Thursday, 21 May 2015

Poor Judgement

Many times I wonder at our justice system.  On Tuesday a bakery company, which cites a Christian religious ethic on their website, was convicted of discrimination because they decided not to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.

Is nobody allowed to decide how they run their business without minorities protesting loudly?  The gay community, along with others, has the backing of government funded bodies, yet these days the voice of Christians is usually nullified by those who dictate justice in our courts.

I’m not believer in 'fairies in the sky’ but I do believe that spiritually something goes on in our world.  My morals were taught to me by a Christian family and church which, as an adult, I’ve seldom attended.  They make no effort to include me and because I’m not a member of the Church of Scotland thankfully I don’t receive these intimidating little envelopes asking for very regular donations.  These were part of the reason my grandmother moved to the Scottish Episcopalian Church back in the 50s because it didn’t intimidate her with any numbered envelopes.  Aye, they were numbered in those days so any contribution could be traced back to the contributor and a donation record kept. I’ve no idea if that was/is the practice of other churches in an effort to keep data about their members, but it’s not particularly pleasant.

I digress. What does the British justice system have against Christians or folk to hold Christian beliefs? 

The Irish are more religious than many Scots these days.  Religion has - and still does - play a big part in their lives.  Gerry Adams shaking hands with Price Charles doesn’t make relationships better, just more acceptable to the public. “If he’s shaken hands with Price Charles then the past is past.”  No it’s not.  The past is history and no one ought to forget history. Politicians ignore history when it suits their specific ideals and we now see the results in various disguises.

This Ashers bakery case should never have come to court. It was the strength of the gay rights lobby and the Irish Equality Commission - all funded by taxpayers - which ensured it happened.

As the person who ordered the cake was a gay rights activist it could be assumed he targeted a business with a well known Christian ethic.  Who knows.

There seems to be double standards in the gay community.  A couple of years ago a Christian couple were fined for not allowing two men to share a double bed in their bed and breakfast, yet if you google ‘gay hotels’ you find pages of links to hotels which only cater for gay people.

Why do a small section of the gay community insist upon targeting Christian businesses which openly declare their Christianity?  Their behaviour doesn’t do the gay community any favours whatsoever and I know it is an embarrassment to many.  

Friday, 15 May 2015

No Bridge? No Problem!

No Health and Safety either!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

I Agree - Scrap the Human Rights Act

When the 56 SNP MPs arrived in Westminster on Monday I was delighted and hoped that they would be an effective and sensible opposition.

Today the Guardian's headlines read ‘The SNP will not consent to Tory plans to scrap Human Rights Act’.  

I suggest this is very short sighted of them and I do hope they’re not going to turn into a group like Scottish Labour in the Scottish Parliament where Labour oppose most proposals for no good reason.

The 1998 Human Rights Act needs to be replaced as it appears to benefit the criminal rather than the victim. We need a Human Rights Act in which our courts and justice system have the last word. In recent years the Supreme Court was introduced and the word of these justices should be final or our justice system will continue to be puppet theatre whose strings are pulled by Brussels.  What is the point in us spending billions on justice if the EU have the final say?  Why don’t send all High Court cases to Brussels and save our money to spend on those in need?

The Act is going to be replaced by a British Bill of Rights which, I believe, will be very similar to the Human Rights Act but with amendments such as disallowing criminals going to Brussels to have their case ruling overturned.  The current balance of human rights is wrong and has to be corrected.  It’s wrong that foreign murderers are allowed to stay in this country because they have children here.  It’s wrong that UK taxpayers spend millions of pounds on numerous appeals from criminals resisting deportation.  It’s wrong that people in need are being deprived of help when human rights lawyers are laughing all the way to the bank.

I trust the new MPs in Westminster will debate this proposal and use common sense to make a decision.  Nobody knows the content of the Tory’s proposal as yet but seem happy to oppose it anyway.

That’s not the type of politics I expect from the SNP.  Let’s wait to see what the British Bill of Right contains before more knee jerk reactions are voiced.

Friday, 8 May 2015

A Good Result For Scotland

Yes it was an excellent result for Scotland but - there’s always a but - only from a UK perspective.  It would be a dreadful result in a Scottish election although fortunately that would never happen owing to our PR system.

How did the Tories get back into No 10?  Aided and abetted by Labour and the SNP.  All David Cameron had to do was tell England that a government with the weak Miliband being dictated to by the strong Nicola Sturgeon would bring England to its knees.  The English agreed, held their noses and voted Tory.  

Ed Miliband was between a rock and a hard place most of the election with his desperate efforts to persuade middle England that he would be fantastic prime minister material.  I’m not sorry to see him stand down as party leader, although nobody impresses me as his successor.  Let’s not forget, even if Labour had won all the seats in Scotland, the result would have been the same.  Labour needed England but England didn’t want a left wing government.

Nicola Sturgeon played a blinder the whole campaign. Never a foot wrong and she deserves congratulations for making her successes.

What about Nick Clegg?  Nothing much to say really.  I suspect he’s already been on the telephone to his pals in Europe asking them to put his name forward as a commissioner.  My one regret is that Charles Kennedy was part of the SNP rout. One of the few politicians who was unaffected by power and I believe looked after his electorate with a passion.

In some ways I’m disappointed Nigel Farage didn’t make it.  Although I dislike some of his policies, his presence in the Commons would have been a thorn in David Cameron’s side.  It appears he won a larger percentage of the vote than the SNP and LibDems put together but with the FPTP system he couldn’t quite make it.

Three leaders have resigned today and that’s a healthy result of an election.  It shows that change is essential.  Not ‘tinkering’ change but radical change starting with the FPTP system moving to a PR one.

How will Cameron treat Scotland?  I’ve no idea, have you?  He can either ignore us or quickly open talks with Nicola Sturgeon. Surely he realises the SNP rout here contains many angry No voters who feel he made promises, on the 19 September last year, that he had no intention of keeping.

How will the new SNP MPs fare? Alex Salmond will ensure the ship is steered steadily but only time will tell the strategy they use.  Interesting times ahead.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

UK Society Is Less Integrated Than Ever

Image from the Daily Mail

It never ceases to amaze me how politicians and prospective politicians treat voters. 

Yesterday Ed Miliband, quite rightly, was ridiculed for his ‘Tablet of Stone’ circus.  Who is advising that man?  He doesn’t need to be portrayed in such a manner, he does a good enough job of looking rather stupid without props.

Now today we have politicians complaining about the segregation of men and women at a Labour party hustings in Birmingham.  Why the faux shock and horror?  Most people know that the Muslim community do not permit women to have the same freedoms as men and if there’s any criticism I’d make about the above image is that I’m surprised women were present at all.

Many years ago now a young Muslim student befriended me at the college in which I worked. We both lived quite a way out of town and someone had said I may be able to give her a lift home one evening as her brother was unable to do so. She explained in the car that she wouldn’t have been able to accept a lift from a man, although there was a male student who had offered.  This was the start of my education about Islam.

Her family weren’t keen on her being an acquaintance of mine but I think they saw my uses and tolerated it.  Never once was I invited into the home when I collected or dropped her off on the odd occasion no family member was able to provide transport.  She was 18 but her father openly told me she would never learn to drive. He had an older daughter who had learned to drive and now ‘she was beyond my control’.

I was invited to the student’s arranged marriage which took place in a local town hall. That was the only time I met the student’s ‘driving’ sister and we had a pleasant hour or so talking about what life in general.  That room was very much divided - similar to the above photograph - and we sat for 4 hours waiting for the final guests to appear. Their coach had broken down en route from Blackburn which was the groom’s home town.

Having arrived at 1.30pm for a 2pm wedding, I was beginning to feel rather hungry around 5pm but filled myself with water while giant bottles of coke were passed around other guests.  By this time I was aware I was the only white person present in a congregation of around 150.  

The ceremony didn’t appear to take long once it started and by 6.30pm there was an announcement in a language I didn’t understand. ‘Food is ready’ said the prettily dressed woman to my left.  ‘Thank goodness’ I thought, at least I can move from this seat on which I’d been perched for well over 4 hours.  I stood in anticipation of having an interesting supper and felt a tug on my coat. ‘Men go first’ I was told. This was expanded with the information that the women had to wait until the men had eaten.

My reaction?  I hurriedly left and was home within 20 minutes, still reeling from the culture shock.

It was some months later I had a telephone call from the student who asked if I would provide a character reference for a job application. She had moved to Blackburn immediately after her marriage and found the constraints suffocating and wanted to apply for a job.  I sent the reference and didn’t hear more. It was the following year when my doorbell rang and there stood the student with a baby in her arms. She was visiting her parents for the first time since her marriage.  We chatted for quite a while but I was conscious she kept looking at her watch.  

The job?  Her husband and his family refused to allow her to attend the interview and told her there was no need for her to work as she had enough to do looking after the older members of the family and having children.  She wasn’t allowed out without a male member of the family or one of the senior women accompanying her.

Whilst I have no problem with people’s religious beliefs, I’ve often though what a waste of a bright, attractive young woman. Last time I saw her she was deeply unhappy.

So the critics of the above image shouldn’t be surprised at such segregation. What they should be criticising is the fact that a special hustings for Muslims was held, when the same critics are the first to say we are an ‘inclusive society’.  Some sections of society will never integrate with the majority.

This hustings, a public meeting, should have been open to all regardless of colour or religion. That would have been more in keeping with my desire for an open and integrated UK.  Will it happen? I firmly believe the answer is never.

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