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‘Claptrap’ indeed about national self-interest

18 January 2013


From Mr Richard Sweet

Sir, - I am not the first correspondent to point out that an article by Dr Alan Storkey contains significantly more passion than clear thinking; but his essay on the evils of national self-interest (Comment, 11 January) was an excellent example of the kind.

First, there was the rampant and unquestioning Europhilia: our European cousins are apparently living in a whirl of intermingled politics and languages, happily bailing each other out. Really? The last time Angela Merkel visited Greece, she was met by 50,000 protesters burning German flags. Riots in Madrid, Lisbon, Paris, and Brussels last November - principally against austerity measures and staggering levels of unemployment - perhaps show that this utopian vision is some way off.

Then there was the assumption that it is only we boorish Brits (I particularly liked the line about fish and chips and drunkenness in Spain) who stoop to self-interest - in contrast with the high-minded and altruistic French, Germans, and Italians. And there was I thinking that the French had engaged in all sorts of dodgy alliances and arms trading across North Africa and the Middle East; that the Italians had been somewhat inventive in assessing their levels of debt when entering the single currency; and that the Germans had used a favourable exchange rate (to them) to export their products around the world - and joblessness to Mediterranean Europe.

I apparently suffer from "intellectual confusion" when I think that the UK's staying out of the euro was in the national interest, and should note that Conservative and UKIP supporters have no moral, intellectual, or Christian basis for their international policies. Wow!

Dr Storkey and I would strongly agree that we Christians have a vision of an interconnected world which transcends national boundaries and interests. His article does no justice to this view by being so incoherently argued and so virulently partisan. He accuses Christians of accepting too readily "ideological claptrap". His essay is a fine example of exactly that.

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