28 December 2009

BBC bans humanists from 'Thought for the Day'

The BBC doesn't believe; it just believes in belief.

In promoting religion, Thought for the Day endorses faith over evidence and reason, as well as backing moral injunctions, allegedly granted from on high, which irrationally restrict the freedom of individuals.

Esperanto and endangered languages

There is no reason whatsoever to think that the promotion of Esperanto preserves other ‘endangered’ languages. How would the use of Esperanto in Scotland preserve Scottish Gaelic, for instance?

Esperanto is a tool, not an end in itself. Nothing is more daft than slogans like ‘Esperanto brings about peace and friendship.’ People who have learnt Esperanto may support peace and friendship, but Esperanto is one tool among several in that cause. It would be mad to claim ‘cotton is the cause of red flags’ simply because you can make a red flag out of cotton material.

The issue for socialism is: if Esperanto is a tool, how can that tool be used in the service of socialism.

Faith Group Leaders and Government

Faith Groups and Government (27 December 2009)

Religious leaders have been granted a privileged consultative status in the British home office. Implied is the idea that these leaders somehow represent their respective communites. This is nonsense.

If the majority of English people were to be represented by "a religious leader" based on their or their ancestor's religion, most would be represented by the Anglican Church. An atheist can’t represent you even if you are one, because there are only faith groups on Home Office Minister, John Denham's consultative committee.

Most of these "so-called" Anglicans would vomit at the idea that Anglican bishops represented their interests. So why is different for Muslims and Jews?

The Independent Safeguarding Authority, New Labour and the nanny state

It is quite wrong to describe New Labour as building a '"nanny state" in Britain. What it is doing is step-by-step constructing an "authoritarian bureaucratic state" - suggesting otherwise is a huge insult to nannies.

The nanny is overprotective but cares for her charge. Nothing about the recently established and Orwellian-named Independent Safeguarding Authority (requiring the licensing of all those who have contact with children on a voluntary as well as professional basis) is primarily, intended for the benefit of children.

This intrusive and oppressive law seems to have originated in New Labour's on-going attempt to data-base the whole population (invariably they use paedophilia and terrorism as pretexts). Though in fact overwhelmingly unpopular, this new legislation probably also grew out of a miscalculated attempt to gain a propaganda advantage by being seen to be 'doing something’ for children.

One immediate effect of this law is to treat all adults as potential abusers until they hold a piece of paper issued by the state.

Most people unacquainted with British law are surprised to learn that a stranger can walk past a child drowning in a few centimetres of water, do nothing to help but face no criminal sanction. The retort of the average English lawyer is, 'Ah, yes, but that's only theory, it would hardly happen in practice.' The result of the requirement to have legal clearance before one has contact with children undermines trust and confidence between people and promote a 'I-don't-want-to-get-involved' society. Perhaps soon the children drowning scenario won't be quite so theoretical.

The police should be accountable

We need a police force which serves the public and is properly bound by the rule of law. Police forces, if not subject to proper political and judicial control, attract authoritarian personality types and expand their remit, threatening civil liberties and personal freedom. That something like this has been allowed to happen is mainly the fault of the New Labour government.

Self Defence

The rules are clear on this matter. You can use reasonable force to defend yourself or others from attack, which might involve on occasions killing your assailant. You may also use reasonable force to apprehend and detain an assailant until the police arrive. You may not, however, inflict corporal punishment on the assailant, if s/he comes under your control. No civilised country could have it otherwise.

Postal Voting

Postal voting is by its nature open to abuse. It is wrong that the number of votes cast for candidates is determined in major part by party organisation of the indifferent and senile.

If able-bodied people can't be bothered to walk to a polling station, then they should lose their vote. Election officials, if requested, should visit the sick and elderly in their homes on election day so they can cast their votes. Persons who will be away from home should be able to register at other polling stations or, if abroad, at British Embassies.

The timing of General Elections in Britain

The Prime Minister should not be able to time a general election merely to suit his political advantage.

Britain should have fixed term Parliaments of four years.

14 December 2009

Blair now admits Iraq War to change regime

It is now firmly established that Blair took Britain to war in 2003 on false pretences. He stated in Parliament that Britain would not go to war if Saddam complied with UN resolutions and abandoned his WMDs. Yet his ultimatum was dishonest in two senses. First, Blair, as he now admits, had already made the decision to join the US in a war of regime change. And second Blair had no credible evidence to that Saddam had WMDs.

In international law there is the issue of Britain having taken part in a war of aggression without any legal basis. Just as important, however, is the domestic implication.

What should the penalty be for a man who takes Britain to war by means of telling lies to Parliament and people? This is no small matter. Certainly the death of every British soldier (if not that tens of thousands of Iraqis) is directly attributable to Blair’s dishonesty.

8 December 2009

Blair, Iraq & lies

We know that Blair had already decided in 2002 to join the US in a war to topple the regime in Iraq, principally on account of his ideological identification with Bush’s neo-conservative imperial agenda. Blair’s problem was simple: this reason would never wash in Britain. He therefore decided to tell lies.

Blair lied in telling the country that Saddam's refusal to declare and give up his possession of WMDs was the casus belli. This was a lie because Blair had already made the decision to go to war to bring about regime change irrespective of whether Saddam had WMDs.

To support that lie Blair told another lie; namely that he had credible evidence that Iraq possessed WMDs. He had no such evidence; and Iraq possessed no WMDs.

Blair made use of the crown prerogative to go to war. He justified that on false pretences and he took Britain to war without legal justification in international law.

What does all that make Blair?

4 December 2009

Should Turkey join the EU?

Turkey is not part of Europe either culturally or geographically.

Support for Turkish membership of the EU comes from those, such as the British government, who wish to impede European integration and workers' rights. With a populous poor member such a Turkey, setting meaningful minimum standards across the Union in employment, social security, etc.. would be impossible.

The admission of Turkey (or the Ukraine for that matter) would serve only to prevent the EU functioning as anything more than a trading area. I agree with those who say; Turkey should only be permitted to join after an EU-wide referendum, which would almost certainly return a 'no' vote.

Can New Labour attack the Tory Toffs?

Maybe Labour can hold on to a fraction more of its core vote, if it plays the 'Tory Toff' card against Cameron et al.

That said, Blair and Brown have faithfully served the interests of big-business and the rich since 1997 to make Britain its most economically unequal since 1945. New Labour is as much in the pockets of big money as the Tories.

Attacking Toffs is not the key issue. Britain needs a political movement to struggle for greater social equality - and that is not on offer from either the Tories or Labour.

A Hung Parliament

A hung parliament is many people's choice by elimination: they don't want to see New Labour re-elected, nor do they want the Tories in with an overall majority. A hung parliament would indeed be good for cutting back on executive dominance of the legislature - and would probably be more progressive on matters such as civil liberties.

If the Liberal Democrats refuse to form a coalition government (as they did with the Tories Feb 1974 or with the SNP in 2007) that leaves minority government as the only option. One problem with minority administrations (or near-minority ones) is that the Prime Minister has the power to dissolve Parliament and ask the electorate for a working majority (Atlee 1951, Wilson February 1974).

Only proportional representation and fixed term parliaments could really change the existing system.

3 December 2009

How Israel is to be judged?

How many times does it need to be said that the terrible behaviour of dictatorial regimes in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere across the Middle East can never justify human rights violations by Israel.

Israel will rightly be judged by the same standards by which we judge ourselves and fellow European nations - no more, no less.