Richard Ingrams' Week: Why not show faith in Shakespeare?

Share

One of the good things about most religions is that believers are required to examine all their actions very thoroughly, to admit their shortcomings and to make amends where necessary.

It is always hard to determine exactly what religion means to different people, but in Mr Blair's case it would appear to be not very much. Blair sees no obligation "to acknowledge and confess his manifold sins and weaknesses" as the prayer book puts it.

Faced by the lies and deceit surrounding the invasion of Iraq, the bombings, the kidnaps, the torture, the deaths of thousands of men, women and children, Blair's response, judging from his Parkie interview, seems to be this: "It is not up to me to judge my own actions. Other people, notably God, will have to decide whether I have acted rightly or not."

In so far as this makes any kind of sense it has little to do with religion. There is nothing to suggest that Blair feels any awareness of his failings or sees the need for repentance.

If he wants to act as a spokesman for Christianity, he would do well to consult not only the prayer book but Shakespeare, and in particular that scene in Henry V when on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt a common soldier reflects: "But the King hath a heavy reckoning to make if his cause be not good. When all those souls whose bodies shall be slaughtered here shall join together on the latter day and say I died at such a place, some swearing, some crying for a surgeon... now if his cause be bad I think it will be a grievous matter to him."

If only Campbell had devoted himself to charity

If John Profumo had been called Jones or Robinson, I wonder if he would still be remembered today.

It wasn't as if he committed a grave offence - people are lying to the House of Commons all the time. It was because his name was unusual and foreign that it lived on.

The real scandal of the Profumo affair of 1963 was nothing really to do with Profumo. What was far more scandalous than any peccadillo on his part was the prosecution of Stephen Ward, the posh society osteopath who had introduced him to Christine Keeler.

Ward was not in any way an admirable human being, but he was certainly not living on immoral earnings, the charge for which he stood trial at the Old Bailey in July 1963.

There was never any evidence to support the charge and it was clear that Ward had been made a scapegoat by the Macmillan government.

Following his arrest, Ward was dropped like a stone by all his society friends including, it has to be said, Profumo himself, and just before being found guilty by the jury he committed suicide by taking a drug overdose.

The story may strike a chord with younger people who have no special interest in the political scandals of yesteryear.

Because it is surprisingly similar to the story of Dr David Kelly, the Government scientist who 40 years later tipped off the BBC about Blair's dishonest dossier cobbled together to try to justify the invasion of Iraq. Dr Kelly, too, was made a scapegoat by Alastair Campbell, left, anxious to draw attention away from his own role in the compilation of the dossier.

Dr Kelly was thrust into the limelight, his identity leaked through the media and he too committed suicide.

There the similarity ends because it was never ever remotely possible that Alastair Campbell was going to retire from the scene and, like John Profumo, devote himself to charitable work in the East End of London.

* Thinking as I often do of politics in terms of cartoons, I have an image of Tessa Jowell in a hot air balloon pushing her husband out in order to regain height.

Some people like me will find it hard to follow all the complexities of her husband David Mills's financial affairs as he shifts large sums of money from one account to another.

What we have no difficulty in grasping is that Tessa Jowell has dumped her husband in order to save her political skin just at the time when he is facing possible prosecution in the Italian courts.

We are told that to think in this way is to be guilty of gross cynicism and the worst sort of callous indifference to decency and truth.

But what is the alternative version of events? That Jowell and her husband came to a decision to split up and that by an unfortunate twist of fate the decision just happened to be made at the very same time that Jowell found that she might have to resign from the Cabinet? Politics, therefore, according to this version, had nothing to do with it.

This reminds me of the famous story of the Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan who, by a similar kind of lucky coincidence, just happened to buy a huge number of shares in a company that was to be tipped in his paper the following day.

As with Jowell, the strange thing is that people in authority seemed quite happy to accept that explanation. Personally I find it rather difficult to go along with them but then I am incorrigibly cynical.

theoldie@theoldie.co.uk

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Alan Titchmarsh MP?  

Alan Titchmarsh MP? His independent manifesto gets my vote

Jane Merrick
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with excess, cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?