31 July 2008

Courageous Conservatives To Celebrate Christian Great Britain

Interesting article by Melanie Phillips in the Daily Mail this week, urging the Conservative Party to stand up and be counted, to stop kow-towing to prevailing opinion and to provide a 'clear and principled alternative'. She cites issues such as devolution, EU plans to reduce nations to mere sub-regions and massive and growing public debt. And she highlights the threat of a nationalist protest vote which. in the absence of a mainstream political party offering a real alternative to Labour's failed policies, may turn to a distinctly unpleasant tribalism.

I agree with all this and would go one step further. The issues we face as a nation ALL, without exception, stem from one thing. One fundamental thing. The loss of our sense of identity and cohesion as a nation, the disintegration of family life and the profound alienation of our young people, the rising level of crime, the falling standards of education, long-term dependency on the welfare state. All of these result from our rejection of our spiritual foundations.

This nation IS a Christian nation.

It just is. That is who we are.

And we need, we desperately need, to recognise this, to acknowledge this, to celebrate and declare this. And then, as we bring our policies, social and economic and environmental, in line with the worldview on which this nation is founded, the relationship with the living God which weaves through the very fabric of our nation, we will find that we thrive, we start to prosper and we remember who we are.

30 July 2008

Young people are part of a family

PC Griffin has got it right.

Explaining the introduction of a voluntary summer curfew in Redruth, Cornwall for all those under the age of 16, he says, 'Young people are allowed out. We are requesting that they have a purpose for being out. We are just trying to bring some common sense and structure back into what they are doing... In essence, this is simply about parents being aware of where their children are and, where necessary, taking responsibility for them.'

If young people are just hanging aroung on street corners, then PC Griffin and his team will ring their parents, or visit them. The aim is to 'put the responsibility back in the family home'

At a time when the latest Schott / Mori poll shows that 83% of us, across the age range, are worried about anti-social behaviour by young people, this is the approach that is so badly needed.

Yes, PC Griffin, absolutely yes.

29 July 2008

Mosley - privacy or integrity?

I am torn in my response to the recent High Court ruling that Mr Mosley's privacy was infringed by the News of the World reporting of his orgy.

On the one hand, I think that it is high time that the press got its come-uppance. In recent years, it has become judge and jury, self-appointed arbiter of what is right and what is wrong, wielding great influence but without the accompanying responsibility, and invading people's lives with neither respect nor compassion. So, good, that this unbridled bullying be brought to a shuddering halt.

But, on the other hand, I do wholeheartedly agree with the Archbishop of Canterbury that there is a clear link between private behaviour and public conduct. What a person does when he or she thinks no-one is looking is the most reliable indicator of their real character. And, if that person holds a position of power, accountable to the public, then we need to know what they are really like.

So, on balance, it is vital that the press be able to dig out those things which public figures would rather we didn't know. This need not give them carte blanche to persecute us all. Perhaps some definition of public figure would be helpful? I am actually not terribly interested in the private peccadillos of a motorsport executive but when it comes to our MPs, who have power to decide on the creation of animal-human embryos or to commit this nation to war, I desperately want to know what really makes them tick.

16 July 2008

got a lot; gives a lot

Frank McKinney - all respect to him. Apparently, this millionaire is celebrating his 45th birthday, not just with a lavishly extravagant party in a glitzy hotel but, as a second part of the celebration, took his guests to the slums of Haiti, where he has built more than 500 homes for about 4,000 people who live in extreme poverty.

Frank said, 'Here I am providing propery to the world's most wealthy; should I not be providing it to the world's poorest and homeless too' and
paraphrased Luke 12:48,

'To whom much is entrusted, much will be expected'.

15 July 2008

'Muslim Council' wants equal stake in Britain's future

Strange article in the Saturday Times Register this weekend by the Secretary General of the 'Muslim Council of Great Britain'. He bemoans what he perceives as the anti-muslim bias of the press and public in the UK, complaining that his efforts have been 'criticised as an attack on free speech or as ingratitude and disloyalty to Britain - even as a failure to understand what being British means'. I confess that he did not elicit much sympathy from me as I tend to agree with this criticism, certainly of the MCOGB.

But it was his final sentence that really took my breath away. 'All we are asking for is an equal stake in Britain's future'.

And from deep within me came a resounding 'No!'

No, you cannot have an equal stake in the future of a nation which has a long history rooted in Christianity, going back to Augustine and beyond; a nation whose very legal system is founded on biblical principles, whose most prominent leaders over centuries have found their inspiration and motivation from their relationship with God - the God of the Bible.

Yes, you can live here, freely, and follow your own conscience. We respect freedom of conscience because we understand that it is God who gives us free will, the right and responsibility to follow our own path, and we must honour that. But you do not have the right to attempt to shift the very foundations of the nation to which you freely chose to come. Because the reasons this nation is an attractive place to which to come - its respect for the individual, respect for the rule of law, its economic prosperity - are inextricably bound up with respect for God, a God who reveals Himself through the Bible and through Jesus Christ.

14 July 2008

Altruism wins over financial gain

'Out of the goodness of his heart' is a much mocked motivation for good deeds. But, according to research by the Stockholm School of Economics, it is often a more powerful incentive than financial gain. When Swedish women were asked to give blood, some voluntarily and some for a small sum of money, 52% were willing to do so for nothing, and only 30% for the money. And this echoes work by the University of Zurich with volunteers for political organisations: those who are not paid work more hours than those who are paid a little.

Apparently, the offer of money changes the nature of the action. What was the outworking of a desire to do good becomes a mere calculation of self-interest, as to whether the amount of money offered is sufficient to compensate for the inconvenience of doing good.

So, human nature - not so bad after all?

11 July 2008

Safety net - or suffocating web

I watched, with a morbid fascination, as the bee struggled to free itself from the sticky spider's web, buzzing desperately, rolling this way and then that, trying in vain to move a leg. It lasted about fifteen minutes and then it was over, completely trapped, life gone.

For many people, the safety net of the welfare state, designed to protect them, has become a suffocating web from which they cannot break free. And, at last, this has been officially recognised as James Purnell introduces his 'work-for-dole' programme. In his own words, 'Work works. By requiring people to work, you get the welfare bills down but you also address a massive social injustice of people being written off'.

Yes, because we all need to contribute something, we need to know that the world is a better place because we are in it. It is something to do with being a human being, creative, full of potential - made in the image of God, no less.

10 July 2008

Cut-price condoms

Condoms just got cheaper, thanks to brothers Shandip and Ketan Shah who are offering a new brand of cut-price condoms, packaged to make them attractive to young women. Apparently, in their pharmacy, over the last few years, there has been 'a big increase in the number of girls coming in looking for the morning-after pill'. And they are concerned about the high rate of teenage pregnancy and poor sexual health in Britain. So, they are selling cheaper condoms.

Am I alone in thinking this is not the answer?

We also have an appalling level of mental health problems and tragic record of family breakdowns. Might this be connected? Would it not be better to address the causes of apparently irresponsible promiscuity, rather than alleviating the symptoms?

It is time to raise the aspirations we have for young people, to encourage them to value themselves highly, to recognise that they need and deserve affection and love and that random sex is not the way to find it.

There is a better way and we should say so.

09 July 2008

'Secret state that steals our children'

Very disturbing article by Camilla Cavendish in Times2 this Tuesday about the many cases in which parents have had their children taken from them by the state, supposedly for the children's protection. She cites the case of a mother who sought protection for her daughter from her ex-husband only to herself become the object of suspicion. The result was that the girl was given into the custody of the very man from whom she had sought to protect her...

What is most worrying is the lack of due process in all this. The burden of proof seems to have been on parents to prove their innocence of the charges put against them, rather than the other way round. I know that horrific things do happen in the home and we need to be sure that children can be protected BUT we must remember that these are in the minority. The vast majority of parents strive, however imperfectly, to do the best for their children.

And, as Camilla says, 'to sever a child from its family without due cause is licensed state oppression of the worst kind. It is, in fact, child abuse'.

If you want to find out more and/or press the government for a change in the way we deal with these sensitive issues, go to

08 July 2008

The real church is rising

Enjoy your final fling, liberal bishops of the C of E, because it is your last. Your time is over. A new church is rising, a church of people who believe God, who know that Jesus rose from the dead because He touches the very core of their being, who experience the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives every day. A church who know that they belong to God and to no other.

As the chrysallis falls to the ground, empty and lifeless, while the beautiful butterfly within rises, colours resplendent, drawing gasps of admiration from all who behold; so those who deny God, His word, His power, His truth and His love will just drop away, useless, while the real church will arise, confident in the God she serves and adores, and drawing to her many who are desperate for reality, for truth, for love - for God.

And in this nation we will see, at last, the heart of God, burning, passionate, on fire, a God whose love is stronger than death, a God who longs for us, who longs for us, who longs for us to come to Him, to know Him, to revel in His love.


03 July 2008

What to do about the NHS?

A 60th birthday is a good time for a reappraisal - of purpose, scope, impact. Since its inception in 1944, much has changed, the challenges we face have changed and the NHS as it is just cannot meet them.

The percentage of the population over 60 is growing rapidly. The percentage of the population who are disabled is also growing. New technologies and medical advances have produced an ever increasing range, complexity and cost, of treatments which can be made available. Decades of consumerism has resulted in a mentality of 'rights' not responsibilities. There is an increasing prevalence of family breakdown, teenage pregnancy, and obesity.

The NHS as it is currently conceived just cannot meet these challenges. We need to rethink the following issues:

1. Whose responsibility are we?
The line of responsibility between state and the individual needs to move.

Elderly people are the responsiblity of their family, first and foremost. The state (aka NHS) should be involved as a support for these primary carers. It should not cast itself in the role of primary carer.

Teenage pregnancy, family breakdown, obesity - these are all the result of choices. Choices which have consequences. We need help, information, and equiping to make wise choices. We should not be protected from the consequences of our choices - or they are not really choices. We have free will, we need to take responsibility for our own life-styles.

The service offered by the NHS needs to change from 'what the NHS can do for you' to 'what the NHS can enable you to do'. The NHS has moved us from 'I need' to 'I want'. It now needs to move us to 'I can'.

2. State or society?
Government has grown rapidly since 1944 and now impinges on almost every area of our lives. Yes, we want help, information and tools to help us make better choices. But should this be provided by government? Or should it be provided by our families, friends, church, our local community?

3. National or Local?
The NHS is very good at acute care. It is not very good at care in the community. Social care and non-acute health care are two sides of the same coin - they should be combined. Let's apply the principle of subsidiarity. Specialist and acute care needs to be governed and operated at a national level. Non-specialist, non-acute community care can and should be governed and operated at a local level, combining with social care and responding to local needs, working with, and accountable to, local people.

Let the National Health Service do what it does best - acute, specialist medical treatments. Let a local health and social care service, working alongside the voluntary sector, do what it does better - caring for people in the local community.

01 July 2008

Political Correctness? You ain't seen nothing yet!

OK, so we think we're bad when it comes to political correctness - but take a look at Sweden. Apparently, an 8-year old boy who gave out invitations to his birthday party had them confiscated by the teacher because he had not invited the whole class.

A member of the Swedish Liberal party said 'the staff acted correctly, in a model way'. A newspaper poll showed that 56% believed a child should be free to choose who attends his party - and 44% backed the teacher...

You have been warned!