Enough of this 'Love Thy Neighbour' nonsense

The Agreeable World of Wallace Arnold
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"WE'VE got him now! We've really got him!" I was invited to partake of luncheon with Dr Brian Mawhinney on Sunday last, and these are the words that fell from his magnanimous mouth as he eased open his sturdy front portal.

"Wallace, old man - we've got him!" It had been many a long moon since I had seen the doctor this cheerful. I knew that for someone somewhere the news must be bad. I have known Dr Mawhinney for yonks, and have long admired his straightforward approach, set out in his invaluable medical textbook Stuff and Nonsense: How To Sniff Out A Whinger.

His somewhat cold-hearted public image does the man himself scant justice. He is fiercely loyal to his staff, refusing to sack anyone until they have left the room. His laughter is infectious: three junior aides at Smith Square went down with flu soon after he was observed cackling in their vicinity last November.

"Yes - this time we've got him!" The doctor's teeth glinted in the sharp April sunlight. Frankly, I hadn't the foggiest what he was on about. "Have you not seen the papers this morning, Wallace?" he inquired as he led me through to his fully modernised new solarium with its tasteful busts of himself performing major heart surgery placed at discreet intervals around his whirlpool bath.

I admitted that I had found time to read only two pieces, both eminently satisfactory, the first being my own in this very paper - and the second being the very same, this time for a deeper appreciation. It was then that he produced his copy of the Sunday Telegraph, with an article by the dread Blair with those disconcertingly clean teeth of his, headed "Why I am a Christian".

"The man's shot himself in the foot," yelped the doctor, fiddling with a family hacksaw, "and I am standing by ready for an amputation!"

As the doctor switched on the sunray lamp and slipped into his floral bathing costume, I read the Blair article with gathering merriment. "You're right, Brian," I exclaimed, "the man's entirely misinterpreted Christ's message! He thinks it's all 'Love Thy Neighbour'! Talk about wishy-washy!"

The two of us positively gurgled with delight. Brian removed his sun visor and gave me a huge wink. " 'Love Thy Neighbour', indeed!" he roared, "next he'll be saying that the poor are blessed! It'll cost him 100 marginals come the election, mark my words!"

It was, I must confess, the first time I had ever heard Brian mention the dread words "the poor" since last July, when he sent around a policy directive to those of us involved in Central Office offering a choice of eight synonyms for those dread weasel-words.

"In future," read the confidential memo (and, incidentally, I would beg my circle of readers to make sure not a word of this appears in the national press) "in future, the Hard Left phrase 'the poor' should be omitted from all statements to the press and the public. We consider the following words and phrases to be acceptable substitutes: 1. 'Scroungers' 2. 'Shirkers' 3. 'The Grim Legacy of the Sixties' 4. 'Those who contribute nothing to our society' 5. 'Drop-outs and weirdos' 6. 'Unmarried mothers' 7. 'Classic examples of Labour's something-for-nothing society' or 8. 'Lottery defaulters'."

"And what of all this 'Love Thy Neighbour' nonsense," continued Brian. "Do Barbara Follett's neighbours in Stevenage love HER? Of course they don't - and nor should they!"

Over our patriotic no-nonsense Sunday luncheon of Roast Beef and All The Trimmings sans boeuf, the two of us banged our heads together to compose the beginnings of the Holy Gospel according to Mawhinney. "This'll show Mr so-called Blair we can outdo him on Christianity!" he exclaimed, as we came to the Conservative Beatitudes.

"Blessed are the prosperous: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

"Cursed are the meek: for they contribute nothing to the economy.

"Blessed are the arms dealers, and those that thirst after wealth: for theirs is the House of Lords.

"Cursed are they that mourn: for they are whingers.

"Blessed are the healthy: for they are no burden on the taxpayer.

"Cursed are they that hunger: for theirs shall be the cut-price beef."

"We've got him now, Wallace! We've really got him!" repeated the doctor, taking another sip of his claret, "and if he turns the other cheek, we'll wallop that one, too!"