Death is not the answer

A few days’ ago, a US court sentenced the Boston bomber to death. While I have no doubt at all that he is guilty, I question the sentence he was given because in the 21st Century, a country like America should be setting a better example.We look up to the US as a land of Freedom, democracy and liberty.

Is Capital Punishment outdated?

The death sentence is the justice of revenge. It is out of place today. It should be abolished in the 32 US states where it is currently practiced. The morality of Capital punishment is one thing (and I think it is fairly straight-forward), but it also eats up huge legal fees and clogs up the court system as inmates contest the process and linger on death row for years. The Financial costs to taxpayers of capital punishment is higher than that of keeping someone in prison for life. It also invites sympathy for the criminal who dies.

It is almost 50 years since Ruth Ellis (last woman), Peter Anthony Allen and Gwynne Owen Evans (the last men hanged in the UK)

It is almost 50 years since the last person was hanged in the UK. The death penalty was abolished for murder in 1965, though it had already ceased to be automatic and in most cases the death penalty was formally abolished in 1969. I think there was still a spurious death sentence lingering for High Treason and this was formally abolished in 1998 under the Crime and Disorder Act. Oddly, decapitation remained a form of execution on the statute books in the UK until 1973. Despite this, though, the death penalty remains in many countries. It is a permanent record of what the Courts have decided. It cannot be reversed. It has often been wrong, but more than that, it is a statement of desperation by the State and smells of bitterness and aggression. This is not the way to do justice. Already, there are undertakings to abolish the death penalty in Albania, Cambodia, Mongolia, the Gabon, Kyrgyzstan and even Russia (indefinitely suspended despite pressure to reintroduce it to fight extremism), yet the US retains the right to dispatch whoever it judges guilty. We can hardly criticise Saudi Arabia, for instance, when the US blatantly does the same thing- and cannot even appeal to the Divine sanction of sharia law!

No. America must stop, and then we can appeal for clemency elsewhere.

the European Convention on Human Rights

The European Convention on Human Rights, in line with a 2007 UN resolution that called for a Global moratorium, firmly opposes the Death Penalty and while the UK remains signed up to that convention, there is no chance that it will ever be reintroduced in Britain. But the Convention is under threat. I do not, for one instance, think that a man like Cameron would even consider restoration of the Death penalty, but I fear Farage might, and who knows how brightly the Farage star may be shining in 20 years as he continues to lead his people’s army from the gates of Vienna towards the gates of Number 10.

Today, in the US alone nearly 3,000 linger on death row. Included in this number now is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

dz

Drugs ban

And though it gets harder and harder to do the job, the US seems determined. In 2011, the pharmeceutical company Hospira bowed to pressure from Italy to stop producing the anesthetic sodium thiopental which is part of the cocktail of drugs routinely administered in US execution chambers. Today, the EU has banned the export to the US of any medicines that might be used as part of a lethal injection system. This might be behind Utah’s decision to abandon the lethal injection in favour of the firing squad. Shades of North Korea, there I suppose! Since 2009, 1,193 people have been executed in North Korea, though admittedly, only a few have faced anti-aircraft fire or flame-throwers. But many have been executed in public. It is barbaric maybe, but it is only 150 years since execution was regarded as a public outing in the UK.

The North Korea example is important because it demonstrates that justice is not always fair while the death penalty is irreversable. Apparently, people have been shot for making international telephone calls, for possessing a South Korean Bible. We cannot give politicians, however successful they may or may not be at the ballot-box, or public opinion, however whipped up by the media it may become, the opportunity to do this in Britain. The EU Convention is a moral safeguard- it would be better to reform the Convention than abolish its rule here in the UK.

Palmyra needs saving

Palmyra or Tadmor was a place famed for barbarity and splendour. And history has so far seen fit to preserve its architectural merits lest we forget. It was a place of astounding progress and beauty. I remember a friend had a girlfriend with the improbable name of Zenobia. She was named after one of the great queens of Palmyra who led an invasion against Rome at about the same time Russell Crowe was fighting in the arena in Gladiator I think.

Personally, every time I read CS Lewis’ first Narnia book- or the first one chronologically, “the Magician’s Nephew”- and every time I read the chapter set in Charn, I think of Palmyra’s desert landscape and majestic, yellow columns. I am afraid if ISIS has its way, it will be more like Charn than ever.

The city itself was inhabited in some form until early in the 20th Century when the border arrangements negotiated at the end of the 1st World war made it possible to move inhabitants into a nearby village and begin archeological excavations in earnest. What emerged was wonderful though this is today threatened by the seizure of ISIS.

Silk road

Palmyra preserved a prosperous society that was on a crossroads, was famed for its peculiar mix of Aramaic and Greek, a city at one end of the silk road, probably the last great stop on the caravan trail from Uzbekistan to Istanbul or conversely, the first great stop on the road to Samarkand.

Solomon/ Suleiman

Before ISIS, many people claimed ownership of Palmyra, not least King Solomon, (in arabic and the Koran, Suleiman or Sulayman regarded as prophet and king) who supposedly fortified the city (2 Chron 8:4). In Islam and Judaism, Solomon is presented as an icon of Wisdom. He was also the husband of many wives…Anyway, when it comes to the later Jewish writings, there was certainly enough intermarriage still going on in the post-biblical period for Tadmor/Palmyra to be singled out in the Talmud.

Screen shot 2015-05-24 at 15.47.38

Talmud debate

A mamzer is a child born to a gentile man and a jewish woman. While thoroughly Jewish, the child faces some limitations in terms of marriage. (the Talmud, incidentally assumed that Jesus is a mamzer, the son of Miriam and a roman soldier probably called Pantira. It might explain the tradition that Jesus was unmarried in a society where all men were married off routinely) The talmud (Yevamoth 16, a-b, which deals mostly with marriage laws relating to close relatives) worries about accepting converts from Palmyra. It worries specifically that they may be children of the former slaves of Solomon or that they might be “daughters of Jerusalem”, descendants of those girls seized by the assyrians and taken into exile. I am not sure how this section should best be interpreted – that these people do not need to convert because they are inherently Jewish seems the most probable understanding. But it helps to colour the image of a city that lay on a crossroads and had its own multi-faith society.

Odenaethus

One of the giants of Palmyran society was Odaenathus, or “little ear”, a puppet king in the final days of the Roman empire before it moved on to Byzantium. He was already using the title “King of Kings” and had he not been assassinated may have had plans on the Imperial throne in Rome itself. Zenobia was his second wife.

Why destruction is wrong

Today, very few people have seen Palmyra- neither the little town that has grown up around the ancient ruins, nor the ruins themselves. And what is worrying now is that few will ever again see Palmyra. Should we care? Indeed we should! Not just because of the intricacy and brilliance of the architectural decoration, but also because we should never smash and destroy those artifacts we do not understand or just because we are annoyed with other people. That way is a temper-tantrum worthy of a spoilt child. The wanton destruction, indeed, done in the name of ISIS is actually against all the traditions of Islam which saw in the early centuries the careful collection of pagan texts from Greece and India and their translation into arabic- this fused ideas and gave us modern Mathematics as well as the kickstarter to the Western renaissance. What Islam has always done best is to appropriate and convert whatever it finds. This is how the Church of Agia Sophia survived till today by plastering over the mosaics and by adapting the existing building to the needs of a new Religion.

sinan

By studying and appropriating the architecture of Agia Sophia, the great master Sinan was able to develop the blueprint for the modern Mosque. The destruction of history in Syria and Iraq, in contrast, is just another demonstration that ISIS is an heretical manifestation and Islam needs to hurry up and- as a world-wide community- condemn terrorism for what it really is. It is brutal, destructive and thoughtless.

Some examples of Persian/etc miniature depicting Suleiman, Prophet and King:

salomon2salomon 38d64fcf15e76f58613312f5519e34f42solomon jinnkingsolomonminiature

But Palmyra is even more important- it was built on the orders of a Koranic prophet سليمان Solomon or Suleiman, a divinely appointed Monach, a man who tradition tells us ruled the Jinn and also spoke to animals, a man who, above all, was faithful to God throughout his long and prosperous life- Sura: 27:15 – it is not right to destroy what the wisdom of God has given to us. The wisdom of God in Greek is Hagia Sophia, the name of the Church that was converted into a Mosque in 1453 and is now a museum in Istanbul.

Challenge
If Palmyra was indeed built on the orders of King Solomon, a man venerated in all three great religions, Christian, Jewish and Muslim, it is probably best to preserve what in wisdom he commanded to be built or at least to be protected. It is a challenge, then, with their history of iconoclasm, to see what ISIS intends, for if they destroy this site, then they are destroying something that was protected by a prophet, a great architectural work inspired by God-given wisdom. Can ISIS dare to be greater than Solomon in all his glory? I wonder.

Ireland looks set to back Gay marriage

Tremendous news from Ireland-

I think it is time to reflect on what this means and why the arguments trotted out about Church policy and Biblical morality are misplaced. There is room for discussion on what Biblical texts might mean as there is also room for debating the rights and wrongs of Canon law, but civil marriage is quite a different issue and is about equality and Human Rights. It is not about “Adam and Steve” or any such absurdity.

This is what I wrote a few months ago about the religious texts:

My analysis in the 3 films dealing with the 6 texts in the bible that appear to condemn homosexuality is underpinned by a text that was discovered about 15 years ago and was written by a man called Photios of Constantinople (Icon below). This text seems to me to nail the final and elusive verse that simply defied interpretation and frankly defied analysis altogether. So many of the Pauline letters are muddled because they were hastily written and written also to suit a specific and lost purpose.

A few weeks ago, I was condemned on twitter as a “homophobe” because someone, actually a friend of David Coburn MEP, had seen the title frames of these three films and assumed that I am some sort of religious nut championing a “traditionalist” cause. I am not, of course, but I hope I am using traditional tools and I trust my scholarship is sound.

So much has been made by the church and later scholars about the prohibition of homosexuality in the bible and it is based on assumptions that I think are completely misplaced and an approach to religion that is prejudiced, dismissive and aggressive. If 5 of the texts can be proven to be ambiguous at best about condemning homosexuality, then I believed it stood to reason that I might be allowed to look more closely at the questionable Romans verse to see if that verse too was ambiguous. It is not, I found. In fact, when read in the context of what Photios says, it makes it quite clear that homosexuality does not belong to the category of sins that is “damning”- what catholicism would later call “mortal sin” and what Paul says are sins worthy of “eternal death”. Eternal death, instead, greets those who are malicious and spiteful, as well as those who judge one another. So, those people who want to toss out condemnations supposedly supported by spurious proof texts from scripture- be warned! It is a double-edged sword!

I am not here saying that the Church is about to promote homosexual relationships. I am simply saying that the Church needs to reflect that its harsh tone should be modified, as indeed, the present Pope has already done- “who are we to judge?”. Also, I think it is by no means certain that the Bible intends to be so decisive on this matter. The Church moves very slowly, but if we can establish that homosexuality is not a cause of savage condemnation, then there is room for progress.

It is inclusion, not exclusion that should be our aim. Ireland has recognised that, because- let’s face it, the majority of people whop voted for same sex marriage were not gay. This was altruism in practice and it is commendable.

The piece that follows starts with an analysis of a very specific text and should be seen in the light of my three films links to which are included below:

Photios of Constantinople and our new film

photios icon

Photios

Here is an icon of Photios, sometimes called Photius in the West and Saint Photios the Great in Orthodoxy.

We have just finished a new educational film about the 6 texts used in the Bible to condemn homosexuality.Because it is only 40 minutes long (it is divided into 3 parts on youtube) Below are parts 1 and 2:

interrupt

I am afraid there are a number of glosses that i have made and which I will try to correct here over a number of blogs. I am aware that I have not really done justice (slight pun) to the text by Photios that is the lynch-pin of the main argument in the film. The issue I am discussing here occurs in the third part on youtube and the link to that part is here.

What Photios says

I have provided the Greek text of what Photios writes on the film, though it is on-screen fleetingly so here it is again:

photios on romans flat

Photios was very interested in the way Greek changes over the years from the various forms of Ancient /Attic Greek used by Homer to the Greek of the Septuagint and then the koine used in the New Testament. Photios was familiar on a day-by-day basis with the Byzantine Greek of the Imperial court and the Church but there was probably yet another more colloquial version of that in the streets of “the city”, H Polis.

Colwell’s rule

So his greatest work is probably his lexicon, which has helped scholars today to work out how words have changed their meanings and how Greek grammar has evolved. This is particularly important if you want to avoid the nonsense of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who wrongly ascribe at best an Attic grammar to the New Testament and at worst some inexperienced mumbo-jumbo. I met a man today who was sitting by the canal reading a bible. I asked which version and he said “the New World Translation”. I could not get away fast enough! There are endless errors in this Jehovah’s witness text, some simply bizarre- like the use of “torture stake” for “cross” because the Jehovah’s witnesses do not accept that Jesus died on a cross and the refusal to translate any words for hell because they do not believe in hell either. Anyway, the crucial passage is John 1:1 (in every manuscript except Codex L which has ὁ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος)- here is the correct version: Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ Λόγος, καὶ ὁ Λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, καὶ Θεός ἦν ὁ Λόγος the last phrase of which is in Greek a form of Yoda-speak: “And God the word he was” or some such “Star wars” jabber. But it should be translated: “the word was God” but is translated by the Jehovah’s witnesses as “the word was a god”. Origin thinks that John omits the article because he refers to Jesus as God and not to the Father and Origin argues, “the true God is Ho Theos” (Commentary on John Book 2, chapter 2) which comes close to the Jehovah’s witness position of denying the Trinity, but not quite. Later scholars absolutely reject this: Bultmann, for example, is incandescent at the thought that the omitted definite article means only or merely “divine”: Denn man kann doch nicht verstehen: er war ein Gott, ein Gottwesen, als ob θεός ein Gattungsbegriff wäre- (he thinks, instead, that the word THEOS has some special grammatical rules of its own) but there is another solution. Here it is: In koine greek, though not in Attic greek, there was an increasing temptation to omit the article when a definite noun (a name) precedes the verb or when a noun should be identified as the predicate. This is often called “Colwell’s rule” and other instances can be found in Mark 15:39 and Matthew 27:42- βασιλεὺς Ἰσραήλ ἐστιν. The rule can be adjusted slightly because the “anthrous” noun, that is a noun without a definite article, can sometimes (as maybe here) simply be a way of establishing importance or prominence. The purpose of this paragraph is not so much to rebutt the Jehovah’s witness but to demonstrate that Greek was at the time when the New Testament was written in a state of flux and that Photios understood this.

In his commentary, therefore, on Romans 2, Photios considers Paul’s use of words very carefully and concludes that Paul was being specific about a particular part of the law/ the Torah.

Tracking down the fragment

Only a fragment of this commentary exists today and is found in a collection of fragments so it is itself a bit obscure. I managed to track down the text but struggled with the translation and called on an old friend in Athens who sent me off to see a man he called Bill who turned out to be the same man who had first “discovered” the text and published a small article on it in the early part of this century. When looking at obscure texts, the chances are that you are dealing with just a handful of people who know about them, translate them and use them. So, I had a fruitful and entertaining correspondence with Professor Bill Berg, the very man responsible for digging up this brilliant little gem. For my part, I was struggling with elements of the paragraph which seemed to me to be deeply anti-semitic and he agreed. So that was that. They are not important to the argument but they suggest that the man who was writing was doing so quickly and with alot of passion. It is not really surprising that this was the man who single-handedly fractured the Church. Many Catholics today dismiss the “filioque” dispute as a linguistic quibble and I remember having a long debate about this over a few weeks in the letters page of the Athens News, but the Greeks and Russians still regard the issues in the filioque as central to their decision to perpetuate the schism. For Photios and the modern Orthodox one of the central issues of the filioque is its origin in the writings of Augustine and this itself taints the theology of Augustine for the Orthodox.certainly. I think this is why there is a slightly different understanding of “original sin” in the East.

Romans 2: 26-27:

Back to Romans. The verse Photios is considering is Chapter 2. 26-27. This is what it looks like in Greek:  ἐὰν οὖν ἡ ἀκροβυστία τὰ δικαιώματα τοῦ νόμου φυλάσσῃ, [a]οὐχ ἡ ἀκροβυστία αὐτοῦ εἰς περιτομὴν λογισθήσεται; καὶ κρινεῖ ἡ ἐκ φύσεως ἀκροβυστία τὸν νόμον τελοῦσα σὲ τὸν διὰ γράμματος καὶ περιτομῆς παραβάτην νόμου.

Ands this is the standard English translation: So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then those who are physically uncircumcised but keep the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law.

Photios says about this: (Photios’ words in brackets here) “for the Jews, (them) Paul (he) talks about the Torah (the law); for the uncircumcised, he talks about the ‘justices of the law’ not the whole law but only a specific part.” Photios has not quite gone all the way but it can be demonstrated by statements in, for instance, the beginning of Luke when Luke describes Zacharia and his wife keeping “all the jobs and justices of the law” that there are two different parts to the Torah and that these two parts were acknowledged as such at the time of Christ. Things change when the Temple falls in AD 70- and Judaism redefines itself as rabbinic or Pharisaic Judaism so this may explain why such a distinction gets lost.

The Golden Rule is the King’s Law

“The Golden Rule” (to love one another), broadly speaking, is that part of the Torah which is endorsed by Paul as central to the Christian life and is also flagged up by Jesus. Let me explain!! The measure of our relationship with God is to be found in our relationship with one another. This is defined by Christ in the Golden Rule, (Mtt 7:12: Πάντα οὖν ὅσα [a]ἐὰν θέλητε ἵνα ποιῶσιν ὑμῖν οἱ ἄνθρωποι, οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς ποιεῖτε αὐτοῖς· οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος καὶ οἱ προφῆται.) but it is also found in Hillel (Shabbat 31a: What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn) and is embedded in Lev xix 18. In the epistle of James, this is called “the Kingly law”: james 2:8: Εἰ μέντοι νόμον τελεῖτε βασιλικὸν κατὰ τὴν γραφήν Ἀγαπήσεις τὸν πλησίον σου ὡς σεαυτόν, καλῶς ποιεῖτε· Now, a “kingly law” was regarded in the ancient world as something that took precedence over any other existing laws. An example of this can be found in Pergamum (Deissmann) but the idea is fairly straightforward. If Christ had issued the Golden rule as a “kingly law” then that takes precedence over anything else in the Torah. The Golden rule is to deal well with others. It is not about cultic practice. In other words, the Gentile might well be able to keep the “kingly law” (which sums up the whole Torah anyway) in the knowledge that he can not keep the  Torah itself.

This happens at a time when elements of Pharasaic Judaism were perhaps getting out of control. People were indulging in the cultic observances as a way to make up for their failing with one another. David Wood suggests that this is the kernel of Paul’s message- that no amount of cultic obedience can erase offences to the Golden rule. That is paramount and trumps the cultic laws, because the “kingly law” is absolute.

In terms of the two types of law, and here I think the film does an adequate enough job in part 3:

Homosexuality falls into those laws defined as “cultic”: rather than into those laws that support the “Golden Rule”, what Wood calls “the Justices”. Paul might not like Homosexuality (personally) but he does not think it is something that will damn someone to eternal death, particularly if they are mindful of the Golden Rule. What is damning instead is nastiness, and spite and I suppose writing hateful things in a blog. We must be nice to Jehovah’s witnesses when they knock on the door. Be nice but do not necessarily agree with what they say.

I will stop here and write something lighter next time!

When did resignation stop being honourable?

Biography

A few words of Biography: Alistair Carmichael is the liberal MP for Orkney and the Shetland Isles. He is my godmother’s MP. He is in fact, following the resignation of Nick Clegg, the effective leader of the parliamentary Liberal party. This makes the revelations this weekend that he was personally behind the leak that claimed Nicola Sturgeon had an interest in seeing David Cameron remain in power, particularly destructive.

alistair-carmichael

This is what was reported:

The leak suggested the Scottish first minister wanted David Cameron to remain as prime minister.

Mr Carmichael said it was an error of judgement and he accepted “the details of the account are not correct”.

Ms Sturgeon said it had been a “blatant election dirty trick”.

The confidential memo was published by the Daily Telegraph on 3 April as the general election campaign got under way.

It was written by a civil servant in the Scotland Office and claimed Ms Sturgeon told the French Ambassador to the UK, Sylvie Bermann, that she would prefer Mr Cameron, the leader of the Conservatives, to remain as prime minister.

An apology needs to be more than a letter of admission

My own opinion is that this leak not only did damage to the political process but also seriously undermined our diplomatic image. Mr Carmichael might feel the political initiative was worth it, but the damage to our international reputation is appalling and for that damage alone, he should resign immediately. Reading further, we discover that the official inquiry identified Eaun Roddin as the actual leaker. It is perhaps, therefore, a small credit to Carmichael that he is standing up for a former colleague who, we learn leaked with “his permission” Carmichael says he was “aware of its content and agreed that my special adviser should make it public”.

Resignation?

I am not sure when politicians began to think it was better to cling on to power than to resign? Recently, I seem to have been drumming on about resignation. Indeed, I did it myself and thought that I might lead by example. People told me I was a fool, and indeed, rather than being treated with respect, I was savaged as was my family.

The new rules of political resignation were written by UKIP during the recent election.

Another agendum

I understand entirely why Mr Coburn felt it unnecessary to resign too, because as far as he was concerned, he was doing exactly what he had been told to do. He was at the beck and call of Mr Farage, and was not directly beholden to his electorate or to the people of Scotland. If Mr Farage did not feel he had crossed a red line, then he had not. It took some time for this message to filter down to me, but I understand it now. An offence is only a problem if the speaker intends it. It does not really matter what the victim thinks.

caught out

I also understand the terms that made the resignations of Robert Blay and Atkinson became essential: they had both been caught out by undercover reporters. It begs the question whether they might have continued in their respective political careers had they not been caught so publicly. But so be it. Resignation follows being caught out.

fake resignation

Finally, there is the third option, which is the resurrection card played very nicely by Mr Farage. This involves invoking a Christ-like ability to return to the same position voluntarily abandoned barely three days’ earlier. If it is possible to whip the NEC into voting for reinstatement, so much the better, but no doubt the barrage of supportive emails will also do the trick. Why, oh why, did Jeremy Clarkson’s resignation go so wrong, then, because he had probably gathered even more signatures of support than even Mr Farage?

Another example of the fake resignation is the fake ultimatum. In 2013, the Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD) got caught up in a series of extreme statements, among them support for the murderer Anders Breivik who Mario Borghezio said had “excellent ideas”. Farage wrote to Borghezio demanding he withdraw the statement or UKIP would pull out of the EFD. Borghezio did not withdraw his statement. Instead, he spoke at length in the parliament in a torrent of right-wing absurdity thus, “Long live the Whites of Europe, long live our identity, our ethnicity, our race… our blue sky, like the eyes of our women. Blue, in a people who want to stay white.” I don’t think he was being satirical. UKIP remained in the EFD and later Nikki Sinclair was later expelled from UKIp, she said, because she did not accept the “extreme views” of EFD. It is all slightly inconsistent, but there we are. We do not really know the rules of this game because new rules are being made on a daily basis. 

In other words, as long as enough noise is made, we can accept any proposition.

Alistair Carmichael

carmichael letter

Now we have a new situation. The victim was offended of course. But that does not matter in the new world order of UKIP resignation. Though here, the culprit has admitted the offence, and then – the implication goes that – had he not written to Nicola Sturgeon, he might have been exposed anyway in the sunday newspapers as the source of the “leak”. This strongly recommends resignation, but it is certainly not clear-cut on the new principles, and anyway, he is a Liberal and has just about survived the Scottish SNP political sweep.

Of course, he might tender his resignation as a Government minister – but that was done for him by the electorate. He might resign from the Liberal party- but I suspect they might feel obliged to reinstate him simply to keep up their numbers on the political life-support. Should he fall on his sword and cause a by-election, no doubt a waiting SNPer would snap up the seat.

Resignation under the new terms is about political survival. I think it should be about moral principles. Whether we “understand” it or not, the new UKIP approach to political resignation is a hollow mockery of morality.

But lest we forget- Salmond, Clegg, Miliband

The most honourable resignations in recent history have been those of Alex Salmond, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, gentlemen all. All three followed the old procedures. Already, one of these has returned from the political wastelands and claimed his rightful place with his former troops in Westminster, and more than that, he has the dignity to take a back seat.

In short, there is now a choice. Does the Liberal man- caught with his proverbial trousers round his ankles, want to champion the new rules laid out by UKIP or does he want to join the gentlemen and “do the right thing”? Whether SNP or Tory benefits from Alistair Carmichael’s resignation, so be it. The Rubicon was crossed when he penned his letter- let the dice fall where they may. It really is time to tie his colours to the mast. In other words, this goes beyond his own political survival. It is about liberalism. If his party allows him to fly the UKIP flag in this instance and adopt one of the variety of UKIP policies about resignation on offer (all tried and tested), then the liberal party can never again claim to be the party of decency and, whoever is elected new leader should seriously consider setting up talks about an alliance with Farage.