Showing posts from September, 2008


From Mondays Guardian
'Publishers of romances may be used to harsh criticism, but few expect to have their homes firebombed like Martin Rynja this weekend. On Saturday his £2.5m London house was attacked after he agreed to publish a novel about the prophet Muhammad and his wife, Aisha.'
On the same day from a radio conversation with a Muslim scholar.
"Of course I deplore violence but what people need to realise is that in Islam insulting the Prophet is considered even worse than insulting your mother or father. Some people will react strongly even violently."
You only need to locate this piece of dialogue within the standard gangster movie, to understand its true intent. The mobster and his heavy converse with the nervous shopkeeper to gently persuade him of the benefits of 'cooperation.'
"Of course I'm a man of peace myself, I hate violence, but as for my mate Ron well he gets upset when people show a lack of respect, it's like you've insulted hi…


If the growing tide of religious fundamentalism is to be countered in the UK I would suggest that what is required is a confident reassertion of secular enlightenment values. As a starting point I would suggest the following.

First there needs to be a clear separation between church and state, requiring the disestablishment of the Church of England and the repealing of the Blasphemy Law. This would remove the special privileges afforded to Christianity and create a level playing field between faiths.

Secondly the enactment of a Bill of Rights, clearly establishing 1) freedom of speech, 2) the freedom to practise any religion and none, 3) freedom of assembly and clear restriction on the powers of government to restrict such freedoms.

The disentangling of religion and education is an essential part of this project, however the Blair infatuation with ‘faith based’ education has greatly complicated the task and it is difficult to see how this might easily be achieved. However the first poin…


I was fortunate enough to come of age politically in the late 60’s and early 1970’s. Influenced by the likes of Orwell, AJP Taylor, Michael Foot, in short by the tradition of anti Communist Democratic Socialism and I associated with the left of the Labour Party. In those days it was still possible to call yourself a socialist and be active in a branch of the Labour Party that owed a little more to Marx that to Methodism..
To be on the left was to be with the tide of history, was to stand with universal values, equality, freedom of speech, sexual freedom, feminism, freedom of discourse and anti totalitarianism. Solidarity and unity represented the tools of the struggle.

Those coming of age a little over a decade later entered a very different world, a world of compartmentalised and competing communities, a strange world of the highly codified and yet constantly shifting language of political correctness. A world dominated by the hideous spectres of the big ‘isms’ and phobias.
I can s…