Soccer’s a loser by letting serial sinners like Suarez escape so lightly

Okay, I know this would probably be more appropriate on the back page, but I haven’t got one. And, besides, now and again there’s a sporting incident that stirs such rage, it becomes front-page news.

I won’t get too technical, for fear of offending those who’d rather watch a telly ad than a soccer game or paint drying in preference to a cricket match, because not everyone is consumed by the passion sport generates (personally, I draw the line at darts, because in my humble estimation anything vaguely termed ‘sport’ requires a six-pack rather than a beer gut).

But let’s kick on with events of last week involving a high-profile soccer star – one even tipped as a potential English Premiership’s Player of the Year for his goal-scoring prowess – who was suddenly siezed by a cannibal lust to bite a chunk out of an opposing defender.

Even in a game where spitting (or ‘gobbing’ as it is known) in someone’s face, hair-pulling, genital-grabbing, eye-gouging and stamping are common currency, Liverpool’s Luis Suarez literally trying to make a meal out of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic was a tad over the top.

So shocking was the incident, I almost felt sorry for the London club, until I came to my senses.

It wasn’t just me who was incensed, either. The overwhelming majority of witnesses were, too, include the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who’s probably better acquainted with the Eton Wall Game than the so-called People’s Game.

And it was no use Suarez’s cronies claiming that, as a Uruguayan, he was culturally programmed to consume beef, because you simply don’t order the right arm of an opponent, a la tartar, in the middle of a football match.

VERDICT WITH BITE: How one newspaper judged Suarez's attack on Chelsea's Ivanovich

VERDICT WITH BITE: How one newspaper judged Suarez’s attack on Chelsea’s Ivanovich

Besides, the odious South American is a serial sinner. He’d bitten a player before during his days with the Dutch club, Ajax, and, last season, served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United captain, Patrice Evra.

In any other workplace the man would be summarily sacked – even charged with attempted grievous bodily harm – but not pro soccer. He’s far too important to be shown the door and, besides, a host of other obscenely rich clubs would queue to sign him without qualms.

Therefore one can safely assume, the word ‘morality’ doesn’t exist in soccer’s lexicon, despite its pretence at offering a ‘sporting’ example to kids who aspire to be like their icons.

So, instead, Suarez has been fined by his club (who aren’t saying how much of his £200,000-a-week wages he’ll forfeit), made a wishy-washy apology and announced he’d be prepared to plead guilty to the offence – as witnessed by half-a-billion telly viewers worldwide – so long
as it didn’t carry anything more severe than a three-match suspension.

Such ignoble contrition is staggering, but additionally so was Suarez’s plea-bargain chutzpah. Had it become legal precedent, safely assume the next axe-murder appearing before a judge would say, ‘I’ll cough up, m’lud, but only in return for six points on my driving licence.’

As it is, the arrogant psycho has been hit with a 10-match ban, which – surprise, surprise! – many in soccer’s blinkered milieu think is too harsh. One can only but wonder which part of Planet Zog they inhabit.

Still, the case got me thinking whether professional sport actually is what it says on the packaging or should it be redefined as ‘sportainment’: a fusion of roughly – an apt word under the circumstances – acting according to vaguely-interpreted rules and pure theatre, with the principal players dolled up in fancy dress?

Because today, soccer and most of pro sports are big business, where mega-bucks are at stake on and off the field of combat (and I use the word combat deliberately, since sometimes it’s not far off being as gladiatorial as anything presented to the baying mob in Nero’s Coliseum).

So, let’s not be fooled by the brusque handshakes foisted on participants before battles commence. If this rite of farce is intended to rekindle memories of bygone Corinthian spirit it fails miserable once the boots fly in.

In reality, it is as meaningless as that other, equally hollow sentiment, ‘Respect’, bandied around as a shoddy veneer to conceal the genuine enmity many players – and fans – feel for opposite numbers, whether it reflects colour, racial, nationalistic prejudice or plain, old envy.

So, let’s call pros what they are…‘sportainers’, because often – following best Hollywood practice – they are spoilt, money-grubbing, mercenary brats, vastly overpaid, over-weaned, overrated and over-mollycoddled.

Calling these exponents ‘sportsmen’, then, stretches credulity a goal-kick too far.

MUZZLE HIM? Could this be the answer to curbing Suarez's penchant for make a meal out of opponents?

MUZZLE HIM? Could this be the answer to curbing Suarez’s penchant for make a meal out of opponents?

And, of course, if these demi-gods err – on or off field – their warts and all are somehow excused, so long as they remain winners.

Cheating, though, doesn’t merely extend to soccer, because many other pro ‘sportainments’ have been similarly tarnished…cricket (‘sledging’ and match-fixing), horse racing (doping and race fixing), boxing (bribes to ‘throw’ fights), cycling (using illicit stimulants), snooker (match fixing) and – despite London 2012 being a ‘clean’ Games – many past Olympiads have been tainted by the spectre of drugs.

In rare instances, those who’ve gone far beyond the boundaries of acceptable misconduct have been justly banned for respectably swingeing terms, some for life and deservedly so.

But the People’s Game – not than most people can afford £70-plus for a Premiership match ticket – seems to be in a league of its own by punishing multi-millionaire miscreants with nothing harsher than a financial slap on the wrist and a sojourn in the sin bin.

The quality of mercy is anything but strained, because this ‘sportainment’ sold out to Mammon yonks ago and every participant – from legislators (look at FIFA’s disgraceful antics), to club owners, coaches and agents – have their snouts firmly in the cash trough.

Not least of all are the ‘stars’, professing undying fealty to a club and its faithful as their moolah mounts up.

But the next time you see a goal-scorer rush to the stands and kiss his team badge in an expression of undying allegiance, remember that in a week’s time he could be doing the same to another side’s crest.

And it’s not that I’m a spoilsport. Far from it (ask that sainted sports widow, Mrs. Ash). In fact I was a sportswriter for more years than I care to remember, witnessing games I wouldn’t inflict on my worst enemy.

‘At least we’re paid to watch this c**p,’ I once said to a colleague during one alleged match, which prompted a fan who’d overheard the remark to throw his meat pie at me (for the record, it was much tastier than that dished up on the field).

If nothing else, it underscored that fervent loyalties do exist in the game, if only on the terraces.

So, while I remain tantalised by the vision of 22 players knocking a ball round a football pitch, I prefer it portrayed as genuine sport – which is why I go to the local park on a Sunday morning to watch a kids’ joust.

If ‘Mutti’ Merkel doesn’t pay up, there’ll be nothing rosy in her Euroland back garden

Bismark, the founder of modern Germany, once remarked that ‘politics wasn’t an exact science’, but failed to add that those engaged in its dark arts should carry a health warning, rather like a packet of cigarettes.

So, the day I start to trust forked-tongued politicians, book me a slab in the mortuary or – worse still – a place in the nearest home for gaga, financially-distressed  gentlefolk, where I can dribble away my days, as a nurse feeds me Complan through a bendy straw.

At least, Baroness Thatcher was a straight-talker in whatever guise people viewed her…the Tory radical, who did a pretty fair impression of that compulsive thrasher, Wackford Squeers, in Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, or the Blessed St. Margaret, whose good works saved Britain.

That debate will rage long after last Wednesday’s ‘ceremonial’ funeral – an event of such grandeur and expense (£10M), she’s still dividing a nation. So, there’s simply no escaping the impact of politicians, dead or alive.

That suspicion crossed my mind last week last week, as my gestor – here that’s a financial administration or accountant – filled out our Modelo 720, the declaration all Spanish residents must file before April 30, if they have more than €50K of assets squirreled away beyond the shores of this sun-kissed realm.

Pesky bureauprats harvesting information at the behest of their political masters always makes me bristle. And, after the Cyprus farrago – when the government ram-raided private bank accounts to comply with a €multi-billion loan from the Troika (European Central Bank+IMF+EU Commission) – who’s to say what’s round the proverbial corner.

BANK HEIST: Cypriots protest after their bank accounts were raid to pay for the Troika's loan

BANK HEIST: Cypriots protest after their bank accounts were raid to pay for the Troika’s loan

‘The declaration is only to stop money-laundering and nothing to fear,’ Juan the gestor assured me. ‘Spain’s finance minister has said so.’

‘Oh, I’ll certainly sleep easier tonight if a politician said that,’ I told him, my irony falling on deaf ears.

Then I learned of a new, little threat being hatched by Germany’s financial wunderkinds: Making better-off home-owners cough up towards bailing out Eurozone members, skinter than a church mouse’s scullery maid.

This latest proposal from Angela Merkel’s brains’ trust – a.k.a. the ‘Five Wise Men’ – comes with a blaring caveat: their job is to think the unthinkable, but their ideas often translate into policies.

Before this sends paroxysm through more than 400,000 Brits with properties in Spain – plus innumerable other foreign nationals, not to say a few Germans – here’s the good news…to date, Mariono Rajoy’s centre-Right government has managed to keep its begging bowl in Madrid, forestalling the Troika’s torture rack by introducing its own oppressive austerity measures.

So the pain in Spain stays local in the main.

But there’s no mistaking Berlin’s chagrin at having to back-stop loans to whom it perceives as feckless Latins and grabbing Greeks, whose countries host pied-a-terres belonging to some with Europe’s deepest pockets.

As the London Daily Telegraph’s Ambrose Pritchard Evans noted, ‘Taxes on property or other assets would mark a significant change in Europe’s approach to funding bail-outs…until now, the cost of rescue packages has fallen largely on people who invest in those country’s bonds, or – in the case of Cyprus – bank accounts.’

However, Professor Peter Bofinger, one of the German Chancellor’s advisers, says levies on bank accounts are a mistake, because the really whiffy rich can move moolah around at the click of a computer keyboard.

What the ‘haves’ cannot do, however, is shift bricks and mortar with the same alacrity. So why not hit holiday/second homes?

With Merkel facing re-election in September, ‘Mutti’ – ‘Mummy’ as she’s nicknamed in by the German media – needs to appease an electorate angry their uber-rich nation is forced to act as Europe’s backer of last resort, hence their growing attraction to the new, Alternative für Deutschland party, a sort of UKIP in lederhosen.

MUTTERS ABOUT MUTTI: Germans are angry about bail-outs for the 'better-offs' in the Eurozone's south

MUTTERS ABOUT MUTTI: Germans are angry about bail-outs for the ‘better-offs’ in the Eurozone’s south

Meanwhile, her Five Wise Men have siezed on an inconvenient truth: Germans are generally not as financially comfy as their southern Eurozone cousins, a point recently highlighted by a European Central Bank study.

Incredible as it seems from the country that gave the world BMW, Mercedes and Porsche, less than half of Germans own their own homes and the median (or mid-point) wealth of the average Frankfurter is €51,000, compared with €183,000 for a Spaniard, €172,000 for an Italian and – wait for it – €267,000 for a Cypriot.

No, honestly, I’m not making those figures up.

Conversely, there are counter claims by the new ‘have-nots’ of Club Med, who ask – not without cause – which country had gained most from the great United States of Euroland experiment?

The answer is self-evidently Germany, which has grown exponentially, outstripping the culturally and historically diverse southern states, regardless of its feted Anglo-Saxon work ethic (though, knowing the long hours an average Spaniard puts into a job, that’s debatable).

Perhaps this can be attributed to better organisation and discipline; of being less ham-strung by needless bureaucracy and statism; of not imagining you could leverage your way into competing with the irresistible Teutonic juggernaut by making your territory the playground of Europe, gracias to a geographic gift of climate.

However, the incontrovertible reality is Germany’s vision of a one-size-fits all Eurozone isn’t working. And the cost of keeping it afloat will long be measured in billions – maybe trillions, if Spain or Italy goes bust – to boost economies than can’t possibly imitate its example.

The USofA works on the premise that the richest states (e.g. California and New York) top up the poorest (i.e. Arkansas and Mississippi) via taxation and few cavil at that.

Which is why, on the near horizon at least, a USofE is unlikely to aspire to America’s motto, ‘E pluribus unum’ – ‘Out of many, one’. Because cultural and historical diversity no longer matter as archly in the home of the brave than on a continent ravaged by centuries of war, a Tower of Babel where memories are long.

A USofE might be the theoretical pipedream of many politicians. But the cold, harsh facts contradict every economic principle since the demise of feudalism.

Yes, a free market – where goods, money and people are interchangeable – can survive and prosper, but a political-monetary-fiscal entity is an altogether different illusion. And, thus far, a single currency imposed on disparate nations has never succeeded, as a Latin one failed in 1927 and a Scandinavian version – linked to the Gold Standard – between Sweden, Denmark and Norway bit the dust in1914.

So, if Germany wants a neat and tidy Eurozone back garden, tended by Spanish vintners, Greeks mowing its lawn and Portugeezers pruning orange groves, it must pay – or go its own way.

Thatcher: I loathed her then, but now I genuinely mourn her passing

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS (née Roberts, 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013)

Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher, LG, OM, PC, FRS (13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013)

There is such an outpouring of emotive grief, of Britain donning sackcloth and ashes, of ancient politicians long thought dead being resuscitated to utter their reminiscences of her – plus the ceremonial, if not, ‘state’ funeral – it’s still nigh on impossible to place Margaret Thatcher into proper perspective just yet.

The Left – via Peter Oborne, once a Labour apparatchik, writing in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph (a.k.a.’The Torygraph’) – was warned to hold its tongue and be magnanimous; however they viewed her excesses, for a window of time the nation loved her and carried the Grantham grocer’s daughter to three General Election victories.

Way back in the late 70s/early 80s, before I’d become politically neutral, I loathed Thatcher and the pre-‘neocon’ faction of the Conservative Party she inspired, after Right-wing ideologue, Sir Keith Joseph (not for nothing dubbed The Mad Monk) conceived what became known as Thatcherism.

In those days I PR’d for a Labour MP friend and my daughter reminded me last night of how I took her, a star-struck eight-year-old, to meet the then party leader, Michael Foot. Probably the last of his generation’s brilliant, tub-thumping orators, he was too kindly an old gentleman to lead a far-Left drifting sect, riven by schism, let alone tame Thatcher’s blitzkrieg Conservatives in the 1982 General Election.

In truth, Thatcher was never a Tory, but more a 19th Century Liberal Free Trader.

She viewed her party’s paternalistic Old Guard of noblesse oblige, knights of the shires, with contempt and refashioned the party along the lines of Joseph’s vision of dismantling the state and empowering – oh, how I hate that word – the people to go forth and generate wealth for themselves. Money was no longer a dirty word and Britain should be a home-owning, share-buying meritocracy, where classlessness ruled.

To achieve such ambitions, Thatcher had to two prime targets to overcome: the unions and the cosy, dozy old boys’ network that ran what was euphemistically known as The City, but was a far flung cry from what it is today.

THE PITS?: That's what Thatcher thought of rabble-rousing miners' leader, Arthur Scargill

THE PITS?: Is that’s what Thatcher thought of rabble-rousing miners’ leader, Arthur Scargill?

She was fortunate in picking her first enemy, because the unions were exemplified by the miners’ leader Arthur Scargill, an unyielding, rabble-rousing, power-monger, who’d already brought down Ted Heath’s Tory Government in March, 1974 (those old enough will remember the Three Day Week, when the nation’s lights went for four nights in any seven, candles were a luxury and – for obvious reasons – a baby boom ensued).

So the Miners’ Strike of 1984-1985 became a battle of wills between Scargill, red in tooth and claw, and Thatcher, blue to the bone if not in blood. And nothing since has seen Britain slide closer to the brink of revolution, as dark forces played for and against both sides.

From a personal perspective, I loathed both in equal measure, but knew there was bound to be only one, outright winner when the immovable object (Scargill) met the irresistible force (Thatcher). And it wasn’t ever going to be the miners.

Like much of British heavy industry – from ship-building to steel – they were as much the victims of modernisation and market forces as the Iron Lady’s Roundhead Tories, because a remorseless tide of the emergent ‘global economy’ basically made Britain uncompetitive.

There was another factor that played heavily against Scargill and his crass, ill-starred generalship – patriotism. Because still fresh in the public conscious was Thatcher’s victory over the pipsqueak Argentinian military junta in the Falkland’s War two years earlier.

You didn’t have to like the woman, people said, but you had to admire her, especially after she was iconically pictured in triumphal white, riding imperiously in a tank turret, goggles on, a reborn Boudiccea and the epitome of British resolve.

So no-one cavilled when she fast-tracked the next stage of her economics revolution – privatisation of the nationalised industries. Gas, water, electricity and more were artfully flogged off, the bait being Joe Public could snatch ‘free’ shares in newly-formed conglomerates and we’d all become mini-capitalists.

Remember British Gas wooing punters with its slick ‘Tell Sid’ ad campaign, whose bottom-line message was ‘you can have shares in your own energy company’.

I recall thinking at the time, ‘If I already own it, why do I need shares in it?’, but nonetheless registered for my entitlement, grabbing a dollop and selling them – as most small investors did – a  few months later, as the market price rocketed.

ALL TANKED UP: Thatcher, fresh from victory in the 1982 Falklands War

ALL TANKED UP: Thatcher, fresh from victory in the 1982 Falklands War

That was all part of the ‘empowerment’ – that ghastly word again! – of the people and it came in tandem with the Big Bang of 1986, when Thatcher deregulated The City, taking the shackles off genteel trading, and spawning a new generation of get-rich-quick wheeler dealers.

The bowler hat and brolly brigade were replaced by brash, crafty, sharp operators. Cut-crystal accents gave way to Cockney twang, spewed by wide boys in garish red braces, a la Gordon Gekko. Moolah was the only totem and amorality ruled.

One of this ilk told me at the time, ‘It’s just like shootin’ fish in a bloomin’ barrel’. Only he neglected to add we, Joe Public, were the prey.

Unsurprisingly, it spawned a tsunami of iffy ruses, which the financial services alchemists are still inventing to this day for all I know. Because Thatcher and every UK government since never countered with a City watchdog wise and vigilant enough to nip such flagrant misselling in the bud.

Thatcher had two more tricks up her blouse’s sleeve, too, that were undone by the ticking clock of future reality, the first being council house sales.

Based on her premise that a home-owning democracy would not only put money in the hoi-polloi’s pockets, it would induce a sense of responsibility in working class renters, she ordered councils to sell off their housing stocks to any tenant who wanted their own home.

It helped fuel the house-price boom of the Nineties and Noughties…and today’s dilemma –manifested by Chancellor Osborne’s ‘Bedroom Tax’ – whereby the nation’s stock of public housing dwindled to comparatively zilch.

However, it was the final card Thatcher played that lost her the game: the Poll Tax.

Abolishing the hated local authority rates system, based on a notional value of a property, seemed a good idea when the Tories flagged it in their 1987 election manifesto. The problem was Thatcher didn’t say what she’d replace it with to provide councils with the revenue they needed.

So when the reviled Poll Tax was introduced in 1989, using Scotland as a test bed, its fault lines were exposed. This would be a punitive tax on bigger families, since each member of a household suddenly faced a surcharge, and it would hit the poor far harder than the rich.

Ergo, what didn’t work for John of Gaunt in the 14th Century, much less for Charles II in 1660 and William and Mary nine years later, had as much chance of doing Thatcher’s government an iota of good as a chocolate fire-guard.

Naturally, the people rebelled. Poll Tax riots exploded in Scotland, 200,00 shouted their disapproval in Trafalgar Square and so many refused to pay the despised tax, it was judged too expensive and counter-productive to prosecute them.

The Iron Lady was not for turning – her catchphrase, ‘There is no alternative’ had morphed into the acronym TINA – but the Tories, scenting defeat at the 1992 General Election, were and Thatcher’s days were done.

Rather like Marie Antoinette being trundled to the guillotine in a tumbril during the French Revolution, the woman who had radicalised, revolutionised and regalvanised what had become known as the Nasty Party, departed Downing Street, politically isolated and abject.

Never in the 20th Century had Britain been ruled by such a divisive leader – a heroine to some, a hated martinet to others – but, whatever he failings, she bequeathed a remarkable legacy…socially, economically and politically.

Back in the late 1970s, she and her coterie of likeminded radicals recognised Britain was only going south, as the power-mad, strike-happy unions held the rust-bucket economy to ransom.

MIRROR IMAGE: The Daily Mirror's verdict on Margaret Thatcher, after her death on Monday

MIRROR IMAGE: The Daily Mirror’s verdict on Margaret Thatcher, after her death on Monday

To halt the tailspin would require new thinking, resolve and conviction, all of which Thatcher had in abundance. Whether the nation would elected its first woman Prime Minister was a gamble, but here was one with more cojones than most men.

There were times – like the Falklands conflict – were she displayed a rare, feminine fragility; there were others – such as how she handbagged the EU into financial concessions – when her gutsiness was inspirational.

She was, incidentally, pro-European, but detested the Brussels Eurocrats pernickety interference in a sovereign state’s internal management.

Thatcher was also an astute player on the international stage, forging stronger commercial and strategic bonds with Ronnie Reagan’s USA and playing no small part in toppling the white supremacist apartheid regime in South Africa.

Though she opposed sanctions, her back-channel diplomacy did more than most to free Nelson Mandela and convince F.W. De Klerk, the then newly-elected president, only a rainbow nation could flourish. Significantly, Mandela and De Klerk were awarded Nobel Peace Prizes and both have been fulsome in their praise of Thatcher.

There is much more she accomplished without fanfare but, like all political leaders, she had a limited shelf-life, in her case 11 years.

Despite the misjudgements and policy failures every statesman – and stateswoman – is culpable of, probably Thatcher’s greatest achievement was getting Britain to believe in itself once again.

And for that I give thanks and I’ll mourn her passing.

Only China can crack down on Kim Wrong ‘Un’s megalomaniac nuclear sabre-rattling

So now we know, as if anyone was in any doubt…the main threat to planetary peace isn’t pseudo communist, money-mad China or pseudo democratic, muscle-flexing, nationalist Russia.

No, it’s an ugly, fat, spoilt brat, with the world’s worst haircut and a face that could curdle cream, who’s inherited a festering cyst of a Cloud Cuckoo Land no-one, apparently, can rein in.

It calls itself the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (a.k.a. North Korea or DPRK), but there’s not a democratic dog there – if there was,  they’d eat it. And the word ‘People’s’ is an utter misnomer; just vacuous, meaningless window-dressing that convinces no-one – except the impoverished, repressed, brain-washed drones condemned to starve there.

Said ugly, fat, spoilt brat is Kim Jung-un (or Wrong-Un maybe a more appropriate handle) and, like his father and grandfather who tyrannised the country before him, thinks he’s a tin-pot demigod who can play with his nuclear toys and grab the civilised world’s attention.

What’s more, he’s right, just as he’s proving now, as the US uses every diplomatic and military manoeuvre it can to prevent a Third World War breaking out, which could make the previous two catastrophes look like mere cake-walks.

South Korea, whom the Kim dynasty has been at war with since 1951 – no, there has never been a peace treaty between the two Koreas, only a long, cold, nervous truce – could certainly be obliterated, along with the 28,000 US troops stationed there.

China, Japan and most of the Far East could be dragged into it and, since nobody knows for sure how lethal the little, pudgy psychopath’s nuclear arsenal is, his reach could extend to the America Pacific base at Guam and the US state of Hawaii.

KIM WRONG UN: All it takes is an ugly, pudgy fat kid with nuclear toys to hold the world to ransom

A RIGHT WRONG UN: All it takes is an ugly, pudgy fat kid with nuclear toys to hold the world to ransom

Precisely what inspired this latest bout of puerile sabre-rattling by the DPRK is as clear as mud. The received wisdom is the 30-year-old, Swiss-educated and self-styled Supreme Leader simply wants a phone call from Barack Obama to make the American President grovel. And he has about as much chance of receiving one as he does from my late, lamented goldfish, Bitzi.

What Wrong-Un desperately does need, however, is a psychiatric assessment and locking up in a padded cell, bereft of all human contact.

Meanwhile, the contact he prefers – and gets – is from likeminded bullyboy lunatics, with a slavering lust to wield nuclear weaponry and create regional mayhem.

One of Kim’s best buddies, for instance, is the Islamic Republic of Iran and another paradise for crackpots, with – like the DPRK – a penchant for suppressing and murdering its own citizens, not to say a pipedream of slaughtering inhabitants of nations further afield.

Cuba is another and its Soviet-backed nuclear stand-off with the USA way back in 1962 was the last time the world really stood on the cliff edge of an apocalypse. For the record it only ended only when another ugly, fat bullyboy – Nikita Krushchev – had the rush of good sense to back down.

Maybe this time the DPRK’s brinksmanship will be brought to a withering halt, but only one powerbroker can do it: China.

Since the senseless Korean War ended in 1952, the Chinese have been the Kim dynasty’s guardians, mainly because, like the defunct Soviet empire, they needed satellite states – just look at the world map and you’ll see them aplenty – to act as buffers between them and the Westernised democracies.

But even China, now under new ownership, is wearied of the Kims, especially the latest turd in a stupid suit, whom the state media has dubbed ‘Little Fatty’.

A sign of Beijing’s displeasure is the drafting of a dozen army regiments to its border with North Korea, not to be on stand-by to prop up the po-faced megalomaniac, but to stop a predicted tsunami of refugees seeking asylum if the nutter presses his nuclear button.

As I write the only certainty is nothing is certain, just that it takes only one jumped-up pipsqueak, with the power to boss a nation of 24.5 million – 9.5 million of whom are military cadres – to hold the world to ransom.

So note well, you purblind, mushy-brained Left-liberal bien pensants who defend Iran’s demand to bear nuclear arms: your preachy words are paving the way to another North Korea.