Saturday, July 16, 2016

Various anecotes about Corbynite thugs unravelling


The story about Stella Creasy's home being besieged by baying mob turned out to false (it was a peace vigil outside her office, as Stella later herself graciously acknowledged). The story about a Corbynite anti-semitically abusing MP Luciana Berger was also wrong - the culprit was right-wing fascist. And now the story about the brick through Angela Eagle's constituency office window is unravelling - see the video.

Note (1) the window was not to Eagle's office window, but to a stairwell in the same quite large building (with 6 different occupants). (2) Eagle's office was clearly identifiable (with Labour Party stickers) and easily accessible, but untouched.

No doubt there are thugs amongst the many many thousands of Corbyn supporters, but impression that there's a serious problem sufficient to warrant banning CLP meetings is based on entirely anecdotal evidence and many of the anecdotes are turning out to be unreliable.

ps and here's yet another bullshit story smearing corbynites: http://m.luton-dunstable.co.uk/…/story-29502451-…/story.html

Yet another anecdote begins to look highly dubious - alleged homophobic bullying of Eagle at a meeting she didn't even attend? http://www.thecanary.co/2016/07/20/angela-eagle-quit-labour-leadership-race-left-time-bomb-detonate-behind/

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Heythrop College COULD be saved in deal with Roehampton, but it seems it won't be.


                                                                                                                        1 July 2016

To the Editor, The Tablet

Re: Heythrop College

As members of staff at Heythrop College in solidarity with the Principal and Governing Body we are writing to clarify any potential misunderstandings arising from your news item on the proposed partnership with the University of Roehampton.

Since the announcement in 2015 that Heythrop could no longer continue as an autonomous college within the University of London, the Governors and the Society of Jesus have been committed to finding a way in which its mission and work, including its ecclesiastical faculties within the Bellarmine Institute, will continue in a new form after 2018.  Eight months of creative and positive discussions with the University of Roehampton have concluded that a merger between both institutes would be financially viable and academically and pastorally fruitful in furthering the Jesuit intellectual apostolate in Britain. The Society of Jesus has sought the support of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, in order to continue the mission of the College. Staff confidently hope to receive support for a merger that holds so much promise.

We are confident that the Catholicity of the Bellarmine Institute and Heythrop College within the context of the University of Roehampton will be safeguarded by robust governance structures.  The content of the ecclesiastical degrees taught and the academic staff teaching in the Bellarmine Institute were approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2013.  Any modifications are subject to re-approval by the Congregation. We are also confident of the positive benefits that a Heythrop-Roehampton partnership would have for continuing the close and positive co-operation with St Mary's University that already exists.  The two institutions are not rivals, but each works collaboratively out of its own distinctive tradition, enhancing the richness of Catholic Higher Education provision in the UK.  We understand the Vice Chancellor of the University of Roehampton has proposed to continue the collaborative partnerships between these institutions in a UK Higher Education context where such cross-institutional partnerships are essential for research funding and impact beyond academia. Together with Leeds Trinity, Liverpool Hope and Newman Universities, Heythrop College, the University of Roehampton and St Mary's University already collaborate as partners in The Cathedrals Group of academic institutions, committed to promoting principles of social justice and the public good in UK Higher Education.

Aided by one of the finest theological academic libraries in the country, Heythrop's Catholic ethos is open, critically engaging and transformative in the rich tradition of Ignatian thought as the hallmark of the College's engagement with the world. This is substantiated by the most recent assessment of research publications (Research Excellence Framework 2014) which praised Heythrop's 'impact' beyond academia placing it in the top ten of institutions in the country.[1]

It would be a tragedy with reverberations on the international stage if Heythrop College should be forced to close, despite the development of a financially viable model and an academically rich curriculum to enable its mission and work to continue. Such a loss would raise serious questions within and outside the Church worldwide as to the credibility of the Catholic Church in England and Wales in fostering and protecting serious academic study of philosophy and theology. Support for the proposed Heythrop-Roehampton partnership is consistent with concerns to safeguard the Catholicity of the education of Catholic clergy and laity in England and Wales and to strengthen collaborative partnerships between academic institutions in the Catholic tradition in the UK Higher Education sector. 

Yours sincerely

Staff of Heythrop College

BELOW IS THE FULL VERSION OF THE LETTER SENT (ABOVE IS HARD-COPY PUBLISHED VERSION)

As members of staff at Heythrop College in solidarity with the Principal and Governing Body we are writing to clarify the situation regarding the college’s proposed partnership with the University of Roehampton.

Since the announcement in 2015 that Heythrop could no longer continue as an autonomous college within the University of London, the Governors and the Society of Jesus have been committed to finding a way in which its mission and work, including its ecclesiastical faculties for educating priests and others for pontifical degrees within the Bellarmine Institute, will continue in a new form after 2018. Eight months of creative and positive discussions with the University of Roehampton have concluded that a merger between both institutes would be financially viable and academically and pastorally fruitful. The Society of Jesus has sought the support of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, in order to continue the mission of the College. Staff confidently hoped to receive support for a merger that holds so much promise but there are signs that this support may not be forthcoming.

Staff are confident that the Catholicity of the Bellarmine Institute and Heythrop College within the context of the University of Roehampton will be safeguarded by robust governance structures. The content of the ecclesiastical degrees taught and the academic staff teaching in the Bellarmine Institute were approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2013. Any modifications are subject to re-approval by the Congregation.

The Heythrop-Roehampton partnership constitutes the only viable option on the table. The funds generously provided by the Society of Jesus by means of its charitable trust: Trustees for Roman Catholic Purposes (TRCP) do not allow for the continuation of Heythrop beyond the academic year 2017-18.

Within a year the vast majority of staff will be made redundant and steps will begin to sell the property and disperse and dispose of the library. Thus the practical consequences of a decision by the Cardinal and the Bishops' Conference not to support the current partnership with the University of Roehampton will effectively be a decision to terminate Heythrop College, bringing to an end a 400 year history, and creating an unbridgeable gap in the provision of Catholic Higher Education in Britain.

It would be a tragedy with reverberations on the international stage if Heythrop College should be forced to close. Such a loss would raise serious questions within and outside the Church worldwide as to the credibility of the Catholic Church in England and Wales in fostering and protecting serious academic study of philosophy and theology. Support for the proposed Heythrop-Roehampton partnership is consistent with concerns to safeguard the Catholicity of the education of Catholic clergy and laity in England and Wales and to strengthen collaborative partnerships between academic institutions in the Catholic tradition in the UK Higher Education sector.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why I back Corbyn


Here are some not very worked out thoughts on the current state of the Labour party, and a sketch of why I very strongly back Corbyn (and will be looking for him to start deselecting the leading Blairite saboteurs).

My belief is that the UK economic train is heading back in the direction of Victorian Britain, with all the social inequality and injustice that went with it. It's in the nature of the economic train to run in that direction unless some pretty serious action is taken.

Under the Blairites, the economic train continued to move in that direction, but the Blairites fought hard to slow the train down, and with some success. I approved of that, of course. With the Tories back in the brakes are off and the train is now running full tilt.

So, I think that with either Tories or Blairites, we end up at the same destination: Victorian Britain. We just get there at different speeds. 

The working class can see the direction of travel is always the same, and so say, 'No point in voting, they're all the same'. I think that, as the injustice increases, and their frustration and desperation mount, so the risk of them sliding into populist fascism goes up and up,

What to do? We need to put the train into reverse. The Blairites won't do that. Only someone like Corbyn will do it. I am not wedded to Corbyn the man, but I am wedded to the ambition of reversing the train. If there were a younger, super-charismatic person cut from the same train-reversing cloth as Corbyn, I'd be happy to see them take the reins of the Party instead. But there is no one like that. And even if any one like that was promoted to Leader, they'd probably be sabotaged by Blairites again.

I am not at all optimistic about reversing the direction of the train, but I see no alternative to trying.

So when Labour folk say we need to drop Corbyn in order to win the next General Election, I say: 1. I have my doubts that we'll win even with a Blairite, 2. Which of his policies do you reject? 3. Whom do you suggest instead? Until they come up with answers to these questions that I can approve - because they are train-reversing - I'll stick with Corbyn.

Winning the next General Election by switching to a Blairite (or at least someone who won't do more than tinker with the brakes, so winning Blairite approval) might sound attractive to some (those hoping to get Murdoch and Dacre back onside) given a shorter-term view. But take a step back and it looks to me like a long-term strategic mistake.

Like many Corbynites, I am playing the long game. As Britain becomes more and more Victorian, someone has to offer the working people of this country a genuine alternative. In the end, they may actually get off their arses and come out and vote for that alternative just like they did for Brexit. I think that's our best hope. If the price we pay is short-term electoral loss, so be it (though I'm not even convinced of that).

Corbyn has a record of being on the right side of history, on LGBT rights, on the Iraq War, on tuition fees, on talking to Sinn Fein, and so on. I think he's right now, too.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Blame The Blairites, Not Corbyn, For This Mess

Shame the working class will come out in droves to vote Brexit, but can't be bothered to vote Labour. Why is that?

We have one shot, admittedly long, at getting the working class back behind Labour, and it's Corbyn, not the Blairities. Let's get behind him.

Blairites are predictably blaming Corbyn, but it was they who created this mess by disregarding the working class.

I fear the alternative to working people getting behind an authentically left-wing party that they can see fights for them is that they'll feel increasingly marginalised and will eventually slide in desperation into fascism.

A shiny, Tory-lite Blairite like Dan Jarvis would be the worst possible choice at this time.

PS Corbyn delivered 63% of Labour voters for Remain. Sturgeon delivered 64% of SNP. So remind me again why Corbyn is to blame, but not Sturgeon?

Note also that even the super-Euro-friendly Lib Dems only managed 70% Remain.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

'Faith' and 'Hope' are vastly overrated

'Faith' and Hope' are feel-good words with a built-in warm, rosy glow. People who have faith and hope are held up for our admiration and emulation. We are encouraged to be like them - to believe and anticipate that, ultimately, all will be well.
 
Of course, faith can be good thing. It's good to have a little faith in those around us - to trust in others. Indeed, without at least some faith in your spouse, your bank manager, in other car drivers, and so on, modern life becomes impossible.
 
Hope, too, can be important  - without at least some hope of success we are unlikely to bother even trying.
 
Still, faith and hope are vastly overrated.... Continues here at CFI blogs.

Image courtesy wiki creative commons.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

'That may be true for you, but it's not true for me!'


According to the relativist, people who speak simply of what’s ‘true’ are naïve. ‘Whose truth?’ asks the relativist. ‘No claim is ever true, period. What’s true is always true for someone. It’s true relative to a particular person or culture. There’s no such thing as the absolute truth on any issue.
            This sort of relativism is certainly popular. For example, many claim that we ought never to condemn cultures with different moral points of view to our own. Differing moral perspectives are all equally valid. Similarly, some claim that while astrology and Feng Shui might be ‘false’ from a Western, scientific viewpoint, they are ‘true’ when viewed from alternative, New Age perspectives. What’s ‘true’ ultimately comes down to ones point of view.
 

Continues here at CFI blogs.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Now that's what I call a speech

Go to:

https://www.facebook.com/woweffects/videos/10208438174504629/?pnref=story

http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/342517/rabbi-slams-donald-trump-and-israel-in-muhammad-ali-funeral-speech/

Surprising, and great, speech. 'The way to honour Muhammad Ali is to be Muhammad Ali.' Too much self-serving cowardice from our politicians, journalists, religious leaders, and intellectuals. Too few people of genuine integrity.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Are safe spaces a threat to free speech?

Safe spaces?
 
Safe spaces are receiving a lot of discussion lately. Universities, for example, are encouraged to be, or to have, 'safe spaces' for students: places where students - particularly LGBT students - can feel safe from being persecuted, harassed, and so on.
 
However, 'safe spaces' are increasingly being a seen as a threat to free speech. For example, when Maryam Namazie, an ex-Muslim critic of Islam, spoke at Goldsmith's College University of London, her event was disrupted by some Muslim students who shouted 'Safe space!' - they believed that their University should protect them from such speech. Many, myself included, thought this was a ridiculous abuse of the concept of safe space.
 
So where does acceptable safe space end and unacceptable  threats to freedom of speech begin? Here are a few useful key distinctions.

Continues over at CFI blogs.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to start a prejudice - in six easy steps!



How to start a prejudice - is six easy steps!

Suppose you want to spread the prejudice that Xs are Ys - e.g. Jews are greedy and money-obsessed; women are terrible drivers, etc. What's a good method?

STEP ONE: Find some Xs that are Ys. That won't be hard. Inevitably, some women are bad drivers and some Jews are money-obsessed. So you will easily be able to come up with a handful of true anecdotes.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Islamophobia and Anti-semitism - what is, and isn't, bigotry?

There's currently a great deal of talk about Islamophobia and anti-semitism in the UK press. You won't be surprised to hear me say I am very firmly against both forms of prejudice. However, I suspect many would consider me guilty of one or other. I suspect many Muslims or Muslim-supporters would consider me Islamophobic because, say, I consider the religion of Islam one root cause of much contemporary terrorism. On the other hand, I don't doubt some Jews or Israeli-supporters would consider me anti-semitic because, say, I think the attacks on Gaza were disproportionate and unjustified, or because I am broadly sympathetic to non-violent methods of Palestinian resistance, such as their BDS campaign - Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. It may well be that I am just mistaken about what is and isn't Islamophobic/anti-semitic, and I genuinely want to be guilty of neither, so I thought I would arrange various claims according to whether I consider them Islamophobic or not and anti-semitic or not, to get your feedback.

Continues at CFI here...