British education retreats further towards the Dark Ages

During the Middle Ages, schools were established to teach Latin grammar to the sons of the aristocracy, as part of preparation also for the entry of some into the clergy and religious orders. The church preserved literacy and learning during this period, and education was closely tied to the religious vocation, in order to read the Bible and related documents. The Protestant Reformation had a major influence on education and literacy in England, as it encouraged the reading of the Bible in the vernacular of the people. In the 19th century the Church of England sponsored most formal education until the government established free, compulsory education towards the end of that century. However, unlike the French, who followed a strict policy of secularisation of publicly funded education, a strong voluntary-aided church sector has maintained a strong presence in the British system.

The half-baked attempts at comprehensive education in this country were accompanied by the scaling back of grammar schools and religious schools during the middle of the twentieth century. That comprehensive schools were never as good as they could and should have been was partly down to them being undermined by the continued existence of grammar, church and independent schools, alongside the usual resourcing and training issues. But what we have seen with the establishment of the Thatcher/Blair/Cameron Tory hegemony of the last 35 years is non-sequitur thinking that the way forward in education is to go backwards. screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-19-48-20Thus the support for an ever-increasing diversity of ideologically driven schools, often overtly religious and fundamentalist in character. Organisations such as the British Humanist Association (BHA) have done crucial work in attempting to ensure some balance, and especially in terms of getting non-relgious world views considered alongside the religious. But this is now under direct threat and and we are seeing disturbing trends in the very essence of education in this country.

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on RE, led by Conservative MPs Fiona Bruce and David Burrowes, has voted to remove the study of non-religious worldviews from its purpose. Since its foundation, the purpose of the group has been ‘To provide a medium through which parliamentarians and organisations with an interest in religious education can discuss the current provision of religious education, press for continuous improvement, promote public understanding and advocate rigorous education for every young person in religious and non-religious world views.’ This has now been amended to remove ‘and non-religious’.

screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-19-40-35The British Humanist Association (BHA) has expressed its shock at the decision. In addition, the Religious Education Council of England and Wales (REC), which until a few months ago provided the secretariat for the group, and National Association of Teachers of RE (NATRE), have both expressed their disappointment.

BHA Chief Executive Andrew Copson commented, ‘Non-religious worldviews, including Humanism, have been part of RE in English schools for over half a century. Their study alongside religions is supported by a huge majority of teachers, parents, and pupils and contributes to a broad and balanced curriculum. Their study is vital for children to understand today’s society in Britain and globally, as well as our history and heritage as a country; it is vital for the moral education of the majority of children who are not religious; and it is vital for their intellectual development. More than that – it is the law. This alarming development by ideological parliamentarians – all of them conservative Christians – places them almost as far outside the educational and general mainstream as is possible and guarantees their irrelevance at the same time as it illustrates their prejudice.’

With aspects of science, such as evolution, undermined in some of the Government’s academy schools, and blatant disregard of attempts to control illegal teaching of it until some had to be forcibly closed, it may have been hoped that things war improving. But it is far from being so.

screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-19-51-31Newsnight, earlier this year, found that a number of illegal strictly orthodox Charedi Jewish schools in North London are, not only carrying on regardless of the law, but have been granted charitable status. Only pressure from the BHA is seeing this situation finally be investigated.

As I have said repeatedly before, the existence of extreme sects of any religion is only possible as offshoots of a main body. This means the pressures for schools to serve these extreme sects can only grow in some sort of proportion with the number of supposed mainstream church schools. The news that the Church of England is seeking too open more than a hundred new schools by 2020, as part of the Free Schools programme that gave rise to the creationist and Charedi problems, is therefore cause for great concern. This concern should be heightened by the the Church being remarkably open about its motivations. In the face of declining church attendance and diminishing proportions of adherents in their schools, they are now openly stating that the evangelising of children must be engaged with ‘a new sense of urgency’, a view echoed by the Catholic Church and cross-denominational groups.screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-19-53-01

Given this impending assault, aided and abetted by the Christian Right in parliament, we are very much in danger of seeing the hideous sort of politics we currently see purveyed by the Christian Right  in the USA becoming more prevalent here.

Scary stuff. God help us? If only!!

One last point – if you want to help counter this growing tide of religiosity in our schools, you might like to consider supporting the BHA’s “What is Humanism?” Book Appeal.  The appeal aims to send a copy of the an important new book aimed at helping primary school children have some perspective on some big questions.
screen-shot-2016-09-06-at-19-33-11What does it mean to be a humanist? Is humanism a new idea? How do people live their lives without religious beliefs? The first of its kind aimed at  a new curriculum for upper primary and lower secondary school children, this book will examine how humanists respond to fundamental questions about morals and ethics, the origins of life, religion and the state. It will look at how humanists mark the milestones of birth, marriage and death. How do people without belief in God live moral and fulfilled lives, with respect for humankind and the universe? A thought-provoking approach will encourage readers to think about the big questions for themselves.
The book includes contributions from a number of prominent humanists, such as Stephen Fry, Camila Batmanghelidjh, Philip Pullman, Jim Al-Khalili, Natalie Haynes and Shappi Khorsandi, who will explain their own philosophy and tell us what is important to them.

Every home should have a copy!

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Jonathan Bartley – is he more of a problem than a solution for the Green Party?

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As a former Green who has gone to Labour to support Corbyn, I can tell you that Bartley is complete anathema to me on three grounds 1. Prominent Tory background. 2. Founder of a pro-religion think tank 3. BBC connections. So the answer to the Independent headline’s question is “Au contraire”.

1. It is not that it is great that someone can have ‘seen the light‘ etc. But it is naive in the extreme to think that, in this day and age,that his background will be overlooked by the media and wider public. After all, he was not just a run-of-the-mill Conservative member. After graduating from the London School of Economics in 1994, Bartley worked at the UK Parliament as a researcher and parliamentary assistant for a number of years, and was part of John Major’s campaign team in the 1995 Conservative Party leadership election against John Redwood. If Owen Smith deserves a hard time for having his job at Pfizer on his CV, then how can we realistically expect the media and wider public to see working directly for the Leader of the Conservative Party?

Joining the Green Party and becoming party leader within 4 years is a meteoric rise by anybody’s standards. He was a London Assembly candidate within 12 months, a general election candidate 3 years later and sought to be the London Mayoral candidate this year. And yet I never saw or heard anything of him in all my time involved in the Green Party from 2010 to 2015. This marks him out quite clearly as a very ambitious London-bubble politician. However nice and competent he may be, excuse me for thinking that this is the last thing the Green Party needs right now. Purely on paper, Will Duckworth and Sharar Ali were always more attractive propositions in terms of broadening the Party’s appeal.

2. Religion. Let me try to choose my words carefully to address the problem in this context. I’ll use his own words where I can. The following quotes come from an interview published in Christian Today just yesterday, to mark the announcement of his becoming co-leader of the Green Party. I find this slightly problematic:

“My faith is still what drives my politics. I have always been driven by that. I have always been driven by the desire to make the world a better place. To make it more as it was intended to be.”

The problem here is that his faith appears to have driven him to work with and for Margaret Thatcher’s successor as Leader of the Conservative Party at one point, and yet now that religious faith apparently drives him in the completely opposite direction to be Leader of the Green Party. That is a very strange faith indeed. The fact of the matter is that his personal epiphany appears to have very little to do with his faith at all. He explained to Christian Today that it was the birth of his now-14 year-old son with spin bifida that was the “pivotal” moment.

“I started to see the world in a very different way,” he said. “I saw all the barriers that are put up to people who are disabled and I took a long hard look at all the different parties. I realised the Green party embodied the values of the bias to the poor, the bias to the vulnerable and standing up for the voiceless”

So what on earth was his faith telling him before this moment? Apparently, it was telling him to work for a party whose bias has always been to the rich, the powerful and the establishment. The one thing that perhaps he learned from the Tories was self-interest. This is going to sound very harsh, given that I have never even met the bloke, but convictions shaped by personal circumstance are not convictions built on solid foundations. Personal circumstances are always prone to change. What is right or wrong rarely does. Using religious faith and supporting ones views from scripture are cynical ploys that we see being used in vile ways around the world on a daily basis. Let me complete the quote above:

“I realised the Green party embodied the values of the bias to the poor, the bias to the vulnerable and standing up for the voiceless which are the themes that run through the Hebrew scriptures and the New Testament.They embody the character of Jesus and the character of God.”

There are plenty of other themes that run through the Hebrew scriptures, in particular, that are far less compatible with Green Party politics – I hope!!! Misogyny, sexism, patriarchy, racism, homophobia, slavery etc. etc.

Of course, these are common themes in most of the world’s major religions. Which brings us to one of Bartley’s proudest achievements, Ekklesia; a Christian think tank with a strong commitment to Transforming politics and belief“. I’ll resist the oxymoron jibes (whoops) but just what sort of transformation is Bartley seeking? According to their website:

While remaining committed and involved in a positive exchange between mainstream traditions (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, Pentecostal and indigenous), Ekklesia naturally draws much of its specific inspiration from the dissenting strands within Christianity, not least the ‘historic peace churches’ (Quakers, Mennonites and other Anabaptists), liberation theologies and other nonconformists inside and outside inherited denominations.

Ekklesia is therefore ‘radical’, not in a narrow or aggressive way, but in its conviction that the Gospel subverts power and privilege, both personally and corporately. And it is ‘progressive’, not in subscribing to a myth of progress, but in seeing change as coming through risk-taking hopefulness, rather than through a destructive lust for security and certainty.

So, it is all about bringing Christian denominations together and challenging the nasty power-grabbing tendencies and intolerance within some denominations. Hallelujah to that, I suppose, but underneath it all it is still the same old divisive, primitive nonsense of ‘one Christian god’ etc. And still a long way away from the ‘Imagine’ gospel according to John Lennon.

3. BBC connections. He is a regular contributor to BBC One‘s The Big Questions. He has formerly contributed to BBC Radio 4‘s Thought for the Day and been a guest on BBC Radio 4’s The Moral Maze. This may be a good or bad thing going forward. He clearly is seen as a go-to person on certain types of issues, but as I suggest above these may not be the issues that best represent the Green Party. If he can use his connections to gain a better platform for the Party’s progressive policies, then this may prove beneficial (he did very well here, for example, on the BBC News Channel). But we all have to be very wary of BBC manipulation, and I look forward to seeing how he tackles Andrew Neil, Laura Kuenssberg and Andrew Marr. Hopefully he will now stay well away from the Christian moralising stuff! Having a good media performer is seen as hugely valuable. It is why Rhun ap Iorwerth was fast-tracked in Plaid Cymru, at considerable cost, I would maintain (but they will never acknowledge), in terms of the compromising of Party policy and values that he brought with him (over nuclear policy in particular). Bartley strikes me as representing a similar sort of gamble.

And finally, if this is an attempt to broaden the Party’s appeal, then I think the losses from losing Sharar Ali in a leadership role will more than offset the gain of a few eco-minded Christian Conservatives. I sincerely hope I am wrong about all this, but I think this will come to be seen as a retrograde step by the Party. Although it is great to have Caroline Lucas back, I question her judgement on this occasion.

Backing Owen 2016 – A message from Madeleine Moon

Dear Madeleine,

Observations in CAPITALS

On 23 Aug 2016, at 12:18, Madeleine Moon wrote:

Dear Colleague,

The Labour Party is at a crossroads. The decision we make in the coming weeks will not only define the future of our Party, but the future of our country.

CORRECT

Over the past 12 months, I’ve been truly saddened to see splits and divisions emerge within our movement.

SO WHY ARE YOU REFUSING TO BACK THE LEADER WITH AN OVERWHELMING MANDATE FROM THE MEMBERSHIP? YOU AND OWEN ARE THE PROBLEM AND THEREFORE ARE UNLIKELY TO OFFER ANY SOLUTION

As a united movement we created the NHS, we introduced the Minimum Wage, we fought for workers’ rights. But divided, we serve only to let down the millions of people who desperately need us to stand up to this right-wing Tory government.

TORY-LITE IS NO ANSWER TO TORY GOVERNMENT. LOOK AT THE BLAIRITE RECORD AND LEGACY AND TELL ME YOU ARE NOT ASHAMED OF THAT.

If you are still undecided I think the attached link will help explain why I think you should support Owen.

AS YOU MIGHT GATHER, I AM NOT REMOTELY UNDECIDED. PLEASE TELL ME THAT THIS COLLECTION OF LAME VIDEOS HAD NO INFLUENCE ON YOUR DECISION TO SUPPORT OWEN. ED MILLIBAND? SERIOUSLY?

Click here to see it

www.owen2016.com/backingowen]<http://www.owen2016.com/backingowen<http://www.owen2016.com/backingowen]<http://www.owen2016.com/backingowen

WHICH IS MORE INEPT? NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND TWO EMPTY SEATS ON A TRAIN, OR NOT BEING ABLE TO COPY & PASTE A LINK CORRECTLY? CLICK HERE

I joined the Labour Party for the same reasons you did. I believe passionately in the principles of fairness and equality that underpin everything we stand for. I want to take those principles and turn them into real policies that can change lives.

I WOULDN’T PRESUME TO KNOW THE REASONS YOU JOINED THE PARTY, BUT IT VERY CLEARLY IS NOT THE SAME REASON AS ME. I REJOINED AFTER c.30 YEARS TO SUPPORT JEREMY CORBYN AND THE DIRECTION HE WANTS TO TAKE THE PARTY AFTER THE CATASTROPHIC LEGACY OF THE BLAIRITE YEARS.

Having worked closely with Jeremy, I know we can’t do that under his leadership. We saw for ourselves that he couldn’t give clear leadership on complex issues like the European Union, or undermined colleagues like Lilian Greenwood, who were doing their best to serve him and serve our party.

IN WHAT CAPACITY HAVE YOU EVER WORKED CLOSELY WITH JEREMY? CRITICISM OF HIS LEADERSHIP OVER THE EU REFERENDUM HAS BEEN THOROUGHLY DEBUNKED. AS FOR LILLIAN GREENWOOD, HER ‘BEST’ WOULD HAVE BEEN TO SIT TIGHT AND RIDE OUT THE STORM BEING CREATED BY AGITATORS RATHER THAN DEMONSTRATE HER OWN WEAKNESS AND JOIN THOSE DOING THE UNDERMINING OF THE PARTY.

Labour’s never been more needed, but we’ve never been less effective. That’s why I’m supporting Owen Smith to be the next Leader of the Labour Party.Owen is a proud and passionate socialist. Someone with the radical ideas we need to take the fight to the Tories, and the credibility to take us back into government. With Owen, we will have the policies, the principles and the passion to unite the Labour Party and take our movement forward.

LABOUR HAS BEEN INEFFECTIVE FOR YEARS DUE TO ITS ABANDONMENT OF ITS CORE VALUES. SUPPORTING A PROVEN BLAIRITE LIKE SMITH, WHOSE VALUES ARE MORE FLEXIBLE THAN A GOLD WINNING GYMNAST, IS DEFINITION OF LUNACY – “During the leadership contest, he’s managed to rack up a disturbing collection of gaffes over a short period of time which have served to highlight his hypocrisy.” 

OWEN SMITH IS PATENTLY EVEN LESS OF A SOCIALIST THAN YOU ARE. VOTING RECORDS, CONSTITUENCY ACTIVITY, PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT. SHAMEFUL AND SHAMELESS. BOTH HIM AND YOU.

Best wishes,
Madeleine Moon MP

It is not about train travel – it is about our direction of travel

The media clamour over the crowded-train non-story demonstrates just how easily the corporate media (that very much includes the i as it is run by aspiring media baron Ashley Highfield, who is trying to do a deal to supply BBC its local news) and big business interests (and they don’t come much bigger than Richard Branson) can manipulate the agenda.

This story rumbles on as it serves multiple purposes to vested interests.

  1. It was all over the BBC (most nauseatingly on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine lunchtime show) and other media today as Corbyn was wanting to focus on the NHS. With tories and Blairites (including very obviously Owen Smith) committed to its privatisation (most of the PFI debt crippling the NHS was down to Blair/Brown), this is not a policy area corporate interests want covered.

2. Similarly, the huge traction that calls to re-nationalise the railways is beginning to finally gain must be anathema to the corporate owners of our railways such as Virgin Trains, who continue to make big profits while we pay the highest fares in Europe, if not the world.

3. So, to deflect from these uncomfortable debates, that socialists can have a field day on, the puppet masters ensure that what is deemed far more important is Jeremy Corbyn’s integrity. Did he really choose to sit on the floor when there was a vacant seat or two on the train?

I am not going to dignify such a question with any sort of answer. It is irrelevant in every possible sense. What is relevant is that we are being railroaded (excuse the pun) into focussing on the ‘Cult of Corbyn’ at the expense of the real reason for my, and most other ‘Corbynista’s’ excitement over his accession to the leadership of the party, namely that for the first time in living memory we have a tangible prospect of some genuinely socialist government in this country, allied to a real and substantial threat to the neoliberal hegemony that needs to be brought down if humanity and, indeed the whole planet, is to have a sustainable future. These are questions at the opposite extreme to whether there was a spare seat on a train or not. They are questions that the establishment and and corporations cannot abide.

I really couldn’t give a flying whatever whether Corbyn is capable of cheap stunts and the odd porky; whether he is or is not just like every other politician in this sense. I do believe that he has, at the very least, vastly more integrity than the vast majority of MPs, but that may well be damning with feint praise and I would not be shocked or completely crestfallen if this proved not to be the case. The crucial thing is the direction in which he wants to steer the country. There can be no doubt that he will do his best to steer us towards that fairer, more equal, more compassionate and more sustainable place we need to be. That is good enough for me. This is the agenda we need to focus on, not ‘Corbyn the Messiah’, as our socialist objectives have to outlive Corbyn, or it is all a waste of time.

I’ll leave you with this sobering observation from the great George Carlin:

Owen Smith believes Labour will split if Corbyn wins

This evening, I attended Owen Smith’s love-in at the Llantrisant Leisure Centre.

Credit where it is due, it was a lot better attended than I expected, with somewhere between 200 and 250 cramming the room, including a selection of MPs and AMs ) I recognised Chris Bryant and Nia Griffiths for example). I am not going to go into Smith’s speech as we have heard it all before. It was Smith polishing his delivery in front of a friendly audience, and it was indeed pretty polished, complete with his “thumb of power” to the fore.

The tactics have become quite clear. A year ago, Jeremy was unelectable because he was too left, too socialist, according to his opponents. Owen no longer pushes this line. Indeed, he tries his damnedest to persuade us that he is just as much a socialist and just as radical as Jeremy (despite the copious objective evidence to the contrary), but that Jeremy is now unelectable because he is weak in his opposition to the Tories; that he lacks sufficient wit at the dispatch box; and that attracting record levels of membership and being the draw for huge rallies does not translate into being a credible government. These are, of course, subjective criticisms that we will always differ on.

From ‘Byline blog article by Alex Andreou, supporting Smith

After his prolonged monologue, he took a Q&A session. I have to admit, I felt somewhat intimidated as there were repeated insinuations of a Corbyn personality cult; Momentum being ‘the child of Militant Tendency’;of rising problems of anti-semitism and misogyny on Corbyn’s watch etc. At my most confident, I would have spoken up and faced up, but I bottled it, feeling that it would not have been taken as a constructive contribution, as it was far from any sort of debate. This was re-enforced by the fact that Smith seemed to know just about every questioner by name. He repeatedly stressed how this was his home patch, and I soon felt like an interloper at family get together. Some were quite overtly aggressive in their tone and urging Smith to go on the attack a lot more. Smith stated that this would be coming.

He dodged one particular question about what Smith saw happening after this election, choosing to leave it the end. And he was quite explicit and blunt about it.

If he wins, he will unite the party (no hint of how), take the fight to the Tories (presumably via witty retorts at the despatch box), and lead the party into government (obviously).

If Jeremy Corbyn wins the party will split. Simple as that.

Considering the NEC elections and all other indications make Smith winning nothing but a remote possibility, I can only assume that Smith, Bryant and company have already prepared said split.

On the way out, a gentleman asked me what I had thought about the evening. I told him that was wondering whether people like him were likely to follow Smith out of the Labour Party and into some sort of SDP v.2. He said, “Do you really think it will come to that?” “Depends on whether you believe anything he says”, I said.

Trump is certainly bad enough, but it could actually have been worse!

I am hearing a lot of people wondering how on earth the Republicans could have ended up with Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. Well, as shocking as it may seem, he may actually have been a reasonably sane choice when you review the other contenders at the beginning of the process. Remember these?

JEB BUSH – Raised and spent more money than all the other candidates combined, but even the Republicans couldn’t stomach yet another Bush. Suggested health insurance wasn’t necessary in an age of Apple watches; that economic woes would be solved by people working longer hours; that evolution should be taken off the science curriculum; and that Christian prisons would solve America’s crime problem.

RICK SANTORUM – Opposed to abortion and all forms of contraception, even among married couples. Believes a child conceived from rape is a gift from God. Compared homosexuality to ‘man-on-dog‘ sex. Accuses radical feminists of promoting the idea that it is socially affirming for women to work outside the home.

RICK PERRY – Ran a summer hunting camp that he called Niggerhead. Likes bragging about shooting coyotes while jogging. Indignant about gays being able to serve openly in the military. Described by a fellow Republican governor as “like GW Bush, but without the brains“.

BOBBY JINDAL – Originally a Hindu, but converted to Catholicism. Attempted to eliminate all personal and corporate taxes in Louisiana, bankrupting the the state finances in the process. Encouraged the teaching of creationism as part of the science curriculum. Believes swathes of Europe are no-go areas that are under sharia law.

CARLY FIORINA – Sacked as CEO of Hewlett-Packard after halving the value of the corporation. Equates worries over climate change to worrying about the weather. Describes having seen videos of fully forms foetuses, alive and kicking, having their brains removed, but cannot produce said video.

DR RAND PAUL – Opthalmologist who is opposed to government ‘interference’ in just about anything (except abortion, of course), but most certainly with regards to guns, health, poverty, environment etc.

 

MIKE HUCKABEE – Guitar-playing radio preacher, who doesn’t do math, but majors in miracles! Believes that North Koreans have more freedom and that lefties are seeking to criminalise Christianity. Thinks gun control means hitting your target and that asking him to accept gay marriage is comparable to asking a Jewish deli to serve ‘bacon-wrapped shrimp’.

JOHN KASICH – A Fox News presenter and anchor (I said ‘anchor’!), with the dodgy network and NY Times behind him. Ticks all the usual boxes: anti-union, anti-tax, pro-guns, pro-death penalty, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, pro-creationism, anti-environment, pro-privatisation. Believes that god has given him a special appreciation of other people’s problems.

DR BEN CARSON – Neurosurgeon who believes that, but for Fox News and Christian conservative radio, the USA would be Cuba. Apparently has inside knowledge of Chinese troops in Syria, and has revealed that the pyramids were actually huge grain silos. Has suggested that Darwin was possessed by Satan in order to undermine God’s word. Neurosurgery? I think I’ll do it myself thanks.

MARCO RUBIO – Senator who thinks the Senate is a waste of his time and has the worst attendance record. Typical hardliner again. On climate change, he shrugs and declares that you can’t change the weather. Proposes eliminating taxes on the rich. Has modest goals; namely ‘Our goal is eternity – the ability to live alongside our Creator for all time’.

TED CRUZ – variously described by colleagues as ‘wacko bird’ (John McCain), ‘jackass’ and ‘Lucifer in the flesh’ (John Boehner). He points to ‘undeniable facts’ such as that ‘the vast majority of criminals are Democrats’ and that the US constitution makes it clear that there is no place in the USA for gays and atheists. He wants to carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion (although not sure what carpet bombing actually means) and make the sand glow in the dark, while at the same time wanting to ‘awaken and energise the body of Christ’.

All this does, at least, make you (relatively) relieved to be British. At least most of our politicians are merely duplicitous, self-serving liars. I’ll take that over this ……. whatever is the most suitable collective noun you can come up with for this lot. I’m favouring ‘blither’.

All together now:

A nauseating stench of death emanates from Parliament today

And so we are being committed to the absurdity of a colossally expensive nuclear arsenal.

Virtually all the Tories stuck together – the blue and the red – as 472 MPs bought the imperialistic neoliberal gibberish that underpins the nonsense that is nuclear deterrence theory.

Most of you reading this will be familiar enough with the arguments against nuclear weapons. But a few aspects of the debate especially nauseated me today.

One MP, I’m not sure who, brought up (vomited if you like) the suggestion that Ukraine would have deterred Russian aggression if it had kept nuclear weapons under its control. And yet, through NATO, the USA has around 200 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe supposedly there to deter exactly such Russian aggression. They did nothing whatsoever to prevent the crisis developing and remain useless in addressing it. How on earth can nuking your near neighbours be anything but suicidal, irrespective of any response back?

Theresa May responded by agreeing with this idiotic position. Implicit in this is the belief that every country ought to aspire to joining the nuclear club. And yet that club is thankfully a very small one, although admittedly it is a worrying list of members:

  • China
  • France
  • Russia
  • USA
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • North Korea
  • Israel
  • and, of course, UK

That is it folks. Just nine in the nuclear ‘nutters’ club. That is exactly how I have heard a number of MPs describe most of the other members of the club we are in. You have to be ‘nutters’ to waste so much public money on them when there are so many other pressing social needs. That is true in every case. You have to be ‘nutters’ to shit on your own doorstep with these abominations, and long range strikes are literally MAD – with ‘mutually assured destruction’ the only likely outcome. They are suicidal and genocidal simultaneously. Having nuclear weapons is the surest way of increasing the prospect of being a target for nuclear weapons!! This, as much as anything, explains why all-but-9 (that is the best part of 200) countries don’t have these magnets for destruction, and the vast majority have absolutely no aspiration to ever have them.

So then we get onto the ridiculous line of argument that we need to have these weapons to contend with the other nutters that may get their hands on them via the club members we regard as nuttier than us. Theresa may actually stood up in Parliament today and suggested that people who opposed this insanity were in fact, and I quote: “defending the UK’s enemies”.

Not only is this factually wrong to the point of being a disgusting slur, it also shows a disturbing disconnect from the realities of the threats we currently face. Be it the truly big threats of growing poverty and inequality, climate change and the privatisation of public assets – all exacerbated by the obscene expense of nuclear weapons systems and the promulgated by the enemy within that is the Tories advocating membership of the nuclear club; or the direct threats we face from terrorists and religious extremists, there simply cannot be any role for nuclear weapons in dealing with these threats.

Derek Johnson, Executive Director of Global Zero, a non-partisan campaign group working towards the phased elimination of nuclear weapons, nails this latter point thus:

Fortunately, in the case of non-state actors [incl. terrorists], nuclear weapons require such a significant financial and scientific infrastructure that they can’t make nuclear weapons on their own; it still takes a nation to develop them. So, the only way for non-state actors to get their hands on a bomb is either to acquire the nuclear material – highly-enriched uranium or plutonium – which is really difficult to produce, or to get their hands on a ready-made weapon.

There will always be a risk that nuclear weapons will be developed by another state or will be acquired in some way by non-state actors so long as those weapons exist. The only way to bring that risk down to zero is to drain the swamp, eliminating these weapons and all weapons-grade material.

No nuclear weapons program has ever gone undetected, not even the United States’. In a global zero future, if a so-called “rogue state” tries to develop nuclear weapons, they would be subjected to intense international isolation and pressure – as with Iran today – or even collective military action.

So pursuing a new generation of nuclear weapons is totally counter-productive in reducing the threat of terrorists obtaining nuclear materials and devices. But May knows this. Neoliberals understand full-well how efficiently such expensive programmes channel public money into the hands of big corporate players hands. Nuclear weapons are not made in entrepreneurs’ sheds like Dyson’s vacuum cleaners after all. Neoliberals, especially those involved in the military-industrial complex that lines the pockets of numerous billionaires, also know how good crises and disasters are for business. They just have to ensure that their idyllic island bolt holes are not in the line of prevailing currents and winds.

The only glimmer of sanity in the proceedings in Westminster was seeing all but one MP (the sole Scottish Tory of course) steadfastly wanting rid of Trident – even in the face of the pathetic jibes from May that it was a vote against Scottish jobs, as if gas chambers would be great job opportunities for gas fitters. Of course, ridding Scotland of the nuclear attack magnet while England and Wales retains it is not likely to be hugely beneficial. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster led to monitoring restrictions on Scottish livestock up until 2010. But at least a direct strike on Faslane could be averted I guess – with it’s facilities being moved to …… well, Milford Haven if Carwyn gets his way , putting a target on all our backs into the bargain (and with Owen Smith fighting with Theresa May for the right to press the button and get the fireworks going).

And thus we await the stench of death drifting from Westminster to South Wales, after another sobering and nauseating day in Tory/Blairite Britain.

To conclude, here is cctv of briefing session on Trident in Westminster: