Sunday, 14 April 2013

Who would align Baroness Thatcher with a fascist?

Arthur Scargill?.............Ken Livingstone?........Peter Tatchell?.......George Galloway?

                     No, this is not a Fascist but a Communist - feel free to criticise

No, none of those (although they may have made a similar comment at some period in the last 34 years).

It was, in fact, a Dominican, the late Fr Herbert McCabe RIP who went into print in The Sunday Telegraph of 24th December 1989 under the headline: "Friars who preach against Thatcher"

Of course, those were the days when the younger Dominicans had lost the plot and were swanning around the West End of London in light blue cashmere sweaters and Austin Reed slacks of a Friday night.

Thank the Lord that this great order has seen the red light and largely (but not totally) reformed itself.

But this newsprint attack on the then Mrs Thatcher, while being perfectly legitimate, was both misguided and inappropriate.

I believe that only Church leaders should intervene publicly if there is due cause; to have priests popping off indiscriminately will only ever be a cause of division.

And, anyway, all criticism should be balanced.

Where is there, I ask, a report of a Catholic priest in England or Wales, who has launched a similarly vitriolic attack on a left wing political figure?

Has anyone slammed any of the afore named gentlemen men for their anti Catholic views or, for the fact that, for some of them, their policies appear to favour communist style dictatorships. Most notable, of course, was Galloway's friendship with Saddam Hussein.

Here is an extract from the article, my comments in red:

"Like other leading Dominicans in Britain, Father McCabe makes no bones about proclaiming either his political allegiance or his detestation (can we say that, as Catholics?) of Mrs Thatcher.
The core of Thatcherism was 'the notion that organised greed is the best way of running a society' (that may be his view but it's a pretty ambiguous one) So, said McCabe, like most of his brothers in the community of Blackfriars, Oxford, he voted Labour."

When, later in the article, Fr McCabe is questioned about Labour's appalling record he is less forthcoming:

"The number of unemployed, said McCabe, had trebled as soon as Labour left office in 1979. 
But had he chided the Labour Government when dole queues lengthened in the later 1970s?
Well, he replied rather lamely, he had a good deal to say about poor housing"
(Hmm, having a good deal to say about poor housing is alright, but it still does not amount to calling Mr Callaghan a commie premier).

You see, I think that it is acceptable, but inadvisable in the main, for the clergy to attack politicians and their policies. But, if they do, it should, at least be even handed.

I am in no way advocating fascism when I state that, if you tallied up the number of deaths caused by both fascist and communist regimes, you would find that the majority, by far, were caused not by Hitler and Mussolini but by Stalin, Kim Il Jung and Mao Tse Tung.

Graham Turner's piece in The Sunday Telegraph finishes with two paragraphs that paint a good (bad) picture of the state of the Catholic English and Welsh world in 1989:-

"Talking to Radcliffe and McCabe it is sometimes hard to believe that one is in the presence of holy men. The £20 that is the average amount of pocket money that Dominicans receive each month was "basically drinking money" said, McCabe.
(That could buy you a lot of pink gins in 1989).

When asked what would happen if a brother he admonished ignored his strictures, Radcliffe asked: 'You mean if he simply said, "Sod off?"

There are still holy men in the Dominican Order (suggesting that, perhaps Fathers McCabe and Radcliffe were not in that category), but the evidence suggests that its British Province, at least, is deeply infected by the secularisation
that is now destroying much of Western Christendom (this is 1989 remember).
Without a second, internal reformation, it could well die - and might indeed deserve to do so."

Well, Mrs Thatcher had her faults ( she also turned the fortunes of this country around quite brilliantly) but, given a choice a spending an imaginary evening in the company of her or Fathers McCabe and Radcliffe, I think I would opt for the Baroness.

May the souls of Margaret Thatcher and Fr Herbert McCabe OP Rest in Peace.


  1. I have enjoyed reading some of Fr McCabe's theological and philosophical works, and, on the two or three occasions on which I met him, he was kind and charming and thoroughly likeable. But he held (or maybe affected to hold) some utterly appalling political views - it was widely reported that, after a few pints, he used to sing pro-IRA songs at the local pub, and he defended in print the principle of the use of violence in the socialist revolution for which he was apparently hoping. And yet, paradoxically, he admired Thomas Aquinas, PG Wodehouse and GK Chesterton.... Because of its left-wingery, Blackfriars in Oxford used to be referred to as "Redfriars" in some circles. On one occasion some of the Dominican friars chained themselves to the railings at a local air-base as part of a protest (accompanied by some equally left-wing nuns). As for all the drinking, I remember hearing a story about one of them being carried home from the Eagle and Child in a wheelbarrow after a few too many pints. As you say, the Dominicans are very different now, and the younger generation seem truly impressive.

  2. Mark, hard to reconcile such a mix but I recall quite a few like him in the 1980s. Now, hopefully, a vanishing breed.

  3. Criticism should be true and logical.

  4. Well, "Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and make perpetual Light to shine upon them."

    Personal note: Richard, if you will send me a private email address I want to send you for your official okey-dokey the column I wrote based on one of your posts: thanks, Mack in Texas

  5. Raccliffe's still around and pontificating.

  6. Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party was inspired by Nazism. Hitler was very popular with the Arabs.

  7. Any chance you have the whole article from the Sunday Telegraph to share?

  8. Lyndon, if you send your email address to I will scan the article to you.

  9. Anthony, I have checked and you are undoubtedly right but, in my defence I had believed that they were communist in idealogical terms because of their cell structure and their flirtations with communist allied groups. There are occasions when the lines of distinction between Nazis and Communists become blurred, not least by Hitler's National Socialist Party title. Thanks for the correction.