Thursday 15 June 2017

Tim Farron's political liberalism was broad enough and true enough to its philosophy not to try to force his beliefs on others, as not only his rhetoric but also his voting record shows very clearly. It's sad - and worrying in a free society  - that the same thing can't be said for his opponents on the left and the right and even from within his own party.
However, the media has had a crucial role to play in seeking to direct questions during the general election campaign to the former Liberal Democrat leader which would not have been (and were not) asked of a devout Muslim or, for that matter, of a Roman Catholic, or an Anglican from a non- conservative evangelical tradition.
I don't share Mr Farron's fundamentalist interpretation of the Christian faith or of the Scriptures,  but I can't help thinking both that he has been shamefully and irresponsibly treated, and that there has perhaps been another agenda at work in seeking to distract at all costs from his and his party's essential message about our future in Europe and the continuing need for internationalist values  in the face of a destructive and isolationist populism...

A few links to the story from a wide spectrum of sources:

And this from Cranmer who, of course, as a committed Conservative supporter, has little love for the LibDems or political liberalism generally, but nevertheless manages to raise some vital questions for all political parties:

Monday 12 June 2017

A sprat to catch a mackerel

As we know, the motivation behind a powerful and ruthless section of laissez-faire global capital's support for Brexit was to destabilise the whole European project for its own advantage. Now Europe is uniting against it, Brexit has become merely an afterthought, an exercise in arbitrary self-harm on the part of an increasingly unimportant and backward looking medium sized country on the eastern fringes of the Atlantic. In a globalised, interdependent world the sovereignty argument was only ever a ploy to engage romantic adolescents and insular nationalists deliberately blind to the increasing powerlessness of the traditional nation state in the face of the new economic realities.
When the June 2016 referendum became the most effective means of protest on the part of those left behind and impoverished by the neo-liberal consensus, the purveyors of  deregulatory snake oil were astonished at their own good fortune. Yet the struggling, the 'left behind' - shut out from the prosperity of the south-east and starved - by an extraordinary conspiracy of silence about the benefits to poorer regions of EU membership  - of the information necessary to make an informed decision, were always meant to pay the price...

Friday 9 June 2017

Be careful what you wish for ...

An astonishing end to the unnecessary 'Brexit election' in which the major parties conspired to ignore the issue of Brexit as much as possible.
It seems that Mrs May's government will - for now- attempt to struggle on with the help of the traditionally ultra-protestant Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland.
The political complexion and chequered history of the DUP (these are not the more moderate 'Official Unionists,' but a party which has been seen in the past to flirt with so-called 'loyalist' paramilitary groups) also gives many people  - on the centre right, as well as the centre and the left -  profound cause for concern if it is now in a position to exercise leverage over the policies of the Westminster government.

This is Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair's chief of staff, and someone instrumental in helping to negotiate the peace process culminating in the Good Friday agreement and tge power sharing executive in Northern Ireland, speaking of his very serious concerns about Theresa May's 'deal' with the DUP and its implications for the life of the province:

"I do think it’s a mistake to go into government with the “support of our friends” in the DUP. Even John Major avoided doing that and the reason he avoided that is the peace process is based on a balance that the British government has made it clear it is neutral in Northern Ireland, it doesn’t take sides. Once you have their support you are no longer neutral.

It matters for two big reasons. First, we haven’t managed to get the executive back up and running in Northern Ireland because of divisions between the two sides. The British government were trying to mediate between the two sides to get an administration up and running again and of course now it can’t possibly have that role of mediating.

And secondly I think it’s a mistake because one of the big issues in the Brexit negotiations is the border between north and south. Now the DUP is a minority in its view about Brexit, it’s in favour of Brexit. This is going to be a very real problem.

Whatever you put on a piece of paper, you’re living there with a minority government, that’s dependant on the DUP, you get to a crucial issue and then they say, ‘Remember what we want in terms of talks in Northern Ireland’, and the government has a choice: do they say, ‘We’re not giving you that, we’ll let the government collapse’, or do they just bend a little on that issue, it’s just one small issue it doesn’t matter. But beyond that the government can’t possibly be seen as neutral on Northern Ireland now if it puts itself at the mercy of the DUP"

[Source: The Guardian]

We leave it to the reader to judge the ethics of an administration attempting to hold on to office regardless of the likely damage to the country's peace and security ...

Wednesday 7 June 2017

As the election campaign comes to an end, it seems to me that the major failure of the last six weeks has been on the part of the media for not trying - in anything like a serious way - to address the issues which will determine our future for generations. It's in the DNA of modern politicians to seek to avoid difficult questions, but journalists in a free society - and particularly perhaps, in are society such as ours which has prided itself on being a mature, representative democracy -  are not meant to collude with them ...