Chocolate Jesus, Kamikazes and pants to my opponent

My sweet lord, the depths we can sink to when at war and a spot of good old fashioned politics...

Dear Marina,

I was taking a run on the treadmill while watching the morning news when, low and behold, a six-foot, anatomically correct chocolate Jesus appeared on the screen. Now, with Easter weekend approaching, I expect to digest my fair share of chocolate bunnies and cream eggs, but I don't know about the thought of a chocolate messiah! Then I heard that chocolate Jesus was the star of the “My Sweet Lord” exhibit in New York, which had been shut down due to public uproar. I began to ponder whether the exhibit really did go too far, or if cancelling it violated the rights of the artist who created the sweet sculpture.

Your thoughts?

An Easter Bunny, London.

My housemate Tyrone nailed it when he asked: "Would it have been different if they’d made him out of white chocolate?"

How about concrete (concrete production is a huge producer of green house gases)? Is that acceptable? Or blood? Marble? Hard wood ravaged out of a rain forest? Or perhaps two cornflake boxes and a yoghurt carton. Even plastic with a battery powered glowing heart.

What struck me about Cosimo Cavallaro’s six foot sculpture, crafted from 90kgs of milk chocolate was the perfection of the Messiah’s appendage, which did, I confess, inspire me to fall to my knees begging my Adonis for communion: “Sweet Jesus I could eat you!” At that moment this immaculate confection could have converted me to anything - until I realised my salvation would mean the sacrifice of a truly beautiful piece of art. Bad girl!

Given Catholics eat the body of Christ on a regular basis, I’d have thought a change in flavour would be welcome. But there’s no accounting for habitual guilt. It makes people crazy.

If you’re in the UK for the Passover/equinox/Easter season, check out George Heslop’s Chocolate exhibition at Ale and Porter Arts, Bradford-on-Avon from 8th April to 6th May. He too exhibits a full-size chocolate Jesus. But hurry before the Catholics catch on. Honestly why can’t they focus on the important issues such as why Christian society tolerates the notion of an Easter bunny? Happy global chocolate day everyone.

Dear Marina,

I am completely horrified. According to the Sun, British pilots now might be asked to go on Kamikaze missions, crashing their planes into terrorist targets as a last-ditch effort to destroy them. Our young pilots deliberately sacrificing themselves for the war on terror? That sounds far too much like the suicide bombers we are trying to stop! I am all for loyalty to your country, but suicide? In an age where we have rockets capable of reaching within feet of targets, what do you think is the purpose and justification behind using humans as ammo?

Air cadet, Oxford

The trouble with war is you either think it okay or you don’t. Once you cross over the line into acceptance, all humane bets are off. What does it matter whether you use cannon balls or humans beings as ammo once you accept that life is no longer sacrosanct? Indeed one could argue, given the mounting global over-population, that human beings are a greater sustainable resource – and much cheaper - than base metals. As the enemy has already calculated.

We meanwhile are happy to wander in the fog of moral obfuscation, stopping short of absolutes, appointing a sliding scale of values to different races instead. As in: its okay to bomb the shit out of Iraqi civilians but it’s not okay for our boys in blue to lay down their lives to kill those who would retaliate. Although if the RAF manages to blow those foreign bodies to smithereens with a bomb, that’s okay too.

All war is evil. Invading Iraq on false pretences was a crime against humanity. It was wrong in 2003 and it is just as wrong now.

What did we ever hope to gain and what have we lost? Our leaders have failed everyone.

This kamikaze suggestion from the air force is calibrated to wear us down, to lead us into ownership of the idea that a common enemy is out to get us and we must stop at nothing to win. That includes handing over our human rights and personal right to life.

After all, if we can tolerate state-sanctioned suicide bombing why wouldn’t we tolerate war in Iran, ID cards, a terminal NHS, stealth taxes, failing education, the growing poverty gap, increasing low-level crime, pollution, inaction on climate change and all the other failures this government would have us believe are GOOD THINGS!

Die for this government? I wouldn’t piss on it if it was on fire.

Dear Marina

As you know I am standing for election to Telscombe Town Council. I really want to win. What are the key messages we should be telling people? I only ask because I know there are important issues, but when I knock on peoples’ doors they just want to talk about you not wearing knickers. Did I miss something in the Focus leaflets?

Tyrone Harewood, East Saltdean

It is always gratifying when a candidate uses their initiative to maximise media exposure in the run up to the election. Well done Tyrone. I promise, if we win on 3rd May you’ll be let off delivering the Rapunzel round. Why people have to have more stairs than a Take That comeback video leading to their front doors is beyond me. I’d lose the will to pop out for milk.

Our three core messages, Tyrone, are our three core strengths. Only local Liberal Democrats have reduced crime, addressed the difficult issues of Climate Change and delivered power back to the people.

It is a credit to our local party (aided by opposition dirty tricks) that my underwear status has become the focus on the doorstep. Proof positive, surely, that there’s not much to moan about in these parts.

“I wear no underwear beneath my short cotton skirt” is the opening line to an article on climate change, published in the Viva Lewes Handbook (check out The main thrust of the piece is that while there are seemingly positive aspects to climate change – such as roses in winter, warmer temperatures and exposing our saucy bits - this is no excuse for doing nothing about global warming.

The column ends with a quote from the great revolutionary Tom Paine writing about Edmund Burke in The Rights of Man. Paine said: “[Burke] is not affected by the reality of distress touching his heart, but by the showy resemblance of it striking his imagination. He pities the plumage, but forgets the dying bird.”

Proclaiming trumped up moral opinions over my right to express myself with naked honesty as a writer, a campaigner and yes even as a politician, makes Burkes of us all. Now’s the time to be a Paine. Take the bird in hand and focus on revolution. Vote Liberal Democrat this time.

Marina Pepper is a former glamour model turned journalist, author, eco-campaigner and Lib Dem politician. A councillor and former Parliamentary candidate, she lives near Brighton with her two children.
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Scotland's vast deficit remains an obstacle to independence

Though the country's financial position has improved, independence would still risk severe austerity. 

For the SNP, the annual Scottish public spending figures bring good and bad news. The good news, such as it is, is that Scotland's deficit fell by £1.3bn in 2016/17. The bad news is that it remains £13.3bn or 8.3 per cent of GDP – three times the UK figure of 2.4 per cent (£46.2bn) and vastly higher than the white paper's worst case scenario of £5.5bn. 

These figures, it's important to note, include Scotland's geographic share of North Sea oil and gas revenue. The "oil bonus" that the SNP once boasted of has withered since the collapse in commodity prices. Though revenue rose from £56m the previous year to £208m, this remains a fraction of the £8bn recorded in 2011/12. Total public sector revenue was £312 per person below the UK average, while expenditure was £1,437 higher. Though the SNP is playing down the figures as "a snapshot", the white paper unambiguously stated: "GERS [Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland] is the authoritative publication on Scotland’s public finances". 

As before, Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the threat posed by Brexit to the Scottish economy. But the country's black hole means the risks of independence remain immense. As a new state, Scotland would be forced to pay a premium on its debt, resulting in an even greater fiscal gap. Were it to use the pound without permission, with no independent central bank and no lender of last resort, borrowing costs would rise still further. To offset a Greek-style crisis, Scotland would be forced to impose dramatic austerity. 

Sturgeon is undoubtedly right to warn of the risks of Brexit (particularly of the "hard" variety). But for a large number of Scots, this is merely cause to avoid the added turmoil of independence. Though eventual EU membership would benefit Scotland, its UK trade is worth four times as much as that with Europe. 

Of course, for a true nationalist, economics is irrelevant. Independence is a good in itself and sovereignty always trumps prosperity (a point on which Scottish nationalists align with English Brexiteers). But if Scotland is to ever depart the UK, the SNP will need to win over pragmatists, too. In that quest, Scotland's deficit remains a vast obstacle. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.