Why can’t the BBC understand that we are STILL a Christian country?

A couple of things are striking about today’s offering from Stephen Glover:

“Despite being required under its charter to provide religious programming, and despite being funded by licence-payers who overwhelmingly describe themselves as Christian, the Corporation has been increasingly pursuing what can only be, at best, described as a non-Christian agenda and, at worst, as an anti-Christian one.”

These two striking things are the claim that this is a Christian country and the jumping off point for this particular article on religious persecution, the appointment of a non-Christian to the head of religious broadcasting at the Beeb. Taking those in reverse order, Aaqil Ahmed, a practising Muslim who believes that “there should be more coverage of Muslim matters in the media”, has been appointed as head of religious broadcasting for the BBC. He comes from a similar post at Channel 4 and replaces Michael Wakelin, a Methodist lay preacher. Or, as Stephen breaks the news:

“On Monday, the Corporation announced that it has appointed a Muslim as head of religious broadcasting. This is not a joke, I can assure you.

The person responsible for overseeing the BBC’s — so far — largely Christian output will be Aaqil Ahmed, a practising Muslim.”

There appears to be an implicit assumption here that to accurately represent a group you have to be representative of it. On this basis, to take an obvious example, in every constituency in the country, half the population are disenfranchised through the gender of their MP. Generally it is felt that this is not a pressing concern, as someone good, nay merely competent, as an MP should be able to see beyond their own concerns as a gendered individual and extend their representation to those of the wider community. Anecdotally, MPs at least do seem able to do this to some extent – despite being predominantly straight, parliament has over recent decades been able to roll back legislation discriminatory to gays; despite being predominantly monied, we have on the books a small number of laws running against the monied classes in favour of the underprivileged. One would imagine that it would be a condition of Mr Ahmed’s terms of reference, and the oversight that ensures he keeps to them, that he shares similar representative skills.

It’s also worth noting that, for all the use of ‘Christian’ as a concrete noun, the set of items covered by the label ‘Christian’ is very broad. If you need to have an understanding of the beliefs of a group to fully represent them, the Catholic population of the UK, for example, may well have had reason for concern over the appointment of the previous head of religious broadcasting. Methodism is a non-hierarchical denomination, structured as a direct democracy with doctrine discussed and decided on the level of elected national committees. It’s not that unlike the Women’s Institute in that respect. A Methodist lay preacher could reasonably be expected to find it difficult to fully justify the practices of a church based on the doctrinal opinions of an elderly celibate in slippers, appointed in secret by other such elderly celibates and claiming authority through a direct lineage from an apostle of the human incarnation of God. This is no small issue given the research in 2007 which suggested that Roman Catholicism would surpass Anglicanism¹ as the country’s biggest Church and so, presumably, the biggest subset of BBC-funding licence payers. Although under Mr Wakelin’s watch the religious coverage of the BBC may have become, in Stephen’s opinion, more “anodyne”, he still managed to make it through without claims that Catholicism was being ignored or slighted, or that there was a noticeably Methodist slant to coverage. The fact he was non-representative of the vast majority of the Christian population of the UK didn’t seem to affect his ability to represent them.

For this reason, there is something slightly unsettling about the claim that Muslim will not do the job as well as a Christian (and the attached claim that a Hindu won’t be as good at organising ‘Songs of Praise’), and taking their appointment as evidence that the BBC is sidelining Christianity. If we’re happy with a member of a minority denomination handling the role, and we’re happy in other areas of public life that you can represent without being representative, there seems to be no reason to see a Muslim’s appointment as a potential punchline to a joke.

Moving on to the other striking thing:

“No doubt [the BBC’s] secular suits assume that Britain is as anti-Christian as they are. They’re out of touch again.”

On the face of it, this is an uncontroversial claim – the last national census (2001) showed that (of the 92% of the population choosing to answer the question) 72% of the population felt themselves to be Christians. However, whilst there is a very vocal population of Christians in public life, 72% seems like a very large number given the number of non-Christians encountered in everyday life. Looking at more recent alternative data, the last British Social Attitudes report to look at the subject of religion (2007) found 69% of respondents did not belong to a religion or attend religious services. Leaving aside the possibility that the intervening six years of anodyne religious broadcasting had persuaded a large chunk of Christians to pack it in and worship capitalism instead, there is a big gap between these two results which needs to be explained. Part of it may be the way the question is posed – in the census you are asked ‘What is your religion?’, a formulation implicitly implying that you have a religion of some sort that is both nameable and listed on the form, while in the BSA you are asked ‘Do you regard yourself as belonging to any particular religion?’, which is much more open-ended and places ‘no’ on a par with ‘yes, and it is …’. In particular, in the BSA version of the question, the onus is on the respondent to say that which religion they follow, rather than having a list presented from which they can select the best that fits. It avoids the danger of people who were raised Christian or passed through the Christian school system feeling the need to tick the box as it brings in the idea of active pursuit of the religion rather than mere membership. This seems a much more meaningful measure – to take another political analogy, we would consider someone a ‘Conservative’ only if they voted Tory, having been raised in a Tory household but now not voting would be insufficient.

We should probably be wary of both measures – the question on the census is badly phrased while the BSA is a voluntary survey and so subject to things like selection bias² and both rely on self-definition which is changeable and non-uniform. However, taken with evidence of low attendance of religious ceremonies, low viewing figures for religious programmes and little evidence of religious belief in daily life³, we can have reason to doubt the claim that we are still a ‘Christian nation’. To what extent this means we should change our approach to questions of religious involvement in public life is a subject for another time, but at the very least we should stop seeing such claims as truisms which justify any claim to special treatment.

On which bases, Stephen’s conclusion:

“In appointing Aaqil Ahmed they do not simply offend against this country’s Christian heritage and traditions. They also further weaken the hold and authority of the BBC.”

should probably be taken with a pillar of salt.

———–

¹ Which, although being hierarchical in a way which Methodism isn’t, is much closer to it on issues like same-sex relationships, birth control and the intercession of the saints.

² Although they are actually quite good at avoiding such issues.

³ Where, for example, do we find evidence of Christian belief in our daily newspapers – judgemental, thoroughly lacking in brotherly love and doing a fine line in leery, some might say outright covetous, photos of celebrities – for all their protestations when their privileges are threatened.

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When a bishop has to leave the Church of England to stand up for Christians, what hope is left for Britain?

An interesting exercise in differing perspectives today from Melanie Phillips, which moves from the resignation of the Bishop of Rochester to pursue missionary work overseas, through a number of slights and marginalisations of Christianity in public life through to this:

“With multiculturalism discriminating in favour of all who challenge the established values of this country, it would appear that it is Christians who have become the oppressed minority. “

It is worth remembering at this point that the head of state is also the head of the national branch of the Church, Christian religious leaders sit unelected in the second house of our legislature, the school system is predominantly a collection of Christian faith-based organisations, charity law allows tax breaks for organisations devoted to ‘advancement of religion’, our national broadcaster carries a weekly televised Christian service and Christian (and other religious) organisations have exemptions from various pieces of equality legislation allowing them to discriminate against people while still receiving public funds. For an oppressed minority, Christians do quite well for themselves.

So, how has Melanie got to the point where all the perks of Christianity are overlooked – what has generated this feeling of oppression?

“Yesterday, it was revealed that a Christian council worker was suspended for encouraging a terminally ill woman to turn to God. He says he was also told it was inappropriate to ‘talk about God’ with a client and that he should not even say ‘God bless’.

This follows the case of the nurse who was suspended for offering to pray for an elderly patient’s recovery, the Christian who lost her role on an adoption panel because she disapproved of gay adoption, and Christian adoption agencies which lost their public funding because they had the same approach.”

So, there seem to be a series of well publicised attacks on people merely for being Christian. It’s not quite Rome, but people are losing their livelihoods, merely for stating their faith. They might still have spiritual leaders in the Lords interfering with bills on science and health, but on the ground the secularists are winning.

Except, from another perspective, this isn’t what’s going on at all. The Christian council worker in question is accused by his employers of subjecting a woman who came to him to discuss her housing situation to an extended ‘religious rant’¹. Were this any other religion, or no religion, I’m not sure Melanie would feel as uncomfortable. If we give him the benefit of the doubt, and his comments were neither extended nor ranting, then rather than doing the job he was paid to do, he was proselytising, again something Melanie would probably feel less comfortable with were it on behalf of another god. Alternatively, imagine he weren’t proselytising at all, but suggesting an alternative remedy – would it be appropriate for a homelessness officer to suggest to a supplicant that they go home and eat goji berries because, even though the doctors say there’s no hope, you sometimes hear about people switching to the berries and pulling through? For a newspaper so often concerned by local government spending, the implicit claim that Wandsworth’s rate payers should be funding unqualified health advice with every housing consultation seems odd. The idea that someone should be considered persecuted because their employer expects them to do their job and leave their medical advice for after hours is equally strange.

In the case of the nurse, someone was sufficiently taken aback by her offer of prayer to complain about it – so Malanie is now asking us to accept that nurses should be allowed to make patients feel awkward and uncomfortable. The Christian who lost their job on the adoption panel did so because she wanted to base adoption not on the law or the scientific evidence which informed it, but on her private beliefs – Melanie is asking us to accept personal belief as a legitimate reason to ignore the rules which govern our jobs. The Christian adoption agency were allowed to continue to discriminate against couples on the basis of their private beliefs, but were no longer allowed to ask the taxpayer to fund that discrimination – Melanie is asking certain members of the community to happily stump up for someone else to persecute them.

In all of these cases, we can easily imagine the problems we would have were it not Christianity, but another set of private beliefs which were influencing the public behaviour. Were we to substitute racism in the adoption cases, for example. The issue is not, in this light, the persecution of Christianity, but the exclusion of certain private beliefs from the public sphere. It is not Christianity which is under attack, but the idea that private beliefs should influence your public duties.

In some ways, the confusion between the two is understandable – historically in this country, Christian private beliefs have coincided with public duties. When homosexuality was illegal on grounds of morality, the question of discrimination in adoption never arose. The problem Melanie is having is not that multiculturalism [is] discriminating in favour of all who challenge the established values of this country’, but that not all the established views are universally held and that the acceptance of this necessarily implies a retreat of all private beliefs from the public sphere. The illusion that Christianity is being persecuted arises because Christian beliefs have further to retreat. This in no ways undermines her feeling that:

“Although most people may no longer be churchgoers, Christianity infuses all this country’s institutions, traditions and values.”

Even retreating to the private sphere, Christian values will still influence public life because the worthwhile ones are universal. Christianity does not have the monopoly on tolerance, decency and the Golden Rule². Christians will still be able to agree with laws based on equality and reciprocity of expected behaviour, and with institutions which foster the same. ‘Christianity’ will still be the basis for our public conduct and discourse, we will still indulge in ‘Christian behaviour’ in as far as that basis and that behaviour overlaps with ‘human’ behaviour. That basis and that behaviour will still tolerate the discussion of private beliefs which run against our desire for equality and justice in the appropriate fora, but will still believe that such fora are not the ones funded by the public.

Even when we’ve sorted the monarchy, and the Lords, and the education system, and the national broadcaster, and the charity law, and the opt-outs of equality legislation, Christianity will still have a place in public life. That place still won’t proselytising, or ignoring the law, at the taxpayer’s expense. That’s not oppression, that’s even-handedness, which the Christian god, among others, was all for³.

———————–

¹ I’m basing my comments on this on an article in the Telegraph – oddly, only they and the Mail appear to be carrying this story.

² It’s worth noting here that Melanie is discussing Christianity as if it were a uniform monolith – the brand of the faith that is failing to love homosexuals as they love themselves is arguably missing the point sufficiently to not merit the name and to allow that particular animosity into public life would be the failure to uphold true Christian values, not its exclusion.

³ Deut 10:17-18 – For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing.

Torture is wrong but why, in the name of sanity, should we allow those who hate us to live here?

Nicely dovetailing into my last post comes an opportunity to discuss the rights and wrongs of torture, courtesy of Max Hastings:

“It is a wicked thing, if Binyam Mohamed has indeed been tortured during his seven years’ confinement, latterly at America’s Guantanamo Bay, and equally wicked if Britain has been complicit in that torture.”

Which, as opening paragraphs go, is quite a good one. It establishes, from the off, that some things are bad, are that being complicit in them is also bad. We can all agree with this, we can be friends. But wait:

“The pit in which Britain, more than any other Western nation, finds itself stuck is that our courts and the human rights industry reject removal from our shores of anybody to their own nation if it lacks ‘acceptable’ standards of justice and freedom.”

Suddenly Max wants us to be complicit in bad things. Here we disagree, and fall out. What happened between the first paragraph and that one? Why can we not assist in torture, but can send someone back to a country where they will be tortured? Max thinnks it’s sufficient to say:

“The right of residence is discretionary.

Why should it be extended to a man about whom there seems little doubt does not want to live here as a law-abiding person, committed to our values and way of life?”

Take a parallel example: You want to kill Max. I know you want to kill Max. You ask to borrow my sharp knife; while I can’t be sure you don’t just want to evenly divide your freshly made fudge for the orphans, the look in your eye, and your comment about needing it to kill Max,  suggests strongly that your motive is less friendly. I lend you the knife. You kill Max. You are now a murderer and I am an accessory, because I knew what you wanted to do and enabled you to do it. I didn’t kill Max, it’s true, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t do anything wrong, morally or actually. Even if I really wanted Max out of my spare room, or I felt Max’s journalism undermined my way of life. We should be able to agree.

If w can, we shuold also be able to agree that it is completely unimportant whether Binyam Mohamed left the UK because he didn’t want to live here (which he denies), it’s completely unimportant that he harbours resentment to the UK (although his statement on arrival certainly didn’t indicate that to me), it would be completely unimportant if he followed Max’s recommendation and built a bomb factory in Southall (although it would be fine to arrest him, try him and, if found guilty, imprison him).  If we can agree that torturing him is wrong, it is wrong to enable his torture by sending him back to Ethiopia.

Either Max has missed this inconsistency, or he’s ignoring it. That’s poor – to paraphrase his conclusion, he has ‘displayed pitiful weakness‘ in failing to consistently condemn or support abetting torture and, arguably ‘merits our contempt‘.

Britain’s a world-leader in sharia banking – but we haven’t grasped the sinister and dangerous implications

Right, just a quickie, because this is fast becoming a blog about Melanie Philips, but my attention was drawn to this and it seemed a little, erm, questionable.

The $18billion (£12bn) in assets of Britain’s Islamic banks are said to dwarf those of Muslim states such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Egypt. And there are also 55 colleges and professional institutions offering education in Islamic finance in Britain – more than anywhere else in the world.”

Just to start with, having more money invested in sharia compliant banks than Bangladesh manages is not what I’d call impressive, or threatening. While being a Muslim nation, Bangladesh is also very, very poor. I haven’t the time to check what the status of sharia compliant banking is in, say, Egypt, but I’m guessing you don’t know how popular/legally accepted it is either. All we have is a list of countries, we know nothing about their circumstances. Before we know how impressive the £12 billion is, let’s not panic.

What they refuse to acknowledge is the real price that is to be paid for this. They don’t understand that the spread of sharia banking in Britain and America is a significant part of the attempt to Islamise Britain and America. Acceptance of sharia finance furthers the Islamist objective of gradually legitimising Islamic sharia law more generally in the west.”

I vaguely remember something similar reminding me of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – who has this nefarious scheme to Islamise the West? A few terrorist groups do not an international conspiracy of Masons and bankers make. And surely the legitimisation of sharia banking only helps legitimise sharia banking, not the whole system of sharia. I can approve of a tidy return on my capital without also agreeing that apostates can be stoned.

The point which is being missed is that all who use it must conform to the dictates of sharia law. Sharia financial institutions may not be making this clear now – they don’t want to frighten people away – but at some point that IOU of sharia-compliance will be called in. This is how sharia-compliance will be spread to both the Muslim and non-Muslim population.”

While there is still capital available for lending in a competitive banking system, any company whose sharia compliant loan is called in will find one elsewhere. The price of pork is unlikely to fall on the basis of lending blackmail anytime soon.

Any Western institution that endorses sharia-compliant products therefore effectively endorses the extremist ideology behind it of conquering the west for Islam, whether it knows it or not.”

No, again, you endorse the product you’ve bought into, not the principles behind it. In exactly the same way, worshipers of the Church of England do not, merely by virtue of weekly donations, endorse the arms companies the Church invests in. You are still entirely free to oppose them or to find alternative places of worship run along similar, but less offensive, lines.

The most important point to grasp is that Islam recognises no authority superior to sharia. Sharia banks will therefore not recognise the superior authority of the law of the land. When trillions of pounds and dollars are locked into them, who will argue with them?”

A redundant point – the Law still recognises no law higher than the Law.

But charity in Islam is more like solidarity. So some of this money donated to Islamic charities may well find its way to organisations promoting jihad and supporting suicide bombing including Hamas, Hezbollah, the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and Islamist madrassas in places like Pakistan.”

See earlier point about the Law – particularly in this case the laws on money laundering and funding of proscribed groups – and watch them try.

Only certain Islamic authorities are entitled to issue the religious rulings or fatwas that can recognize investments as sharia-compliant. But the people and institutions making the decisions about where this money is sent are themselves often highly questionable.”

Indeed they are, which counsels caution on which product you invest in/borrow from, but doesn’t demolish the principle of sharia banking as such. In the same way, the fact that some banks have been very badly run does not mean you should avoid usury.

What has to be understood is that sharia finance is simply a modern jihadi strategy to help Islamise Britain’s institutions and society. It was devised in the mid-20th century by the ideologues who promoted the radical Islamism that threatens us today.”

And here’s the rub – how, exactly, does the banking ‘Islamise’? What would ‘Islamise’ even mean in practice? The fact the local mosque holds my mortgage does not make me any more likely to worship Allah. It wouldn’t make me any more likely to subscribe to any Islamic principle. So long as there are non-Islamic banks I can seek a remortgage from, it is never possible that they can. I still find their fruitier beliefs repugnant and continue to resist their enforcement through the democratic process. The law is still the law and will still be upheld. Nothing in this article offers any reason to believe otherwise. It’s just paranoia.

The Mumbai atrocity is a wake-up call for a frighteningly unprepared Britain

I was having a bit of trouble with this column by Melanie Philips; after all, I have no way of disproving a negative like

“But because we don’t understand what we are actually up against, we are not doing nearly enough to prevent this  –  or something even worse  –  occurring on British soil; and if it were to happen here, we would be unable to cope.””

So, I did exactly what Melanie predicted I would do, and tried to explain the problem away – India has a long-standing dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, so is the sort of place likely to have militants hanging around ready to attack, Western tourists are an obvious target, and a way of ticking boxes and attacks on Jewish centres show just how wide the net was being thrown. Britain is not like India, in as far as we don’t have a border dispute with a nation founded on religion, have smaller and so less-porous borders and don’t have a political party system founded on religion. That’s not, to any extent, a claim that obscenities like the attacks on Mumbai can’t happen, but that they are less likely.

This didn’t seem to engage with her central point though, even if she were to allow the fact that attacks such as these are more likely in countries like India than they are in the UK, they still could happen in the UK and we would be horribly unprepared.

“This country is simply not trained, equipped or prepared in any way to deal with something on this scale.”

Now, the reason I’m in no position to gainsay this assertion is that I am lacking two key pieces of information: 1) realistically what the scale of the threat to this country is, and 2) what preparations are being made against it. That’s the sort of information I would expect the government and security services to have. It’s not the sort of thing that someone outside those circles, such as myself, would have access to. The best I could do is speculate based on my perceptions of what the Government and security services were doing. As is Melanie.

“The Government and security establishment refuse to acknowledge that what we are facing is a religious war.”

On what could she possibly be basing this? How could she know what the Government and security establishment are thinking? The best she has to go on is public pronouncements, assuming them to be an accurate and complete reflection of Government thinking. Which is a brave assumption.

“Even more chilling was the warning by a former head of the SAS that Britain has made no adequate preparations to deal with such an onslaught upon a British city  –  even though that is precisely the ‘ Doomsday scenario’ that the security world fears.”

OK, here we’re on slightly less shakey ground – we have a public pronouncement from a former security establishment figure. However, the key bit of this sentence though is the last bit ‘this is precisely [what] the security world fears‘ – we can fear the worst, without really expecting it. Take the monster that lived under my bed when I was a child – it is still, to some extent, my ‘Doomsday scenario’, but although it occasionally disturbs my sleep, it’s not a realistic enough fear for me to go to bed armed. We can fear events similar to the attacks on Mumbai without thinking they are likely enough to occur to invest in military task-forces who’ll stand alert on the off-chance that they do. Again, I’m not in a position to make that judgement – the people who are are, oddly enough, the people who have to. If we trust our security forces, the fact that we don’t have task-forces is a sign that we don’t need them, and crying out for them won’t make us any safer.

And that brings me to nub of the problem – if we trust our security forces, we can rest comfortably knowing that we’re being protected. And what reason do we have not to trust our security forces? Or, to put it another way, what grounds do we have for believing that a newspaper columnist understands the complexities of the current world situation better than a highly funded and well staffed organisation dedicated to doing just that? Melanie tells us we should be afraid, but offers us no compelling reason to trust her judgement. Up to a point, attacks are inevitable, and when one occurs Melanie will no doubt feel vindicated. But until the inquiry into that attack reveals that “Britain … is still in a trance of denial”, the smart money is on us not being.

Beware this Saudi deal to help bail out Britain. It comes with a devastating IOU

In some ways, Melanie Phillip’s column today is quite surprising. It is surprising how many times we must relive global conspiracies to enslave us all: the Elders of Zion were fictional, the Yellow wasn’t a Peril, the Illuminati and the Masons had their eyes set on nothing higher than getting decent tee-times at the country club. Every messianic theory of global infiltration and control by a minority has been proved wrong. And so, to give away the ending, is this fear that the Saudis are coming.

“No, this loan comes with a devastating IOU — nothing less than a big slice of control over Britain and the West by a regime at the heart of the attempt to bring about the Islamisation of the free world.”

Right. Not content with unaffiliated extremists killing a few thousand people in terrorist acts, the Saudis and the wider conspiracy of Islamic believers are trying to buy the UK. At which point, they’ll Islamise it, Changing Rooms style.

This fundamentally misunderstands both the request for investment in the IMF which prompted this fear, and the concept of investment itself. The International Monetary Fund is an international lending body which lends to countries in financial trouble in return for reforms which it believes will prevent the trouble reoccurring. There is a tendency for these reforms to be perceived as more beneficial to the Western backers of the IMF than they are to those  countries receiving the money, making it something of a controversial body. With much of their money tied up at home, traditional funders of the IMF are facing difficulties when the body is confronted by the possibility of several large countries failing at once. Since someone like Hungary collapsing into bankruptcy would cause further damage to the IMF’s usual backers, Gordon Brown went eastward to see if he could find new funding to keep the Fund, and its beneficiaries, solvent. Understandably, putting more money into a body should mean more influence, which Brown took as an opportunity to move the IMF from its controversial past by encouraging new thinking from Brazil, China, India, Saudi Arabia and other potential backers.

If the call is heeded, this should mean a reduction in conditions attached to loans like ‘privatise all state-owned utilities’, ‘remove all import tariffs’ and ‘allow international ownership of your banking sector’. It almost certainly won’t lead to conditions like ‘stone adulterers’ or ‘make women wear veils’. As conditions, those won’t improve the ability of borrowers to repay their loans or avoid requiring them in the future, so aren’t relevant to the IMF’s aims. Were any strings liked to cultural dilution attached to loans, they would most likely be rejected and the system would collapse – while countries could accept bitter medicine which might make them better, no one is going to take something which is just bitter and indebting.

Even if Brown hadn’t been talking about the IMF, but had just been making a direct call to invest more widely in the British economy, as the reference to Manchester City implies, this wouldn’t lead to ‘Islamisation’ but merely to wider ownership and investment by Islamic-owned companies and governments. The needs of the British company wouldn’t change: they would still need to operate at a profit, obey equal opportunities and anti-discrimination laws and justify their actions to markets and existing shareholders. The most influence they could exert on the cultural life of the nation would be through proselytising their workforce, which would be of limited impact.

We could carry on with this level of detail for Phillips’ other examples of creeping and creepy Islamic influence, but would be missing the point. How menacing we find the spectre of an Islamic conspiracy considering the squabbling diversity of the faith and the social and demographic challenges of its heartland is debatable. However, a minimum it would require to be worth worrying about would be a way of achieving its aims. Phillips doesn’t offer this. All we have is an illustration of what things look like through a prism of paranoid fear: the mere fact of funding for cultural studies centres at universities is evidence that something dodgy must be going on; Saudi threats to stop co-operating on intelligence if they were embarrassed in the British courts is proof they want Britons dead; the development of Islamic banking is a deliberate scheme to somehow undermine the current system of non-Islamic banking. How these threats advance ‘Islamisation’ is undefined. They are menacing purely because their source is menacing.

The fear is vague. I don’t think Phillips herself could say why IMF funding is frightening, what control over British lives she thinks it will mean. She just knows that the Saudis are bad, thus what they do must have bad results.

“I fear the British Prime Minister is in danger of selling this country to those who are intent upon undermining our most treasured freedoms.”

I think she can probably relax. Stopping to think about why she is scared would be enough to calm the nerves.