In the UK, us left-wingers were dealt a devastating blow last week with the election of a Conservative government for the next 5 years. The proverbial dust has settled, but is this little more than glitter on a turd? I hope not, and here are my reasons for being positive.
In the UK’s upcoming 2015 general election, many people seem tempted to vote for Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party (an anti-Europe, anti-immigration party), seeing it as a fresh change from the tired old politics of the main parties. Here are some rather quick, but no less damning thoughts as to why that’s a terrible idea. Read the rest of this entry
Little list demonstrating how distortive the media’s portrayal of benefits/welfare is.
In 2011 Prince William called the (red) poppy “the universal symbol of remembrance”, and from my experience of England it would be near-impossible to disagree with him. In late October / early November, in every kind of workplace it is expected for people to wear them, in public most people are wearing them, and on television they are evidently compulsory. It is not just this social conformity that we must be suspicious of, but that this potent symbolism has permeated our daily lives to the point of ubiquity. Read the rest of this entry
It always irritates me when people discuss complex, nuanced, historically sensitive cultural issues like this as if it were a simple black and white matter of good vs. evil. Of love, liberty and equality vs. bigotry, superstition and reactionism. This is why I like playing the devil’s advocate in favour of unfashionable things like religion. Over a year ago now I tried my best at defending the anti-same sex marriage (SSM) position with this article. I was indifferent to begin with but in the process I decided I agreed with what I’d written. The overriding purpose, however, remained to defend those who are against SSM from the popular charges of homophobia and irrationality. But over the course of the year I’ve decided that the arguments I thought were decisive made too many assumptions. Read the rest of this entry
(NB: A couple of my points date from 2008 but none are any more out of date than that.)
On average, women in the UK are paid 17% less than men in full time work, and 38% less in part time work. This is particularly unequal because they are at least twice as likely as men to be relegated to the outskirts of society that is part time or temporary work. A very disproportionately high amount of this part time work is in the very underpaid sectors known as the 3 C’s: Cooking, Cleaning and Caring. More worryingly, disabled women are 3 times less likely to work than are disabled men and this is before the sharp cuts the government is presently making to disability support. Indeed, 72% of the government’s planned cuts will come from women, and it is already the worst time for female unemployment in 23 years. Read the rest of this entry
In the UK at least, the question of whether the law should call civil partnerships marriages is a merely semantic dispute. It is not about equality, under the existing legislation in Britain same-sex couples already have that, and it’s not about homophobia either. It is that the term ‘marriage’, by contrast to near synonyms ‘wedding’ and perhaps ‘union’, requires two heterogeneous elements mixed to create something new. To make a crude example, some salad can go together to make a nice salad, but fried chicken and piri piri sauce- that’s a marriage. But of course it goes deeper than that. It is also about mystery, and here the mystery is the unknown nature -yet wondrous complementarity- of the other (in both mind and body).
The semantic dispute doesn’t only come down to whether or not the ceremonies take place in the context of a belief system, but also to the content of a belief. Surprisingly, many people disagree with gay marriage even though they don’t believe that homosexuality is condemned by god.
In our cultural heritage, marriage has always been the Christian sacrament of holy matrimony, a ritual practise which symbolises not just a committed romantic relationship between two people, but the union of two people into one biological whole from which new life (literally) flows as a transformation of their love. Read the rest of this entry