Wednesday, 23 April 2014

An unchristian response from a Christian nation

The Christian values of generosity and kindness were not on show when authors, academics and others responded in the Daily Telegraph to David Cameron's remarks Christianity.

The Prime Minister's sin was to bring religion into politics. The British political tradition is to avoid talking about God but mentioning that Britain is a Christian country is more stating the obvious than suddenly introducing American style campaigning.

In all the uproar certain some obvious facts have got lost.

The established Church and the majority of people in Britain are Christian.

In the US there is a constitutional separation between religion and the State. Despite that religion and cultural wars dominate. In Britain there is no official separation but most of the time politicians avoid using religion for their political advantage.

No doubt, Cameron was sincere in what he said: he believes Christian values of charity should play a bigger role in society. But his speeches and the reaction to them has been of some political benefit in his electoral fight against Ukip and in combating the Church's attack on the Coalition's welfare policies.

When all is said and done nothing much has changed. It will be the economy that determines the outcome of the general election, not arguments over religion.

What a Labour European election victory might mean

Could a Labour victory in the European elections secure David Cameron a second term?

Most people will find this an odd question. Surely, a Labour victory would give Ed Miliband the momentum he needs to grab the keys to No.10 at the next general election?

According to a recent poll, Ukip may hand Labour the European victory by snatching votes off Conservative candidates.

Deserting the Tory party may turn out to be liberating for traditional Conservative voters. They may decide they like rebelling and return to vote for Ukip again in 2015.

But there is an alternative scenario. Once these voters have got their protest off their chest and see that by switching to Ukip they are helping Labour they may be more inclined to vote Conservative at the general election, especially if Cameron throws them some political red, or perhaps blue, meat.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

'New Worlds': the beginning of open markets and liberty

New Worlds, Channel 4's sequel to The Devil's Whore, comes to an end tonight. It has been a mixed bag: it hints as intriguing ideas and then throws in some whimsy to keep bored viewers entertained.

It is also a missed opportunity. Set in America and England during the reign of Charles II, its central thesis is that the ideas and impulses of the Civil War rebels led directly to the American Revolution.

There is nothing wrong with that as an argument but what the writers focus on is the exploitation of the poor by the rich. No doubt those in power at times made life hard for the poor, enclosing land which led the poor to cities and work in factories.

What the programme doesn't show is the explosion of ideas, the creation of modern money and open markets. All of this played a part in developing a worldview that influenced the American Founding Fathers.


Thursday, 17 April 2014

The return of Jack Bauer

24 returns to our screens in May and this time Jack Bauer is in London.

Kiefer Sutherland reprises the role of the tortured, and torturing, action hero who battles against those in power to save the US President, Americans, the World...

...Unmissable nonsense...

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

W1A

Last week W1A came to an end. The comedy drama continues the story of nice but ineffectual Ian Fletcher who we last saw getting London ready for the Olympics. Fletcher, deftly played by Hugh Bonneville, has become the BBC's head of values. His mission is to 'embed values throughout the organisation'.

While the programme pokes fun at the BBC and its internal politics, the satire's real target is business jargon, management theory and the people who are given jobs but have nothing to do.

W1A shows brilliantly is how organisations cease to function as they become too big, no one has authority to do anything and everyone hides behind a language they don't understand to escape responsibility. These organisations survive because they produce something that people want. In other words, they survive despite themselves.

By the final episode, Fletcher works the system and is surprisingly effective. It was a nice touch although whether it would happen in real life is another matter.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Jeremy Brown's authentic liberalism

Jeremy Browne has reaffirmed his 'Orange Book' liberalism with 'Race Plan'. His new book argues for an authentic liberalism that reforms public services and champions free markets.

The book is in a classical liberal vein and for Liberal Vision and their supporters it will be welcomes. Even those who distrust the market, it makes for a stimulating read and will be food for thought as Stephen Tall points out on Lib Dem Voice.

As part of the book promotion, Browne was interviewed in the Times. He pointedly asked, if the Liberal Democrats didn't exist would anyone invent them? From his comments, it is clear he thinks they wouldn't but what someone would create is the sort of party that he wants to be a member of.

After the book's publication, the Conservative party members suggested he jump ship and embrace the Whig side of the Conservative party.

Browne, like Hayek before him, has made it clear he is not a conservative. But the problem for Browne and others who share his views, he isn't really a Lib Dem either.

The dilemma for classical liberals is whether they join the Conservatives, Lib Dems or no party at all.



Monday, 14 April 2014

Unintended blogging break

I have taken an unintended blogging break but am planning to resume posting with a slightly different focus. For the last few months I have been focusing on communications and I think it is time to return to political commentary. Of course, work and life might get in the way. If it does it might be best to shut the blog down but for now it continues...