Friday, February 29, 2008

Germany's constitutional court: Britain's EU reservations ‘cannot be dismissed’

Since the House of Commons scrutiny of the Lisbon Treaty was virtually non-existent, and Bernard Jenkin MP asserts that ‘British democracy has become more of an elective dictatorship’, it is ironic that it is the German courts who are defending the British corner.

Professor Hans-Juergen Papier is president of Germany's constitutional court and therefore Germany's most senior judge. And he is concerned by the ‘subsidiarity’ principle, whereby the actions that may best be performed at a regional level should see the EU devolve such powers to member states. But he observes that national parliaments ‘have no guarantee that EU powers will not continue to grow’.

Professor Papier points out that the sheer number of laws coming from Brussels - there were 18,167 regulations and 750 directives between 1998 and 2004 - means that effective scrutiny is ‘somewhat impracticable’ within the brief period of time available for new EU laws to be considered. He says that the dynamics of subsidiarity are connected to the ‘ever closer union’ principle, meaning that there is ‘from the point of view of member states no fixed limit guaranteed to the creeping transfer of competences (to EU level)’.

The 'Constitution for Europe' may be called the 'Treaty of Lisbon', but this Treaty contains within its text the very mechanism by which it may become a constitution at any point in the future, should it so be wished. It introduces 'simplified revision procedures' which means that the Treaty is self-amending. Article 48 (6) has been called the 'ratchet clause' and allows Treaty amendments to be made without the need for a new amending treaty or further ratification. It also allows for the revisions of text 'on internal policies and actions of the Union' without the necessity to convene an Inter-Governmental Conference.

Professor Papier therefore fully understands the UK’s (and Poland’s) decision to opt out of the EU's charter of fundamental rights, which reflects a ‘deeply rooted mistrust of a union and a court’ that pulls ‘ever more competences to it’.

But here is the revealing phrase:

He says that at first glance this mistrust appears ‘misplaced’ because the charter specifies that it only applies to EU law.

‘But at second glance, the reservations of Poland and the United Kingdom cannot be dismissed fully out of hand.’

He concludes that too much of what emanates from the EU is ‘less derived from legal texts but from a "platonic legal heaven," with a vagueness concerning both their content and their actual existence’.

Perhaps some of the practical outworkings of Plato’s thinking in The Republic may occasionally be a little vague, but there is no doubting that the EU is intent on filling in the gaps - and then denying completely what they are doing or that they know anything at all about it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Turkey in ‘radical revision’ of Islamic texts

Cranmer has been asked to comment on this religio-political development in Turkey, so, ever mindful of the politico-spiritual edification of his readers and communicants, he shall do so.

It appears that Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians (who precisely?) at Ankara University to carry out a ‘fundamental revision’ of the Hadith - a collection of the sayings and doings of Mohammad which heavily influence interpretation of the Qur’an. It is the second most sacred text in Islam after the Qur’an, and the scholars (any women?) are preparing to publish a document that represents a ‘revolutionary reinterpretation’ which purports to ‘modernise’ the religio-political construct.

This is not, however, Islam’s ‘Reformation’ as some are asserting, not only because there is no Luther in Wittenberg or Cranmer at Oxford, but also because the Protestant Reformation was about a return to the Bible – the primary text of revelation - and a purging of the Church of the corrupt, man-made practices which deviated from the simplicity of the gospel. The Turkish agenda is about a redaction of an Islamic text of secondary importance to render it conformable to Western sensitivities. This will be repudiated by many Muslims as being a perverse manipulation and a bowdlerising of ‘the truth’. It will not remotely influence majority Sunni opinion, and most Muslims will simply ignore it. In fact, it will simply become another Islamic cult, rather like the Ahmadiyyans are perceived to be.

And such a re-interpretation of Islamic texts is, in any case, nothing new. One only has to study the development of the Hadith and Shari’a writings over the centuries to realise that Islam has been variously applied and diversely interpreted in many cultural contexts throughout the ages. There is no uniformity, as much as those who long for a caliphate renaissance may wish to see one.

What is welcome, however, is an application of higher critical scholarship to any Islamic texts which have been considered sacrosanct in recent decades, on pain of fatwa. Cranmer has already called for such an undertaking, not least because the insights that this discipline has given into the development and meaning of the Bible have been profound.

It can only be edifying to theological scholarship and historical truth if the hadiths can be shown to have been invented centuries after the death of Mohammed, and that they had a particular political and societal context. Discerning their Sitz im Leben will certainly help to elucidate original meaning and purpose.

The problem, of course, is that not all will agree. While some will continue to apply the letter of the law to prevent women from travelling, others will insist that such passages are redundant because 1400 years ago ‘it simply wasn't safe for a woman to travel alone like that’.

But even higher criticism of the Bible has not produced unity on the issue of women speaking in church, let alone preaching and teaching, and there is not even unity on the injunction for them to cover their heads. Notwithstanding this, it is welcome news that Turkey has given theological training to 450 women, and appointed them as senior imams ‘to tell of the equality, justice and human rights guaranteed by an accurate interpretation of the Qur’an - one guided and confirmed by the revised Hadith’.

And why not? The men have manifestly failed.

But Cranmer thinks that this ‘New Islam’ is but a fad. It is a political manoeuvre with precisely-targeted propaganda in order to ease Turkey’s transition to EU membership (Cranmer wonders how many in Turkey will even know if this development). All aspirations to bring enlightenment and claims of ‘recreating Islam’ in order ‘to serve the needs of people in a modern secular democracy’ will not work because allegiance and faithfulness to sacred traditions cannot be eradicated overnight, over centuries, or even over millennia.

After all, has not His Holiness recently reintroduced indulgences and liberated the Tridentine Rite?

As Qoheleth says: ‘There is nothing new under the sun’.

But Cranmer’s final question, which these neo-enlightened Turkish theologians ought to address, is why they will not apply this revelatory higher critical method to the Qur’an itself?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Barack Obama endorsed by Nation of Islam

Louis Farrakhan, the anti-Semitic and black supremacist leader of the ‘Nation of Islam’, has praised presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama as ‘the only hope for healing the nation's racial divisions’.

To prove his point, he then makes race the issue by saying: ‘We are witnessing the phenomenal rise of a man of colour in a country that has persecuted us because of our colour.’

Hmmm…

Cranmer can understand a certain disquiet in the Obama camp, but surely, in a democracy, a vote is a vote? Does one reject a vote from an odious individual or group? Is one tarnished by such an endorsement?

What would happen if the BNP ever endorsed David Cameron and urged its supporters to vote for him?

Or, even more unlikely, what would happen if UKIP said that the Conservative Party was the only hope of healing the nation’s divisions?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

David Cameron: No to Shari’a and no to multiculturalism

The BBC all too hastily bemoans the ‘blogger silence’ surrounding David Cameron’s speech speech on ‘Extremism, Individual Rights and the Rule of Law’, and complains that ‘Conservative bloggers have not bitten at this story so far’ (just a few hours after he made it!). But this is not because, as they assert, the bloggers ‘feel it has all been said’, but quite simply because His Grace is not in receipt of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money with which he might employ sundry secretaries, researchers and copyrighters to produce a perpetual stream of his intelligent and erudite verbiage.

Good grief, it is rich of the BBC to criticise the humble and impoverished blogger for failing to comment upon important speeches and events when their entire recent history has been one of strategic silence in areas with which there is institutional prejudice (like coverage of the EU Constitution, for example, or even EU matters in general, or maybe just matters in general).

But the BBC is not the topic of this post.

This speech by the Conservative leader is most welcome, though not for his intervention on the Shari’a debate – which he has profoundly misunderstood - but for his repudiation of a doctrine which has spawned more Socialist twaddle, lefty hogwash and politically-correct claptrap than any other single policy in recent history, and beaten an indigenous white population into submission to the point of feeling ‘alienated, threatened and voiceless’ (and that’s from a ‘BBC boss’!).

Mr Cameron rejects any expansion of Shari’a law in the UK, saying it would ‘undermine society and alienate other communities’. Indeed it would, but the Archbishop of Canterbury was not proposing this. He also said that two laws working side by side ‘would be dangerous’, insisting that ‘all citizens are equal before the law’. This is good, because they are precisely the points made by Dr Williams. British law already permits individuals to settle private disputes in different ways - but under the ultimate jurisdiction of English law. Nothing that the Archbishop said conflicts with Mr Cameron’s assertion.

So shame on him for saying that the Archbishop's ideas could create ‘legal apartheid’, and that they were ‘dangerous and illiberal’. Dr Williams may not be much of a politician, but neither is Mr Cameron a purveyor of spiritual edification or religious truth. One gets the impression that either he has not read Dr Williams’ speech, or, having read it, has misunderstood it or is purposely misrepresenting it for political gain. Or (most likely) he has simply trusted the matter to some superficial speech-writer for whom the subject matter is way beyond his competence.

Cranmer would like to know if Mr Cameron is aware that there are already Shari’a principles at work in the Treasury – in the form of Shari’a compliant mortgages, Shari’a bonds, and a welfare and benefits system which acknowledges polygamy? To re-work Mr Cameron’s speech, do these not ‘alienate others not subject to preferential treatment’, demoralise non-Muslims, or ‘provide succour to separatists’? And would he repeal these in order to ‘strengthen our collective identity’? For adherents of which other faiths may go abroad, acquire four wives, then live off the state with each wife being legally recognised?

Mr Cameron said ‘the big challenge facing the country is how we end state multiculturalism’. Indeed it is. And the surest way is to repeal New Labour’s acts of bland uniformity and reinvigorate genuine diversity – not to create multiculturalism but an infinite variety within a single culture. The United Kingdom (and - dare His Grace say it? - the British Empire and Commonwealth) has a long and successful history of achieving this, and one must begin with the language. What unites the Anglosphere must be the fundamental building block of Mr Cameron’s vision, so let us cease translating every government document into Panjabi, Arabic, Turkish, Polish, Romanian, for this truly weakens the British collective identity ‘to the point of encouraging...separate lives’.

If multiculturalism has had ‘disastrous results’ and ‘fostered difference between communities’ it is important for the Conservative Party to be united as a national party. The ‘broad church’ metaphor may be somewhat cliché, but it is nonetheless wholly applicable. The Party could learn much from the via media of the Church of England, which, for all its faults (or those of its leaders), remains at the spiritual heart of the nation.

And the BBC further bemoans the silence emanating from Lambeth Palace, goading the Archbishop with accusations of reluctance, or being ‘loathe to reignite the row’.

Cranmer’s advice, for what it is worth, is not to cast pearl before swine.

Children ‘damaged’ by materialism

Why do the media make statements of the blindingly obvious? Is it because politicians do (“this bombing / killing is unacceptable”), or because it is deemed to be the level at which the majority of the nation operates?

A recent poll asked the question: ‘Do you believe children's well-being is being damaged because childhood has become too commercial?’

And the startling result: 89% of adults in the 1,255 sample believed today's children were more materialistic than previous generations.

This, of course, proves nothing except that 1117 had opinion one way and 138 the other, though some may assert that this 11% is either stupid or ignorant. The effects of the advertising media upon children in the UK has been considerable, and the pressure upon parents to equip their children with the latest gadgets, trainers or ‘lifestyle accessory’ is a major contributory cause of financial hardship which may lead to family breakdown. Too many children are growing up in a world saturated with false models of happiness and being lured by unscrupulous adults into the dead-end street of consumerism.

Other revelations of this survey include:

69% agree violent video games make children more aggressive
90% believe Christmas advertising puts pressure on parents to spend more than they can afford
60% believe there should be a government ban on junk food advertising

The Archbishop of Canterbury, who is patron of the inquiry ‘Reflections on Childhood’, said: "Children should be encouraged to value themselves for who they are as people rather than what they own. The selling of lifestyles to children creates a culture of material competitiveness and promotes acquisitive individualism at the expense of the principles of community and co-operation."

Not quite a Sun headline, but the BBC managed to reproduce it without distortion.

According to psychologist Professor Philip Graham, Emeritus Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Institute of Child Health in London: "One factor that may be leading to rising mental health problems is the increasing degree to which children and young people are preoccupied with possessions; the latest in fashionable clothes and electronic equipment. Evidence both from the United States and from the UK suggests that those most influenced by commercial pressures also show higher rates of mental health problems."

Does this not just fill one with confidence about all our tomorrows? These children are our future doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, company directors… and our church leaders and politicians.

At least, by then, ‘mental health problems’ will be perceived as a relatively normal state of affairs.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Eradicating child poverty

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the Conservative Party 'can end culture of benefit dependency' in the UK. This is, of course, manifestly possible, but ‘can’ is a world apart from ‘will’, and in an age where a manifesto pledge appears to have no more significance than the Beano, even a ‘will’ is no longer an assurance of anything.

However, Chris Grayling, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, asserts that ‘rhetoric and targets will never solve this problem’. Indeed they will not, but neither will a definition of poverty that is relative. Indeed, if poverty continues to be defined in relative terms, then Jesus was right to insist that the poor will always be with us. For when the average UK salary becomes £35,000, there will still be children being brought up in households where the income is a meagre £20,000, and thereby deemed to be living in poverty. Those children in Africa and other parts of a war-torn world who are truly living in absolute poverty would laugh - if they but knew how - at this assertion.

The widely accepted definition of poverty is having an income which is less than 60% of the national average, and on this measure the proportion of the UK population defined as living in poverty is roughly 20%, and there it has remained through many decades of both Conservative and Labour administrations. The most recently published figures on child poverty (2005-6), show that Britain has 2.8 million children living in poverty. When New Labour came to power, the figure was three million. For all the billions poured into the cause, just 200,000 have been ‘lifted out of poverty’. This is a national scandal.

However, the percentage of people in poverty has fallen by little over 10% since the first poverty surveys were carried out at the end of the nineteenth century. Yet it would be absurd to state that modern poverty is remotely of the same order as that endured by our Victorian ancestors. Since healthcare, education and welfare benefits are all provided by the state (ie the taxpayer), any talk of the re-emergence of Victorian levels of poverty is absurd.

If the Conservative Party were intent on eradicating child poverty, or any other kind of poverty, they would first need to confront UN/EU/UK definition of the term and reassess how it is measured, for the social(-ist) scientists have being very busy moving the goalposts.

When examining what Jesus said about the poor, consideration has to be given to context and audience, and the nuances of Greek vocabulary also need examining. For example, what does Luke mean by ‘the poor’ (6:20)? The peasants who possessed little material wealth were not called ‘poor’ (‘ptochos’) if they possessed what was sufficient (ie subsistence) - they were termed ‘penes’. Jesus was concerned with the literal, physical needs of men (ie not just the spiritual [cf Acts 10:38]). When Luke was addressing the ‘poor’, he meant those who had no money - the oppressed, miserable, dependent, humiliated - and this is translated by ‘ptochos’, indicating ‘poverty-stricken…to cower down or hide oneself for fear’ - the need to beg. The ‘penes’ has to work, but the ‘ptochos’ has to beg. Those addressed by Jesus are the destitute beggars, not ‘penes’ or the general peasant audience of few possessions. This is an important distinction for the modern politician and for the modern audience in a society where the threshold of poverty is defined by the non-possession of a television, a DVD player, and Nike trainers.

And yet Britain ‘has a higher proportion of its children being brought up in workless households than any other nation in Europe, including countries in Eastern Europe such as Romania and Estonia’.

This is manifestly unacceptable, but the solution is to induce and incentivise people to work, not perpetuate a benefits system which pays many of the more to stay at home. So when the Conservative Party pledges ‘to tackle the scourge of worklessness’, they are on the route of true social justice. And when they talk of ‘tough sanctions’ for those who refuse, they set a sure and moral foundation. And when they talk further of abolishing the ‘couple penalty’ from the tax credits system which leaves many couples better off if they live apart, they support the institution of marriage - the partnership of male and female - which has been proven to give children the best chance of success in life.

Mr Grayling concludes: ‘Britain today should not be a country where child poverty remains endemic. But it is. I have no doubt that Gordon Brown believed he would solve the problem, but he has failed, and now the problem is getting worse, not better. It will fall to the next Conservative government to take decisive steps towards eliminating child poverty. It is a challenge we intend to meet.’

And he must begin with the rigged definition of terms, or he will never eradicate it.

It is just a pity that we have to wait two more years for this awful government to expire before he may begin to do so.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Homosexuality – good; Church – bad

This is the essence of the judgement of Labour-controlled Derby City Council, who have banned a Christian couple from fostering young children because they refused to abide by the new Sexual Orientation Regulations. Social workers rejected an application by Eunice and Owen Johns, who have been married for 39 years and have four grown-up children, to be foster parents because they refused to agree to tell any children in their care that the homosexual lifestyle was acceptable.

But, even more significantly, the adoption panel was also unhappy that the couple wished to take any child in their care to church with them on Sundays. Mrs Johns, a retired nurse, is a Sunday school teacher.

Yet the Johns’ application was to offer weekend respite care for foster children under the age of 10. As Mrs Johns said: "I would love any child, black or white, gay or straight. But I cannot understand why sexuality is an issue when we are talking about boys and girls under the age of 10."

Quite so.

There is obviously not a prejudiced bone in her body; just a sincere expression of the Christian faith with an outpouring of good works in her altruistic desire to do some good and give sacrificially of herself.

But Derby City council responded: "Our first duty is to the children in our care, some of whom are very vulnerable.”

Since when has church-going on a Sunday become a form of child abuse? And since when were children under the age of 10 so sexually aware that they have to be told that homosexuality is acceptable? His Grace is grateful to his loyal communicant Ultramontane Grumpy Old Catholic for the suggestion that such instruction could be slotted in while the child is watching CBeebies or Iggle Piggle.

There is, of course, humour to be found in this story, not least in its irony and absurdity, but it represents a development on the previous case. While the Sexual Orientation Regulations have previously proved a hurdle to Christian foster parents refusing to acknowledge the acceptability of homosexual practice, this is the first time that church-going has been adduced as a reason for declaring a couple to be unsuitable for fostering.

Cranmer can hardly wait for Derby City Council to inform a Muslim couple that their mosque-going renders them unsuitable, or a Sikh couple that their gurdwara-going is unacceptable. And, for that matter, he awaits with bated breath to hear of the first homosexual couple to be rendered unsuitable for fostering because of their refusal to take the children in their care to the local mosque or church. This is as blatant an example of religious discrimination as these regulations could be employed to yield, and the decision must be challenged in law. If not, it may not be long before married, heterosexual Christians – who are all, of course, invariably bigoted and prejudiced - may have their children forcibly removed and handed over to a couple in a civil partnership – who are all so utterly reasonable, progressive and enlightened.

As the ever-impressive Bishop of Rochester says in The Sunday Telegraph: ‘There are times when Christian leaders have to speak out.’ Indeed there are, and this is one of them. So where is the Archbishop of Canterbury?

He is nowhere to be heard. So it is left to Dr Nazir-Ali to ask:

"Do the British people really want to lose that rooting in the Christian faith that has given them everything they cherish - art, literature, architecture, institutions, the monarchy, their value system, their laws?"

Sadly, a morally-bankrupt and anti-Christian Labour Government is strangling those roots, one by one, and permitting the weeds of corruption to flourish. With such a sustained attack upon a nation's social policy, the hallowed institution of marriage, its spiritual heritage and culture, it is only a matter of time before the Christian foundations of Parliament and monarchy are lost forever.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Financial Times – a cesspit of europhiliac misrepresentation

Perhaps one should expect little more from a newspaper which is dedicated to the worship of Mammon, or one that is printed on ever-so-slightly-gay pink, but it is one of those British newspaper institutions which one sometimes wished reflected rather more the interests of the United Kingdom, and played cricket according to gentlemanly rules.

Of course, the newspaper may be genuinely persuaded that the UK’s membership of the EU makes economic sense, but that is not the point of this post.

Cranmer promised Mr Daniel Hannan MEP that he would raise his plight on His Grace’s august blog of intelligent and erudite comment, and he is pleased to so, if only in the name of truth, justice, and fair play. Mr Hannan explains:

'Here is as clear a case of bias as you could ask for. And it comes from that most high-minded and self-regarding of newspapers, the Financial Times.

‘On Monday, the FT published an article by the Conservative MEP Caroline Jackson, in which she attacked her party, its leader and, above all, its policy towards Europe. In it, she also said something completely untrue: “Recently, Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP, likened the European Parliament’s German Christian Democrat president to Adolf Hitler after he invoked procedural powers to avoid disruption by those – led by Mr Hannan – who want a referendum.”

I wrote a letter for publication, which I reproduce in full. I’m blowed if I can see what’s wrong with it.

Sir,

My colleague Caroline Jackson (Comment 17 February) repeats her assertion that I “likened the European Parliament’s German Christian Democrat president to Adolf Hitler”. I did no such thing. On the contrary, I called him “a committed democrat and a decent man”. Although I believe he is behaving badly by tearing up the European Parliament’s rules in order to stifle demands for a referendum, I am none the less rather fond of him.

In recent weeks, two of the main party leaders have done precisely what Caroline falsely accuses me of doing. Martin Schulz, leader of the Party of European Socialists, said that pro-referendum MEPs made him think of Adolf Hitler; and Graham Watson, leader of the Liberals, said that their behaviour recalled “that of the Communists in the Russian Diet and the National Socialists in the German Reichstag”. I don’t remember Caroline or, indeed, any other MEP, protesting about this. It’s evidently OK to call your opponents Nazis provided they’re Euro-sceptics.

‘Now in most newspapers, when someone is mentioned in a comment piece, even if the reference is accurate, he is given the right to reply in a letter. But, on this occasion, the letters’ editor phoned me very apologetically and said that her editor wouldn’t let her print the second paragraph.

‘I sent her this clip, in which all three comments are on film, so that there should be no doubt over the authenticity of what I was writing. And I emailed the editor, Lionel Barber, pointing out that, given what had been said about me, it seemed only fair to allow me to respond in my own words. I wasn’t asking for a comment piece, I said, simply for a short letter. He sent me this reply:

Dear Mr Hannan

“Thank you for your note. I am happy to carry your denial on the letters page but I am reluctant to include more allegations against other MEPs. Caroline Jackson did write 750 words on the op-ed page but she only made a passing reference to you as part of a broader argument. On balance, therefore, I think we should treat the matter as closed.

‘They weren’t “allegations”, of course, as he well knew: I had sent him the clips. But he was unmoved. So, there you have it. The FT is happy to print false charges against a Euro-sceptic on its comment page, but not to carry precisely the same charges, even when demonstrably true, against Euro-philes. (Incidentally, Caroline Jackson’s description of Euro-sceptics as “poisonous fungus” itself rather distastefully recalls the title of an anti-Semitic tract by Julius Streicher.)

‘I mention all this simply because the FT, the Eurocrat’s paper of choice, tends to regard itself as more serious than its rivals. Sometimes, it can be downright pompous in its coverage. Yet, when it comes to the crunch, it won’t deviate from the pro-Brussels line, even when this stance requires blatant partiality.

‘And to think that people still complain about Britain’s “anti-European press”.’

While Cranmer thinks the FT’s promotion of the views of the odious Ms Jackson and its treatment of Mr Hannan to be nothing short of appalling, it is important not to forget the main story in all of this.

The European Parliament has broken all its own rules and regulations in order to prevent its members calling for a referendum, and has, to all intents and purposes, passed its own ‘Enabling Act’. In the circumstances, Mr Hannan's protests were remarkably restrained, measured, courteous.

The remarks of Mssrs Schultz and Watson, however, are offensive and defamatory. It is they who ought to apologise, but it is clearly one rule and standard for those who support ever closer union, and quite another for those who oppose it.

Cranmer would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr Hannan for fulfilling Mr Cameron’s pledge to leave the EPP.

Friday, February 22, 2008

UN calls for disestablishment of the Church of England

Cranmer was looking forward to reading the UN report ‘Mission to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’ (and click A/HRC/7/10/Add.3), hoping that it would highlight some of the appalling oppressions to which British Christians are increasingly subject, or elucidate the extent to which an encroaching secularisation is impinging upon the conscience of the Christian, or at least comment upon the perceived privilege bestowed upon Islam.

But this is the United Nations we’re talking about here, and the report does none of the above. Instead it lauds and praises the morally-bankrupt Labour government ‘for the balanced approaches in responding to difficult situations with regard to freedom of religion or belief and tackling the contentious issues involved’. And the report fights the corner of just about every religion and non-religion except that which is established by law.

The Times has a superficial summary, but rather more of its conclusions and recommendations are farcical, naïve, or insulting to the intelligence.

The ‘Special Rapporteur’ (how can Cranmer become one of these?) considers that ‘Catholic staff is (sic) underrepresented in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, the prison service and other criminal justice agencies’. This despite the fact that Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Jedi Knights are all officially classified as Protestant in order to inflate the number of Roman Catholics who must be employed to fulfil the quota, yet there is no mention of this injustice at all.

On the UK’s counter-terrorism measures, the ‘Special Rapporteur’ is concerned to note ‘the abuse of counter-terrorism laws which are largely perceived to target the Muslim population in the United Kingdom’, and warns that Muslims in particular face screening, searches, interrogation and arrest.

Well, God forbid that anyone should think professing Muslims were behind the atrocities of September 11th or July 7th, or that certain adherents to Islam are perpetuating a concept of jihad which seeks to terrorise and eliminate the kuffar.

On religious education and collective worship in schools, there should be ‘respect for and acceptance of pluralism and diversity in the field of religion or belief as well as the right not to receive religious instruction inconsistent with his or her conviction’. It is kind of the UN to inform us of this, but it is already the case that parents have the right to withdraw their children from both RE and the daily act of collective worship. This has been the case since 1944. Yet a body professing to be the ‘Avisory Council of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief’ (now Cranmer should be on this) has prepared the ‘Toledo Guiding Principles on teaching about religions and beliefs in public schools’ which is supposed to be the definitive guide to approaching religion in schools.

Cranmer shall not make this his bedtime reading, though he may dip into it after a few glasses of red this evening.

Concerning the issue of balancing competing rights, the ‘Special Rapporteur’ is delighted by New Labour’s anti-discrimination legislation, which ‘seems to be quite balanced’ because there are ‘specific exemptions or transitional provisions for organizations relating to religion and belief’.

Really? Does a year’s notice to conform or be closed down constitute ‘balanced’? Or is it merely ‘quite balanced’? Or is it rather that it ‘seems’ to be quite balanced. Well, tell that to the Roman Catholic adoption agencies who are closing their doors rather than being forced by statute to place vulnerable children with homosexual couples. There is no consideration on a ‘case by case basis’ as the report states, but the blanket application of a soviet policy irrespective of ‘particular circumstances and implications’.

And then the ‘Special Rapporteur’ turns her attention to the blasphemy law, which she finds to be ‘discriminatory because it favours Christianity alone’. She agrees with the Assembly of the Council of Europe which recommended in its resolution 1805 (2007) that the Committee of Ministers ensure that national law and practice in Council of Europe member States be ‘reviewed in order to decriminalize blasphemy as an insult to a religion’. She would, however, like to remind the UK that there is a ‘useful alternative’, which is the anti-discrimination legislation already mentioned.

She clearly has no understanding of the meaning of the term, no appreciation of the history of the Established Church, and no concept of the law as it relates to man’s relationship with God.

She does, however, have an appreciation of Labour’s ‘Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006’ which ‘closes the partial protection gap for people subjected to hatred because of their religion’, thus guarding racial groups from being targeted because of their religion. She thinks it quite excellent that ‘non-religious believers’ are included in the definition of ‘religious hatred’, and praises the Government for prohibiting ‘hatred against a group of persons defined by reference to religious belief or lack of religious belief’.

The ‘Special Rapporteur’ then emphasises ‘that it is not the Government’s role to look for the “true voices of Islam” or of any other religion or belief. Since religions or communities of belief are not homogenous entities it seems advisable to acknowledge and take into account the diversity of voices. The Special Rapporteur reiterates that the contents of a religion or belief should be defined by the worshippers themselves.’

This being the case, how can the Government or the courts possibly define or determine 'religious hatred'?

The whole report makes entertaining reading, not so much because of the observations on the state of religion in the UK but because of the official recommendations they elicit. The report flies in the face of the 2001 census in which 72% identified themselves as Christian (whether by culture or practice), since the ‘Special Rapporteur’ (is there an ordinary one?) claims that two-thirds of British people now do not admit to any religious adherence. What is the source of this?

In her attack upon the blasphemy laws, her objection to the privileges of the Church of England, and her assertion that its status does not reflect ‘the religious demography of the country and the rising proportion of other Christian denominations’, she is effectively calling for the Church’s disestablishment.

Quite what business it is of the UN to interfere with the historic culture and Christian traditions of the UK is unknown. But it is noteworthy that the ‘Special Rapporteur’, the report’s author, is one Asma Jahangir, who counts herself a very special Muslim indeed.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Faith schools to get own inspectorate

It appears that the discernment of the present government is waning, for it is to bestow upon faith schools a new independent inspectorate which will supplant Ofsted. The new body – to be called ‘The Bridge Schools Inspectorate’ - will be responsible for monitoring standards in the schools belonging to the Christian Schools Trust and also those belonging to the Association of Muslim Schools.

Presumably, Christian or Muslim schools which belong to neither will continue to be inspected by Ofsted, which will also be charged with inspecting the inspectors of The Bridge Schools Inspectorate. The argument made in support of the body centred on the need for inspectors to have a special appreciation of the curriculum, traditions and ethos of particular faith schools.

But a scheme which sends ‘religiously sensitive’ inspectors into religious schools is not what the country needs at this time, and it will lead to further religious segregation. While the objective is to ‘contribute to community cohesion’, the proposal is manifestly divisive, and will lead inexorably to Muslim inspectors inspecting Muslim schools, Roman Catholics inspecting Roman Catholic schools, Sikhs inspecting Sikh schools, and Jedi Knights ensuring a fair moderation process. It is noteworthy that a body called The Schools Inspection Service already inspects 26 schools affiliated to Focus Learning Trust (FLT), an umbrella organisation of the Exclusive Brethren. But this was established in quite a different era, before preachers of Islamism became synonymous with subversive views, treason and terrorism, and there is no compulsion to replicate the model to accommodate the present ‘sensitivities’ of other faith groups. Yet this is being deemed an appropriate model for dealing with the burgeoning number of faith schools, even though the Exclusive Brethren are not noted for their aversion to British culture or Western values.

It is true that the Independent Schools Inspectorate inspects most of the 1300 private schools which are affiliated to the Independent Schools Council, but these are set apart by their wealth, not by political or religious ideology. And what is there to appreciate about the curriculum of faith schools when the national curriculum is supposed to be taught by all schools in receipt of state funding? Or are they to be permitted opt-outs from the statutory requirements to promote the Christian faith and heritage of the nation, or the daily act of ‘broadly Christian’ collective worship? Is ‘Citizenship’ to be adapted to accommodate the views of those who wish to dispense with democracy and Parliament and adopt shari’a law?

The chairman of the Commons schools select committee Barry Sheerman MP said that some councils were finding it difficult to know what was going on in some faith schools - especially Muslim schools – and this somehow justified the new inspectorate. But why are they finding it difficult? Why can’t Ofsted carry out spot checks like they do in every other state school? Why can’t the LEA audit and monitor? The Sheerman justification is no justification at all; indeed, ‘specialist’ inspections may make the whole process even more opaque to the kaffir councillors.

Michael Gove MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families (was a government department ever so clumsily named?) affirmed the Conservative Party’s commitment to faith schools, but stressed that it was important ‘to ensure that we build a society which is cohesive and make a success of diverse Britain’.

Quite how he intends to do this, he has not yet revealed.

But Cranmer wonders why the term ‘faith school’ only ever seems to refer to Roman Catholic, Jewish or Muslim schools. Why should Church of England schools not also be scrutinised by inspectors sensitive to their unique ethos?

UPDATE

Cranmer has received an email from a helpful communicant relating Hansard on a recent debate between Mr Gove and Secretary of State Mr Ed Balls:

4 Feb 2008 : Parliamentary Debate Children, Schools and Families: Topical Questions
Michael Gove (Surrey Heath) (Con): Last week, the Department gave the Association of Muslim Schools, a group of independent Islamic faith schools, a new right to establish its own separate inspection arrangements, and according to its own website, the association has also received £100,000 in Government funding. But the association's deputy chair, Mr. Ibrahim Hewitt, the head of the Al Aqsa school in Leicester, is on record as saying that

"the word integration doesn't even belong in a true democracy".

He has also called

"political zionism a threat to world peace",

and said of

"zionist control of the media"

that there is no smoke without fire. He has objected to Holocaust memorial day, and he is the UK chairman of Interpal, an organisation under investigation by the Charity Commission following a "Panorama" examination of its links with Hamas. Against that background, does the Secretary of State not think that we need to be more, rather than less, rigorous in policing the growth of separatist Islamism in education?

Ed Balls: Of course we do, and that is why the inspectorate the hon. Gentleman mentions will itself be inspected by Ofsted and come under the tough rules in the Bill now before the House. It is revealing that when we published our children's plan in December, the hon. Gentleman did not make a single reference to any of the issues raised in it, and also that, although he is now publishing his own children's plan, he does not raise the issue of children's policy in the House. That shows what his priorities are.

Michael Gove: I am disappointed by the Secretary of State's partisan tone on this serious issue. We have faced the problems that I have described before. The King Fahad academy, which the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Mrs. Ellman) referred to, has used textbooks that describe Christians and Jews as pigs and monkeys, and Ofsted has acknowledged that it did not study the details of all the textbooks concerned. Indeed, of 606 visits by inspectors to Muslim faith schools, only 94 have been made public. The Chairman of the Children, Schools and Families Committee has pointed out that we just do not know what is being taught in many Muslim schools. What steps will the Secretary of State take to ensure that we have proper inspections by independent figures who are fluent in the relevant languages and aware of the ideological challenge posed by separatist Islamism?

Ed Balls: That is what our legislation is doing, and the Ofsted oversight of all inspection is the right way to achieve it. We cannot have different rules for different schools; they must all come under one legislative framework. On the instances raised of particular problems in recent months, we have taken action, and so has Ofsted; where action needed to be taken, it was taken. That is what independent inspection is all about. As I have said, it is very revealing that on the day that the hon. Gentleman publishes a flimsy document on children's policy, he and his colleagues have made no reference to it whatever.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Council Tax pensioner jailed

Meet Mr Richard Fitzmaurice, a 76-year-old pensioner who has devoted his life to his country, who served 22 years as a soldier in the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, and who yesterday was handcuffed and led away to prison for non-payment of his council tax. The humiliation of handcuffs was a bizarre decision for someone has never threatened anyone or exhibited any signs of resistance to his fate. He was there, he said, ‘on a matter of principle’, because ‘the way old age pensioners are being treated is shameful’.

Cranmer finds it interesting that the country is short of prison places for rapists, paedophiles or murderers, and so much so that some have to be released on remission half way through their sentences in order to create space for the likes of Mr Fitzmaurice. And we serve aspiring terrorists with ASBOs, and absolve those who preach hate and threaten murder, while pensioners are jailed for non-payment of a increasingly burdensome tax.

This is an apalling state of affairs, and a perversion of the meaning of 'justice'.

While Cranmer firmly believes that one should render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar, he expects Caesar to show a little compassion if Caesar wants Cranmer’s loyalty. And that compassion must begin with the elderly, the infirm, the sick, the widow and the orphan. The reality is that pensioners face rising fuel and food costs, and a council tax that has increased 100% since New Labour came to power – from an average of £688 in 1997 to £1380 in 2007. Over the same period, pensioners have received meagre increases of just a few pounds each year, and New Labour is oblivious to their consequent hardship.

Yet what is remarkable about Mr Fitzmaurice is not that he cannot pay, but that he will not, and he chooses not to in order to raise the plight of the thousands of pensioners on fixed incomes who cannot. He is a martyr to his cause, and, in an age typified by celebrity, self-obsession and ego, such selflessness is a dying virtue.

Mr Fitzmaurice may be stubborn and principled, and he may be breaking the law, yet he is evidently sufficiently desperate to deem this the only way to inform the country of what is actually going on. Pensions could be re-linked to average earnings at a cost of £600 million, yet no party is contemplating this. While the Northern People’s Rock is shored up with £100 billion of taxpayers’ money, there is not a minuscule fraction of this available to assist those pensioners who make their morning tea with their coats on, or sit in front of one bar of an electric fire while the politicians gloat over their gold-plated pensions.

The party that once prided itself on its working class credentials and its commitment to social justice has betrayed its roots and perverted its philosophy. If Christian Socialism ever had any credibility, it was in its understanding of community, of brotherhood, of compassion. Yet Christian Socialism is no more, or it resides very quietly in the heart of Frank Field.

Cranmer can hardly wait for the first pictures of when the People’s Rock starts to evict the elderly and vulnerable who are incapable of paying their mortgages – only to find the state then has to re-house them and give them even more expensive benefits in order to survive…

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Margaret Thatcher


Cranmer simply wanted readers and communicants to bask in a little reflected glory today, and meditate upon this subject and her bronze sculpture which was unveiled at Conservative Central Headquarters yesterday.

For those who think this a little idolatrous, Cranmer says poppycock.

She is magnificent, simply quite magnificent.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Northern Rock nationalised

Cranmer is not going to bore his readers and communicants with allusions to the wise man who built his bank on a rock and the unwise man who built his bank on sand, but the decision to nationalise Northern Rock does demand a little analysis beyond that presently being served up by the mainstream media. This is, after all, the first nationalisation of an industry since the 1970s, since those heady days when the likes of British Leyland, British Aerospace, or Rolls Royce were in public ownership so that profits may be shared ‘for the benefit of all’. It is the first since New Labour ditched the Clause 4 of Old Labour, and the first since the universal adoption of the Thatcherite ‘small state’ doctrine which morphed into the Blairite ‘Third Way’.

Yet while the Conservative Party asserts that the Chancellor’s decision represents a failure of economic policy, not least because it has exposed the British people to a liability of £110 billion - £3500 per taxpayer – it is difficult to see what else he could have done. It was, in essence, the lesser of two evils, for both savers and borrowers could have lost thousands and millions under the alternative rescue packages, and the Government would ultimately have been blamed for any subsequent failure.

Yet rescuing savers and borrowers is one thing, but what about the shareholders who are being forcibly deprived of their assets? Bertrand Russell said that the essence of politics is obtaining money from the rich and votes from the workers, under the pretext of protecting them from each other. If he had tried to define party politics, he could not have done better, but the true meaning of politics is to serve the ‘whole’, and shareholders are manifestly part of this whole, albeit the part of lesser concern to New Labour.

Money is supposed to make the world go round. Certainly those who control the world’s money supplies are at the helm of global destiny; determining who owes what to whom, which nations prosper, which nations endure crippling interest rates, which nations are bribable, which continents can be controlled by monetary intervention and which regimes will fall because of economic hardships. Money influences every aspect of life through government or independent banking policy - money and power are bedfellows in all walks of life. Those who have plenty find it easy to lord it over those who have little, and those who have little or none are beholden to those who become their creditors. It is the same principle, from individual transactions to global power-play - he who holds the purse strings has the ultimate authority.

Unless the shareholders are compensated fairly, this nationalisation will have no foundation in natural justice. As the Pslamist observes:

Thou sellest thy people for nought, and dost not increase thy wealth by their price’ (Ps 44:12).

It is a crime before man and a sin before God to short-change anyone, and a greater crime to deceptively and forcibly devalue a person’s wealth.

Northern Rock may be a very obvious example because it is being thrust down everyone’s throat while it remains newsworthy, but henceforth Cranmer will also be watching the inflation rate, for that is the greatest government conspiracy and financial fraud ever perpetrated against the people, not least because its omnipresence and relentless rise are considered inevitable and unavoidable.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Kosovo independence – a triumph for EU foreign policy

It is easy to forget that the Serbs have been an enduring ally of the British and the US in the Balkans for decades, helping to counter murderous fascist forces. And yet Britain and the EU have chosen to champion the causes of Albanian and Bosnian Muslims and Croatian Catholic nationalists - the long-time adversaries of Western democracy – and the policy has now reached its climax with an independent Kosovo.

The elections in Kosovo have necessitated an ethnic cleansing to which the world has been both blind and deaf. The British government and the EU may be jubilant, but this is no triumph, for there has been a systematic elimination of 230,000 mainly Serbs but also Jews and gypsies from Kosovo since the UN took over in 1999. 311 out of 427 Serb settlements in Kosovo have been completely ethnically cleansed since the war by NATO and the EU to ‘prevent ethnic cleansing’. Those responsible for that ethnic cleansing now form the ‘government’ of Kosovo.

The US, EU, UN and NATO must now observe the ascension of a war criminal to lead the fledgling government. The supreme irony must be is that NATO and the UN have contributed to the very ethnic cleansing which they attacked Serbia to prevent. The result of the Yugoslav war is the ethnic cleansing not by Serbs but of Serbs - hundreds of thousands of them.

It is perhaps logical that the illegal UN-unapproved war against Serbia should be reaching its conclusion illegally. Without the approval of the UN the internationally recognised territory of Kosovo is being handed over to a murderous terrorist clique (the KLA) whose power is built upon ethnic cleansing. The new prime minister insists, however, that ‘Kosovo would be a democratic country that respected the rights of all ethnic communities’.

So that’s alright then: we have his word for it.

Serbia's prime minister has denounced the US for helping create a ‘false state’, and Serbia's ally, Russia, has called for an urgent UN Security Council meeting. Serbia claims that Kosovo's declaration of independence violates Serbia's sovereignty and threatened a a new escalation of tension and ethnic violence in the region - a new conflict in the Balkans.

The three supranational institutions in which the British and American governments play a prominent role - the EU, NATO and the UN - undoubtedly have blood on their hands. Yet the instinct of the British and US governments is to support the integrity of Yugoslavia and resist Germany’s plans to re-establish their Second World War pattern of Balkan allies. But, according to Freenations, ‘a fatal infestation of fascist-inclined corporatists penetrated the US State Department, and Germany forced the pace in the EU, recognising (along with the Vatican) the embryo State of Croatia in 1991.

‘Thus does Europe go full circle and thus do the US and UK find themselves on the side of their enemies, destroying their traditional allies.

‘So basic is the historical religious and ethnic foundation of Kosovo as a Serb province that its secession would be like Britain losing Kent (with Canterbury) to France. There is a far better case for the secession of Bavaria from Germany - but of course Germany only promotes regional and ethnic secession in other European countries, not at home!’

And to what piece of music have Kosovo's leaders decided to announce their independence?

Beethoven's ‘Ode to Joy’, of course...

Children with fathers do better

On 21 January Peers voted in favour of a change in the law which undermines the importance of the father to a child born after in-vitro fertilisation. The law currently refers explicitly to a child's 'need for a father', which doctors must consider before providing fertility treatment. But the Government proposes to replace this with a reference to 'the need for supportive parenting' in order to give lesbians and single women easier access to IVF.

Yet a recent study has discovered (marvelous, eh?) that fathers who play an active role in their children's lives can vastly improve their wellbeing and future prospects. Doubtless the authors are 'homophobic', or Cranmer manifests multiple phobias for daring to reproduce the findings which appear in the journal ‘Acta Paediatrica’. They are based on a review by Swedish researchers:

"Our detailed 20-year review shows that overall, children reap positive benefits if they have active and regular engagement with a father figure" said Dr Anna Sarkadi from the Department of Women's and Children's Health at Uppsala University, Sweden.

She added that "children who had positively involved father figures were less likely to smoke and get into trouble with the police, achieved better levels of education and developed good friendships with children of both sexes.

"Long-term benefits included women who had better relationships with partners and a greater sense of mental and physical well-being at the age of 33 if they had a good relationship with their father at 16."

The researchers concluded that public policy should reflect the crucial role of the father: "We hope that this review will add to the body of evidence that shows that enlightened father-friendly policies can make a major contribution to society in the long run, by producing well-adjusted children and reducing major problems like crime and antisocial behaviour."

Marriage is a creation ordinance and therefore God’s teaching on marriage and sex is relevant to the world as well as to the church. Marriage is meant for the good of all people – not just Christians. Marriage clearly is different from other types of relationship, for it is part of God’s ‘common grace’.

The Bible clearly teaches that the only context for sexual activity is within lifelong monogamous marriage (1Cor 6:9). Marriage is the proper context for raising children, and this Swedish research establishes that marriage is superior to other types of human relationships in terms of the benefits it gives both to adults and children.

Of course, Cranmer realises that it is not PC to state this, but he has given up counting his alleged phobias for fear of developing the all-embracing and unavoidably terminal vivaphobia.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Cardinal: 'I don’t believe in a multicultural society.'

According to The Catholic Herald, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has signalled a change of direction for the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales with a forthright rejection of the ideology of multiculturalism. The Cardinal said efforts to create a multicultural society had led to a “lessening of the kinds of unity that a country needs”.

It is good to hear a clarity of religio-political thought after the rather opaque pronouncement emanating from Lambeth Palace. The Archbishop of Canterbury is manifestly in favour of multiculturalism since he asserts that Britain should accommodate religious legal codes, such as Shari'a law, in order to achieve community cohesion. While Dr Williams believes that the adoption of some aspects of the Shari'a in Britain 'seems unavoidable', the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster begs to differ. With the amended introduction, the article is reproduced below:

The Cardinal intervened in the debate to say that migrants should embrace the idea of equality under the law rather than live by other legal codes. “I don’t believe in a multicultural society,” he told the Sunday Telegraph. “When people come into this country they have to obey the laws of the land. There are going to be certain things which might clash in the overall culture of the country. That’s where one has to make a judgment.

“There are aspects of Sharia that are practised that we certainly wouldn’t want in this country. The laws of this country don’t allow forced marriages or polygamy. It seems to me a government and a country has a right to make sure that those laws are kept.

“It is not enough for people to live within their own cultures and then say: ‘We’ll live within the freedoms that are given in this country within a totally separate culture.’

“Of course you can keep the variety of traditions, but when you enter this country there are common values which are part of its heritage, which should be embraced by everybody.”

The Cardinal, one of six children of Irish immigrants, said it would be better if Muslims contributed beyond their own families to the common good, saying they would then “become a normal part of this country and, indeed, cherish those values that should be common to everyone”.

His comments come just months after he expressed fears that Polish migrants could create “a separate church” in Britain. He said Poles should enter Catholic life in Britain and join English-speaking parishes as soon as they learned the language.

The Cardinal’s forthright views are likely to place him at odds with elements of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, which has traditionally been seen as sympathetic to multiculturalism.

The Catholic Association for Racial Justice, an agency of the bishops’ conference, issued a charter in 2003 for “a truly inclusive Church” where differences were valued and diversity was celebrated.

It said that seminary training should include “multicultural formation” to help priests cope with ethnically diverse parishes. The document was drawn up by delegates at a three-day congress which had been organised by the agency. The congress was attended by Baroness Patricia Scotland, then a minister in the Home Office, Diana Hayes, an American theologian, and about a dozen bishops. The Cardinal gave a short opening address and celebrated Mass.

Clifford Longley, a Catholic commentator, said he believed the Cardinal’s latest comments represented an “adjustment” in his thinking. The Cardinal’s approach to the subject, he said, had been shaped by “the experience of the Irish community in which he grew up”. He said: “He’s very much assimilated into English culture and he expects a similar thing to happen to later generations of immigrants. “He believes that on a generational scale the differences will diminish and we must not prolong them beyond their natural life,” said Mr Longley.

Robert Whelan, deputy director of Civitas, an independent think-tank, said the Cardinal had shown that it was no longer taboo to criticise multiculturalism. He said: “Privately people have had doubts for years but now there has been a change in the climate and public figures are prepared to admit that multiculturalism doesn’t work.

“For a long time people felt they had to be in favour of it – to be against it was like being a Holocaust denier.”

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Madness of Prince Charles

Whether induced by porphyria or not, Cranmer does not know, but the symptoms of mental instability, incomprehensible babbling and deranged behaviour were all manifest as the Prince of Wales declared himself a fan of the European Union. And it is looking increasingly likely that the man who has declared that he shall be ‘Defender of Faith’ and known as King George VII has indeed inherited the madness gene which afflicted a previous King George and other of his ancestors.

In his Brussels speech, the Prince of Wales described the fight against global climate change as a war, with the Doomsday Clock ‘ticking ever closer to midnight’. Apparently, ‘the lives of billions of people depend on (the EU’s) response and none of us will be forgiven by our children and grandchildren if we falter and fail’.

He said it needed the biggest public private partnership in history to solve the crisis - along with greater leadership from Europe: ‘Determined and principled leadership has never been more needed. Surely this is just the moment in history for which the European Union was created,’ he told the gathered MEPs who hung on his every word.

So global warming is ‘the moment in history for which the European Union was created’, is it? Nothing to do with fusing steel and coal production to prevent war; nothing to do with free trade or prosperity; nothing to do with feeding the Continent in the post-war decades; nothing to do with spreading a social doctrine that ensures minimum standards and working rights for all. Monnet and Schumann had the foresight to create an empire which would solve the problem of global warming. Genius. Pure prophetic genius. They must have had a direct line to the Almighty after all.

But why was the Prince of Wales advocating an increase in EU powers at such a sensitive time? Why was he permitted by the Government to enter the political fray at the time the Lisbon Treaty is making its way through Parliament and the people are being denied their promised referendum?

It is, as The Daily Mail observed ‘a clear political move’. A senior member of the Royal Family asking for more ‘determined’ leadership from the EU is evidence that the Royal Family may have been complicit in the whole EU project after all. And that all the protests about an infringed sovereignty, all the petitions for Her Majesty to defend our ancient rights, all the talk of treason against her person and status have all been ignored because they are all essentially in agreement with the formation of the new Empire. Prince Charles is the first Royal to give his overt blessing to the EU, yet it may now be surmised that others are covert europhiles.

When a rump Parliament, corrupt Church and a compromised Crown are all united in favour of ‘ever closer union’, only divine intervention, revolution, or a latter-day Cromwell can save the British people from the 'unavoidable' tyranny.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Labour ditches the Bill of Rights 1689

Cranmer received an email a few days ago from the office of John Redwood MP informing him that he had been elevated to the blogroll of John Redwood’s Diary. In commemoration of this, His Grace is delighted to reproduce a most prescient recent article by the redoubtable Mr Redwood on the theme of the Bill of Rights 1689. It encapsulates perfectly the extent to which this morally-deficient government is prepared to ride roughshod over the foundations of the Constitution, and the depths to which they are prepared to sink in order to achieve their perverted ends.

It is refreshing that an MP - any MP - is not only accurately knowledgeable about the religio-political history, but perceives the acute parallels 300 years on, and is prepared to risk ridicule and scorn by drawing attention to these matters:

It is typical of this government that Parliament should not be meeting on this day of all days. On 13th February 1689 “the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons assembled at Westminster” presented a declaration to the new sovereigns, King William and Queen Mary.

This declaration, known as the Bill of Rights, established Parliamentary supremacy over the Crown in important areas, and guaranteed Parliament’s freedoms .It did so that the people could practise the religion of their choice, avoid arbitrary manipulation of their laws and require redress of ills before they had to pay taxes.

The Declaration included amongst other articles:

“That the pretended power of suspending the laws or the execution of the laws by regal authority…is illegal

That the levying of money for or to the use of the Crown ….without grant of Parliament…is illegal

That the raising or keeping of a standing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with the consent of Parliament, is illegal

That election of Members of Parliament ought to be free

That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not to be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament

And that for the redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening and preserving the laws, Parliaments ought to be held frequently”

This new settlement was designed to put an end to the rule of James II and of any other King who thought he could govern without Parliament, raise money without Parliamentary approval, suspend the laws and manipulate the army.

It proved effective. All subsequent monarchs had to acknowledge Parliament’s power, and seek accommodations with Parliament when they needed money, wanted to amend the law or wished to drive through important changes in the nation.

It is sad that today’s Parliament allows itself to be regularly suspended, to be timetabled into subservience on crucial matters, sidelined by Ministers who tell the media before the Commons, and overruled by Brussels. If Mr Straw wants a new constitutional document, he could do worse than enforce the provisions and spirit of the Declaration of Rights, one of the central documents to emerge from our predecessors’ struggles for liberty and free speech.


There are, of course, some other crucial provisions relating to the Monarchy and the Church of England, which were reiterating in the Act of Settlement, and these are inseparable from the development of the liberty and free speech to which Mr Redwood refers.

Cranmer commends Mr Redwood to his communicants, who will doubtless find many of his posts to their liking. But he wishes that Mr Redwood might recognise the similar failings and constitutional ignorance among the leadership of his own party.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

David Miliband: ‘Britain must intervene to spread democracy’

Foreign Secretary David Miliband quickened Cranmer’s pulse with this assertion, in terms redolent of the Britain of a bygone era. He set out his vision for a moral approach to international relations, and insisted that mistakes made in Iraq or Afghanistan should not stop Great Britain from helping to spread democracy throughout the world.

And Britain’s support would not be merely by words but with actions, for this is our ‘moral impulse’. He specified Burma and China, though said nothing about the likes of Zimbabwe or Iran.

The Foreign Secretary offers practical suggestions on how Britain can promote and support democracy abroad, which include: the development of a free media; encouraging greater economic openness; and holding out the carrot of membership of international alliances such as the EU or NATO.

While the prospect of membership of the EU is decidedly antithetical to the very democracy about which Mr Miliband talks, the others are manifestly weapons in the pro-democratic arsenal. The Foreign Secretary believes the case for the universal value of democracy needs urgent restating without recourse to the kind of American neo-conservative rhetoric which seems to irritate much of the world.

But whatever the specifics or practicalities, it is refreshing to hear of a missionary zeal in the assertion of the superiority of Western values, even if the rhetoric has its genesis in New Labour. Of course, it will offend the BBC and The Guardian because it confronts directly the pretence that all cultures are equal, or that all political systems have equivalent moral foundations.

The liberty of democracy permits freedom of expression, especially in writing, and this includes higher criticism of religion. To criticise the sources of the Qur’an in Islamic states would constitute apostasy, and carries a capital punishment. It is the realisation of this, among many others, that permits the understanding of why democracy is not just another way to live, but the only way to live — the only system in human history in which the individual is genuinely free, as Thomas Jefferson put it, to ‘pursue happiness’.

Recognition of the superiority of Western values is observable every day, if only in the one-way human migration to the West. Yet the assent has become an expression of the strictly private realm, for any public assertion usually carries with it accusations of ‘racism’ or some ‘phobia’. And the diminution of public assent leads inexorably to the taking of those hard-won liberties for granted - a reluctance to acknowledge their superiority, or shame of the superiority of the Christian values which gave them life.

Just a generation ago, the assertion of the superiority of Western values — the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, equalities, freedoms of expression and conscience — was uncontentious. But ignorance, inaction, and moral laziness have shifted the perspective. The adoption of relativism in all spheres has inculcated a sense of cultural and moral equality: ‘If other people live under tyranny, then who are we to “impose” democracy on them?’ If others live in benighted societies in which half their population can be treated as chattel, then why should we disturb them? Like the multicultural edifice before it, this genuine prejudice — the refusal to discern or assert moral difference — is finally collapsing, as it must do, and the UK now stands prepared to intervene when the reality comes a-knocking.

Cranmer is minded to recall India of the early 19th century, when Sir Charles James Napier was confronted with Hindu demands for a lifting of the ban on suttee. And the general famously replied: ‘You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours.’

The assertion of moral, political or cultural superiority does not imply force. Liberty and human rights are spread as much by example as by force. The problem has been the fallacy of multiculturalism which has been totalitarian in its consequences, and lies have supplanted truths, and the truths have consequently been forgotten.

The Government’s adoption of ‘shari’a banking’ and the tax-and-benefits recognition of polygamy have set a new standard: if the people of Britain are no longer equal in the eyes of the banking trade or the exchequer, why should they continue to be equal in the eyes of the law? There are many cultures in which they are not, and it is no coincidence that equality before the law arose out of Judaeo-Christian ethics. By contrast, shari’a law recognises no such equality. Our unwillingness categorically to condemn shari’a (in its formal or informal practice) at home or abroad is a manifest expression of defeat rather than an expression of sensitivity.

And the callow racial exclusivity of our values is already felt. Western values were never enjoyed by the dozens of immigrant women whose murders appear to have gone uninvestigated by the British police because the police thought such ‘honour’ crimes a ‘community issue’. They were never extended to the tens of thousands of UK women genitally mutilated yet still awaiting the prosecution of even one mutilator. If we can’t assert the superiority of our values at home, what hope is there that our values would ever extend to, for instance, Iran, where teenage boys are hanged for being gay, and women stoned for owning their own lives? If we in the West don’t speak up for pluralism, democracy and the rule of law, who will? And what chance do reformers have in other countries?

Decades of intense cultural relativism and designer tribalism have made the British terrified of passing judgment. But it is time we spoke up. All systems are not equal. Across the non-Western world there are millions of people who would believe in our values and who envy our rights. It is time we believed in them too.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Shari'a law and the hypocrisy of New Labour

Cranmer wishes to reproduce an insightful article by Dr Martin Parsons from ConservativeHome on the hypocrisy of Gordon Brown's criticism of the Archbishop of Canterbury, which exposes the extent to which Not-So-New Labour has been complicit in the incorporation of Shari'a law into the UK:

On Thursday Gordon Brown’s spokesman denounced Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams’ claim that the introduction of sharia to the UK was inevitable. However, Gordon Brown himself has been quietly seeking to appease certain aspects of the agenda of 'peaceful' Islamist groups in the UK - including what amounts to a partial implementation of sharia.

In the 2005 general election Labour’s share of the Muslim vote collapsed from its normally rock solid 85% down to around 70%. It lost safe Labour seats to the Lib-Dems like Rochdale (5,650 maj), Hornsey and Wood Green (10,600 maj) – not to mention losing Bethnal Green and Bow (10,000 maj) to George Galloway – and nearly lost several other Labour seats. This was partly due to a Muslim Vote card campaign run by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), a Muslim umbrella organisation whose leadership was largely taken over by Islamists as soon as it was formed. Candidates of all parties were told to sign up to a range of Islamic issues – public funding Muslim schools, changes in UK foreign policy etc the MCB told Muslims told to vote against candidates who refused to do so. The MCB claimed it could swing the vote in at least 20 constituencies – as the Muslim majority was greater than that of the sitting MP – who was almost always Labour.

So whilst Labour’s record of appeasement may disappoint us, it perhaps shouldn’t surprise us. Labour has a similar relationship with Islamic organisations as it had with the trade unions in the nineties. It wants their votes – but doesn’t agree with all of their agenda. So, it appeases them by giving them some of what they want.

Labour’s appeasement of Islamism in the UK – including sharia:

1 Immediately after the 2005 election, which saw Labour share of the Muslim vote collapse – the government announced the incitement to religious hatred legislation. This was widely seen by Islamic organisations as the ‘Muslim blasphemy law’ they had campaigned 18 long years for since the Rushdie affair. Blasphemy against Muhammad is THE most serious offence in sharia – and carries the automatic death penalty in countries such as Pakistan.

2 August 2006 Ruth Kelly and John Prescott met Islamic leaders immediately after the Heathrow terrorist arrests. They were asked for a partial implementation of sharia for family law in the UK and Muslim festival to become bank holidays. Ruth Kelly then set up a commission to look into implementing the first.

3 June 2007 (Brown now Labour leader and as PM in waiting making joint decisions with Blair) – a government sponsored report on the teaching of Islam in British universities was published. One may well ask exactly what the Labour government was doing asking a senior member of the Islamic Foundation – the UK’s largest overtly Islamist group - to write this government sponsored report ON HIS OWN? The report recommended that non Muslims should be banned from teaching the main Islamic subjects in British universities! The PM publicly welcomed this report! (99)

4 Gordon Brown appointed David Milliband as the new Foreign Secretary. Almost the very first public statement Milliband made was to publicly praise Hamas – the Islamist terrorist group that is ideologically committed to the complete annihilation of the state of Israel – the ONLY state in the entire Middle East that even remotely resembles a liberal democracy.

5 In September 2007 Ed Balls - Gordon Brown’s chief lieutenant, and newly promoted to be Secretary of state for families, children and schools - offered state funding to Islamic schools – again part of the Muslim Vote Card agenda (However, many ordinary Muslims recognise Islamic schools as part of the Islamist agenda and won’t send their children to them).

6 September 2007 (remember Brown’s team had really seriously whipped up election fever now!) Des Browne, Labour’s part time Defence Secretary, told the Labour Party conference that we should negotiate with the Taliban! (Why exactly have 87 British soldiers given their lives and hundreds of others paid the ‘daily living sacrifice’ of the wounded and disabled?)

7 Des Browne ALSO told the Labour Conference that the future government of Afghanistan MUST include Islamic law. Actually apart from during the Taliban era, Afghanistan has since the early twentieth century had a western style constitution – with sharia courts having a much more informal, non constitutional role. As a former aid worker in Afghanistan, I KNOW that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the towns and cities of Afghanistan that DESPERATELY DON’T’ want government imposed Islamic law – they just want the Afghan constitution).

8 THEN – in November 2007 Treasury minister Kitty Ussher (and let’s not suppose anything significant has ever happened at the treasury since Labour came to power in 1997 - without Gordon Brown’s explicit say so!) announced a 3 month consultation on the Treasury introducing Islamic sukkuk bonds that are compliant with sharia. Now if we do that - we effectively create a whole area of government and economics that can ONLY be governed by Islamic lawyers and sharia courts – and guess what..?/ sharia forbids any non Muslim from sitting as a judge in a sharia court. Moreover, the commercial law aspects of sharia ALWAYS favour Muslims when there is any deal between Muslims and non Muslims. In fact this is a principle of sharia because sharia fundamentally assumes that Muslims – as the people in submission to Allah – must always govern non Muslims…).

9 Then in February 2008 (yes only a week ago!) – the Department for Work and Pensions announced that where there was a ‘valid’ polygamous marriage it would pay extra benefits. The government admitted this would mainly benefit Muslims (as sharia allows men to have 4 wives). Quite how a polygamous marriage in the UK could in any sense be ‘valid’ when bigamy is a criminal offence in the UK beats me…! but perhaps the government was intending to legalise bigamy to make it ‘sharia compliant’
So, Gordon Brown has been at it all along appeasing the agenda of ‘peaceful’ Islamist groups in the UK, who reject violence, but have stated they want to see a gradual move towards an Islamic state in Britain by means of a step by step alignment of British law with sharia.

Now what’s that word for someone who criticises someone else for suggesting something that they are actually covertly doing themselves……?

Conservative MPs rightly condemned Rowan Williams for his extraordinarily ill judged, naïve and wrong headed comments, but we must also hold Gordon Brown to account for the way he is playing fast and loose with the Islamist agenda.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Is the Lisbon Treaty ‘unavoidable’?

While the UK has been absorbed by the realisation that the incorporation of Shari’a law into British jurisprudence is ‘unavoidable’, few noticed that the French parliament has approved the Lisbon Treaty in an ‘historic moment for France’ which was crucial ‘in the construction of the European ideal’. According to a French government spokesman: ‘This is excellent news, a great victory for France which has gone from being the country holding up Europe to being the one that pulled Europe out of gridlock’. And Commission president José Manuel Barroso decreed this ‘an important day for Europe’.

It is an important day for Europe (not just the EU?) because it is now evident and established that the agenda of the political élite overrides the expressed will of a sovereign people. It is indeed a ‘great victory for France’ which rides roughshod over the French. Germany plans to ratify in June, ignoring the voice of the Germans, and Spain will follow later in the year, oblivious to the opinion of the Spanish. Only Ireland it seems is willing to listen to its people, though a ‘no’ vote here would doubtless be dismissed as an aberration which would only cause a further ‘pause for reflection’ with a subsequent vote (and another) until the Irish give the ‘correct’ answer.

President Barroso is adamant that a referendum vote holds as much legitimacy as a parliamentary one, and asserts: ‘We have never opposed ratification by referendum in countries that wish to do it’.

This, of course, is a lie, for wherever a referendum is held and the vote is ‘no’, the perpetual ignoring of the expressed will of the people effectively constitutes opposition to ratification by referendum. And where a parliament ratifies and the vote is ‘yes’, it manifestly outweighs a referendum.

This cannot continue. There is nothing ‘great’ about this process, nothing ‘glorious’ about the deception, and nothing ‘excellent’ about the obfuscation and manipulation of millions of people. It is to the Conservative Party that one must look for liberation. As the Rt Hon William Hague MP observes:

‘(I)f this Treaty is ratified in this country without a referendum and if it is ratified in all other countries and comes into force before a general election, in our view not only would political integration have gone too far but the Treaty would lack democratic legitimacy in Britain. So as we have already made clear, that situation would not be acceptable to an incoming Conservative Government and we would not let matters rest there…

‘The Conservative Party's deep scepticism about European integration for its own sake can be attacked for being typical earthbound British pragmatism. I think that is unfair. Our profoundest concern is that a partly supranational institution must never lose sight of the need for democratic legitimacy. That is the great danger the EU faces if the EU Constitution under whatever name goes through without the people's democratic consent. At the least, the lively, far-ranging debate a referendum campaign would bring about would rekindle popular engagement with the European Union, restore some badly needed trust in British politics and re-empower voters. But a rejection of the outdated approach to Europe embodied in the Treaty, more redolent of Delors than Google, would give us the great opportunity to move towards the nimble, flexible structure that would ensure the EU's success in the twenty first century. It would free Europe's leaders from the prospect of Eurocratic turf wars to deal with the real challenges Europe faces today.’

The incorporation of any alien system of law into the United Kingdom is only as ‘unavoidable’ as our political leaders permit it to be. One may clearly avoid anything by not succumbing to it – anything, that is, bar death, though even here, for the Christian, the eternal consequences are manifestly avoidable.

His Grace blesses Anoneumouse for the excellent graphic.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bash the bishop?


This is The Sun's considered, intelligent and erudite judgement upon the Archbishop of Canterbury. It encapsulates everything that is wrong with the country's crass, superficial, unintelligent 24-hour media, in which everything has to be reduced to a 'soundbite' for the masses to passively absorb.

And here is the Daily Mail's astounding contribution to the debate, under the heading: 'Which of these men poses the bigger threat to Britain's way of life?'

And presently, the idiotic readership (or rather the readership who have bothered to vote) record 37% for Abu Hamza and 63% for the Archbishop of Canterbury. This is tabloid rabble rousing and mob mentality at its worst.

And yet, like it or not, this is the postmodern vernacular, and it is incumbent upon all Christians to communicate the gospel in season and out of season in terms which people can comprehend. It was not for nothing that the Early Church wrestled with communicating Hebrew theology and the incarnation of a Jewish Messiah to a Greek audience who understood nothing of Hebrew linguistic nuances or Jewish beliefs.

If only Dr Williams had spoken of 'sharia shame', or given them a headline like 'shirk off sharia', he would have been exalted as a great leader. But this, to him, would be supping with the devil. Much better to be theologically and politically authentic and true to one's convictions than to scratch itching ears. That is, after all, the stuff of which prophets are made, and the Lord told us that they are never accepted in their home town...
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