Tory Taliban to blame

STRONG words from Alan Duncan, who has quit the Conservative leadership race by declaring a "Tory Taliban" could finish the party.The openly gay shadow transport secretary believes the feudal "moralising wing" could "condemn us all to oblivion.

STRONG words from Alan Duncan, who has quit the Conservative leadership race by declaring a "Tory Taliban" could finish the party.

The openly gay shadow transport secretary believes the feudal "moralising wing" could "condemn us all to oblivion."

His remarks are a coded warning to the Conservatives to reject the fundamentalist, family values, Christian right politics which have infiltrated the US Republican Party. Which of the other would-be leaders – David Davis, David Cameron, Dr Liam Fox, Theresa May, Michael Ancram and Sir Malcolm Rifkind – he believes will take the party down that road he's not saying.

But if thinks the sight of MPs, candidates and activists running around Parliament Square yelling "I'm a Tory, and I'm gay" impresses anyone, especially voters who happen to be gay, then he's sadly mistaken.


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AN East Anglian saint has been at the centre of two terrorist outrages in the past 12 years. St Botolph, the patron saint of travellers, has three City of London churches dedicated to his memory.

One of them stands next to Aldgate underground station and beneath its foundations a suicide bomber caused havoc on a westbound Circle Line train heading from Liverpool Street towards Tower Hill and a loop that takes it via Westminster, Victoria. Paddington, Euston Square, King's Cross and back to Liverpool Street.

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Many of those injured in the explosion were taken to St Botolph's Church, which then become a centre for emergency service workers who descended on the area in the wake of the terrorist outrage.

Botolph is the modern English translation of Botulph, a 7th century abbot. He was born of noble Saxon parents who were Christians, and was sent with his brother Adulph to Germany for the purpose of study. Returning to England, he found favour with Ethelmund, King of the southern Angles, whose sisters he had known in Germany, and was by him permitted to choose a tract of desolate land upon which to build a monastery.

There are two claimants to the location of the site. The first is Boston in Lincolnshire, mainly on account of its name – Boston means Botulph's town.

The true spot is more likely to have been the village of Iken, a few miles from Snape, which centuries ago was almost surrounded by the River Alde, and where the thatched church is also dedicated to St. Botulph.

When he died, the abbot was buried at Grundisburgh, near Woodbridge, and later his remains were interred in the great abbey at Bury St. Edmunds.

One of the other St Botolph's churches in the City has also seen trouble in the recent past. A few yards from the eastern exit of Liverpool Street station, it was badly damaged in 1993 by the IRA bomb in Bishopsgate.

It's best left to others of a more theological bent to try to explain why churches dedicated to travellers should find themselves at the very heart of tragedy and human suffering.

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