Hugh Bayley, Member of Parliament for York, was recently asked to support an Early Day Motion on missile defence.  This motion, proposed by Peter Kilfoyle and signed by 90 MPs, noted the widespread concern at the US’s plans to increase its missile defence bases on the continent.  It called on the Government “to scrutinise US missile defence deployment plans in the UK and their implications for UK and European security as a whole.”  A rather timid demand given the destabilising threat from Bush’s legacy in foreign policy (A.K.A. “let’s escalate the nuclear threat”).

Hugh, however, found even the prospect of talking about it too much to cope with.  He has told us that missile defence is “something which the Government will be discussing with the new US Administration”, and that he thinks “it would be wise to wait until President Obama makes his view clear.”  And so, as he does not “think it is sensible to speculate about [Obama’s] views,” he cannot bring himself to support it.

Hugh appears to have adopted Tony Blair’s view of the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and America.  This can be encapsulated as: When the US President says “jump” the correct response is “how high?”

I might have to classify Hugh as part of the ‘invertebrate’ group of Labour backbenchers (a sizeable grouping).  These are MPs who lack the courage to act on even long-standing principles if they feel it will bring down even the mildest displeasure from Party leaders.  However I would first have to be convinced that my MP had any permanent principles, or even the willingness to think for himself.

There seems to have been a lot of discussion recently over the strange notion that citizens in Britain should be made to swear an oath of allegiance to the Government or the Queen or both, and various other measures of loyalty and citizenship.

For what it’s worth here is my suggestion for an oath. Repeat after me:

“There will never be true freedom until the last monarch is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”

(I used to think this was attributable to Voltaire – and I’m sure the author of Candide would be amused by the absurdities of ‘New Labour’ – however, it appears to be derived from Denis Diderot.)

Perhaps we should also force everyone to learn and recite a national anthem? I am not too keen on the current one since (1) I am a republican and (2) it was written to celebrate crushing rebellious scots by the Butcher of Cumberland.

How about one of these instead?

God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols)

The International (Eugène Pottier)

Between The Wars (Billy Bragg)

I Predict a Riot (Kaiser Chiefs)

Jerusalem (William Blake) – for England

Parcel of Rogues (Robert Burns) – For Scotland

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