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Editor, John Evans

Saturday Ramble: Scotland on the brink

On the brink

I once lived in Edinburgh for two years, finally driven back south by sub-zero temperatures and bitter winds off the North Sea. A common tale, I suspect.

Despite an insatiable taste for John Buchan novels and the books of Sir Walter Scott, it became clear to me that one doesn’t actually have to live there to enjoy them.

That’s a lesson every wanderer north should appreciate. Nothing makes Andalucia more enticing than a winter spent in the vicinity of Princes Street.

Finally, usually as the second winter hoves into view — and there’s nothing more ominous than that — all one’s compasses start to point south with an intensifying urgency that can’t be denied.

Me? I spent the next two years on the Swan River in Western Australia and soon after, seven on the Costa Del Sol. Not Torremolinos, though, but the delightful Benalmadena Pueblo halfway up the mountain behind.

“Oh, the heat!” exclaimed a Scottish relative who arrived for a short break in a our new villa with spectacular views over Gibraltar and Morocco. “Gimmee Glasgie any day,” he groaned, wiping away another cupful of salty sweat

And that perfectly sums up the northern temperament. Self-torture as a pledge of loyalty to the dark land of football and haggis.

Now, the auld country is to vote on becoming even more isolated from warmth and civilisation. Oh, well, they’ve always got the Buchan books to cheer them up on those endless inky nights with the icy winds reverberating through the frozen rafters.

What makes me a little annoyed though is that we English, Welsh, Cornish and Northern Irish have no vote in this fight. A proposal to smash our country up is to be decided by a handful of bolshie Scots — most of the sensible ones already live south of the border.

You don’t have to go on proving your name is Cameron, Dave! But if you do break up our, until now, rock solid country, and send it tumbling down world league tables, you will go down as an unmitigated disaster for this country and not many people will forgive you for that.

John Evans

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Is David Cameron religious?

Cameron serious

This is a question often asked since Dave became Prime Minister. Bloomberg seems to have come up with the answer: a discreet “yes”.

Like all middle-class Englishmen he has been shaped by his education and upbringing not to talk about religious matters beyond acknowledging a link with the Church of England.

However, recent events seem to have overcome the inhibition: “The Bible tells us to bear one another’s burdens. After the day I’ve had, [the Maria Miller sacking and PMQs] I’m definitely looking for volunteers.” *

According to Bloomberg, “he thanked churches for their work in society, including the growth of food banks to help the poor, and urged them to speak up for persecuted Christians around the world”.

He also referred to Jesus as “our saviour,” and went on to talk about his Christian faith in general. Moreover, the PM admits slipping into the sung Eucharist at St. Mary Abbots church in Kensington “every other Thursday. I find a little bit of peace and hopefully a bit of guidance.”

I love this next bit: “In a 2009 set-piece speech in opposition he borrowed the structure of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.” He was clearly aiming high, even then.

Linking his Big Society message with Christianity in general, he went on: “Jesus invented the Big Society 2,000 years ago; I just want to see more of it. If there are things that are stopping you from doing more, think of me as a giant Dyno-Rod clearing the drains.”

Watch out for the cartoonists take on that one. Let’s hope they are not too risque.

It is good to see a major leader going beyond his professional brief, without the excruciating self promotion of a George W. Bush.

* Miller, the former Culture Secretary, drove the policy of gay marriage, which has split the Tory party down the middle.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming soon: Practical Mysticism: A different way of looking at the world.

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Political Commentary: China will despise us for being supplicants

LionsThe political Left is stuffed with shibboleths, high-minded principles and ideologies. Every potential decision is examined for its conformity with a tangle of intellectual notions supposedly essential to the cause. The real world is passed by with a sniff.

That’s why the Left always fails in government and why the Conservatives have to dismantle its Heath-Robinson creations before getting on with their own agenda.

The last period of Labour administration lasted an interminable 13 years, leaving a calamitous mess behind for the Tories to clear up. Almost every Whitehall ministry is still in intensive care, especially the Treasury.

To make matters worse, their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, have a similar tendency for ideological rigidity. The result is that David Cameron is getting a fatal reputation for being one of them and not a true Conservative.

In his zeal for high office, he has probably accepted the worst of all possible worlds: floundering in power and not being “one of us”. It seems a poor reward for holding prime-ministerial office.

It’s perhaps no wonder that he spends so much time abroad. Currently he is doing the rounds in China, giving the impression he’s more of a supplicant than a partner to a still hastily developing third-world country. China’s wealth lies in its government’s control of the modest earnings of a vast population, coupled with a ruthless command economy.

What Britain needs are more world-class companies and superior products. We take Burberry for granted, but it’s wildly successful in the Far East — without number 10’s help. There are many more like that, but they tend to be relatively small. They do, however, stand out for being quintessentially British and a bit toffish, just what a new ruling class is looking for.

Selling services to China, as Cameron is trying to do, will be a hard slog. It doesn’t help that George Osborne has already begged cash from them for new nuclear power stations, which the EU seems to be contesting, and for HS2.

Isn’t it time to draw breath and work out a proper strategy for Britain’s exports? For example, assisting companies to take on their own sales efforts abroad.

John Evans

Publishing soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world.

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Saturday Ramble: Cameron’s task at the Tory Conference


Politicians have a tendency to parade policy ideas carefully crafted to attract specific groups of voters. The end result usually resembles a chaotic jigsaw puzzle with little overall coherence.

Manifesto-itis is the bane of British politics. It confuses the electorate and switches off swathes of potential supporters who will probably not vote at all. The problem is exacerbated by party leaders deliberately pitching for coalition partners in the event of a hung parliament. Coalition represents defeat not victory.

The real need is to concentrate on a few popular big-hitting ideas beloved by the core vote, while also defining the way they will be implemented in office. Any fudge will lessen the impact and increase the doubt in voter’s minds.

David Cameron — a born fudge merchant — seems to have got the message. A few big ideas are coming across: a referendum on Europe; leaving the “human rights” courts in Strasbourg; bringing back British justice into law; holding the line on the economy; bearing down hard on immigration. These are popular policies right across the political spectrum, not only in the core vote.

Soft policy options designed to appeal to Liberal Democrats will not do. The Tories need a powerful message going into the next election. Labour has given them the space by openly espousing a New Marxism, a stroke of luck that deserves an emphatic response.

In the face of the retreat to Old Labour values which all but destroyed this country in the past, potential supporters will be turned off by soggy centrist waffle from the Conservatives.

It may not be in David Cameron’s nature, but he really needs to change the public’s image of him by serving up a sizzling, tasty dish at this week’s party conference.

John Evans

Coming up: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website,

Author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

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Saturday Ramble: Googlers final curtain, Cameron’s nemesis, Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers

Google founders, Larry Page and Serge Brin, are both in the wars healthwise. Page has revealed that he has a nerve disease that has partially paralysed his vocal cords, while Brin has announced he could have Parkinson’s Disease.

According to Mic Wright on Telegraph Blogs they are cooperating with a man from Apple to start a new company, Calico, specialising in preserving the body after death prior to “reawakening” it when the technology is available to cure their afflictions.

Well, good luck with that. What the Googlers should know, however, is that the very essence of them — the soul — leaves the body at death with only the physical shell left behind.

If the bodies were “brought back” to life by advanced technology, they would have no sense of self or remembrance of things past. They would be human-shaped lumps of flesh, with no intelligence or consciousness of the world: Zombies, in fact.

Not even the whizz-kids of Silicon Valley can cheat death. Technology is not the answer to everything.

* * * * *

The general consensus on the Lib Dem conference is that it displayed a new maturity arising from three years in government; Nick Clegg is the master of all he surveys and his persistent rival, Vince Cable, made a fool of himself by continuing to project his dotty desire to be leader.

That may be so. My impression, watching occasionally on television, was how sparse the audience was, and how tepid the applause in response to the tired confection of platitudes from the speakers.

Next week we can look forward to another shouty display of wishful thinking and bad acting from Ed Miliband — I’ve often wondered why last year’s wooden speech was so well received.

Then comes the finale. David Cameron, Prime Minister of these “small islands”, addresses the nation with what could signal the beginning of the General Election campaign.

I don’t get the sense that the country is in the mood for more of a Continental style coalition, each party cancelling out the other’s most distinctive policies. I think they will vote decisively one way or t’other.

The wild card is next year’s Scottish referendum on independence. A Yes vote would alter everything, turmoil rapidly following and all bets off.

Labour would lose many seats, as it has a decisive advantage among Scottish voters, although it’s not clear when the first Scottish election would be. The Tories could well be punished by their own supporters for organising the demise of the United Kingdom.

Cameron would emerge as a weak leader for allowing Alex Salmond to sell him a pup. It would be much too late to replace him for the May, 2015 election.

The Conservatives would go into it with a lame duck leader that everyone knew wouldn’t last long after the votes are counted. Nemesis is waiting in the wings.

If you enjoy political turbulence, stand by, your desires may be about to come true.

* * * * *

There’s a lot of chatter going on about what Frank Sinatra called “the final curtain”.

Death is the topic of the moment: Eleanor Mills had a recent column in The Sunday Times and Giles Fraser had a go on Thought for the Day this morning. Everybody’s at it.

I like to think my recent book The Eternal Quest for Immortality, plus all the follow-up pieces on this site had something to do with it. But there’s a much simpler reason: the advance guard of the Baby Boomers are reaching a certain age when it becomes plain that life no longer goes on forever.

Even the movers and shakers of Silicon Valley are preparing cryogenic graves for themselves (see above). The Boomers never did anything by halves. They are not going to go quietly.

I fervently hope that the next generation will be less of a handful than we have been.

John Evans

… who is the author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.

Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website,

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