Wednesday, March 23, 2005
"Iraq reinforces Mr Blair’s tendency to self-beatification."
Sir Simon Jenkins in his article in the Times today asks "An election dominated by holy rows? May the good Lord spare us.."
- "Mr Blair’s excursions into Christian exegesis suggest a serious confusion between religious belief and public ethics. Politics is never morality-lite. Arguments over abortion, stem-cell research and faith schools are shot through with normative values. Without them politics would be a crude battle of interests. But it is a strength of British democracy that such debates are rooted in a rationalist consensus. They are lit by tolerance, courtesy and a respect for individual conscience. They do not flee to the backwoods of religious dogma, of texts and teachings. Britain has not, since the 16th century, been ruled by bishops or mullahs and has been the better for it..."
It seems to me that even a show of tolerance, courtesy and respect has long been lacking from politics. And from all sides, not only from those who "Do not Do God". The article is even handed about the way single issues that raise very strong feelings are being shamelessly exploited across the parties in marginal constituencies:
- "....Hence the Tories’ exploitation of a woman’s broken shoulder, a refused school place, a policeman buried in paperwork, a gypsy encampment. Hence the suggestion to reduce the abortion limit to 20 weeks, somehow to counter "abortion on demand". Hence the flirtation by both parties with religion. Never mind the apathetic masses. Can we get the Catholic Church to approve Michael Howard’s suggested toughening on abortion? Can we get Rowan Williams on board?
Simon Jnkins' article begins by saying that "God has elbowed his way into the election campaign."
(Actually, this seems a little hard on God - who, if he has elbows at all, would surely have been using them to nudge his saintly follower quite sharply in order to remind him to Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s - "and leave Me out of this unholy mess.") and it concludes
- " The Prime Minister’s concept of tolerance does not extend to civil rights. He is ready to tear up international law one day, habeas corpus the next and judicial independence the day after. The colours of religious rectitude are now nailed to new Labour’s mast, at home and abroad. There is no knowing what Mr Blair might do with a Bible in one hand and Lord Falconer in the other. .."
Also in the news today
Continuing deep concern about postal ballot rigging ~"people will no longer get away with saying this (fraud) could not happen in the UK.” The postal voting system risks provoking a spate of legal challenges in narrowly won seats after polling day. The Electoral Reform Society has called for urgent legal safeguards to prevent ballot papers from being filled out fraudulently. Richard Mawrey, QC plans to give his judgement on the Birmingham case on April 4 “unless prevented by forces beyond my control”
He said that the law as it stands at the moment is an open invitation to fraud. See Times article
The politicians' irritation with the BBC
A letter today in the Times from Tony Markham "... Respect is something that has to be earned, not accorded merely because of rank. The BBC is not there to provide political adulation. Before most resignations of disgraced politicians comes the adamant denial, often followed by the weasel explanation after journalistic questioning. It might be more worthwhile for Lord Kalms to consider why so many of the general public view politicians with contempt."
The nonsense as well as the cruelty of Guantanamo: "The value of intelligence obtained from Guantanamo Bay detainees has been cast into further doubt, with the release of new parts of a 2004 FBI memorandum that describe information extracted by coercive means as "suspect at best..." Independent - but who in their right mind would ever think that information got from torture could ever be considered safe?