Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Oldest Ally, Lost Twin

On the edge of the continent of Europe is a small country that once had a massive empire, including large parts of the American continent. It was so powerful that its monarchs called themselves Emperors, not just kings and queens. It was a maritime nation that produced great explorers and navigators. The patron saint of this country is Saint George. 

Its capital is a city whose name begins with L, has six letters and ends in O, N. It stands on a river whose name begins with T and ends with S. It is a port and was built on an appropriately grand scale for the capital of a global empire. Nowadays its sprawling suburbs are noticeably cosmopolitan, as so many immigrants from the former colonies have come to settle there. It sets its clocks to Greenwich Mean Time in the winter and British Summer Time in the summer.

This proud little country was attacked by Napoleon but resisted and repelled all attempts at invasion. Unlike France and Spain it has no Salic law and has often been ruled by a woman. In the nineteenth century it was ruled by a young Queen who married a German prince of the house of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. 
There were once a lot of monasteries in this country but they were all suppressed by a royal decree. In its mountainous, northern area people play the bagpipes.

A relative late-comer in the European Union, this small country with a big past is now suffering economic depression, has overwhelming debts, and is finding that "austerity" is a nasty medicine that does not even seem to work. The government is imposing severe cuts on pensions, and all public services. There is high unemployment, and prominent political voices are calling for the country to leave the euro-zone and return to its old currency, the escudo. 

I am talking, of course, about Portugal. Its capital, Lisbon, stands on the river Tagus, whose estuary is the perfect sheltering spot for large seagoing vessels. In the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it was, like England, a great maritime nation. Its colonies included the massive area of Brazil, and its royal family assumed the title of Emperors of  Brazil. It was allied with Britain against Napoleon and in the nineteenth century its Queen Maria married Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg, a cousin of England's Prince Consort, Albert. The Dissolution of the Monasteries took place in Portugal in 1834. Saint George has always been Portugal's national patron Saint. 

And the Portuguese time-zone, of Western Europe, is no different from that of Britain. If you fly to France or Holland, you have to adjust your watch, but not if you go to Portugal. 

When Portugal lost its empire, it had to find itself a new role and a new identity in the world. When I went there last month there were many signs in the capital of discontent and political controversy. Marches, demonstrations and banners all made it clear that Portugal has an opposition party that is getting increasingly vociferous.
 Another very British thing I noticed about Portugal  - inside its cathedrals you find none of the ostentation and gaudiness of a Spanish or Italian church. Magnificent on the outside, they are often restrained and chaste inside like an Anglican cathedral. 

In Rossio Square the statue of King Pedro IV stands on top of a tall column, surrounded by fountains, and behind it is the grand classical facade of the opera house, all very reminiscent of Trafalgar Square.

Pra├ža de D. Pedro IV.jpg

A few miles along the estuary from Lisbon is the monastery of San Jeronimo at Belem. Built with the wealth of Portugal's empire in a late Gothic, early Renaissance blend of styles they call Manueline, it has a magnificent church and cloister that reminds one of Christ Church in Oxford and King's College, Cambridge, built at around the same period. 

What a wonderful college it would make now! Surely there must be a better use for it than just to shunt tourists around it. 

But perhaps one day it will be used as a monastery again. Who knows what the future of Europe may hold?

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

I Challenge Rev. Giles Fraser to Survive in the Rat Race

The Rev. Giles Fraser, MA. Ph.D. is the red-flag-waving priest who resigned from his post as Canon of St Paul's Cathedral in 2011 because he could not condone legal action in evicting Occupy protesters from the precincts of the cathedral.
He writes a column in the Guardian and gives the impression that Marxism is far more important to him than mere Christianity.

Image result for Rev Giles Fraser

He was a panellist on BBC Question Time last week and when the thorny problem of migrant trafficking into Europe was raised, he was the only member of the panel to respond with an unreserved positive attitude. Other panellists suggested trying to intervene in the trafficking business, which undoubtedly exploits people and has no regard for their safety or welfare. By contrast, Dr Fraser said, "I would say to them - welcome!"
But it is easy for him to say that. He has a job, as vicar of St Mary's Newington, that provides him with a house in London, big enough for his wife and three children. It may not be as gracious as the Wren mansion he occupied as Canon of St Paul's but it is a house, so he does not have to worry about putting a roof over his head. He will never feel the impact of unlimited, mass immigration on the housing market. He will never have to pay a mortgage and even when he retires, he can be assured that the Church of England will house him. That is part of the deal.
Moreover, the job he has is effectively a protected job, ring-fenced against any foreign competition. Being a vicar in the Church of England is a job only open to confirmed members of the Church of England. While other jobs get hundreds or even thousands of applicants, posts as vicars regularly attract no applications at all. We are desperately short of vicars, and even with women being ordained, many clergy have to serve two or three churches. Giles Fraser will never know what it is like to fear being undercut by someone from Albania, or wherever, who offers to give a cheaper sermon (More's the pity, some might say). In his job, it can't happen.
When he was setting out in his profession, it was open only to men, so the field was even narrower. He has never really had to compete. Even when he made his big gesture of resigning as Canon of St Paul's, he got a six-month term of notice. He could go on living in the house and drawing the salary for six months while looking for another job.
And he need not worry about his pension as there is no statutory retirement age for vicars. I know some who are  going on working at the age of 85 or more.
So what I would say to the Reverend Dr Fraser is this  - I challenge you to go and live and work for one year in the big, bad world outside the sheltering walls of the Church of England. Go and get a job that is open to everybody, with no secure contract, a job where you have to re-apply for your own position every year -  that is what teachers now have to do. Find a job where any day, somebody from Albania can turn up and do it for less. A job where what you earn depends on how well the company does and how well you are deemed to have done. With the money from that job, go and buy or rent a house in London and move into it with your wife and three children.  If you do that, you will know how ordinary people feel, living in today's economic rat-race.
After one year, come back on the Question Time panel and answer the same question again  - if you are still alive and the shock hasn't killed you.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Is David Starkey Joking?

When David Starkey compares the SNP to the Nazi party because the saltire symbol and the swastika are both forms of "crooked cross" he is surely joking.

And for such an outstanding historian to compare the SNP's election  success in May 2015 to the rise to power of the Nazis is also surprising. Surely Starkey is aware that the Nazis never won any election until after they came to power. Hitler was the leader of a minority party when he was made Chancellor by the aging and doddery Von Hindenburg. In the elections and plebiscites that followed in Germany and Austria, the Nazis only won by eliminating all opposition and controlling the media.
    It is true that the SNP is a nationalist party - or "virulently nationalistic" as some would have it -  and our "politically correct" establishment has decreed that English nationalism is bad, while Scottish and Welsh nationalism are good. But by calling the SNP fascist, Starkey is descending to the level of the left-wingers who use this sort of trite terminology to express disapproval of everything, even a bad cup of tea. Starkey is supposed to be an academic, a TV guru and national treasure. He should not be descending to the level of HopeNotHate, the smear campaigners who circulated undoubtedly false rumours and fake videos during the last election. To throw the word "fascist" around is making him sound like Lawrence Durnan of Political Scrapbook (a.k.a. Political Crapbook); he thinks he is a journalist but he is actually just a schoolboy lost in a wet dream of being a Biggles-type hero, forever fighting the dastardly enemy who is always a Nazi; they do battle in biplanes wearing ear-flaps. Starkey should not be stooping to that. He should not be using the same crude tactics as the likes of Maryam Namazie of CEMGB or our orthographically-challenged friend Mr Derek Crawford Munn.
     Starkey says that the SNP blames the English for all the ills of Scotland. That is true, and of course they are adept at playing the victim card. What the SNP forgets is that the English tax-payer has subsidised Scotland to the tune of many billions per year for the past forty-five years. Enormous numbers of jobs have been moved north from England to Scotland to ensure the Scots continued to vote  Labour. Now the SNP has taken Labour policies and made them fashionable again by giving them a Scottish flavour.
    Sturgeon does not talk in terms of economic class, all that matters to her is whether you are Scottish. Are you kilty or not kilty?
    When you look at the SNP's policies, they are the same twaddle that is on offer from Labour and the Greens  - the idea that you can banish austerity by waving a magic wand. Sturgeon promises to find an extra £140 billion to spend on public services and welfare. She says £100 billion of it will materialise by scrapping Trident. That figure is the same one being bandied about by the Greens, and it comes from a wildly inaccurate set of calculations circulated seven years ago by CND. The Greens inflated it a bit more. It has been refuted countless times. Now while I have the greatest respect for Ms Sturgeon's sincere convictions on the subject of Trident, and nuclear weapons in general, she is mistaken if she thinks that to abolish Trident would suddenly make us all rich overnight.  In fact, a viable non-nuclear defence policy would cost us far more.
     Odder still, the SNP wants to stay in NATO and shelter under the nuclear umbrella of the Western nations, while professing to believe in disarmament. If nuclear deterrents are so immoral, so ineffectual and so unaffordable, isn't it a bit inconsistent to hide behind someone else's?  Isn't that just a form of meanness? The SNP wants to lower the voting age to 16, a policy they have taken from the LibDems, and for the same reason. The younger the voters, the more likely they are  to be taken in by their party's naive policies and hollow promises. Votes for babies would suit them best of all.
     The SNP is not a Nazi party, but it is a high-taxation party, more or less the old Labour party in kilts. Raising income tax, raising stamp duty for home owners, promising a crackdown on tax avoidance ...it could all have been photocopied from the Labour manifesto. The SNP promised they would never put the Tories into power and curiously enough it looks as if they have done just that. What they have achieved by robbing Labour of Scotland we will have to wait and see. Until then, I suggest David Starkey sticks to what he is good it, which is telling us about Tudor, Stuart and Georgian history. So long as he does that, I will always have time for him.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Oxford Evangelicals call for the resignation of Bishop Alan Wilson - High Time

Many of us have long ago had more than enough of the Reverend Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham. When not speaking in derisory terms about the Church of England, his official employer, and Christianity in general, he is usually boasting about his doctorate or his other trendier credentials. Many people are shocked at the language he uses to disparage those of orthodox views. Now at last some leading evangelicals in the Oxford diocese that includes Buckingham have spoken out against him. I fully agree with them and back their call for his resignation.

Prominent Oxford Diocese Evangelicals call for the resignation of Bishop Alan Wilson.
Jun 21, 2015

By David Ould writing in Anglican Mainstream.
This morning not one but two prominent evangelical ministers in the Diocese of Oxford appeared on BBC radio to call for the resignation of Bishop Alan Wilson.

First, Vaughan Roberts of St Ebbes Oxford, one of the largest churches in the diocese, appeared on BBC Radio Oxford. You can hear a brief grab from him here on the Charles Nove Show (available for 30 days from the time of broadcast) at 1:10 into the programme followed by Alan Wilson. Roberts says, "In any line of work if you as a leader of that organisation find yourself in a fundamental disagreement with that organisation and then you publicly speak against it, the only sensible option is to resign. He must be in a very difficult position and if he finds that he doesn’t now support this view on a fundamental issue (of marriage) by the organisation he is called to serve and to lead – obviously he should resign."

An hour later Will Pearson-Gee, the Rector of Buckingham Parish Church appeared on the BBC Radio Berks Sunday morning show. The full audio of his interview and a response from Wilson is below.

Podcast: Play in new window | Download

It’s worth noting… Wilson repeatedly seeks to portray the evangelical position of Pearson-Gee and Roberts as fringe and reactionary, rather than recognising that it is the majority historical and global position of the church…Wilson clearly charges Pearson-Gee of acting in a dishonourable way and particularly with refusing to meet with him and “not turning up” to a meeting, and then repeats the claim when asked for clarification. My understanding is that this is simply not true. Perhaps we’ll get some further clarity on that in the coming days. They are serious charges to make.

Pray for the clergy of the diocese of Oxford and for Bishop Wilson as he considers his position. I am told that he may very well get his bluff called, and it could end up being very expensive for the diocese. The evangelical churches now uniting to ask him to step down represent some of the major contributors to the diocesan budget.

Read here


Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Busking - Is It A Crime?

Ever since Oxfordshire County Council imposed its pedestrianisation scheme on central Oxford, Cornmarket has become a circus for buskers, beggars, street-artists and publicity-touters wearing sandwich boards. 

Some of the buskers are good, and I give them money if I'm in a good mood. Some of them are bad, and a lot of them are far too loud. The bloke with the bagpipes is a real pain. The one who brings his own piano is certainly in the way. 
There is no doubt that the pedestrianised Cornmarket is a bad place to shop and there is a severe problem with congestion. Personally I would like most of this "vibrant street culture" swept away into side streets so that the buses could go straight through up to North Oxford. But even so, I think that the new penalties being proposed by Oxford's Labour City Council - a fine of up to £2,500 and a criminal record -  are absolutely draconian. 
Come on, the bagpipes are bad, but not that bad. The maximum fine should be £100.  People sleeping rough are not criminals  - they are symptom of other, far larger, social and political problems that the Labour party refuses to address. The worst sights in the city centre are put there by the Council. The hacked-off tree stumps in Castle Street, the hideous mess they have made of Bonn Square, the huge piles of rubbish... because they give planning permission to endless fast-food chains.
Along with the vagrant-proof "benches" and the CCTV in all buses and taxis, this new anti-busker law is one more sign of a police state. Protest!

Oxford City Council: Stop Attacking Our Freedoms, Support a Vibrant Street Culture in Oxford

Keep the Streets Alive 
United Kingdom
Labour-led Oxford City Council are in the process of creating new powers to make street music, art and performance in Oxford a potential criminal offence and subject to strict, arbitrary controls. A new 'crime' of 'non-compliant' busking has been proposed, punishable by fines of up to £2500 and a life long criminal record.
Riding bicycles on restricted streets, feeding pigeons, pavement art and sleeping rough will also become criminal offences under Oxford's plans to implement a wide-ranging Public Space Protection Order (PSPO), which, according to Labour Councillor Dee Sinclair one of the architects of these proposals, are aimed at any behaviours which 'might make people feel uncomfortable'.
Oxford is already one of the most restrictive cities for busking in the UK and currently requires all buskers to provide passports, driving licenses and/or birth certificates as proof of identity, as well as an additional proof of address, before issuing them with photo ID 'Busking Cards' which they are required to carry in order to be 'allowed' to busk.They have a highly prescriptive code of conduct which places strict and arbitrary limits on where (There are only 8 places in the city where busking is allowed), when, and for how long buskers can play (no longer than 60 minutes), stipulates that they must not be heard plainly from 50 metres, and must stop performing for any reason if told to do so by a police or council officer (turning public officials into 'civic Simon Cowells' who can stop performances that they don't like). Under their plans it will be a criminal offence to be caught busking in the 'wrong' way, on the 'wrong' spot or for the 'wrong length' of time, and officials (including private contractors working for the council) will have the power to issue on the spot fines.
Oxford City Council spuriously claim that 'non-compliant' buskers cause 'unfair and unsafe' practices (which they don't specify) and that they need additional powers to use against those buskers who don't comply with their code of conduct. However they are one of the only cities in the entire UK to propose making busking a criminal offence. Most towns and cities in the UK (Including  Cambridge, Canterbury, Bath, Edinburgh, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, St Albans, Newcastle, Glasgow, Bournemouth and many others) do not require performers to obtain a 'Busking Card' or license before performing, and instead publish a best practise guide only taking action against the small minority of buskers who cause real issues. There are a wide range of existing powers that councils can use to deal with noise nuisance, obstruction or antisocial behaviour. Oxford's proposals represent an unnecessary misuse of legislation by criminalising a cultural activity which causes no harm.
The Keep Streets Live Campaign is a not for profit organisation which exists to protect and support informal and spontaneous performances of art and music in public spaces. We have successfully challenged unjust busking policies in Liverpool, York and Canterbury where we now work alongside the local authority in those cities to introduce Best Practise Guides for busking that promote good relationships between buskers and those they share the streets without the need for restrictive legislation. We have also advised the Mayor of London on his 'Busk in London' scheme designed to make London 'the most busker friendly city in the world'.
We urgently invite Oxford City Council to abandon their attempt to criminalise and marginalise street artists and musicians by using a PSPO to regulate busking, and instead to work alongside the Musican's Union, local buskers and the Keep Streets Live Campaign to build on the work done in other places to develop a best practise guide that protects spontaneity and promotes a vibrant street culture for all who live, work and visit Oxford.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Asia Bibi is Sick and Suffering in Prison - please sign petition for her release

ASIA BIBI, the Christian woman sentenced to death in Pakistan for supposedly "insulting Islam" is seriously ill in her prison, She is suffering from intestinal bleeding which could be a sign of terminal illness and she needs to be in hospital.

Please sign this petition to David Cameron and Philip Hammond, now they are re-elected. to call on the government of Pakistan to intervene and overturn the death sentence. This is only one of countless examples of the appalling persecution of Christians in Pakistan,


Saturday, 9 May 2015

Rotherham's Revenge - Labour Defeat

Of course it didn't just happen in Rotherham, it also happened in Bradford, London, Newcastle, Telford, Peterborough, Rochdale, Edinburgh, Holyrood, Derby, Middlesborough, Bristol, Leeds, Buckinghamshire, Leicester, Bolton, Coventry, Ipswich, Barnsley, High Wycombe and nice, refined, cultured Oxford.
And it went on for years and years.
There is no doubt that Labour's cult of political-correctness created the perfect conditions for the horrible exploitation of young girls by what is euphemistically called "grooming gangs". And all over the country, social services, Labour councillors, such as Barry Dodson, Labour MPs such as Dennis McShane and John Healey, Labour police commissioners like Sean Wright, went on turning a blind eye for year after year. They even victimised those who tried to blow the whistle on these large-scale paedophile rape rackets.

Most of the victims came from vulnerable backgrounds, children in care or living with working-class parents who might have been very likely Labour voters. That explains a lot about the marked drop in Labour's vote in this election. Many people don't really get worked up about national issues but when it's their child, their sister or themself who is treated like a packet of mince on a supermarket shelf, they do get angry and they do get disillusioned. 
          Labour didn't want public embarrassment, so they preferred to condone evil. There is no doubt that all over the country children were raped and beaten to ensure Labour votes and this is what kept Blair in power. After the reports started coming in, even after the official enquiries, the Labour party faithful were going around saying it was all a "myth of the Far Right" that ubiquitous ogre they always blame for everything, and this was one last sickening insult to the victims in all those towns up and down this country.

Ed Miliband with Labour MP Yasmin Qureshi who admires ISIS

Those people, their families and friends, didn't have to vote at all to influence the outcome of the election, and the miserably low national turn-out suggests that they did not. All they had to do was stay at home to register their anger, and deep sense of injustice.

Labour Mayor  Barry Dodson charged with two counts of child rape himself. 

Labour Party Mayor Barry Dodson






Bradford http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/10192832.Thirty_arrested_in_child_sex_grooming_inquiry/
Telford  http://www.shropshirestar.com/news/2014/01/23/operation-chalice-sex-abusers-fail-to-get-sentences-cut/
Peterborough  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-25659042
Derby  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-11799797
Bristol  http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/Eleventh-Bristol-man-accused-child-sexual/story-20445962-detail/story.html
Leeds  http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/news/twelve-men-appear-court-following-leeds-safeguarding-unit-investigation
Leicester  http://www.itv.com/news/central/story/2013-08-30/six-to-be-sentenced-for-child-exploitation/
Barnsley – http://www.barnsley-chronicle.co.uk/news/article/6646/police-investigate-child-sexual-exploitation-cases
Scotland – http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/407931/Scots-police-smash-two-large-paedophile-rings
London – http://www.itv.com/news/update/2012-12-14/men-face-court-over-child-sex-charges/