If you were to ask the average Briton if it was better for Zimbabwe to be under the governance of the experienced Robert Mugabe or the inexperienced Morgan Tsvangerei, I suspect I now what the answer would be. I imagine opinion is divided in Zimbabwe itself, although things got so desperate that many obviously plumped for Tsvangerei feeling they had nothing to lose.
The narrowing of the polls in the UK is beginning to indicate that British voters are prepared to re-elect Brown, either with a Labour majority or a Lib-Lab coalition. Saints preserve us!
It is astonishing to me that the UK electorate is now contemplating another five years of this deeply unpleasant and inadequate leader but it has to be said that the Conservatives have only themselves to blame for this. In more comfortable times the electorate would be happy to throw the government out and take a chance on the new boys - as they did in 1997. Now they need to be told why they must change. better the devil you know. . . . . .
Some obscure priest of the Church of England has grabbed the headlines by asserting that shoplifting is morally defensible. If you are in need, the argument goes, and society has failed you, you can feel morally justified in helping yourself to something without paying for it. This he opined on behalf of God was a better option than breaking into someone's house or mugging some little old lady at knife point. And presumably the bigger the organization the less the crime - stealing from a company trading in a high rent shopping mall is much less reprehensible than shoplifting lower down the High Street.
This moral relativism is not new to the church. My grandfather used to observe with some wry amusement that both sides in the First World War invoked the help of the same Christian God before going ahead and slaughtering each other. If you won the battle you could thank God for the victory; nobody stopped to explain why God abandoned the other side to defeat.
Some historians might trace the beginning of the decline of the church in Europe to moments like these. Now, almost a century later, the pews are empty and the leadership is woolly-headed. The only time anyone pays attention to the church is when someone comes up with a vaccuous idea.
Tony Blair likes it to be known that he is a Christian now that it is politically expedient for him to be so. He was not overtly a Christian during the days when he was controlled by Alastair "We don't do God) Campbell. We will never know whether or not he was guided by his Christian principles when he decided to invade Iraq; nevertheless, the decision has been a dire one for Christians who have been living relatively unscathed for 2000 years.
According to a Times news report this morning, Christians face extinction in the country that Bush and Blair tried to transform into a cradle of democracy. They are being persecuted and driven out of their ancient homeland by various factions. I wouldn't blame the various groups who are responsible for the persecution, but I would blame those who deliberately invaded Iraq for their own narrow purposes and de-stablized a society that was functioning well.
I am not even sure that mr Blair even knew that he had fellow Christians living in Iraq, or if he knew he didn't care. He was probably far too self-absorbed to concern himself about such matters.
He now has the advantage of secretly confessing his sins to God and being absolved.
The signs were there a few days ago when Gordon Brown decided to arrive early to present himself as a world saviour. At that moment the talks were doomed. It did give us moment of light relief when he self-importantly steered Al Gore into a cupboard.
For presentational purposes we have a sort of deal which allows some money to flow to poorer countries - which probably would have happened under normal international aid programs.
I am cynical of course. This expensive publicity stunt allows politician to go home and justify tax increases.
We can probably divide the world into three camps:
1. Those of us who know exactly why and how Blair led us into the invasion of Iraq.
2. Those who have a vested interest in defending their involvement in same.
3. Those who don't give a toss.
Groups 1 and 3 will probably greet Blair's latest venture onto the airwaves with a huge yawn. We have heard it all before and we know what he is up to. There is no denying that Blair is a skilled political communicator and he is clearly limbering up for the Chilcot enquiry. And judging from the reaction of the media (most of whom fall into Camp 2) he will succeed. The outcome of the Chilcot Enquiry is predestined and the exercise is a prelude to the application of the stockpiled whitewash.
The problem is how to orchestrate the right words to present to the public. Enter Anthony Blair.
On balance I have respect for Alastair Darling. Throughout his ministerial career he has been competent and as the Americans might say there is no "side" to him. So it was with some disappointment that I heard his ludicrous PBR on Wednesday. The hand of Brown was obviously upon it with heavy ink scratchings out and scrawled vote-catching insertions. Insider revelations of the last few days confirm that view and it is now clear that his attempt to produce a responsible budget was scuppered by the thuggery of Balls and Brown.
I suppose it would take a stronger man than Alastair Darling to stand up to the menaces of that pair when they came round to hammer at his door late at night.
The PBR is now a completely worthless document. Attempts by Darling to steer a moderate course have been strangled and in their place a ragbag of ill thought out and hastily implemented moves for short term political advantage.
My wife say that the public are not stupid and will see through Brown's crass manoeuvers. I do wish I could believe that.