Belfast Telegraph

Selective criticism on planet Williams

By Gail Walker

Fresh from his fudge over gay clergy, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams (inset) is trying to unite his flock by attacking another persecuted minority - Americans or, in its polite PC form, 'neo-cons'.

The Archbishop has had a good hard look at the military/political situation in the Middle East and concluded that 'neo-con' suggestions of military action in Syria and Iran were "criminal, ignorant and potentially murderous folly".

After a fact-finding visit to Syria, he said he didn't know "what planet these people (those advocating action against Iran) are living on" ..

Steady on, vicar. While not quite coming right out and saying it, Dr Williams is strongly implying that those who support military action would be, well, lunatic war criminals in the event of the current stand-off turning into a shooting match.

Of course, the parallels with western intervention in Iraq are all too obvious.

If it is murderous folly to intervene against Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon, it must have been murderous folly to intervene in Iraq to dismantle their presumed weapons of mass destruction.

But where does this leave the Rt Rev Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, who supported intervention against Iraq and who believes that the west may need to stand up 'strongly' to a nuclear Iran?

The Archbishop doesn't say. After all, it's much easier to hand down condemnation to faceless Americans than respected colleagues.

Bizarrely, Williams failed to mention Iran's nuclear programme (which, let's face it, might be a wee bit 'destabilising') or, more pertinently, the grandstanding of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He who described the Holocaust as "a myth" and called for Israel to be "wiped off the map".

Does the Archbishop see no cause for concern in any of this?

And what if the currently 'diplomacy' fails?

Is the west just to sit on its hands, whistle a few bars of Abide with Me and pray Mr Ahmadinejad is telling the truth about Iran using nuclear energy solely for peaceful purposes?

Sometimes, Archbishop, the world is not as we would wish it. Who the 'warmongers' are depends somewhat upon your vantage point.

To update, outrageously, Philip Larkin's quip about anti-Western 'intellectuals' of 30 years ago: 'When Iranian nukes rear skywards, what defence for you and me? Bruce Kent's crack Rifles? The Light Horse of the C of E?'

Who knows, the Church of England might even convene a special synod to discuss the situation? They may even issue a strong condemnation.

The princes party on

The inquest into the death of Diana is under way and we're all getting one last cheap turn out of the princess. Who can resist another gawp at that picture of Diana in her leopard skin swimsuit, with a bit of belly?

But those shots are nothing, really, compared to the 'last images' of the princess..

No, we haven't quite got as far as the very last pictures of her, lying moaning in the Merc, but we do get to see her roaming the interior of the Ritz with Dodi, and we can slack our jaws at how they both knew nothing of their imminent deaths.

Who'd have thought that here could be two people with just minutes left to live and yet they knew nothing about it? Just like, er, millions upon millions of people since time began.

Oh yes, we love it. Over here, now, we're emptying out her handbag. Look! She was on the pill!

It's a form of pornography or like a very public snuff movie. Quick, wait 'til you see this bit ?

And out, too, comes the raggle-taggle bag of rent-a-quotes for one last tuppence worth.

Like astrologer Debbie Frank re-heating her story one more time. (Though still not explaining, mind, how she didn't see the princess's death coming ?)

But that's inquests and public interest and fast-buck merchants.

What's more disturbing is the sheer opportunism of Prince William's spokesperson Paddy Harverson, after complaints the prince and his girlfriend Kate Middleton had been chased after leaving Bouji's in London.

The paparazzi photographer who got the clearest shots insists he did not chase the couple, but whatever the truth of the matter, the prince's PR man sensed the time couldn't have been better to make moves on the back of Diana.

With a clear nod at her inquest, Harverson said of the alleged paparazzi pursuit: "It seems incomprehensible, particularly at this time, that this behaviour is still going on."

It also seems odd given that what's going on in court is an inquest to determine the cause of death.

Just how many causes of death do the Windsors want? Assassination by paparazzi on the one hand, hiring a known drunk as a driver on the other.

Talking of alcohol and fast cars, William and Kate leave a nightclub around 2am, with William, we are told, looking distinctly over-refreshed. A day later, Harry and his girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, leave London club Amika with her apparently in tears after another boozy night out.

At the same time William is 'deeply saddened' at the death of his Army mentor in Afghanistan. I'm sure he is, but William and Harry can't have it both ways.

They are extraordinarily privileged young men who don't seem to have done that much yet in the way of public duty.

Don't the princes and their advisors realise that images of them exiting nightclubs, flushed about the gills, jar with footage of their Army pals returning home from the frontline in coffins?

No one is saying the princes can't have girlfriends or a social life or a few drinks, but does it always have to be so crassly public?

Harverson can protest all he wants, but he might as well shout into the wind. Most just see two extravagantly wealthy young toffs out for a good time who don't like being photographed when drunk.

Had their mother survived, what's the reckoning William and Harry would have been more aware of their responsibilities as princes, as well as the need to watch their public image?

Diana's swift embalming saved her body from the Paris heat on that last day of summer, but offered her no protection from one last peep show down the courts.

Their mother's being raked over one more time; their friends are falling on the frontline.

And the princes? They're out on the town. I mean, it seems incomprehensible, particularly at this time, that this behaviour is going on.

Gloria chuffed about baby

Congratulations to Russ Lindsay and wife Sally Meen on the news they are expecting a child next March.

And it's nice that Gloria Hunniford - mum of Russ's first wife, the late Caron - was able to add her warm wishes to the couple. Equally thrilled are Caron's two sons who reportedly have been drawing up lists of names for their new brother or sister.

There had been some speculation that Gloria, naturally enough, had found their wedding difficult to deal with, marking as it did that Russ was moving on.

Still, as Russ pointed out, news of Sally's pregnancy broke in the Press as he was visiting Caron's grave on what would have been her 45th birthday.

It's clear that his time with Caron remains an important part of his life and one suspects he will find ways of integrating the families.

A new baby is a good start.

The Last Word

Michael Douglas has reportedly confessed to a phobia about women's hairy armpits. Fair enough, Michael, but just be hugely thankful that more women don't share a great fear about old blokes with turkey necks...

Incredible sulk fools Brit public

First of all he sulked and skulked until nobody in the Labour party dared oppose him in a leadership election.

Then he wheedles his way out of a cast-iron guaranteed referendum on the European Treaty.

Now, after a lot of flirty banter and discreet undoing the top button of the blouse as well as playing energetic footsie under the table, he leaves the British public high and dry re November 1.

And they thought they were on a promise - the mugs.

With that track record, no one can say that Gordon Brown suffers from election fever.

But fair's fair, the very idea of ballot boxes does seem to make him shiver and go a bit sweaty.

Belfast Telegraph


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