Magazine article The Spectator


Magazine article The Spectator


Article excerpt

The real resigning matter

From Frederick Forsyth

Sir: The Hutton inquiry is predictably bogged down in a futile quagmire of who said what, to whom, on whose authority, who knew about it and, frankly, who cares. But Hutton diverts attention from the question that ought to be answered.

Forget dossiers, forget the departed Campbell. The key lies in that crucial debate when a phalanx of Labour MPs deserted their party leader and voted against war. But, along with the Conservatives, enough stayed with him to save the motion and his premiership from ending there and then. Why? Because about 100 who had entered the chamber dead-set against military intervention with the Americans changed their minds. Why? Because the PM made a towering, bravura speech of impressive passion and persuasive facts. Or were they facts?

He made clear he had seen covert intelligence that he could not divulge but which shook him to the core. He averred we had no choice but to invade, for we all stood in immediate danger. The man he targeted had terrible weapons capable of destroying us all, right here in our homes. And he was ready to use them.

We now know it was all tripe. Saddam had neither the wherewithal nor the mood to throw anything at anybody. He could not have disturbed Kuwait, let alone Kettering.

It is now clear that all he could have deployed in 45 minutes were company mortars. Well, lawksamussy. Thence the question. As I said, forget Campbell's dossiers; reprint that speech from Hansard.

Which intelligence agency, and which officer within it, authorised the Prime Minister to say all that? If there was no such agency, he must have made it all up. Now that is a resigning matter.

Frederick Forsyth


Pogroms and pipedreams

From Graham Wheeler

Sir: Adrian Hilton's article ('Render unto the Pope. . . ', 30 August) is funny without being vulgar. As a practising Catholic, my response to it can be encapsulated in two words: 'If only!'

In Germany during the 1930s, one Jew was discovered by another engrossed in a copy of Der Sturmer. On being asked why on earth he was choosing to spend his time reading such vile calumnies and slanders, he replied, 'The Jewish press is full of stories about anti-Semitic pogroms and persecutions. If I read Der Sturmer, I learn that we Jews are in control of international finance, world politics, the press and the arts - that we're about to take over the world! Do you know, it makes me feel so much better!'

Graham Wheeler

Girton College, Cambridge

From Professor Noel H. Gale

Sir: It was surprising to find that the signatory of the semi-hysterical article outlining the imagined plan of the Vatican to use the EU to extend its sovereignty to Britain was one Adrian Hilton, rather than a rabid evangelical cleric of the old school who still sees the Pope as the whore of Rome. The article, with among other things its emphasis on the Queen's coronation oath to maintain the established Protestant Reformed religion (the Anglican Church) and the disappointment that a coin of Gibraltar no longer gives as one of her titles Defender of the Faith, perhaps needs to be set against a correct historical background.

It was Henry VIII who became the first English monarch to be given the title Defender of the Faith, and he was given it by the then Pope for his part in defending the Catholic religion in a fiercely pro-Catholic, anti-Lutheran tract in 1521. Most subsequent British monarchs have probably had a rather tenuous claim to the title. The Catholic Church had by Henry's time certainly fallen into errors to which human institutions are heir, but it had begun its own internal reforms at the Council of Constance in 1415, continued by the Council of Trent (1545-63). It had no need of a Luther, nor did Henry, who, rather than inspired by a passion to reform the Church, broke with Rome solely from his violent impatience at the Pope's vacillation and delay in granting a nullification of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, whose chief defects were that she had not given him a son and that her charms were fading. …

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