It’s the season of goodwill, when custom and force of habit should incline us, however temporarily, to take a more charitable view of the intentions of our fellow men and women, even those who happen to be our political enemies. Â But there can never be a Christmas truce with Lord Snooty and His Pals, especially on the day thatÂ His Lordship has once again extended his annual Christmas greetings to the nation
I’m not sure why Cameron feels the need to keep engaging in this exercise. Â On one level his rediscovery of what he touchingly calls ‘his faith’ suggests political calculation rather than genuine conviction. Â Some commentators, as was the case last year, have criticized his insistence that Britain is a ‘Christian country’ Â for its ‘divisiveness’, but what I find most repellent about his speech is its mindboggling discrepancy between the words he uses and the actions of his government.
As an example of Tory hypocrisy, His Lordship’s message is in a class of its own. It is hypocrisy concentrate, Â hypocrisy boiled down to such a pure essence that one can only wonder how anyone even has the gall to say such things. Â Take His Lordship’s observation that:
‘ Millions of families are spending this winter in refugee camps or makeshift shelters across Syria and the Middle East, driven from their homes by Daesh and Assad.’
This is true. Â But thousands of refugees are much close than that, and living in ‘makeshift shelters’ of Calais and northern France for the same reasons, yet the UK government refuses to let them into the country. Â Cameron also says that:
‘ Christians from Africa to Asia will go to church full of joy, but many in fear of persecution.‘
Also true, but these Christians better not go to any British embassy and ask for asylum, because they won’t get it. Â And if they want to seek protection in the UK they will have to take the same routes any other ‘illegal immigrant’, and they will also end up in Calais as Christians from Eritrea, Zimbabwe, Syria and other countries have done.
His Lordship’s compassion also extends to his own population:
‘ Throughout the United Kingdom, some will spend the festive period ill, homeless or alone.’
Also true. Â But the numbers of homeless and rough sleepersÂ have soared since this government came to power, as a result of poverty wages and welfare cuts introduced by Lord Snooty’s government. Â In addition a number of councils have introduced ‘public space protection orders’ that criminalise homelessness and impose fines on rough sleepers who already have little or no income.
Mental health issues are a common cause of homelessness, yet many homeless people needing mental health support are unlikely to get it because of cuts to mental health servicesÂ introduced by Cameron’s Christian government.
His Lordship is also right to observe that many elderly people spend Xmas alone, but he could have mentioned that if they do receive a home visit from social services, it is likely to last less than five minutes, thanks to cuts in funding. by his administration Â In Conservative-run Tendring, .they better not fall over, because they will have to pay a Â£25.92 Â ‘falling down’ fee.
Cameron also some kind words to offer ‘ the thousands of doctors, nurses, carers and volunteers who give up their Christmas to help the vulnerable.’
One can be disgusted, but not surprised, that Cameron should praise volunteers – such as those who staff food banks – for helping to deal with the consequences of the immense damage inflicted on British society by his government. Â It’s also worth noting that many of the ‘doctors, nurses’s, carers’ are immigrants, who his government routinely depicts as spongers, parasites and intruders.
We should also remember that many GPs’ surgeries are ‘on the brink of collapse’ because of underfunding, according to a report last year by the Royal College of Gernal Practitioners;Â that a former Coalition government secretary of state has claimed that the NHS faces the prospect of collapse within two years because of underfunding under the most hatedÂ health secretary in living memory..
And then just when you think Cameron can’t sink much lower, he offers this remarkable passage:
‘ Right now, our brave Armed Forces are doing their duty, around the world: in the skies of Iraq and Syria, targeting the terrorists that threaten those countries and our security at home; saving those who attempt the perilous crossing to Europe; on on the ground, helping to bring stability to countries from Afghanistan to South Sudan. Â It is because they face danger that we have peace. Â And that is what we mark today as we celebrate the birth of God’s only son Jesus Christ – the Prince of Peace.’
Knock gently on those words reader, because the hollow ringing sound might break your windows. Â Â This is really 1984 meets the Bible meets the national security state, in as startling a collection of tendentious claims, half-truths, outright lies, and vacuous phrasemaking aas you ever likely to find in such a short and pithy paragraph.
I know Jesus once said that he had come to earth bearing a sword. Â Whether he was speaking metaphorically is open to question, but I really doubt Â whether the Prince of Peace would want his name associated with executions-by-drone and bombing campaigns aimed at ‘targeting the terrorists.’
I suspect that he might also question the humanitarian credentials of a government that until recently dismissed search-and-rescue operations in the Mediterranean as a ‘pull factor’, and that Jesus might be a lot more willing to help refugees ‘who attempt the perilous crossing to Europe’ than Lord Snooty and His Pals.
I also doubt whether he would really have approved of the surge in British arms sales to despotic regimes such as Saudi Arabia, which is currently using some of these weapons to bomb the hell out of Yemen
And as for the idea that the British armed forces are bringing ‘stability to countries from Afghanistan to South Sudan’, where to start with such an incredible inversion of the actual facts? Â Well firstly, there is the fact that the British military interventions over the last fifteen years have left a legacy of Â massive violence, political chaos, Â terrorism proliferation and state failure on an epic scale.
The British troops who have been rushed to Afghanistan have not gone to ‘bring stability’, but to prevent the collapse and fragmentation of the Afghan state only two years after Cameron congratulated the last British troops leaving Helmand province on a ‘job well done.’ .
There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that it is because British troops ‘face danger that we have peace’. Â On the contrary, a string of strategically incoherent, blundering and sometimes blatantly illegal wars and ‘regime change’ interventions have increased the possibility that British citizens will become ‘soft targets’, while simultaneously sucking whole regions deeper into chaos, instability and violence.
In short, this is not a politician to be lecturing the nation onÂ ‘peace, mercy, goodwill and above all, hope’. Â And it’s difficult to listen to him choke the meaning out of these concepts without thinking ofÂ Jesus’s ferocious assault on the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23, when he declared:
‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead bones, and of all uncleanness.Â Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.’
What he said. Â Except that Cameron’s heartless and callous government doesn’t even look beautiful on the outside, and were Jesus to return to earth and hear Lord Snooty’s sermon from Chipping Norton, I suspect that the Prince of Peace would denounce its ‘hypocrisy and iniquity’ in very similar terms, and that like so many of us, he would want that government gone, gone, gone.