The Spectator's Notes

Why the next Tory leader is likely to be in the ‘Leave’ camp

Also in Charles Moore's notes: why Nigel Farage would not want Britain out; more on Bishop Bell

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

Here is a thought for all those Tory MPs calculating their personal advantage in the forthcoming EU referendum: unless the vote is an absolutely overwhelming Remain, the next leader of the Conservative party — whose day is no longer so far off — will come from the Leave camp. This will happen, obviously, if Leave wins, but also if Leave loses but does well, because most party supporters will only back someone who feels their pain and can reconcile them afterwards.

Another thought: why would Nigel Farage want Britain to vote Leave? Then he would be redundant. Study him in the light of this thought and you will see that it explains his behaviour in the campaign.

It is surprising that the mob of assorted witch-hunters and iconoclasts now scouring the country for monuments to dead worthies to knock down have not yet lighted on Christ Church, Oxford. In the cathedral, which is also the college chapel, there is an altar in memory of Bishop George Bell. Bell, who was both an undergraduate and a don at Christ Church, was a famous Bishop of Chichester, courageous both in aiding German Christians against Hitler when most English ones stood idly by, and then for attacking the Allied bombing of German civilians during the war. His stand on the latter point is thought to have cost him the Archbishopric of Canterbury. Last year (see Notes, 7 November) his former diocese declared that Bell, who died in 1958, had abused a young child about 65 years ago. He was immediately airbrushed. Bishop Bell House in Chichester was renamed. Bishop Bell School is following, as is the University of Chichester, which is in such a frenzy because it has a Bishop Bell hall of residence that it is renaming all its halls. Why has Christ Church not done likewise? Why is a child abuser still honoured there? For the simple reason that we have no idea whether he was a child abuser. Nothing has been proved against Bell. All the Christ Church authorities — who were not informed about the process which condemned Bell — have to go on is the word of the panel of ‘experts’ who appear to have believed the alleged victim without hearing the case for Bell. In the absence of Natural Justice, and proper process, the Dean of Christ Church, Martyn Percy, is firm. A person is innocent until proved guilty. Unless and until Bell gets justice from the diocese which has made him a prophet without honour in his own county, perhaps his altar in Oxford will become his shrine — a protest, like that of Thomas Becket at Canterbury, against the abuse of power.

Last week, the alleged victim gave an interview in the Brighton Argus, under the pseudonym of Carol. Her version of what happened offered many things which a defence lawyer would have probed, and did nothing to allay anxiety about the process, but she did add an interesting point. She said that, having been, as she saw it, fobbed off by the Diocese of Chichester when she first made her allegations in 1995, she later (in about 2010) emailed Rowan Williams, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, about this. She says she got no reply. Dr Williams says that he is ‘quite certain’ that he never saw Carol’s email, and she says she did not keep a copy of it. So what happened? Did Lambeth Palace lose the email, suppress it, decide it wasn’t worth showing to the archbishop, or not notice it at all? Or did the email never arrive? (On this last point, at least, computer experts should surely be able to establish the truth.) One of the features of this story has been the readiness of current church leaders, frightened by the imminent Goddard inquiry, to trash dead predecessors. Not only has Bell been condemned, but so has the late Eric Kemp, Bishop of Chichester in 1995, for allegedly failing the alleged victim when she told him her story. If Carol is to be heard and believed, as the Church keeps asserting, should not Lambeth in Dr Williams’s day also be examined? As matters stand, self-protection by a nervous Church seems just as pronounced when it caves in to accusations of child abuse as when it tried to cover abuse up.

Look at the retraction made this week by the Bishop of Durham, Paul Butler, who is in charge of the Church’s child abuse procedures. At the end of last month, he told the House of Lords that ‘there has been no declaration that we [the Church authorities] are convinced that this [the abuse by Bell] took place’. So Bell might not have been a child abuser after all! On Monday, he declared that his words ‘were not as clear as they could have been’. He explained that the Church had ‘accepted the veracity’ of the claims against Bell. ‘The overriding goal,’ he said, ‘was the search for the truth.’ ‘Independent legal and medical reports’ were ‘duly considered’. ‘When faced with accusations of abusive behaviour,’ he went on, ‘we cannot ignore it or pretend it did not occur.’ If the overriding goal is the truth, why was no one who knew Bell consulted, nor his current biographer, who actually works in Chichester, nor his exhaustive papers? And while of course the Church should listen to accusations of abusive behaviour, to test accusations thoroughly is not to ‘pretend they did not occur’: it is the essence of establishing truth. Bishop Butler praised the Church for ‘a step-change in our commitment to openness’. If that is so, please could he openly tell us what the independent legal and medical reports actually said (and what reliable medical information exists 65 years after the alleged events), and what other evidence was considered, and why the civil case was never publicly heard but cut off with a payment. Now that the Church authorities, not content with their original bald statement of Bell’s wrongdoing, have supported ‘Carol’ in speaking out, publicly attacked those who disagree with their judgments and let out more and more titbits of information, wouldn’t it be cleaner to lay out the entire process on the table, so that everyone can see how open it was?

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  • paul

    The lost sheep Nigel Farage will return to the fold being heralded as a returning hero as leader of the Nasty Party and the sale of homemade jam will increase in all of the WI’s in the UK and everyone in England will be honour bound to sing Jerusalem before they start their working day therefore I am glad I live in God’s Country – Wales – where our Junior Doctor’s do not strike or battle our Assembly Government !!

    • Seax

      Perhaps that is because they are treated better by the Welsh Government.

      “”There is a good reason that junior doctors are not on strike in Wales,” he said.

      “It is because we value our NHS workforce, and work with them to modernise and bring through change.

      “With a growing social care crisis in England, and the continuing doctors’ strike, it is time the Tories focused on getting their own house in order.

      “We accept that the NHS in Wales has challenges ahead – just like every healthcare system in Europe – and we are up for meeting that challenge.

      “That is why we spend more on the NHS and on social care than in England; why access to cancer drugs is faster and why we are investing more than ever in training nurses and other NHS staff.”

      Carwyn Jones

      • Bertie

        “”That is why we spend more on the NHS and on social care than in England; why access to cancer drugs is faster and why we are investing more than ever in training nurses and other NHS staff.””

        Remind me where that money comes from again!

  • seangrainger

    The god botherers inc Moore and Hitchens bang on about Bell from their minuscule minority position. I am still more worried about Hanratty.

  • JoeCro

    The vote will be remain and that will be that. We should get on with making Europe work rather than bicker about potty ideas about leaving the greatest Union the world has ever seen.

    • Rocksy

      Just like its model the Soviet one

      • amicus

        I see little or no similarity between the two.

        • Conway

          Politburo, powerless Duma, strong leader, authoritarian style, lack of democracy (ignoring voters and a one party state), crackdown on unorthodoxy, destruction of Christianity, multiple former nations all held together under USSR rule – do you really see little similarity between the two? I’ll draw the parallels; Commission, EU parliament, Merkel, do as I say not as I do (France and Germany debt to GDP in the euro vs Greece for example), several referenda ignored and Ireland made to vote again and soon only EU-wide approved parties will be eligible for election funding, political correctness and trawling Facebook for anti-EU sentiments, importing millions of people inimical to Christianity and the EU’s intention to destroy the nation state and subsume them into a USE.

          • Seax

            The Nation State does not exist in the UK. We have the Cities of London and Westminster and their servants. Serfs, if you will.

            I often wonder if righties think that the USA would be better off as a series of small nations and if they think they would be a super power now had they not ‘united’.

            I suspect they cannot answer this without exploding their brains.

      • Seax

        Whist the Tories send out jobs to the Communits countries whilst begging them to overcharge us for electricity.

        The Tories are the ones that want to support communism….

  • mikewaller

    It is amazing how determined Moore is that it should all now come out with regard to Bishop Bell, given that in respect of Greville Janner, he seemed to want it all shut down once the guy was incapacitated, first by illness then by death. Knowing what we now know about what some priests (supposedly exceptionally good people) of all faiths have incontrovertibly done, we cannot allow any form of incapacity to provide a “get out of jail free” card when such serious accusations are made. This seems to me particularly important as a bulwark against the wickedness of those who have sought to cover such things up.

    One accepts that the right to face your accuser is inevitably denied, but given what an exceptionally good defence our “beloved” lawyers are capable of mounting on behalf of folk so bad they dare not put them in the witness box, this does not seem to me to be an overwhelming objection. What I would suggest is that we borrow back from America something like their Grand Juries by whom it could first be decided whether there was actually a viable case to answer. That, I think, would strike a fairer balance with the deceased who may or may not have done something awful and the still living person who may or may not have had his or her life thus blighted.

  • Conway

    Given that Nigel Farage has been working for 20 years for the opportunity to put LEAVE to the vote and he left a well paid job to do so, I fail to see why you think he doesn’t want to leave. That’s the sort of reasoning that claims that David Cameron, despite his words and actions to the contrary, is actually a eurosceptic.

    • George Earle

      I entirely agree with Conway. From being a member of his Party for 18 years and often meeting him, I believe he is absolutely genuine in his desire to get our self government back and not just keep a job for himself like most of those so-called Eurosceptic Tory MPs. By insisting on fighting elections everywhere he has made UKIP into an effective pressure group and forced Cameron to give us a Referendum. Charles Moore’s comment strikes me as being pathetic Tory sniping and is totally unworthy of a journalist whom I always admire.As for when he can finish this job and embrace a much deserved rest I would think TV interviewing would welcome him.

      • Seax

        His City ex-collegues will be very happy. The City wants even the weak EU controls removed so they can be ‘nimble’. We know what ‘nimble’ means already…

  • Lady Magdalene

    Of course Farage wants the UK to vote LEAVE. He’s given up 20 years of his life to fight for our freedom. He’s put up with smears, slanders, insults, personal attacks, accidents and everything else The Establishment could throw at him.

  • FrankS2

    I doubt Nigel Farage would be short of job opportunities if we leave the EU

  • Joey Edgecombe

    “Why would Nigel Farage want Britain to vote Leave? Then he would be redundant….”

    Has this really just occurred to you? Don’t insult our intelligence. Of course Farage and the other UKIP MEP’s know they are voting themselves out of a job, but they do that honorably in sacrifice for our country’s future.

    Besides, Farage does very well on his radio spots and could be a highly sought-after after dinner speaker.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Justice is not justice unless it is SEEN to be done. Bishop Bell, unable to defend himself (and despite all my differences with his theology) deserves my and your support. Why? Because who will it be next if we do not? You, maybe?