Category Archives: Politics

Brexit

One Christian’s Point Of View.

The United Kingdom, for it still is at least nominally united, is a country in which the majority of citizens are no longer practicing Christians. That same majority does share a Christian heritage, and almost all of our law is based upon Christian principals.

One year after the Brexit referendum, I am struggling to see how those principals are being applied both to our European neighbours, it is probably no longer correct to call them our partners, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, to our own descendants.

At a personal and individual level, the majority of UK citizens still tend to behave in a fairly Christian manner. Corporately as a nation, we seem to have become self obsessed and selfish. We want what we want and do not care what anyone else wants. At least not the 27 other, soon to be, remaining members of the European Union.

Might the UK have inadvertently done a little harm, primarily to itself, that resulted in a greater good? As a country, we have single handedly succeeded in uniting 27 other member states into a closer union against a former friend.

I find it disingenuous that our politicians and leaders continue to refer to Europeans as “our friends” when nationally we have behaved and are continuing to behave toward them in such an unfriendly manner. It is to their credit that they remain friendly to us, if no longer actually friends.

It appears that one of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, for the vote to exit the EU is the issue of immigration. What has happened to our Christian principals of welcoming the stranger? We need immigration. We need it for our NHS, which without immigrants would not function.

We need immigrant workers for farms and care services, because too many of our citizens seem to think themselves too good for what they see as such menial tasks, yet they still moan that immigrants are taking British jobs.

I think that in some peoples minds refugees are little different to immigrants. We conveniently forget, unless somehow directly and personally confronted by refugees, the vast difference between simply trying to improve ones situation and fleeing war, famine, oppression, torture, injustice leaving everything behind apart from the clothes they stand up in.

The current Brexit related debate is regarding the rights of EU citizens to stay in Britain, those that wish to, after Brexit is final. The Christian, human, reasonable and caring action to take would be to unilaterally guarantee the existing rights of all who opt to stay. It would also be an excellent gesture of goodwill for the forthcoming negotiations.

UK is, at the time of writing, the fifth biggest economy in the world; sixth if the EU is treated as a single economy. A large part of our prosperity is due to our membership of the European Union, even though we are a net contributor to its budget. Immigrants helped build our economy so we owe them a quid pro quo for that. Will UK still be so prosperous one year after Brexit? Our economy is less than one fifth the size of that of the EU and one seventh of USA USA. We need EU, to secure good trade deals with bigger economies, more than they need us.

British politicians talk about Brexit as the will of the people. I can’t and wont deny the democracy of leaving the EU, it was a vote in favour of leaving. It was hardly an overwhelming margin voting to leave at 52% to 48%. Leavers consider it a victory. I cannot. I can question if there should have been a referendum at all.

In a democracy politicians are elected not just to carry out the will of the people but to do what is best for the nation they are supposed to serve. Unfortunately what is best, or necessary is frequently not popular That includes taking difficult decisions. Those decisions are frequently taken on the basis of information to which the population is not privy.

In the case of Brexit, I think politicians abrogated their responsibility to the referendum, instead of taking decisions they were elected to take. The British public gave the politicians a perfect scaprgoat; the British public.

Brexit does not affect only Britain. Brexit affects 27 other countries detrimentally. Even if I were not looking at this from a Christian perspective, I cannot see any basic decency, respect and fairness with which we have should have treated our neighbours?

In a few years Britain could become to Europe like the Isle Of Wight it to Britain; a quaint little place to visit but mostly ignored.

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In The Beginning Was the Word

So be careful what you say.

WordsThe title to this post, is the first words in John’s gospel in The Bible (NIV). The first verse goes on to say “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In biblical terms they refer to all creation coming into being at God’s word. Yet as important as these words are to Christian belief, I hope to explore them a little more in the human not the religious context.

Words are important. Without words there would be no language and without language, no, or exceedingly limited, communication. Wars start with words and we make peace with them. Words are what we live by. Our first words to someone can lead to a friendship, or a division if we say the wrong thing.

Contracts are written with words and yet it is often what we say to each other that are more important and more likely to be remembered, than the words we write down on a piece of paper, or a virtual piece of paper, such as the screen you are probably reading this on.

If we say to someone we will do something and then fail to do it if we are able, we have not kept our ‘word’; we have no integrity. What we say to each other is more important than any legal document. There is a wonderful couple of lines in a scene from the iconic 1960 western film, The Magnificent Seven, that makes the point. Chris and Vin are discussing leaving the Mexican village they have been protecting:

Chris: – “You forget one thing. We took a contract.”
Vin: –  “It’s not the kind courts enforce.”
Chris: – That´s just the kind you’ve gotta keep.

 The words we say to someone can lift them up, or bring them down. Make someone laugh or make someone cry. Carefully chosen words can be mighty and poorly chosen can make the speaker look stupid, or ignorant, sometimes both.

Words can be true or false. Truth or lies. Some words that are false, or if we use them in storytelling we might call them fiction, can still carry a truth within the story. Jesus parables might be one example of this.

Just like God when He initiated the creation in which we live, everything today created or developed by human beings begins with words, so we need to be more careful how we use them.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug
used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling

Tactical Voting.

Is the parties approach fair to voters?

I’ve noticed that the news media conflate Tactical Voting, with what I will call Tactical Candidature.  So let me begin with my definitions:

Tactical Voting: Is where an elector, a person chooses to cast their vote to someone other than their preferred candidate. The aim being to deny the most likely candidate a win, when the voter’s preferred candidate has little chance.

Tactical Candidature: Is when political parties collude, some parties not putting up candidates in particular constituencies. The aim being to re-direct their electors votes to another particular candidate.

I have no objection to any voter casting their own vote in what they consider to be a tactical manner. It is in fact a duty for each of us to consider how best to use our vote. It is also perfectly reasonable for the campaigning parties to urge us to vote tactically, for another candidate. That does not limit choice.

I am a bit uneasy about what I have called Tactical Candidature. In Tactical Candidature a elector’s ability to vote for their preferred candidate, or to tactically vote for a different candidate, is artificially restricted. The parties have colluded to remove voters choice. Instead of an elector choosing to vote tactically, it is forced upon them. Is this fair to the electorate? Is it properly democratic?

The Final Justice

Here in the UK, everyone accused of of a crime is entitled to a trial by jury. The jury consisting of 12 people. In my limited knowledge of the American system, there are also 12 jurors for criminal trials, but may be less for civil proceedings.

It seems to me that the biggest single difference in our justice systems is that (at the time of writing) 31 states have the death penalty available as a lawful punishment. There is no death penalty in the United Kingdom.

From this BBC news report (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-39535957), I discovered that it is a requirement for executions in America that “the law requires people with no connection to the crime attend each execution.” and that volunteers “are considered public eyewitnesses, and go to executions standing in the place of the general public,”

Sitting on a jury, if eligible, is every citizen’s responsibility in both countries, when required to do so in pursuit of justice in a free and democratic country. So, in countries like USA where the death penalty can be passed on a guilty criminal, why isn’t witnessing the ultimate punishment also a civic duty?

In a country/state where execution is a legal punishment, it seems to me reasonable that anyone who can be called upon for jury service, should also be able to be called to witness punishment where that is the death penalty? Obviously, not someone who was a juror at the trial of someone sentenced to execution.

If anyone who can be selected for jury service is also eligible to be selected to watch taking life by execution, I wonder how it might change public perception of having the death penalty?

Religion And Politics

How politics is influenced by religion.

From time to time there are calls that religion and politics in the UK should be separated. Historically they have always been combined and if we go back to biblical times they are inseparable. It is not possible to completely divorce religion from from politics.

It has been suggested that, like in America, there should be a separation between the church and the state in the UK but, also like in America, such separation does not keep religion out of politics. It is no barrier.

It impossible to totally remove the influence of religion from politics, when some of the peoples representatives, elected or appointed, have particular religious beliefs. An analogy might be a divorced marriage. Although the couple are separated, their actions still impact upon each other.

Some might argue that the only true separation that might be possible is an atheist state, but this is a spurious argument. Atheism is non belief in a deity, or put another way belief in no deity. Some atheism is more aggressive, deliberately acting against religions, it is; less tolerant to religions than some religions are to each other, though I realise there are intolerant extremists in every religion. This atheism too is political and cannot be dismissed.

By acting against religion, atheism is then itself acting like a religion. It is evangelising a belief system, albeit believing that there is no god. Any belief system might be called a religion.

Buddhism has no deity and is called a religion, so why not atheism too? Any belief system could be called a religion. So whilst not believing there is a god, is non-political and less likely to influence thinking, believing there is no god, i.e. atheism, still influences politics.

Brexit And The Will Of The People

What if all the people of the European Union had a vote?

The people of Britain have spoken. On the 23rd June 2016 the United Kingdom decided in a referendum they wanted to leave the European Union (EU). The vote to leave was only by a small margin, but a majority nevertheless.

It has been suggested that there could be a second referendum. Not necessarily a repeat of the first but a vote on the terms of our departure from the EU, once they are negotiated. Suppose the citizens of remaining EU countries also have a vote on the terms of our leaving? After all, UK leaving the EU affects them too.

I believe it is in UK’s best interest to remain part of the EU single market for goods and services. The price of doing so is almost certain to include continuing to accept free movement of EU citizens, exactly what the leave proponents did not want, but let’s suppose for a moment free movement is not in the negotiated settlement.

What if the citizens of the EU were also given a referendum on the terms of our leaving? Does anyone seriously think they would vote to allow us to remain in the single market, without accepting free movement of people?

That would be the will of the people, just not British people. But if it’s the will of the European people, how could we argue? After all, we’re a democracy and doing what we voted for, so we could hardly expect the EU not to do the same.

The Absurdity Of Political Correctness (PC)

Or why you shouldn’t be PC.

I have no physical or mental defects (that I am aware of) except to wear spectacles to see clearly. So does wearing glasses, according to some ridiculous politically correct terminology, make me visually impaired? I just say that, I’m short sighted.

PC is becoming more prevalent, often making the simple harder to understand. It is like management-speak that is “spouted by self important morons in an attempt to feign intelligence and authority. Has the effect of rendering the most simple concepts completely unintelligible.” I have started to think that using PC language is not only doing many people a disservice, but can be patronising and even, sometimes, insulting. And when it is not directly insulting, it is insulting to the intelligence.

Jesus didn’t heal a visually impaired person, he gave sight to a blind man; He didn’t heal a differently-abled woman, he healed a crippled woman; He didn’t heal a man with a degenerative disease, he healed a leper.

PC wording becomes more ridiculous when we can not even quote directly from a historical document or story. Imagine if in Treasure Island, by R.L.Stephenson, Blind Pugh was Visually Impaired Pugh (so now the black spot would be delivered by a VIP). In the same story Long John Silver would not be a one legged man but a reduced limb human.

The most ridiculous type of PC is when we are not even allowed to refer to someone in the same way they talk about themself, and whilst these examples relate to disability, it is equally true when dealing with issues of race, creed or colour.

I have friends that fall into a number of the above situations regarding disability, race etc. It is because of and for them, that I reverted to natural, not PC, language. I have never, except perhaps as a child in the 60’s, when I did not know any better, deliberately insulted or upset anyone by my use of language not being PC.

The only time someone remarked on my language usage, was a time when I was trying to be PC but just ended up irritating the person I was chatting with. 

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right
to say it.” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall (often mis-attributed to Voltaire.)