The Sleeping Beauty’s heartbeat counts for nothing anymore

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Thou shat do as I say, Georgia, or else…

Irony of ironies, Disney has gone over to the Dark Side and joined the forces of the abortion industry. The Daily Telegraph reported yesterday (May 30) that the corporation’s chief executive has warned the US state of Georgia that its  film and TV productions are likely to abandon the state if its controversial abortion bill becomes law.

Bob Iger said it would be “very difficult” for the entertainment giant to continue working in the state if the so-called “heartbeat bill”, which outlaws terminations from as early as six weeks, comes into force.

The Walt Disney Company has shot some of its biggest films in the US state, including Black Panther and Avengers: Endgame.

Speaking to Reuters, Iger said: “If it becomes law, it’ll be very difficult.

“I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard.

“Right now we are watching it very carefully.”

Is that Big Brother, Mr. Iger? It appears that corporate America is becoming more and more daring daring every day in the way that it is playing fast and loose with democratic institutions.

Surely there is a glaring misuse of power here – when a multi-billion industrial baron can step in on an issue like this and decree “Thou shalt not do this” – or we will make you pay dearly? It is probably not personal on Iger’s part – and I am giving him the benefit of the doubt here. He knows that the ideological forces that have captivated the minds and hearts of his prima-dona workforce will make life and business difficult for him if he does not subvert the democratic institutions which they despise.

 

Ordinary people have a right to ask why a powerful empire like Hollywood has a right to force them to do what they think is wrong.  Why should their conscientious defence of the right to life of a human being be sacrificed to a big business which deems that terminating a beating human heart it is morally justifiable?

 

 

A raw deal for some?

5/4/2015. Easter Rising Commemorations

The symbolism and the irony were striking. This was the day which Irish people gathered in their thousands, probably over one hundred thousand of them, to commemorate the rebellion which Northern Irish unionists saw and resisted as the violent harbinger of Rome Rule on the island of Ireland.

Nevertheless, as Irish Catholics searched through their native broadcast channels for a transmission of the Easter message Rome’s ruler, Pope Francis, to the city and the world, Urbi et orbi, they failed to find one. The message was ignored by the Irish broadcast media this morning. Anyone who wanted to see and hear it had to go to the Internet service provided by that quintessential British medium, the Daily Telegraph.

If the aspirations of those men and women in 1916 was at heart Catholic – and for not a few of them it was an important part of the mix in their hot heads – it has surely now proved to be an abysmally fruitless one. The policy decisions of Ireland’s broadcast media certainly seem to underline the apostate stance now being vaunted by Ireland’s establishment. If the hearts and minds of the Irish people are not quite there yet we cannot say. But if they are not it is no fault of the country’s mainstream media and the sheepish political class which dances to their tune.

On Irish television this evening, at a prime viewing time for young and old, one of Ireland’s national television channels is broadcasting a film called The Queen of Ireland, a transvestite romp fronted by the sometimes-man-sometimes-woman, Rory O’Neil a.k.a. Panti Bliss. Another Irish television channel broadcast its post gay marriage referendum analysis/celebration programme from his/her gay bar in the centre of Dublin last year. This is the face of Ireland’s insurrection one hundred years on. It cannot be said for sure that everyone celebrating on the streets this weekend knows that this may be what is being celebrated. But it is certainly at the heart of the ambivalence of some about the whole elaborate event.

Up north in the six counties of Northern Ireland, faithful Protestant Christians look on and wonder how their forebears go it so wrong. Either way, they are probably thinking, we are better off not to be associated with that lot. They are thankful that they kept their allegiance to a jurisdiction which is tolerant and happy to provide as fair a service as it can to all its citizens – in broadcasting and in other fields . Meanwhile, Catholics in the res publica which comprises the rest of the island wonder, quietly, if they got a bit of a raw deal 100 years ago.

Given their experience this morning, as they searched through their native broadcast channels for the message of peace from the Vicar of Christ in Rome, maybe there weren’t many other conclusions they could come to?

The crisis would have occurred even if bankers had been saints

This is from a very interesting article by the ever-astute Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in today’ Daily Telegraph:
“Let us all agree that top bankers behaved very badly. Let us agree too with Vince Cable that the fraternity operated like a cartel, rewarded far beyond ability or worth to society.
That said, the global crisis would have occurred even if bankers had been saints. The roots lie in the “China effect”, the world “savings glut”, and the whole way that globalisation has worked for 20 years.
The rising powers of Asia and the oil bloc accumulated $10 trillion of reserves, flooding bond markets with money. Japan put $1 trillion into play through the carry trade. Central banks in the West played their part by running negative real interest rates. They set the price of credit too low, especially in Club Med and Ireland.
All this combined into one colossal bubble. Bankers were the agents, not the cause. The witchhunt against them gathering force in this country has a nasty edge, and it has the character of a pogrom in much of Europe. We should be careful.
It is hard to see how this crisis can be defused. Germany’s Wolfgang Schauble has belatedly realised that the EU is playing with fire by pushing the UK too far. British exit would be “catastrophic”, he said, asking how the EU could convince anybody in Asia that it has a future if a key member is walking out.
This olive branch comes late in the day. Euroland leaders cannot exempt Britain from the Tobin tax because they know that their own finance will migrate en masse to London if they do, yet they are too committed to this suicidal enterprise to retreat altogether. So we must fight.”

Is there room for heroes when this ethic rules the roost?

Sad, even terrifying, but true: James Delingpole in his Telegraph blog this weekend:

I’ll tell you what I fear. I think we have now reached that stage of last-days-of-the-Roman-Empire intellectual and moral depravity where almost no one in our dominant corporate/political/financier/lawyer class believes it’s worthwhile or even possible to do the right thing any more. Some of them may be vaguely aware that, yes, the only way the world is ever going to recover from the economic mess we’re in is through a radical agenda of cost-cutting, contraction of the state, sound money, and lower taxes. But they’ve made up their minds that none of this is a votewinner in our heavily socialised Western economies and that therefore the only hope is simply to grab what you can while you still can – and forget any fancy, idealistic notions you may have had about making the world a better place.

Read the whole piece here.

Born to kill?

More of the infuriating madness to which the Late Late Show exposed us was the subject of Charles Moore’s column in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. But as he sees it, all this is not just madness but is also bad and very dangerous.  He wrote:

 Last week, I appeared on the panel of the BBC’s Any Questions? in Guildford. We were asked whether we thought women should be allowed to take part in full front-line combat roles in the Armed Services. I said I didn’t think that it would be an advance in human civilisation if women abandoned their traditional association with peace and started killing people as men do.

This did not please the questioner, an intelligent student from the politics department of Surrey University, or her supporters sitting with her. They thought that the only question was the ability of the woman – if she was fit to fight, fight she should, and no one should stop her.

Afterwards, I reflected on the oddity of the situation. It did not seem that the student and her colleagues were particularly interested in military matters in themselves. They also did not seem the sort of people who, in other circumstances, would be at all keen on people killing people. I could imagine them protesting against militarism. Yet here they were, pushing for a woman’s right to kill.

Why? Because of Equality, of course. It gets you into strange situations.

(Read the full article in the Telegraph)

In defence of Ironic Man

“Irony”, Stanley Fish told us in the New York Times (January 28) “is a stance of distance that pays a compliment to both its producer and consumer. The ironist knows what other, more naïve, observers do not: that surfaces are deceptive, that the real story is not what presents itself, that conventional pieties are sentimental fictions.” Fish is taking his fellow critics to task for their love of irony and their mauling of the new movie version of the stage musical version of Victor Hugo’s masterpiece, “Les Misérables”. The movie, like the musical, is devoid of irony.

This is a thought-provoking piece – not so much along the lines of his thoughts as along other, perhaps opposing, lines. Fish is essentially defending the musical and particularly its recent cinematic incarnation against nearly all the “serious” critics of the world. Let us leave Victor Hugo’s novel on which the musical is based out of this. The novel is an indisputable masterpiece. The musical bears but the most tenuous connection to it – as any examination of its very extraordinary genesis will reveal.

What Fish has to say about the musical is interesting enough but what is really interesting is what he has to say about irony and the great divide between a life examined through an ironic prism (or is it prison) and a life which is devoid of this sense. Life in the former mode is presented as one in which we encounter and deal with anguish, doubt, uncertainty; life in the latter mode is one of simplicity, certainty and untrammelled feeling. But is it as simple as that? What worried me not a little was the thought that the two main authorities whom Fish quoted in support of the unexamined raw emotional life, Mark Rothko and David Foster Wallace, both tragically took their own lives as their ultimate response to the vision of the world which they embraced. Fish makes no mention of this.

Post-modern irony seems to me an excessive and misguided expression of a very real perception of the fact that there is much more to the world and the human condition than meets the eye. In some way it seems to mock our folly in not seeing what we should see – but does not want to do anything about it. However, a genuine ironic stance is no more than an approach we take to getting beyond the surface of appearances to the reality underlying them.

The common cultural mode today is one in which we respond with enthusiasm and abandon to the superficial emotionalism of popular entertainment. This is typified by our consumption of pop music, Hollywood film and television, musicals since the 1970s – when Andrew Lloyd Weber and the likes of  ‘Les Misérables’ became the cultural phenomenon of the late 20th century. The parallel emergence of the multi-billion spectator-sport industry is another of its manifestations. All this consumption is devoid of that vital question-mark which distinguishes the response of the thinking creature from the unthinking creature.  We either feel good or bad about something. That is all there is to it. Sentiment is put above all else and when that happens sentimentalism becomes the core value of our ideology. Sentimentalism is, as D.H.Lawrence defined it, the working off on yourself of feelings you haven’t really got. That is the ultimate destructive self-deception.

Since the consumers of these products are in fact creatures destined to think and not just to feel, when they are deprived of the challenge to do so they will not then bother to think. Their culture deprives them of the opportunity to develop that vital habit of being which is necessary for the fulfilment of their true nature. Ultimately this will leave them with a vision of their existence which will appear meaningless. The consequences of that may be the response of Rothko and Wallace, and so many others who have taken the same nihilistic path for the same nihilistic reason.

Does all this help explain in part the apparent readiness of Western societies to embrace euthanasia, abortion, and many other life choices which only make sense when perception itself is limited to the surface appearances of our existence? Does this explain the appalling superficiality of Barack Obama’s presidency and in particular the content of his second inaugural address. His appeal to the superficial and the emotional is relentless. The speech, as fork-tongued as it was banal, paid lip-service to the ideals of the Founding Fathers but the connections between his sentimental politics and their real-life politics were remote. He gushed:

“The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few, or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people. Entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. And for more than 200 years we have. Through blood drawn by lash, and blood drawn by sword, we noted that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half slave, and half free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together… For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.”

OK, it is just a speech, but as Janet Daly reflected in her article in The Daily Telegraph last weekend, it is a speech which chillingly betrays a fundamental change in the very nature of our democracy. While it was superficial and trite it was no less significant for that – indeed, that its trite message could pass for real political thought and be a harbinger for a new political reality was what was frighteningly historic about it in her eyes. For her it was a coming to America of the same trite political thought which New Labour brought to British politics in 1997.

“The core message was pounded home relentlessly: American government”, she wrote, “is now in the redistribution and welfare-provision business, and this is not (contrary to appearances) at variance with the founding fathers’ conception of a nation that is inherently opposed to state interference and domination over the individual. This is the new credo of American nationhood: the government, not the community or the household, will be the moral arbiter of social virtue. The traditional suspicion of the overweening power of the state is now a thing of the past. Democracy is about electing a government that will be there to protect you from hardship, shelter you from the storm and absolve you from sin. Well, no, maybe not that last one – but the concept of the state as moral saviour is not so remote from this, is it?”

And what has this to do with Stanley Fish? Perhaps this: nurture our society on superficial sentimentalism and feed it nothing more demanding than emotional highs and lows and you will take away our capacity for irony. With our sense of irony gone, and with it the capacity to see beyond superficial appearances, we will have to live with the spectre of a world in which we are represented by people who think in the way Obama thinks. We will see no hope beyond the quagmire of superficial emotionalism and sentimentalism in which they are threatening to engulf us. Our sense of irony at least gives us a gateway to a deeper and truer reading of our condition and some prospect of redemption.

“Another fine mess…”

One can only hear the words of Oliver Hardy to poor old Stan Laurel when we read a story like the one reported in the London Telegraph on January 9 last. Courts and judges are not only having to turn themselves upside down but also inside out to deal with the madness they are now bei ng confronted with – and they are doing it all with a straight face. How long more can it last?

Two “divorcing” gay men are arguing with each other before a Canadian court, the one denying the “rights” of another because the jurisdiction in which they first registered their civil partnership does not recognise it as a “marriage” while the jurisdiction in which they now live does. With a straight face – although we have no photographs to prove it, – the Canadian judge ruled that it would be “impermissible discrimination” not to view Wayne Hincks, 44, from London, as married to his partner Gerardo Gallardo in exactly the same way as a husband and wife.

Yes, she did say “exactly the same way” – and claimed that the distinction in UK law between civil partnerships and marriage “violates human dignity”.

(Read more of this on Conjugality, posted there a short time ago.)

Obama – the anti-American’s American?

Everyone is now aware that if the rest of the Western world’s electorates had votes in Tuesday’s US election, Barack Obama would be shoe-in. Why? Because that world is still anti-American and it is myth-making to say that Obama has changed that.

Charles Moore, in today’s Daily Telegraph, gives us a very interesting reading of the two opposing cultures represented in next week’s American election. In it he observes how badly a myopic and delusional European media establishment has misread it all in their fascination and adulation of the Obama presidency of the past four years. They do not see that Mr. Obama is not in fact what he appears to be.

In Britain and, even more, in continental Europe, the people who bring their fellow citizens the news do not really see this. To them, Mr Obama’s combination of historically persecuted ethnicity and posh seminar tone is just perfect. It satisfies their mildly Left-wing consciences and fits in with their cultural assumptions. The chief of these is that the excesses of the West, especially of America, are the biggest problem in the world. Mr Obama comes as near to saying this as anyone trying to win American votes ever could. His “apology tour” to the Middle East early in his presidency remains, for the European elites, the best thing he has ever done. He is the anti-Americans’ American.
Mitt Romney is not. Although he is a moderate Republican, it is fascinating how profoundly he clashes culturally with Obama, and, a fortiori, with the European media and political classes.

Read more here.

This will either make you laugh or cry

The Irish Times probably isn’t too worried by what appears in The Daily Telegraph about it. For the rest of us, however, it is encouraging to have some confirmation that we are not alone in our nausea when we have to read it every morning – for the time being.

Damian Thompson took it to pieces in today’s Telegraph and tossed a few more Irish pc fellow-travelers under his kosh for good measure.

He begins by asking us to check out a few headlines, not telling us where they came from. It didn’t take some of us to pick up the scent. It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

Here’s a trenchant headline for you, he wrote: “Transgender community celebrates ‘great diversity of gender identity’ in new book.” And another: “President tells youth groups to be vigilant against racist attitudes and to value diversity in society.” Care to guess which venerable organ published them? Here’s a clue: “Multicultural awards take place in Dublin following three-year break.”

Actually, that last one is a bit of a scoop. To anyone who knows modern Ireland, the notion that Dublin went a whole three years without multicultural awards is frankly incredible. Somebody really screwed up. They’re supposed to happen every month at least. The newspaper is the Irish Times, which these days makes the Guardian look like the bulletin of the Prayer Book Society. Rumour has it that it employs a special nurse to soothe joints sprained by marathon sessions of finger-wagging.

This week was a good one for the finger-waggers. The Irish parliament passed a law stripping political parties of state funding unless 30 per cent of their candidates are women; in later elections the quota will rise to 40 per cent. This means that bright men will be dissuaded from entering politics because the system will fill the Dáil with dim hectoring feminists with DIY Sinéad O’Connor haircuts. (Incidentally, did you know that eight out of the past 10 World Hectoring Champions have been lady members of the Irish Green party? It’s called Comhaontas Glas. Don’t ask me how it’s pronounced: the bizarre vagaries of Gaelic pronunciation were designed to trip up the English.)

Anyway, my point is not that rigged elections will destroy the democratic mandate of the Dáil, though they will. It’s that an especially toxic strain of political correctness has infected almost the entire Irish intelligentsia. Small-government conservatives are treated like lepers – something that, the Guardian/BBC axis notwithstanding, isn’t true of British public life. Meanwhile, the sucking up to minorities is beyond parody: a recent Irish Times profile of the travellers made them sound like latter-day Athenians. How long before there’s a transvestite traveller quota in the Dáil?

Admittedly, the programme of thought reform is not complete: the Irish working class is still instinctively socially conservative. But it is, unsurprisingly, increasingly anti-clerical, and that takes us to the heart of the matter. Churchgoing in Ireland has fallen off a cliff, thanks to the clergy’s dreadful record of committing and covering up paedophile crimes. The moral vacuum at the top of a hierarchical society has been filled by political correctness, much of it imported from the European Union at the height of Ireland’s Brussels-worship.

PC ideology flowers on the ruins of religion. It’s not just Ireland: in Australia, Canada and metropolitan America, the Catholic Church is paralysed by scandal and the old Protestant denominations have turned into gibbering pantheists or angry sects. Secularism is spreading incredibly fast.

Well, we shall see. There is only so much nonsense – not to mention nausea – that people can take. Just now The Irish Times has something like a captive readership because there is no half-responsible alternative to go to.  The Irish Independent , although it has some good columnists – as even the Times has – is trying to be too many things at the same time. A few years ago Damien Kiberd shook up the radio news monopoly of the national radio service, Radio Telefis Eireann, with his Newstalk station. He did the same thing a few years before for the Sunday newspaper market with his Sunday Business Post. Newstalk is now owned by one the The Irish Times’ top hate-figures, Dennis O’Brien. O’Brien is now poised to take over Ireland’s biggest newspaper business, Independent News and Media and that “entire intelligentsia” to which Thompson pays his tribute is becoming apoplectic at the thought. Could an O’Brien-Kiberd combo be the way back to health and lower blood pressure levels for a lot of us?

The tail wagging the dog – again?

This week the British Government begins a 12-week public consultation on its proposal to legislate for gay marriage.  The battle lines are drawn and a Sunday Telegraph opinion poll at the weekend showed that for populist politicians, the issue is fraught with risk – which they don’t seem to recognise yet. While  45 per cent support the proposal in principle, 36 per cent oppose it, and the rest say they do not know, the more significant finding for the Conservatives, the larger of the two political parties in the governing coalition, is that among their supporters 50% are opposed.

Even more significantly, a majority of voters are saying to the Government, “stop wasting your time on this issue and get on with the job we elected you to do.” Asked whether the Government is right to prioritise this issue – with other issues such as the economy and public-service reform battling for parliamentary time – voters overwhelmingly disagree.

More than three quarters – 78 per cent of all voters and 88 per cent of Tories – think it is wrong to fast-track new laws ahead of 2015 while only 14 per cent say it is right to do so, in the ICM survey for The Sunday Telegraph.

Mr Cameron is driving this, with many Tories believing a large part of the reason he is doing so is a desire to prove his party has changed,is now more “modern” and is no longer the “nasty party”.

Meanwhile the newspaper and magazine columns of the nation are keeping the pot on the boil, for and against. Melanie McDonagh in The Spectator remarks that “Consultations are, for the prudent, an exercise you only engage in when you’re quite sure of the outcome.”

Perhaps the Government has miscalculated on this one and that the outcome of the battle which both sides are now galvanised for will not be what they had hoped for. Charles Moore, a former editor of The Spectator, suggested this in his column in London’s Daily Telegraph on Saturday that the Tories are out of touch with voters on this issue.

Melanie McDonagh

McDonagh notes that leaders of the Catholic Church are in the vanguard on this one. She says that in a pastoral letter issued by two of its London Archbishops this weekend it is “wisely make clear is that this is not a religious question at all. It’s about human nature, or what Catholics would call natural law.”

Objections to gay marriage, she suggests are best based on respect for the inherent nature of marriage, not the religious conception of a sacrament. She supports civil partnerships on the basis that they do away with inequity. Previously, if one member of a gay partnership died, the other had to pay inheritance tax on their property. “Objection to gay marriage isn’t about religion at all and the letter that the bishops are sending to Catholic churches does, to do them credit, make that clear.”

“It’s all to do with the nature of marriage”, she says. “And that is, a natural institution providing the optimal situation for raising children. It’s vulgarly biological, marriage — a state for bringing up children in. And that’s how it’s been for almost all of human history. Even in ancient Greece, which practically invented homosexuality — alright, it was especially about the Socratic master-pupil relationship — reserved marriage for men and women, for the conceiving and bearing of children. And it’s that fundamental character of marriage which makes it essentially heterosexual. It’s to do with the complementarity of the sexes. Men and women fulfil different roles when it comes to the rearing of their offspring, and even in an atypical family like my own, in which I’m the sole breadwinner, those complementary roles make sense. Children relate differently to mothers and fathers; they pick up cues about how the sexes work, even children who go on to become gay. And departing from that biological foundation for marriage is a radically new departure.

“Obviously, there are infertile normal marriages, which are no less valid and exemplary for that. The most perfect Catholic marriage I know is involuntarily childless. Some people marry post-menopause, and their marriages aren’t second class, just exceptional. But these are the exceptions to the norm. The Anglican marriage service, which gives an excellent account of the purposes of marriage, talks about the mutual comfort that the couple give to each other and the function of the institution as an outlet for sexual urges, as well as for the raising of children. But those purposes, in heterosexual marriage, complement the basic utility of the thing. They are meant to accompany the essential role of marriage in raising children, not become an alternative for it.

“Of course, homosexual relationships share important aspects of heterosexual marriage, though the element of permanence may not be quite what it is in conventional marriage because children — the reason so many people stay in unsatisfactory marriages — are absent from the equation. Plainly gay partnerships can be committed and loving, and civil partnerships recognise the commitment. And on the margins, post-IVF, gay men can now father children by surrogate mothers and raise them with their own partners, and gay women can use surrogate gametes to do the same. But that parental relationship is always going to have something absent at its heart, the complementarity of the sexes, which means that sons and daughters learn about gender from how it’s lived out in their own family. And a relationship cannot be a marriage, as traditionally and everywhere understood, where children cannot naturally be part of the equation.

“What I’m saying, and what the bishops are saying, is that marriage is child-centred, even though children may be involuntarily absent from good marriages. We cut that anchor at our peril. For the optimal environment for raising children you need a stable environment with parents of either gender. And even in a reluctantly childless marriage, the complementarity of the sexes, the very fact of sexual difference, gives the institution its nature, its charge. To say as much isn’t to advance a religious argument. It’s to work from nature, from history, from human experience. The very definition of a marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Let’s leave it like that.”

Charles Moore, also a former editor of the Sunday Telegraph and later, the Daily Telegraph, came to more or less the same conclusion.

Charles Moore

Accepting that the Tory party needs to update itself, he still feels that doing so on this issue and in this way is a shortsighted way of doing so and betrays nothing more than its old tendency to just go on talking to itself – populism with an abysmally narrow focus.

With “modernisation” in mind, Moore wrote, “Mr Cameron said from the first that his party should become gay-friendly, in its policies and its selection of candidates. In his first party conference speech as leader, he equated, morally, the ‘commitment’ that man makes to man or woman to woman with that which men and women make to one another.

“To Mr Cameron and most of the people with whom ministers spend their time, this will seem logical. Indeed – for it is the chief subject about which self-consciously “modern” people feel extremely righteous – it will seem unquestionable. The Government’s current “consultation” will not, despite its name, pay heed to anyone who disagrees. Ministers have adopted the language of equality and rights, and any other language is, to use an unmodern word, blasphemous.

“But let me play back at the Tory leadership the very thing that worried it in the first place – the danger of talking to oneself. The orthodoxy in favour of gay marriage is an iron one if you are well off, well educated, live in central London and wish to hold political or public office. By adhering to it, Mr Cameron ensures that he will not be insulted in BBC studios or at Downing Street receptions for the creative industries. It does not follow, however, that it is a legislative priority for the general public, or the way by which they judge a politician’s virtue. If you talk to the wider public, you get a very different perspective.”

“The number of civil partnerships contracted in this country “, he poined out, “is less than one per cent of the number of marriages each year. You can sell to most people the proposition that such small minorities should be fairly treated. You will encounter sales resistance if you insist they be allowed to redefine something which belongs to us all. That something, in this case, is marriage. And on the ‘what matters to voters’ index, which rightly worries modernisers, marriage comes high; the precise situation of homosexuals comes low.

“Marriage has never meant simply the right of all people who believe they love one another to have their relationship legally recognised on demand. There are qualifications. You have to be adult. You cannot be married to somebody else. You cannot be closely related by blood to the person you marry. And the person you marry must be of the opposite sex.

“You could say that these are restrictions. The decision to permit only monogamy was controversial at the time, and upsetting for lots of people, particularly men. After all, you may genuinely want to have three wives at once and claim that you can truly love them all. I do not know how Mr Cameron, if he opposes discrimination, can possibly sustain the view that Muslims, who are much more numerous in Britain than homosexuals, should be forbidden the polygamy which their faith sanctions.

“If you talk to ministers just now, they say, “Gay marriage is like the smoking ban. People thought they were against it, but when it happened, they just accepted it.” I cannot prove this wrong, but the triviality of the comparison makes me suspicious. Marriage is a great, big, deep subject. There is no crying need to change it just because a vociferous lobby says we must. I recommend a policy which should surely unite all conservatives, trad or modernising – masterly inactivity.”

For this and more on the issue of the future of marriage, go to MercatorNet’s Conjugality blog.