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Should St George's Day be the Feast of Stephen?

SO there's our greatest thesp, Sir Laurence, in the 1944 movie Henry V urging on the lads with that famous call to battle: "Cry God for Harry, England and St George." Today Larry should be trumpetT -ing "Cry God for Harry, Engerland and - Stephen Fry."

And why's that then? Because not long ago a survey found that seven out of 10 teens not only had no idea who St George was but thought that the genial polymath Fry should be England's patron saint. A step up from national treasure, but why not? In his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon labelled George "an odious priest," a crook chased out of Palestine for flogging iffy bacon to the troops. Blimey, sounds like one of the Tory T Party's dodgier donors.

Anyway, thought I'd let you know since today, as already mentioned, is St George's Day, an excuse for such self-publicising buffoons as Boris to wrap themselves in the flag, thus proclaiming their patriotism. Well, as Sam Johnson so shrewdly remarked, patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. But I think we need an update.

So, Sam, make that WAS the last refuge. Now it seems that religion is the last refuge of the scoundrel. By now David Cameron's blatant boarding of the Jesus bandwagon is seen as an attempt to woo Tory waverers T from the seductive allure of St Nigel. The PM's protestations of his evangelical faith simply highlight the way religion is being insinuated into politics by some of the creepier Conservatives.

Iain Duncan Smith, none creepier, says his religion is central to everything he does. So for him, I paraphrase, "welfare scroungers are sinners." Meanwhile, Eric Pickles wobbled to the attack when telling the Conservative Spring Forum that the country faces an onslaught from "militant atheists." Why? Because they want to ban prayers before council meetings.

Where do these unctuous gents think they are? Corinth in Mississippi, celebrated buckle of America's Bible Belt? I reckon there's only one biblical saying they agree with: "The poor ye shall always have with you."

And be assured, Iain and Eric mean to keep it that way.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 23, 2014
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