It’s Miller-out time

For those unfamiliar with American folklore, the title is an oblique reference to popular beer commercials whose slogan was ‘And now it’s Miller time’.

Extrapolating ever so slightly, it’s Miller time in British politics, a time when a trendy, empty-headed leftie like the eponymous Maria can sit on the Tory front bench as Her Majesty’s Principal Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Moreover, it’s a time when such a post, indeed such a department, should be seen as necessary – in a country that first showed the world how to organise government and now seems hell-bent on showing how not to.

A simple observation will demonstrate that the moment a state decides to govern culture through a specially designated ministry, the national culture takes a precipitous dip.

This is partly a case of post hoc, ergo propter hoc, for the existence of such a post betokens a tyranny, democratic or otherwise, and no form of tyranny is conducive to cultural expression. But in this instance the chicken and the egg exist in a symbiotic relationship.

For example, when the post was instituted in the nascent Soviet Union, Russian culture was in the midst of the so-called Silver Age, glittering with such names as Pasternak, Blok, Soloviov, Florensky, Levitan, Kandinsky, Prokofiev, Akhmatova, Tsvetayeva, Bunin.

Enter the 1917 revolution, and with it the People’s Commissar for Education and Culture Anatoly Lunacharsky. What happened next… well, you know what happened next.

The Nazi revolution also introduced a similar post in 1933, appointing Joseph Goebbels to the task of overseeing culture, mainly seen as an extension of his principal function of Hitler’s chief propagandist.

Germany at the time, and for the previous 250 years, was synonymous with Western music to an extent to which no other country could ever be described as synonymous with any other art.

And what was Germany’s most salient contribution to the world’s musical culture after the appointment? The Horst-Wessel-Lied. Boy, did he ever. A bit of a come-down after Schubert’s and Mahler’s lieder, to say nothing of Bach’s cantatas, wouldn’t you say?

Somehow all those Debussys, Ravels, Célines and Prousts had managed to deliver a reasonable output in France long before 1959, when André Malraux rode his white steed into a newly created post of culture minister. Alas, one struggles to point out the country’s blinding cultural highlights in the subsequent period. Perhaps Messiaen; c’est tout.

Our own culture department is, along with the Maastricht Treaty, John Major’s gift to the nation. Alas, in both instances this is a gift that keeps on giving – cultural subversion in one case, political debauchment in the other.

From 2012 the post of Culture Secretary has been graced by Mrs/Ms Miller and, if she has done anything at all to promote cultural excellence, it has escaped me. Let’s just say that the fruits by which one is supposed to know them are clearly tasteless and arguably poisonous.

Mrs/Ms Miller first caught my attention during last year’s Wimbledon, when she attacked the BBC for its bias. No, not its leftwing bias, which is clearly at odds with the BBC Charter, and shame on you for having thought that. After all, Mrs/Ms Miller is a modern Tory politician.

No, what caused her ire was a few unchivalrous remarks sports presenter John Inverdale saw fit to make about Wimbledon singles champion Marion Bartoli. Clearly this was a cosmic problem requiring cabinet-level involvement.

Immediately afterwards, Mrs/Ms Miller announced she would boycott that year’s British Open which is to golf what Wimbledon is to tennis. Why? Because it was going to be held at Scotland’s Muirfield club that doesn’t admit women.

That club is, of course, a private institution and therefore has as much right not to admit anyone as a member as you have not to invite anyone as a guest. But Mrs/Ms Miller had to justify her existence somehow, as if presiding over the barbarian onslaught on what used to be a great culture wasn’t enough.

Now that she has been caught with her hand in the expenses till, everyone and his brother is clamouring for her dismissal. My point is that she shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

We’ve lost the ability to see the woods of fundamental corruption for the trees of the most trivial kind. Don’t get me wrong: we don’t want expense-cooking cheats as our governors.

But, given the choice, I’d prefer to see fiscal dishonesty rather than a fundamental political, moral and philosophical corruption going by the name of modern British government.

One of its telltale signs is the very existence of Mrs/Ms Miller’s department – and another one is someone like her engaged in any politics above the level of a local PTA.

So yes, by all means it’s Miller-out time. And is it too much to hope that the ensuing vacancy will never be filled?

Islam in Britain: Should one question our hacks’ education, intelligence or sanity?

When it comes to Fraser Nelson’s Telegraph piece on this subject, possibly all three.

Making historical allusions without knowing much history suggests ignorance laced with arrogance.

Not being able to draw logical conclusions from observation hints at a lowish IQ.

And refusing to see the obvious betokens a clean break with reality, which is a reliable symptom of schizophrenia.

But judge for yourself. Mr Nelson’s Panglossian argument is that the Muslims are perfectly integrated in Britain, which contrasts her favourably with other European countries where the Islamic communities remain alienated from the ambient culture.

No doubt the Muslims running retail outlets in the better London boroughs indeed appear to be perfectly integrated. But contrary to Mr Nelson’s perception there’s a bit of Britain south of the Thames, east of the Tower and north of the A40.

If he seriously thinks that the Islamic communities in, say, Leicester, Birmingham, Leeds or Bradford are more English than, say, the banlieues of France are French, he either hasn’t seen those places or is blind.

It’s there that the denizens insist on Sharia superseding the law of the land. It’s there that forced marriages are practised, along with such other rather un-British things as ritual murders, beatings and, within mostly the Somali community, female genital mutilation.

And it’s there that thousands danced in the streets celebrating the World Trade Centre atrocity and then the 7 July massacres in London.

True enough, there are more cars burnt every year in St Denis than in Streatham, and during the riot seasons even Muslims born in France scream ‘Nique la France!’ (f*** France). But I haven’t heard of too many French Muslims blowing up buses full of their countrymen – as British-born Muslims have been known to do.

Drawing Winston Churchill in as support is simply disingenuous. Does Mr Nelson really think that quoting Churchill’s 1897 remark “Their religion – fanatic though they are – is only respected when it incites to bloodshed and murder” supports Nelson’s assertion that Churchill’s “criticism of the Afghan tribesmen was that their behaviour was un-Islamic”?

This is cloud cuckoo land, especially in the context of Churchill’s other comments on Islam, such as “No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith” or “The religion of Islam above all others was founded upon the sword… Moreover it provides incentives to slaughter, and in three continents has produced fighting breeds of men – filled with a wild and merciless fanaticism”.

Equally silly is referring to the Victorian ministers’ boast that Queen Victoria, with her millions of Islamic subjects, was “running the greatest Muslim power on earth”.

Surely any sane person with or perhaps even without secondary education ought to know that Victorian England wasn’t a Muslim power. It was a Christian power with Muslim colonies.

By the same token, the Queen’s empire included millions of animist subjects. Did that make Britain an animist power?

And how does Mr Nelson think Queen Victoria and her ministers would have felt about thousands of minarets disfiguring the skylines of British cities? Especially had they known that most mosques lent their premises to virulent anti-British propaganda and incitement to terrorism? I bet with a lot less equanimity than the ministers of our own dear Queen.

Quoting isolated instances of British Muslims protecting Jews in, say, Bradford is equally – insane, idiotic, disingenuous? Choose your own adjective.

Some Russian peasants took in half-dead GULAG escapees. Some Germans harboured Jews. However most Russian peasants turned the emaciated skeletons in for a pat on the back and a couple of herrings. And most Germans either collaborated with the SS or at least were enthusiastic about its nightmarish deeds.

Individuals, regardless of their religion, have a free choice between good and evil, and some will choose good. However, large groups of people are judged collectively, and the judgment has to depend on the predominant tendency.

From sociology on to theology: “Anyone serious about either religion will know that they both worship the same God…”

If Mr Nelson were serious about either religion, he’d know that they are chalk and cheese. Of course they all worship the same God: ultimately there’s no other God to worship, at least not for an exponent of an Abrahamic creed.

But this is neither here nor there. For we aren’t talking about the fine points of doctrine. We’re talking about a Muslim community integrating into an historically Christian society – which has been proven time and again to be impossible.

Actually, this incompatibility can indeed be traced back to the divergent doctrines. Christianity would be impossible without freedom of choice, and therefore of thought; Islam would be impossible with it.

In this life such freedom may eventually lead to atheistic secularism, as it has done in the West. But it also ineluctably produces a quest for pluralism and tolerance, while its absence produces the diktat to kill infidels and apostates.

Not all Christians are loving and tolerant, and not all Muslims are murderous fanatics. But the overall tendencies are unmistakeable, which is why the two religions – or rather the civilisations they produced – have been at daggers drawn for 1,400 years.

The formerly Christian West has sheathed the dagger a long time ago; the Muslim East hasn’t and never will. Witness the horrendous persecution of Christians throughout today’s Islamic world, complete with churches burnt and parishioners murdered.

Muslims living in Britain aren’t yet in a position to persecute Christians en masse. But there’s little doubt where their sympathies lie, which makes Mr Nelson sound utterly ridiculous when claiming that “The integration of Muslims can now be seen as one of the great success stories of modern Britain.”

The only way for Muslims to integrate is to lapse as Muslims, or at least not to follow their religion too closely. Muslims qua Muslims are, and will forever remain, an alien – and typically hostile – element within any Western society.

Not to see this is a sign of either ignorance or blindness. And to insist that Muslim integration is ‘one of the great success stories of modern Britain’ is wishful thinking bordering on insanity.

Foreign aid is nothing to be proud of, Dave

Only last week Dave claimed that his subversive campaign for homomarriage was his proudest achievement.

Now he has confused his supporters by shifting his object of pride on to foreign aid. Or rather on having kept his promise (and the UN target) to blow 0.7 percent of our GDP on fattening the Swiss bank accounts of assorted tyrants.

By contrast, the United States spends 0.19 percent of its GDP on foreign aid, France 0.45 per cent and Italy just 0.13 per cent.

But Dave promised he would hit 0.7 percent, and who says he doesn’t keep his promises?

“I am proud,” he declared, “of the fact that we have taken 0.7 of this year’s GDP and given it to the poorest countries in the world.” Or, to be exact, to the richest people in the poorest countries. But hey, let’s not get hung up on details.

For once Dave is being too modest. For not only did he hit the desired target but he actually overshot it by £320 million. Altogether he spent £11.4 billion of our money – a massive increase of 30.5 percent on the year before.

That’s more than a third the size of our defence budget, which has been cut not just to the bone but to the bone marrow. But do let’s keep things in perspective.

We need to spend money on the armed forces in order to protect the realm. Dave needs to spend money on foreign aid in order to protect his job. In his mind there’s only one choice. Yet the choice is wrong even on its own puny terms.

But then we already know that Dave isn’t very good even at his chosen vocation: getting votes by hook or, in his case, by crook.

Not only did he fail to secure an outright victory against comfortably the worst government in British history, but he has since demonstrated an unrivalled ability to repel the core Tory support even further.

His previous object of pride, homomarriage, was a brilliant demonstration of that ability, with Dave effectively doing the job of Nigel Farage’s campaign manager by shifting a quarter of potential Tory voters UKIP’s way.

This current squandering of public finances will run the other abomination pretty close, and Nigel must be rubbing his hands with glee. Here’s Dave, shooting himself in the other foot, the shot many traditional Tories will take for the starter pistol in their race towards UKIP.

But forget electoral politics. This side of the Notting Hill set, the main problem with foreign aid is neither economic nor political. It’s moral.

Foreign aid is external welfare, and it has the same corrupting effect as the internal kind. In both instances, I’m not talking about helping those who genuinely can’t help themselves.

Internally this category includes the old and the sick for whom welfare is the only way to keep body and soul together. Externally the category comprises countries victimised by some sort of catastrophic force majeure: famine, earthquake, tsunami, drought.

Developed countries don’t need outside help to handle such disasters. Others often do, and refusing help may lead to starvation and deadly epidemics. Even worse, such heartlessness would betoken a deficit of charity – the ultimate slap in God’s face.

When such help is offered, it should arrive in the form of food, clothes and medicines whose distribution must remain in the donor’s hands. Otherwise, the only people helped will be the tyrants running those countries.

For example, when a massive famine broke out in Russia’s Volga region in 1921 (that sort of thing always happens immediately after all revolutions aimed at universal brotherhood), Western countries rushed in to offer help. The most prominent was Hoover’s American Relief Administration, which did manage to feed 10 million people by insisting on controlling distribution.

Other donors weren’t as streetwise, and the Bolsheviks recycled much of the aid back to the West, only for it to return in the shape of hard currency. As a result, six million died, showing the way for future tyrants: guns aren’t the only weapons they can use for crowd control.

An infinitesimal portion of our £11.4 billion was spent to relieve natural disasters. The rest was squandered by our spivocrats to present an image of compassion to their fellow spivs (or their intellectually challenged victims), both at home and abroad. Some of the money went to countries rich enough to produce nuclear weapons and launch space satellites.

It’s characteristic that, while preaching and even occasionally practising austerity, our mock-Tory government has actually increased the budgets of two giant socialist projects, foreign aid and the NHS.

The former is occasionally criticised; the latter is off limits, enjoying the kind of immunity these days not even afforded to God. Both have little to do with their ostensible purpose, other than jeopardising it.

Our nation’s physical health would be better served by a mainly private system augmented by charitable funds. Other nations’ economic health would be more robust if we removed any barriers to free trade.

But that’s not the point, is it? The point is for Dave to come across as sharing and caring. Never mind the statesmanship, feel the image.

Seven a day was too much even in my younger days

Well, certainly not every day. Yet now doctors are saying that five a day, which was the previous recommendation, isn’t enough. That’s bizarre.

Even at a hormonally active age I had better things to do than to go at it like a hyperactive bunny rabbit all day long. Like reading, writing and mercifully very little arithmetic. Occasionally even going to work.

And I’d maintain that any reasonable, non-priapistic appetite ought to be slaked by one or two a day, with perhaps the odd peak activity when on a business trip.

It’s a sign of our licentious modernity that satyriasis and nymphomania should be pasted all over the papers under the guise of medical advice… Oops!

Never mind. My wife has just looked over my shoulder, as she so annoyingly tends to do, and said I ought to read the articles, not just scan the headlines.

What the articles are about, and anyone but a blithering idiot would realise this, is eating seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day – not the smut I, according to her, have on my mind. And isn’t it about time I started acting my age.

Well, I’ve now read the articles and I’m about to start acting my age. Part of this paradigm shift is insisting that my uninformed take on the headlines was less nonsensical than the articles themselves, or in fact the University College study on which they were reporting.

A portion of vegetables is defined as 80g. Seven times that makes 560g (I did do some arithmetic as a youngster). That’s a pound and a quarter to those fossils who are, like me, stuck in the Stone Age.

Call me a health Luddite, but this sounds like an awful lot. Let’s see.

A bacon sarnie for breakfast could perhaps accommodate a slice of tomato. Call it 20g.

A slice of pizza for lunch, with, say, a lettuce leaf and some other salady things on the side. Perhaps 40g in toto. Where are we so far? 60g? Now wine is made of fruit, does it count? Apparently not.

That leaves 500g, well over a pound to be gobbled up at dinner. That’s a lot of broccoli, too much actually, especially if you dress it with a little butter. Eating on that scale is how one gets fat, and surely obesity can’t be good for one’s health.

And wine still doesn’t count. Neither does that grappa in which one occasionally indulges after a slice of Black Forest.

All things considered, this seven-a-day business is clearly a non-starter for any self-respecting gentleman – or even a self-professed lady like my wife.

But hold on for a moment. The author of the study, Dr Ouinlola Oyebode (just think how far you’d go in life if you had a name like this), thinks what I’m saying is nonsense.

“The clear message here,” he says, God bless him, “is that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the less likely you are to die at any age.” Logically, if one is unlikely to die at any age, one is likely never to die.

Now we’re talking. Dr Oyebode doesn’t need God to bless him. Since only the deity can confidently promise immortality, he himself is God.

Stuff yourself with the green stuff at every meal and, whatever age you are, you’re unlikely to die. The logical inference is that, if you were a vegan and wholly reliant on veg for your sustenance, you could give Methuselah a good run for his money.

Yet the same book in which Methuselah is one of the dramatis personae only promises three score and ten. Fine, thanks to clean water and antibiotics, perhaps now the book could upgrade to three score and twenty-five. Add another year or two for good (and utterly boring) behaviour and, give or take a year, you arrive at the universal life expectancy in the civilised world.

Perhaps in a generation or two this will grow to 90, even 100. But that’s it: the likelihood of death for all of us is, in round numbers, 100 percent. A time comes when we are absolutely, unequivocally guaranteed to die no matter what we have for breakfast.

Even God Almighty stops short of promising immortality in this life, at least not until he comes again with glory and all that. Nor does he talk about eating fruit and veg in that context, though he does offer some rather imperative dietary advice in the first part of his revelation.

Yet following the commandments of that book isn’t whither we look for immortality these days. Booklets on diet and exercise are a much more popular option in our pagan, solipsistic age.

Death is now seen as not so much tragic as unfair. Death breaks modernity’s chief promise of a long, possibly indefinitely long, life.

Never mind what kind of life, never mind how meaningless and spiritually impoverished. We want to live! Physically! Parrots can last for centuries, so how come we can’t? Death is no longer a transition to a new life. It’s a promise broken.

So by all means, eat your seven a day if that’s what turns you on. But if you expect never to die as a result, you’re in for a letdown. 

Does the EU really have blood on its hands?

Nigel Farage has attracted spirited criticism for two separate sets of remarks based on the situation in the Ukraine. Some of the criticism was deserved. But not all of it.

It’s understandable that one political operator may admire another one’s technical command of his craft, without necessarily endorsing the ends to which such mastery is applied. This is what the UKIP leader probably meant when saying that Putin is the politician he most admires.

In a similar vein, a writer may admire another writer’s skill while despising his message. A pianist may praise another pianist’s fleet fingers without being enthusiastic about his interpretations. While fining a dangerous driver, a traffic cop may praise his car.

To be fair, Mr Farage explicitly disavowed both Putin’s personality and his policies, and he’s clearly not in favour of imprisoning journalists, although, if he read The Times regularly, he might rethink this position.

I’d also be tempted to add that Col. Putin not only imprisons his opponents, journalists or otherwise, but also occasionally has them bumped off without wasting taxpayers’ money on the pointless casuistry of legal proceedings.

But Mr Farage may not be aware of such details and, if he were, I’m sure he wouldn’t endorse them. Still, public figures must refrain from giving any encouragement to tyrants, and there’s no doubt that Col. Putin is one such.

This goes for politicians of the past as well. Does Mr Farage admire Lenin for coming out of obscurity to take over Russia? Stalin, for his devious skill in outflanking his fellow butchers Trotsky and Bukharin? Hitler, for twisting Hindenburg’s arm to appoint him Chancellor? Mussolini, for doing something similar to King Victor Emmanuel? Mao, for ousting Kuomingdan?

I bet he doesn’t. So it’s best not to shoot from the lip, especially when one is in one’s cups. The absence of such self-restraint smacks of irresponsibility, and this isn’t a quality we like to see in our politicians – even (especially?) in those with whom we agree on many issues.

Farage’s other related remarks, those on the EU having Ukrainian blood on its hands, deserve to be taken more seriously, if not altogether approvingly.

Again, I don’t know how familiar he is with modern history, but the West does have an unenviable record of first encouraging popular uprisings in oppressed countries and then getting cold feet at the last moment – only to see the uprising drowned in blood.

In 1956, through the good offices of the CIA-controlled station Radio Free Europe, the West, spearheaded by the USA, all but called young Hungarian patriots to arms.

They promptly rose, only to find out in short order that the support they were promised didn’t extend beyond hollow speeches. Soviet tanks rolled in, crushing the uprising under their tracks. Thousands died, another 45 years of slavery ensued.

In 1961 the CIA went further than mere encouragement. The Agency funded, trained and armed Brigade 2506, a group of patriotic Cuban paramilitaries yearning to reclaim their country from Castro’s bloodthirsty dictatorship.

On 16 April the 1,500-strong brigade landed at Playa Girón in the Bay of Pigs. Their chances of success were good: the patriots could rely on both public support and, more immediately important, the air support promised by President Kennedy.

Its primary role was to cut off the causeway through which Castro’s Soviet-made tanks could arrive at the beach. Yet at the last moment Kennedy chickened out, as Americans would say. The promised air support didn’t materialise, the causeway wasn’t bombed, the tanks arrived and the brigade was butchered.

In the first instance, the CIA didn’t hang any Hungarian students off Budapest lamp posts. In the second, it didn’t massacre Brigade 2506. Yet from any moral standpoint it can’t be absolved of guilt. In that sense, one would be justified to say that the USA had some blood on its hands.

But most of it was on the hands of the actual perpetrators, those who pulled the triggers, drove the tanks, soaped the ropes, tortured and killed. Above all, covered by blood from head to toe were the evil regimes against which the people rose with self-sacrificial heroism.

It’s tempting to think that such moral distinctions are too fine for all practical purposes. But moral law, like any other, accepts gradations of guilt. Thus, in the examples I cited, it would be wrong to hold the USA solely or even mainly responsible for the massacres. Yet equally wrong would be to absolve it of guilt altogether.

This preamble should explain why Nigel Farage was right in saying that the EU has blood on its hands, meaning the blood of those, mercifully few, Ukrainians so far killed over the last month. But such remarks are spurious unless they are counterbalanced by the sort of nuanced analysis I attempted above.

Yes, the EU was wrong to encourage open resistance against the rule of Putin’s puppets – unless it was prepared to offer tangible support in case of an utterly predictable backlash. No, the EU isn’t the main culprit here. This honour belongs to Putin and his cronies, both inside and outside Russia.

Professing admiration, however qualified, for Col. Putin is ill-suited to the role of such a counterbalance. In general, it’s best to refrain from controversial statements on subjects about which one knows little.

Then again, unlike the three mainstream parties UKIP has a serious argument to make. And any argument is by definition polemical: one argues not only in favour of some proposition but also against another.

Polemical fervour has been known to encourage ill-considered off-the-wall remarks, but serious politicians tend to avoid those. By failing to do so Nigel Farage did his party no favours. Moreover, he may have reinforced its undesirable image of a single-issue campaigner.

This isn’t to say he has no point at all in some of his remarks: the EU can indeed be held partially responsible for the bloodshed. Most of those who attacked Farage probably refuse to admit it.

Apologetic Putin gives the Crimea back – and other earth-shattering news

Shamed by Nigel Farage’s professed admiration of him, Col. Putin has issued this statement:

“Both personally and as President of the Russian Federation, I am grateful to Mr Farage for this accolade.

“However, I can only regard it as credit issued, something in need of repayment. For, as an honest man, I have to admit that my recent annexation of the Crimea, along with the aggressive wars I earlier launched against Chechnia and Georgia, ill-qualifies me for the admiration of such a great Westerner as Mr Farage.

“In light of that, I am announcing that the Crimean referendum is hereby declared invalid. I have ordered a summary withdrawal of all Russian troops from the peninsula, along with a complete stand-down of the contingent amassed along Russia’s border with the Ukraine.

“Much as I, along with many of my countrymen, may regret this, the Crimea is a legitimate part of the Ukraine, whose territorial integrity was guaranteed by the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. As one of the signatories to this document, Russia must abide by it.

“Moreover, I hereby renounce all future territorial claims on our neighbours and pledge not to solve any potential conflicts by force.

“I also thank my good friend Nigel for helping me see the error of my ways.”

On a day replete with earth-shattering news, Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has issued a statement of his own:

“I and my cabinet colleagues have thought long and hard about the future of Britain.

“After all, and I am man enough to admit that at times I forgot this, our brief is to look after the good of the country, not just our own good.

“I realise that what I am about to propose may jeopardise my electoral chances, but a moment must arrive in every man’s life when his actions have to be driven by his conscience, not career considerations.

“Therefore, I shall put before Parliament the following bills for which I and my cabinet will campaign tirelessly and conscientiously:

“This government proposes to withdraw from the European Union effective immediately.

“The British Parliament is entitled to pass any law, other than its own abolition. Though we may not have realised this at the time, the Maastricht Treaty was exactly such a law: Parliament has become emasculated and effectively lost its sovereignty.

“Hence I am declaring Britain’s membership in the EU null and void. Following parliamentary approval, the measure will become law – as, in view of the overwhelming cross-party support, there is no serious opposition to it.

“I am also proposing a bill obliging my and any future government to abandon any deficit spending at peacetime. Our profligacy has effectively bankrupted Britain, and this is exactly the situation I am committed to reversing.

“To fulfil this pledge, a drastic rollback of the welfare state will be necessary. I believe strongly that this is desirable even notwithstanding any economic considerations, for the welfare state – as opposed to just and charitable social provisions for the old and infirm – corrupts both its clients and society at large.

“My government will no longer attempt to buy the people’s vote. We aim to deserve it by putting forth policies promoting the common good.

“This applies to the moral good as well. Acting in this spirit, I propose to repeal the law allowing same-sex marriage, and I apologise for my former championship of it.

“I now realise this was a tragic mistake, with destructive social and moral consequences.”

Not to be outdone, President Obama has welcomed Mr Cameron’s initiatives and declared that he was committed to duplicating them in the United States. He has also renounced any support for the legislation commonly known as ‘Obamacare’.

Mr Obama has also committed the US administration to a Middle Eastern policy strategically aimed at negating the Islamic threat, rather than at promoting nebulous democracy in the region.

The president issued a mea culpa for not having realised sooner that the two desiderata are not so much complementary as mutually exclusive. “We must all learn from our mistakes,” said Mr Obama. “I now know that an aggressive pursuit of democracy in the Middle East can only lead to an Islamic radicalisation of the region.”

In a parallel development, the governments of all Islamic states and the Palestinian Authority have declared that they now recognise the legitimacy of the State of Israel, regret the bloodshed they have caused and undertake henceforth to solve any future problems by peaceful diplomacy.

While enthusiastically supporting this declaration, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani has stated that Iran is stopping its nuclear development programme with immediate effect. “As Allah is my witness,” said Mr Rouhani, “with our oil deposits we don’t need nuclear power for any peaceful purposes. And these are the only purposes we have.”

The United Nations General Assembly has endorsed this development, also announcing that it is stopping all promotion of the global-warming agenda “until such time that we have some reliable scientific evidence in its favour”.

In response to this announcement, all Western European governments have suspended the development of the energy resources based on wind farms and solar panels. Instead they have decided to redouble their efforts to expand the network of nuclear power stations and also to accelerate the adoption of hydraulic fracturing as a means of extracting shale gas.

The European Union, galvanised by Britain’s withdrawal, has abandoned its aim of ‘further pan-European integration’ in favour of purely economic cooperation based on a series of bilateral treaties among European nations.

Happy All Fools’ Day!