Category Archives: Politics

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.)

Brexit Or Brit-In

Should Britain remain in or leave the European Union?

As I write this, the leave European Union campaign ahead in the polls, so let’s assume leave wins, and we go out. What happens in another generation if there is a change of heart or mind, and future generations want to re-join the EU?

In 2016 as an EU member, we enjoy various opt-outs, vetoes and a budget rebate that other nations do not get. Importantly we enjoy all the benefits while retaining our own national currency.

In 1973 we voted in a referendum to be part of the EU in 2016 we seem to be changing our mind. We could change our mind again in another generation. What then?

If in, say, 2050, we wanted to join again does anyone seriously believe we could negotiate the opt-outs and budget rebate we currently have? And as for the veto; fat chance.

If we wanted to re-join we would have no option but to accept every rule regulation and policy foisted upon us. We would have no opt-outs and no budget rebate. There would be no negotiation. We accept it all, or we do not re-join. Should we take away this away from future generations.

The leave campaign says we will get lots of international trade, and agreements with other countries, but will we. A friend pointed out to me that if we leave, we show ourselves as a country that can not work with others, prejudicing our future prospects outside the EU.

If we’re in we have influence and a chance of driving reform. If we’re out we can do nothing and we hamstring future generations because of our selfish, little britain (missing capital intentional) approach.

My heart says leave but my head says REMAIN.