Guns before butter: Putin takes his cue from the best

One should always learn from the giants, adapting their great thoughts to the current situation.

Hence the juxtaposition of guns and butter, which is a metaphorical way of describing the hard choice rulers sometimes have to make between armaments and consumer goods.

In an ideal world it wouldn’t be necessary to choose: a rich country would be able to afford both. But few countries in history have been as rich as that – most have had to establish their priorities and act accordingly.

Opting for metaphorical guns at the expense of metaphorical butter is hard even during the war – and next to impossible in peacetime.

That this is the case in the West, where people vote for their rulers, goes without saying. The philistine mentality assiduously cultivated over the last century or so makes it impossible for a politician to demand sacrifices in the consumption of metaphorical butter.

Dictators find making such demands easy, but acting on them not necessarily so. For example, as early as in January, 1936, Goebbels orated: “We can do without butter, but, despite our love of peace, not without arms.”

Yet, such pronouncements by him and other Nazi leaders notwithstanding, the Nazis didn’t dare shift the economy into war mode just yet. The Germans were ready to attend rallies and scream their Sieg Heils till their throats ached, but doing without butter was something else again.

In fact the Nazis totally militarised their economy only in 1942, by which time it was too late.

So far only one modern power has managed to sacrifice all for the sake of militarisation: Stalin’s Russia.

Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are routinely bracketed together, and indeed the two countries had much in common. But precise definitions must always be based on differences, not similarities.

The most important difference between the Nazis and the Soviets was that Hitler wasn’t ready to wage war against his own people, but Stalin was.

Total militarisation at peacetime requires total enslavement, enforced by mass murderous terror. Hitler couldn’t do it; Stalin could – and did.

His Russian apologists, including those who write school history books, keep repeating the same mantra: “Stalin inherited a Russia with the plough and left her with the hydrogen bomb.”

That is true, but omitted from this accolade is the bill Stalin presented for his historical services. This was eye-poppingly exorbitant:

40 million Russians murdered (in addition to the 20 million or so previously dispatched by Lenin); millions of people including children starved to death; millions driven into labour camps to produce raw materials exchangeable for hard currency; the whole population reduced to the kind of slavery the world had never seen; squalor and destitution even Russia had never seen; the whole country turned into a camp, either military or concentration.

Even the Nazis, for all their empty talk about guns before butter, never inflicted this kind of nightmare on their own people.

Nazi Germany is no more, although comparisons between the Third Reich and the EU aren’t wholly unwarranted. But the Soviet Union lives on in Putin’s Russia.

This continuity isn’t yet physical, for Putin’s dictatorial powers aren’t yet a patch on Stalin’s (‘yet’ being the operative word). But metaphysically, as it were, the kleptofascist Russian state pursues the same desiderata, if with caution more characteristic of Nazi Germany circa 1936.

It’s with this in mind that the statements made by Putin and his Defence Minister Shoigu must be assessed.

Putin has just committed the country to the modernisation of over 90 per cent of its armaments by 2020, a programme for which the estimated cost of £190 billion is but the point of departure – for the moon.

Estimates for such undertakings in the West, not that the West has ever embarked on such undertakings in peacetime, can safely be doubled to arrive at a more realistic figure.

In Russia, where Putin’s and his cronies’ compulsion to skim off the top is voracious, it ought to be at least tripled.

Thus Russia must find more than half a trillion pounds over the next five years – this on top of the billions the country is already spending on its aggression against the Ukraine and related costs.

One of such related costs is the construction of the 2.8-mile Kerch Strait bridge, linking the newly conquered Crimea with the Russian mainland. In the fine tradition of Putin’s kleptofascism, the project has just been awarded to Vlad’s judo friend Arkadiy Rutenberg, who is among those who put ‘klepto’ into kleptofascism.

Since no feasibility study has been done and no cost estimates submitted, one has to assume either that Mr Rutenberg’s bid was unopposed or else that the opposition to it was discouraged by persuasion techniques accurately described in The Godfather.

The question is, where are all those billions and trillions going to come from? The Russian economy is contracting faster than you can say ‘sanctions’, the price of oil is dropping towards $40 a barrel at a time Russia can only be in the black at $100, the rouble is going down and the inflation rate up, capital is fleeing the country, borrowing vast amounts in the money markets is out of the question.

In other words, how will Putin get the guns he craves? Only at the expense of the metaphorical butter, is the answer to that. The country is too poor to afford both.

But in the quarter-century since the so-called collapse of communism, the people have developed some rotten habits. They now want their butter and, if they can’t get it in Russia, they’ll go somewhere else.

Comrade Stalin showed Comrade Putin the way out of this conundrum. The people won’t sacrifice everything, including their lives, for the sake of armament production unless they are forced to do so – that is, enslaved.

If Putin wants to restore Stalin’s Russia, he’ll have to use Stalin’s methods, it’s as simple as that. In fact, Putin’s propaganda today is eerily reminiscent of Stalin’s propaganda yesterday.

Nor are Putin’s actions far behind. He has already committed aggression against three parts of the ‘former’ Soviet Union. His nuclear bombers are already operating seconds away from Bournemouth. His warships are already threatening to penetrate the Channel. His submarines are already close to nullifying our Trident deterrent.

At a time like this we too should be making guns and, unlike the Russians, we wouldn’t have to cut butter out of our diets to achieve this. It is conceivable, however, that we’d have to reduce our appetites from Gargantuan to simply voracious.

Instead all European countries are cutting their defence budgets below the level necessary even for containing, never mind repelling, the kleptofascist dictator wishing us ill.

History has many lessons to teach, but it must be a rotten teacher. We never do learn anything, do we?

I’m appalled at Eugenie Bouchard’s detractors and Kim Sears

In case you don’t know, Kim is the fiancée of Andy Murray, the tennis player who’ll contest the final of the Australian Open on Sunday.

She is a pretty girl with luxuriant hair and eyes that remind me of my plate after dinner: round and empty.

Kim is also a quick learner, absorbing the lessons taught both by her betrothed and Mirka, otherwise known as Mrs Federer.

What Kim evidently learned from Andy is the kind of vocabulary Dr Johnson left out of his lexicon. When a high-born lady complained that his Dictionary contained no ‘naughty words’, Dr Johnson replied in his celebrated epigrammatic style: “So, Madam, you have been looking for them?”

Having lived with Andy since her teens, Kim, now 27, didn’t have far to look.

Andy swears like a trooper – at himself, when he misses a shot; at umpires, when they give calls he doesn’t like. When he was still a teenager, the Scot called one of them a f***ing c***, incurring a hefty fine and teaching his girlfriend how to express herself in tense situations.

Mirka Federer evokes another meal-related simile, which I won’t put down on paper out of gallantry. She too taught Kim a useful lesson: how to abuse her man’s opponent during a match.

During last November’s US Open, she kept calling her hubby’s opponent Stan Wawrinka a ‘cry baby’, unsettling him enough to blow the match that looked to be in the bag.

Neither lesson has gone to waste. Kim learned from Mirka the art of sledging, and from Andy the mode of expression appropriate to it.

Yesterday, after Andy won a gruelling semi-final rally against Tomas Berdych, Kim shrieked, “F***ing have it, you Czech flash f***!”

I hope you don’t think me a hypocrite, but I was deeply shocked. There she was, a middle-class English rose, not knowing how to use her mother tongue properly.

She ought to know that when a noun is modified by two preceding adjectives, of which one is capitalised, the capitalised modifier should be the one immediately before the noun.

Hence we speak of a great Gothic cathedral, not a Gothic great cathedral. Only an ignoramus will describe Leonardo as a Renaissance sublime artist, and only a hopeless illiterate would ever talk about Limoges intricate porcelain.

Applying the same general rule to the specific task at hand, Kim was hopelessly wrong when calling Berdych a ‘Czech flash f***’. Had she correctly referred to him as a ‘flash Czech f***’, everybody would be happy.

As it is, Kim’s solecism elicited numerous complaints and abusive e-mails. Some of the latter expressing a heartfelt wish that she should die soon, though to the best of my knowledge none promised to facilitate her demise.

Kim partially restored herself in my graces when a giant split screen over the stadium showed her and Berdych’s fiancée, who looks like the translation of Kim into Czech.

Kim’s reaction to the sequence, “Oh for f***’s sake!”, can’t be faulted on the grounds of grammar or style, and one must congratulate her on that. Perhaps there’s some hope for her yet.

As there certainly is for Eugenie Bouchard, the pretty Canadian (not ‘Canadian pretty…’!) world No. 7.

She is sponsored by Nike, a company that introduces a new colour scheme for tennis attire every year, which doubtless springs from a disinterested aesthetic quest for chromatic variety.

This year’s colour is fluorescent yellow, used either alone or in combination with other lurid colours. World No. 1 Serena Williams wears her fluorescent yellow neat, while Eugenie’s outfit is mostly pink, but with a yellow trim and an all-yellow visor.

Serena’s post-match celebratory routine involves an attempt to impersonate a cabaret dancer cum fashion model. To that end, she performs what looks more like the weaving and bobbing of a heavyweight boxer.

This, along with her open-back dress, never fails to delight post-match interviewers who quickly get the boring tennis bits out of the way and get Serena to talk about what really matters in a female player’s life.

Everyone knows that these girls derive only a small part of their income from tournament prizes. Most of their fortune comes from endorsements, and to be fair they aren’t different from their male counterparts in that respect.

But, unlike most male players, the women also get paid millions for modelling clothes, and the more photogenic they are, the more they get paid. It helps if they also happen to be successful players, but this isn’t an iron-clad requirement.

For example, back in the early ‘90s Anna Kurnikova became one of the world’s highest-paid athletes even though she never won a professional tennis tournament, never mind a Grand Slam.

Now our Eugenie is as blonde and almost as pretty as Kurnikova, and she is already ranked higher than Anna ever was. Still a teenager, she is already looking at an eight-digit annual income, only a fraction of which from striking tennis balls.

This little preamble helps to understand why, after her 2nd-round victory, the post-match interviewer asked Eugenie to “give us a whirl”, just like Serena did in the previous round.

The girl obliged, performing a catwalk pirouette eagerly and with more natural panache than Serena can see in her dreams.

All in good fun, you’d think – but you’d be wrong. The interviewer was instantly subjected to a chorus of abuse for being ‘sexist’, with Billy Jean King leading the chants.

Well, I don’t think that women who wear revealing clothes have only themselves to blame if they get raped, but in this instance they do bring this kind of treatment onto themselves.

How many women players do modelling? How many pose for nude, practically nude and salacious photographs? How many times did King compete against Chris Evert, another campaigner against sexism, who played in low-cut dresses emphasising her lack of a bra?

Seriously, girls, you can’t have it both ways. The best way of being treated as players and not mannequins is to spend more time on the practice courts and less in photographers’ studios.

Choose professional dignity over silly money, and no one will ask you to do twirls. And if you make the other choice, don’t utter hypocritical complaints like Serena’s:

“I didn’t really want to twirl because I was just like, you know, I don’t need the extra attention.” Of course you don’t, dear, we all know that.

But the grammar needs a bit of remedial work. Ask Kim and Andy – they’ll teach you how to talk f***ing proper, like.








And then Wellington was exiled to St Helena…

Surely you must know this? Napoleon was one of the greatest men in history, while the Duke of Wellington was a ‘frightful nobody’.

That explains why Napoleon was the true victor in the Battle of Waterloo, at least “in terms of public relations, in terms of his historical importance.”

This peculiar take on history came from Frank Samson, the French lawyer who’ll play Napoleon in the re-enactment to be staged in commemoration of the bicentenary of the famous battle.

Now an inability to come to terms with reality has been widely covered in psychiatric literature, usually under the rubric SCHIZOPHRENIA. This condition is of much interest, but mostly to specialists, of whom I’m emphatically not one.

The only reason I’m commenting on Mr Samson’s apparent illness, whatever its diagnosis, is that it afflicts enough Frenchmen to be regarded as a national characteristic.

Many French people have a compulsion to insist that la France is not only Belle but also Grande. This it definitely is, but repeating this demonstrable fact non-stop betokens a morbid sense of national inferiority, of recent provenance but already deeply entrenched.

One of the milder symptoms is the urge to keep telling all and sundry that everything French is sans pareil simply because it’s French. Much more severe is another symptom: failure to understand what it is that makes a country great.

France’s greatness is inscribed in history by her great Gothic cathedrals, which the country generously exported to England.

By the ineffable beauty of her towns and villages, each adorned with a perfect Romanesque or Gothic church (or at least so it seems in our part of Burgundy).

By the medieval University of Paris shining onto the world the light emanating from Abélard, Peter Lombard, Albert the Great and Aquinas.

By the satirical genius of Rabelais and Molière, and the dramatic genius of Racine and Corneille.

By the mathematics of Fermat, Descartes and Poincaré.

By the religious thinker Pascal and political thinker Montesquieu (with some reservations). By Chardin and Baudelaire, Debussy and Ravel, Stendhal and Pasteur…

This name-dropping could go on and on, and the longer it gets the more indisputable will France’s claim to true greatness become.

However, true greatness often co-exists with the faux variety: equating this aspirational quality with physical might. Suddenly we find ourselves face to face with the symptomatic picture of the disease I mentioned earlier.

Might doesn’t make right; in any significant sense it’s the other way around. Martial glory is virtuous only in defence of a virtuous cause – unjust war, no matter how cleverly and heroically fought, can never add to a country’s glory. It can only subtract.

It ought to be evident that Napoleon, undoubtedly a gifted military leader, fought unjust wars against the rest of Europe. Hence, for all those Marengos, Austerlitzes and Ulms, he reduced rather than increased the glory of France.

Napoleon was a blood-thirsty tyrant who sought to impose France’s, or rather his own, domination on much of the civilised world. Millions of people, including almost two million Frenchmen, had to die before this infamy was stopped.

Bonaparte’s behaviour in some of the wars was shameful enough to reveal his monumental egocentricity. Whenever the going got tough, as it did in red-hot Egypt and ice-cold Russia, he’d abandon his troops and rush off to Paris to mitigate the political fallout threatening to end his career.

Any commander who didn’t boast dictatorial powers would have been court-martialled for that sort of thing, but Napoleon lived to fight the battle of Waterloo in which he was soundly thrashed by the Duke of Wellington.

It takes stratospheric ignorance to describe Wellington as a ‘frightful nobody’. Unlike Napoleon, he won every battle he ever fought, and most of those were fought against French armies.

In the Peninsular War Wellington not only wiped Napoleon’s generals all over Iberia but he also revolutionised tactics and training.

Like his naval counterpart Nelson (another nobody?), he developed new ways of maximising fire power in battle: a Wellington infantryman could fire three shots a minute, as opposed to a Napoleonic soldier who could only manage two.

Above all, his cause was just: the Iron Duke fought to liberate Europe from a tyrant. Hence he contributed to the greatness of France by saving the country from herself. Wellington prevented France from perpetrating even more evil, which she would have done had Napoleon stayed in power.

The French ought to remember that for a country to be great, it has to be good. Goodness by itself is enough to give it a shot at greatness, even if its physical bulk or economic strength can’t compete with some other lands.

This isn’t just a moral statement or a comment on remote French history. It’s also a clue to understanding much of France’s politics over the last 150 years.

For the French have always responded to setbacks, military or economic, with morbid sensitivity. For example, having been defeated by the Prussians with contemptuous ease in 1870-1871, the French allowed their wounded pride to become fire-eating revanchism.

That was a significant contributing factor of the First World War, and therefore the Second. In the latter one it took Nazi Germany 40 days to bring France to her knees, and she has been desperately trying to get up ever since.

This manifested itself in a national version of Stockholm syndrome, with the vanquished falling in love with the victor. Somehow, working hand in hand with their Nazi colleagues for four years convinced French bureaucrats that clutching Germany’s coattails was the only way France could recover her greatness.

The two got in bed together and, by acting as the active partner in this congress, the Germans fertilised France’s wounded pride. Thus the European Union was born.

The marriage was never a union of equals, and the disparity between the two has grown to a point where it takes acrobatic mental gymnastics for the French to persuade themselves that they are still the top European dog.

Meanwhile, they play their little games, trying to glorify Napoleon and to turn his defeats into victories ex post facto. That only exacerbates the original error of judgement, turning this truly great country into a bit of a laughingstock.























Not a good week for Vlad Putin

On Saturday morning, Putin’s bandits used Putin’s Grad missile launchers to hit a residential quarter in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol on the Azov Sea.

Altogether 120 rockets were fired, killing 30 and wounding 102. Most of the victims were civilians.

The spotting services for the barrage were kindly provided by a Mariupol resident, who turned out to be a traffic cop, not a universally admired profession at the best of times.

His communications with the Russian officers operating the Grads were intercepted, and I listened to them with some interest and more sadness.

There I was, hoping that in the 42 years that I’ve been away the Russians had shifted the ratio of obscenities to normal words in the direction of the latter. Alas, if anything, the reverse is true.

For that reason I can’t quote the exchange verbatim, but the gist of it is that the battery commander was concerned about the 9-storey blocks of flats in the immediate vicinity of the targeted road block.

The spotter told him not to be a wimp and do as he was told. The buildings were far enough away, he said.

After the battery commander had butchered civilians, the traffic cop rebuked him for not doing exactly as he was told and not killing enough. He then suggested that the officer should redeem himself by targeting another residential suburb of Mariupol.

Ukrainian security services managed to arrest the spotter before he destroyed the evidence, making it impossible for Vlad to reassign the blame for the massacre to Nato, the EU, Israel, the USA or else the RSPCA.

Still, Russian military doctrine says that attack is the best defence. There was no defending yet another crime committed by his bandits, so Vlad went on the offensive.

Speaking at a Petersburg university, he explained that it’s wrong to say that his lads are fighting Ukrainians. The perplexed expressions on the students’ faces demanded an elucidation, and it duly came:

“We often say: Ukrainian army… But in essence it’s no longer an army, it’s a foreign legion, in this case a Nato foreign legion, which certainly doesn’t pursue the Ukraine’s national interests… There are different aims there, and they are linked with achieving the geopolitical objectives of containing Russia…”

I get it. Dastardly Nato dressed some unidentified units in the uniforms of Putin’s bandits and launched an aggression against the Ukraine. They then recruited foreign mercenaries to contain the aggression. Makes sense – in fact, it’s the only thing that can possibly make sense.

Logically speaking, no containment is necessary when there is nothing to contain. In fact, George Kennan came up with the doctrine of containment back in the 1950s, when the Soviet Union was indulging in aggression all over the globe.

By claiming that Nato again seeks to contain Russia, Vlad contradicted his previous claims that the ‘separatists’ had nothing to do with Russia. That is, he openly admitted that Russia yet again presents a mortal danger to the world.

Vlad didn’t specify the ethnic composition of the foreign legion, delegating that responsibility to his house-trained TV chat show. One of the guests there helpfully explained that the so-called Ukrainian army is mostly Albanian mercenaries in Nato’s employ. Glad he made it clear – this explains it all.

Frankly, yet another atrocity scandal is the last thing Vlad needs this week. He has enough headaches as it is.

Another Nato hireling, Standard & Poor, has just cut Russia’s credit rating to the non-investment ‘junk’ status of BB+. Hence Russia finds herself in the choice company of Indonesia and Barbados, the difference being that neither of those seeks global domination.

The rating means no Western company in its right mind will invest in Russia, and the country will have to pay over the odds to borrow from the money markets.

Vlad put on a brave face, and for once he was right. Neither of those consequences matters much.

No one is investing in Russia anyway, quite the opposite. Capital is fleeing the country, to the tune of $152 billion last year – three times the rate of the previous several years. And Western sanctions make it practically impossible for Russia to borrow money anyway.

So S&P can choke on their rating and crawl back into their CIA hole, as far as Vlad is concerned. It’s not the money that rankles, but the humiliation.

And Vlad has been sensitive to humiliation ever since school, when bullies picked on him because he was short. It was humiliation that drove him into a judo dojo and made him seek KGB employment when still a pimply schoolboy.

Both were his way of getting back at those bullies – and the rest of the world while he was at it. And now it’s Nato that’s the bully, along with its S&P hireling.

They think they can hit him in the wallet, but they have another think coming. His personal wallet, bulging with about $40 billion, is perfectly safe, and so are the wallets of the billionaire gangsters who make up Vlad’s coterie.

Speaking of which, to crown it all, those British lackeys to Nato, Mossad and the CIA opened an official inquest into the 2006 murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

That ex-colleague of Vlad’s in the KGB escaped to London and started publishing malicious rumours about Putin’s personal links to organised crime, specifically though not exclusively to the Russian Mafia operating in Spain.

Now Vlad is being accused of having sent two of his trusted KGB henchmen to London, to slip tens of millions’ worth of polonium into Litvinenko’s tea. Well, what if he did?

Wouldn’t you do the same if you were accused of Mafia links, and paying eight figures for polonium was no problem? Of course you would, especially if the accusation were true.

What is interesting about the inquest isn’t its likely outcome. After all, anyone with a bit of common sense knows that Vlad is as guilty as Cain. “Everyone knows” is of course short of proof beyond reasonable doubt, but we aren’t in a court of law now.

The radioactive trail of the polonium leads all the way to Russia, and only her government could get its hands on a substance of which merely 100g is annually produced in the world.

And no government official would have decided to ‘whack’ Litvinenko without a direct authorisation from the Kremlin. This is all even before we start asking the lapidary cui bono question, establishing that, in addition to the means, Vlad had a motive.

What I find fascinating about the inquest is its timing. After all, Litivinenko’s widow and her lawyers were seeking justice in vain for eight years, in the face of HMG’s reluctance to pursue the matter.

Yes, everyone knew that Putin was involved, but rocking the boat wasn’t ‘helpful’ at a time when HMG chose to overlook the openly criminal nature of Vlad’s kleptofascist regime. Hence a bit of nuclear terrorism in the middle of London was overlooked as an unfortunate hiccup on the way to Russia’s shining democratic future.

Justice was held hostage to politics. Now the political situation has changed, and justice has been set free. If Vlad decides to take it easy on the Ukraine before the end of the inquest, justice will again be manacled. 

Verily I say unto you, the rule of law does work in mysterious ways in today’s Britain. Perhaps the Hague Tribunal will do better when it finally gets its hands on Vlad.


“I’m an idiot,” admits Benedict Cumberbatch

One ought to compliment the actor on his capacity for frank self-assessment. Not many idiots acknowledge their mental deficiency with such openness and equanimity.

Actually, as someone who grew up in an actor’s family, I know that Mr Cumberbatch’s honesty was pretty much redundant. All he had to say was “I’m an actor.”

I’m not trying to suggest that it’s impossible to find an intelligent actor. All I’m saying is that I’ve never met one, and I’ve met many thespians in my life.

There must be something about the ease with which actors slip into other people’s personalities to suggest they haven’t got much in the way of their own. And if one looks for empirical proof to support this a priori proposition, all one has to do is to read a random show business column.

For example, the other day the half-Kiwi, half-Aussie actor Russell Crowe was in South Korea, plugging yet another film about Australians in the First World War.

By the sound of it, the film’s main message is that Britain’s principal war aim was to have as many Australians killed as was possible without wholly divesting the country of its male population.

Having donned the personality of one of the victims in the film, Mr Crowe clearly hadn’t had time to doff it by the time the promotion tour rolled along.

Speaking to a South Korean audience he expressed an unscripted belief that Korea’s plight under the Japanese occupation was exactly the same as Australia’s was – and still is! – under British tyranny.

My wife was up in arms, but then I reminded her of Mr Crowe’s profession and asked her to consider the source. She instantly quieted down.

As to Mr Cumberbatch, it’s not his honest admission, laudable though it is, that’s remarkable, but the circumstances that prompted it.

Speaking on an American TV chat show, Mr Cumberbatch felt called upon to highlight his impeccable liberal credentials.

To that end he dropped a tear or two for the plight of British black actors, who work on their craft just as hard as Mr Cumberbatch, but find good roles harder to come by. “I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK,” he concluded.

COLOURED!!! He might as well have said that all black actors should be sent out to work in a cotton field – the ensuing brouhaha wouldn’t, couldn’t, have been any more thunderous.

Never mind the impeccably liberal sentiment – feel the word ‘coloured’. No one cares what Mr Cumberbatch, or anyone else for that matter, thinks, means or even says. Content is nothing; form, everything.

If Mr Cumberbatch hadn’t realised this before, the public outrage in all media drove the point home with sledgehammer power.

“Racist!” “Outrageous!!” “Offensive!!!” “Insulting!” Each red-hot denotation spelled an earth-shattering connotation: Mr Cumberbatch could kiss the Oscar for which he was nominated good-bye.

Such awards sometimes go to giftless hams, but they never, ever go to racists, homophobes, misogynists or any other transgressors against the ‘progressive’ code Hollywood upholds more passionately than the Decalogue and the Sermon of the Mount put together.

The definition of a racist is broad. It may include not only someone who professes hatred for other races, but also someone who is UNAWARE or INSENSITIVE.

And failing to keep track of the kaleidoscopically fluid terminology deemed appropriate to describe members of off-white races is a sure sign of a well-nigh criminal deficit in awareness and sensitivity.

Clearly, if Cumberbatch wanted to retain a Chinaman’s… sorry, an American Person of Chinese Extraction’s chance of catching the coattails of the disappearing Oscar, he had to defend himself and do it fast.

Now, the easiest way to present a case for the defence would have been to point out that the most powerful American organisation devoted to the fight against racial discrimination is called the NAACP.

And that, ladies and gentlemen of the self-appointed jury, stands for the National Association for the Advancement of – are you ready for this? – Coloured People!

So the term still has currency in the best possible circles. Black people who feel slighted or offended seek solace at the NAACP’s good offices without ever feeling the least bit offended.

That’s what I would have said. But I’m not running for an Oscar, and my own liberal credentials are anyway shot to hell every time I put my fingers on the Mac keyboard.

Mr Cumberbatch felt he really had to ham it up this time. And so he did, issuing a 147-word statement in which he owned up to idiocy.

“I’m devastated,” he beat himself on the chest, “to have caused offence by using this outmoded terminology… I make no excuse for my being an idiot and know the damage is done…”

The damage is indeed done – to Mr Cumberbatch’s Oscar chances. Those were already rather slim, for his very name has strong racist overtones.

One doesn’t bump into too many Benedict Cumberbatches at a Peckam or Brixton council estate or, for that matter, a South Bronx or Watts project. The name screams ‘white middle class’ or, even worse, ‘white upper-middle class’.

And “white upper-middle class” in its turn screams ‘racist’ so loudly that one has to strain one’s vocal chords to outshout it with redeeming messages. The subtlest of hints at the remotest of possibilities that the chap acts in the character implied by his moniker, and he’s dead.

Not physically, you understand, not yet anyway. He’s dead socially in the very circles that nominate chaps for Oscars, invite them to Notting Hill or Park Avenue parties, admit them to Pall Mall clubs and their American equivalents.

So he might as well be dead physically – unless he does a DIY Lazarus and comes back to social life by issuing nauseating, grovelling, stupid apologies.

But perhaps Mr Cumberbatch doesn’t realise that’s what they are. He is, after all, a self-admitted idiot.





Kouachi brothers are terrorists? Not to the BBC

According to Tarik Kafala, head of BBC Arabic, the word ‘terrorist’ is too ‘loaded’ and ‘value-laden’. Why not just say “two men killed 12 people” and leave it at that?

I agree wholeheartedly.

The English language has grown way too big for its own good. All this innate English pedantry has led to uncountable concepts fractured into numerous sub-concepts, each demanding its own word.

This creates all sorts of problems. For one thing, our educational systems simply can’t cope with such lexical cornucopia. As a result, pupils jettisoned into the world of work know only about 1,000 words, and even those they can neither read fluently nor spell.

How do you suppose it makes them feel when all around them they hear English words that to them might as well be Nepali? It makes them feel dejected and rejected, that’s how.

The inferiority complex descends faster than you can say socio-economically disadvantaged.

For those who don’t understand polysyllabic words, inferiority complex means a richly justified realisation that one is indeed inferior. Yet such feelings have no place in our progressive world. The word ‘inferior’ isn’t just laden with values; it positively bursts with it.

No one is inferior or superior to anyone. We are all equal in every respect, and if it appears that some standards are too high for some people, then the standards must be lowered.

Applied to the task at hand, this approach means that the word ‘man’ must be made to work overtime, to convey all sorts of meanings hitherto assigned to more precise words. Simple, isn’t it?

Everyone knows the word, so no problem there, especially if ‘man’ is followed by ‘their’, as in “every man must do their duty”.

Thus it isn’t an engineer who designs bridges, but a man. Not a footballer who scores a goal, but a man. No scientists, bus drivers, geologists, social workers, state officials, musicians, vicars – there are only men and/or women and/or other.

That way no one has to rack his – their!!! – brain trying to remember the difference between, say, a paediatrician and a paedophile.

One man/woman/other treats children, another man/woman/other has sex with them. Sancta simplicitas. No linguistic difficulties, no pedantic nit-picking with definitions, no one feels inferior and therefore offended.

Now just imagine the offence that a word like ‘terrorist’ can cause. The kind people who have put together BBC guidelines clearly can’t imagine it, or rather don’t see why they have to.

One side’s terrorists are the other side’s freedom fighters, we all know that. Using the word ‘terrorist’ automatically puts the speaker on one side and against the other. This presupposes an implicit rejection of moral parity, which is just not on.

In any case, says Mr Kafala, the word is indefinable. “The UN has been struggling to define the word for more than a decade and they can’t.” You mean, even if they haven’t gone through our comprehensive education?

My trusted dictionary defines terrorism as “the unofficial or unauthorised use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” What fault do the UN and Mr Kafala find with this definition? Sounds pretty accurate to me.

The purpose of terrorism is to terrorise, in the words of Vladimir Lenin, a renowned authority on the subject.

The stratagem has been known since at least the Sicarii of biblical times, but the word ‘terrorism’ only appeared in English courtesy of the French Jacobins, Lenin’s acknowledged role models.

So let’s see how tightly the dictionary definition fits the Paris AK wielders. They didn’t act in any officially authorised capacity – tick. They used violence and intimidation – tick. They pursued political objectives – tick.

Sounds like the word fits them to a T, as in terrorism. That, however, isn’t the point at all, according to BBC lexicographers.

They are sensitive not just to the cold-blooded semantics but also to the emotional colouring. Even if the former is spot-on, the latter can still offend.

In this instance the offended parties would be all those millions of BBC viewers and listeners who are on the side of, well, the Paris men. And they have a sacred right not to be offended, bestowed upon them by the God of Diversity.

He is a wrathful and vengeful God – sin against him at your peril. So just say ‘man’ and shut up.

What, ‘man’ is too general for you? Well, if you insist, the BBC will kindly provide other options.

How about ‘attacker’? No values anywhere in sight: you can defend any cause and hence you can attack its foes.

Still too harsh a term? Then how about ‘militant’, asks the BBC. Christians talk about ‘Church Militant’, so what can possibly be wrong with Mosque Militants? Nothing at all. Fair is fair.

If you’re still unhappy, try ‘bomber’, says the BBC. A Lancaster dropping blockbusters on Germany is a bomber, so is a ‘man’ blowing up a school bus. No values, no judgement, the God of Diversity has a grin on his face.  

“Our responsibility,” states the BBC guidance, “is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.”

All assessments, it hardly needs saying, are equally valid. To you, the Kouachi brothers may be terrorists. To Mr Kafala they are just ‘men’. To the BBC at large they may, at a stretch, be called ‘attackers’ or, at a tighter stretch, ‘militants’.

And in my assessment we should refuse to pay the BBC licence fee. After all, it too is loaded with value. £145.50 of it.





Trust Tony to find the right words for Abdullah

King Abdullah’s death deeply saddened the heads of both our state and government.

Dave and the Queen manufactured sadness for public consumption with enviable skill, finding some balance between diplomatic protocol and hamming it up.

They then agreed that flags should be flown at half mast over Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey.

This last one is particularly baffling, considering that the Abbey is still a residually Christian place of worship. That’s what we get for having an established church, I suppose.

If our church answered only to Our Lord Jesus Christ, I doubt it would be overly distressed over the demise of a monarch in whose kingdom there is not a single church, conversion to Christianity is punishable by death and even possession of a bible is a crime.

But being a state church, the C of E has to do as the government does. And the government does whatever it takes to keep the Saudis sweet. After all, 6,000 British companies are doing billions’ worth of trade with Saudi Arabia, and that sort of thing outweighs any possible moral considerations.

The Queen can’t speak in her own voice either, only in that of her ventriloquist, who at present is named Dave. Otherwise one doubts that Her Majesty would be even as upset as her condolences suggest, which isn’t very.

But Tony Blair, now Tony is different. He really spoke from what passes for his heart: “He was loved by his people and will be deeply missed.”

Now I don’t think I’ve ever in my life had the pleasure of speaking to a single Saudi, much less covering a representative sample. But on general principle, one has to think that the love Tony mentioned wasn’t evenly spread among Abdullah’s subjects.

For example one doubts that many Saudi women loved the monarch who didn’t let them drive, vote or leave the house without a male chaperone.

(You realise, I hope, that I’m talking about their emotions, not my own. Personally, much as I deplore the last measure, I can see the merit in the other two, considering that most British women tend to vote Labour, and one of them tries to drive into me every time I take my car out.)

Nor do I think there is much weeping in the families of those women who have been stoned to death for a little hanky-panky out of wedlock.

The families of victims executed for blasphemy probably aren’t shedding tears either, especially since blasphemy is interpreted rather broadly by Saudi kangaroo… sorry, I meant Sharia courts.

Nor are the 1.2 million banned Saudi Christians lighting too many candles. One reason is that they can only do so in their home churches, but even that is all their lives are worth.

Such churches and private prayer meetings are regularly raided by police, with every participant flogged, imprisoned or simply ‘disappeared’, not practices that could have endeared the late king to the victims too much.

One hates to mention petty criminals in the same breath, but the kind of thief who in the UK would get a suspended sentence in Saudi Arabia gets his right hand cut off. I doubt such reluctant southpaws are rolling on the floor in an agony of grief even as we speak.

So who outside the King’s (very) extended family and their oil traders does Tony think loved the late chap?

Such questions are often tactless and always pointless. For Tony doesn’t think the way we do.

Tony himself was a tyrant, because that’s what every ‘leader’ of our putative democracies is. Admittedly he didn’t have as much power as Abdullah, but his power far exceeded that of the ‘absolute’ monarchs of Christendom, whom our populace is brainwashed to regard as tyrannical.

And tyrants tend – nay, need – to believe that they and their ilk are the objects of wide adulation.

Sometimes such beliefs aren’t unfounded. In some less civilised (if not necessarily less cultured) countries, the more a tyrant oppresses the people, the more they love him. This sort of collective masochism is amply covered in both sociological and psychiatric literature.

In our sham democracies, on the other hand, people usually vote a tyrant in not because they love him, but because they dislike him less than the other chap.

That is certainly the case in Britain, and subconsciously – at least I hope this feeling isn’t conscious – our spivocrats must envy those seas of people, all screaming their love for the leader in the places where such love is mandatory.

Hence Tony’s choice of words.

For his panegyric for Abdullah sounds suspiciously like the one a past tyrant delivered for his counterpart in another country.

On 23 August, 1939, representatives of Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union met in the Kremlin to sign the pact that pushed the button for the Second World War.

But that was still a week away. Meanwhile, that momentous event was lavishly celebrated at a banquet given by Stalin in honour of the Nazi signatory, Foreign Minister Ribbentrop.

There the international socialist butcher proposed a toast to the national socialist one: “I know how much the German nation loves its Führer,” said Stalin. “I should therefore like to drink to his health.”

I wonder if echoes of those words were ringing in the back of what passes for Tony’s mind when he wrote his lament on Abdullah’s death.

Possibly. Then again, possibly not. But the similarity of words surely reflects the similarity of sentiment. Tyrants do tend to identify with other tyrants more than with their own people. 






Putin’s TV show merits a Golden Globe at least

The other day a mortar shell hit a trolleybus stop in the beleaguered Ukrainian city of Donetsk, sending shards of glass, pieces of metal and body parts flying.

Both sides in the conflict blamed each other for the killing of 13 victims, with the bandits calling themselves the Donetsk People’s Republic screaming ‘Stop thief!’ more loudly.

However, the OSCE ballistic analysis showed that the mortar involved was the type widely used by Putin’s bandits. Moreover, the nearest Ukrainian position was at twice the mortar range, while the ‘separatists’ were well within it.

Not being an expert in ballistics, I can’t have an independent view on the technicalities involved. But I do know something about TV production, and the Russians’ mastery of this art deserves every accolade, including the coveted Golden Globe award.

A TV crew appeared on the scene within minutes, as did a crowd of shocked and indignant bystanders, weeping and wailing to the highest thespian standards.

Unlike me, they were all experts in ballistics. None of them had the slightest doubt that the mortar had been fired by the Judaeo-Nazi Banderites, otherwise known as the Ukraine’s armed forces.

Leading the crowd was a saleswoman from the supermarket next door, who wore an outraged expression and her store’s uniform. Yes, she had seen the explosion, she sobbed, and yes, the shot came from there (a dramatic gesture in the general direction of Kiev).

No RT viewer could have remained indifferent. Millions had to realise how truly beastly the Ukrainian republic was.

No, scratch that. There is no Ukrainian republic in any other than the formal, window-dressing sense. There are only puppets whose wires are being pulled by the US-CIA-EU-Mossad-MI6 Nazis driven by zoological hatred of Russia, as personified by the KGB colonel Putin.

Stills of the scene immediately went viral on the net, and there wasn’t a single newspaper or TV station in Russia that failed to flash them bigger than life.

That turned out to be a mistake. Some readers, presumably those belonging to the 14 per cent of Russians who don’t feel Putin is Christ’s messenger on earth, had a close look at the photos and couldn’t shake the feeling that the irate saleswoman’s face looked familiar.

They then looked at some previous photographs and, lo and behold, the same woman featured as the star model in two of them.

The earlier one was a still from an RT news show last summer. The very same woman was allegedly an eyewitness to another heinous crime perpetrated by the Judaeo-Nazi fascists: the crucifixion of a three-year-old boy, nailed by the Ukies to a notice board in the city of Slavyansk.

Alas, she was the sole witness and no corroborating evidence was ever presented, which angered the marginal, independent part of the Russian press. Comparisons of Putin and Goebbels became common currency, and somehow accounts of the crucified tot faded off TV screens.

So did the eyewitness, but not for long. On 13 January, the bandits fired rockets at a Ukrainian checkpoint in Volnovakha, a suburb of Donetsk. That created a bit of a splash because a full city bus had been blown up in the process, killing 12 passengers.

The bandits’ first reaction was to claim the major military coup of destroying an enemy roadblock.

However, when the news of the blown-up bus spread, they blamed the other side for the crime, as one does. They, the bandits… sorry, the volunteers in the service of the Donetsk People’s republic, had no “technical means to shell the area.”

What about the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission that studied the five craters and concluded that they were caused by “rockets fired from a north-north-eastern direction” (the bandits’ position)?

Well, what do you expect from those hirelings of Wall Street, the CIA and Mossad? Here, talk to the surviving victims. They’ll tell you what’s what.

And there she was, our hard-working woman in a hospital bed, her face emaciated, her head bandaged, her arm in a sling. She explained who the true criminals were, sob, and demanded, sob, that they be brought to account.

Excellent performance, shame about the casting. For laying the photographs of the three incidents side by side, one of the 14-per-centers identified the woman as the Russian TV actress Galina Pyshniak.

Speculations immediately ensued, no doubt fuelled by secret funds provided by the US-CIA-EU-Mossad-MI6 and other hotbeds of global Russophobic fascism.

An RT film crew appeared at the bombed trolleybus stop within minutes of the mortar explosion, armed with cameras, rent-a-crowd and Miss Pyshniak in full flow, already sporting the uniform of the relevant supermarket.

It was as if the Russians had known in advance when and where the mortar shell would go off, which would only have been possible if they… No, we must nip such libellous musings in the bud.

Meanwhile, Donetsk’s Prokofiev Airport, which cultured denizens named after the great composer born nearby, is no more. After holding out for 234 days, longer than the siege of Stalingrad almost 70 years earlier, the Ukrainian army withdrew, leaving behind, well, nothing much.

The airport, now commonly called ‘Ukrainian Stalingrad’, was razed by an artillery barrage ordered by Alexander Zakharchenko, the chieftain of the band… sorry, President of the Donetsk People’s Republic. Or, to be specific, by his employer Col. Putin.

The only way to fly in and out of Donetsk is now by Russian military helicopter… I have to apologise yet again.

Everyone not in the pay of the US-CIA-EU-Mossad-MI6 fascists knows that Russia has nothing to do with the spontaneous uprising of Russophone Ukrainians against the Kiev Nazis elected by a landslide.

Said Russophones went to the local supermarket, possibly the same one that later employed the job-sharing Miss Pyshniak, and bought everything they needed for driving the Ukrainian army out of Donetsk Airport.

Rifles, grenades, machineguns, personnel carriers, tanks, missile launchers, AA systems, mortars, artillery batteries – none of it came from Russia. Nor did any of the wielders of this kit, even though some of them served in the airborne brigade almost totally wiped out by the Ukrainians.

That is, yes, it’s hard to deny that some of the bodies belonged to Russian soldiers. But they were not under Russian command at the time. They were… well, on furlough. The lads could have gone to some resort or else to see their parents. Instead they chose to die in the Ukraine, and who can blame them? Their cause was just.

Meanwhile, Russian state media, so trusted by Peter Hitchens et al, are screaming themselves hoarse, shouting ‘On to Kiev!’, ‘On to Kharkov!’, ‘On to Lvov!’, ‘On to Vilnus!’, ‘On to Warsaw!’

Drums rattle, bugles blow, Putin’s approval ratings hold fast. Let’s just hope that the little man with the Napoleon complex doesn’t decide that the only way to keep his ratings is to act on his henchmen’s slogans.







A trillion here, a trillion there…

Have you noticed how the word ‘trillion’, in whatever currency, has become part of everyday vocabulary?

No one writing about Western economies bothers mentioning puny little millions any longer, and thousands might as well be dirt under our feet. Even the billion, until recently thought to be a fairly respectable monetary unit, has fallen by the wayside.

We, meaning Westerners, are so rich that we think in trillions now. Isn’t it absolutely wonderful?

Well, to realise exactly how wonderfully rich we are, stage this simple experiment.

Take a £10 note to an off-licence and buy a bottle of wine (drink responsibly, I must add). Then take another £10 note and add a few zeroes to the numeral 10 with a black felt-tip pen.

Now, to get an instant grasp of modern economics, go to the same shop, triumphantly waving your banknote – in the face of hard reality.

You’ll find that your new wealth will only buy exactly the same bottle you previously bought for £10. Turns out you have more zeroes, but no more money.

This admittedly crude example illustrates the fallacy of quantitative easing (QE). It also makes a mockery of the decision by the European Central Bank (ECB) to inject €1.1 trillion worth of life into the eurozone’s moribund economies.

The measure is, to expand on the wine analogy, akin to using alcohol as a treatment for alcoholism.

It’s irresponsible spending funded by borrowing and the printing press that’s largely responsible for the current near-catastrophic plight of the eurozone.

The rest of the responsibility rests on the shoulders of the subversive schemers who used the explosive prop of a single currency to play political games with the economy in the first place, but this is by the bye.

QE is an excellent tool for stimulating growth – not of the economy, that is, but in the politicians’ approval ratings. It’s a short-term solution, some wallpaper masking the growing cracks in the masonry. It’s also a crowbar making the cracks wider.

While the term QE is of relatively recent origin, the underlying concept has been in wide use for a century, and the Brits shouldn’t feel smug about the eurozone’s death throes.

We ourselves provide a nice illustrative example of what QE does to the economy. Among its many disastrous consequences one instantly springs to mind: QE devalues money and overvalues assets.

In most people’s cases, it keeps their real income down and their house prices up – provided they already own a house.

After all, most people are paid in money, not assets. And money is worth less and less. For example, before the advent of QE as a standard peacetime measure, £100 pounds in 1850 equalled £110 in 1900, a negligible inflation of 10 percent over half a century.

That meant British subjects could confidently plan for their future, anticipating that hard work accompanied by a lifetime of thrift could make them independent not only of want but also of the state.

And a baby born in 1850 with a silver spoon in his mouth, the worth of that utensil being, say, a solid middle-class income of £500 a year, could live his whole life in reasonable comfort even if he never made a penny of his own.

Conversely, if we look at the next century, £100 in 1950 equalled £2,000 in 2000 – a wealth-busting, soul-destroying inflation of 2,000 percent.

This meant that the silver spoon would quickly drop out of the mouth of a similarly hypothetical baby born in 1950: unless he grew up to be successful at his job or shrewd with his investments, he would be poor.

To take another Anglo-Saxon currency as an example, in the last 100 years the US dollar has lost 95 percent of its value, a marginally better, though still abysmal, performance.

This has been accompanied by an inordinate growth in property prices. In the last 50 years, asset inflation in Britain has outpaced money inflation by a factor of 10, which explains why workmen’s cottages of yesteryear have become ‘luxury homes’ in the jargon of today’s estate agents.

Empirical knowledge is a rather lowly cognitive tool, but it’s perfectly adequate in economics. In other words, the economic past is a reliable predictor of the future.

And the past predicts that the fantastic, or rather phantasmagorical, sum of €1.1 trillion coming the eurozone way courtesy of the ECB will have a disastrous long-term effect.

The rich, who own most assets, will become richer, and the ‘poor’, those who depend on income for their livelihood, will become poorer – and more resentful.

This recent fit of QE epilepsy is thus tantamount not only to an economic bomb but also a social one. When it goes off, it’ll scatter the fragments of the eurozone all over the world, and we’d be naïve to think that we won’t be hit.

“Bonanza for Britain” screams a headline in The Times, which only goes to show how low the paper has sunk in its intellectual content.

“The stimulus will herald a new era of cheaper holidays and cut-price imports for Britain, experts said,” explains the paper.

One wonders exactly how expert those experts are. Real experts would have added that any long-term economic calamities in the EU will only bypass us if we are no longer in it.

As long as Britain stays in this awful contrivance, its problems will be ours, if only vicariously. The eurozone is, after all, our major trading partner, accounting for 44 per cent of our exports.

As their money is devalued by the short-sighted infusion of €1.1 trillion, and as the pound strengthens against the euro, Europeans won’t be able to afford our goods any longer, which is bad news for our economy.

The lower holiday costs notwithstanding, it can become good, or at least indifferent, news only if we redirect our exports to the other continents, all of which thrive as Europe stagnates. But to do so, we must leave the EU – effective immediately, and never mind the referendum.

The QE thus becomes a QED, or would do so for any responsible government. Don’t you wish we had one?


P.S. Most of the numbers used in this article come from my book The Crisis Behind Our Crisis, which, in an attempt at sound economics, I commend to your attention.










Perhaps all Anglicans should convert to Buddhism

I’ve been trying for years to find a good word to say about the professional Tory Tim Montgomerie of The Times, but he makes it extremely difficult.

So much happier I was to see the title of his today’s article The Church Is Blighted by Its Left-Wing Bias. At last, I thought, preparing to enjoy every word. Tim has finally seen the light and he’s going to shine it upon us.

Alas, my hopes were raised sky high, but that only made the subsequent fall to earth so much more shattering.

Right diagnosis, shame about the proposed treatment. Mongomerie is absolutely right when saying that Anglican prelates should talk more about “the miraculous nature of Jesus Christ” and less about public policy, especially when their take on it reeks of Marxism with a Druid dimension.

But then Montgomerie has to go and spoil all the good prep work by citing “the Church of England’s great success story – London… [under] the inspired leadership of the Bishop of London, the Right Rev Richard Chartres.”

The leadership has been so inspired that it’s now practically impossible to find a 1662 parish in the London diocese, one that still uses the Authorised Version and the Prayer Book. This is the liturgical equivalent of the same ‘left-wing bias’ that so vexes Mr Montgomerie, something he clearly fails to realise.

The great success story of London and the hope for “the renewal of the whole Church of England” are for him exemplified by Holy Trinity, Brompton, with “its famous Alpha course”.

This, according to Mr Montgomerie, is one of the few places of worship that “find ways to answer the questions about faith posed by a university-educated population.”

I don’t know which university Montogomerie has in mind, not that it matters much any longer. The difference between Oxbridge and a newly converted polytechnic is these days mostly limited to the resulting CV, not the education.

But a truly educated Christian has to see the Alpha course for what it is: a happy-clappy, quasi-Pentecostal, share-care-be-aware heresy for the intellectually challenged and theologically ignorant.

Whatever turns people on, I suppose, but to attach to the Alpha course hopes for ecclesiastical renewal is cloud-cuckoo land – especially in the context of a general lament about the dire state of Christianity in England and the leftward slant of its established church.

The state of Christianity in England is indeed dire, which has not only spiritual but also political consequences, especially in the face of the Islamic threat.

Islam is a feeble religion, but there is nothing feeble about the ardour of its adherents. Say what you will about Islam, but many Muslims are prepared to kill and be killed for it.

When push come to shove, somehow one fears that not many Westerners will be ready to die for what’s on offer as a spiritual alternative to Islam: the human rights of women, homosexuals, animals and rubber trees.

It takes a strong metaphysical statement to muffle a weak one, and such a statement in the West can only ever come from Christianity. Its failure in this respect is fatally dangerous at a time when Muslims increasingly tend to manifest their piety with Soviet-made assault rifles.

These days even Buddhists express themselves on this subject more robustly than Christians, shattering the image of pacific saffron-robed chaps wholly devoted to navel-gazing and meditation.

Witness the brouhaha about the uncompromising declaration made by Ashin Wirathu, one of the leaders of the Buddhist nationalist movement in Burma, or whatever it’s supposed to be called nowadays.

Mr Wirathu’s movement fights for Burma to remain Buddhist, rather than being overrun by Muslims. To that end it proposes curbs on religious conversions and interfaith marriages, along with other measures, some with strong racial overtones.

Without in any way condoning any of these, one can still envy the self-sacrificial passion with which Mr Wirathu speaks out for his beliefs (for which he has already served a long prison sentence).

Naturally, whenever the new multi-culti gospel is sinned against, international organisations must have their say. In this instance, the righteous, or rather self-righteous, criticism came from the UN envoy Yanghee Lee.

This South Korean woman favours the full gamut of internationalist idiom: severe dark suits, Jermyn Street shirts and uncompromising attitudes to any principled attacks on any religion, except Christianity.

However, unlike our namby-pamby London Christians so close to Mongomerie’s heart, the Burmese Buddhist monk wouldn’t bend over and take his punishment stoically. Instead he came back fighting:

“The bitch criticised the laws without studying them properly,” he shouted to a huge crowd of eager listeners. “Don’t assume that you are a respectable person because of your position. For us, you are a whore.”

I assume Mr Wirathu was using the term figuratively, in reference to Miss Lee’s moral failings, rather than literally, as a comment on her sexual behaviour.

In either case one can’t possibly countenance the use of such language when talking about a woman, even if she works for the UN and shares its attitudes.

But one can still envy the clarity of both sentiment and message – something beyond the latter-day Church of England with all its ‘inspired leadership.’