Why I want a democratic Europe, minus the EU dictators and the Euro ‘gravy train’

THE other night I was asked to debate the pluses and minuses of Europe with former European Parliamentarian (MEP), Francisca Bennassar, in front of an audience of international expats here in Mallorca, members of an organisation called Europeos por Espana. Several people have contacted me since and asked for details of my speech – so here’s an abridged version (and apologies for its length)…

THE GREAT DEBATE: Yours truly discusses the EU with former Euro MEP, Francisca Bennassar

THE GREAT DEBATE: Yours truly discusses the EU with former Euro MEP, Francisca Bennassar – Photo: LAURA STADLER

CONTRARY to popular myth, I am not the UK Independence Party’s Man in Mallorca, a swivel-eyed loon or a Little Englander, whose attitude to Europe was probably best summed up by a famous headline in The Times, from the 1930s, that read: ‘Fog in Channel, Continent cut off.’

Indeed, I feel extremely fortunate to live in the sun-kissed Balearic Isles, so I’m not a turkey which votes for Christmas and I don’t want to see an end of the European dream.

And I can tell you: if Britain ever left the European Union, my wife and I would be devastated. Being declared persona non grata here and forced to return to Britain is a dark prospect with zero appeal, especially if – like us – you hail from Manchester.

Not that I’m not immensely proud of being British and my home city. Because, in spite of the EU’s attempts to homogenise us all into being Europeans, first and foremost, we are still entitled to take pride in our nationalities, cultures and history.

Still, in 1973, I was more than happy for my country to join what was then the European Economic Community, or the EEC in short, perhaps more affectionately known as the COMMON MARKET. And, two years later, I voted a resounding ‘Yes’ for continued membership in the only referendum Britain has held on being part of Europe.

This was not just because it would further irritate the French – General De Gaulle, you might remember, worked tirelessly to keep us Anglo-Saxons out of what he regarded as his club…a French invention, funded by Germany, as my German neighbours insist it still is.

No, this was because I strongly believed in the merits of neighbouring nations banding together to form a trading bloc, with free movement of GOODS, SERVICES, CAPITAL AND PEOPLE.

However, the cuddly, old Common Market – which appeared to be working very nicely, gracias – somehow sneakily grew into what we have now…the European Union.

In doing so, the original concept has morph into an UNDEMOCRATIC, BUREAUCRATIC, POWER-GRABBING BIG BROTHER – A LAME ATTEMPT AT THE SUPER-STATE SOME YEARN TO SEE, BUT ONE I SINCERELY HOPE NEVER HAPPENS, BECAUSE IT WOULD BE AN EVEN BIGGER DISASTER THAN WHAT WE HAVE NOW.

Condemned by its own arrogance, the EU is a smug gaggle of unelected appointees, unanswerable to its citizens, backed by a mollycoddled, egotistic bureaucracyalso unaccountable to the electorate – and 766 MEPs, who at least are voted in by us hoi poloi every five years, even if they apparently haven’t the power to pop a paper bag.

To me, this smacks too much of George Orwell’s nightmarish 1984, with totally centralised control bossed by an unchallengeable BIG BROTHER CABAL. Even words they use to sugar-coat policy sound like ‘News-speak’.

What’s more, it’s also a grasping, unapologetic GRAVY TRAIN, where money – that’s OUR cash – is no object when it comes to frittering it away on far too many worthless, needless so-called ‘initiatives’ and ‘projects’.

And, thanks to its arcane treaties, it meddles with and too often overrides the will and laws of sovereign nations– and their peoples – insisting on something called SUBSIDIARITY, which basically means: ‘Europe know best, so do as you’re damned well told’.

Naturally, as you can tell, I’m being hyper-diplomatic here in the interests of pan-European unity…and we haven’t even discussed that most shambolic symbol of EU financial alchemy, the ‘one-size-fits-all’ Euro.

So now you’re thinking this man is Nigel Farage in disguise after all and his weasel words of being pro-European are a sham.

I can assure you they aren’t. Because what I dearly want to see is a Europe that actually works for all the its peoples…one that’s transparently democratic from top to bottom, where APPOINTEE DICTATORS don’t rule the roost and faceless bureaucrats – or EUROPRATS, as many call them– are held accountable for their excesses, however bananas they are at times…and believe me bananas, as we’ll see, is a very apt description.

I don’t know who watched either or both of the two, televised debates between UKIP’s Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister and the country’s No.1 apologist for the EU.

But, apart from Farage winning both by a country mile – sorry, kilometre– what struck me most was how hostile the public have become to Establishment politicians of all stripes, because voters feel the likes of Clegg live in a political bubble utterly divorced from their reality.

NO TO THE EU: Nigel Farage's UKIP is a symptom of growing anti-European opinion

NO TO THE EU: Nigel Farage’s UKIP is a symptom of growing anti-European opinion

So UKIP is not the cause of this frustration, merely a glaring symptom of that disconnect…a disillusionment that’s echoing throughout Europe.

Just look at the gains Marine Le Pen’s National Front made in France’s recent mayoral elections and the manifest dangers other neo-fascist, headbangers – like Jobbick in Hungary and Golden Dawn in Greece – pose to democracy.

It heavily emphasises that a perilous rejection of mainstream politics is happening and politicians have only themselves to blame, thanks to their litany of broken promises, wishy-washy policies and the growth of a pasty political elite, few of whom have ever done proper jobs or got their hands dirty.

And it can’t be denied that one of the prime targets for this swelling tide of rage – a cri de Coeur you might say – is the clunking fist of the EU and its inability to deal with six years of crippling, financial crisis, except to pile on more misery and austerity.

It even had the effrontery to sack democratically-elected leaders in Greece and Italy and impose its own technocrats to take charge.

As an aside, look what happened in 2008 when the peoples of France, the Netherlands and Ireland voted ‘No’ to the Lisbon Treaty. The all-knowing, all-seeing EU simply said ‘Vote, vote and vote again – until you get the ‘Yes’ result we demand.’

So much for democracy – as we used to know it – in today’s Europe.

It’s no surprise, then, people want to wrest back control of their own countries not have more and more power hijacked by Brussels. Because if, as the records show, over 50% of laws originate from the EU, what’s the point in a state holding a general election?

But, briefly returning to the Farage-Clegg debates, the scariest words I heard came afterwards from the Lib-Dem leader. When asked how he saw Europe 10 years on and he glibly replied, ‘Much the same as it is now.’

‘****!’ (or words to that effect),’ I thought: ‘If this is as good as it gets, heaven help us all!’

Because even a purblind Europhile like Clegg must ask why, for instance, the EU needs TWO centres of government, Strasbourg as well as Brussels.

Not that he’ll admit, but the reason is the French demanded it.

So every so often the whole EU bandwagon – Commissioners, MEPs, Europrats, advisers, translators, lobbyists, hangers-on, plus assorted odds and sods – up sticks and buzz off 432 kilometres down the road to its other HQ, sets up camp there and gets to work.

No wonder the EU Commission budget for 2014 is mind-boggling €142.64-billion – and it’s only that low because Britain, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands, Finland, Austria and the Czech Republic balked at the Commissions’ demand for an inflation-exploding, near-7% rise, which was slashed down to below 3%…still at least a percentage point higher than inflation (or stagflation) afflicting most struggling member states.

Personally, I think it was a gross impertinence of the EU’s great and good to demand to let their belts out several notches just when nearly every citizen – especially in crisis-stricken Club Med states, like Spain – was dramatically tightening theirs.

You might be interested to know, by the way, that ever since 1994, when it first started producing annual reports into Europe’s finances, the EU’s own accountants, the Court of Auditors, has failed to sign off the Union’s accounts because of gross profligacy and widespread irregularities.

One audit found over €100-billion of spending was ‘affected by material error’– a polite term for fraud and mismanagement.

Indeed, so critically searing were the auditors, last year the Commissioners ordered them gagged, for fear of what else they might uncover.

But it’s not all just about money, even if an MEP sitting in the EU assembly costs £1.79 million a year (2012 figure) – three times what a British MP costs in Westminster – and the European Parliament’s 766 members cost us taxpayers a staggering £1.3 billion annually. And that doesn’t include pensions most folk could only dream of.

This takes me onto another point about duplication, because just like it has two HQs, the EU has TWO PRESIDENTS. Lucky us, I hear you say – even America’s only got one (and there’s even some doubt about him).

CHEERS TO EUROPE: No wonder Barrosa (left) and Van Rumpoy are smiling...they're in charge of Europe

CHEERS TO EUROPE: No wonder Barrosa (left) and Van Rumpoy are smiling…they’re in charge of Europe

First, there’s Herman Van Rumpoy, who as President of the European Council, is effectively Europe’s Prime Minister and, to be fair, has some experience in that role, since he was once Belgium’s premier.

Second, there’s Jose Manuel Barrosa, President of the Commission, the EU’s executive branch and Biggest of the Brethren.

As President, the former Prime Minister of Portugal doles out jobs to the 28 members of the Commission the EU’s cabinet, each being an appointee from their member state.

The President also determines EU policy, having the final say about all the laws, because the EU’s inner circle is the only body that can propose legislation. MEPs, as I said earlier, can’t pass or change whatever lands on them from above, but – rather like Britain’s House of Lords – can merely rubber-stamp it or ask the Commission for a review.

Now, you maybe be unfamiliar with Messrs. Barroso and Van Rumpoy – even if Farage once described him as ‘having the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk’ (and was fined €2,400 for the insult). But you might – just might – be aware of the UK’s grandee at the EU top table.

She is no less than the Gilbert & Sullivan-sounding High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy – in other words Foreign Minister – and none other than Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland, near Wigan, which, I can tell you, is better known for its meat pies than its diplomats.

Vice-President of the Commission, too, no less, Cathy has never been voted into public office anywhere at any level, not even a parish council or a junior school PTA. In fact, all her jobs – from Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament administrator to Leader of the House of Lords – have been by appointment only.

What’s more, many member state foreign ministers believe the Baroness has been hit by a huge ego-rush and considerably overreaches her brief – and expertise – by insisting she speaks on the world stage for all 28 nations of the EU, something Britain’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, describes as ‘competence creep’ (though maybe ‘incompetence creep’ is, perhaps, more accurate).

Hardly considered a colossus in diplomatic circles, Cathy apparently owe her status to the patronage of her great friend, Britain’s ex-Prime Minister, Gordon Brown…so perhaps enough said.

UPDATE – RE: THE BARONESS: The artless EU’s foreign policy chief is the only international diplomat to have welcomed the Palestinian Authority’s new unity deal with it arch enemies, the Islamic crazies of Hamas, who hijacked Gaza in a mini-civil with the PLO in 2007 and are designated a ‘terrorist’ entity by the EU.

The move also signals the final nail in the coffin for US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s bid to forge a two-state solution and end the Israel-Palestinian impasse.

‘Daft as a brush’ is an expression popular in Wigan. Perhaps someone should suggest she’s an apt recipient of that ‘accolade’ on her next visit to planet Earth.

EU’S LOONIER RULES

THE Union gets itself a bad name because not only is it constantly meddling in member states’ domestic affairs, but some of its rules and diktats are beyond absurd. Just for your edification and amusement, let’s look at a few…  

BANANAS! Because it is so curved, this banana was branded illegal by the EU

BANANAS! Because it is so curved, this banana was branded illegal by the EU

● Until 2008, when the daft law was repealed – pardon the pun – for 13 years the EU deemed this banana illegal…because it wasn’t straight enough. It cost growers millions and a similar law applied to bent cucumbers.

The only positive I can recall from this bananas idea was when I came home from work one night with one and my wife said to me, ‘Is that an EU banana in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?’

WATER WON'T WORK: According to the EU drinking water doesn't re-hydrate - so it can't be advertised as being able to do so

WATER WON’T WORK: According to the EU drinking water doesn’t re-hydrate – so it can’t be advertised as being able to do so

● You might know our bodies are composed of nearly 60% of water and we need it to survive – so no wonder marathon runners take on so much when plodding 26 miles. But, despite overwhelming medical evidence, in its addled arrogance, the EU ruled that drinking water DIDN’T STOP DEHYDRATION and manufacturers of bottles like this were stopped from claiming it did.

PRUNE POTTINESS: The EU says prunes aren't laxatives

PRUNE POTTINESS: The EU says prunes aren’t laxatives, so can’t be marketed as a means to make you go (you know where)

● These are, as you’ve guessed, prunes and, again, there’s overwhelming medical evidence they aid…well, you know what. But an EU diktat declared prunes were not laxatives, so they couldn’t be marketed as an aid that helps…well, you know what. That farcical pronouncement prompted one MEP to suggest a prune-eating contest to see what happened. Unsurprisingly, there were no takers.

CHOC CHUMPS: The EU banned Cadbury's chocolate - because they didn't consider it was 'chocky' enough

CHOC CHUMPS: The EU banned Cadbury’s chocolate – because they didn’t consider it was ‘chocky’ enough

● Most Brits will have been brought up on Cadbury’s chocolate, yet for 27 years is was effectively banned by the EU, because it contained up to 5% of vegetable fats and up to 20% of milk.

There was also considerable argy-bargy about British chocolate in general not being chocolate at all, since it didn’t contain at least 60% of cocoa bean, but cocoa butter instead.

And ditto a proposed ban on smoky-bacon flavoured crisps…because they didn’t contain smoky bacon. Of course not! The clue was in the word ‘flavoured’, silly.

Thank heavens Brussels didn’t get around to examining cheese & onion crisps, with no cheese or onion in them, or BBQ-flavoured nibbles that didn’t have a BBQ in the bag.

And, by the way – just in case the Europrats ever decide to look into it – I can I assure them there aren’t any monsters in Monster Munch.

However, one victory for EU ‘group think’ was to re-name carrots as fruit, not veg, because the Portuguese make jam out of them.

The point is not that these laws, pronouncements, diktats and directives are utter twaddle from the EU’s Ministry of Silly Talks, to misquote Monty Python.

It’s more about: what is an organisation like the EU doing wasting valuable time, money and resources by poking its nose into things that don’t concern it and are of absolutely no consequence to the betterment of Europe’s people.    

JUSTICE ON TRIAL: ECHR judges ride roughshod over the legal systems of EU member states

JUSTICE ON TRIAL: ECHR judges ride roughshod over the legal systems of EU member states

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS  

LOOK, I don’t want to keep rattling on like a machine-gun with a tirade against the EU, though I could do at least until midnight.

I could cite the lunacy of the profligate Common Agricultural Policy, CAP – designed by the French for the French, which pays farmers obscene amounts of money to produce nothing and how CAP’s stupidity resulted in useless Wine Lakes and Butter Mountains.

I could ask why the EU needs 13,000 Europrats, who are paid salaries way above any civil service norm, along with generous pensions and perks that include EU-designated shops, where they can buy products tax-free.

I could also cite the EU’s at least 56 quangos and so many committees, even the Commissioners have lost count of them, which all require truly obscene amounts of funding.

But I won’t.

Last week I spent two days researching the EU and on Wikipedia its entry is so garbled with Euro-babble, it must have been written by a committee of the most nerdish Europrats Brussels could assemble.

What I did discover, though, were the three qualifying rules of entry to the Union as set out in simple, unambiguous language for once. So any nation seeking accession must agree to: be financially solvent (like Greece, for instance?), democratic and uphold the rule of law.

That’s seems more than reasonable, I hear you say.

Except it presupposes a nation’s justice system has enough checks and balances not to require further (shall we say) ‘refinement’ by more EU interference.

But, not only does the Union have its own judges in the Courts of Justice, it requires member states to kow-tow to the European Court of Human Rights, the too often ridiculous ECHR.

Technically the ECHR isn’t part of the EU. But it is, because EU rules demand that every member nation joins the Council of Europe, thus every member must automatically accept the European Charter of Human Rights, which means every member is answerable to the judicial quirks of the ECHR.

To be fair, this court was set up in the late 1950s with the best of intentions – as is the road to Hades.

So, more than half a century on, the fitness for purpose of the ECHR as a court of last resort is quite rightly being questioned, thanks to some of its – how can I explain them politely – more bonkers judgements.

Britain, whose judicial code dates back to the Magna Carta of 1215, is but one of many of the 47 nations answerable to the ECHR that raises extremely valid issues about the decisions handed down, often by judges who are junior legal academics with absolutely no courtroom experience anywhere.

DEPORATION DODGER: For years hate preacher, Abu Hamza, used the ECHR to avoid terror charges in America

DEPORATION DODGER: For years hate preacher, Abu Hamza, used the ECHR to avoid terror charges in America

Yet the Court remains free to ride roughshod over national judicial systems, as it’s done with the UK’s, blocking, for instance the legitimate deportation of hook-handed hate preacher, Abu Hamza, to face terrorism charges in the US and with the equally-odious Abu Qatada, wanted by Jordan on similarly offences.

And only the other day it agreed to process the appeals of two Real IRA scumbags, seeking to overturn a UK civil court verdict holding them responsible for the heinous, Omagh bombing in 1988, in which 29 people were murdered and 220 maimed.

Meanwhile, for years the ECHR has accused Britain of ‘human rights abuse’ by refusing criminals serving prison sentences the right to vote in elections. To me – and I’d hope to most sane folk – it doesn’t seem unreasonable that those convicted of crimes should not share the same privileges as law-abiding folk, including the right to vote.

So, like the Big Brother that’s the EU, the ECHR is in dire need of having some common-sense knocked into it.

CURSED CURRENCY: The 'one-size-fits-all' Euro doesn't allow weaker, Club Med states to devalue

CURSED CURRENCY: The ‘one-size-fits-all’ Euro doesn’t allow weaker, Club Med states to devalue

THE EURO

FINALLY, I can’t but help mention the Euro and say simply this: No currency union in history has ever worked long term – and there have been several…but, just like the Euro, they were wishful and egotistical political thinking winning over the realities of economic nous.

And this ‘one-size-fits-all’ pipedream had the makings of one of the most monumental currency blunders right from its introduction in 1999.

How many remember how, here in Spain, 166 pesetas were converted to one Euro – and a 150-peseta cup of coffee suddenly cost €1.50 (249 pesetas) or even €2 (332 pesetas) overnight? If that wasn’t a financial health warning for things to come, I don’t know what was.

A strong currency might meet the needs of manufacturing super-states, like Germany, relatively untouched by the financial tsunami of 2008 that hit the world. But the same doesn’t apply to the weaker, agriculture and tourism-dependent economies of southern Europe.

So, sadly, it’s no surprise to see the growing poverty, civil unrest, joblessness and despair. Just look at Spain, where kids, often highly educated, have to seek work overseas, because over half of under-25 – the cream of the nation’s future – can’t find employment at home.

And the tragedy is compounded by the abject lack of imagination of the European Central Bank, the ECB, which hasn’t a clue about how to combat the drift into stagflation.

The fact that Britain, Sweden and Denmark had the good sense to keep out of the Euro – and are now recovering fastest from the crisis – should be an object lesson in how vital it is for nations to keep control of their own currencies.   

So my plea is ‘Si, VIVA EUROPE’…but let’s have a helluva lot less of it!’

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Who do you think you’re kidding, Monsieur M’Bala – there’s no alibi for the ‘humour of hatred’

FANCY a quenelle? Then take your pick from a choice of finely minced fish or meat dumplings, or a gesture viewed by many to be a pseudo-Nazi salute, going viral with morons everywhere.

I’ve no idea who conceived the tit-bit, a long-time French delicacy. And, no doubt someone with a greater insight in the cuisine that popularised grilled gastropods and pan-friend amphibian limbs will enlighten me.

However, I have some knowledge of the gesture and the rumpus it’s causing in France, where President Francois Hollande wants it banned and its creator, one M’Bala M’Bala Dieudonné, who affects to be a comedian, gagged.

Once, about a decade ago, he was hailed as a Gallic Will Smith. His stand-up was acidly satirical and provocatively teasing as he worked a double act with Élie Semoun, a Jewish friend from his childhood.

Dieudonné even began carving a reputation as an actor, appearing in mostly flop movies, except box-office hit, Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra in 2002.

Meantime, his political credentials were impeccably Left, so righteous he stood twice – unsuccessfully – in elections against the National Front, a party he derided as racist.

But somehow, sometime, that mysteriously changed and nice Doctor Heckle metamorphosed into repellent Monsieur Snide.

Some say this scion of a white, Breton mother and black, Cameroonian father seized on the virulent strain of anti-Semitism that cuts through certain stratas of French psyche with the stench of a rotten Camembert, and he couldn’t resist the avalanche of euros tumbling before his avaricious eyes if he exploited it.

Others in the black militant, disgruntled Muslim and white, jackboot communities – the unholiest and most improbable of alliances – claim Dieudonné merely reflected the sentiment of the underdog in a petit-bourgeois society and should be free to express opinions that are simply anti-Establishment.

HUMOUR OF HATE: Dieudonne's fans claim the quenelle is an anti-Establishment salute, not anti-Semitic, even though the comedian viciously attacks Jews

HUMOUR OF HATE: Dieudonne’s fans claim the quenelle is an anti-Establishment salute, not anti-Semitic, even though the comedian viciously attacks Jews

This travesty is backed by Jean-Marie Le Pen, inventor of the neo-fascist National Front – and godfather to one of the performer’s five children – plus motley, Holocaust-denying dregs, one of whom was allowed relatively free rein on BBC2’s Newsnight show last week to spew his opinions, without viewers appraised of his loathsome credentials.

The problem is Dieudonné’s ruse of using the ‘humour of hatred’ has lit a fuse in a constituency consumed by bigotry and hungry for racist fantasies crazier than even those propagated by Nazi spinmeister, Josef Goebbels.

Jews are the perennial target and Dieudonné, 48 next month, has been prosecuted six times in France and fined a total of €40,000 for peddling anti-Semitism bile (plus 75,000 dollars in Montreal for racially abusing Canadian-Jewish actor, Patrick Bruel).

The repugnant, unfunny man’s felonies, however, aren’t limited to broadcasting vitriol, because the French authorities fined him nearly €900,000 for tax evasion in 2012, which provides a useful insight into how much his anti-Semitic incitement has netted him.

But it is his corruption of the quenelle – the gesture, not the gastronomic delight – that’s propelled Dieudonné to international fame or infamy, depending on your viewpoint.

His fans claim it is the equivalent of two-fingers to the state, not a contortion of the Nazi salute and France’s ethos of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité should make it an acceptable form of protest.

In isolation, minus the baggage of Dieudonné’s long rap sheet for stirring up Jew baiting, Holocaust denial and religious mockery, it might pass muster.

But it misses that far-fetched target by a proverbial country mile, since lame-brain copycats have been snapped performing the gesture at – amongst other sensitive venues – the Auschwitz death camp, outside a school in Toulouse, where three infants and a rabbi were slaughtered by an Islamic fanatic, and Jerusalem’s Wailing Wall, Judaism’s holiest of shrines.

Veteran soccer star, Nicolas Anelka, even imported it into Britain, when he made sure it was captured on TV, after scoring a goal for West Bromwich Albion.

With an Football Association inquest into his antics pending, the black French Muslim – not for nothing nicknamed ‘Le Sulk’ – is unrepentant, claiming he was just ‘supporting a friend.’

FRIENDLY GESTURE? French Muslim soccer star, Anelka, claims he performed the quenelle in support of his friend, Dieudonne

FRIENDLY GESTURE? French Muslim soccer star, Anelka, claims he performed the quenelle in support of his friend, Dieudonne, during an English Premier League game

If we are judged by the mates we keep, unsurprisingly critics are questioning whether a brain lurks within the footballer’s shaven cranium or whether his any wisdom is solely confined to his feet.

So, no, let’s not pretend Dieudonné’s creation is a) just cocking a snook at officialdom; or b) that vilifying Jews – even if cloaked in thinly-veiled, detestably-trendy anti-Zionism, a neat excuse for many to hide their true sentiments – can somehow be an expression of free speech.

As I’ve said before, the right to express opinions openly comes with caveats and responsibilities.

Quite rightly, laws – criminal and civil – exist. Though, frankly the snot of holier-than-thou posers who comprise Europe’s liberal chatterati often turn commonsense on its head by allowing purveyors of hatred to spew their anti-Western, anti-Semitic and anti-gay poison unchallenged.

We witnessed that in Britain when a surprising number of the far Left’s best cavilled at a succession of Home Secretaries’ attempts to boot out that repugnant duo of Islamic nasties, Abu Qatada and hook-clawed Abu Hamza.

Again the addled, self-proclaimed elite perverted the ‘free speech’ argument to support a cause celebre no more than a sham.

At least the French government is doing its best to shut Dieudonné’s foul mouth.

Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, said that in mocking the Holocaust and painting a stereotypical trope of Jews, the performer is no longer artistic or comic but the ‘mechanic of hate’.

Backed by President Hollande, Valls called on regional mayors to ban local theatres from hosting Dieudonné’s 22-city tour on the grounds the act is an incitement to violence.

However, in Nantes, a local judge opposed any prohibition, forcing government lawyers to appeal to France’s highest court, where their plea to reinstate the mayor’s ban was met with an emphatic ‘Oui!’

Undoubtedly, legal shenanigans will play out like an X-rated soap opera. And the world’s vilest performer will milk every minute from the limelight and snatch every grubby euro such notoriety brings.

However, that this vile farce is happening today in an EU state says much about how far our society has travelled in the past 70 years.

Meddling Euro judges should stop making an ass out of the law

IN all probability you’ve never heard of Iulia Motoc, Ganna Yudkivska, Ineta Ziemele or Päivi Hirvelä, though you might guess they’re targets for top soccer clubs during this January’s transfer window – except all are female.

I could add a further 43 names and you’d be none the wiser. Nor would it help if I said Iulia is Rumanian, Ganna hails from Ukraine, Ineta is a Latvian and Päivi’s a Finn.

‘So what’, you might say dismissively. ‘They’re nothing to do with me.’

But how wrong you’d be. Because they have much to do with you – and the 733 million others populating our continent – in everything from how you work, who you rub shoulders with, what you buy, even to what opinions you choose to air in public.

In fact, in some respects, they are higher and mightier than all the prime ministers, presidents and parliaments in Europe put together.

What’s more, they’re answerable to no-one, because they are judges at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), ostensibly the arbiter of last resort for disgruntled citizens to bring their governments to heel.

However, just as the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, so, is the ECHR. And it threatens to become such a judicial blight on almost every nation falling within it remit – which means most of us – serious concerns are being voiced as to whether it’s become too big for its boots.

Historically, the ECHR was the lovechild of the Council of Europe, formed in 1950 with the laudable intention of never again tolerating a regime as homicidally racist and wantonly thuggish as the Nazis.

Three years later the European Convention of Human Rights was drafted and in 1959 the Court constituted, with signatory states, including Britain, appointing judges, who – way back then – were mainly there for the kudos.

Each member nation still retained its own laws and the ECHR was chiefly hailed as an triumph of emerging, pan-European political goodwill rather than an instrument of judicial meddling.

CAUGHT OUT: The European Court of Human Rights comes under fire for some of its 'judicial frolics'

CAUGHT OUT: The European Court of Human Rights comes under fire for some of its ‘judicial frolics’

Until, that is, in their addled wisdom, Brussels Europrats decided that applicants to the EU – which operates the extraneous European Court of Justice – had to join the Council of Europe, thereby kow-towing to the primacy of the ECHR.

In theory the motives to protect and enhance human rights are noble, especially in regard to former Soviet bloc satellites; in practice, however, it has led to some gross violations of individual national rights.

Deep misgivings have also emerged about some appointees to the Strasbourg bench being novices and/or harbouring personal, prejudiced social and political agendas.

As an ECHR official privately admitted, ‘Around half the judges had no judicial experience before going to the Court, which means it’s no surprise they go off on judicial frolics of their own.’

So it matters little that countries – like Britain – with long, democratic histories, have evolved legal systems far superior to the upstart Europeans, whose often quirky rulings can beggar belief.

Probably nothing better illustrated Strasbourg’s ability to make an ass of itself when it rode, roughshod, over UK justice in the cases of hook-handed hate preacher Abu Hamza – who used the ECHR for years to block attempts to deport him to face terrorism charges in the USA – and the equally abhorrent Abu Qatada, wanted in Jordan.

The Euro judges also have other, festering bees in their non-existent wigs, firstly accusing Britain of ‘human rights abuse’ by denying criminals the vote while they’re in jail.

In a sane world it’s not unreasonable that convicts forfeit privileges enjoyed by law-abiders. And their incarceration certainly shouldn’t extend to the liberty of scratching an X on a ballot paper any more than good behaviour should earn them a week’s knees-up in Magaluf.

This time, however, Strasbourg’s arrogant twaddle is meeting with fierce hostility, not just from UK politicians, but the country’s judiciary.

Former Lord Chief Justice Judge recently stated his learned opinion that no judges should have the power of the ECHR and the Court wasn‘t ‘entitled to tell every country in Europe how to organise itself’.

DEPORATION DODGER: For years hate preacher, Abu Hamza, used the ECHR to avoid terror charges in America

DEPORATION DODGER: For years hate preacher, Abu Hamza, used the ECHR to avoid terror charges in America

While applauding the Human Rights Convention – largely written, as he pointed out, ‘by British lawyers for a war-torn, concentration-camp filled continent’ – the former law lord seriously questioned how Euro judges interpret it.

‘I think it [the Human Rights Act], means you take account of, have regard to [European rulings], but it does not mean we are bound by the decisions. My very strong belief is that this issue needs to be resolved by Parliament,’ he told Radio 4’s Today programme.

The second collision between Britain and the ECHR regards current English law that allows judges to impose ‘whole life’ tariffs, effectively sentencing a criminal to die in jail.

Strasbourg’s opinion is such sentences are a breach of the Human Rights Convention, because there was no possibility of a ‘right to review’.

That ruling therefore means at least one serial killer has avoided a whole-life sentence and opens the door for others to follow, completely ignoring the human rights of victims and their families.

Meanwhile, 61 years is a long enough stretch for any convention to exist unchanged, especially since it authors couldn’t foresee challenges ahead, like the threat posed by international terrorism.

Left unchecked, then, the Euro judges are free to impose their alien legal system on EU states and humiliate national governments, whose laws may be far more in lockstep with modern-day justice.

But, because the ECHR is the Council of Europe’s legal battering-ram, any member country found in contempt of its ‘judicial frolics’ could find itself an EU outcast.

As ECHR President, Dean Spielmann, warned, ‘I can hardly see how a member of the European Union could possibly withdraw from the Council of Europe. From a political perspective it might be very difficult to stay in the European Union.’

Of course, it would be simpler for the UK government to cave in and give serving cons the vote.

But, somehow, the notion of the likes of Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe, and Gunner Lee Rigby’s killers enjoying the freedom to cast a ballot doesn’t sit easily with most Brits, a view backed by Prime Minister, David Cameron, who said the prospect made him ‘physically sick.’

So, maybe, it’s time to put the ECHR in its own dock – and judge whether its absurdities are bringing the law into disrepute.

Because, on the evidence so far, it is certainly guilty of putting the civil liberties of a few ahead of the human rights of the many.

Britain needs no lectures on human rights from Europe’s bullying court

Charles Dickens expressed his low esteem for the legal system in Oliver Twist, by penning the immortal line, ‘The law is an ass.’

If the European Court of Human Rights had existed in Victorian England, the great novelist and social commentator might have reached a far more withering verdict…that it is a bullying buffoon, for too long arrogantly riding roughshod over the laws and parliamentary voices of its 47 member states with thuggish zeal from its ivory tower in Strasbourg.

And last week it proved beyond a scintilla of doubt it’s no longer fit for purpose by upholding appeals against ‘life-means-life’ sentences by three of the most callous, brutal murderers ever brought to justice.

One was Jeremy Bamber, who, in 1986, murdered five members of his family – including his parents and two young nephews – in a bid to snatch a large inheritance. He even tried to pin the crimes on his mentally ill sister, whom he also shot.

Another, Douglas Vinter, stabbed his wife to death in 2008, less than three years after being released from jail for a previous murder.

The third, Peter Moore, killed four gay men in 1995 for perverted sexual gratification.

Yet, in their blustering inanity, the Euro judges decided that whole-life tariffs, which force murderers to die in jail, are ‘inhuman and degrading’.

Naturally, they ignored the ‘inhuman and degrading’ treatment meted out to the victims or the sentiments of the British people and lawmakers, who believe certain heinous criminals are beyond redemption.

The ECHR also failed to take into account that, after abolishing capital punishment in 1965, life sentences sometimes meant lifers would go the distance and currently 49 are subject to that fate.

MULTIPLE MURDERER: Jeremy Bamber killed five of his own family, but the ECHR rules his 'life-means-life' sentence breaches his human rights

MULTIPLE MURDERER: Jeremy Bamber killed five of his family, but the ECHR ruled his ‘life-means-life’ sentence breaches his human rights

Inevitably, the ruling will bring succour to Moors murder, Ian Brady, and Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. And no doubt their legal teams are beavering away now on appeals to the robed primates of Strasbourg – especially after Brady failed to convince a court he was bad, not mad, and should be transferred from a mental facility to a prison, so he can legally starve himself to death.

If this latest ECHR judgement was a one-off aberration it could almost be excused. But it wasn’t, because it followed a litany of crackpot rulings that make a mockery of UK justice.

The Abu Qatada farce was indisputably the most contentious, since it hamstrung a national government’s will to rid itself of an evil fanatic – described by a High Court judge as ‘Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe’ – who entered Britain illegally and urged his followers to kill British troops.

Yet it took eight years of toil by five Home Secretaries (Interior Ministers) to get rid of the monster and shrug off the ignominy piled on a nation that evolved one of the first, fair, moral codes of justice – reaching back to the 13th Century Magna Carta – by a bunch of foreign appointees, many from lands where freedom is still as shiny as a new euro.

Rightly, countless precedents in English criminal law were enshrined in the European Charter for Human Rights, codified in 1953 by the Council of Europe after the horrors of World War Two, especially the Holocaust.

These formed the basis for the ECHR when it was established in 1959 as a court of last resort.

The problem is, during the ensuing 54 years, it has extended its remit well beyond the intentions of the founding fathers and its power grab now vetoes the democratic will of its constituent parts.

JUSTICE ON TRIAL: Euro judges ignore the human rights of murder victims and member nations

JUSTICE ON TRIAL: Euro judges ignore the human rights of murder victims and member nations

The result is practically any ne’er-do-well who can’t convince anyone from a magistrate to a Supreme Court judge of his innocence can take the gripe to Strasbourg and bog the legal system down for years, not to say rack up vast legal aid costs (£1.7M in Qatada’s case).

Unsurprisingly, ‘human rights’ has become one of my learned friends’ financial honey pots, as the number of appeals to the ECHR exploded from 8,400 in 1999 to 57,000 a decade later, with 119,300 pending.

Meanwhile, Strasbourg’s meddling goes far beyond individuals and into national affairs of state, as demonstrated by its demand for the UK to give convicts the right to vote, despite prevailing public opinion insisting felons forfeit that privilege during their time behind bars.

Now, finally, after years of scorn from Strasbourg, a British Home Secretary – namely Theresa May – is making more than noises about quitting the jurisdiction of the ECHR.

Obviously, this doesn’t please Dean Spielmann, the Luxembourg judge and president of the court, who warns, ‘Any member state who would leave the Council of Europe, who would denounce the convention, would lose its credibility when it comes to promoting human rights also in different parts of the world. It would be political disaster.’

Spielmann isn’t the first judge to talk codswallop through his wig (not that they wear them in Strasbourg). But he’s entirely mistaken to criticise a nation, whose legal system is still one of the envies of the world and has sufficient in-built safeguards to ensure justice is done and seen to be.

GUILTY VERDICT: Ex-UK Home Secretary, David Blunkett, puts the ECHR in the dock

GUILTY VERDICT: Ex-UK Home Secretary, David Blunkett, puts the ECHR in the dock

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights generally have no issues with how the UK dispenses law.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of countries who have signed up to the UN Convention on Human Rights who barely pay lip service to the concept.

So Spielmann and his ECHR cronies might like to heed the wisdom of David Blunkett, who oversaw the ‘whole life’ sentencing legislation as Home Secretary in 2003.

‘Whatever the technical justification the Strasbourg court may have, it is the right of the British Parliament to determine the sentence of those who have committed crimes and for democracy to have the will of the people implemented. To do otherwise can only lead to disillusionment, mistrust of, and a dangerous alienation from, our democracy itself,’ he noted sagely.

I rest my case.

Why some definitions of ‘free speech’ offer a free pass to the terror mongers

In affluent, uber-liberal Sweden they are still dousing the flames of hatred, while the country’s bleeding-heart elite asks itself, ‘Why us? All we did was to open our door to the repressed of other lands.’

Or, in the submission of one leading politician, ‘We’ve tried harder than any other European country to integrate, spending billions on a welfare system that is designed to help jobless immigrants and guarantee them a good quality of life.

‘Yet we have areas where there are ethnic groups that just don’t identify with Swedish society. They see the police, even the fire brigade, as part of the state and they attack them. We have tried everything, anything, to improve things, but it hasn’t worked. It’s not about racism, it’s just that the policy of multiculturalism in Europe has failed.’

Ah, there’s the goodie-goodies’ pet buzzword, ‘multiculturalism’, It might offer a clue to why Europe’s most egalitarian state was burning. Though if you’d read early reports of the rioting and arson in The Guardian or BBC News website you’d be none the wiser.

The bibles of radical thought merely informed their readers that ‘asylum seekers’ and ‘immigrants’ took to the torch, believing themselves to be second-class citizens in a nation that’s the epitome of everything wholesomely Nordic.

Both organs of the pompous bien pensant somehow overlooked who the great disenchanted are: Somalis, Eritreans, Afghans and Iraqis. A mere oversight, perhaps? Or, disingenuously, a lame attempt to disguise the fact that, in common with most of Western Europe, Sweden has a problem with some of its Muslim population (15% and growing), where Islamists agitators are increasingly stirring violent dissent?

FLAMING RAGE: Cars burn as rioters take to the torch in Sweden

FLAMING RAGE: Cars burn as rioters take to the torch in Sweden

Well, hand-wringing Swedes, wake up and smell the couscous.

Recently here, I posed the question: Is it time Muslim communities did more to combat the fanatics in their midst?

This was an attempt to derail the pernicious hatred of a minority of evil deviants by enlisting the huge, silent majority of peaceful Muslims to seize the agenda.

Because, whatever you think of multiculturalism, headbanger Islamists don’t rate it one iota – certainly not in Britain, France, Spain, Holland and now nice, nice Sweden, where flat-pack furniture makes an ever-so-lovely bonfire of liberal vanities.

What’s more, the deplorable fanners of religious flames are using our institutions and laws to make twits of us. And, we can thank the obsessive political correctness of some in positions of influence for further exposing us to the threat of extremism.

They’ll even stake their snooty reputations on the high altar of ‘free speech’ to protect the rights of crazies who want to drag the world back to the 7th Century.

For instance, listen to Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK – the vice-chancellors’ union – who was asked why Islamic societies are allowed to hold gender-segregated events on campus, where impressionable youngsters are systematically indoctrinated in anti-Western, anti-Semitic and anti-gay loathing by invited hate-preachers.

‘Clamping down on speakers is not the way forward,’ Nicola said glibly, on a recent visit to Planet Earth.

For good measure, she added that Islamic societies should be left to police themselves.

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH: Baroness Warsi agrees there is no more Islamic hate-speech on UK campuses than 'anywhere else

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH: Baroness Warsi agrees there is no more hate-speech on UK university campuses than anywhere else

Baroness Warsi, Britain’s Minister for Faith, also subscribes to this codswallop, insisting extremism is ‘no more prevalent’ at varsities than elsewhere. That contradicts the anti-extremism group, Student Rights, who found at least 10 instances of Islamic hate-peddlers being openly promoted on UK campuses in April alone.

So what’s Nicola’s interpretation of ‘free speech’? Extending free passes to disciples of Abu Qatada, Omar Bakri Mohammed, hook-clawed Abu Hamza and Anjem Choudary to spout invective that defiles our democratic principles (at least Bakri was ejected from Britain, Hamza deported to the USA and hopefully Qatada will soon be packed off to Jordan)?

And how do we deal with mosques hijacked by ‘militants’ – that’s BBC-speak for terror-mongers, since the ‘T’ word is banned by Left-leaning Auntie (though, odious Choudary, an apologist for murder and once leader of now outlawed Al-Muhajiroun, is a welcome guest on Newsnight)?

Or are we supposed to tolerate friendly, neighbour bookshops, flogging DIY bomb-making manuals and the 10 best ways to behead an infidel?

Even UK jails have become breeding grounds for rabid Islamists, as illustrate by last week’s brutal attack on a warder in Full Sutton Prison, East Yorkshire.

So what I – and, no doubt, now many Swedes – want to know from Nicola and her ilk is: Define your version of ‘free speech’? Because I know what mine is…and among other proscriptions, I cannot spew racism or incite others to acts of religious aggression.

To me, freedom of speech is a privilege, not a right to abuse. And those who defend it irresponsibly are dunderheads in dire need of gagging. Far from being the protectors of a democratic virtue, they are playing into the hands of its destroyers.

That’s why the West must sing from the same hymn sheet in dealing with extremism, particularly of the Islamo-fascist persuasion, and learn best practices from each other.

As I’ve written before, France brooks no dissent when it comes to extraditing fomenters of terror. Adieu – or words to that effect – they say, without going through the inanity of consulting the European Court of Sub-Human Rights, while the Americans simply revoke citizenship and escort malcontents to the nearest international airport.

After the 7/7 London bombings, Britain’s answer was Prevent, an ostensibly tough regime intended to crack down on fanatics. However, so liberally absurd was it implemented, the government and local authorities actually funded the very lunatics Prevent was supposed to prevent…to ‘engage’ with them.

In one instance, £113,411 was given to a foundation linked to Hizb ut-Tahrir to establish Islamic schools, where an ‘Islamic personality’ would be implanted into pupils. It’s worth noting – as ministers were well aware – Hizb sought the destruction of the British state, vilified assimilation and wanted Sharia law imposed on the nation.

Currently, as the UK is locked in soul-searching following the dastardly murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, controversy surrounds a new Communications Bill that would give security services more powers to scrutinise emails, phone calls and text messages.

The Lib-Dems label this a ‘snooper’s charter’ and are dead against it (hence, it must be a good idea).

Meantime, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, says current UK laws exist to ensure hate-preachers don’t incite violence or disorder.

Perhaps he should pass that information onto the pussy-footing police and judiciary, so we can all have our free speech protected…especially from repellent Islamists.

 

Britain should take French lessons in how to get rid of Islamo nasties

Zoot alors – or words to that effect! Here I am, breaking the habit of a lifetime and actually singing the praises of French politicians.

First, let me state emphatically this is entirely unrelated to President Francois Hollande’s crass mismanagement of an economy that’s stinks worse than an over-ripe Camembert, where recession deepens and a record 3.22 million – 10.6% of the workforce – are jobless.

Indeed, I’ll even desist from naming and shaming the host of Champagne Socialists in Hollande’s regime, who put the flushest of Old Etonians in David Cameron’s Cabinet to shame when it comes to piling up the moolah.

So what am I doing extolling the virtues of Gallic lawmakers and some of their loonier edicts – retaining a 35-hour week and thinking you can compete with the Germans…words fail me – whose peccadilloes are very much in keeping with notoriously lax, French political custom and practice?

Where France excels, however, is in its attachment to the principles of La Révolution of 1789, when aristos were trundled off to the guillotine in tumbrels without so much as a by-your-leave trial (okay, okay…there was a pretence of one, but it was a foregone conclusion they’d always end up several inches shorter later that day).

Today, it applies rather differently, but nonetheless with the same ruthless efficiency.

Because, when it comes to dealing with nasties – particularly of the Islamic persuasion, foaming at le gob with notions of imposing sharia rule on the nation where liberté, égalité, fraternité were invented – the French retain the final word…and it’s ‘Non!’

Instead of ‘Off with their heads’, nowadays it’s ‘Au revoir and off you go’ and Abdul, Ali or Mo are on the first plane out of Paris De Gaulle to be delivered to from whence they came.

MOCKING JUSTICE: But hate preacher, Abu Qatada, wouldn't have escaped expulsion in France

GOING, GOING…NEARLY GONE: Hate preacher, Abu Qatada,  has  agreed to quit the UK, but he wouldn’t he have escaped French expulsion  for so long

So why has Britain been stuck with the ogrish spectre of Abu Qatada, who made a mockery of five Home Secretaries’ attempts over the last 10 years to deport him back to his native Jordan, where he has been convicted on terror charges in absentia.

At least, the odious, hate preacher – who arrived in the UK on a false passport in 1993 and was described by a judge as ‘Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe’ – threw in the towel yesterday (April 10) and agreed to hop it home, once a new treaty guaranteeing him a fair trial is ratified.

However, had he chosen La Belle France instead of Angleterre in the first place, he’d already be banged up in an Amman jail, counting his prayer beads and ruing his luck.

Like Britain, France is a liberal democracy, a member of the EU, a signatory to the convention on human rights and, likewise, at the mercy of the boneheads who sit in judgement at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg. Unlike Britain, it is also a member of the Schengen Bloc, so its borders are porous to the sort of people you’d rather not have sharing a garden fence.

Moreover, even with several million Muslim votes at stake, French politicians have passed edicts banning religious symbols – principally the burqa – in public.

Meanwhile, between 2001 and 2010, the French expelled 129 Islamic headbangers while Britain’s Home Secretary, Theresa May, and four of her frustrated predecessors managed to shift only an abysmal nine nasties deemed to pose a threat to national security.

And, bizarrely, France’s Interior Minister didn’t have to jump through legalistic hoops, scurry back and forth to Arab countries – like Algeria, Tunisia and Egypt, whose justice systems are similarly as whiffy as over-ripe Camembert – gaining assurances the jihadi detritus being returned to sender would be treated fairly.

On the other hand, Mrs. May went to immense pains to wring out of the Jordanians guarantees Qatada would not be tortured or that any evidence used against him had not been tainted by brutal interrogation.

This baffling double-standard hasn’t escaped the attention of counter-terrorism expert, Dr. Frank Foley, whose new book, Countering Terrorism in Britain & France (Cambridge University Press), highlights the discrepancies between the Gallic and Anglo approaches to eradicating the dangers posed by extremists.

His conclusion is it that the framework of Britain’s legal system – and how it differs from that across the Channel – is as much to blame as that deservedly much-maligned, judicial joke, the ECHR.

Foley says, ‘In France, individuals only have limited means of preventing their deportation, because of the relevant legal regulations and because of the swift expulsion practices of the French authorities.’

NO, MINISTER: Like her four predecessors, Home Secretary Theresa May can't get rid of Qatada

NO, MINISTER: Like her four predecessors, British Home Secretary Theresa May couldn’t get rid of odious Qatada

There, an appeal does not immediately suspend expulsion, so an individual can be deported and afterwards petition a judge to overrule it from the discomfort of his homeland.

Foley explains, ‘The authorities have pre-empted such legal moves by putting the individual on a plane home within just a few days of the order being issued.’

Nor is France particularly fazed by the niceties of other nations’ notions of justice.

‘The French courts have not overturned any of the government’s deportation decisions on the basis that radical Islamists face a risk of torture or mistreatment if they are returned,’ reports Foley.

However, in Qatada’s case, neither did UK courts. Since 2001, British judges twice upheld efforts to boot him out. And, in 2007, the Special Immigration Appeals Commission agreed Jordanian assurances were enough to override human rights fears. This was upheld in 2009 by the Law Lords, who also ruled that it wasn’t for British courts ‘to regulate the conduct of trials in foreign countries’ or decide on the merits of evidence.

So what was Qatada – who demands Jews and converts from Islam (plus their kith and kin) be murdered and declared it is forever open season on annihilating Americans – still doing dodging Jordanian justice in Britain, while in possession of an £800,000, 4-bedroom house in West London, courtesy of the taxpayer?

The problem stems from various UK governments’ tardiness in reacting to jihadis in the Nineties, when they could have copied the French example and closed a glaring loophole.  Had this been done, a legal cottage industry defending the indefensible wouldn’t have mushroomed, costing millions in Legal Aid, and would have subverted European meddling.

Instead – as Qatada’s case disgracefully demonstrated – knowing Strasbourg would overrule them, powerless UK judges began caving into Abu’s appeals…until Friday’s voluntary game-changer.

So while liberals may insist the French judiciary is more arbitrary and authoritarian, there’s no denying in Britain, with all its traditions of free speech and civil liberty, the law is an ass when it comes to dealing with nasties like Qatada.

Which is why – just before I wash my mouth out with lye soap – I’ll say, ‘Vive la France!

The faith whose name Brits are too afraid to mention (clue: it isn’t Christianity or Judaism)

Today’s lesson cometh from the first Book of Life and poses the question, ‘If the stranger comes to dwell among us, is it too much to ask he respects us?’

No, don’t worry. I’ve just made that up and not invented some new-age religion. Nor have I come over all pious (although, when I go into my local café, people immediately look heavenwards and cry, ‘Oh G-d, it’s him again’).

Generally, though, I avoid religious debates, since they can easily become fractious. Moreover, my faith, whatever it is or isn’t, is my affair. So I refrain from being judgemental of anyone else’s – providing they don’t step on the toes of mine (or the lack of it).

That said, religions have historical and political aspects that impact on non-believers, too, and however tolerant our modern-day ideals, we are entitled to comment.

So, Francis I, the new People’s Pope, is already facing uncomfortable questions from some quarters.

Why, it’s being asked, didn’t this humble yet resolute man do more to combat the Argentine military junta’s ‘Dirty War’, from 1976 to 1983, when countless thousands disappeared?

And why is his sense of nationalism so ingrained, he refuses to acknowledge the legitimate self-determination of the Falklanders to remain British, as David Cameron reminded him.

JUSTICE HOOKED: Firebrand Islamic preacher, Abu Hamza, ran rings round the UK's legal system for years

JUSTICE HOOKED: Firebrand Islamic preacher, Abu Hamza, ran rings round the UK’s legal system for years

Certainly, Francis has much on his papal plate, not least the child-sex abuse scandals some bishops, cardinals and members of the Curia wilfully kicked under the Vatican carpets.

That, however, is a pastoral matter, albeit with strong morality implications, and not related to pressing religious dilemmas – contraception, abortion, gay marriage and arcane, canonical disputes – that will test His Holiness.

The point is, whether the Catholic Church likes it or not, it is being held to proper account in the court of public opinion.

And Judaism, the precursor of Abrahamic faiths, has never been far from smears – spoken or written – for two millennia. But old-fashioned Jew-bashing has become passé; replacing it is an insidious, nouveau ideology that transposes the word ‘Jew’ for ‘Israel’, which is a handy cloak under which anti-Semites can hide their bile.

Like every democracy, Israel isn’t above criticism; but knock Netanyahu or Peres, not world Jewry any more than you’d rap Anglicanism for what the Coalition does in Britain.

Only a moron would buy into the slanders that, in a world population approaching seven billion, less than 14 million remnants of an ancient nation mainly dispersed by the Romans two thousand years ago, are somehow responsible for all global ills…from deicide and using blood of gentile children to sanctify Passover bread to today’s inane claims Jews caused all wars, capitalism and communism, aided and abetted by international freemasonry (which they apparently also control).

Meantime, that notorious, anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion – invented by the Czar’s secret police at the dawn of the 20th Century – remains a best-seller throughout the Muslim world and its outrageous porkies accepted as gospel truth.

So, with massive population shifts from East to West, it’s no coincidence that crimes against Jews have risen exponentially, as blood libels and Holocaust denials spread to modern Europe, like Black Plague pustules. As columnist, Mehdi Hasan, noted in the New Statesman last week, ‘It is sheer hypocrisy for Muslims to complain of Islamaphobia in every nook and cranny of British public life, yet ignore the rampant anti-Semitism in our own backyard.’

Because, along with disdain for Western values, radical Islam transported its hatreds when droves of Muslims came to Europe seeking better lives. Yet, as exemplified by Britain, unlike waves of earlier settlers – Irish navvies, who built the railways and canals, Jewish tailors who clothed our backs, and black Caribbean public sector workers, all of whom recognised integration was the golden key to their children’s futures – fire-breathing Islamists demand the host changed to accommodate their warped distortion of a respected faith.

American academic, Lawrence Krauss, said he was shocked when recently taking part at a debate hosted by an Islamic group at a UK university to find men and women segregated.

The leading physicist and atheist threatened to walk out unless seating was reorganised – only to find himself accused of intolerance by angry members of the audience.

No such problems existed in a similar debate in Australia, he recalled, suggesting Britons were cowed by those eager to protest whenever they felt ‘their cultural norms not being met’.

Krauss said, ‘There is a segment of the Islamic community that is very vocal. But I think the notion that these cultural norms should be carried out within a broader society that not only doesn’t share them, but is free and open, is a very serious problem.’

In other words, raise a whisper of comment – e.g. the satirical Mohammed cartoons – and the hard-liners scream ‘Islamaphobia!’ and heads must roll…which they mean quite literally!

The problem is compounded by the politically correct lobby, usually of the Left persuasion and still wedded to the failed doctrine of ‘multiculturalism,’ which turns a blind eye to the extremists’ jihad against the democratic tenet of free speech.

Which is why Islam is off limits to legitimate debate. And why hate preachers, like Abu Qatada and the hook-clawed Abu Hamza ran rings round the British legal system with relative impunity for years.

BLAME GAME: Lord Ahmed is said to have claimed the 'Jewish-owned' Press were responsible for his jailing

BLAME GAME: Lord Ahmed is said to have claimed the ‘Jewish-owned’ Press were responsible for his jailing for dangerous driving

It’s also why the Labour Party had only now been forced to suspend (again) its first Muslim peer, Lord Ahmed, for allegedly telling a Pakistani TV channel his 2009 conviction for dangerous driving – after a motorist in a parked car was killed by his Jaguar and a flurry of texts, sent and received moments before the crash, were later found on his cellphone – was all a ‘Jewish plot’.

According by The Times, which uncovered the interview, Ahmed fingered the ‘Jewish-owned Press’, for his light-rap, 12-week sentence, of which he served just 16 days.

No doubt this will come as a shock to Rupert Murdoch of News International, the Daily Mail’s Lord Rothermere and the Barclay brothers, owners of Telegraph Media Group, who, hitherto, never realised they were Jewish.

However, even if the accusation proves untrue – unsurprisingly, Ahmed denies it – it doesn’t absolve the outspoken peer from previous excesses.

For instance, in February 2005, Ahmed hosted a book launch in the House of Lords for a man who calls himself Israel Shamir, but is actually a Swedish arch anti-Semite called Jöran Jermas (Google him, as the noble lord should have done had he been a wiser man).

At the meeting – ‘Jews and the Empire’ – Shamir/Jermas claimed, ‘All the [political] parties are Zionist-infiltrated. Your newspapers belong to Zionists…Jews indeed own, control and edit a big share of mass media, this mainstay of Imperial thinking.’

And, even if Ahmed didn’t embrace the view Jews controlled the Press, he’d sponsored one of the most scurrilous supporters of the slur – and in the Mother of Parliaments, where decent politicians of all persuasions regarded such racist rants as anathema.

In any event, the Pakistan-born baron and property developer became no stranger to controversy.

In 2007, he lambasted Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, claiming the author had ‘blood on his hands.’ And last year Labour suspended the multi-millionaire amid reports he offered a £10M bounty for the capture of Presidents Obama and George W Bush, until an internal inquiry reinstated him.

Anyway, it would muddy the point that here, in the allegedly Free World, there is one religion in our midst we dare not discuss – however peace-loving its believers insist it is – and hold it up to the same, reasonable scrutiny we use to judge Christianity and Judaism.

So game over. Democratic freedom of speech lost.