Tuesday, March 27, 2012

News Corp Hacking Allegations: Now It's Gone Digital

I watched last night's Panorama with a sense of unease and dismay. If true, then what we are about to see is a long, slow, and nasty destruction take place with News Corporation and both Murdochs' likely to face prison. If true, and if there is concrete evidence available, but one thing is for sure. The phone hacking story, News International's problems, and indeed the spotlight on how the media conducts itself, the subject of the Leveson Inquiry, shows that this story is far from over and more may yet come out!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cash for Cameron

Not only is this very disturbing, it also leaves some questions that are in the public interest.

1) How much did the PM know?

By receiving a no of guests this way, which seems inevitable given the allegations, one would surely have expected questions to be asked by the Prime Minister or Chancellor. If I were the Prime Minister and was expected to lunch with a no of Party donors, meet them etc.. I would be asking an awful lot of questions and I hope I'd have the presence of mind to document everything so as to help cover my back

2) Why not a public inquiry instead of an internal Conservative Party inquiry?

That leaves two disturbing possible answers. Either the PM does not fully appreciate the gravity of the situation and wants it all tided up as quickly as possible, or he knows and/or fears there is something to hide!

In saying all that however, it still leaves the uncomfortable elephant in the room. Party funding! How do we solve this seemingly intractable, and indeed horrible problem!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Heseltine's Maiden Speech in Lords

I have a lot of time and respect for Lord Heseltine as an opponent, but I am disquieted by the fact that yesterday he made his maiden speech in the Lords.
Now the reason for that disquiet is that he was made a Life Peer in 2001, just after he stood down as MP for Henley, and whilst he has been a regular attender in terms of voting, I would have thought that ideally a Lords member should be a working peer, one of whose duties is making occasional speeches.
A gap of eleven months I could sort of understand, but eleven years!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Budget: 2012

Tories have been proclaiming this budget a success. They state that the richest 10% will pay the most in this budget, but it does not avoid the unpalatable fact that the poor and vulnerable will be hit hard. Pensioners who earn less than £29.000 per annum will get their tax allowances frozen and anyone who becomes a pensioner after Spring 2013 will not get any relief. This is cruel, immoral, and just plain wrong and I challenge any Tory activist praising the Budget to explain this, in person, to those OAPs who will suffer as a result. It might balance the books but there are other ways of doing that and hitting the poor and vulnerable because they cannot hit back strikes me as political and moral cowardice, although given the fact that just about every newspaper has attacked this budget, I am sure they will soon live to regret it. Yesterday we did not see Osborne the Economist or Osborne the Tactician, we saw Osborne the Cowardly and Immoral
Same Old Tories and shame on the Lib Dems as well, I just hope all concerned with supporting and creating yesterday's Budget reflect on what they have done and make amends

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Queen's Diamond Jubilee Address to Parliament

Much impressed and I noticed she talked more about the here and now rather than the past. This is a monarch with still much to do and there is still much to commend her for. Long may she reign

Monday, March 19, 2012

Podcast Interview With Rupa Huq

Click here to listen to my Podcast interview with academic and Labour blogger Rupa Huq where we discuss the Olympics, the Mayoral elections, and Bradford South among other things

Farewell Archbishop Rowan Williams

Was surprised to read that he is quitting as he could stay in the post for another eight years and given his desire to deal sensitively with all sides within the Anglican divide we need someone like him as Archbishop.
And who to succeed him? Well too early to say and this needs prayer, but from where I see it we need an Archbishop who is sensitive to those within the Church he disagrees with and yet stands up for what he believes in. He needs the evangelicalism of Temple, the administrative skills of Fisher, the holiness of Ramsey, the enthusiasm of Coggan, the pastoral one to one talents of Runcie, the fervour of Carey, and the friendliness and open mindedness of Williams. Now that would be a miracle!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The History of the "Special Relationship"

Nothing new as such, but there are some leaders where the chemistry works well. One thinks of Churchill and Roosevelt, where that relationship was crucial to the success of World War II, or Macmillan, who was wily enough to have a good relationship with both Eisenhower (Republican) and Kennedy (Democrat), at some crucial moments during the Cold War.
There were times of course when it was difficult, such as between Johnson and Wilson (Wilson refusing to commit troops to Vietnam) and Nixon and Heath (Heath preferring relationships with fellow European leaders) and Vietnam and Watergate probably meant that this turned out to be ideal at that stage, but it did return with Callaghan and Carter (useful during the IMF Crisis and other similar events), Thatcher and Reagan (The Falklands War being a crucial factor) and Major and Bush Snr (the First Gulf War meant that the Special Relationship was vital)
Blair did well with Clinton, but his relationship with George W. Bush was probably in some respects not good for Britain's interests with regards to Iraq, but it probably was with regards to Afghanistan and times move on. Time and again we have seen how vital the "Special Relationship" is and one hopes that one day we shall see a continuation of this with a Labour Prime Minister and Barack Obama and whoever his successors are!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Letter To Douglas Adams - Sent Back In Time To March 12th 2001

Dear Douglas,

One of your numerous fans who is writing you a letter from the future. Not too far, only eleven years to the day. I felt I ought to write because yesterday was your 60th birthday and there was a big party in your honour.
Obviously coming from the future, due to the rules of time I can only say so much, but this is what I can say.
The Internet has developed some interesting twists and turns. There was the advent of the "blog", from which I am writing this, basically it is like a website, and is technically, but is a column/diary for the user to publicly share his or her thoughts. This has been superseded somewhat by "Twitter" and "Facebook" and other "social networks" sites, where people use chatrooms, share details and on "Twitter" millions of people around the world communicate with each other with the limit of 140 characters. Your friend Stephen Fry is particually popular.
What else? Well the Conservatives are back in, but didn't get a full majority so they are in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, your friend Richard Dawkins recently had an open debate with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, (which seemed to go well for all concerned), major terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC in the late summer of 2001 has led to the overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the killing of Osama Bin Laden by US Forces, and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. We are now in the midst of several uprisings in the Middle East. Tunisa and Egypt have new governments, as has Libya and Gaddafi is dead. In the US we have the Democrats back in charge and the first black President, Barack Obama, who has made a major breakthrough in changing the US Health system.
Dirk Gently has been dramatised on radio (starring Harry Enfield) and now on television (Starring Stephen Mangan), and the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy got made into a film (at last) some years ago, with Stephen Fry as the Voice of the Book. Yes, you did get a cameo in the film!
Not much else to say other than the fact you are loved, really loved, by fans and friends who think well of you and the other thing is, be careful and look after yourself. Can't say more (wish I could), but with fond regards from 2012

Paul Burgin

How Should We Treat the Sun On Sunday?

I have to confess that I am not sure how we deal with this paper!
I agree with John Sentamu, forgiveness is vital, but is advertising a buying a paper seven days a week whose publishing company is under critical observance and investigation a good idea? I have been disappointed by David Miliband writing for the paper last week, and yesterday Yvette Cooper. After all what has happened!
On one hand we need to be careful that this doesn't become a witch hunt, especially after two attempted suicides, but we need to be very, very careful with this paper. We have not seen a fulsome apology as such, we have not seen a full change in journalistic standards, the investigation is far from over. The last bit being most important.
I can see why some Labour MP's want to write for The Sun On Sunday, and yet the last time we got close to the paper we got badly burned. We need to go beyond the Kinnock headlines and it seems as if the view that to reach out to the public and to win the next election we need to go to Rupert Murdoch and that is a dangerous view as history has shown.

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CLVI: Gillan Scott

Gillan Scott: I live in Suffolk and am currently a teacher, a husband and a father. In the past I’ve been a youth worker, worked for RBS and trained as an architect. I’m also a Christian trying to live a life that makes a difference. I have a keen interest in politics, but have never quite managed to align myself with one political party. I believe that the Church has got a huge amount to offer society and the more it can move beyond its own walls and serve our communities and government, the better. The aim of my blog, God and Politics in the UK is to comment on current affairs from a Christian perspective and grapple with how Christians in the UK should engage effectively with issues in society

What made you decide to start blogging?

I got the idea during the Occupy demonstration outside St Paul’s last year. I was incredibly frustrated by the way the cathedral handled the incident, so I went online to see what other Christians were saying about it. I was disappointed about how little I found and felt the need to do something about it to get my voice out in public. I admire Christians who are involved in politics, whichever party they belong to, but I also know plenty of Christians who care deeply about politics but don’t feel drawn towards one particular party. I have this hope that my blogging might encourage at least a few to consider how they can act in a way that engages with politics effectively no matter what their political persuasion is.

What is your best blogging experience?

The kindness of strangers. I’ve been amazed how supportive seasoned bloggers have been to me. I’ve had plenty of help getting up the first few steps of the blogging ladder since I started.

And your worst?

The niggling self doubt that makes me wonder why anyone would be interested in what I write. That and thinking I’ll run out of things to say sooner rather than later.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I’ve just finished a series of reviews of the Clearing the Ground report published by the All Party Parliamentary Group, Christians in Parliament. It’s a major report considering how Christianity is being marginalised in the UK and what should be done about it. It’s received quite a bit of interest, which is good to see.

Favourite blogs?

Archbishop Cranmer and Mars Hill are two great blogs mixing Christian principles and politics effectively from different ends of the political spectrum. I’m still looking for a Christian Lib Dem blog. I closely follow eChurch and Gentle Wisdom which are full of great thought provoking content. I don’t have time to read as many as I’d like to.

What do you see as the major problems for Christians within the current political climate?

I think Christians are currently going through a crisis of confidence trying to match their beliefs with an increasingly secular society. Often you get the impression through the media that militant atheists and secularists are gaining control and influence in government and the church is losing its relevance. The danger is that Christians retreat into the safety of their churches where they can express themselves freely. In fact the opposite is needed. Christianity has contributed a great deal to this country over the centuries giving us a great deal of freedom and stability. Despite what some people think, we need the church to be engaged if we are to function well as a society.

Are some of the former and current Church leaders over-reacting over Gay marriage?

There is an ongoing demand on the church at the moment to conform to a secular vision for it. On the whole church leaders in our country have generally not made a big noise against changes in attitudes in society and government. I think the underlying unease in the church has continued to grow though, and we are now seeing some of this being vented in public. Marriage is an institution that the Church holds sacred and it is not going to allow it to be tampered with without a big fight. Many leaders in the church believe the government is going a step too far over this matter. It does sadden me though when I see Christians using incendiary language. This doesn’t do anything but stir up further resentment and division

Should Christians be more concerned about what is going on within the Media with regards to the phone-hacking scandal and should they be more pro-active in taking a stand?

I think Christians have been too quiet on this matter so far especially those with public profiles. The Church doesn’t always have a particularly easy relationship with most of the press and media and I wonder if it feels uncomfortable wading into the debate. I’m not sure how the press would react if there was an overwhelming response from those in the Church to the Leveson Inquiry calling for the police, politicians and journalists to clean up their act, but I’d like it to happen. The press has immense power to change public opinion and attitudes in a positive way, but instead it often leeches out poison instead.

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

I’ve not made it to Italy yet even though there’s so much I love about it.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

I’ve been to Africa a few times now. Most of it is incredibly beautiful and I’m keen to return again at some point.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

Nelson Mandela. He is a living example of how forgiveness and reconciliation can transform a broken country.

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration?

There are plenty for me to choose from, but I’m going to say Mike Pilavachi. Mike heads Soul Survivor, which runs a massive festivals for young Christians in with thousands attending each summer. Through him a whole generation of Christians has grown up in this country confident in their faith and eager to transform the world by fighting against injustice, serving the poor and living with integrity. I’ve met him a few times and he is an amazing guy, although his dress sense leaves a lot to be desired.

Favourite Bond movie?

Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale. It brought the franchise back to life.

Favorite Doctor Who?

I grew up with Peter Davison, but Tom Baker is my favourite. You always got the impression that he actually believed he was Doctor Who.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate as long as it’s Green & Blacks.

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

I’d love to have been able to witness the Jimi Hendrix Experience at Woodstock in 1969.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

I studied Architecture at university, so I’d go with Cambridge as it has some fantastic buildings.

Favourite national newspaper?

The Times.

What would you say your hobbies were?

I’m in a couple of bands and try to write songs occasionally. I love art and also have a rather large LEGO collection.

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Where the Streets Have No Name, by U2, Viva La Vida by Coldplay and History Maker by Delirious? All best heard live. Books in no particular order: Lord of the Rings, The Complete Winnie the Pooh Collection and Homer’s Iliad.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

C4M/C4EM: My thoughts

Hat tip to Peter Watt for inspiring this post

I’m an Evangelical Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and that by believing and trusting in Him, I am assured of eternal life. I wasn’t always an Evangelical Christian. I grew up attending the local village church and it wasn’t until I was given a Gideon’s New Testament in a school assembly that I started reading the bible for myself. The first thing to catch my eye was the Sermon on the Mount and it has shaped my world view ever since. This teaching turned on its head the prevailing zeitgeist of the 1980’s: “Love your enemies”, “Blessed are the poor” wasn’t exactly the gospel Margaret Thatcher was preaching so I concluded that Jesus must see the world differently from her.

I had very devout grandparents – on both sides of the family. Mum’s family are Ulster Presbyterians with impeccable Unionist credentials. Visiting the troubled province as a small child raised questions in my young mind about when religion goes wrong and we lose the central message of the gospel. My dad’s parents served on the parochial church council of an evangelical parish church on the west coast of Cumbria, though family history records show my paternal ancestors were pioneers of Primitive Methodism in the region. Primitive Methodism, of course, was itself a grandparent of the Labour Party, and yes, one of my great grandfathers was a Labour Party activist – and coalminer by trade. My roots in the Labour Party run deep – as do my roots in the church – and in my mind, I can’t really separate the two.

At university I was in the Labour Club and the Christian Union. This was the first time I realised there might be a conflict between the two. The Labour Club had many LGBT activists – a number of whom are now prominent in the Labour Party – alongside whom I campaigned. Several years after I graduated, the Christian Union made national news when it was expelled from the Guild of Students (the Guild President was a Labour Student) for failing to uphold democratic standards (amongst other things, you were required to be a Christian to serve on the union executive). At the time, I was very much on the side of the Christian Union, though in hindsight there were options for negotiation and agreement that could perhaps have been explored. Whatever the rights and wrongs of this, the problem for me was that it discouraged me from getting involved in the local Labour Party, having recently relocated to a new area.

Then Nick Griffin (literally) turned up in the neighbourhood – and, as far as I was concerned, that was my call to arms. But getting involved in the Labour Party again hit obstacles when I was confronted by clergy who questioned whether this was a “Christian” thing to do. The Equality Act was making its way through parliament and this, so I was told, posed a mortal threat to the existence of the church.

At the time, I was fighting a completely separate set of battles. I was in my 30s, I was single and to put it bluntly I was completely miserable. Being unhappily single forced me to examine church’s teaching on “family values”. On the one hand, I was being told “marriage is the bedrock of society”; on the other, if I ever dared to express my unhappiness at being single, I was rebuked – sometimes quite forcefully - for my discontentment. It didn’t – and it still doesn’t – add up. So what did I conclude?

The marriage of Christ and the Church is central to the gospel message but it does not follow that marriage is the bedrock of society. Jesus never married; neither did St. Paul who exhorted the virtues of singleness. Even in the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah offers hope to abandoned, barren women (Isaiah 54) and childless men (Isaiah 56).

The notion of marriage being the bedrock of society affects how communities function and creates precisely the kind of world which Margaret Thatcher envisaged when she said “There’s no such thing as society – only individuals and their families” – a world where individual nuclear families live in isolation from one another disconnected from the communities they are part of. This world is particularly harsh on those who fall outside the nuclear family unit – the single, the divorced, the widowed – and the LGBT. In the 1980’s, economic policies aggravated this by removing the economic centres which had held communities together for centuries. Whereas, people had been able to live, work, worship – and die - in the same communities, now people were scattered all over the place, hundreds of miles away from the people they cared about. Friendships that had once been lifetime commitments were now transient as people moved on to new pastures. I only have to look at my Facebook friends list to see the scale of the problem. One hundred years ago, nobody could have had 532 friends – many may not have met 532 people during their whole life. People would have had a couple of dozen friends but they would have had those same friends throughout their whole life.

Nuclear families are insulated from the full force of this because when they relocate, they relocate together. When a single person relocates, they have to start over, meeting new friends, developing trust. They may have close friends and family elsewhere but they are not there to share a coffee, for a shoulder to cry on, to help change a light bulb.

When I was single, far too many people assumed that I wanted to be in a relationship because I wanted to have sex. But it wasn’t that – far from it. What I yearned for more than anything was permanency in my personal relationships. I had moved house numerous times and I was fed up of making new friends – and of existing friends moving on. I wanted someone who’d still be with me 10, 15, 20 years from now – and who would move with me when I moved.

It’s not surprising in our 21st Century fragmented world that LGBT people want to get married. I can’t speak for them because I am straight but I imagine they yearn for the same things I yearned for – permanency in their personal relationships. Having walked the bitter road of singleness for longer than I ever dare admit, I am perfectly aware of the kind of life the LGBT community thinks the church expect them to lead – and it doesn’t surprise me that this causes the bitterness, anger and resentment that it does. The Church needs to listen to that bitterness, anger and resentment if ever hopes to get a hearing on its concerns about religious liberty.

Lib Dems and the #NHSBill #LDConf

Last night twitter lit up with calls from all and sundry, though a large number of Labour tweeters urging Lib Dems attending Liberal Democrat Spring Conference to drop the National Health and Social Care Bill. Many were saying that the Lib Dems were doing nothing, were being ineffectual and that these people would never vote Lib Dem again.

Of course if there had been no substance to hang there tweets unto at this Lib Dem conference it would have been a waste of time. But the fact is that in the ballot at the moment for the emergency motion slot are not one but two motions on the NHS Bill. But even this is not the beginning of the story for Lib Dems working to modify the Conservative led NHS Bill.

Last Spring there was a strongly worded motion that called for substantive changes to the then draft Bill which had just been published. There were more senior members of the party including Baroness Williams and former MP Dr Evan Harris called to speak for that motion that I can recall for a long time on a motion at Spring Conference. In the end the motion was carried with a substantial majority and therefore our MPs and Lords had to pay attention and work to make those changes that had been called for.

When it came to Autumn conference last year, only about half of those changes that conference had called for had found their way into the bill, so there was an effort to get an emergency motion unto the ballot at that conference. However, Federal Conference Committee disallowed based on the fact that a substantive motion on Health had been discussed at the previous conference. So those of us who felt strongly that the NHS Bill needed further debate rather than a general Health Q&A Session, called for a suspension of standing orders to try and rearrange a debate for that slot in the agenda. This was conference attempting to take control of what we knew was important to the whole country.

Speeches were heard about for and against we wanted to suspend standing orders to call debate on the change of function of the already scheduled health slot. When it came to the vote a majority wanted to have the debate, however it was not the 2/3rds majority required for a suspension of standing orders.

Did we give up? Of course not. We tried to get another motion through into this conference but that was turned down for other motions. But we didn't stop there, we kept on fighting.

That is why there are two motions in the ballot which closes at 13:00 today. One calls for a total dropping of the bill and to start again in looking at reform within the confines of terms laid out in the coalition agreement, the other Protecting our NHS bears the name of Shirley Williams and calls for some further changes which have been agreed at Westminster. In a normal conference I would have been voting for the one on violence in Syria, but sadly that will have to be left to the discretion of our MPs to deal with I fear. As the only way for Lib Dems to get their message heard on the NHS at this conference is through the emergency motion ballot then that is what many of my colleagues will be lobbying away for last night and this morning.

Whatever the outcome of today's ballot (which will be announced during the afternoon session) however do not be fooled that the Liberal Democrats have let this Bill go through unopposed. We have been opposing it at conference strongly now on three consecutive conferences. We have already seen significant changes to it, although many of us still want to see further changes and even a complete rethink, not bad for the minority coalition partner. You have to realise that some of the changes laid out in the Bill have already started to happen in the NHS anyway, some of them had even started in part under Labour's watch.

The fact of course that the Lib Dems conference reps are the only conference that has such democratic powers to hold even Government to account is the reason that so many people got unto Twitter yesterday. But it was only because Liberal Democrats were already aware of the issues, already working on getting those views heard and voted on that there was a means in motion to enable that stance to be made by those local party reps who are in Gateshead.

Update 14:20: The result of the ballot came down to 309 for the Shirley Williams motion and 280 for the Drop the Bill motion after transfers. I expect there will still be fireworks in the debate tomorrow and possibly a very close count at the end of it.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

PCC Set To Close

Whereas this may be seen as good news, how much of the old regime will remain and how much of this is simply cosmetic. A new organisation replacing the PCC will have to draw some tight lines on what constitutes intrusion and implement them every time the Press are out of order with very tough sanctions. As it is I am concerned with the way things are turning out

The Jews Who Fled From Hitler And Became Servants

A touching piece here. Worth watching, the contrast between the Nuns who bravely stopped a Jewish girl from disembarking when the SS stopped a train at the Belgian border and told all Jews to get off, to the woman who threatened to send  another back to Germany when she complained, is painful, and yet it shows that the overlooked acts of bravery do more good  and are more remembered with honour than the stupid remarks of ignorance

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Media Ethics Society

Further to my post a week and a half ago, in light of the launch of the Sun On Sunday. I have set up a Facebook Group designed to help promote a national debate on our media, known as the Media Ethics Society.
It is very early days at the moment, but the main aim is to help create a national debate and see a change for the better with our media.

Is Ed Miliband Uninspiring?

I have a lot of time for the caller who stated this, but we are getting more members and the government are hardly popular at the moment.
The other thing to bear in mind is that Margaret Thatcher faced similar criticisms when she was Leader of the Opposition in the 1970s, but then she went on to win three general elections in a row.
Let's be careful in labelling our leaders when in fear of losing. Those of us who are in, or who support the Labour Party need to do much to change, we need to win the next election, but we need to stand firm when under attack

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Lord St John of Fawsley 1929-2012

Looking at some of the obits, it is easy to write Lord St John of Fawsley off as a flamboyant snob. In some cases that accusation may be fair, but in many cases it is not quite the case and overlooks some of his virtues.
For example he was a moderniser when it came to his work as Leader of the House of Commons with his drive to create a Select Committee for each government department. Equally he did much to champion the Arts and for this he can be well commended.
Norman St John Stevas may have been a no of things, but he was radical where needed and did much to champion the briefs he held in office. We need more like him in government and it is a pity we can sometimes be lacking

Fifty Years of Smoking Warnings

It's coming up to the fiftieth anniversary of the first official warnings that touched the public on the dangers of smoking.
It's fair to say that the changes in people's attitudes have been very gradual (after all I was born in the mid 1970s and I smoked, albeit rarely, until around twelve years ago when I saw a documentary on tobacco companies. I did take a drag of a cigarette three years later in a moment of weakness, but that's it), but they have changed and, given the film shown in the link I have made, it took some doing. That said how can one by surprised, people who enjoyed smoking were asked to change their habits overnight or risk death, in the same way you or I would be asked to stop drinking tea, coffee, or orange juice first thing in the morning!  Thankfully though people's views did change!

Monday, March 05, 2012

Those Russian Election Results

Like many I have to say I have my doubts about Putin getting around 64% through fair means. That said it also seems he would have won anyway. Why am I suspicious of the results though? Well apart from the comments from election monitors, I do recall reading somewhere that Putin got 985 in one area in Siberia. If anyone can give me the exact info there, I would be greatful, but if true, it is incredible!

David Miliband Writing for the Sun On Sunday

I have to say I am saddened and disappointed to read about this. I appreciate he has given his fee to charity, but this has happened while the Sun On Sunday is under a cloud, and at a time when we need an intensive national debate about our media industry and when we need to pay heavy attention to the role of tabloids and that when people buy a paper it needs to be a moral choice! David Miliband has not helped in this regard, and for an intelligent and resourceful man who has much to offer, this one act has needlessly made him enemies within the Labour Party. Why couldn't he have written this to another paper, or request a TV interview?

An Open Letter to Rush Limbaugh

Dear Sir,

Am British and live in the UK, so I have never listened to your radio station (although if I were living in the US, and/or American, I doubt I ever would. Not my kind of thing), but I have heard of you and your reputation.
I am also a member of the UK Labour Party and I say this just so you will know beforehand what will be obvious to you, that I am in your eyes perhaps, a hard left pinko from a backward liberal country who is disgustingly soft on various issues. I disagree and am not too bothered by your views on what I think, but what I am doing here today is to try and appeal to what many of your detractors will tell me you do not have, namely your sense of decency.
Polarising debates can be fun can't it! You can through force of character and attack, force people in the middle to take sides and if they take the "wrong" side, you can demonise and insult them and shut down any lengthy argument that may bring an intelligent point from your opponents! But I do wonder if, during the small hours, you hear a still small voice that some would say is a conscience, others would say God, even more, both, that you cannot do that and it is wrong!
Many people have issues over contraception, usually very good ones too! Have you ever read the report looking into contraception by a Catholic committee in the run-up to Humane Vite? I suggest you do, many of them were married couples with various fears and anxieties that needed to be heard (Incidentally, regarding Sandra Fluke, I notice that she at no point mentioned anything personal about her background and/or lifestyle choices!)
When people at college want to have easy access to contraception, I agree that some will do so in order to sleep around, but many will not. Some will be in a monogamous relationship, some will want the Pill for hormonal reasons, and so on. Does that make those women sluts? Because sir, you have just told them they are, probably in an attempt to raise ratings and attention for what many would regard as a sorry excuse for your show!
Right now I would not be surprised if some women were in tears, felt hurt, angry, and distressed about your comments. Don't you think you owe them as well as Sandra Fluke an apology?  Because you have insulted them with your sweeping statements! Btw, have you mentioned condom machines at campuses or anywhere else? Are men sluts for having such easy access? If not then you are a hypocrite as well!
Do the decent thing, reflect on your behaviour, and apologise. It's painful (I know, I have had to say sorry for things), and it is humiliating, and difficult, but it is also the right thing to do, and even if you do not get forgiveness in return, or respect, you will feel better for it and gain some self respect, and you can say as you turn off the light at night before you go to sleep "I did the right thing and said sorry, not just to Sandra Fluke, but to all those women!"


Paul Burgin

UPDATE: I see you have apologised and thankyou. But I do agree with Karin Robinson here. Contraception, as I have touched on in this letter, is more than about "recreational sexual activity"

Thursday, March 01, 2012

UK Closes It's Syrian Embassy

To be honest it could not do anything else within reason. The fact that the Swiss had to temporally close their embassy recently and the concerns mentioned by most of the leading countries in the UN, should ideally get the Syrian government to come to their senses, but I fear that may not happen

RIP PC Rathband

So sad, and a sure sign that sometimes people don't cope as well as we think they do. If any good comes out of his death, I hope that it leads to better awareness of the need for mutual support after traumas and the fragility of mental health

Podcast Interview With Karin Robinson

Click here to listen to my podcast interview with Karin Robinson, the UK Vice Chair of Democrats Abroad, where we discuss Obama's chances this election, what the problems are with the Republicans, Obama's legacy, how you can be involved with Democrats abroad, and, interestingly enough, we also touch on the Falkland Islands