Is God a man? Is the Bishop Christian?

This fashion accessory is designed for men only

Every profession demands some essential qualifications.

Writers must know grammar, musicians must be able to read music,  accountants must be good at numbers.

In the same vein, priests must worship Jesus Christ and believe in his divinity. But that’s only for a start.

Some grounding in theology is essential too, for priests not only officiate various sacraments but also teach their flock. And the flock may at times have doubts.

One way of allaying them is to answer cogently their probing questions about things like Virgin Birth, the Holy Trinity or why the meek will inherit the world. Hence priests who are ignorant of theology are in default of their remit – and similarly uneducated bishops even more so.

As you understand, I’m here talking strictly about Christians. A person can be highly moral and even, with certain in-built limitations, intelligent without believing in God or knowing anything about theology.

What such a man can’t, or rather shouldn’t, be is a priest. This seems to be self-evident, but nothing really is nowadays. Old certitudes no longer apply, and neither does elementary common sense.

This preamble explains why I think that many prelates of the Church of England aren’t qualified for the job: they don’t really believe in God and the divinity of Christ. And they have neither the brains nor the learning to get their heads around even elementary theology.

One case in point is the Rt Rev Rachel Treweek, who holds the distinction of being the first, but regrettably not last, female bishop.

Now some of my Anglican friends may disagree, but I don’t think any devout and intelligent Christian woman will even want to become a priest because such a career flies in the face of two millennia of tradition started by Christ himself.

(Jesus didn’t consecrate any female bishops, aka apostles, even though some of the women around him were as important as the twelve, and one, the Virgin, much more so.)

Proceeding from this premise, it follows that any woman sporting a dog collar is either a dubious Christian or an ignoramus, or both. Perhaps there may be some exceptions to this generalisation, but certainly not many.

Her Grace certainly isn’t one of them because she thinks that describing God as ‘he’ poses a terrible problem. As a result, only one per cent of respondents in a recent YouGov poll believe God is female and half of the young respondents think God is male.

One would think that any sensible Christian would explain to those people that thinking of God as either a man or a woman represents pagan anthropomorphism at its most soaring.

There’s no reason Her Grace should be familiar with the Catholic catechism, but it does make this point unequivocally: “God is neither man nor woman: he is God”. Because God has no physical body, he has neither male nor female sex characteristics.

But the good bishop isn’t about to disabuse her flock of such ignorant notions. She’s preoccupied with more vital things:

“I am very hot about saying we can always look at what we are communicating… I don’t want young girls or young boys to hear us constantly refer to God as ‘he’ [because] those things are giving subconscious messages to people.”

I agree that this message shouldn’t be subconscious. Priests should explain to their communicants in no uncertain terms that, even though God is neither a man nor a woman, there exist incontrovertible reasons for referring to him with the male personal pronoun.

Alas, being both unwilling to do that because they’re crypto-atheists, and unable to do so because they’re ignoramuses, these ladies lodge themselves instead in their comfort zone by mouthing dim-witted feminist rubbish.

Thus another bishop, Jo Bailey Wells, says that saying ‘he’ is a “growing problem as language becomes more gender neutral”. Liturgical or street language, Your Grace? She probably doesn’t realise there’s a difference.

And the Rev Sally Hitchens adds that it’s ‘heretical’ to say God is only male. Quite. Both heretical and stupid, I’d suggest. As is eschewing the pronoun ‘he’ when referring to God.

These professionals are so cosmically ignorant that even a rank amateur like me feels entitled to explain a thing or two to them (not that they’d understand). In doing so, I’ll appeal to both church tradition and theology.

The tradition is indisputable: Christians refer to God as ‘father’ because Jesus himself did so. And Christians don’t discard out of hand any of Christ’s teachings.

They believe that, since Christ is the fullest revelation of God, he isn’t to be ignored when he himself reveals how God should be addressed.

C.S. Lewis, a real Anglican, explained this exhaustively:

“…Christians think that God himself has taught us how to speak of him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely human in origin, or else that, though inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable: or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favour of Christian priestesses but against Christianity.”

Jesus Christ referred to God as his father and couldn’t have done otherwise: his mother, Mary, would have been upset had her son disavowed her by addressing God as ‘mother’.

The Apostles’ Creed reflects this by stressing the masculine role played by God the Father through the medium of the Holy Spirit: Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary”.

This alone should be enough to put paid to this matter. But at the risk of taking those reverend ladies out of their depth, one could add that the Judaeo-Christian God made the world as a free act of absolute creation, that is out of nothing (ab nihilo).

The human father imitates this act by initiating conception. Though both he and the woman are essential to it, the man, by impregnating the woman, is the active agent; the woman, by being impregnated, is the passive one.

Thus, referring to God as ‘he’ is a sound metaphor. But it’s also a sound analogy, for a father embodies what theologians call the ‘principle’ of procreation.

Because a man procreates outside his own body, he stands outside and above his creation in the sense in which a woman doesn’t. She conceives and gestates the child inside her body, and in that sense the child is a part of her, even though the man also contributes his DNA.

Symbolically the couple imitates the act of divine creation. The man is both transcendent (standing outside and above his creation) and immanent (present within it). The woman, on the other hand, is only immanent.

The reason theologians insist on referring, both metaphorically and analogously, to God as father is that his transcendence is a more important property than his immanence. Thus in Trinitarian doctrine the first hypostasis can only be treated as Father.

I realise that the non-Christians among you aren’t particularly interested in such recondite matters. What upsets me is that neither are the prelates in our state church.

Truth of Novichok poisoning

Sails-berry cathedral, a major attraction for Russian lovers of Gotistic architecture

Messrs Petrov and Boshirov are getting bad press at the moment, and the only feeble attempt at some balance came from an inept RT interview.

Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor, bungled the discussion by obviously leading the two gentlemen into silly replies.

I don’t know what she was trying to achieve, but teasing out the truth clearly wasn’t it.

A gaping hole was left open, and that’s what I set out to plug. Thankfully, my contacts in Moscow are still good. In fact, my friend Vlad Putin keeps inviting me there as his guest of honour.

“You’ll get the surprise of your life, Al,” he told me the other day. However, fearing that my brittle health ill-prepares me for even pleasant surprises, I respectfully turned his hospitality down.

Instead I arranged for a Skype interview with Pet and Bosh, as they like to be known to their friends of whom they rightly feel I’m one. So here’s the transcript, and I hope it clears up the matter once and for all.

AB: What took you to England, lads?

Bosh: You need to ask? Our handler… I mean friend told us: “Boys, I know how you love Gotistic architecture. But there’s more to it than Chartreuse and Bourget Cathedrals in France. Go west, boys, go to England. And boys? Keep it down at night when you munch on each other in hotel rooms. The Brits aren’t as tolerant as we are.”

AB: And so you went?

Pet: You bet. We saw some fine samples of Early Gotistic at Cadbury Cathedral, took in a bit of Decorated Gotistic at York Minister…

Bosh: And then we went on the razzle in Gay London…

Pet: No, Pet, it’s Paree that’s gay…

Bosh: Gay is where you are, Pet. Anyway, we checked into that fleabag in the East End, all we could afford after we bought some spliffs at King’s Cross and a couple of, you know, toys at that shop in Soho…

Pet: That’s right. The fleabag is where our handler… I mean friend told us to stay. That’s where all poor Russians stay, so, for us to feel at home, the staff don’t even bother to change the sheets or mop up the puke.

Bosh: So we had our shindig, got shitfaced, woke up the next morning, puked and went to Watercloset Station.

Pet: That’s where you catch a train for Sails-berry Cathedral…

Bosh: That’s right. Our handler… I mean friend told us: “Boys, you’ve got to see Sails-berry Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is one of the leading examples of Early English architecture…”

Pet: The main body of the cathedral was completed in 38 years, from 1220…

AB: You should write articles for Wikipedia, lads. And read them. But what about those CCTV cameras showing you walking from the station in a direction opposite to the cathedral?

Bosh: Thought we’d do the city first. And that field around the cathedral had snow all over it, impossible to walk on if you aren’t used to it.

AB: Not used to it? Don’t you have snow in Moscow?

Pet: We used to. But our great leader St Vladimir solved that problem, like he solved all others. You won’t see snow or slush in Moscow now. We’re spiritual people…

Bosh: Oh yes. We also had a bottle of spirits in that fleabag…

AB: Now what about the Skripals?

Pet: Who?

AB: You know, the Skripals. The ex-KGB colonel and his daughter you supposedly poisoned with Novichok?

Bosh: Oh that… Listen, we had nothing to do with that.

Pet: It’s all a terrible misunderstanding. You see, we wanted to chat up those young monks at Sails-berry Cathedral…

Bosh: Novices, they’re called. And remember your Russian, Al? The Russian for novice is ‘novichok’.

Pet: So we walked around town asking passers-by where we could find a novice to chat up. Except that we didn’t know the English for it, so we’d just say “Novichok?”.

AB: But the Cathedral is Anglican. There are no monks there, novices or otherwise.

Bosh: That’s what we found out. So we just admired the spire….

Pet: The large supporting pillars at the corners of the spire are seen to bend inwards under the stress. The addition of reinforcing tie-beams above the crossing designed by Christopher Wren in 1668 halted further deformation…

AB: Thank you, Pet. But what about those traces of Novichok found in your hotel room?

Bosh: We didn’t do a novice that night, honest, it was just us…

AB: Never mind novices. I’m talking about the military-grade poison.

Pet: Oh that? Nothing to do with us, Al. I told you, they don’t even change the sheets at that fleabag. Who knows who stayed there before us?

Bosh: I do, Pet. Our handler… I mean friend told us it was an MI6 agent. He moved out an hour before we moved in.

Pet: That’s right, forgot that. Now that explains it, doesn’t it?

Bosh: You bet your scent spray. The Russian people led by the great genius St Vladimir are peace-loving and highly spiritual.

Pet: British imperialists are neither: they’re money-grabbing materialists, racist colonialists who oppress whole continents and murder their enemies in thousands, using radioactive isotopes like polonium and gases like Novichok, which is really called Novice…

Bosh: The Skripals must have been their enemies…

Pet: So they poisoned them.

Bosh: St Vladimir explained it all to us, and we’re now explaining it all to you.

AB: And I thank you for it, lads. Truth will out, they say. And it has.

Different faces of treason

Without claiming any legal rigour, I define treason as joining forces with another country, especially but not necessarily hostile, against one’s own.

If you accept this definition of treason, then you have to agree that Messrs Foot, Blair, Major, Clegg and Corbyn have committed it, albeit in different ways. But then there are many ways of betraying one’s country, just as there are many ways of serving it.

New revelations have come to light about the KGB career of Michael Foot, former leader of the Labour Party who at the peak of his association with the Soviets contested the 1983 general election.

Apparently, had Labour won, MI6 was prepared to brief the Queen that someone committed to undermining her realm was about to govern it.

To grasp the full perfidy of the KGB, ponder the fact that they set out to cast aspersion on my person by giving Foot the code name ‘Agent Boot’. That showed a great deal of prescience on their part, for at the time he first became a traitor I was still a child.

It also showed stupidity: if there’s one thing a spy’s moniker shouldn’t do, it’s telegraph the spy’s identity. Calling Foot ‘Boot’ is like naming John Major ‘Agent Minor’ or Theresa May ‘Agent April’.

As far as agents of influence go, Foot came cheap: apparently he went for only about £40,000 in today’s money, probably a couple of grand at the time. Still, I wonder why the Soviets felt they had to pay anything at all.

A fire-eating leftist may preach all sorts of ideas, but they’d all be underpinned by his undying hatred of the West. And Britain then was – arguably still is – a Western country.

A leftist devotes his life to knocking out the cornerstone of liberty without which the edifice of our civilisation will come down. And the USSR pursued exactly the same goal.

In economics, someone like Foot will agitate against free enterprise and for nationalisation; in politics, for rampant statism and against democracy; in social life, for destroying the upper classes and making as many citizens as possible dependent on the state; in education, for egalitarianism, which is putting equality before quality; in medicine, ditto.

More to the point, if his own country doesn’t share his hostility to things Western, a leftist is ready to join forces with a foreign power that does. His loyalty is owed to his ideology first and to his country a distant second, if at all.

A proletarian has no motherland, taught the spiritual father of socialism, and the Labour Party has learned the lesson well. To emphasise their true allegiance, all delegates to their conferences, and not just the hard left ones, sing such communist songs as the Internationale and Bandiera Rossa while waving the red flag.

Hence, if it was agents of influence the KGB was after, they didn’t have to part with their hard-earned roubles: Foot was doing their bidding anyway, gratis, of his own volition.

That insultingly small amount must have bought the Soviets’ ability to direct Agent Boot towards the areas of immediate interest, but I bet even that much control could have been achieved simply by an impassioned appeal to his ideological purity.

It’s hardly worth mentioning that Foot was an ardent supporter of the CND, a Soviet front organisation run by the same people who ran Agent Boot.

The nuclear disarmament promoted by that treasonous setup was to be strictly unilateral: the West was supposed to disarm unconditionally because it had nothing to fear from that champion of peace, the Soviet Union.

Jump a few decades forward, and Labour is being led by Jeremy Corbyn who provides a valuable insight into British socialism and, indirectly, another proof of my heartfelt belief that Western leftists are driven mostly by hatred of all things Western and not by any urgent concern for the working classes.

Corbyn too was in the CND, as were Blair and Clegg. But unlike Foot, he’s not limited in his sympathies to communism. Any enemy of Britain, regardless of ideology, is Jeremy’s friend.

Interestingly, though in the good leftist tradition he personally opposes Britain’s membership in the EU (because it’s insufficiently socialist to his taste), he’s committing his party to defending it simply because that strengthens the  political maelstrom threatening to tear the country apart.

Corbyn is also a champion of a KGB-run Russia and her Botox-pumped leader. This even though Russia has renounced communism and pretends to uphold conservative values, by claiming allegiance to Christianity (its KGB denomination), prosecuting or else roughing up homosexuals and encouraging such capitalist activities as looting the country and turning the whole world into a laundromat for the loot.

But Corbyn’s closest friends are those Middle Easterners who hate the West even more fervently than Putin does: assorted terrorist organisations that actually murder Westerners in large numbers, including Britons. In his eyes, their cause is just, especially since they hate Jews even more than he does.

However, the old socialist weapons haven’t been decommissioned either.

Corbyn advocates and, if ever elected, threatens to implement every policy guaranteed to destroy Britain: wholesale nationalisation, run-away taxation and public spending, destruction of the few remaining grammar schools, unrestrained immigration (especially of Muslims with hatred in their eyes) – you name it.

Messrs Blair and Clegg also like, and already were in a position to put forth, many of such policies, but hey, we’re a democracy, and so they’re free to support any political cause. That by itself doesn’t make them traitors – provided they don’t collude with Britain’s foes to advance their ends.

Alas, they’re doing just that, in company with another former political leader John Major. As I write, the glorious trio is touring Europe trying to drum up support for derailing Brexit, and on this issue at least the EU is definitely a foe of Britain.

In other words, they’re colluding with foreign governments to override the democratically expressed will of their own people that their own government is supposed to uphold.

When other countries do that, they become enemies – or let’s charitably call them adversaries – of our government. When British politicians use those countries against their own, they become traitors, unless I’m missing something.

Or perhaps not, if one appreciates the wisdom of the Elizabethan writer John Harrington, who wrote: “Truth doth never prosper. What’s the reason? For if it to prosper none dare call it treason.”

I’m a paedophile, according to some

My presumptive love interest

There’s a whole art to insulting people. For one thing, an ad hominem can only be effective if it has a modicum of truth – or widely perceived truth – to it.

Thus calling, say, Jeremy Corbyn ‘commie scum’ would hit the mark, even though, as far as I know, he isn’t a member of the British Communist Party – and I’m not even sure it’s still in business.

The ‘commie’ part could be defended as a representation of Corbyn’s views, rather than party affiliation. And the ‘scum’ part is merely a matter of opinion, which one is free to express – at least until he’s in power.

But referring to Jeremy as too clever by half would be wide of the mark because it’s way too far-fetched and so drastically removed from the truth as to defang the insult altogether.

In the same vein, calling Rees-Mogg anything disgusting in reference to his conservative views would work on its own terms – but calling him a fatso wouldn’t.

And stating publicly that, for example, he misappropriates public funds or abuses his children, would be cause for a libel suit or criminal prosecution.

These nuanced thoughts came to my mind the other day, when, commenting on my article Down with Islamophobia on TV, a grateful reader sent me an email admirable in its laconic power.

It said: “Boot = paedo Fascist scum”. No salutation, no signature, no ‘yours faithfully’ – don’t they teach people how to write missives any longer?

Quite apart from its style, that simple equation illustrates both the right and wrong approaches to insults.

‘Fascist’ is a standard term of endearment used by leftists to describe  conservatives, though usually not actual fascists (they are called ‘right-wing extremists’).

That much is par for the course, as is ‘scum’, a non-specific form of abuse. Thus ‘Fascist scum’ strikes me as a legitimate expression of opinion, however derogatory. It is, however, tautological.

One could argue plausibly that, though not every person deserving the soubriquet ‘scum’ is a Fascist, every Fascist is definitely scum. Thus rhetorical rectitude would suggest that the word ‘Fascist’ could have done the job by itself, with no extra help necessary, thank you very much.

Be that as it may, that’s good knock-about stuff and a welcome release of a hitherto pent-up cri de coeur.

Any analyst charging £100 an hour will confirm that bottling up strong feelings inside oneself may have a destructive effect on one’s mental health. Hence the aforementioned equation has a self-medicating value, a sort of DIY session on the couch.

When God is niggardly when equipping a person with a functioning mind, but overgenerous in doling out emotions, vile invective is the only possible debating technique. This I understand and, following a French maxim (tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner), forgive.

But the ‘paedo’ part is more problematic. The epithet ‘Fascist scum’ can be construed as a matter of opinion, and in some quarters laudable opinion at that, when aimed at a conservative.

But ‘paedo’, which is the colloquial for ‘paedophile’, is a different kettle of cuttlefish. For paedophilia, defined as having or at least pursuing sex with a prepubescent person of either sex, is a crime.

That insult therefore levels an accusation of criminal activity, which, unlike ‘Fascist scum’, can only be one of two things: either demonstrably true or libellous. Since – and I know you only have my word for it – it’s not true, it’s libellous.

That’s a serious matter, for libel, otherwise known as defamation of character, is itself a crime, punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a fine. It’s also an invitation for a civil lawsuit, which, if successful, can produce a fine ranging from derisory to astronomic.

Now no one can prove a negative, even though I know for sure that I’ve never harboured impure thoughts about prepubescent girls or, God forbid, boys.

But our jurisprudence is such that I don’t have to prove any such thing. The burden of proof is on the accuser, which makes him liable for all sorts of unpleasant things.

His address was only given as the initial P, and – even if I could be bothered to waste time on such nonsense – if traced, it would probably lead to a troll factory somewhere in Russia or some country where the religion of peace is practised.

My point is that insulting people isn’t as easy as some people seem to think. I’d be prepared to give P a crash course in that art. Meanwhile, my only message to him is: you too, squire.

How Labour can win the next election

Only Corbyn stands in the way of a Labour landslide

The popular consensus is that it’s not so much that Labour will win but that the Tories will lose.

The Conservative Party hasn’t had strong leaders since Margaret Thatcher was turfed out in a coup d’état.

And strong leadership is what’s required for a party to look united even when so many members disagree on the key electoral issue, Brexit.

As a result, the Tories appear to be torn down the middle, with the factions on either side bickering like drunk housewives in the communal kitchen of my Moscow childhood.

A house divided against itself will not stand, said that great political analyst of the past. Looking at those internecine squabbles, Labour bigwigs are rubbing their hands. They sense that the next election is theirs to lose.

I think they’re too smug for their own good, and the popular consensus is wrong. Labour may very well lose the next election, but unfortunately they don’t have to.

They can guarantee a win by ditching Corbyn a month before the polling date and replacing him with, well, just about anybody.

Then they can win without changing one comma in Corbyn’s Trotskyist programme. For, while our voters see nothing wrong with Corbyn’s programme, they increasingly see something wrong with Corbyn.

Labour has always attracted voters by claiming a high moral ground. The Tories are the nasty party in popular lore; Labour are the nice one.

Don’t they want to share wealth evenly or at least equitably? Of course, they do. So there.

And don’t they want to make life better for the working men – and also for the non-working ones, provided they have no private pensions? Definitely.

Also look at how they promote equality for all, regardless of faith, race, country of origin or the number of criminal convictions.

Any way you look at it, Labour exudes goodness out of every orifice in its body politic.

Granted, when yet another Labour government turns Britain into a basket case, voters sense that perhaps goodness isn’t enough by itself. Some modicum of cold-blooded competence may come in handy too.

So they sigh and vote for the nasty party. But after the Tories have shovelled some of the Labour manure out of the Augean stables, it’s time for goodness again.

The upshot is that preserving the image of a nice party is as vital for Labour as appearing competent is for the Tories. Lose that image, and what does Labour have to offer that hasn’t been tried a thousand times and found wanting every time and everywhere?

It’s that wholesome image that Corbyn is damaging.

Belying his avuncular looks, he regularly stars in decidedly nasty headlines about his saying hateful things about Jews, cavorting with terrorists, extolling the Venezuelan nightmare, refusing to criticise Putin – and shagging Diane Abbott, although that may be a thing of the past.

In short, he increasingly comes across as not just nasty, but evil. That’s an election loser for Labour.

The Tory press stays on Corbyn’s case, attacking everything he has ever said or done. As the election draws nearer, such attacks will intensify because, being indeed evil, Corbyn presents an easy target.

Yet using Corbyn as the target enables his party to do what it’s genetically predisposed to do: externalise evil.

If I were a political consultant to Labour, I’d advise them to encourage personal attacks on Corbyn – and then replace him with anyone from whom Corbyn has drawn fire.

That would crystallise their message: “Look, that nasty Corbyn usurped power and caused your just anger. But now we’re the nice party again – and look at the mess the Tories are in.”

The trouble is that the Tory media are incapable of spelling out the real problem of Labour. It’s not that the party is led by an evil man. It’s that it flogs an evil ideology.

Hence, the personality of the leader doesn’t really matter. For socialists, the choice isn’t between good and evil. It’s among various degrees of evil.

Some good conservatives tend to romanticise the Old Labour of Ramsey McDonald, Ernest Bevin and, if you will, Frank Field, all supposedly misguided but full of good intentions.

I don’t buy that because the price is too high: suspension of reason and morality.

The essence of socialism, be it national, international, democratic, soft, mild, extreme or mainstream, is the urge to destroy everything that’s good in our civilisation.

To use Harry Jaffa’s phrase, our civilisation was baptised in the Jordan, not the fiery brook (a reference to the materialist philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach). Hence its belief in the primacy of every single individual over a faceless collective.

That’s why the watershed issue in Western politics is the balance of power between the individual and the state.

Conservatives, who by definition think along Christian lines even if they aren’t Christians, gravitate towards subsidiarity – devolving power to the lowest sensible level, thereby empowering the individual. A conservative is never statist; a socialist always is.

Socialism is all about an omnipotent state lording it over its flock, an amorphous collectivist mass.

Only such a state has the power to rob people of most of their income, impose false moral standards, dictate not only what people do but also what they say and think, enforce materialism along with political, social, educational and cultural egalitarianism, put a yoke on peoples’ talents and enterprise.

Socialists by definition think along anti-Christian lines even if they happen to be Christians. If they are, they’re very stupid Christians, who can’t relate their religion to the realities of earthly life.

The Labour Party is a broad coalition of the evil and the stupid, with the former dominating the latter. If the Tories are the nasty party, Labour is the evil one – and it has got precisely the leader it deserves.

The only thing socialists are good at is propaganda – reducing their vacuous and wicked messages to catchy, appealing slogans. Their task is easy because only such messages are so reducible.

Thus a slogan like ‘from each according to his ability, to each according to his need’ is understandable even to the dimmest people. But even the brightest conservative would fail to counter with an equally catchy phrase.

He’d have to explain that this idea presupposes an authority empowered to decide what constitutes both ‘ability’ and ‘need’. Such an authority would inevitably become tyrannical because it would have to have total control over the whole society and everyone in it.

As far as catchy counter-slogans go, this doesn’t quite work, does it?

That’s how Labour has concocted its reputation for kindliness, assisted in this endeavour by the dumbing-down educational system it has created and fostered.

And that’s how Labour can win the next election, by jettisoning Corbyn who contradicts that reputation.

Now, if I were a political consultant to the Tories, I’d advise them to shift the focus of their offensive from Corbyn to everything Labour stands for, every supposition from which it proceeds – the reality behind the slogans.

And then wiser heads would probably object that by now our socialist education has become so successful that we simply don’t have an electorate capable of thinking beyond slogans and personalities.

Well, now you know why I’m not a political consultant to the Conservative Party.

Economics is simple, or should be

Lord Finkelstein’s great discovery: big public spending doesn’t mean big public debt

In today’s politics, if a man is disliked (or liked) for something, he’s disliked (or liked) for everything.

If, say, Donald Trump opined that the sky is blue, his detractors would cry foul simply because it was he who said it.

And if Mr Trump insisted that the Earth is flat after all, his admirers would hail that as the acme of wisdom.

Boris Johnson is becoming a similar love-him-or-hate-him figure in Britain. Nothing he says or does pleases some people; everything he says or does pleases some others.

This dichotomy is becoming even more pronounced now Mr Johnson is transparently angling for Tory leadership and consequently the keys to 10 Downing Street.

Daniel Finkelstein is clearly no Johnson partisan, a stance with which I’m in broad sympathy. But that doesn’t mean that everything coming out of Mr Johnson’s mouth must be savaged as a matter of course.

That, I’m afraid, is exactly what Lord Finklestein does in today’s Times. He takes issue with Mr Johnson’s economic programme based on cutting existing taxes and introducing no new ones.

In the process Lord Finkelstein takes a swipe at Arthur Laffer and his notorious curve. Now that curve – like all sound economics – was just plain common sense. Nothing more and nothing less.

Laffer made a blindingly obvious observation that high tax rates don’t necessarily produce high tax revenue. A tax rate of 100 per cent would deliver the same tax revenue as a tax rate of zero per cent: zero.

The optimum tax rate lies between those two extremes, although Laffer didn’t specify exactly at what point. Those economists who believe that an economy has functions other than just punishing the rich tend to place that cut-off point somewhere between 15 and 20 per cent.

Since our tax rates are considerably higher than that, we tax too much, thereby putting dampeners on the economy. Hence Mr Johnson’s promises to cut taxes.

Enter Lord Finkelstein: “These promises are foolish. And the more watertight they are… the more foolish they are.” Quite. Watertight is the new foolish.

Lord Finkelstein then cites the experience of the Reagan administration as proof that the Laffer curve isn’t a magic potion.

That much is true. But Lord Finkelstein proceeds to display the modern intellectual failing, an inability to take the next step in ratiocination.

Yes, the curve did impress Reagan’s virginal mind. And politically it worked. Reagan rose to power largely by promising to reduce taxes without necessarily reducing government spending.

Alas, initially neither the president nor his close economic advisers, such as David Stockton, understood in sufficient depth the problem at hand. Stockton was the first to reach such understanding by the simple expedient of crunching numbers.

He quickly found that the Laffer curve didn’t work by itself, without parallel reductions in government spending. He then went department-hopping door to door. Like a child at Halloween he’d beg to be treated to some cuts, only to be turned away.

Having butted their heads against the impossibility of curbing the government’s appetites, the Laffer enthusiasts were faced with an unsavoury choice. They either had to go back on their tax-cutting promise or else plug the inevitable holes in the budget by printing money.

Given the political impossibility of the first option, they went for the second and, by the end of Reagan’s tenure had increased the national debt 2.5 times – leaving the country structurally worse-off in the long term.

Here comes the aforementioned next step, which Lord Finkelstein is unable to take. He correctly confirms Stockton’s discovery that the Laffer curve doesn’t pay for itself. But he incorrectly concludes that it doesn’t pay tout court.

The Curve will work famously if accompanied by concomitant cuts in public spending. In fact the most spectacular modern successes, both in Europe and in Asia, have been achieved by economies with low marginal tax rates and reduced government spending.

Even tax cuts against the background of a slower growth in public spending have been known to work, as they did in Thatcher’s Britain and are doing in Trump’s America.

Yet Lord Finkelstein dismisses lower government spending out of hand. In his mind, runaway public spending is a third sure thing in life, after death and, well, taxes.

He correctly points at the on-going demographic shift towards an older and presumably more dependent population. But ‘presumably’ is the operative word.

If people didn’t have to pay to the state more than half of what they earn over a lifetime, if the top marginal tax rate were, say, 17 per cent, and if contributions into private pensions were encouraged, older wouldn’t necessarily mean more dependent.

(Just think what kind of pension fund you’d have if you never paid more than say 10 per cent of your income in tax, after legal deductions. You wouldn’t be dependent on the state, would you?)

But, as I keep repeating, making people, young or old, independent of the state goes against the grain of the entire modern political ethos. The modern state is solipsistic, wholly committed to looking after Number One, itself.

This desideratum, and the political means of reaching it, trumps economic considerations. A more dependent population may not make sense morally or economically, but it does make sense politically and, if you will, politico-psychologically.

“Tax cuts can be popular and they have been,” observes Lord Finkelstein, looking down from his intellectual Olympus. “But they can’t be all the Conservative Party has to say. Even if that has worked in the past, it won’t work in the future.”

But neither Mr Johnson nor the Conservative Party has ever come up with a single-plank platform. Tax cuts have never been all they have to say. But if the country is to prosper, that’s something the government must say.

People, concludes Lord Finkelstein, “want a robust economy that isn’t floated on debt. They want good public services that are properly financed and a welfare state that they can rely on.”

He evidently sees no contradiction between the two parts. But refusing to acknowledge it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

A welfare state (as opposed to some sensible welfare) presupposes an economy floating on an ocean of debt. A robust economy able to afford good public services without ruinous indebtedness has to be one propped up by low taxation and a small public sector.

Lord Finkelstein doesn’t realise this and, though Mr Johnson probably does, he can’t say it for fear of committing political suicide. So he sends half the message, lower taxes, which sounds half-baked.

That gives Lord Finkelstein a chance to pounce, but his rebuke isn’t even half-baked. It’s not baked at all.

Down with Islamophobia on TV

Mr Rees-Mogg will suspend his parliamentary career to appear as a suicide bomber in the second season of Bodyguard. “The least one can do to restore the religious balance,” he comments.

As the founder, chairman and STILL the only member of the Charles Martel Society for Multiculturalism, I’m happy to add my gravelly voice to the chorus of indignation about the new series Bodyguard.

The first episode features a young Muslim woman wearing an elegant hijab complete with that essential fashion accessory, a suicide belt.

The young lady is threatening to blow up the train she’s on, but fortuitously the eponymous Bodyguard is among her fellow passengers. He manages to engage the girl in conversation, thereby talking her into having second thoughts – this even though she must find his Scottish accent well-nigh incomprehensible.

The Bodyguard must have undergone sensitivity training because, rather than putting a bullet between the girl’s eyes, he treats her with sympathy and affection, hugging her in an avuncular fashion.

It turns out the suicide bomber was brainwashed into that activity by her husband, and the Bodyguard not unreasonably suggests that this probably betokens a certain deficit of marital love.

Now I can hardly keep my fingers on the keyboard, I’m so outraged.

For beamed at millions of viewers is a flagrant show of racist, neo-colonialist, misogynist and quite possibly homophobic stereotyping (both participants in the confrontation are straight, but homophobia has to be there somewhere).

First, no Muslim of either sex can possibly be brainwashed. Islam, as we all know, promotes free thought and uncompromising individualism, encouraging its adherents to engage in debate and even question some of the dogma – to the point of apostasy if such is the call of their conscience.

It’s also a religion of peace, as discovered by Messrs Bush, Blair, Obama, Cameron and Mrs May. I hasten to disabuse the reactionaries among us of any dissenting notions, and I don’t care how many murderous Koran verses they cite in support of their Islamophobia.

You show me your verses, I’ll show you mine, and mine abrogate yours, to use the Islamic term. And if you still insist that Islam isn’t exactly a religion of peace, any sensible Muslim would be within his right to cut your head off with a dull kitchen knife.

Nor is it relevant that, now our Irish friends are taking it easy, just about every terrorist act in Europe is committed to the accompaniment of a rousing “Allahu akbar!!!” The choice of accompaniment notwithstanding, such actions have nothing to do with Islam as such.

These libidinous youths are simply, to use a colloquialism, on the pull. They know that shouting “Allahu akbar!!!” while mowing down infidel pigs, and then themselves perishing in a hail of bullets, opens a door to an eternity spent in the company of 72 virgins.

Given today’s decadence, this is the easiest way of finding so many virgins without raiding kindergartens. But there are other ways too.

First, there’s nothing wrong with raiding kindergartens: this would constitute a righteous act of imitating the Prophet. Second, a genuflecting or, better still, doggie-style supplication to the deity may encourage Him to rebuild a few pre-ruptured hymens, which should be a doddle for the omnipotent Allah.

Of course the doctrinal promise would have to be modified to provide for reconstituted virgins but, as Archbishop Welby knows, religious doctrine must evolve with the times.

Those who insist that there’s nothing objectionable in depicting a Muslim suicide bomber because that short-lived career is exclusively reserved for Muslims miss the point, both artistically and existentially.

Artistically, they advocate crude, vulgar realism bordering on naturalism. Don’t they know that art, even as practised on TV, creates a reality all its own, allowing us to peek into the artist’s world, imaginary and so much more real for it?

Existentially, the same parallel reality is created by all those who shape our modern ethos: politicians, activists, writers, journalists, social workers, community organisers, teachers et al.

Who’s to say which reality is more real? Certainly not Plato, to whom, as Whitehead explained, the whole of philosophy is but a series of footnotes. The Greek taught that only our imagination is real, while what lesser minds see as reality is but so many shadows on a cave wall.

We’re all Platonists now, and it’s from this philosophical vantage point that we should rebuke the Bodyguard creators – and possibly send their names and addresses to the ISIS branch of the religion of peace.

That’s not to suggest that irate viewers do nothing but rebuke. Some of them tweet valid creative suggestions, such as: “In the current climate I don’t want to see a suicide bomber on a train cast as a young Muslim woman in a veil. They could have cast it differently.”

I agree wholeheartedly. And I’d go so far as proposing one possibility. To get back into my (and other viewers’) good books, the second season of Bodyguard should feature Jacob Rees-Mogg as a suicide bomber.

Admittedly this would present a challenge to the show’s costume designers, for a close-fitting Savile Row suit offers less room than a hijab for concealing a suicide belt.

But, as someone who used to work with London film crews, I trust their endless ingenuity. Perhaps they could use a flasher’s Mac, naturally custom-made.

Mr Rees-Mogg could be shown in the first-class carriage of the Orient Express, saying in that supercilious way of his:

“If you reprobates decline to comply with one’s entreaty, one shall feel compelled to depress this button and blow these entire premises to kingdom come, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And pray do not even contemplate summoning police constables, for that would force one into precipitate action.”

This would allay all suspicions of Islamophobia and ultimately serve the actual, as opposed to shadowy, Platonic reality. I hereby offer my services to write the additional dialogue.

There’s no room for thugs in civilised politics

With allies like these…

One would think that the bloodiest century in history, the twentieth, would have taught us a lesson.

When thugs become a viable political force in Western countries, they always take ‘civilised’ out of ‘politics’. Always – not sometimes or occasionally.

And when a country’s politics isn’t civilised, neither is the country – it’s as simple as that.

Allowing thugs to enter the political mainstream, even at its margins, is bound to have the same effect as adding a spoonful of vinegar to a glass of wine.

You’ll no longer taste the wine, even though there’s more of it in the glass. All you’ll taste is vinegar.

For thugs are by definition more dynamic and violent than either end of mainstream politics. Open the door ajar, and they’ll kick it in, chain and all.

Thus it’s impossible to win a political victory in alliance with thugs. Such a victory is always illusory. In reality it’s a defeat.

That’s why social democratic parties must never enter into coalitions with communists – the communists will eventually take over. A short-term political gain will turn into a long-term loss, possibly a catastrophe.

Just look at the alliance between soft-left Labour and hard-left, mostly Trotskyist Momentum in Britain. It has taken the Trots thugs a while, but they’ve eventually gained control.

Now the thugs are jettisoning the softies, giving the formerly respectable (if severely misguided) party a distinctly thuggish character. Labour now has a lethal case of the Trots.

It’s true that without the support of the hard left, or rather of the unions behind it, Labour would find it harder to win political office. And of course one would have to be terminally naïve to believe that any modern political party is capable of thinking beyond the next election.

But if Labour really cared about the good of the country, it would have consigned the Trotskyist thugs to what their spiritual father used to call ‘the garbage heap of history’.

UKIP are no better than Labour at learning from history. But one hopes they are still capable of learning from Labour, as it has become.

An alliance with thugs is tantamount to losing the last vestiges of civility, thereby compromising our whole civilisation. If that’s what it takes to win an election or a referendum, I’d rather lose.

There’s always a comeback after a lost election. There’s none after a lost civilisation.

Thugs don’t necessarily say wrong things or propose bad policies. In fact, if you look at groups going by the misnomer ‘far right’, they often pursue ends that appear sensible to any civilised conservative.

They want to leave the EU – so do we. They’d like to dismantle that contrivance altogether – we would too. They say mass Muslim immigration is socially, culturally, demographically and economically suicidal – we nod our agreement.

Then what? Let’s assume we’ve left the EU, with most other members following suit. The EU is no more. We’ve stopped Islamic immigration and even deported many Muslims whose presence here is illegal or dangerous. What happens then?

More precisely, who’ll munch the fruits of such a political victory? If thugs were the main driving force in the triumph, they’ll gorge on such fruits and regurgitate them into a society made in their own image.

Drawing historical parallels, the alliance between democratic socialists and Bolsheviks against the Russian monarchy produced a Bolshevik society. And when German conservatives joined forces with the Nazis to defeat Weimar, what emerged wasn’t a decent, conservative Germany. It was the Third Reich.

That’s why I don’t cheer electoral advances gained by fascisoid groups in countries like Germany, Austria, Italy, Hungary and Sweden. I do like what they say about the EU and Islamic immigration. I just don’t like them.

And when I read about German thugs beating up an elderly Jewish woman to the accompaniment of a mighty choir yelling Judensau (Jew pig – a popular term of endearment in Nazi Germany), I don’t just feel outrage. I feel the taste of things to come.

Politics isn’t a force majeure or a natural science. It’s a result of human action, and what it ultimately achieves depends on what kind of humans do the acting. This is a crude rephrasing of a passage from a book that used to be quite popular:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits… A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

That’s why, for example, I’ll never be an admirer of Trump, even if he’s exonerated from collusion with Putin. This although I like most of Trump’s policies, especially domestic ones.

I don’t like him because he has spent his whole career walking, talking and acting like a thug – mostly in company with other thugs. Those gurning facial expressions Trump habitually wears are the biographic imprint of lifelong thuggery.

And thugs are those corrupt trees that bring forth evil fruit – even if until then they produce a decent impersonation of a good tree.

American political conservatives, if such a thing can exist in a country that started life as a revolutionary republic, swear by Trump because they, like me, approve of many of his policies.

What they don’t realise is that style, decorum, probity, nuance matter more than today’s policies in the long run. A great country shouldn’t allow thugs to be at the helm. If it does, it’ll stop being a great country – sooner rather than later.

As I write, UKIP is getting close to admitting our own thug, a different genus naturally, into the party. Tommy Robinson, a convicted felon, has been closely associated with such fascisoid groups as the BNP, British Freedom Party and English Defence League, having held high positions in some of them.

If an odious figure like Robinson joins UKIP, the party will have blown any chance of ever becoming a serious, mainstream opposition to our spivocratic, Europhile establishment, rather than a marginal heterogeneous group brought together by a shared hatred of the EU and Muslims.

And it’ll certainly lose my vote which it attracted in every election where UKIP was on the ballot. Now if that isn’t a deadly threat, I don’t know what is.

C of E: the Church of Exodus?

“And then the Lord said: ‘Hit those rich bastards with an inheritance tax from hell. You crack the whip, they’ll make the trip, yeah, yeah. yeah’.”

Fewer than one in seven Britons now describes himself as an Anglican.

That proportion stood at 40 per cent in 1983. Now it’s 14 per cent – and, at a mere 11 per cent, even lower among the middle-aged.

I hate to compare the salt of England’s earth to rodents – and resort to a clichéd saw – but when rats abandon a ship, it’s a fair guess that the ship is sinking.

Like any other statistics, these data must be treated with caution. In the past many people wrote ‘C of E’ in questionnaires simply out of social convention, not because they were ardent believers or, God forbid, churchgoers.

However, the very fact that the social convention no longer operates is telling in itself. Writing ‘none’ in the same rubric has evidently become not only acceptable but, well, cool – especially among young people, aged 17 to 24.

Only two per cent of them call themselves Anglicans, and the number of proud atheists among them stands at about 70 per cent.

Add to that exponents of non-Christian creeds, along with dubiously Christian sectarians, and the two traditional Western confessions can’t boast big battalions. Nor even big squads.

However, during the same period the Catholic denomination suffered a considerably smaller attrition, having gone from 10 to eight per cent. Thus, while suffering pain, Catholicism in Britain isn’t exactly suffering death throes.

Anglicanism clearly is, which must be seen as catastrophic not only by Anglicans, nor even by other Christians, but by all subjects of Her Majesty. For, as an established religion, the Church of England is an inseparable part of our constitutional dispensation.

Our monarchs and consequently their parliaments derive a great part of their legitimacy from divine, or at least ecclesiastical, ordination. In its turn, the Church of England has derived much of its appeal from being established.

However, there’s a danger inherent in this status. When the embrace between the state and the church grows too tight, the state may crush the church under its weight. Rather than being a partner to the state and the moral authority over it, the church may become its concubine, always at her master’s beck and call.

As a result, the church may sacrifice its core business to the task of following the meandering, or rather violently zigzagging, secular trends.

When that happens, the church begins to duplicate numerous secular institutions, but without the concomitant power of enforcement. A redundancy note awaits just round the corner.

That, I’m afraid, is exactly what has happened to the Church of England. It has become an extension not only of the secular state, but of its least commendable aspects.

That doesn’t mean that any Christian confession should refrain from trying to affect politics in any way. People who express this popular but erroneous view never fail to cite Jesus’s teaching that his kingdom is not of this world.

But what Christ meant was that his kingdom is higher than this world. And a higher authority must judge (within its remit) a lower one to keep it on the straight and narrow.

Actually the parenthetical phrase above is critical. In its dealings with the secular world, the church must not only bring the uninitiated to Christ but also pass moral judgement on secular affairs, including politics.

For politics, even at its most amoral, which is to say most modern, has a moral dimension in its very flouting of morality. Hence it’s the church’s business to pronounce on how the morality of politics agrees with the founding tenets of our civilisation.

However, as someone who has written several books, each trying to look at various aspects of modernity from a Judaeo-Christian perspective, I know how difficult this task is. Many disciplines have to come together for any chance of a comprehensive picture emerging.

Yet difficult tasks promise the highest rewards, and, though I’m not going to claim an unreserved success in that undertaking, I’ve learned something vital in the process:

That Judaeo-Christian perspective alone can function as a universal basis for the theory of everything, to borrow Stephen Hawking’s phrase. Nothing else can, certainly not anything Stephen Hawking conceived.

This, in addition to straightforward proselytising, is the church’s mission: to show how Christianity relates to every part of modern life. This is one service that only the church can provide, and it’s one that the Church of England is demonstrably not providing.

Rather than trying to elevate quotidian life to heaven, it tries to bring heaven down to earth. Rather than showing the way, it meekly trails in the wake of every modern fad, no matter how idiotic or perverse.

The feeble excuse favoured by church dignitaries is that religion must change, as it has always done. This is intellectual larceny, pure and simple.

Of course, unlike the other Abrahamic religions, Christian doctrine wasn’t delivered all at once. It developed over centuries by incorporating some new dogma at the expense of the old.

Yet every new change was believed to be, and explained as, something divinely inspired and therefore congruent with the Christian revelation.

Some of history’s deepest and most brilliant minds wrote thousands of exegetic treatises explaining how the proposed change fits into the general framework of Christian doctrine.

Some of history’s saintliest individuals pronounced on the issue, each time enriching one another’s understanding until a consensus was reached. They didn’t always succeed, but they always tried.

No one who knows anything at all about today’s Church of England will claim it goes through the same process.

It certainly doesn’t when, for example, creating female priesthood and episcopate, abandoning the traditional liturgical texts and language, encouraging the use in church of such anti-Christian musical genres as pop and rap, de facto endorsing every manner of sexual perversion or having its prelates mouth subversive leftist twaddle.

No wonder young people will have nothing to do with it. Even more worryingly, many middle-aged people, most of whom were raised as Anglicans, are wandering off.

Anglicanism has lost its aura of solemn mystery wherein salvation lies. By following secular fads – each morally subversive and intellectually puny – it finds itself in competition with secular institutions specialising in that sort of rubbish.

And mere dabblers don’t stand a chance against the pros: if a youngster can hear the same music at a rave as he hears at mass, why should he choose the latter? A rave is easier, it doesn’t even pretend to impose any obligations on the participant.

And if the spiritual head of Anglicanism starts preaching a ‘Christian’ economic sermon that falsifies in equal measure both economics and Christianity, what’s the point in staying in his church? That’s what we have schools, newspapers and TV for.

In conclusion, I wonder if anyone would notice any difference if Justin Welby and Jeremy Corbyn swapped jobs. Somehow I doubt it.

A principle isn’t a principle until it costs you money

“I say, Algernon, it would be cheaper to let Jerry have the bally country, what?”

What price principles? Honour? More appropriate, what price sovereignty?

These questions naturally come up whenever the word ‘Brexit’ is mentioned in my presence.

Now I seldom feel I’m enunciating majority opinion, but in this case I’m sure just about everybody in Britain will agree with me: we’ve had it up to here with all the incessant bickering, wrangling and squabbling about Brexit.

And we’re sick of all that talk about a whole raft of ‘deals’ covering every possible permutation, each propped up by sky-high columns of figures proving that either we’ll end up eating house pets post-Brexit or become rich beyond our wettest dreams.

Such disciplines as history, political science, philosophy, constitutional law have all fallen by the wayside. Accountancy reigns supreme: the whole issue has been reduced to a balance sheet, with the bottom line pointing one way or the other.

Enter the greatest adman who has ever lived, Bill Bernbach, who came up with the maxim in the title above. It’s fully applicable to the situation at hand.

Brexit may make us richer or poorer, no one knows for sure. Actually, now we’re on the subject, I suspect we’ll suffer a bit, for the first few years at any rate.

The EU is bloody-minded enough to cut off its economic nose to please its political face. That vile setup is guaranteed to try to punish Britain even at a huge cost to itself, pour encourager les autres, as Napoleon I said and Napoleon IV, aka Manny Macron, doubtless keeps repeating.

If Britain leaves the EU painlessly and profitably, those dominoes will start falling one after another. And they’ll continue to do so until that awful contrivance is reduced to a single Franco-German state, with Angie as its Queen and Manny as her consort (he fancies older women).

The readjustment of our trading patterns will take a few years, and we may be worse off in the interim. Then again we may not – if I could predict economic trends, I’d be living in the house currently occupied by Roman Abramovich (not that he acquired it thanks to his economic prescience – Google ‘organised crime’ for details).

My point, oft-repeated, is that the decision to regain our sovereignty and to have all our laws passed by our own Parliament should have nothing to do with money. Nothing. Nil. Zilch.

Sovereignty is neither an incremental nor a relative concept. A great nation can’t be almost sovereign or partially sovereign. It can be either sovereign or subjugated.

If the choice between the two is made on the basis of pounds and pence, we might as well not bother.

For, if that’s all it boils down to, we’re already subjugated in perpetuity, Brexit or no Brexit. We’re for ever enslaved morally and intellectually – we’ve already done an Esau and sold our political soul for the mess of rancid EU potage.

A rich slave who fears becoming a poor free man, remains a slave in either case.

This reminds me of the story of a bear born and raised captive in a cage 10 feet square. For years he moved back and forth within that space, 10 feet this way, 10 feet that.

Then he was set free, and what do you know? He continued to pace the same 10 feet back and forth. The cage wasn’t around his body; it was in his mind.

How could any Englishman attach his signature to the Maastricht Treaty? A document that in one fell swoop prostituted Britain’s constitution and debased the memory of the millions who gave their lives defending their country’s independence over two millennia? I don’t know; I’ve only lived here for 30 years.

But I do know that Brexit is an attempt to undo the constitutional catastrophe created by one flourish of John Major’s pen. It’s the only honest thing to do and – for those who understand the vital significance of the British constitution for the British nation – the only intelligent thing.

Yet what do we do? We argue whether acting on sound moral and intellectual principles will make us a few pounds richer or poorer.

Call me an incurable optimist (one charge that’s seldom levelled at me), but I don’t believe the British have become completely corrupt. Partially corrupt, for sure. But not completely.

I don’t believe my countrymen have calculators for brains and spreadsheets for hearts.

The thought that our politicians have neither hearts nor brains comes more easily. But I still believe the nation has enough spunk left to force our spivocrats into acting with a modicum of decency.

And the upshot of it all? Simple. The only good deal is summary exit with no deal – and damn the torpedoes.