Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Trick or Treaty?

It is considered ‘unparliamentary’ to accuse an honourable or right honourable member of the House of Commons of lying or misleading the House, but when the evidence becomes overwhelming, Cranmer thinks it worth inciting the Speaker, not least because his judgement on this issue may well be worth invoking.

The Prime Minister insists that the Lisbon Treaty is not the ‘Constitution for Europe’. The latter was abandoned, he argues, or rather its ‘concept’ was abandoned, and the present Treaty therefore requires no referendum. Yet Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the man who was president of the Convention on the Future of Europe which drafted a new constitution, has now stated unequivocally that the Treaty is the same as the rejected constitution, and that only the format has been changed in order to avoid referenda. The difference between the original Constitution and the present Lisbon Treaty is one of approach, rather than content.

In an open letter published in Le Monde, the former French president has sought to clarify the difference between former draft constitution - which was shelved after French and Dutch voters rejected the text in 2005 - and the new Lisbon Treaty which EU leaders agreed earlier this month. He said:

Looking at the content, the result is that the institutional proposals of the constitutional treaty … are found complete in the Lisbon Treaty, only in a different order and inserted in former treaties… Above all, it is to avoid having referendum thanks to the fact that the articles are spread out and constitutional vocabulary has been removed.’

This could not be clearer. The Treaty is simply more complex, convoluted, unpenetrable and inaccessible, in order to minimise scrutiny and analysis, and such obfuscation is considered to render the need for a referendum redundant since few will comprehend what they are voting about. And he warns starkly of the consequences of this, when he says: ‘They are therefore imposing a return to the language that they master and to the procedures they favour, and in doing so alienate the citizens further’.

There are, however, some differences. Firstly, the noun ‘constitution’ and the adjective ‘constitutional’ have been banished from the text, as though they describe something inadmissible. At the same time, all mention of the symbols of the EU have been suppressed, including the flag (which already flies everywhere), and the European anthem (which is already played everywhere).

But these concessions are more symbolic than substantial. There remains a permanent Emperor President; a streamlined Commission; a Parliament with genuine legislative rights; a Foreign Minister, even if he has been given another inadequate title, decisions taken by a double majority of governments and citizens, and the most advanced charter of fundamental rights in the world. The expression ‘free and undistorted competition’ has also been excised at the request of President Sarkozy. It reappears, at the request of the British, in an annexed protocol to the Treaty which stipulates that ‘the internal market, such as is defined in Article 3 of the treaty, includes a system guaranteeing that competition is undistorted’. And far more important concessions are made to the British: the Charter of Fundamental Rights – an improved and updated version of the Charter of Human Rights – has been withdrawn from the draft treaty and made into a separate text, to which Britain will not be bound. In the area of judicial harmonisation and co-operation, Britain will have the right to duck in and out of the system as it pleases. Having already weakened all attempts at further European integration – such as by refusing the title of Minister for Foreign Affairs – Britain has also been allowed to be the odd man out whenever it feels like it. Yet these ‘red lines’ have been judged to be insecure, and are also more symbolic than substantial.

The only difference between the Constitution and the Treaty is that the original proposals of the former have simply been dispersed through old treaties in the form of amendments. And such a subtle change is deemed to be of such significance that referenda are no longer required. This is no Treaty; it is manifestly the Constitution. The trick is in the obscurity of the language, and the constant denial that they are the same. It is a lie, and now that M Giscard d'Estaing has said as much, the Conservative Party should not be afraid to use the word.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The ‘shared values’ of Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom

On the occasion of the State Visit of King Abdullah to the United Kingdom, Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells MP has informed the media that the two states could unite around their ‘shared values’.

Cranmer would simply like to know what these are.

The following ‘values’ are manifest in Saudi Arabia:

Support for Wahabism
Support for Islamic jihad
Repression of human freedoms
Trials remain closed despite laws declaring they are open to the public
Judges commonly pronounce guilty verdicts based on little evidence
Children are jailed for minor offences, including vague ‘moral’ charges
Children face beatings and solitary confinement
Children as young as 13 have been sentenced to death
Women are controlled have no right to act on their own behalf
Women are subject to the control of male guardians
Guardians can restrict rights to employment, education and freedom of movement.
Prisoners are routinely tortured
Workers go unpaid for months or years, despite working long hours at times with no days off. Physical and sexual abuse is commonplace
Labour is frequently forced
Human trafficking is rampant
Executions, floggings, and prolonged detention of peaceful critics without charge or trial are commonplace

For a full list of our shared values, see the report of Amnesty International. Under the authoritarian rule of the Saudi royal family, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has enforced strict shari’a religious laws under a doctrine of Wahabism. It is vindictive, retributive, and without mercy. Many western freedoms, which emanate from a Christian understanding of mercy, forgiveness, and man’s obligations toward his fellow man and to God, simply do not exist.

And by suggesting that the kingdoms of Abdullah and Elizabeth II share some kind of moral equivalence, Mr Howells and this Labour administration insult our intelligence. And by obliging Her Majesty to cordially host this tyrant, they demean her status, compromise her integrity, and confound her witness.

Immigration: damned if you do; damned if you don’t

David Cameron has stepped into what has become a political minefield. To even broach the subject of immigration apparently renders the Conservative Party as odious as the BNP, yet what credible party of government can possibly leave the subject unattended? The UK is an island, with limited land, limited resources, finite housing, and finite public services. It is absurd to pretend that an annual net population increase of 200,000 can be sustained, especially if that increase – 2 million every decade – brings with it traditions, religion or other cultural manifestations and beliefs which are at variance with those of the United Kingdom. The Roman Catholic Church has already discovered great challenges presented by the influx of their co-religionists from Poland, and mosques are increasingly recruiting imams from Pakistan to minister to the specific religio-political needs of many Pakistani immigrants.

Yet from ‘the Left’ Mr Cameron is accused of playing the populists' card, returning to one of Michael Howard's so-called "dog whistle" issues, which dominated the Conservatives' last election campaign. And from ‘the Right’ he is accused of deceit, of not going far enough, and of misunderstanding or purposely misrepresenting the UK’s obligation under EU law or UN convention.

Despite the reality that the vast majority of immigrants contribute positively to the economy, there is no doubt the topic has great appeal for readers of The Sun and the Daily Mail. But whatever the accuracy of the figures or the motive of Mr Cameron's emerging policy, his fundamental analysis is beyond dispute: public services are under siege and the pressures on them are unsustainable. If the immigrant population continues to increase at the present rate, there will simply be insufficient provision of housing, education, healthcare, or public transport.

Mr Cameron's solution is to somehow restrict the numbers coming in. Since he cannot do this for EU nationals, who have the right of free movement in a free labour market, he has to look at the rest of the world, particularly to India and Pakistan. Yet the vast majority of those immigrating from the subcontinent do so for marriage purposes, which is also an enshrined EU human right.

Cranmer is bemused by the reluctance to address the matter quite straightforwardly. The UK needs to retain control of its borders once again: it is a national scandal that government ministers are unable to provide figures for immigration, or to give any idea of where they are settling, and placing huge strains on local government coffers. Firstly, like similar regimes in Australia and Canada, a points system must be introduced, which could be earned for factors such as qualifications, work experience and language skills. A certain number of points would be needed to be considered for a work visa, awarded for aptitude, age, experience, and the level of need in each sector. Secondly, the UK must either renegotiate its deal with the EU, or, failing that, leave it altogether. It is one thing to have a free labour market; it is quite another to imperil the fabric of society and imperil the peace and security of the realm.

Mr Cameron has seized the bull, but not quite by the horns. Let us hope that he manages to tame the beast before the situation becomes quite irreversible.

Monday, October 29, 2007

British Sovereignty and the Referendum imperative

Members of Parliament are lent the powers of their constituents and they have to return those powers undiminished at the end. It is not for Members of Parliament to give away the powers that were lent to them, because they don’t belong to Members of Parliament but to the electorate.

Today's intelligent and erudite contribution comes from the Rt Hon Tony Benn. Cranmer has nothing to add. This is a marvellous speech; replete with insight from the undeniable perspective of the experience of years. It makes Cranmer want this democrat, great parliamentarian, and wonderful orator back in Parliament. But Kensington?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Scottish NHS on ‘Good Gay Practice’

As the Conservative Party ruminates upon the establishments of an English ‘Grand Committee’ in order to address the West Lothian issue raised by the existence of a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh Assembly, Cranmer remains puzzled as to why the Party continues to support the present settlement of the Barnett Formula. It is an annual windfall for the Scots, which permits the Scottish Executive to spend £1000 per capita more than the UK Parliament spends on the English. As Graham Brady MP observed in Prime Minister’s Questions, his constituents (in Altrincham and Sale West) have to pay more tax in order that the Prime Minister’s constituents (in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath) get free prescriptions. In the context of UK devolution, the formula is a manifest injustice.

But it is not so much free prescriptions or even the abolition of university fees which exercise Cranmer – for they may be justified from the ‘social justice’ perspective - but the Marxist propaganda which is being produced by a very fat Scottish public sector, for which the English are effectively paying.

Following the Scottish NHS ‘Good Muslim Practice’, they have excelled themselves with their latest publication – ‘Good LGBT(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Practice in the NHS'.

Setting aside the appalling omission of hermaphrodites (or unacceptably simply assuming that they are all bisexual), the publication purports to provide ‘guidance’ (which is implicit directive) for NHS staff in Scotland, and is produced by the Scottish Executive, Stonewall, and the NHS in Scotland. It is designed to cohere with anti-discrimination law and the new Sexual Orientation regulations, and advises employees how they may avoid discriminating against lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered people. The reality, of course, is that the booklet will become a basis for disciplinary hearings when a patient complains, and any employee who is found not to have adhered to its instructions will doubtless be found guilty of unprofessional conduct.

Yet the cultural Marxism of these ‘instructions’ is evident. Among other things, the booklet instructs:

All staff should participate in awareness raising sessions so that they are fully aware of appropriate and inappropriate language…

And what constitutes this appallingly homophobic and offensive language?

Using the terms ‘husband’, ‘wife’ and ‘marriage’ assumes opposite sex relationships only and will automatically exclude all LGB people. Using the term ‘partner’ and ‘they/them’ to refer to the partner will avoid this problem. This is also inclusive of all heterosexual couples, regardless of their marital status…When talking to children, consider using ‘parents’, ‘carers’ or ‘guardians’ rather than ‘mother’ or ‘father’.

So throughout the NHS, beginning in Scotland, the terms ‘mother’, father’, ‘marriage’, ‘husband’ and ‘wife’ are to be eradicated because they are discriminatory. The vernacular of the heterosexual majority is being set aside in order to the accommodate the presumed sensitivities of the homosexual minority. This mentality will doubtless eventually permeate all the public services, if only because Stonewall is on the ascendancy and is empowered to ensure legal consistency and regulatory harmony. The irony is that there are quite a few homosexuals who are utterly opposed to this sort of militant agenda.

And so, once again, we see an unintended consequence of the Sexual Uniformity Regulations, already observed here, here, and here. Or perhaps such cases were always a completely intended by certain members of the Government or Stonewall. The reality is that legislation which was designed to eliminate prejudice against homosexuals is being used to discriminate against heterosexuals, to eradicate the terms used to describe the traditional family unit, to demonise mainstream values, and erode the Christian foundations of the country.

And all made available free of charge to the impoverished Scots courtesy of the increasingly magnanimous English.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

40 years of murdering the unborn

Warning: this article contains images which some may find disturbing. Cranmer makes absolutely no apology for publishing in all its ugliness the barbaric and depraved depths to which the United Kingdom has sunk. May the Lord have mercy.

Throughout Scripture, the number 40 is replete with significance. Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, and the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Today is the 40th anniversary of Abortion Bill, and it marks 40 years of Britain’s aimless wandering in a moral wilderness.

Cranmer would not like to speculate how many millions of babies have since been sacrificed on the modern altar of Molech (Lev 20:5; Jer 32:35), but he is content that those who were originally responsible for the Bill, those who have since condoned it, and all who have taken the decision to terminate a healthy pregnancy, will one day be answerable to God. And the cries of the unborn infants will then reverberate throughout the heavens, and perfect justice will be done.

So common now is the practice of abortion that the debate has largely ceased being about legalisation (pro-choice) versus prohibition (pro-life). Even the Roman Catholic Church in the UK has changed its previously absolutist position, with Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor and Cardinal Keith O’Brien calling for ‘achievable change in the law in the light of advances in medical developments, even if Parliament will not abolish the law’. All that remains to decide therefore, ‘in the light of medical advances’, is precisely a ‘foetus’ becomes ‘viable’; at what stage of development does the ‘foetus’ become a ‘baby’? Is this at 24 weeks, 22 weeks, 20 weeks, or less? We could get lost in the man-made minutiae of what constitutes a zygote, an embryo, or a foetus, but to God they are all babies (Jer 1:5; Ps 139:13), and their life is sacred.

Dawn Primarolo MP, the Public Health minister, is of the opinion that the upper time limit for abortion should remain at 24 weeks because she sees ‘no scientific evidence to support a change in the law’. Is she a scientist? What qualifies her to make this assertion? Who is advising her? How impartial are they? And do they have any interests in maintaining the present limit? The fact is that as many as 42 per cent of children born at just 23 weeks survive at some top specialist centres. And recently-acquired images show the ‘foetus’ apparently crying or smiling at only 12 weeks. There remains an instinctive recognition of humanity in the ‘foetus’ even at very early stages. These facts must at the very least constitute ‘new scientific evidence’ which should cause MPs to think again about whether abortion should be barred after 20, 18 or 16 weeks’ gestation, and even lower.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has made his thoughts on the matter perfectly clear. Or rather, relatively clear - for him. He is of the mind that the ‘spirit’ of the Act is in danger of being lost. Observing that 200,000 abortions were performed last year in England and Wales, and that a colossal third of pregnancies in Europe end in abortion, he notes the ‘shift away from using abortion as a last resort’, in favour of a post-conception contra-genesis, where that genesis is deemed to begin with the first breath. It is perhaps worth noting that in Scripture both the Hebrew word ‘ruach’ and the Greek word πνεῦμα (‘pneuma’) are used interchangeably for both ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’, and that certain passages draw out the correspondence between the Spirit of God and the human spirit (eg 1Cor 2:10-12). There is, however, no scriptural, scientific, moral or ethical justification for the increasingly pervasive assertion that if the ‘foetus’ has not breathed, it has not lived. This belief has led to such appallingly barbaric practices as ‘partial birth abortion’, which George W Bush found so abhorrent he set an example to the Western World by outlawing.

Even the architect of the 1967 Act, former Liberal leader Lord Steel, has said that abortions are being used as a form of contraception. He admitted he never anticipated ‘anything like’ the current number of terminations when leading the campaign for reform. He is not, however, remotely repentant, insisting that he is ‘not convinced’ of the case for a lowering of the maximum time limit.

But to talk of abortion on demand in the UK hardly does the prevalence justice. Setting aside Europe, which constitutes an unimaginable slaughter of meta-Sho’ah proportions, 200,000 abortions in England and Wales works out at 23 babies systematically killed every hour. If one factors in Scotland and Northern Ireland, the NHS terminates the life of a baby and cremates the body every two minutes, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or, put another way, the state legitimises the murder of a baby every single minute of a working day, and burns the evidence. Such a callous, systematic and efficient slaughter would leave even Hitler and Eichmann impressed. Indeed, having mentioned the altar of Molech, it is interesting to note that the term ‘holocaust’ is derived from the Greek holókauston, which referred to a completely (‘holos’) burnt (‘kaustos’) sacrificial offering to a god. That god is sex. The Western world is obsessed with it.

And now, with the development of drugs to do-it-yourself at home, these figures are quite possibly the last accurate snap-shot we shall be able to take. It is even more scandalous that it is the British taxpayer who pays for 80 per cent of abortions, and that the NHS spends a fortune on keeping premature babies alive which are born within the abortion time limit, but terminates far more viable babies (L. vita life). And the BMA wants to see even further deregulation, and are apparently supported by majority public opinion. They advocate that nurses and midwives should be able to carry out abortions. They also want to scrap the two-signature doctor requirement (- have they learnt nothing from the Harold Shipman case?), and to repeal the ruling that women may have an abortion only if it is in the best interests of their physical and mental health. Even more bizarrely, they also want to end the requirement that abortions may take place only in licensed clinics, opening up a free-for-all for a plethora of enterprising Vera Drakes.

It is unacceptable that Parliament should decide that it is acceptable to undertake scientific enquiry in the absence of ethical considerations. Cranmer accords with the Archbishop of Canterbury that we need to return to the 1967 default position that abortion is a profoundly undesirable thing, and that a universal presumption of care for the foetus from the moment of conception should be the norm. Since the age is obsessed with ‘rights’ – of man, woman and animal – there needs to be a codification of 'foetal rights'. It is, as the Archbishop states, ironic that ‘the pregnant woman who smokes or drinks heavily is widely regarded as guilty of infringing the rights of her unborn child; yet at the same time, with no apparent sense of incongruity, there is discussion of the possibility of the liberty of the pregnant woman herself to perform the actions that will terminate a pregnancy’.

This calls for tough decisions, since no solution is without cost. The nation cries out for a latter-day Shaftsbury or Wilberforce who will bang on about this in Parliament ad nauseam, day after day, week after week, until something is done about it. Or are all Members now so utterly subject to the Whips; poodles before the rottweilers; selected, micro-managed, and programmed to remain ‘on message’, and not to alienate any possible voting constituency?

Of course, if people were not so fickle, feckless, immoral and irresponsible, there would be no need for abortion at all. But if it were not available ‘on tap’, would not people be obliged to alter their behaviour?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Will Denmark save Europe from itself?

With a supine British prime minister colluding with the Empire-obsessed Teutons and Franks, it appears that the United Kingdom has abdicated her historic role of maintaining the balance of power in Europe. It is, however, unsurprising that her succedaneum should originate in the Scandinavian regions, and even less surprising is it that the mantle has fallen upon Denmark.

This greater part of the Jutland peninsula has a plucky recent history. The Danes had the courage to reject the Maastricht Treaty in 1992, and the nation has recently faced the global burning of its flag and the torching of its embassies in response to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons of Mohammed.

Its collective response has been magnificent. There is nothing presently rotten in the state of Denmark; indeed, she defends her liberties with greater zeal than just about all the nations of Europe combined, with the possible exception of Switzerland.

Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has committed his country to resist any moves by the EU to curtail the freedom to criticise religion. He has objected to a recent UN resolution which protects Islam, insisting that ‘people should be able to criticise any religion’. He has also made offers to protect Dutch campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who has been abandoned by the Dutch authorities and now lives in hiding, the victim of a fatwa for collaborating on Theo van Gogh’s documentary about the treatment of women in Islam.

In a rebuke to the Netherlands, Mr Rasmussen describes Ms Ali as ‘a symbol of free speech’ who ‘has the right to speak out clearly and enjoy her safety’. And in a challenge to the EU he further asserts: ‘Human rights cannot be dismissed as the internal affairs of any one country’. Especially if that country is a fascist one called Europe.

But his challenge to the EU Empire does not stop there. He also calls for an end to the CAP, an end to EU protectionism, an end to EU navel-gazing, and for the establishment of a free-trade agreement with the US and Canada, and the participation of the EU in a fully-liberal global market. Cranmer eagerly awaits news of a Danish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

It used to fall to the United Kingdom to confront the Continental European oligarchs who subjugated the liberties of the people and exercised supreme tyrannical powers of state and government. But Denmark, with Britain and Switzerland, has a Protestant heritage, and is consequently more democratic and open, with less tolerance of centralised control.

With Switzerland wisely out of the EU, and Britain unwisely and seemingly content to assume vassal status, cry ‘God for Rasmussen, Denmark, and St Canute!’

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Christian couple who believe homosexuality to be wrong have foster son removed

Meet Vincent and Pauline Matherick, devoted foster parents with an unblemished record of caring for 28 vulnerable children. They are about to have their latest foster son, for whom they have cared for two years, taken away - because they refuse to teach him about homosexuality at the age of 11.

This sad story is simply another tragic consequence of the Sexual Orientation Regulations, and further evidence that sexual orientation now trumps religious conscience, and the government is imposing a soviet uniformity. The Mathericks are not homophobic: they simply hold views which are at variance with those of Somerset County Council. The freedom to challenge government directives when they are contrary to our own instincts and beliefs has a very long heritage in the UK, and has historically been given expression in laws relating to freedom of speech. It is this ancient liberty which is being dangerously eroded.

The young boy is a pawn in a grotesque assertion of the power of the state. Despite Somerset Council stating that ‘it is committed to promoting the interests of children and young people’, its social services department is not even prepared to wait until alternative foster parents can be found: the boy will be placed in a council hostel this week, and the Mathericks will no longer be given children to look after. Understandably, the young boy is upset, and the Mathericks are being treated as if they were themselves guilty of sexual abuse.

And wrenching the boy from a loving family environment and placing him in a loveless council hostel is in his best interests, is it?

It transpires that Somerset Council officials have informed the couple, both of whom are ministers in their local church, that they would be required ‘to discuss same-sex relationships with children as young as 11 and tell them that gay partnerships were just as acceptable as heterosexual marriages’. They could also be required to take teenagers to ‘gay association meetings’.

For these Christians, and for a good many more, homosexual practice is a sin. Are we a step away from natural parents being obliged to actively promote homosexuality to their own children? Mr Matherick said: “We have never discriminated against anybody, but I cannot preach the benefits of homosexuality when I believe it is against the word of God." So they have refused to agree to the new conditions as a matter of conscience, and were consequently informed that they would be removed from the register of approved foster parents. But rather than face the ‘humiliation’ of expulsion, they decided to resign.

It is at this point that Cranmer disagrees with the wisdom of their actions, just as he does with the Roman Catholic adoption agencies which are closing voluntarily. The plain teaching of Scripture is that Christians should be passive in such circumstances. Let them bring you to court; let them accuse you; let them make their case and have the whole saga played out in public. And the believer may tell the judge ‘’I have done nothing wrong’ (Acts 24:8), and the Lord promises that believers will be given the words to say in their defence. It is only by permitting such cases to come to court - so that believers may make their defence - that the law will be shown for the ass that it is. If believers decide to prosecute and assert their ‘rights’, the process will not only prove expensive; it is doomed to failure. The effect of an innocent and blameless testimony is a powerful rebuke to the world:

If ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled, but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear, having a good conscience, that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good manner of life in Christ (1Pt 3:14-16).

If you suffer for sin, you deserve the accusation of the world; but if you suffer for the sake of righteousness, you should be happy because you are suffering for Christ.

The irony is that councils all over the country are crying out for foster carers as a matter of urgency. They need 8000 to fulfil the needs of very vulnerable children, and they don’t mind if they are single, married, unmarried, gay, straight, bi, or transsexual: they are completely undiscriminating, and ‘welcome foster carers from all backgrounds and faiths’.

Unless, of course, one happens to be Christian, and really believes that faith, to the extent that one lives it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Guy Fawkes bonfire banned in his home town

This year marks the 402nd anniversary of the failed plot by one Guido Fawkes to blow up Parliament and inflict a fatal blow upon the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law. Mr Fawkes, who was born in April 1570 in Stonegate, York, was in charge of executing the Roman Catholic plot to blow up Parliament and the Protestant King James I during the State Opening of Parliament on November 5th, 1605. The plot was uncovered at the last minute and Mr Fawkes was caught and executed in grisly fashion early in 1606. Since then, the nation has held a ritual effigy-burning celebration each year.

Guy Fawkes night has become tradition; part of what it means to be English. Now, however, petty laws are beginning to impinge upon such cultural expressions. A bonfire celebration in York, the home town of Mr Fawkes, has been banned on ‘health and safety grounds’. After years of unfettered burning of the guy, York City Football Club has been told that their ground is now ‘too small to ensure spectator safety’.

The problem is exacerbated because the football club was proposing to hold a firework display in a certified sports ground, and this meant they had to apply to York's ‘Safety at Sports Advisory Group’ for a ‘Special Safety Certificate’. One begins to understand how the volume of paperwork and the labyrinth of special permissions from a plethora of committees becomes an insurmountable hurdle to holding such events.

Having just witnessed sundry ad hoc Eid fireworks, and imminently to witness sundry ad hoc Diwali fireworks, one wonders why it is only November 5th that is singled out for ‘health and safety’ concerns. Indeed, some councils are replacing Guy Fawkes with more ‘culturally relevant’ alternatives, obscuring completely the date’s enormous significance in British history. There is, however, no question at all of councils interfering with Eid and Diwali events, since to do so would be considered ‘racist’.

According to the Coronation Oath Act, 1953, section IV, the Queen swore ‘to govern the peoples of the United Kingdom according to their laws and customs’ and ‘to maintain the Protestant Reformed religion established by law. Since it is custom to celebrate the burning of this Papist traitor, it has become part of Protestant cultural expression. Yet the annual occasion is considered an ‘anti-Catholic ritual’ at least as offensive as the Act of Settlement, and therefore quite obviously has to go.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Napoleonic code approaches the white cliffs of Dover

The fore-ordained and highly predictable Lisbon Treaty will soon begin to make its way through Parliament. MPs will wrangle over every line; the Bill will ping-pong between the Commons and the Lords before being given Royal Assent, and in the process public trust in both politicians and the political process will diminish further as the people’s disenfranchisement is laid bare, and their impotence dawns upon them.

But the agreement in principle, struck in the early hours of 19th October, is permitting cogs to turn which have not turned since the referenda of France and the Netherlands; since the ‘constitutional concept’ was given a ‘pause for reflection’. Yet while the audience is mesmerised by conjecture upon the lead actors of this new Napoleonic epic, Cranmer is more concerned with who is writing the script and composing the score.

There is no doubt that the stage is set for either the return or the premiere of a great actor. Communicants will be aware of Cranmer’s thoughts on this. But EUObserver has picked up on a crafty bit of EU-creep, funded by the European Commission (i.e., you - to the tune of €4.3 million), and which will constitute the core principles of EU member states' private law. It is an EU civil code.

With remarkable coincidence, this is also to be presented to the Commission in December, and Cranmer half suspects that it will be slipped in beneath the champagne, fireworks, and strains of Beethoven’s Ninth which will accompany the signing of the Lisbon Treaty. It will be considered such a symbolic technicality that will not even merit coverage by the MSM, but the prospect of its adoption represents a sea-change in the way we are governed, and will undermine centuries of Common Law tradition.

The EU civil code, which already exists in draft, is consistent with the Roman Corpus Juris agenda, and will consist of legal articles relating to the exchange of goods and services. It will cover inter alia the provisions on contracts, the formation of a contract, the validity of contracts, the interpretation of contracts, the contents and effects of contracts, and the application of these rules to other juridical acts. The articles ‘will seek to describe what is the common core of European private law (in this case, mainly contract law), the bulk of which is currently covered by the 27 EU member states' national private law systems’.

Communicants may be yawning, but matters of private law – be it Common Law or Napoleonic Code - are presently the competence of each member state. As it happens, the UK and Ireland alone have a Common Law tradition, while legacy of Rome endures in the Napoleonic Code adopted by France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and which considerably influenced the civil code of Germany. The isolation is self-evident. Of course, the Commission is denying that the objective is a European Civil Code, but a resolution adopted by the EU Parliament in March 2006 said: ‘Even though the Commission denies that this is its objective, it is clear that many of the researchers and stakeholders working on the project believe that the ultimate long-term outcome will be a European code of obligations or even a full-blown European Civil Code.’

This is a triumph for the French, the perpetuation of its revolutionary foundations, and a codification of the EU's Enlightenment principle that all spheres of life must be dealt with and regulated by a unitary system of law based on nothing but human rationality. This will present the UK with two legal systems for determining private law: one with its origins in England, the other in Rome. And since the two cannot co-exist, one must evidently give way to the other.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Mayor of the Greater British Authority

Meet the Mayor of the Greater British Authority, formerly the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He is seen here telling the British people where they can go , having just agreed to sign away a thousand years of British history. He will formally do so in December, just in time for Christmas, doubtless accompanied by champagne, fireworks, and Beethoven’s Ninth.

But he doesn’t appear to have any idea what he has done, and neither does he appear to give a damn.

Cranmer has absolutely no idea what these two are smiling about. Here they are, agreeing to the Lisbon Treaty, as it is now known. Yet Prime Minister Brown is about to be supplanted by a permanent Emperor of Europe, who will be known as ‘The President’. And Foreign Secretary Miliband is about to be supplanted by an EU Foreign Minister, who shall be known by the snazzy title of ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’.

The British veto will go in 61 areas, making it impossible for the UK to block unwanted EU dictates. And it must be remembered that the Lisbon Treaty is a magic treaty, for it is ‘self-amending’. There are clauses within its convoluted clauses which ascribe to the EU the powers necessary for its effective functioning. In addition, the UK is obliged to surrender its seat on the UN Security Council if the EU has an agreed position on a global issue.

But there is nothing to fear, for Mr Brown insists that Britain’s national interest will be protected because four ‘red lines’ will guarantee sovereignty in key areas. They protect us from EU laws on crime-fighting, tax and social security rules, workplace legislation and union rights and foreign affairs.

But if this is all so very good, and the ‘red lines’ are so utterly watertight, why not let the people give it their blessing?

Cranmer is sure they will, for anything that is good for Britain will be intuitively known by the intelligent and discerning British people...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The emergence of the Conservative Muslim Caliphate

The Conservative Muslim Forum, a body established by Michael Howard and supported by David Cameron to advise the Conservatives on Muslim issues, has articulated some of its policy demands. In summary: Iran has a right to nuclear weapons, the Party should cease its support for Israel, a compulsory history curriculum in schools should give ‘full recognition to the massive contribution that Islam has made to the development of Western civilisation’, and preachers who advocate a rejection of democracy and its institutions should not be denied entry into Britain. They even support al-Qaradawi’s message of ‘gay-hate’.

Are these Muslims really Conservatives, or are they plants intent on subversively undermining the Party’s liberal foundations and Judaeo-Christian heritage?

By giving Iran nuclear weapons, they facilitate President Ahmadinejad’s desire to ‘wipe Israel off the map’. By juxtaposing Iran and Israel, they suggest moral equivalence, yet one is a democratic nation which recognises the rights of minorities; the other is a barbarous totalitarian theocracy which executes women and children. By allowing them input into the history curriculum, they will be able to brainwash children with the ‘massive contribution’ Islam has made to Western civilisation, when in reality it could be summed up in a few lines (if not two words). By defending Iran, they give succour to Holocaust-deniers. And by advocating the admission of Muslim preachers who wish to destroy British democracy, they fuel the flames of the Islamist agenda and offer them the Conservative brand in support of a totalitarian Shari’a system. The rights and liberties of the British people are inalienable, and the Conservative Party above all parties should stand in their defence.

Here was an opportunity for Conservative ‘moderate’ Muslims to distance themselves from their ‘extremist’ co-religionists, yet they have done no such thing. Instead, they challenge the Party Leader, repudiate Conservative policy, undermine the FCO, and assert that their way is the only ‘sensible’ way. And further, they demand censorship:

We accept that some terrorists do abuse Islam for their purposes. However, an incoming Conservative administration must deny their attempt to link criminal acts to any religion. The term ‘terrorism’ must be separated from any religious references. We reiterate that the Conservative Party should not explicitly or implicitly link terrorism with Islam as, similar to other major religions, Islam forbids terrorism.

What of the Muslim voice which perceives the link between terrorism and Islam? What of the Muslim voice which opposes Iran? What of the Muslim voice which supports the existence of Israel? What of the Muslim voice which does not want to see homosexuals summarily executed? The Conservative Muslim Forum is acting like a Muslim Conservative Caliphate. It will be a source of great rejoicing that Sayeeda Warsi, the unelected Shadow Cabinet Spokesperson for Community Cohesion, sits at the right hand of the Leader to further their cause. But in reality there are many Conservative Muslims who find a natural home in the Party and would view the proposals of this Forum with extreme distaste.

The Forum works out of the Conservative headquarters in London, and is thereby financially subsidised by the Party. It is chaired by Lord Sheikh, a party donor who was given a peerage last year. His wife works in Tory HQ, and appears tolerant of her husband’s adultery. That is no reason, however, for the Conservative Party to be tolerant of his hypocrisy.

The Conservative Muslim Forum holds itself apart from those same Conservatives with whom they wish to convey ‘shared values’, and they also hold themselves apart and separate from British democracy and Western civilisation.

Yet it should not be for Cranmer to respond to this, but the Conservative Christian Fellowship, which is also similarly accommodated and equally subsidised. The problem is, unlike its Muslim counterpart, it is congenial and diplomatic. It is therefore perceived to lack teeth. If it cannot bite, and will not bark, the Conservative Muslim Forum is free to advance its reactionary, anti-Semitic and homophobic cause - all at the Conservative Party’s expense, electorally and financially.

UPDATE (9 Nov 2007)

The former director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship has written an open letter to the Chairman of the Conservative Party, posted on ConservativeHome:

Has CCHQ taken all necessary measures to ensure the Conservative Muslim Forum cannot be infiltrated?

"Dear Caroline,

You will be aware of the recent controversy caused by the Conservative Muslim Forum's response to Pauline Neville-Jones' national security report, 'An Unquiet World'. The CMF, which is headquartered at CCHQ and uses the party's logo, took issue with a number of The Unquiet World's conclusions. You will remember that it opposed the proposal that preachers who campaign against our nation's democratic institutions be refused entry to Britain. It also called for full engagement with the MCB, an organisation that Baroness Neville-Jones said "uses identity politics to pursue a domestic and international policy agenda sympathetic to Islamists.”

It is, of course, vital that free speech flourishes within the Conservative Party but I would value your reassurance as to what steps have been taken to ensure that the CMF has not been - and cannot be - infiltrated by groups or individuals with hostile agendas. Given its privileged place inside Conservative HQ I hope you agree that these are reasonable concerns.

For example:

I understand that Lord Sheikh is Chairman of the CMF but does the Forum have a governing board? If so, who sits on the CMF's board?
How often does the CMF meet?
Are any of its meetings minuted? Who has access to those minutes, if they exist?
Is it a democratic body?
Who exactly wrote the CMF's recent paper and its criticisms of the policy group report?
Is the CMF part-sponsored by Conservative Party funds? Who, for example, pays for its website?
Do you know if its leading players are attached to some of the groups that Baroness Neville-Jones has criticised?
Thank you for your time.

I will be publishing this letter on ConservativeHome.

Yours sincerely,

Tim Montgomerie"

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The rise of ‘European consciousness’

The words of Valery Giscard d’Estaing, the architect of the ‘Lisbon Treaty’, formerly known as the ‘Reform Treaty’, and once upon a time known as the ‘Constitution for Europe’:

This Treaty will not be the end of the work… we must recognise and assert European identity. In taking an unequivocal position on the creation of the Political Union and by rigorously defining the identity and the values of Europe each European must now understand that he belongs to three levels of identity: the local level, the national level and the European level. These three levels are complementary and do not infringe each other.

A fundamental element of the future of Europe will be the emergence of a European conscience in each of the citizens, We must have a feeling of belonging to Europe and pride in being European. Which means, as Jean Monnet sensed, that belonging to the European culture is an indispensable cement for the emergence of a real European identity.

There is absolutely no point protesting about the Lisbon Treaty, no mileage to be found in demanding a referendum, to solace to be sensed from the contrary murmurings of the Conservative Party. The deal is done, a country called Europe is born, its Emperor will emerge, and the whole outcome is teleologically foreordained.

While politicians, journalists, bloggers and commentators all focus on the political process, the European Union is a metaphysical construct with a spiritual dimension and intends to ‘assert’ its identity by the imposition through education and the communication of a ‘European identity’. The last piece of the jigsaw, the ‘Lisbon Treaty’, has now been put into place, and will be formally signed by the EU’s 27 heads of state in December. And by so doing they will establish a country called Europe, and abdicate their own premierships.

Perhaps there will be opportunity in the impending three months of parliamentary wrangling to sink this treacherous document, but an outbreak of porcine aviation is just about as likely. Let’s face it, even if there were a referendum - as there has been in Ireland, Denmark, France, the Netherlands – a ‘wrong’ result would be completely ignored. Yet Prime Minister Brown insists that ‘Britain's national interest has been protected’, the ‘red lines have been secured’, so it is therefore ‘time for Europe to move on and devote all our attentions to the issues that matter to the people of Europe - economic growth, jobs, climate change and security’.

And still foreign Secretary David Miliband insisted that the rejected constitution ‘is dead’. And that ‘last night marked the end of the constitution… There was finally the legal text agreed in all languages which showed very, very clearly that by no measure - by no measure of legal structure, by no measure of legal content and by no measure of political consequence - could this be called a constitution’.

This is, of course, quite contrary to what Parliament’s EU Scrutiny Committee has concluded, what Giscard D’Estaing himself has stated, and what many EU heads of state have admitted – that this ‘Treaty’ is the ‘abandoned’ Constitution by another name. And now Europe shall have its Emperor; the Union shall have its Strong Man to lift us out of the morass in which we are sinking, and guess whose name is in the frame…

Friday, October 19, 2007

The rise of cyber-religion

The BBC has discovered that a third of ‘web worshippers’ actually prefer their cyber church to the real thing, and this got Cranmer thinking of the extent to which these virtual creations have supplanted reality, and what might be the consequences.

St Pixels is, apparently, a mega-church. It has 2000 members, for whom its existence ‘is the main or only contact with traditional Christianity’. Since Cranmer has not visited or heard a cyber-sermon, he has no idea if this is the BBC’s ‘traditional Christianity’, or if it is truly orthodox. But that aside, it is an undeniable challenge – as real as that faced by the Early Church when it had to communicated a Hebrew gospel to a Greek audience – of profound missiological importance.

Blogging, Podcasting, Facebook and other cyber pursuits have become the commonplace tools of communication for many religions. They meet the need for immediacy and immanence; they bring a feeling of individual significance, and offer escape from the inconveniences and conflicts inherent in dealing with real people. Perhaps more importantly, they afford the possibility of being what one is not; creating a virtual life to compensate for the mundane inanities of the tedium of existence; escape from the repetitive boredom associated with the modern era. They provide a cyber fellowship of cyber friends dispensing cyber advice without the need to ever meet face-to-face or to look one’s friend in the eye. As one 19-year-old student observes:

I've no idea what I'd do without the friends I've made in St Pixels - though I've never met them. I've made tons of close buddies in Scotland, Korea and England. No matter who you are, or where you're from, you will ALWAYS find someone here to talk to. It's like a family home, where the door is always open for friends and their friends. I was baptised a Methodist but that's as far as it goes. I don't currently attend a physical church.

St Pixels is supported by the Methodist Church, and may indeed offer a spiritually life-saving service for some who take part in discussions, pray for each other, worship together and play games. But one cannot ignore the addictive dimension of the virtual world. When one has tasted the Magic Kingdom, escaped to world without night, or pain, or crying, or shame, the need becomes increasingly stronger to visit it daily for the very necessary ‘fix’. Indeed, one’s day seems somehow incomplete if one has not cyber-communed with one’s congenial cyber-communicants, and felt their adulation, or heard their adoration.

But Cranmer refuses to be sucked into the world of postmodern relativism in which all knowledge is subjective and where subjectivity is truth, or where there is nothing but praise and appreciation. Religion is political, and politics brings a sword of division. Cranmer is not afraid to shine a light on that which is ugly, painful, distorted, deceitful, corrupted or shameful. In making his statements, he is not afraid to offend, for the cross is the very cause of offence, and its truth is foundational to his meaning and purpose.

Cyber-religion is utterly postmodern insofar as it contributes to the undermining of rationalism and foundationalism. There are no longer any universal intellectual tools such as logic, and there are no indubitable first principles from which to interpret ideas or experience. The fundamental basis of science is questioned or abandoned, and the further one progresses in scientific investigation the less one can claim pure objectivity in the formulation of what is known. Truth is encountered emotionally and intuitively, and there is a shift from the muffled majesty of grand narratives to the splintered autonomy of micro-narratives.

And in those micro-narratives, everyone may become the centre of attention - significant, prophetic, and god-like. The tragedy is that so very few say anything worth hearing, and the whole world of cyber spirituality becomes so utterly tedious that the phrase ‘blog-standard’ really ought to enter the cyber-vernacular.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ming assassinated by the merciless

Cranmer is always saddened by the downfall of a politician of his vintage. The official story is that his departure was his own decision; the truth is that his ‘closest advisers’ told him the game was up, and it was time to return to his sarcophagus. His removal was surgical, swift, and savage.

In the nature of politics and consistent with the legacy of ‘here today gone tomorrow’ politicians, he will quickly fade into oblivion. The irony is that he would have been better remembered as an Olympian sprinter and a global ambassador for sport. Few doubt that the legacy of Sebastian Coe will outlast that of the four previous leaders of the Conservative Party.

And speaking of Mr Cameron, he ought not to misjudge the next leader of the Liberal Democrats in the same way he (and the Party) misjudged Prime Minister Brown. There are really only two contenders for the role – Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne – and this choice could be the sole determinant of the outcome of the next general election. Cranmer has been musing on the possibilities.

If the Lord wishes to be kind to the Liberal Democrats, and mean to the Conservatives, the succession will pass to Nick Clegg.

Mr Clegg looks, sounds, walks and quacks like a Cameroon. He is eloquent, young and charming; he appears warm and charismatic on camera, and is of an eminently approachable disposition. He is reportedly fluent in five languages, a Euro-realist, and is at ease in diverse companies and kindly-mannered toward both the high and mighty and to the poor and lowly. He is a man for all seasons, and no small gesture is too much trouble for him.

His appointment would oblige the Conservative Party to re-think their centre-ground strategy, and this might be no bad thing. Indeed, it is likely that the appointment of a Cameroon to the leadership of the Liberal Democrats would force the Cameroons in the Conservative Party to return to a Conservative agenda.

One can live in hope.

But if the Lord wishes to bless the Conservative Party, the succession will pass to Chris Huhne.

Mr Huhne may have come second to Menzies Campbell in the previous leadership election, but he was shown to possess more vaulting ambition than Macbeth (or his wife), and to possess a self-important, pompous arrogance against which Coriolanus appears to acquire an air of humility. He is a smug, conceited Europhile, and would contend with Michael Gove as the face in the Commons one would most like to punch (not that Cranmer has anything against Mr Gove; it is simply a matter of possessing a countenance one would like to slap).

Despite this undeniable reality, Cranmer would like to remind his communicants and readers that we are talking here about the Liberal Democrats. It is therefore most likely, when the clamours for the reinstatement of Charles Kennedy have abated, that they will elect Chris Huhne to be their leader.

Or there is a third possibility. For the Lord, unlike Allah, is shown to have a sense of humour, and is recorded in the Psalms as having the capacity to smile and laugh. On the biblical-principles premise that political parties, like nations, might get the leaders they deserve, the Lord may just appoint Lembit Opik to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.

He would certainly raise their profile on Have I Got News For You, provide Boris with fierce competition for Commons buffoonery, and add a certain ‘cheeky’ sexual frisson to the bland political morass into which we are all sinking…

O please, Lord, please.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tory 'demon eyes’ mastermind joins Blair faith foundation

Is it to much to think that advertising executives and PR gurus might have ethical standards, modes of morality, or a conscience they might not transgress? Or is it all simply concerned with Mammon, and conviction can go to hell?

Jeremy Sinclair, the man who devised the iconic ‘demon eyes’ campaign against Tony Blair, has been appointed director of the Blair Faith Foundation (a repugnantly egocentric eponym). This one-time Tory loyalist, a founding partner of advertising agency M&C Saatchi, has been recruited to lead the charity, the aim of which is to ‘improve links and understanding between world faiths’. Actually, since Mr Blair knows nothing of what has become known as Hinduism, or of its daughter religions, Buddhism and Sikhism, he has specified that his mission will be to foster ‘greater understanding’ between the three ‘Abrahamic faiths’ – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Mr Sinclair lists ‘spiritualism’ among his interests. But Cranmer is unsure whether he is really into contacting the dead or if this should read ‘spirituality’. Either way, he will have his work cut out if he is to use his advertising expertise to sell the Blair Faith Foundation in the Middle East. Mr Blair’s support for President Bush and the ‘Great Satan’, and his own conviction about the righteousness of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, not to mention the knighthood bestowed upon Salman Rushdie, have done nothing to endear him to the Muslim world. Cranmer thinks it will take rather more than a few eye-ctaching posters and newspaper advertisements to heal this rift.

When trying to build bridges, it is always wise to ensure that an opposite promontory exists, or one will end up having constructed a pier.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Following in the paedophile steps of Mohammed?

Meet Sunam - a beautiful, innocent little three-year-old girl from Afghanistan. She is not dressing up and playing at fairy tales: the occasion is her betrothal to her seven-year-old cousin Nieem. She wears lipstick, and her hair is curled, and she is manifestly sexualised in a manner antithetical to everything the burkha-enforcing Taliban seek to impose upon followers of The Prophet. And despite Afghani law prohibiting marriage until 16 for girls and 18 for boys, the custom and pervasive practice is that marriages are consummated when the boy reaches 14. In this case, poor little Sunam will be just 10 when her husband penetrates her.

When Charles Moore writing in The Spectator dared to juxtapose the name ‘Mohammed’ with the term ‘paedophile’, the suggestion was met with outrage. The Muslim Association of Britain quickly announced that the piece was ‘a clear incitement to religious hatred’, as well as ‘full of falsehoods, lies, skewed interpretations and poisonous remarks’. The MAB called for his dismissal, and reminded him of Rushdie affair, with implicit death threats.

The problem for these ignoramuses is that Charles Moore's assertion was based on Islam’s own scriptures - the hadiths - which record quite clearly that Mohammed was betrothed to Aisha when she was six years old, and the marriage consummated when she was just nine and he was in his early 50s (Sahih Bukhari Vol 5, Bk 58, No 234; Sahih Muslim Bk 008, No 3310, 3311). And prior to that, there is written record of a good deal of ‘thighing’, which is the practice of laying the erect penis between the girl’s thighs, and doing sufficient to cause ejaculation.

Since a nine-year-old is now deemed to be incapable of giving consent, this practice would be considered child abuse. Indeed, it would be considered rape, exacerbated by the 43-year age difference, which would have cries of ‘dirty old man’ following Mohammed wherever he went, and crowds of angry parents baying for blood, spurred on by the tabloid mentality of rags like The Sun.

By modern standards, Mohammed is indeed a paedophile. But he belonged to another culture and another age. And the practice of childhood betrothal or arranged marriages has existed from time to time in all cultures.

Mary was approximately 14 years old when she became pregnant with Jesus, and some Bible commentaries conjecture that she was as young as 12. And she may have been, and Joseph would doubtless have been older. It is therefore likely that they would have been betrothed when Mary was between 7-9 years old, and it would not have been uncommon for Joseph to have been in his 20s or 30s.

Yet Joseph has never been called a paedophile or child molester, and the Holy Spirit who ‘impregnated’ Mary without her consent, has never, to Cranmer’s knowledge, been termed a rapist.

Child brides in some cultures are considered an economic necessity. This does not make it right, but early betrothal is often necessitated by poverty. In many parts of Africa, Asia, and South America, young girls are often engaged by the age of eight, and leave their homes to join their husbands by 12. And in many cases, the younger the girl, the more her family receives in the form of a dowry. The practice is endemic in the most rural and poverty-stricken regions of Ethiopia, for example, and only an economic revolution could begin to change the culture.

And it might also be recalled that until a century ago, the age of consent in many American states was just 10 years old. The important consideration is that few (if any) exhort 19th-century America to be a paragon of moral virtue. The problem for Islam is that Mohammed sets the perfect example, and is to be emulated throughout all ages.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Labour minister admits taxes should recognise marriage

In further confirmation that the Conservative Party is in command of the agenda in British politics, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Andy Burnham MP, has indicated that the Government might give tax incentives to married couples, in recognition of the importance of the institution to society.

Mr Burnham’s words follow Gordon Brown’s seizing of Conservative proposals for cutting inheritance tax, penalising non-domiciled workers and introducing a flight levy. Aping this area of Conservative policy, after a decade of undermining the institution of marriage, really does show how hypocritical, shallow, bankrupt, and devoid of originality this Government has become.

Cranmer is, however, intrigued by Mr Burnham’s use of language. He says unequivocally that there is a ‘moral case’ for using tax to promote the traditional family unit. And further: ‘I don't seek to preach to anybody. But in an abstract way I think it’s better when children are in a home where their parents are married and I think children do notice if their parents are married or not.’

There is nothing wrong with preaching when what you’re preaching is true, noble, good and righteous. And there is nothing ‘abstract’ about the ideal environment in which to raise children. If it were abstract, it would simply be theoretical, intangible, somehow removed from reality. But the empirical evidence indicates overwhelmingly that marriage is not only of considerable benefit to those who are married, but also to children and society, and these benefits are manifest in practice.

The minister uses ‘abstract’ to deflect the focus, to mitigate the implication of his belief, and he denies preaching in order to permit his preaching; to advocate precisely the sort of command ethics one might expect from a politician of religious conviction.

But Mr Burnham’s preaching is completely at variance with that of the Prime Minister, who said only a fortnight ago: ‘I say to the children of two parent families, one parent families, foster parent families; to the widow bringing up children: I stand for a Britain that supports as first class citizens not just some children and some families but supports all children and all families… We all remember that biblical saying: “suffer the little children to come unto me”. No Bible I have ever read says: “bring just some of the children”.’

Mr Burnham is indeed advocating a tax system which benefits just some of the children. He says: ‘I think marriage is best for kids… It's not wrong that the tax system should recognise commitment and marriage.’ And Cranmer’s favourite line: ‘There's sometimes a metropolitan myth that Labour people are all a bit liberal. I don't think the Tories should have a monopoly on this kind of thinking.’

It is completely true that the Conservative Party should not have a monopoly on this kind of thinking, for it should be evident to politicians of all political persuasions and faiths that marriage is not an exclusively Judaeo-Christian institution; it is a union observed in all cultures, and seems, according to Aristotle, to exist by nature. Marriage in the Bible is essential for the functioning of society, and is the model used to explain the mystery of Christ’s relationship to the church (Eph 5:25-32). The Church of England ‘affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman’. This has its basis in the Old Testament, where YHWH says: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Gen 2:18). It continues: ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (v24). Although these verses do not purport to define marriage, they do describe its origin, and are therefore crucial for understanding the Bible’s teaching on marriage.

There are three principal purposes for marriage arising out of v24: (i) the procreation of children; (ii) companionship, and (iii) sexual union. Marriage is a covenant before YHWH, which Jesus confirms with the phrase ‘God has joined together’ (Mt 19:26); when a person ‘leaves’ and ‘cleaves’. It is the erosion of this foundation which has contributed to ‘Breakdown Britain’, and it is a cause of encouragement to Cranmer that some in the Government are making noises of repentance.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Al Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize.

Cranmer felt slightly nauseous when former US Vice President turned environmental campaigner Al Gore won an Academy Award for his environmental docu-fiction ‘An Inconvenient Truth'. But now, out of 181 potential candidates, he has won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The citation for Mr Gore read: ‘His strong commitment, reflected in political activity, lectures, films and books, has strengthened the struggle against climate change… He is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted.’

Cranmer now feels positively sick. Rather like a peerage, this award is now devoid of prestige, completely discredited, and utterly without honour. The awarding of this prize to an unqualified charlatan is testimony to the extent that Mother Earth has become the only globally-unifying metanarrative for the postmodern age. Mr Gore said: 'We face a true planetary emergency. The climate crisis is not a political issue, it is a moral and spiritual challenge to all of humanity.' Environmentalism is the new religion - not so much incarnate as infoliate - and to question or reject this 'green' faith is to risk the ages-old accusations of narrow-mided bigotry or spiritual apostasy.

Yet only this week, a British judge ruled that schoolchildren could not see Mr Gore’s film without accompanying notes which give a balancing view to some of his claims. The Times records the abundant errors, but it seems that matters of truth are of little consequence to the Nobel selection panel. According to them, Al Gore now ranks deservedly alongside some of the greats of history: Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Mikhail Gorbochev, the Dalai Lama, Elie Wiesel, Desmond Tutu, Lech Walesa, Mother Teresa, Anwar Sadat, Menachem Begin, Henry Kissinger, Martin Luther King Jnr…

Cranmer hasn’t seen the secret list of this year’s hopefuls, but is inclined to think that any of the other 180 nominees would have been rather more worthy. Not least because Mr Gore will almost certainly now use this global accolade to upset Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama, and enter the 2008 race to be the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

Cranmer will then feel the sickest he has felt in a very long while.

Muslim clerics demand peace, or else...

The letter sent by 138 Muslim Clerics to the Christian leaders of the world is both welcome and revealing. It is perhaps an inevitable consequence of the pluralistic nature of modern society that common ground should be found in order that followers of both Jesus and Mohammed can coexist, connect and communicate. Yet that geographical or sociological closeness gives rise to a theological and political antagonism, often blamed on war, economic inequality, and religious extremism.

The letter is welcome because it is a joint communication from both Sunni and Shi'a scholars, and it is revealing because it is in essence a demand for submission. This is perhaps unsurprising, since the salvation of Allah is attained only through works, and the peace of Islam only through submission. By calling for unity, and setting out the parameters of ‘A Common Word Between Us and You’, the focus is on the lowest denominators – the love of God and love of one's neighbour. The problem is the absence of a doctrine of God, an understanding of the Trinity, and an acceptance of who constitutes one’s neighbour.

The latter point is not semantic. Jesus was clear that everyone is one’s neighbour, yet while Mohammed on occasion urged respect for ‘the people of the Book’ (ie monotheists), there is nothing but death and destruction consistently ordained for ‘idolaters’. Thus this document offers nothing to the world’s Hindus, Sikhs or Buddhists, whose practices presumably have to continue to be eradicated.

It is one thing to set out a grand theoretical statement, but quite another to articulate the praxis. The appeal is for all religions to work together, but Islam has set out its non-negotiable ‘red lines’ first. There is a veiled rebuke to Jihadists: ‘And to those who nevertheless relish conflict and destruction for their own sake or reckon that ultimately they stand to gain through them, we say that our very eternal souls are all also at stake if we fail to sincerely make every effort to make peace and come together in harmony.’ But the inclusion of ‘for their own sake’ is easily refuted by those for whom murder is in defence of Allah, and blessed martyrdom is the reward for their selfless sacrifice. The Muslim scholars further state: ‘As Muslims, we say to Christians that we are not against them and that Islam is not against them - so long as they do not wage war against Muslims on account of their religion, oppress them and drive them out of their homes.’ Again, the hand of friendship is extended on their terms; no mention of what may be the cause of the conflict or oppression. This basically says that peace and friendship are offered only if you cease your defence of and support for Israel; if you permit Shari’a practices in your countries; if Islam and the Qur’an are ‘respected’ and placed alongside your Christianity and your Bible.

In ‘love’ is patience and tolerance, yet while there are many tolerant Muslims, tolerant Islam is an oxymoron. Thus this letter talks in apocalyptic terms of the ‘survival of the world’ being at stake if Muslims and Christians do not make peace with each other. But the peace that Jesus gives is not as the world gives, and the only peace that Islam knows is that of unqualified surrender and submission. It is naïve of the Bishop of London the Right Rev Richard Chartres to spell out the similarities between passages of the Bible and the Qur’an. There are similarities between Jesus and Father Christmas, but nothing to justify joint global conferences. And what of the differences? Amidst the abundance of quotations which purport to support their calls for unity, there is no reference to 5:17, which dismisses Christians as non-believers, 4:171, which denies the crucifixion, or of 9:30, which says that those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God are accursed, or 9:29, which mandates war against Jews and Christians. Such verses have to addressed if there is to be any true and honest dialogue.

As Archbishop Williams is once again silent, it falls to that great man of God, the Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, to respond on behalf of the Church of England Continuing. He points out that for all the apparent similarities of the monotheistic faiths, Christians and Muslims do not actually believe in the same thing: ‘Dialogue must be in the integrity of each faith, rather than on terms set by one,' he said. 'They speak of the unity of God. Christians want to uphold the unity of God but their understanding is not the same of the Muslim one. Christians understand God as the Father the source of all existence, the Word is the one through whom the creation comes into existence and the Spirit refreshes and renews creation. What the Qur’an condemns, we do not believe. Whatever our doctrine of God, there are fundamental issues that must be addressed, such as refugees fleeing because of their faith and because of persecution… But what I would stress is that dialogue between partners must be conducted in the integrity of each faith. One partner cannot dictate the terms on which dialogue must be conducted. This document seems to be on the verge of doing that.'

He said the document appeared to be calling for dialogue on the basis of Muslim belief in the unity of God. Dr Nazir-Ali said: 'If that were the case, we would all be Muslim. I would say, we need mutual witness and learning as well as witness to faith. I am quite happy for Muslims to witness to me. But it is not a one-way street.'

He criticised parts of the document, which goes in great detail into Qur’anic passages which emphasise the unity of God. Dr Nazir-Ali said: 'One thing the document implies is that Christians have compromised their monotheism. It does this by implication, with all the business of saying we must agree that God is only none and not associated with partners, that we must not take others for Lord. It refers to various verses in the Qur’an which accuse Christians of taking Jesus and others as their Lord besides Allah.' The verse the entire letter is based on, he said, is 3:64: ‘Say, “O followers of the scripture, let us come to a logical agreement between us and you: that we shall not worship except GOD; that we never set up any idols besides Him, nor set up any human beings as lords beside GOD." If they turn away, say, "Bear witness that we are submitters".'

According to Dr Nazir-Ali, 'This verse says that if we are going to talk it must be on the basis that you [the Christians] are no longer associating others with God. What I would say to that is that Christians uphold belief in one God vigorously but our understanding of the oneness of God is not the Muslim understanding. We believe in God as source from whom everything is brought into being. Jesus is God's word and presence for us but is also human.'

In fact, the document does emphasise the humanity of Jesus, in line with Qur’anic teaching. Dr Nazir-Ali said: 'That is fine, but he is also God's presence for us. We believe in one God but how we believe in one God is not the same as how Muslims believe in one God. There is an implicit assumption here that what Muslims believe is normative and everyone else has to fall into line.'
He added that what Qur’an condemns as false belief, such as the view that the Trinity consists of Father, Son and Blessed Virgin Mary, is not believed by Christians in the first place. Dr Nazir-Ali said: 'Please find out from us what we really believe. That is one of the purposes of dialogue. Ok, we may disagree about the nature of God but there are many other important areas of dialogue as well. There is justice, compassion, fundamental freedom, freedom to express beliefs, persecution of peoples. All these are matters of dialogue. Only one of them, the need for peace, is mentioned here.'

Quite. But that is because the word ‘peace’ is simply a euphemism for Islam.

Cranmer urges those Christian leaders to whom this letter is addressed to respond firmly, corporately, and theologically. If the response is conciliatory, divided, and sociological, it will be seen as a weakness, a lack of conviction, and an open invitation for Islam to fill the spiritual void.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Names will never hurt me?

When Cranmer was at school, sticks and stones used to be the worst that one schoolboy could hurl at another. Or maybe conkers, marbles, or (occasionally) a chair. He also recalls having a few textbooks hurled his way, a condom (unused), and on one occasion a rowing oar, though that was by a teacher (and it missed).

But names are about to supplant sticks and stones, under proposals issued by Justice Secretary Jack Straw MP. The new Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill will make it illegal to use threatening words or behaviour on the grounds of sexual orientation. And those pupils who are convicted could face up to seven years in jail (or a young offenders' institute for 'correctional therapy').

The main problem is the word ‘gay’. What used to mean ‘happy’ became over time a badge of honour worn by homosexuals. But if used as a playground taunt, it can now lead to a police investigation. This is an issue because the meaning has transmuted again in recent years to simply mean ‘bad’, ‘stupid’ or ‘un-cool’. It is the vernacular of youth culture; and children copy children as sheep follow sheep, and nobody has the slightest idea of the meaning of the word – it means simply what they want it to mean. While the children’s charity Kidscape calls for police officers to use ‘common sense’, Cranmer is reminded that schoolchildren as young as 11 have already been investigated for ‘racism’, ‘homophobia’, and other ‘crimes’ they never knew existed.

Hitherto, the 1986 Public Order Act has been used to prosecute people for ‘homophobic’ comments which are to be threatening, abusive or insulting in a way likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. The new ‘gay hate’ law is supposed to strengthen this, though Cranmer is puzzled as to why threats to or harassment of homosexuals is a greater crime than threatening or harassing a heterosexual.

The new incitement law is supported by the Liberal Democrats, but the Conservative party has been more cautious, citing concerns about freedom of speech.

Indeed. While bullying should not be tolerated in schools, a little playground banter is part and parcel of real life. Censor it there, or criminalise those who genuinely meant nothing serious by heir taunt, and the resentment against those whom the law is designed to protect will simply resurface a hundredfold.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

MPs invoke British Constitution to resist the EU Constitution

The European Scrutiny Committee (a Labour-dominated cross-party committee of MPs) has been scrutinising the EU Reform Treaty, and has concluded that it is ‘substantially equivalent’ to its previous incarnation – the ‘Constitution for Europe’. While this simply affirms what many EU leaders have been saying for the past year, it completely undermines the Prime Minister’s assertion that the Treaty is so sufficiently different from the Constitution that there is no need to honour Labour’s manifesto pledge to hold a referendum.

But what is different about this challenge – and by far the most politically powerful one made to date – is that a foundational part of the British Constitution is being invoked, with which the ‘Reform Treaty’ is in direct conflict.

There is clause in the Treaty which compels all member states to contribute to ‘the good functioning of the Union’, which effectively ties the UK into being positive, supportive, and constructive towards the whole project. The clause is designed to prevent an emerging opposition, to silence the dissenting voices.

But the Bill of Rights 1689 protects the British Parliament from being placed under legal obligations by any outside body. The signatories to the Act declared:

‘…that no foreign prince, person, prelate, state or potentate hath or ought to have any jurisdiction, power, superiority, pre-eminence or authority, ecclesiastical or spiritual, within this realm. So help me God.’

The Treaty conflicts with the constitutional declaration of supremacy. While the EU in its sundry court judgements has previously declared that ‘Community law’ is indeed superior to national law, this ‘Treaty’ goes a step further by binding member states to a fore-ordained future. Since Parliament may not bond its successors, and the Bill of Rights 1689 has not been expressly repealed, it is therefore the view of this cross-party body of MPs that ‘the imposition of such a legal duty on the Parliament of this country is objectionable as a matter of principle and must be resisted.’


The problem is the propagation of the delusion that the ‘constitutional concept has been abandoned’, and the assertion by Europe Minister Jim Murphy MP that UK ‘opt-outs’ mean that ‘Britain's version of the treaty is the furthest away from the old constitutional concept’.

Britain’s version?

Is there to be a carefully-translated and deceptively-diluted version just for the British? The ‘red lines’ for the retention of national sovereignty on crucial policy areas are supposed to give the UK the right to opt out, yet these are not secure and ‘will leak like a sieve’. And the 'opt-in' provisions on police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, and the protocol on the charter of fundamental rights, are all subject to challenge in the courts.

The committee's Labour chairman Michael Connarty alludes to the EU’s tried-and-tested ratchet strategy. He concludes: ‘Looking at the legalities and use of the European Court of Justice, we believe these will be challenged bit by bit and eventually, the UK will be in a position where all of the treaty will eventually apply to the UK.’

And herein lies a golden opportunity for the Conservative Party...

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dividing Jerusalem, surrendering Judea and Samaria

In preparation for the US-hosted Mideast conference in November, Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has told the Knesset that the current Palestinian leadership under Mahmoud Abbas wants to move forward toward peace with Israel and that he would not use excuses to stall peace talks. To that end, he told the assembly that ‘Israel would have to give up on some of its deeply held desires’ (ie the West Bank), and has signalled a return to its 1967 borders.

Needless to say, this has not gone down too well, with either religious or secular Jews. When the Prime Minister, a former mayor of Jerusalem, told parliament that Israelis would have to ‘forego some of their national dreams and aspirations’, one heckler shouted: ‘Is Jerusalem a dream?’ Likud Chairman and former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded that the strategy ‘would eventually lead to an Iranian terrorist presence in Jerusalem and the rest of Israel’. With Iran bombing Israel via Lebanon in the north, and a second front from the west through Gaza, Mr Netanyahu says that Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria ‘will lead to a third Iranian outpost’. Starkly, he warns: ‘Olmert will place Hamas men on the walls of Jerusalem. Jerusalem will fast become a pilgrimage site for terrorists from all over the world… The government's policy is afflicted with total blindness…a vision must be rooted in the ground- not suspended in the clouds.’

The most contentious part of the proposals would relate to the Old City, which includes the holy sites. Although no details have yet been outlined, the inference is that there would be less than full Israeli sovereignty. It is mooted that there might be some impartial international presence, which will doubtless satisfy no-one, and may thereby be deemed the most equitable solution.

But neither Prime Minister Olmert nor President Bush will have the last word on this issue, if only because YHWH himself has an interest. There are indeed many difficult issues to resolve, yet Cranmer doubts that the United Nations is capable of acting impartially on this matter. Ultimately, the land of Israel belongs to God: ‘The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof’ (Ps 24:1). However, God promised this land to the descendants of Jacob, and he allotted to Israel more land than is contained in her present borders. God said to Joshua: ‘Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I said to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the Great River, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory’ (Josh 1:3f). The land was bequeathed to the twelve tribes of Israel, and it includes land east of the river Jordan, as well as all the land west of it until the Mediterranean Sea.

It is not Cranmer’s view that Israel should be waging military campaigns to conquer and subdue, or to enlarge her borders. But neither is it his belief that Israel should compromise one inch of territory which could imperil her security and lead to her destruction.

And God forbid that the Bill Gates, Tony Blair, Bob Geldof or the Pope should become the UN’s High Representative for Jerusalem.
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