MY favourite recurring supporting character in the James Bond movies is Felix, the laconic and taciturn CIA operative who materialises just at the point when it’s beginning to look like the villains are closing in and 007 is toast. There he is, giving Bond a gift from “the brothers across the pond” that permits our dipso super-agent a bit of breathing space to get back in the saddle and banjo the bejesus out of his adversaries.

I don’t know if Felix makes an appearance in the new Bond but I do hope so, as he provides a jolly reminder of how some in the UK establishment would prefer to view our relationship with the US. Plucky Britain is always in the driving seat deploying ingenuity and finesse while the American cousins can only stand back and admire with a rueful grin and an indulgent shake of the head.

The extraordinary ocean of advance publicity that has accompanied Bond’s 24th outing has masked the release last week by the national archives of boxes of MI5 files that shed more light on the cases of Guy Burgess, Donald Maclean and Kim Philby, the Cambridge spies whose Cold War treachery brought Britain’s secret service to its knees.

The release of the documents reminds us once more how these upper-class, gentlemen traitors were able to spy for the Soviet Empire with impunity simply because the British establishment could not quite believe that such sound chaps from such pukka breeding grounds could ever be guilty of such nefarious stratagems.

Even when the evidence to the contrary was staring out at them from across the tables of White’s or Brooks’s, the intelligence services were busy looking for Reds under the bed in post-war Labour governments or in the working men’s clubs of north-east England, from among that class who had readily shed blood for Britain rather than betrayed it.

Not that the activities of the Cambridge spy ring were much worse than those of many of their contemporaries before the Second World War. Many in that set, including senior royalty and Cabinet members of the UK Government, were busy trying to safeguard their possessions and influence by currying favour with Hitler and the Third Reich in the event of a Nazi invasion.

Twenty years prior to that, shell-shocked Tommies on the Western Front were shot at dawn for deserting their posts, a fate that ought more justly to have befallen many of those who were deemed to be their Lords and Masters. To hell with Merrie Olde Englande and the spirit that triumphed at Agincourt – patriotism was only as deep as the lily pond in father’s walled garden.

We delude ourselves that the class from which those old spymasters were sprung and whose values they espoused is dead and gone, swept away in modern, egalitarian Britain. And we are told that Daniel Craig’s craggy and disrespectful James Bond is the embodiment of such, a commoner among the Chesterfields, representing the storming of the citadels of the old order. But who’s kidding who here?

Anywhere you cared to look in the last month in fair and equal Britannia there were signs, with those who still have eyes to see, that not much has changed in the 80 years since royalty and aristocrats sought to give Hitler their country gift-wrapped in a Union flag. To them Britain was useful only insofar as their life of opulence, grossly disproportionate influence and unearned privilege could be preserved. We saw many of their descendants gather last year to defend the old order of things when their ancient privileges were threatened once more by Scottish independence. That spectre seems to have been put back in its box for the time being but a sullen and unremarkable man called Corbyn is also now making threatening noises and being truculent.

THERE is much to defend, after all, whether it’s the right of the Queen to buy a £9 million helicopter for two of her grandchildren or a ski lodge in Switzerland for the estranged mother of two others. Or the right to impose austerity on that part of the country who chose to live within their meagre means while preserving the bonuses of those whose refusal to do so took Britain to the edge of oblivion. Or a grace-and-favour, top-down system in which one-third of our MPs attended private schools along with 71 per cent of our judges and 62 per cent of army officers.

The sneering and barely concealed contempt for Corbyn rose to the surface earlier this month during David Cameron’s spiteful and vindictive speech at his party’s conference, during which he accused the Labour leader of possessing a “security-threatening, terrorist-sympathising, Britain-hating ideology”.

The same tone was evident in a bizarre article in yesterday’s Sunday Times by the novelist Martin Amis, who, I suppose, we must number in the ranks of the acquiescent left who say they want change but not so much that it threatens the arrangements that have served them and their families so well.

As well as deriding Corbyn for being TT (teetotal in the argot of the Kensington set) and a vegetarian, Amis was also irked at the MP for Islington’s humourlessness and lack of education (he only went to a Poly). “He is without the slightest grasp of the national character,” said the man who said, following 9/11, that Muslims must “suffer until they get their house in order”. According to him this meant “deportation – further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they are from the Middle East, Pakistan, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children”.

The attitude that fuels this sense of entitlement, this readiness to slap down that which is considered inferior in word or deed, has also fuelled the English Votes for English Laws legislation.

After 18 months of telling Scots that we are all equal parts of the UK, David Cameron has now told the country’s democratically elected representatives that some of us are less equal than others.

“We’re all in this together and we are the party of working people” is the refrain Cameron uses to con gullible working-class voters in England. But as steel-workers now know, if you’re not a farmer with a hedgerow or a banker with a hedge-fund then “market forces” will be allowed to swallow you whole.

At this rate Nicola Sturgeon may want to re-consider her timetable for a second referendum on Scottish independence.