The United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) has made some significant electoral advances since the 2010 General Election, when they secured 3.1% of the popular vote. Not only did the party go on to win the 2014 Elections to the European Parliament with 24 MEPs elected on 26.6% of the vote, but they currently have 430 councillors across 76 local councils, and recently secured their first elected MPs to Westminster following Conservative defections and victory in two volitional by-elections. At the time of writing they are regularly scoring between 12-15% in opinion polls. Christians are deeply divided about the party’s perceived ‘undercurrents’ of racism, nationalism and isolationism which, some aver, put them beyond the pale of religious respectability. But despite episcopal denunciations(1), the party is attracting Christians from across the denominations, including the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church(2). Continue reading →
Some wars are fought to subjugate and oppress, others to redeem and liberate. Some are arise out of vengeance and resentment, others in pursuit of justice and peace. There are conflicts of land and wealth or power and glory. The righteous rhetoric of dictatorship carves into the democratic commonwealth. The principalities of theocracy, plutocracy and oligarchy seem to be perpetually ranged against liberty, justice and the rule of law. In the realm of rationality, there can be no concessions: victory is the goal and virtue the motivation. But their morality is our insanity. Their freedom is our captivity. Give me impotence, and I will show you a slave. Continue reading →
Oh What A Lovely War, (Theatre Royal Stratford East)
“And here’s a donkey!” bawls Shaun Prendergast, the magnetic Master of Ceremonies in the revived 1960s musical satire Oh What A Lovely War, now playing at the Theatre Royal Stratford East. And as we await the predictable screen projections of Sir John French or Field Marshal Douglas Haig or any of the other warmongering jackasses and dolts Joan Littlewood so clearly despised, up pops a picture of Michael Gove, to the girly sniggering and overblown applause of the audience. Continue reading →
A woman can’t possibly conduct this, bemoaned some. It’s a bit like asking one to reverse-park their Ford Ka into a not-so-tight spot. And an American? Good grief, it’s the end of civilisation as we know it, lamented others. It is as though the spirit of Wallis Simpson had returned from Baltimore to purloin the Crown of England. The Proms are international, sure, but the Last Night is a peculiarly British affair, and at all costs we must preserve this sacred institution from the BBC’s interminable trendy ‘modernising’ and its lefty notions of political ‘progress’. Continue reading →
On April 23rd 2016 – and probably throughout the entire year – we will celebrate the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. By ‘we’ I mean not only England and the English, or the United Kingdom and the British, but all nations and cultures of the world where Shakespeare is a passion, pastime or of any scholarly interest. And that necessarily embraces the whole of civilisation. As the holder of the Guinness World Record for performing the Complete Works single-handedly non-stop (five days without sleep – never again), I’ll certainly be raising a glass or two to the world’s greatest poet-playwright.
My record still stands after 25 years, and has just been re-published in the 2013 edition of the Guinness Book of Records. I will forever be grateful to those fine English teachers I had at school – Roger Calvert, Daphne Cooper and Jean Tidy – who between the years that spanned my O-levels and A-levels introduced me to Julius Caesar, Twelfth Night, Antony & Cleopatra, Coriolanus, Measure for Measure and King Lear. From the academic confines of the classroom to the emotional exuberance of the school play, I found my soul simultaneously steeped in dramatic greatness, lyrical beauty and profound wisdom: ineffable, noetic, passive – it was like a religious experience. Every visit I made to Stratford-upon-Avon became a pilgrimage: sometimes wrestling with darkness and devils, and then rejoicing with angels and ministers of grace. Continue reading →
There really couldn’t have been a more fitting climax to the 2012 BBC Proms season. The past eight weeks of world-class music have spanned everything from Beethoven to Broadway; following hard upon the patriotic fervour of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee; running concurrently with the agonies and ecstasies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It has been a summer unlike any other – and Roger Wright, BBC Proms Director, knew he had to pull something special out of the bag to complement the national mood rather than try to top the bill.
And he did it. The programme was eclectic, patriotic, at times quite exhilarating, and (very wisely) significantly pulled back from last year’s rambling and tacky ‘Down-at-the-Old-Bull-and-Bush’ feel, which had us all singing about pappadums to the tune of ‘Nessun Dorma’, and gave us a pantomime Britannia dressed up like a Christmas tree, but outrageously deprived us of Henry Wood’s Fantasia on British Songs. No, this year was perfectly pitched and much better balanced between the classical and the ‘red, white and blue’. It was also broadcast live in 3D at Odeon cinemas across Britain, in addition to the open-air gigs in Belfast, Caerphilly, Glasgow, and the London ‘over-spill’ in Hyde Park. This was great access to a great British institution: the BBC does more every year to expand Henry Wood’s vision of making classical music accessible to the masses. Continue reading →
Historic, patriotic, intoxicating, mesmerising: “Team GB’s heroic success seems to have re-awoken in us our sense of national pride,” wrote Sir Roger Bannister, the first man ever to run a mile in under four minutes, “a realisation perhaps that, as a people, we have the ability, the drive and the determination to be great.”
Sir Roger is one of Britain’s greatest sporting legends, into which pantheon can now be added the likes of Mo Farah, Bradley Wiggins and Chris Hoy – people whose achievements are not merely exceptional, but truly and monumentally great. And that greatness is measured not only in the extent to which a triumph or victory enters the national consciousness – which is ephemeral – but also in proportion to its longevity in the league tables of history: to surpass is admirable, but to pioneer is unique and non-replicable. There is only one who can be the first. Continue reading →
Day by day, minute by minute, speech by speech and word by word, the United Kingdom Independence Party looks and sounds increasingly like the Conservative Party in exile – on the economy, law and order, education, defence, patriotism, Christianity, immigration, over-regulation, tax reduction, and their support for private enterprise, traditional marriage and the family, and (of course) the thorny question of the European Union. There is no longer any credible assertion that UKIP is a ‘single-issue’ protest party or pressure group.
And now, just as we have our long-held suspicions confirmed that the Foreign Office is essentially Arabist and ever so subtly anti-Israel, with government officials outrageously asserting that Benjamin Netanyahu uses ‘the incitement issue as a delaying tactic in peace talks’, we hear that Nigel Farage is confronting the ‘strong bias’ against Israel that exists within the European Union. Continue reading →
He didn’t use the word ‘Reich’, of course: he’d be sensitive to shadowy historical undertones and averse to Godwin’s tendencies. But by warning that Germany risks being the centre of an ‘empire’ that ‘caused the collapse of the eurozone’, he certainly raises the spectre of a Fourth Reich, doubtless to the delight of those who have long believed that the ECSC/EEC/EC/EU is just a German racket to achieve by incremental treaties what they could not accomplish with bombs and bullets.
‘Soros warnt vor deutschem Weltreich’, read headlines in the German press. According to the multi-billionaire financier, the Reich re-emerges as the mechanism for effecting German foreign and economic policy: it is the kingdom or realm for the realisation of the dreams of kaisers long gone and chancellors not so long gone. Continue reading →