How does one show their appreciation for an outgoing, influential world figure whilst simultaneously ingratiating oneself to those under their charge? Of course, it is through the giving of a special, and particularly thoughtful, gift. In this, David Cameron and Baroness Warsi have truly excelled themselves. For, the outgoing leader was Pope Benedict XVI and the special, most thoughtful, gift was a copy of the King James Bible. And, indeed, one is certain that the special thought – almost certainly lost on Mr Cameron – would have been noted by the Bishop of Rome.
One does not need a particularly brilliant grasp of history, politics or religion to know that the King James Bible was not exactly a triumph for British-Papal relations. Indeed, the Preface and Translators Introduction of 1611 is littered with less than complimentary language about the Catholic Church (see here for some choice excerpts).
Accepting, of course, that neither the Prime Minister nor Baroness Warsi would have wished to so offend the Pope of Rome, one can only conclude that certain officials in the Foreign Office decided to convey this rather insensitive message. They do, after all, have some form in this.
However, whether this is a Foreign Office gaffe or a civil service botch is neither here nor there. The buck stops with the Prime Minister – he should have picked this up long before he gave it the green light. Wherever the plan may have originated, the the harsh reality is that the Prime Minister is historically, religiously and politically ignorant.