo de’ Fiori raises all sorts of questions, the most immediate one being why it took the police 10 minutes to arrive at the scene.

I can testify from personal experience that the Rome Central police station is located 50 yards from the square, if that. This I found out a couple of years ago after having been pickpocketed on a bus. The need to have insurance forms filled in took me to Campo de’ Fiori and the antediluvian police station.

‘Rubato!’ I exclaimed, drawing on my scanty Italian mostly consisting of musical and gastronomic terms. ‘Autobus?’ yawned the desk sergeant. He then uttered the Italian equivalent of ‘Well, what do you expect?’, gave me two endless forms to fill and went back to tapping something out on an ancient typewriter.

The computer age evidently still hadn’t arrived in Rome, but perhaps this little anecdote contains the answer to the original question. Breaking up an armed raid would have distracted the carabinieri from their work, which is to yawn, fill in forms and assist others in doing so.

Other questions are more interesting, and their implications more sinister. For the 50-odd masked attackers came armed not only with gas canisters, knuckledusters, knives and axe handles but also with anti-Semitic slogans. As a demonstration of pan-European solidarity they were screaming them in German. Perhaps they just thought that ‘Juden’ would be better understood than ‘ebrei’, or else they wanted to evoke the highly publicised interplay between Germans and Jews in the past.

This suspicion was confirmed last night when Lazio supporters screamed ‘Juden’ throughout the match (many Spurs fans are Jewish). They then put their sentiments into a modern context by unfurling a poster saying ‘Free Palestine’. Since for all practical purposes this slogan is interchangeable with ‘Kill Jews’, the implication came across loud and clear.

This is as strange as it is disturbing. Unlike the French, Italians aren’t known for excessive anti-Semitism. Even Italian fascism generally directed its hatred into other conduits.

Mussolini, an ardent Lazio fan himself, was personally anti-Semitic, but this doesn’t automatically mean he advocated anti-Semitic policies. For example, two of the tsar’s ablest Prime Ministers Sergei Witte and Pyotr Stolypin didn’t have much time for Jews either, the former despite (I hope not because) being married to a Jewish woman. Yet, for raisons d’état, both advocated emancipation of the Jews, including the abolition of the Pale of Settlement.

In a similar vein Mussolini didn’t discriminate against Jews and in fact welcomed them into his fascist party; until 1938 the proportion of Jews in it had exceeded their proportion in the population. It was only under severe pressure from the Germans that Mussolini introduced his anti-Semitic Manifesto della razza, stripping the Jews of Italian citizenship.

However, most anti-Jewish atrocities in Italy were committed by Germans, not Italians. The local population didn’t participate in massacres with the same gusto, or on the same scale, as in Eastern Europe and France, and in fact tried to save Jews, specifically in Rome.

So why this outburst of anti-Semitism now? It would take total disregard not only for reason and human decency but also for arithmetic to blame Italy’s troubles on the Jews. After all, there are only 28 thousand of them out of a population of 60 million, a proportion that’s roughly one tenth of that in Britain, itself not the most Hebraic land on earth.

An interesting detail is that the raiding party, organised with military precision, included not only Lazio but also Roma fans. I don’t know if you’re alert to the nuances of the Italian football scene, but this is a bit like Arsenal and Tottenham fans joining forces in any cause whatsoever – a sheer impossibility in other words.

Lazio is traditionally fascist, while Roma is communist, and, though any substantive difference between the two creeds is slight, their exponents do tend to hate one another. Reversing this trend probably testifies to the newly emerging pan-European solidarity I mentioned earlier.

Further evidence is provided by the carabinieri who eventually dragged themselves away from their real purpose in life, filling forms, to make some arrests. According to them, some assailants were actually foreign, though their nationality was not specified. This isn’t entirely unsurprising.

All new states have to be based on some sort of grassroots consensus, so why should the European state be any different? The possible ramifications of this particular consensus are too hard to calculate and too awful to imagine, but the new state has to work with what it has got. This brutal assault just may be a taste of things to come.

The last question is less apocalyptic in its implications, but interesting nonetheless. What on earth were those Spurs fans doing drinking in Campo de’ Fiori at 1.30 am? This market square may be in the very centre of Rome, but it’s not in a good part of the centre. Even though Giordano Bruno was burned there, it’s not a nice place to be.

According to the publican, the British fans were well-behaved, and one has to believe an eyewitness even if his observation is counterintuitive. Nonetheless, perhaps next time the fans will do their boozing in the much safer Piazza Navona or Piazza del Popolo.

On second thoughts, let’s hope they won’t. Let’s further hope that they’ll stop following their teams around the world altogether. Perhaps this incident will discourage them in the future. If so, then it’s the only good thing one can say about it.

The effrontery of The Times is only matched by its ignorance

First the effrontery: today’s editorial, densely covered with the foam falling out of the mouth of its rabid author, is titled Mere Christianity.

This title is shamelessly stolen from the book by the great writer, and even greater Christian, C.S. Lewis. His Mere Christianity is one of the most cogent works of Christian apologetics, sitting side by side with Chesterton’s Orthodoxy. By a sleight of hand, The Times is now nudge-winking us into somehow believing that its effluvia on women bishops has something to do with the views of that most orthodox of Christians.

Here’s what he actually wrote – not about the consecration of women bishops but about the arguably lesser affront of female ordination:

‘I heard that the Church of England was being advised to declare women capable of Priests’ Orders. I am, indeed, informed that such a proposal is very unlikely to be seriously considered by the authorities. To take such a revolutionary step at the present moment, to cut ourselves off from the Christian past and to widen the divisions between ourselves and other Churches by establishing an order of priestesses in our midst, would be an almost wanton degree of imprudence. And the Church of England herself would be torn in shreds by the operation.’

The title of the emetic editorial thus represents cynical effrontery. But then one considers the source and realises that nothing else is to be expected.

Now the ignorance: ‘The Church of England has acted like a sect and perpetrated a disservice to the nation and other faiths.’ These hacks are either insufficiently rigorous in their thinking or too vicious in their atheism to understand that it’s their pet measure that’s bound to turn the Anglican Church not just into a sect, but a secular one at that.

Disservice to other faiths? The only faith ever so slightly set back by the Synod’s ruling is atheist progressivism. If the authors of this obscenity had ever attended an Anglican service they would know that Christians recite the Nicene Creed, asserting their faith in one, holy, catholic and apostolic church.

Taking their lead from C.S. Lewis, they know that Anglicanism’s claim to being part of such a church is disputed by other, indisputably catholic and apostolic confessions: Roman and Greek. Their members claim that the severing of the English Church’s links with Rome in the sixteenth century broke the apostolic succession. Therefore, according to them, all Anglican priests, regardless of their sex, are improperly ordained. That’s why, for example, no Roman Catholic would go to communion in an Anglican church, whereas Anglicans have no such compunction in Catholic churches.

Anglicans, especially those of the Anglo-Catholic persuasion, argue against this exclusion, as they would. The theological arcana involved in their case are too recondite to ponder here in any detail. But the ecclesial argument is simple enough: the Anglican Church has retained the hierarchical structure of the other catholic confessions and has largely kept the catholic liturgy, mutatis mutandis.

The critical consideration that escapes the feeble grasp of The Times is that female consecration will mean that the Anglican argument, such as it is, will be instantly and irrevocably lost. The Church would have no right to claim that it is either one or catholic or apostolic. Consequently, before long it won’t even be able to claim it’s holy.

Like a thief who runs in front of a pursuing crowd yelling ‘Stop thief!’ louder than anyone else, The Times hacks are accusing true Christians of perpetrating exactly the crime they themselves commit in every venomous word. Should women be consecrated as bishops, the Anglo-Catholics will immediately go Roman or else take the Pope up on his generous offer of the ordinariate. Many evangelicals will likewise leave for various Protestant confessions. The Church will become not so much apostolic as apostatic.

What will be left of the Anglican Church is a cowed, browbeaten aggregate of apostates happy to break up with the past, with true Christianity and indeed with true Anglicanism. Instead they’ll be prepared to accept the diktats of the church-hating atheists who run our political parties.

‘Bishops are not always direct in their public comments,’ mouths off the editorial. ‘Like their chess counterparts, they have a tendency to move in zigzags.’ Chess bishops, chaps, don’t move in zigzags – they move in straight diagonal lines. It’s reassuring to see that these hacks’ ignorance extends even into such trivial areas.

I for one am sorry to see the paper that once was the envy of the world turning into its laughing stock. A sign of the times, I dare say.


P.S. Yesterday I predicted that within weeks the defeated proposal will be revived, like the phoenix of the Lisbon treaty rising from the ashes of the EU Constitution. I was wrong: it has taken not weeks or hours. ‘Bishop Welby,’ hectors the editorial, should press for the proposal… to be brought back quickly.’

Even more ominously, Frank Field, MP, wishes to introduce, and his fellow member of the Labour Party Dave Cameron supports, a bill obligating the Church to comply with the secular law against sex discrimination. If passed, such a law will open the door for the Church being forced to sanctify homomarriage, much to the delight of Matthew Parris in the same issue of The Times. Nothing divisive about that, of course, but I do wish Parris had the good taste to feign impartiality.   



There, there, loves, you’ll get it next time

It’s a measure of the importance I attached to yesterday’s vote in the Synod that last night I tuned to BBC News, a programme I’m under medical orders not to watch for fear of apoplexy.

The screen lit to life just in time to be filled with images of weeping priestesses. ‘Why are they all so fat and ugly?’ asked my wife, much to my displeasure. Such cattiness, such lack of chivalry and Christian mercy are simply not on. How much kinder it would be to say that most of the ladies made the Vicar of Dibley look svelte. And in a film on Biblical themes, any of them could be cast in the role of the Sinai desert.

One is loath to draw interconfessional comparisons, but most Catholic and Orthodox nuns one sees look gaunt and emaciated, the colour of their cheeks bespeaking night vigils in the service of the God they love. The visages of our ruddy lasses bespeak nothing but an inordinate affection for post-service cakes.

Not being an academic theologian, I can’t say for sure that there’s no scriptural support for servants of God stuffing their faces. There must be – about as much as for the idea of women being either consecrated or ordained.

And speaking of weeping women, Dr Williams, the outgoing Archdruid, was inconsolable. He spoke of his “deep personal sadness” and warned ominously that “This vote of course isn’t the end of the story.” Not to worry, Your Grace, I’m sure the Druids allow female shamans. Most pagan cults do.

But Dr Williams’s warning must be heeded. After all, the atheistic, anti-Christian measure so dear to his bearded heart draws its inspiration from some of the most pernicious secular fads. It stands to reason that its champions should deploy the tactics of the same provenance. Specifically, they should appeal to the EU for guidance on how to reverse offensive votes.

What could be easier? If the vote goes against you, you tell the electorate they didn’t get it right and will have to vote it again until they do. Teachers do that sort of thing in school, or rather they used to until they were told that there is no such thing as right and wrong – it’s all down to personal choice, innit? But in the old days they’d say, “No Johnny, this isn’t how you spell ‘can’t’. I want you to stay after school and write ‘can’t’ a hundred times on the blackboard.”

The Times, which had been waging a hysterical campaign for female bishops, says this vote ‘does a disservice to half the population’. By inference, it then does a service to the other half, so, on purely arithmetic grounds, this should be all right, zero sum and all that. Yet anyone who thinks that is missing the point: the half that welcomes the vote is the wrong half, and the other one is right.

For those in the right half this is indeed ‘a sad and shameful day for the Church of England’, in the parlance of The Times. Leaving apart the lexicographic fact that ‘sad’ is a modifier usually attached to animate objects only, why is it such a disaster?

Oh yes, you see, this tragic failure “will be felt keenly too by those not involved with the Church but who nonetheless see it as a leader for reform and justice.” Now that’s something one can understand. Atheists hate this decision because it went against them. Fair enough. As to atheists seeing the Church “as a leader for reform and justice”, I’d like to see factual support for this assertion.

In the absence of such, one is tempted to observe that the Church hasn’t acted in this capacity for the best part of 500 years, and good job too. It’s not the Church’s role in life to lead, or indeed follow, every moronic idea extruded out of the bowels of atheist, nihilist modernity.

The amazing thing is that those who’ve never seen the inside of a church are so interested in its toing and froing. You don’t play the game, you don’t make the rules, I’d say. Rather than praying to God, they’re supposed to worship at the altar of democracy. If so, they are guilty of apostasy.

Just listen to The Times, that tireless supporter of democracy in every tribal backwater on earth. “This decision was not the one wanted by the majority of the Synod… It was blocked because there were just enough members of the laity to do the blocking. And these people were not representatives of those who line the pews on the Sabbath.”

Chaps, have you ever heard of democratic constitutions? In every halfway civilised country a profound constitutional change requires more than a simple majority to pass, usually two-thirds, as in our established Church. This motion was blocked democratically, constitutionally and fairly.

As to those opposed not representing “those who line the pews”, it’s just sour grapes. How would The Times hacks know this anyway? Do you think whoever wrote this malicious drivel gets up early every Sunday to partake in the Sacraments? I very much doubt that.

“The first thing to do is to bring back a simpler, clearer proposal and win,” advises the editorial. Ah, so that’s what the Archdruid had in mind. Changing a word or two would give these sore losers a pretext for reintroducing this abomination not in a few years but in a few weeks.

The title should be changed too. It has to be something like ‘Equality and Justice’ rather than ‘Female Episcopate’. You know, if ‘the EU Constitution’ doesn’t go through, rephrase, call it ‘the Lisbon Treaty’ and resubmit. If that doesn’t work, keep changing the punctuation, you never know your luck. Yes, that’s it, a perfect model to follow.

Nothing can be ‘simpler, clearer’ than yesterday’s vote. Do we want women bishops? The Church said no. And when no isn’t taken for an answer, it’s called rape. Which no doubt awaits the Church in the near future. Meanwhile, we can be excused a little Schadenfreude watching the bastards squirm.

Montgomerie aims at The Mail but hits The Times

Tim Montgomerie’s harangues in The Times are getting tiresome. In the latest one he attacks ‘political entertainment’, as exemplified by Fox News in America and the unnamed Mail in Britain.

By itself there’s nothing wrong about that: all media these days gravitate towards the light intellectual end (note to Mr Montgomerie and his sub-editors: ‘media’ is plural in English). Where his article, Don’t Get Frothed into a Right-Wing Bubble, is deficient is in what he sees as the serious, balanced counterweight to ‘many of our best-read newspapers’, which is the lawyerly for The Daily Mail.

Mr Montgomerie calls himself a conservative, but he seems to have a very vague idea of what the word means. He is, however, crystal clear in what he dislikes: real conservatism, which he attacks with demagogic weapons borrowed from the arsenal of those who still think that Lenin was fundamentally correct if occasionally too hasty.

One of those weapons is ascribing to one’s opponents words they never uttered. Thus, ‘[The Mail, still unnamed] believes that you can cut the foreign aid budget or the Whitehall payroll and the deficit problem will largely be solved.’

I’ve never heard such an asinine view expressed by anyone, and certainly not by any Mail writer. What I have heard from many is that this foreign aid serves not to help what Mr Montgomerie describes as ‘the hungriest people on the planet’ but to beef up the offshore accounts of the nastiest people on the planet.

Does he think that neither foreign aid nor ‘the Whitehall payroll’ should be cut? If so, we’d be interested to hear his arguments, as distinct from demagogic rants.

Another gripe is about ‘the… columnists who can’t mention the EU without resorting to Second World War imagery – one [this is the lawyerly for Simon Heffer] most recently suggesting that Angela Merkel wanted to create the Fourth Reich.’

Mr Heffer surely can see for himself the differences between the German-dominated EU of today and the German-dominated Europe of yesteryear. He also no doubt feels it’s his duty to point out the worrying similarities.

Does Mr Montgomerie think that no similarities exist? Then he ought to be prepared to make a case for a single currency pegged now as it was then to the German mark, which benefits Germany only; Germany’s political and economic diktats to the rest of Europe; political structures retaining only a veneer of local autonomy but in fact dominated by Germany. Mouthing off is no substitute for thinking, Mr Montgomerie.

Then, exactly as he wrote a couple of days ago, he accuses right-wing ‘ideologues’ of not even beginning ‘to speak to the anxious voters who fear big business and market forces more than a helping hand from the government.’

Speaking to people who prefer handouts to hard work, while shunning those who create wealth, has produced the present crisis of world economies. Does Mr Montgomerie think this is how it should be? Really, his conservatism isn’t so much wet as drowned.

Talking to his fearful darlings isn’t cheap. Does he think we can sustain trillion-pound debts and a massive welfare state ad infinitum? If so, I for one wouldn’t mind an elucidation – but one based on facts and understanding, not girlish gasps.

Mr Montgomerie and his ilk are rearing scapegoats to blame for the likely defeat in 2015. Their argument is that the Tories failed to score an outright victory against the worst government in British history, and will probably lose against the very same bunch next time, because they weren’t sufficiently similar to Labour. It’s not that they didn’t offer enough of an alternative but that they offered too much.

I congratulate Mr Montgomerie for having found a perfect forum for his views in The Times, that scrupulously unbiased, if lamentably moribund, paper. Featured immediately above his harangue is a stupid and offensive cartoon showing a small missile fired by Hamas meeting in mid-air a much bigger one fired by the Israelis in the opposite direction. Both have ‘Because all we want is peace’ written on them.

The message is that both sides are bad, but Israel is much worse. This is consistent with the paper’s unremitting campaign against the only civilised country in the Middle East and for ‘the legitimate rights’ of terrorists. The Jews, if you read The Times, now drink the blood of Hamas babies, rather than Christian ones. The immediate proximity of the cartoon to Mr Montgomerie’s article has to be seen as divine providence.

And speaking of divine providence, The Times has been waging an equally vociferous campaign in favour of women bishops. Its intellectual content matches anything Mr Montgomerie is capable of, though I may be underestimating him.

In the same issue one can find refreshingly ignorant comments by Ruth Gledhill, religious correspondent. Ignorance about religion has to be a necessary qualification for her job, but surely it can’t be the only one? Yet this is the impression one gets from Miss Gledhill’s musings.

Every time she mentions, all in a purely unbiased way of course, a hypothetical  Anglo-Catholic bishop, she attaches a pejorative modifier, such as ‘camp’. Traditional Christianity ‘was bitchy and biased, chiefly against women’. The case against, according to this ignoramus and also today’s editorial, can be argued neither by the Anglo-Catholics on the basis of tradition nor by the evangelicals on the basis of Scripture.

What then should be the basis of an argument? Why, women’s rights, diversity, equality and other such wonderful things. If Miss Gledhill doesn’t realise that these have nothing to do with Christian doctrine, she should consider a career change.

Today’s unbiased editorial states unequivocally that ‘The Church will be strengthened by the consecration of women bishops.’ No doubt it will, if they mean the Roman Catholic Church that can expect a stampede of converts, should the vote go against believers in God and Christian orthodoxy and for believers in pandering to every half-baked secular idea.

The same woolly, ill-informed, unprincipled thinking, as exemplified by Mr Montgomerie, will do a similar service for UKIP, already a haven for conservatives who don’t want to be Labour in disguise. Real conservatives, either political or Christian, can’t win votes in the face of rampant modernity. But they can punish the stupidity and ignorance of those in power.