Monday, 9 July 2018

The Wisdom of David Davis

In light of the Brexit Secretary's resignation this evening here are his sage words about referendums.

There is a proper role for referendums in constitutional change, but only if done properly. If it is not done properly, it can be a dangerous tool. The Chairman of the Public Administration Committee, who is no longer in the Chamber, said that Clement Attlee—who is, I think, one of the Deputy Prime Minister's heroes—famously described the referendum as the device of demagogues and dictators. We may not always go as far as he did, but what is certain is that pre-legislative referendums of the type the Deputy Prime Minister is proposing are the worst type of all.

Referendums should be held when the electorate are in the best possible position to make a judgment. They should be held when people can view all the arguments for and against and when those arguments have been rigorously tested. In short, referendums should be held when people know exactly what they are getting. So legislation should be debated by Members of Parliament on the Floor of the House, and then put to the electorate for the voters to judge.

We should not ask people to vote on a blank sheet of paper and tell them to trust us to fill in the details afterwards. For referendums to be fair and compatible with our parliamentary process, we need the electors to be as well informed as possible and to know exactly what they are voting for. Referendums need to be treated as an addition to the parliamentary process, not as a substitute for it. 

House of Commons Debates (Hansard), 26 November 2002, column 201

I'm guessing he now knows what he is getting and is voting no. What about the rest of us?

Sunday, 8 July 2018

The Fall and Rise of Wendy Milne: Labour PPC for Linlithgow and East Falkirk

It has just been announced via Twitter that Wendy Milne has been selected as the new Prospective Parliamentary Candidate in my old stomping ground of Linlithgow and East Falkirk.

Voters who had the chance to vote for me in 2005 and 2010 or have moved there or turned 18 since then might like to know the background of their new Labour candidate.

In 1990 Wendy Milne was one of those purged from the Labour party as part of Kinnock clearing out Militant.

In 2001 she went on to stand as the Scottish Socialist candidate in Livingston against Robin Cook claiming he was too "right wing" for the people of Livingston. Only 1,110 people agreed with her, 19,108 returned Robin as their MP for what was to be his last full term.

We live in interesting times if in the other half of West Lothian and parts of Falkirk Wendy is now back in the bosom of the Labour Party as their officially recognised candidate.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Dear Arlene Foster, This is Why you Need to Apologise

My current Face profile pic contains the words "I am Repugnant". It was a word a DUP MLA used 6 years ago to describe all involved in Pride.

He is a person I have meet in social and political contexts before and after he was aware of my sexuality. Last night Arlene Foster said that nobody is defined by their sexuality. During the break on the first debate on Marriage Equality in Stormont I was in the queue behind that MLA in the canteen. I greeted him, he turned around recognised me and then noticed the LGBT+ Lib Dem badge on my label.

His response was "Oh, you're one of them" and he turned on his heel. Until now I have not let the BBC journalist who was present 2 metres away use that story.

Today I feel it needs to be told. Jim Wells attitude towards me from the times we meet before he knew my sexuality and after has been markedly different. This is the personal face of the institutional homophobia that the DUP's elected reps present. Many of them block anyone who asks about LGBT+ issues on social media. Many refuse to answer any enquiry we ask as their constituents after we have raised an LGBT+ issue previously.

Arlene Foster has also said there is no need for her to apologise. Sorry Arlene, while many of us have always been respectful to our elected representatives from your party, being nothing but courteous in how we address them, they have blocked, ignored and shunned us in person. I have experienced this face to face on a number of occasions from Mr Wells and others.

THAT IS WHY the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland NEED AN APOLOGY from the DUP LEADER. The ball is in Arlene's court.

Friday, 8 June 2018

New Addition to the next PCI Hymnal

Gay Communicant Hokey Cokey 

In a relationship out, 
Out of relationship in, 
In, out, in out, profress it all about, 
Unless we doubt your credibility when you are in love, 
That's what it all about.

Words The Doctrine Committee 2018
Tune Trad.

My Presbyterian Ecumunication

Well today it appears to be official, I am no longer allowed to be a full member of the Church I grew up. The church that the majority of my ancestors have been members of since their families came to Ireland. The church that several of my forebears have had leadership roles in.

Today the Presbyterian Church in Ireland has ruled that anybody in a same-sex relationship cannot be a full member of the church and also that their children cannot be baptised. Even though my full communicant membership was denied when I was not in a relationship and haven't been in one since my return from Scotland it doesn't seem to make a difference. I'm that noise in the corner that causes a ruckus.

I get quoted the texts from the New Testament about temple prostitutes/bed mates, the Greek/Roman tradition of pederasty or puer delicates as being the same as homosexuality. Yes there are cultural references to the verses that are quoted from the New Testament which leads us to the Old.

Of course we have Leviticus and again some of these were ceremonial in a similar way as worship to Baal or other pagan gods. But of course in the New Testament Jesus said he  had not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets but to fulfil them. By that he meant to provide the grace and forgiveness. Peter in his vision saw that all the unclean regulations from the Old Testament were not unclean under this fulfilment of grace. Even the Presbyterian Church doesn't come down hard on others who break the law in other ways. As one minister pointed out in this morning discussion they are picking out one group.

The church itself had set up Pastoral Guidelines which would have included a safe space for LGB members to discuss matters with the church. None of the recommendations at the end of that have ever been implemented. Very little, if any formal consultation has taken place with LGB Presbyterians ahead of this decision. Judging by my Twitter and Facebook feeds from many of the LGB Christian and indeed Presbyterian influencers none of us had any input apart from with individual ministers.

The Presbyterian Church itself has been a major contributor to the state of my mental well being. Its exclusion of me, its judgement of me are things that the Chaplin of Ulster University Rev. Cheryl Meban pointed out when raising the amendment to remove the policy. It is something I have talked about in the past, I don't want to go into it again here.

Just before the formal vote was taken, some light-hearted banter happened between the moderator and clerk about needing a resolution for a cup of coffee. Earlier in the debate someone had warned that the world was watching, by their insults at such a serious time in the live of some Presbyterians you shall know them. Making today even worse with how light heartedly they appear to take this decision.

Monday, 21 May 2018

Conservative and Unionist Party ignoring warnings

Research released today has shown the shift in opinion in Northern Ireland since the Brexit referendum. Since the vote when 56% of the people voted to remain in the EU that figure has risen to 69%.

However, the research by Queen's University also shows that 61% of the population of Northern Ireland also favour the whole of the UK staying in the Customs Union and Single Market. The population of Northern Ireland who voted to remain in the EU see that as part of the Brexit that helps keep NI economically active, viable and progressing.

While 59% of people in Scotland feel that Brexit make the break up of the UK more likely this is only beaten by the 60% of Northern Ireland who think the same thing. This is worrying as this would be based on two different scenarios in these two locations both of which voted to remain. Here in Northern Ireland while 63% believe the union will exist in 10 years time only 28% believe it will survive 50 years.

Despite this research and that the people of Northern Ireland clearly favour a Customs Union and Single Market, today Karen Bradley the Secretary of State has said emphatically that Northern Ireland will leave the Customs Union. Ireland and the UK entered the EEC on the same day and before that had trade agreements in common. Leaving is breaking a long history, even though there was a border for security reasons that was economically open. Closing that to come to some new agreement affects businesses, workers, families, health and so much more.

The people of Northern Ireland do not forget how Northern Ireland's economy struggled most under the Tories in the 80s and 90s. The same party now is taking advise from the DUP who are short sighted about how Brexit will affect Northern Ireland. The failed to win the argument here but are using the same argument to convince the Conservatives in Westminster that the people of Northern Ireland will not suffer.

Sammy Wilson may as a substitute teacher have taken me for one term of A'Level economics but since then my degree looked at the EU and the costs and benefits of being in and out at the time with the newly economically emerging Eastern European Economies. Back then I said that by size Russia, Ukraine and possibly Belarus could survive outside of the EU on an economies of scale level but the others would probably over time all look to align with the EU. The same in reverse applies to the UK today, we don't have the economy of scale in much industry to be a world player that people will give favourable terms to.

Today was a day of warning to the Tories and DUP but they are ignoring those warnings. In light of this today my personal vote on any Irish border poll will be for unification.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Ashers Roadshow audeince don't care about impact on ALL Christians

So I see that this evening in Portadown a hall was full with people apparently to raise concern about the impact on the life of the owners of Ashers ahead of the Supreme Court ruling on this case.

This I will keep short and sweet. Have any of the 100s who were gathered ever taken a stand for any member of their church community who has come out as LGB or T? I know I am not the only Christian in Northern Ireland who has been condemned by their own church for their so called "lifestyle" and yes that was the word used to me. Something that I never brought up in the church environment in a public platform but always discussed on a one to one basis, when needed or asked. Something that was brought to an emergency Session meeting that took many elders, especially one my mother, totally by surprise.

This is happening all the time and sadly happening to people who unlike me aren't as prepared for what will happen. People who don't have a network both of fellow Christians and others who will provide the support. People who haven't come to their own peace with their faith and sexuality.

The roadshow rolls on and tomorrow will be in my home town within site of a place I once considered taking my own life because of the condemnation of comments such as this from Christians. That is the impact that these people should be thinking of.

PS as far as I am aware none of the locations that are hosting these meetings this week are actually endorsing the message of the Christian Institute, the McArthur family and Ashers bakery they are just providing them with a means to express their view.