Wednesday 27 July 2022

Crick in the Political Neck


I have a lot of time for Michael Crick, whom John Prescott once called, "Biggles from Newsnight." He was speaking from Talk TV as a guest, the channel with one viewer at that point - me - only because Crick was already on.

He says the Tory leadership is over already, Truss being the winner. She has positioned herself on the right but expects she'll govern nearer the centre. I hope he's right. Certainly someone who has reconstructed herself over and again can do it again.

Someone else who did that, positioned on the left to win the party vote, is Sir Keir Starmer. He's been chucking all his winning commitments out of the pram.
Crick said he has no charisma and no one knows what Labour stands for. They should be twenty points in front of the Conservatives after all that has happened, so it is quite possible that Truss will win the next General Election. Blair, Smith, Kinnock all were well ahead of the Tories at this stage, and Labour is not there.

'Beergate' was never anything, and Starmer survived the police enquiry fully intact. But it perhaps would have been better for Labour had he gone, for someone else with some charisma to take over. I'd favour someone like Wes Streeting. (Has to be from the right of the party, I'm afraid.)

He didn't mention Sir Ed Davey, leading the Liberal Democrats, and why would he? To my mind Davey has to be distinctive, and the one way he can do it is by promising to make moves to join the EU single market and customs union. We should be like Norway. Even Blair has abandoned this position, because we'd be rule-takers only. But he knows this is not true: the European Economic Area involves lobbying the EU and Norway makes its representations. Davey can offer solutions to our movement and travel,  ending our trade disadvantages, and most of all secure Northern Ireland's peace inclusion in the UK and closeness to Ireland in the EU. Charles Kennedy made his stance on the Iraq war and was rewarded for it in terms of recognition. It's time that Ed Davey did the same, and (as a Lib Dem member, if largely inactive) it's about time he got on with it.

Monday 25 July 2022

Institutional Church Trickery

(See the update)

On religion (this blog was once all about religion): I no longer attend anywhere. When I lived in New Holland, North Lincolnshire, as from 1994, I first went to Hull Unitarians, and left at a time of (I alleged) mistreatment of a minister, and then I went to Barton Anglicans, a broad (at the time) Anglo-Catholic parish church. Despite my best efforts and even presenting to a theology group, in a liberal corner, I ran out of doctrinal steam and also could not justify the ethic of the wider institution. The Unitarians took me back, so to speak, and then it chose a new minister with disastrous results. After a few years people voted with their feet and left, one by one. I did too, after far too long. I went to the Quakers for over two years and realised they had a commitment to something special which I did not share. So I stopped, and that was it.

So if I comment on anything, it is from the outside. I have no relationship with the Church of England, but boy is it suddenly in a desperate condition of institutional duplicity? After 14 years the Anglican Communion worldwide is to return to Lambeth (so to speak) for a get together of its hierarchy of bishops.

It seems to have forgotten that the attempt to have an Anglican Covenant worldwide failed; the Church of England synod itself said no and that finished it. Rowan Williams from Wales was very annoyed, reminding the Church of England that it was led by bishops like him.

And now there aren't even resolutions for this Anglican get together. No Covenant, no institutional unity. Except there are, by way of Calls, and these Calls can't be voted against - only 'yes' or 'yes but more work needed'. It's like there was a Covenant agreed after all.

Now I thought Christianity was at least about honesty. Seeing as I don't believe it (all that credal stuff suggesting an alternative universe of divine-intervening events), the honest thing was to withdraw. Now I know people view these creeds an doctrines with elasticity, as I did myself, and theology rather demands it at times. So we expect some duplicity and nothing is perfect. But here we have something else - the Calls were introduced when not discussed quite as they appear, and the real brute is the one that wants to reaffirm the 1998 resolution excluding gay sexual relations as permissible and denying gay marriage as normal.

It's a bit late in the day for that! The north Americans in two provinces, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church in Wales have become rather more inclusive institutionally since then. So how can this resolution, in a 'Yes - Affirm' or 'Yes - Needs More Discernment' voting system be the 'Mind of the Communion as a whole'?

Well, one way we know it isn't is the dishonest way it was all shoved forward at the last minute. Already same sex partners were excluded whilst the opposite sex spouses were invited along. This is evidence enough of being 'institutionally homophobic'. However, trying to resolve something as the Mind of the Communion when clearly it isn't could only be shoehorned in as a form of skullduggery that convinces no one - no one bar the Archbishops, presumably, who have driven this dishonesty.

And what this shows is that, after the Unitarians, Quakers and Liberal Jews led the way, and after the United Reformed Church and Methodist Church have become inclusive, plus many tiny Churches of the trinitarian kind opened themselves to sexual partner diversity, the Church of England is not going to follow its Scottish and Welsh neighbours on the road of inclusivity.

The small SEC and tiny CiW may well be motivated by being desperate for members and reach, but the C of E still deludes itself that evangelicals can bring in the numbers and money, and so cannot go the same way. And then there are the overseas Anglicans in parts of the world where these institutions encourage frightening bigotry within and without. The C of E is mother Church, fearful of being colonialist again, and so goes along with the bigotry via sleight of hand and institutional tricks.

Not exactly ethical is it? I wouldn't touch the C of E with a bargepole. I don't know why some people still do.


There has been a change. Yes, they've been found out pulling a fast one. (As if no one would notice!) Now the options are:

'This Call speaks for me. I add my voice to it and commit myself to take the action I can to implement it.'

'This Call requires further discernment. I commit my voice to the ongoing process.'

'This Call does not speak for me. I do not add my voice to this Call.'

Of course the Calls are still biased, the assumptions built into their presentations. They might tinker with the odd text. Do majority votes mean the 'Call' is made?

Relaunch Fakery

We've seen the end of Boris Johnson and by 5th September this year he'll be gone as Prime Minister. He's certainly a supporter of the Conservative Party as an institution, but principle-free to such an extent that he could be a centrist and encourage his own right wing at the same time. As a Covid Prime Minister he was a Social Democrat, but then was forced to chuck red meat at his right wing. He promoted the incapable on the basis of loyalty. A Chancellor of the Exchequer came from nowhere, and the Foreign Secretary was promoted after Johnson's predecessor demoted her. Sunak and Truss respectively turned out to be a smoothie in presentation and a reconstructor of political personality.

Sunak was fined for being present at a party, like Johnson. Sunak also had a Green Card, allowing him to bolthole to the United States along with his international wife even when Chancellor.

But Truss is the one who gets me hiding behind the sofa, like a child watching (or hiding from) Dr. Who. She has staggering form for political fakery.

She trashes Roundhay School, Leeds, in public, but it got her to Oxford. Thus she started as a Liberal Democrat and anti-monarchy too (I am both), becoming its local President no less when at Oxford. This should reassure me. Of course it doesn't, not with the number of zig zag changes she's made.

She had an affair and then became a Tory candidate, her marriage surviving but not the bloke's. She became a Cameroon, a moderniser of the Tory Party (that was vicious to those on benefits - and why I still criticise the Liberal Democrats for propping up the Tories for far too long). Part of this political climb was her robust defence of the European Union and our influence at the central table of its decision taking. She became Lord Chancellor, and was apparently no good at it, and was demoted by Theresa May. But she saw the direction of the political wind, and hitched herself to the Johnson wagon. She suddenly became a convinced Leaver of the EU, rather like Johnson himself had his two newspaper articles - one for in and one for out - and opted to come out. He promoted her from Chief Secretary to the Treasury (and crap at that too) to Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade and then, even, Foreign Secretary. Her incredible trade deals were, basically, EU deals we already had and now needed repeating bilaterally.

As Foreign Secretary she did two connected things. One was have her photo taken wherever she went, and then in iconic Thatcher-appearing style. When she appeared in television debates, she was wooden, robotic and tried to look like Thatcher. She was appealing to the Tory Party demographic.

Don't look for the real Elizabeth Truss, because there isn't one. She is whatever suits at the time. She is no leader for a crisis, and her economic policy is crackers - borrowing when interest rates rise. For a long time money has been 'printed' on the basis of trying to tickle along more economic activity, in the risk that economic activity could release financial assets into price and wage inflation. This, along with war in Europe, has now happened. Monetary policy has to try and make the excess disappear, but her policy would create more and more money swilling around and, presumably, spent by consumers to stoke up demand. Capitalism has been in intensive care since 2008, and now it's about to fly off into contradictions every which way.

She is not the woman to lead the country. Go back to the 1970s when things were bad, too, and at least we had leaders of depth - people who read history, people who argued worked-out positions. We have had decades now of third rate politicians. She is one of them, and for that matter so is Sunak.

Johnson says, "I'll be back," because he knows that his party's "herd instinct" gets fed up with under-performing leaders. He is sure of his greatness, and of appointing people well below him. They are all low level.

None of the above. Mordaunt ran out of steam during her vacuous campaign, but in a system where the first task was to come second or above, it seems that Sunak's firepower was aimed at keeping the apparently popular Mordaunt out. Remember how little his vote went up before the final stage? Clever, but not clever enough, because it seems the Tory faithful rather like fakery and reconstruction, so just as Johnson (and Sunak) can communicate, Truss can turn herself into whatever she wants. Some people can be fooled all of the time.