You’re in the wrong job, Your Grace

A financial consultant shouldn’t have fundamental misgivings about the morality of money.

A geography teacher shouldn’t doubt that the Earth is round.

A nuclear physicist shouldn’t wonder if the atom is really divisible.

If these professionals are indeed beset by such doubts, any sensible person would be justified in thinking they should seek a different line of work.

So what’s one supposed to think of a Christian prelate who publicly admits doubting the existence of God? Especially if he then talks about it at a theological level normally associated with a composite of Chesterton’s ‘village atheist’ and ‘village idiot’?

Exactly the same thing, I dare say. That he’s in the wrong job.

Apparently his Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury experiences his primal doubts on his morning jog, making one wonder if his predecessors in the job, such as St Augustine, St Anselm or William Laud, ever felt the same way – or indeed jogged.

What makes His Athletic Grace so uncertain is the undeniable existence of suffering in the world. Apparently he asks himself the same questions that have been asked by, before and after David Hume:

“If God allows suffering and [insert any disaster of your choice], then he isn’t good. If he doesn’t know about it, then he isn’t omniscient. And if there’s nothing he can do about it, then he isn’t omnipotent.”

All such queries are posed by intuitive atheists seeking to post-rationalise their atheism. That’s the only explanation of why undoubtedly intelligent men, such as David Hume, always sound like children with learning difficulties when asking (or especially trying to answer) such questions.

That’s exactly how His Grace sounds: “We know about Jesus, we can’t explain all the questions in the world, we can’t explain about suffering, we can’t explain loads of things but we know about Jesus. We can talk about Jesus – I always do that because most of the other questions I can’t answer.”

This is the kind of tirade one would expect from a half-crazed, megaphone-toting sectarian in Trafalgar Square, screaming “Jesus is coming! The end is nigh!!!” It’s rather incongruous coming from the leader of one of the world’s three apostolic denominations.

Of course we can’t explain the entire mystery of God, this goes without saying. Any man able to do that would himself be God, which few claim this side of a lunatic asylum.

But there are “loads of things” that anyone with even a cursory knowledge of theology should be able to tackle with reasonable confidence.

The existence of suffering is one such thing: a theologian may explain it in the context of wrongdoing, both individual, of the kind all of us commit regularly, and collective, otherwise known as Original Sin, that of disobedience to God.

Augustine, for example, ascribed evil, and by inference suffering, to the abuse of free will first perpetrated by Adam and Eve. This distorted the original perfect harmony of God’s creation, both in man and nature. Hence the suffering.

Aquinas went even further. He too treated suffering in terms of cause and effect, but he emphasised that every form of existence, including suffering, has a meaning and ultimately contributes to the goodness of the world.

Suffering dialectically emphasises the just order of the universe, and God inflicts it as punishment for that very purpose. Augustine would have agreed: central to his theodicy was the concept of ‘privation’, according to which evil isn’t an entity in itself but merely the absence of good.

Moreover, if imitating Christ is the goal of a Christian life, then any Christian, never mind a prelate, ought to be aware of the redemptive, and therefore positive, value of suffering. Personal observation vindicates this: most people who have suffered grievously emerge the better for it spiritually, intellectually and morally.

I’m merely scratching the surface here, which is all this abbreviated format allows. However, even as strictly an amateur in such matters, I could probably delve quite a bit deeper if pressed.

Yet in this area, as in all others, I defer to professionals, those who have single-mindedly devoted their whole lives to pondering the meaning of God and his creation.

One would like to assume that this category includes the leader of the world’s 80 million Anglicans. Yet His Grace Justin Welby has evidently set out to prove how far this assumption is from the truth.

With prelates like him, is it any wonder Anglicanism has such a hard time in Britain? One almost feels like repeating Henry II’s plea “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?”, issued in relation to another Archbishop of Canterbury.

Except that in this instance one could think of a few modifiers that would be more emphatic than ‘turbulent’.





Crimean Tatars: is another genocide under way?

Yesterday Putin’s storm troops made a move on Crimean Tatars, a people whose claim on the peninsula predates the Russians’ by centuries.

Ever since the anschluss of the Crimea last March, the Tatars, who make up about 12 per cent of the population, have been on the receiving end of persecution.

This went beyond your normal common-or-garden jostling for position and the odd offensive word on public transport.

The more vociferous Tatars would simply disappear in the middle of the night, many others were roughed up, and all the rest scared into relative silence.

Traditional Russian xenophobia was a factor, but mainly the persecution was caused by the Tatars’ refusal to accept the annexation as legitimate.

Hence they refused to take part in the sham referendum conducted at gunpoint, instead demanding autonomy under their own parliament, the Mejlis.

The Russian propaganda machine went in high gear, opportunistically portraying the Tatars’ stubbornness as some form of Muslim jihadism, linked to al-Qaeda, the IS and other newsworthy groups.

This doesn’t quite explain why the Tatars never displayed such proclivities under the aegis of the Ukraine, when they led quiet, peaceful lives. Nor is it clear why these putative jihadists are staunch Europhiles to a man, and why they never showed any hostility to non-Russian Christians.

After all, it’s the Ukrainian flag they have been flying off the Mejlis building, not the green banner of Islam – this in spite of the Ukrainians’ less than cordial feelings about the Muslims.

One way or the other, Putin’s storm troops seized the Mejlis building yesterday, simultaneously harassing and ransacking many Muslim households.

In the aftermath, Mustafa Dzhemilev, the spiritual leader of the Tatar community, described the Putin regime as “worse than in Soviet times”. That is saying a lot.

For in Soviet times, exactly 70 years ago, the Tatars suffered one of the worst demographic catastrophes of all time.

Stalin held the entire Tatar population of 238,500 collectively responsible for the actions of the 9,225 Tatars who had fought on the German side.

As a result, on 19 May, 1944, they were all rounded up by 32,000 NKVD troops, loaded into cattle trucks and deported to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Siberia. By 1 January, 1947, 109, 956 of them had died of starvation, disease and maltreatment.

Collective responsibility is a time-honoured concept, but it has to be said that the Soviets applied it selectively. For example, at least 1.5 million Russians fought against Stalin during the war, with millions more cooperating with the Germans in non-combat capacities.

Should the whole Russian population have been deported too? The thought no doubt crossed Stalin’s mind, but he regretfully abandoned it for the obvious logistic difficulties.

(Interestingly, during the 1812 Napoleonic war not  a single Russian soldier switched sides – this in spite of the army being made up of serfs, effectively chattel property. The pandemic outbreak of treason in 1941, 24 years after the advent of social justice for all, requires an explanation which it doesn’t quite receive in Putin-inspired history books.)

Smaller groups were easier to handle, hence the gruesome genocide not only of the Tatars, but also of the Chechens, the Balkars, the Kabardins and others in the region. Wholesale deportation of Jews was also planned, and only Stalin’s death prevented another Final Solution.

Towards the end of the 1980s all those groups had been exonerated and allowed to return. The Chechens probably wish now they hadn’t been quite so quick to do so – courtesy of successive post-communist Russian administrations they’ve been decimated in two horrible wars, the last one started specifically to tighten Putin’s hold on power.

Now it’s the Tatars’ turn. By now their Crimean population has built up back to the pre-deportation levels, with another 150,000 or so having wisely decided to stay in Uzbekistan.

Yet one can understand those who have returned: it is, after all, their ancestral land. Between the 15th and late 19th centuries, the Tatars were by far the largest ethnic group in the Crimea.

Until the 1768-1774 Russo-Turkish War, the peninsula had belonged to the Ottoman Turks. The treaty signed at the end of the war made the Crimea independent, but Russia’s compliance with such documents has never been of sterling quality.

In 1783 Russia violated the treaty, and Grigory Potemkin, Catherine II’s morganatic husband, annexed the Crimea, earning himself the title of the Prince of Tauris (the Greek name for the peninsula) and her the soubriquet of Great.

Since then the Tatars have been clinging to their old land mostly for nostalgic reasons. Those not given to such emotions have been fleeing in droves following each outburst of hostilities in the region.

Many of those who didn’t flee were expelled, occasionally for the same reason as they were deported by Stalin: insufficient loyalty at wartime. Each time emigration and expulsion combined to reduce the Tatar population.

This happened in 1812, after the 1853-1856 Crimean war, and especially after the Russso-Turkish war of 1878-1879, when 200,000 out of the 300,000 Tatars left the Crimea.

This brief retrospective glance ought to explain why the Tatars’ affection for the Russians isn’t without limits, which feelings are widely shared by all ethnic groups that have ever found themselves in close proximity to the Third Rome.

At the moment the Crimean Tatars are fearing yet another genocide, which in view of their history can’t be wholly ascribed to groundless paranoia. One doubts that yesterday’s events will go a long way towards allaying such fears.





Independence means greater dependence in Scottish

Socialism corrupts; socialism plus nationalism corrupts absolutely.

With apologies to Lord Acton for this slight paraphrase, it does explain the morass into which Scotland has sunk.

The Scots used to be a proud, and proudly self-sufficient, people of empire builders, engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists, statesmen, writers, philosophers and economists, one that punched way above its weight in British life.

Then came the age of handouts accompanied by the fanfare of socialist propaganda. This wasn’t the Scots’ fault: both the handouts and the propaganda arrived courtesy of HMG.

It is, however, their fault that they responded with so much alacrity, not realising the lasting, probably irreversible damage socialism does – not merely, nor even primarily, to the economy, but to the people’s mentality.

This is true of individuals and just as true of nations, as epigrammatically expressed by that great Scot Adam Smith: “What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom.”

Unemployment and the dole destroy the traditional bonds that have taken centuries to build. The first bond that suffers is the one binding families together: when the family loses its economic function, in due course it’ll lose all others.

Step by step, a talented, self-reliant nation thriving on its talent, hard work and thrift was corrupted to become an aggregate of disaffected, indolent and resentful welfare recipients.

When people lose their erstwhile backbone, their minds will soon follow. They squander the ability to think straight, replacing it with a Pavlovian response to purely emotional stimuli.

This creates the troubled waters in which assorted demagogues can then fish. When people no longer hear the voice of tradition in their souls, they’re ready to listen to anyone and anything.

Demagogues are like bullies: they have an animal-like instinct for weakness. Once they’ve detected it, they pounce.

Thus, courtesy of the hideous Alex Salmond and his jolly friends, Scotland’s socialism acquired a nationalist tint, a combination historically proven to produce disasters.

A mere 100 years ago the Scots would have seen through the venomous waffle, but that was before their brains got concussed by several decades of moral and intellectual corruption. Now they are at the demagogues’ mercy.

A reader of mine illustrates this unwittingly. He has obviously swallowed the propaganda whole, not bothering to chew on it and thus taste its rancid flavour.

 I’m a middle aged working class man who wants his country to be a normal western democracy. Electing it’s own government & running it’s own affairs,” he writes, the odd grammatical solecism failing to subtract from the depth of feeling.

Much of this feeling I share. I too want my country, Britain, to be independent. That’s why I despise our supine submission to the diktats of the EU, a diabolical contrivance we should never have joined.

Like Esau, we’ve sold our birthright. Unlike Esau, we didn’t even get a mess of potage in return. All we got is a pot of message, generally meaningless and invariably mendacious waffle.

I could understand, indeed welcome, a proud Scotland declaring she wants none of that. She refuses to belong to a union more than half of whose laws are imposed by Brussels bureaucrats. She’ll go it alone, taking her chances as an independent nation.

But that’s exactly the opposite of what the Scots, including my reader, are saying. They crave joining the EU and becoming its minor province, with half the population of Portugal and inevitably half as much say in their own affairs.

My reader enunciates this desire quite succinctly: “Here is an unpalatable possible (probable even) prediction: by 2018 we could be out of Europe, and under the jurisdiction of a Conservative-UKIP coalition led by Boris Johnson…”

From your mouth to God’s ear, my friend, I’d say, even though I don’t think we’ll ever have a government with enough guts to regain Britain’s independence,  don’t believe that a Tory-Ukip coalition (in the unlikely event it happens) will do so either, and don’t particularly like Boris Johnson.

But it’s not my thoughts that matter here, but my reader’s and, by inference, many other Scots’. These are reasonably clear – and clearly confused.

Unhappy with belonging to the union in which they are equal and even somewhat privileged partners, they wish to replace it with vassalage in another union in which they’ll be treated as poor cousins thrice removed.

Also shining through my reader’s prose is hatred of conservatism, either with or without the capital initial. This is understandable in a nation whose soul has been corrupted by the social.

It’s not as if Tory governments skimp on welfare handouts: it’s just that some residual pressure at the grassroots prevents them from being quite so criminally irresponsible as Labour administrations.

Thus Dave’s promise “I won’t be here forever”, which came at the end of his emetic grovelling, was music to my ears but not the Scots’.

No Tory government will please them, even if it’s led by someone like Dave, who has as much to do with conservatism as the Korean People’s Democratic Republic has to do with either democracy or republicanism.

They are appalled by the very possibility that the Tories may form any government in the future. No such government can possibly be legitimate in their eyes.

My reader is also upset by the “ludicrous hypocrisy of lectures to other countries about weapons of mass destruction, while spending even more billions on Trident ourselves”.

The number of billions we are spending on welfare, of which Scotland is proportionately the greatest recipient in the UK, is four times the number of billions we spend on defence. And our nuclear deterrent only takes up a small portion of that grossly inadequate budget.

Obviously the Scottish Socialist Republic my reader envisages will have no need for defence – this function will be delegated to the EU, and we know what a formidable military power it is.

But Britain, while she was still independent, was an important (and in 1940 the only) obstacle in the way of even nastier forms of socialism than those my reader seems to favour. Our post-war nuclear deterrent was a significant factor in that – relinquishing it would spell abandoning any hope of ever regaining our independence.

Then again, with the inversion of meaning so common to our brave new political lexicon, independence now means greater dependence.

At the end of his letter my reader apologises for his “lack of eloquence”. Actually there’s little wrong with his eloquence (I wonder if he’s as fluent in Gaelic, but this is by the bye), which is unfortunately more than one can say for his thoughts.

I hope and pray that he and his fellow Scots will see sense at that last moment on Thursday. If not, they’ll never again use words in their true meaning.














Dave on Islam: our heir to Blair plagiarises Dubya

It was the current American VP Joe Biden who set the precedent.

During his 1988 presidential campaign Biden repeated word for word Neil Kinnock’s speech on being the first in his family to go to university. Sorry, it wasn’t quite word for word: Joe did replace ‘the first Kinnock’ with ‘the first Biden’.

Personally, if I wanted to steal somebody’s speech I’d choose a more illustrious model. I hope you won’t find me disrespectful, but I don’t think Neil was easily confusable with Demosthenes or even Churchill.

But one chooses rhetorical heroes after one’s own heart, on the basis of subcutaneous kinship lying deeper than facile oratorical skills, or lack thereof.

This may explain why Dave chose to plagiarise George W. Bush when commenting on the murderers of the British hostage in Iraq:

“They boast of their brutality; they claim to do this in the name of Islam. That is nonsense. Islam is a religion of peace. They are not Muslims, they are monsters.”

This repeats almost verbatim what Dubya declared after 9/11. He then proceeded, with Blair’s help, to unleash a stupid and criminal war that put paid to about a million exponents of the peaceful religion and inflamed millions more.

The statement was cosmically stupid and ignorant when first aired, and a repeat performance doesn’t make it any less so.

Of course they aren’t Muslims, Dave. They are Buddhists. We all know that. It’s the world’s 350 million Buddhists that have been involved in just about every armed conflict over the last 20 years, and hundreds of them over the last 1,400. It’s those saffron-robed chaps who can’t resist blowing up buildings and public transport. They are the monsters.

No? Then perhaps we’re ready to admit that not all religions are equal, that some indeed inspire peace and some – emphatically like Islam – don’t.

Calling Islam a religion of peace betrays improbable ignorance, especially on the part of someone as expensively educated as Dave.

From its very inception, Islam was rather weak on theology but strong on violence.

The former is a patchwork quilt of scraps ripped out of Nestorian Christianity, Judaism, Zoroastrianism or whatever else Mohammed could pick up with the ease of an autodidact.

The latter, however, was his hallmark from the very beginning, or at least since his move from Mecca to Medina. This explains why the later verses of the Koran are considerably more bloodthirsty than the earlier ones – but never mind the words, feel the deeds.

The founder of Islam wasn’t a crucified martyr who taught to turn the other cheek. He was a brigand and a military reader, adept at raiding caravans and sacking towns.

His creed proved to be the catalyst to violent conquest whose pace was unprecedented in history. Unlike Christianity, which was first spread by peaceful and usually self-sacrificial sermon, Islam was propagated by exactly the methods currently on display in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Here’s an excerpt from the earliest Muslim biography of Mohammed, showing that in addition to inspiring murder the Prophet wasn’t averse to committing it with his own hand:

“Then [the Jewish Qurayza tribe] surrendered, and the apostle [Mohammed] confined them in Medina… Then he sent for them and struck off their heads… as they were brought out to him in batches… There were 600 or 700 in all, though some put the figure as high as 800 or 900… This went on until the apostle made an end of them.”

The Muslims began as they meant to go on. The subsequent 1,400 years provide a detailed catalogue of violence, both of the geopolitical and common-or-garden variety.

Since the IS knife-wielders are undeniably followers of Mohammed, how are we then to understand the phrase ‘They are not Muslims, they are monsters’?

That Muslims are never monsters? No, that can’t be it. Not even Dave can possibly think so.

I get it. The beheaders, according to Dave, are indeed both Muslims and monsters, but they aren’t monsters because they are Muslims. They are monsters because they are Islamists, or, better still, Islamofascists.

Most Muslims, Dave would argue, don’t cut off people’s heads just for the fun of it.

That’s true. But if there ever has been a totally, self-evidently nonsensical truism, this is it.

There are 1.2 billion Muslims in the world. Only 15 to 25 per cent of them are, according to Western intelligence services, radicalised.

Fair enough, 15 to 25 per cent is a minority. But if we graduate from proportions to absolute numbers, the picture becomes both clearer and scarier: there are up to 300 million Muslims out there who wouldn’t flinch at cutting your head off.

That’s quite a lot, but even the proportion is impressive: the Soviet Communist Party’s membership never even approached 10 per cent of the population, never mind 25. Yet the party managed to create a state that several times brought the world to the brink of extinction – and may do so again in the near future.

Our judgement of bolshevism isn’t clouded by the actuarial calculations of the radicalised proportion, and nor do we evaluate Nazism on the basis of the exact number of fanatics among the Germans.

We look at the two creeds’ deeds and pass a moral, rather than arithmetical, judgement: both are evil. Then why do we withhold the same evaluation from Islam?

We don’t. Even Dave doesn’t. He no doubt knows all the facts I’ve mentioned, and many of those I’ve omitted. In his Bullingdon days he wouldn’t have hesitated to pass an uncompromising verdict on Islam.

But in those days he spoke English, which he no longer does. He now speaks political, and the denotation doesn’t matter. Only the connotation does.

Allow me to translate from the political back into English. What Dave is actually saying is this:

“Hey, chaps, I know all about the Muzzies as well as you do. But you don’t need the Muslim vote to win the next election, and I do – even the tiniest proportion of it could make a difference.

“And it’s not just their vote. The Brits in some parts of the country are sick and tired of seeing their towns being turned into Kasbahs. Their resentment may spill out into civil disorder at any moment, and seeing a Brit beheaded by Muslims may just provide the spark.

“If that were to happen, where would the Tories – and, more important, I – be in the national election? Exactly where we were in the European one, in third place.

“If I said a word against Islam, this just might trigger off a public revolt in Bradford or Leicester. And even if it didn’t, imagine the capital Ed would earn out of it?

“I’d be accused of racism, elitism, little-Englandism, fascism, sectarianism, antediluvian prejudice and everything else you can imagine, including, against all evidence, homophobia.”

“Can’t have that, now can we?”

This is how our ruling class thinks nowadays. This is how it acts. This is what it is. Scary, isn’t it?





Has the Third World War already started?

Most historians agree that the Second World War started on 1 September, 1939.

Some will argue that the real date was 23 August, when Molotov and Ribbentrop signed the pact whose secret protocol divided Europe between Germany and the Soviet Union.

Some others will pick an even earlier date, such as the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss of Austria or the occupation of Czechoslovakia. 

All sides will present their arguments, and they will all make sense. Most people, however, will miss one important feature the arguments have in common: they are all retrospective.

Today, with the acuity of hindsight, we know that the Second World War started on one of those dates, 1 September, 1939, being the one most widely accepted.

But no one knew that on 2 September. In fact, the papers were running dispatches about the beginning of the Germany-Poland conflict. The words ‘world war’ never came up.

Moreover, even though Britain and France declared war on Germany on 3 September, no fighting was done for the next seven months. That period is known as the Phoney War, not yet a world one.

For 17 days Polish and German soldiers were dying in what was universally treated as a local conflict. And even when Stalin got in the act on 17 September, and Russian soldiers began to die too, the newspaper-reading public didn’t realise that a global cataclysm was under way.

I wonder if 75 years from now our great-grandchildren will look back at our own time, wondering how on earth we failed to realise that the Third World War had already started.

How could we be so blind as not to see that Russia’s attack on the Ukraine was but a first act of the tragedy, Putin putting his toe in the water to test the West’s response? Didn’t we realise that a combination of appeasement and derisory sanctions would only whet his appetite?

Didn’t we see the signs, plain to any reasonably alert individual?

If any of us miraculously live that long, we’ll have to admit self-deprecatingly that we indeed suffered the onset of temporary blindness. Because the signs are there, for all to see.

Quite apart from the relatively low-scale action being fought by the Russian army in Donetsk and Luhansk (which neither side regrettably calls by its real name: Russia’s war against the Ukraine), Putin is clearly priming the country for a big war.

This is obvious in the nauseatingly bellicose propaganda campaign being waged in the Russian state press, which is to say the Russian press. Reading their papers and watching their TV channels, I can vouch that I saw nothing like it even in Soviet times.

All my Russian friends, including those few who are more ambivalent on Putin than I am, confirm this impression. Then of course none of us lived in the ‘30s, when drums rattled and bugles roared off every official word.

And it’s not just words. Large-scale military exercises are being conducted in every border area from the Far East to Kaliningrad, from the Baltic to the Black Sea.

Bilateral military treaties are being annulled unilaterally, a worrying development drowned by the shooting in the East Ukraine. These include the 2001 treaty with Lithuania, according to which Lithuania was to be informed of, and allowed to inspect, any military build-up in the Kaliningrad region, the westernmost part of Russia.

“This measure by Russia,” declared the Lithuanian Defence Ministry, “… may be regarded as yet another step towards the destruction of mutual trust and security in Europe.” Indeed it is – have you seen this mentioned in our papers? I haven’t.

Putin is clearly creating two powerful beachheads, the southern one in the Crimea and the northern one in Kaliningrad, where short-range missiles are being deployed. Is anyone worried? I am.

And that’s not all. Russia is deploying more troops on the Ukrainian border than is necessary merely to support the Donetsk ‘rebels’ and ‘separatists’ (actually Russian troops).

At the same time the Russians are conducting joint exercises with their puppet Byelorussian army. They are also calling up the reservists, constantly increasing both the duration and frequency of such call-ups.

For the first time since Brezhnev, Russian strategic bombers are regularly violating the borders of Nato members, while Russian fighters are tracking Nato planes. Such developments used to worry people – why are we so complacent now?

Russia’s military expenditure is rising steeply, with a particular accent, according to Putin’s pronouncement, being placed on strategic arms. New weapon systems are being brought on stream at a rate far exceeding Nato’s. This is being widely ignored, in spite of the obvious fact that Russia doesn’t need ICBMs to fight the Ukraine.

Yet modern war isn’t all about troops and weapons – it puts a strain on the whole economy and the entire population. Since Russia lacks any obvious allies, apart from the likes of Gambia and Sudan, she has to prepare herself for going it alone, in conditions of total isolation.

Such preparations are going on at full speed. Putin has blocked the supplies of foreign foods, instead setting the goal of making Russia self-sufficient enough to prevent, this time around, widespread starvation in war time.

Less and less gas is being supplied on credit, with Russia demanding cash payments. At the same time Putin’s cronies, be it companies or individuals, are dumping their foreign assets with alacrity.

The most glaring example is Gennady Timchenko, affectionately nicknamed ‘Gangrene’ in some circles. Gangrene, who used to operate in Switzerland, is widely known to be Putin’s personal banker, the guardian of the colonel’s reputed $40-billion wealth. Well, Gangrene presciently sold all his, and presumably Putin’s, Swiss assets the day before the first batch of sanctions went into effect.

Russia’s central bank is also busily buying up gold, building up the reserves. Since time immemorial this has been considered a sure telltale sign of a country preparing for war – have you seen any comments on this in our press? Probably not.

Does this all mean that Putin wants a Third World War? Not necessarily.

Megalomaniac tyrants want power, as much of it as possible, both in their own country and other people’s. That’s a given. But they’d rather achieve their goal without the devastation of major war.

Hitler had no intention of fighting the whole world. His aim was to scare the West into peaceful capitulation, and the West gave him every encouragement. Austria and Czechoslovakia were taken without a shot fired, and the Führer’s head swelled.

Yet at some point Hitler overstepped a line. Neither he nor the West knew exactly where it had been drawn, but evidently it had been drawn somewhere. Suddenly appeasement ended, and the war wasn’t phoney any longer.

For Hitler, read Putin; for Chamberlain and Daladier, read the EU; for Austria, read the Crimea; for Poland, read the Ukraine.

Putin is clearly gambling on the West’s capitulation, just as Hitler did in 1939. Hitler didn’t get it in the end; instead he got what not only he but every German schoolboy knew would be fatal: a two-front war.

Will Putin get his bloodless victory? I don’t know, and neither does he. That’s why he’s preparing for a global war, which he knows would be hard to avoid if he does to a Nato member, say Lithuania, what he’s doing to the Ukraine.

A resolute response from Nato and the EU could stop him in his tracks, avoiding a catastrophe – just like some fortitude on the part of Britain and France in, say, 1938 could have prevented the Second World War.

So far no such response is in evidence. Is it forthcoming? I’m not holding my breath.


P.S. The Russophones among you may be interested to read an interview with the historian Yuri Felshtinsky, who makes most of the same points:









Aye or och, no? Scotland decides, Rifkind waffles

Long since gone are the days when one could hope to read serious analysis in The Times.

The best one can expect nowadays is some intelligible thoughts, however wrong, shallow and ill-informed. Yet Hugo Rifkind consistently frustrates even such modest expectations.

The latest example is his article OK, I Admit it: the Yes Campaign Does Have a Point. That may be, but Hugo certainly doesn’t, at least none discernible to a mind uncorrupted by the same substances he must be on.

A piece of avuncular advice from an older man, Hugo: whatever it is, mate, stay off it for at least three hours before sitting down to write. That way you’d have a sporting chance of producing something other than utter gibberish.

It took me five minutes to read his piece and twice as long to figure out what it means. As far as I can tell, here’s the point Hugo seems to think the Yes campaign has.

The point is that there is no point, other than some red-hot emotions melting any ice-cold thought.

“In Scotland all the good arguments against independence are practical,” writes Hugo. By inference, all the bad ones are impractical, which is fair enough.

Having established this correct premise, any man in command of his mental faculties would proceed to argue why the good arguments are practical and the bad ones aren’t. Elementary logic would demand this.

Instead, Hugo admits, albeit grudgingly, that the good practical arguments may yet lose out to demagogic propaganda appealing to inflamed immature emotions.

His own demagoguery focuses on the obvious fact that the United Kingdom in general and England in particular are far from perfect.

One has to concede this point. Actually it’s so obvious it doesn’t have to be made: in this life we aren’t blessed with perfect systems.

This isn’t so much the truth as a truism. And it’s an irrelevant truism at that, unless of course someone can explain coherently exactly how an independent Scotland would correct all those little imperfections that so sadden Hugh.

To wit: “They look out and they see an ossified, unfair country, with food banks, an aloof elite…  And they don’t want to be a part of it,” writes Hugh.

Considering the amount of constitutional vandalism perpetrated in the last half-century, the first accusation is simply cloud-cuckoo land.

Ossified? The country has become unrecognisable in our, well, my, lifetime. In fact one wishes she had more backbone to resist the Walpurgisnacht perpetrated by Hugo’s intellectual kin. One may like the kaleidoscopic change or, like me, despise it. But in either case Britain is rather the opposite of ossified.

Unfair? That word has many meanings but the one in which I suspect Hugo (and the Yes voters) uses it involves the disparity of income between the rich and the poor, something that so far no country in history has managed to eliminate.

Again, I’m guessing here, but the remedy for this iniquity that he probably sees in his mind’s eye is increased social spending.

Now let’s see. Our Exchequer subsidises Scotland to the tune of £17.6 billion a year. That’s £3,300 for every Scot recognised as such by Alex Salmond. (This category includes recent Muslim immigrants living in Glasgow, but excludes Scots born and bred who happen to live in England.)

This is indeed unfair, as is spending billions on welfare in other parts of the United Kingdom. But those on the receiving end of this unfairness are people who work hard only to see half of what they earn extorted from them by a government that insists, among other awful things, on spending £3,300 a year per Scottish capita.

Out of interest, how will this unfairness be corrected if Scotland votes Aye? Every pronouncement by every Scottish chauvinist suggests that they want a straight socialist republic, with more rather than less welfare spending.

Where’s the money going to come from? I suppose this is one of those good practical arguments leaving Hugo and Alex cold.

And what, pray tell, is wrong with food banks? Would Hugo prefer to see people going hungry? Many in Scotland very well may be, if they succumb to Salmond’s mendacious propaganda.

Aloof elite? That’s what an elite always is, by definition. If it’s like everyone else it stops being an elite.

So what’s the argument there? That we shouldn’t have an elite? Then I’m sure Hugo can cite a few examples from the 5,000 years of recorded history of a place where none existed.

Allow me to illustrate this point with a hypothetical example. Let’s say a boy is born to a wealthy Scottish-Jewish family, with his father a Tory minister. He then goes to an expensive public school and Cambridge, after which, thanks to his family connections and despite a manifest lack of any ability, lands a job with a major newspaper.

He now clearly belongs to an elite, perhaps more than one. Can you forgive him for being ever so slightly aloof? I certainly can. Ever so slightly stupid would be a different matter, but that’s beside the point.

“We have a financial system,” continues Hugo, “that seems to move ever farther from accountability of any sort.” A good point but an irrelevant one – unless it can be shown that an independent Scotland would boast a sound and accountable financial system.

Alas, what can be shown is exactly the opposite: it’s clear that the economy of Salmond’s Scotland would be even more socialist, which is to say irresponsible and unaccountable, than that of the UK at large.

And then – are you ready for this? – comes the clincher. “We have half a parliament that isn’t elected,” laments Hugo.

This statement provides a ringing argument against expensive education: it’s money wasted if the youngster emerges so thoroughly ignorant of his country’s constitutional tradition.

Yes, Hugo, we still have an unelected House of Lords, a chamber you and your ilk would doubtless like to reduce entirely, as opposed to mostly, to acting as a stooge beholden to political diktat.

The whole point of our unique upper House is that it’s there to prevent, on the one hand, the tyranny of the monarch and, on the other hand, the dictatorship of the Commons.

That’s only achievable in an hereditary Lords, whose members don’t spend their whole lives currying favour with spivs like Tony, Dave, Ed or Nick. Hugo brags that he knows Britain well – this statement proves he doesn’t know it at all, and understands it even less.

So are these the good points that ‘the Yes campaign does have’? They aren’t points at all, never mind good ones.

But there is indeed a good point in favour of Scottish independence, in fact the only one I can think of: if it becomes a foreign country, perhaps we’ll be spared the insights of hacks like Rifkind.



Russia, the champion of international law

President Obama’s plan to bomb IS forces in Syria doesn’t meet with Russia’s approval.

The cynics and Russophobes among you might suggest that Russia feels that way because Syria’s president Assad is a client of long standing, and he’ll be upset to see Nato bombers diving on his territory.

If that’s how you feel, you’re grossly wrong. Russia opposes the bombing not out of narrow parochial considerations but because of her disinterested commitment to international law.

Here’s the statement issued to that effect by the Russian Foreign Ministry: “In the absence of an appropriate decision of the U.N. Security Council, such a step would become an act of aggression, a crude violation of the norms of international law.”

I for one am happy to see that Russia holds international law, and the UN as its guardian, in such high esteem. Among other things this reinforces the view gaining momentum in some conservative circles that Russia is a truly Christian nation.

For, after that organisation’s March vote on the annexation of Crimea, it takes an act of Christian forgiveness to defer to the UN as the ultimate authority on such matters, one whose rulings carry the moral weight of sheer goodness.

A lesser country than Russia would bear a grudge, for the UN General Assembly condemned the annexation,  by 100 to 11, with the rest abstaining. Apart from the former Soviet republics located a few hours from Russia by tank, her 11 allies included Cuba, North Korea, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

A great nation would hate to find itself in such company, but Russia displays not only Christian forgiveness but also Christian humility. Didn’t the book Col. Putin cherishes say “…whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also”?

Now that the good colonel has finally learned that Orthodox Christians cross themselves right to left, not left to right, as they do in those Italian films, he won’t deviate from the path of godly rectitude.

That’s what makes Russia’s pronouncements on international law so valuable. In our civilisation all law, even if ostensibly secular, has Christian antecedents. So who better than a newly pious KGB colonel to pass such judgement?

At least that’s what I think. Alas, not everyone is guided by the light emanating from the abridged Russian translation of the Bible. Some heathen secularists insist that anyone delivering himself of legal opinion must possess earthly qualifications.

How can a country acquire them? Obviously she can’t go to law school and pass the bar exam in order to qualify. Her legal credentials can only be verified by looking at how she’s rated by various international agencies.

In search of validation I looked at such ratings – only to find confirmation for the feeling deep-seated in the breast of most Russians: the whole world is against them. All those rating agencies collude to cast Russia in a bad light.

Judge for yourself. In the rule-of-law category Russia came in at Number 92, out of 97 countries rated. That’s one rung below Belarus but – a glorious achievement! – one above Nicaragua.

In terms of upholding fundamental rights, Russia’s rating was even higher: 82, one behind the UAE, where you can go to jail for a little hanky-panky outside marriage. One is prepared to rise and salute, but then one’s ardour is doused by the cold water of some other ratings.

Russia ranks a derisory 148th out of 179 on freedom of the press, which is widely regarded as a guarantor of legality. The Russophobes jeer, for that rating places Putin’s Russia below Bangladesh, Cambodia and Burundi.

Those haters of Russia refuse to look on the positive side: Putin’s bailiwick is still above, if not by much, Iraq and Gambia. If that’s not the crowning achievement of Putin’s reign, I don’t know what is.

Oh yes, I do. Russia, I’ll have you know, didn’t drop any lower than Number 127 on the corruption rating, where she finds herself in a nine-way tie with such bastions of legality as Pakistan and, again, Gambia.

Those Russophobes I mentioned earlier smirk and hiss “judge them by the company they keep”. They ignore the indisputable fact of the anti-Russian collusion hatched in the dark cellars of the CIA, MI6, EU, UN and quite possibly FIFA.

Since Russia has neither any intention nor any obvious way of changing her company, she has announced plans to change the judges. She will create her own ratings agency, for the time being in finance only.

This is a bit like a pupil marking his own school essays, but the idea does have merit. It should be extended to all of those categories where Russia’s sterling performance is ranked so artificially low.

What could be simpler? Russia should announce that henceforth she won’t be judged by the united Russophobes of the world. She will be her own judge, and the preliminary verdict says she’s the most scrupulously legal nation in the world – comfortably leading not just Gambia but also Obama’s own land.

Only then will the rest of the world heed Russia’s legal opinions with the deference they deserve. Meanwhile we quote another prescription from the book Putin probably keeps on his nightstand next to the biography of Felix Dzerzhinsky (whose birthday he doubtless celebrated yesterday):

“Judge not, and ye shall not be judged.”   


Père Lachaise: honouring and mocking at the same time

The other day I spent a leisurely afternoon strolling through Père Lachaise, the great Paris cemetery.

It may be the ghoul in me, but I like cemeteries in general and historical ones in particular. Or else it’s the historian in me: stones speak. Dead bodies bring history alive.

Here’s the tombstone of Chopin, erected by his friends who made sure it specified that ‘Fred’s’ father was French.

That reminded me of two Polish sisters who had once almost torn my head off for saying that very thing. They wouldn’t hear of the great Pole being ethnically impure and, since they were beautiful, I let them win the argument.

A brief course in French literature would be well illustrated by the graves of two friends Molière and La Fontaine who weren’t so much buried as reburied at Père Lachaise – along with many other luminaries from earlier centuries.

The cemetery was opened in 1804, and in those pre-laïcité days Parisians ignored it because it hadn’t been consecrated by the church. But the sly authorities proved themselves adept at marketing before the word was even invented.

They moved many famous graves of the past there, and suddenly Parisians were fighting for the privilege of lying next to them. Even Abelard and Héloïse, then dead for 650 years, unwittingly lent their remains to the promotion, and today more than a million bodies lie in rest at Père Lachaise.

Some of them are grouped together thematically. For example, several Napoleonic warriors lie side by side, regardless of how they met their end.

Marshal Ney, for example, was executed as a traitor. After Napoleon’s original exile, Ney swore an oath to the restored Bourbons. When Napoleon landed back in France on the first of his 100 days, Ney was put in command of the army sent to intercept the returning emperor and his handful of men.

The two forces met in a field near Auxerre. One look at his hero, however, and Ney fell into Napoleon’s arms – an emotional impulse for which he paid with his life after Waterloo.

Murat, Napoleon’s dashing cavalry commander, lies a few feet from Ney.

Napoleon made him King of Naples and after the emperor’s fall Murat’s ungrateful subjects put him in front of a firing squad. Both he and Ney commanded their own executioners, and the word ‘Feu!’ was the last the two courageous men uttered.

Also grouped together are the nameless graves of foreigners who died in the Resistance. One of them, for the Russians, is adorned with a sculpture of a resistance fighter toting two German machine pistols and wearing a British flying jacket.

The sculpture isn’t bad, and many others are excellent, including the magnificent 1968 Pietà on the grave of the publishing magnate Cino Del Duca. Without passing a comparative aesthetic judgement, it moved me as much as Michelangelo’s two sculptures on the same subject.

And so on, up and down the steep hills of Père Lachaise, back and forth in history – and some implicit ideological interpretations thereof.

Skirting the edge of the cemetery, I came across a long row of memorials dedicated to the 77,000 French Jews “betrayed by the Vichy government and murdered by Nazi barbarians”, as one inscription has it.

Each memorial commemorates victims murdered in a particular camp. One walks along the obelisks bearing diabolical names: Buchenwald, Auschwitz-Birkenau, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka…

Suddenly a shock: interspersed with those are the graves of French communist chieftains Marcel Cachin, Maurice Thorez, Jacques Duclot, Georges Marchais and a few others.

The implicit message is that the victims and the communists belong together. They are supposed to have been on the same side.

That, to me, looked like a gruesome mockery of the dead. For the French Communist Party, led at the time by the first three chaps I mentioned, made a telling contribution to the atrocity.

From 23 August 1939 to 22 June 1941, Germany and the Soviet Union were close allies. Hence all communist parties belonging to the Comintern were on the side of the Nazis in every conflict between their own countries and Germany during this period.

The FCP was particularly subversive, spreading pacifist propaganda, demoralising the army and committing acts of sabotage against munitions factories.

When the Nazis attacked Poland on 1 September, 1939, they had to denude their western border, leaving not a single tank there. France, on the other hand, had 1,600 tanks poised at the border, and that’s even without counting the British Expeditionary Corps.

The Allies’ armour could have driven to Berlin unopposed, just as the Germans were getting bogged down at the Vistula. Then, 17 days later, the Soviets stuck a knife in Poland’s back. Hitler and Stalin triumphed.

The moment to avert the catastrophe – of which the subsequent murder of 77,000 French Jews was but a small part – was lost, partly because of the FCP’s efforts. These continued after Germany attacked France on 17 January, 1940.

The subjunctive mood being an unproductive grammatical category when applied to history, I don’t know if the French could have beaten back the German attack in the absence of communist subversion. Maybe, maybe not.

One thing for sure: the French fought with nowhere near the same determination as they had shown in the previous war. Thus, even if the FCP’s role in this demoralisation was small, the party bears at least some responsibility for France’s defeat and the ensuing tragedies.

When the Germans occupied Paris, Duclot asked the Nazis for permission to continue the publication of L’Humanité, the party’s newspaper. He pointed out, not unreasonably, that the newspaper had been supporting the Nazi cause unwaveringly, and the Germans couldn’t refute the arguments.

Nonetheless they turned the request down, possibly because they, unlike Duclot, knew that their friendship with Stalin wouldn’t last.

After Hitler narrowly beat Stalin to the punch on 22 June, 1941, the FCP instantly changed its principled stand. The party became active in the Resistance, fighting not only the Nazis but also, often, the non-communist resistance groups.

It wasn’t just a battle against Germany, but also one for France. The communists lost. Even though after the end of the war the FCP became the largest political party, it narrowly failed to move France from Nazi concentration camps into Soviet ones.

But not entirely: the camp at Drancy, whence French Jews had gone to their deaths in Nazi gas chambers, was seamlessly transformed into a Soviet camp from which Russian resistance fighters were forcibly sent to their deaths in the Soviet Union.

The FCP was complicit in this crime, as it facilitated the transfer of their yesterday’s comrades to the care of the NKVD. But at least the memorial to those Russians is some distance away from the graves of the NKVD’s French agents.

The Jewish victims of the FCP’s 1939-1941 allies aren’t so lucky. Sharing the same corner of Père Lachaise with the communists, they must be screaming out of their graves. I merely winced.








Another shocking revelation about Diana

A new book about Prince Harry says things about his late mother that I found deeply disturbing.

Nil nisi bonum… and all that, but I was never a great admirer of that hysterical, manipulative and cunning woman. She was admittedly very good-looking, but then so was Eva Braun.

Unlike Eva Braun, however, Diana was also guilty of high treason, which is how our law classifies adultery committed by a royal consort. High treason, incidentally, is the only crime that our law says can still be punished by death.

A mere unsubstantiated suspicion of similar indiscretions cost Anne Boleyn her head, but I still doubt that Diana, even if charged and convicted, would have suffered a similar fate – even though the thought of it isn’t without some aesthetic appeal.

She didn’t, however, take lightly to her husband’s affair with Mrs Parker-Bowles, as Camilla then was – this even though dalliances by a present or future king aren’t considered treasonous under our law.

Apparently Diana kept ringing the rival for her husband’s affections in the middle of the night, when the transgressor was too befuddled by being woken up to mount any creditable defence.

“I’ve sent someone to kill you,” Diana would say. “They’re outside in the garden. Look out of the window; can you see them?”

Since no assassin(s) was/were indeed lurking outside Camilla’s window, the threat was as empty as Diana’s head.

Still, in some quarters such telephone calls may be treated as harassment and terroristic threats. The former could have earned Diana an injunction, to begin with; the latter a prison sentence.

Admittedly either punishment would have been minor compared to the decapitation merited by her extramarital shenanigans. Nevertheless I’m deeply shocked, and I don’t feel that way easily or often.

True enough, by itself the fact that a wronged wife attacks the wronging poacher telephonically was by itself insufficient to produce such a deep emotional response in me.

My own mother did something similar when she found out about my father’s affair. In her case, the investigative process was simplified by the fact that father had actually moved in with the other woman.

Mother wouldn’t take that lying down. She’d do a Diana by ringing the offending female every day and abusing her in the language I never realised my mother knew.

I found the contrast between her prim exterior and the foul jargon she was using quite amusing, and so did our 20 neighbours in the same communal Moscow flat.

The only phone in the flat was attached to the corridor wall, within easy access to all. No privacy was therefore possible, and when my mother embarked on yet another colourful description of what she’d like to do to the woman taken in adultery, all the neighbours would come out to listen and enjoy.

My mother was fairer than Diana though.

First, she launched her attacks in the evening, not in the middle of the night. The woman on the receiving end was thus fully alert and theoretically able to fight back. In practice she never did, silenced as she was by the thunderous vehemence of the invective.

Second, even though my mother was rather precise in her detailed accounts of the ballistically improbable practices she wished to perpetrate on the offender, the poetic descriptions lacked so much in plausibility that no court would have interpreted them as realistic threats.

On the other hand, Diana’s threat to send someone to murder Camilla was open to such an interpretation, for it was plainly realistic. A Princess of Wales, especially one as blessed with male admirers as Diana, could have coerced someone to do violence to Camilla or at least to threaten it credibly.

One way or the other, given my familial experience with telephone harassment, I was unlikely to be shocked by it, and I wasn’t.

What I found deeply distressing is that Diana, as reported, followed a singular antecedent (“I’ve sent someone to kill you”) with a plural personal pronoun (“they are outside”).

How could our would-be queen be so given either to grammatical solecisms or alternatively factual imprecision? How much better it would have been had she said “he’s outside” or, if she wished to impress Camilla with the breadth of her contacts, “I’ve sent some people to kill you, and they are outside…”

I’m sure Camilla would have been much happier then – and so would everyone else who, like me, is appalled at the inroads political correctness has made into the greatest language in God’s creation.


P.S. My current book, How the Future Worked, describes many experiences similar to the one I mentioned above. You can get it from Amazon or directly from the publisher, RoperPenberthy.    






Do the Scots know what they’re doing?

Now that one poll has returned a slender lead for the ‘Yes’ campaign, there’s much excitement on both sides of Hadrian’s Wall.

Suddenly the previously improbable seems possible, and everyone is asking pointed questions under the common umbrella of ‘what next?’.

If the Scots vote for independence, how will the assets and liabilities be split with the rest of the UK? Will they keep the pound? Will they default on their part of the national debt? Will they join the EU automatically or will they have to apply? What about Nato membership? The British submarine base at Faslane? Border controls? North Sea oil? Will they remain within the Commonwealth?

The most astounding thing about such questions is that they all get the same answer: no one knows.

One would think it the height of irresponsibility even to contemplate the break-up of the Union without first acquiring a fairly good idea of what this would entail.

After all, this isn’t like a marital separation, with the couple able to reunite if they decide after some time apart that they’re better off together.

A good friend of mine once left his wife for another woman and instructed his solicitor to start divorce proceedings. However, after the legal gentleman outlined the staggering cost of divorce, my friend instantly rediscovered affection for his jilted wife.

The original romantic impulse gave way to stark realism. “I don’t want to lose everything I’ve worked for,” he explained, with nary an amorous sentiment in sight. Fortunately my friend’s wronged wife took him back and he regained his house in the shires.

If there’s one thing everyone knows for sure it’s that there will be no such way back for the Scots. Once yielding to the romantic notion of independence, they’ll have to stick with it. No matter how much they suffer, they won’t get their house back.

So why are the Scots, who enjoy a reputation for fiscal, if no other, prudence, plunging headlong into a pool without first making sure there’s water in it?

Simple. Alex Salmond’s people are revolutionaries. As such, they display, mutatis mutandis, every common trait of all revolutionaries.

Prime among them is the urge to destroy. Though revolutionaries always talk about positive desiderata, deep down it’s not what they are about.

Thus Cromwell’s Roundheads were driven not so much by a craving for unencumbered parliamentarism as by hatred of traditional Western polity built on apostolic Christianity.

American Founders detested all the same things, which is why they portrayed George III, the least tyrannical king one could imagine, as a despot. In their fervour they ignored the inevitable consequences, such as the revolutionary war and its second act, the Civil War, in which the Americans suffered greater casualties than in all their previous and subsequent wars combined.

The French revolutionaries were also driven by zoological hatred rather than human love. Under their stewardship and the resultant Napoleonic madness, France suffered a catastrophe from which she still hasn’t recovered fully.

Lenin and his gang never even gave a thought to what they’d do with Russia after they took over. They wanted to destroy the empire, everything it stood for and, ideally, most people in it, an undertaking in which they succeeded famously. As a result, Russia’s population is today about a third of what a 1900 demographer would have confidently predicted.

Such is the law to which there are no known exceptions: all revolutions produce results unintended by the revolutionaries. The likelihood of such results turning out not just unexpected but opposite to the expectations is directly proportionate to the revolutionaries’ zeal.

Zeal is what Alex Salmond and his jolly friends have in abundance. What they lack is even a vague idea of how to keep an independent Scotland afloat.

Oh, to be sure, they aren’t short of the usual revolutionary cant promising a river flowing with milk and honey or, in this instance, whisky and oil.

The Scots will never again have to suffer Tory tyranny. Skipping the U, as in Union, they’ll create an SSR, the Scottish Socialist Republic: free education, free medicine, free care for the elderly, presumably free cask-strength Scotch, free of ‘immoral’ nuclear weapons.

Yet nothing in life is free. Someone has to pay for it all, such as our Exchequer, which has been putting a net £17 billion a year into Scotland. Who or what will take up the slack left by independence?

Other than talking about a petroleum pie in the sky, Salmond seems to think the EU will be happy to step in. Such happiness, however, isn’t in evidence, even though the EU is viscerally committed to endless expansion.

Yet EU officials can do the sums well enough to realise that adding another potential Greece or Portugal to their roster may finally scupper the whole harebrained project. Hardnosed economics has been known to wreak havoc on softheaded politics.

But this whole issue shouldn’t be reduced to pounds and pence, or euros and centimes, if you’d rather. For the issue has a destructive constitutional potential, and this is more serious than any economic hardships the Scots (or we) are likely to suffer.

The crowns of England and Scotland have been united for more than 400 years, and the governments for more than 300. This makes the Union’s constitution older than that of just about any country in the world, a consideration that alone should be sufficient to forget the whole independence issue like a bad dream.

English oppression of Scots is a mirage, as much a figment of revolutionary imagination as George III’s oppression of his American subjects. There is no substance to it, but there is an explanation: the wickedness of revolutionaries who are all prepared to lie for the cause.

Another common feature they share is the support, tacit or otherwise, they enjoy with the group Lenin aptly described as ‘useful idiots’.

For example, have you noticed how Dave is merely going through the motions of trying to preserve the Union? His heart isn’t in it and one can see why.

‘Useful idiots’ suffer from myopic vision. In this instance Dave doubtless feels that the Tories’ chance of winning an outright majority would improve in the absence of the 41 Scottish Labour MPs.

His electoral prospects could be further boosted by the £17-billion windfall that could be profitably used… no, not to bolster defence of the realm. Dave could use the money to bribe more voters, for what else could tax revenues be used for?

He and the villainous nonentity to whom Dave is the proud heir couldn’t care less about preserving our ancient constitution, as applied to Scotland or anything else.

It’s tempting to think that they too are driven by the same hatred that animates Alex Salmond. Yet one doubts they are capable of such strong emotions. Unvarnished spivery is more down their alley.

I do hope the Scots come to their senses in 10 days’ time. We’ll all lose out if they don’t.  












Since what’s under way in Scotland now is an attempted revolution, the Scots would do well to consider the consequences.