Monday, February 28, 2005

BBC NEWS | Politics | Rekindling the Labour love affair

BBC NEWS | Politics | Rekindling the Labour love affairThe spirit of the father

I dreamed of my father two nights ago.

In the dream I heard noises in the house and went to investigate. There he was. He was an oldish man; just standing there. I saw him. That is all. We did not speak.

Next day J asked to have rental movie. I chose HP and the prisoner of Askaban. It was not till later I remembered the powerful effect that film had had on me.

Years ago I read just a few pages from the book. They were pages where Harry sees his father take the form of a shining silver stag protecting him and apparently rescueing him.

In one of my web logs I wrote the other day about the spirit of fatherhood having found me in my middle age in a way it had not done when I was younger.

Watching the movie again the spirit father theme comes back to me.

There are too many fathers in my family tree, who are not so much stags as cuckoos who left eggs in others nests or no nest at all. The birds have flown. We can only guess who they might have been.

Now I have stepped in to rescue two boys, just as my father rescued my mother and her unborn child.

It is sad my own girls have no legitimated father.

H has made it to Cambridge. Oxford may have let us both down twice, but Cambridge are leaning over backwards to have her.

Meanwhile poor Charles cannot find a safe place to remarry, and Blair addresses the electorate as if it were a wife, and his relationship with us a rocky patch in the marriage. That is proto-dicatorship talk. Hail the All-Father!

Hail and hopefully fare well come 5 May.

Tracking back to the news it seems Mr Blair is not quite claiming we are married to him.

It seems this is only a love affair!

BBC NEWS | Education | 'No fines for term-time holidays'

BBC NEWS | Education | 'No fines for term-time holidays' My daughter has just returned from Africa with her mum. The week away from school was accepted by the school, and was not a problem for them. But it seems that it is a problem for this ever more authoritarian Government. Does the new education secretary really think R will have learned more in school than by exploring the south African outback. can the newly designated Arts School offer her South African Native Dancing? Travel broadens the mind. Blair's Government seems to want to stunt its development. I wish we all could have been in Africa this week.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair defends terror law changes

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair defends terror law changes Stop this tyrantI have been covering the Government's plans to take away the freedom of the individual under law in this country carefully. I am so glad that the Today Programme, through James Naughtie, has finally stood up against this terrible assault on Liberty, and indeed all that makes our democracy what it has been for the last three hundred years. Blair's latest position as quoted by the BBC news web site is that he won't compromise on "the principle". What principle, the principle that the executive can imprison us without going to a judge?
We cannot trust this Governement with such powers. Justice has been perverted over the Iraq war of aggression, which was based on false intelligence. Are we now to lock up our own citizens to suit the designs of this would-be tyrant?

Sunday, February 27, 2005

A geological time

As the sun sets alight the forest above the town for a few brief minutes, it is enough to think of that forest surviving around us for over a thousand years. But to enter the landscape of geological time stretches my imagination to breaking every time.
A notice in the square invited us to try out a knew county geology walk. The first test was to find the start point at ten a.m. Windy bottom was not on the map, nor was it called windy lane as the message suggested. Surprisingly the young lady in the tea cosy hat arrived on time with sheavs of information. But the first bit of it was that we were not supposed to be starting from here anyway.
“So that is where the lottery spends its money” I thought.
The walk was at least ten miles long; not appropriate for a six year old on the coldest day of the year. There were pictures of the main geological feature of the area, the town quarry. But there is no public right of way through it. They should have suggested we bring field glasses. The tea-cosy girl was going back home to bed rather than earn her money coming round with us. We had to find our own way and report back. No flares supplied if we became lost.
We set off up the salt way till we reached the edge of the quarry. It made much more sense to abandon the route suggested and investigate the forbidden territory. We rambled through the mud and crunched into the icy puddles. J covered himself in primeval goo scrambling up the quarry face. He collected a great big chunk of ice which he treasured all the way home. C dug into the slope and came up with fossils. There are so many shell fossils here, all mixed in with modern mollusc carapaces, muck and stone.
Our notes gave names to the different levels in the quarry, but they were only geographic names. They gave no clue to the ages. Just how long does it take to crush sea shells so hard into the sea floor they form into lime stone. Or maybe that is chalk!?
It is so long since I read anything of geology. Just how long does it take for the land to turn from sea to land to sea again.
Squatting on a ledge above us, a man who described himself as Jerry Springer called out to us. He had meant to come with us but could not find any windy bottoms or windy lanes. He had actually joined this local geology trust. Like us, he was happy to explore the quarry rather than head off up the salt way.
It was very cold in the biting north east wind, but it was so very bright and clear after so much cloud and snow we had to press on beyond the quarry.
We crossed over the lane and into the woods. It would be very hard to do yourself much damage falling in the quarry, though it is possible. Falling on barbed wire along the margins is a very different prospect. But in many places it has all been removed, and only the odd bramble blocks the way.
I have had chats with the local mining engineer about health and safety. Having had a few deaths in his time, he is quite concerned about it. I find all the Blairy legislation on it a hazard to a good and a meaningful life for those of us not forced to work in mines.
Huge pay outs go to people slipping on a mushroom in a super-market in Blairy England. I do not suppose there will be any pay outs for the Iraqis we have killed or even the ones we have tortured.
While this old quarry has been expensively cleaned up for our enjoyment, we have no compunction in dumping our depleted uranium stocks on the poor people of the middle east.
H lane is the loveliest walk back into C..y. The bridleway now passes a brand new mansion for Blair’s new super rich. The other people on the unmade road had to fight to stop it being tarmacked. Was the new owner going to pay, or had he got some strings to pull with the council? It was good to be out, but it was great to be home again, in the warm. 2 hours of our life time, barely a blink in the life of the planet. yet we may be able to destroy all life on earth in the next century or two.

The paradise garden

It is wonderful what photography can do. With the right picture, you can imagine my old back yard as a paradisal garden. The picture below is of the wall between my home and Rowan Williams' little secluded garden.

The mending wall?

Saturday, February 26, 2005

BBC NEWS | Politics | Blair hits back on house arrest

BBC NEWS Politics Blair hits back on house arrest Blair thinks he is not being arrogant in sweeping away the fundamental constitutional basis of our society to protect us from terrorists who are far less powerful than the IRA ever were. "The majority have nothing to fear," says Blair. Luckily, at least the upper house of parliament is still able to protect us from Draconian war time powers being given to the executive. Charles Clarke is backing down. We, the people, may be about to win this round. I have a small apologu to make. The BBC did make a note of the legal advice on the war information issue. They just hid it in the background.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Goldsmith denies war advice claim

BBC NEWS Politics Goldsmith denies war advice claim The BBC arrives 3 days late, with a head line slanted in support of Blair. the Guardian has headlined a big story on new evidence about the illegality of the war over the previous 2 days. Now the BBC finally mentions this material but from the Government's angle. They interviwed the pathetic Michael Mates on the Toady programme, who was not even allowed to say what he knew from the Butler enquiry. The Old Today programme would have interviewed the author of the book ,or a constitutional historian. But the momentum is building all the same. This illegal war is going to be a very big election issue. We must oppose any candidate who is for Blair staying in power. blair is beginning to be a liability to Labour.

BBC NEWS | UK | Papers mull Anglicanism 'schism'

BBC NEWS UK Papers mull Anglicanism 'schism' In rural Oxfordshire we have a strong Quaker tradition, but the evangelicals may be the biggest group. They represent a serious threat to those of us who believe in equal rights for women and gay people. The Anglicans are already at war with each other over Charles' remarriage to a dovorce. Was it the same conservative religious forces trying to spoil our remarriage that are playing havoc with his? I do not know for sure. Funny thing is, Rowan Williams, as a welsh man, and a broad minded thinker, is quite supportive of druidry. Not so easy for him to support Charles through this business though, is it?

Wars and religion

This week the neo-con Christians began to threaten abortion clinics in England for the first time. On our part, we formally complained about the primary school head who accused us of maybe abusing or neglecting our children, and suggested to the boys' natural father he send them to a heavy old fashioned Christian boarding school in Oxford. We are having to fight for the safety and good education of our children.

I feel so sorry for Rowan Williams. He is the most saintly man who has sat with me in my living room. But he has a sense of humour too. He even has a son called Pip, who is allowed to wear a T shirt with "Little Devil" written on it. I do not know how he manages to cope with the schism in his church which is surely inevitable now. I am surprised at his wilingnness to chat about such things in the street outside our houses (he used to live next door) about his existential concerns. (We don't live near Lambeth Palace. He has a private home here, for occasional retreats)

On the radio this lunch time an English vicar bemoaned the conservative right that comes from America and is destablising Anglicanism.

I never thought in the twenty first century I would be dealing with primary school teachers peppering their conversation with "Praise the Lord". Not in england anyway.

But we are ruled by messianic mad men with false hot lines to a violent and aggressive God. I worry for all of us if Blair should win another big majority.
The majority have nothing to fear, he said the other day, relating to his plans to take away our freedom under law.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Guardian Unlimited Politics | Special Reports | Transcripts show No 10's hand in war legal advice

Guardian Unlimited Politics Special Reports Transcripts show No 10's hand in war legal advice The Guardian goes against Blair, while the BBC does not dare cover advice on the war.
For the second day running the Guardian exposes how Blair's aids sexed up the attorney general's advice on the legality of the war. The Government was so worried that it was preparing lawyers to fight for it in a war crimes trial. But the BBC, which fought so hard against Blair prior to Hutton, does not even mention the Guardian's main lead. The Butler enquiry has given us more than enough data to convict Blair as a liar and a cheat. But our Public Service Broadcaster now serves Master Blair, and is afraid to oppose him. It seems the Today programme may have turned into the Toady Programme.

BBC NEWS | UK | Call for action on child exorcism

BBC NEWS | UK | Call for action on child exorcismI have just written to the Director of Learning and Culture, since I wish to draw attention to how the Department is implementing the Government's Child Care Strategy on the fifth anniversary of the Climbie Report.

In the news this morning, it is claimed that in London many children are still being violently assaulted by their carers to drive out evil spirits. Something is not being addressed properly there. Is this happening in Oxfordshire?

But in West Oxfordshire, my concern is that developing closer co-operation between agencies concerned with protecting children may be leading to the abuse of the Human Rights of parents.

Perhaps this applies only to C..y School. The head would appear to have lost contact with reality.

I was even more concerned when Radio Oxford put the announcement of the closure into its morning reportage with several people thinking the school was closed again today.

The parents of children at C...y School are very angry about the inappropriate closure of the school yesterday. On Tuesday, a notice outside the school said we should pick up our children as soon as possible if it started to snow. I could get no clarification as to whether we should come in at any time or just on time at the end of the day. The former would be bizarre, the latter just disrespectful to parents, who often wait for ten minutes (recently in the snow) for our children to be released, after 3.00 p.m. Yesterday, I believe ours was the only school in the county closed due to snow. There was no snow here yesterday. The previous day’s snow melted during the day.
The head is not in school today. It is snowing. But the school is open like all the others. There is a clear instruction that we should pick up our children at lunch time if it is snowing heavily by then.

One of my concerns is about the powers of heads to act without reference to supervision or outside advice. The closure of the school yesterday is one consequence of such policies, which I think should be reviewed.

I consider not only was it inappropriate to close down our school yesterday, but it is inappropriate to refer families from our community to a social care investigation without the parents consent. I am aware that the law entitles this to be done when there is an immediate threat to a child. But in this case Social workers, doctors and a health visitor all find this family to be a normal loving caring family, as do friends, who include local politicians.

I have, till now, been utterly perplexed as to why good people would be put through this ordeal. These children function quite normally in classes outside school; scouts, chess club, music lessons, sports clubs, theatre school etc and in my judgement they happy and settled at home.

It has just been pointed out to me this morning one way in which they are different to the norm. Their moral and spiritual values differ strongly from those of evangelical teachers at the school.

I have been a pastoral counsellor for 30 years, and have a friendly relationship with Rowan Williams and his family. I am sympathetic towards liberal minded Christian groups. But I feel misgivings when a teacher starts to punctuate his sentences with "Praise the Lord." I have just discovered that the head has been emphatically recommending a very strongly Christian boarding school to the elder child of this families’ natural father. Further more, the younger child’s teachers are evangelical Christians.

When a teacher starts to mention the Climbie enquiry as a basis for her concerns I have a growing sense of disquiet, which I think should be aired in public.

The concerns I am emphasizing here concern general issues of policy implementation and Parental Human Rights abuse.

I would like the Local Authority to evaluate the implementation of this overall strategy and let me know what emerges.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

BBC NEWS | Politics | Anti-terror plans go to MPs' vote

BBC NEWS Politics Anti-terror plans go to MPs' vote

An open letter to the politicians and people of England

Wake up!

These may be the last days of Liberal Democracy. If we do not stand up and be counted, in parliament and all areas of our lives, the freedom under law which has made this country the highest ideal for many of the citizens and countries of our world will be gone, and probably forever.
History is about to repeat itself. A charismatic leader, dismissed by many as a second rate mind, is positioning himself for permanent power.
"You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history," proclaimed Hitler, 72 years ago this week, standing in front of the burned-out Reichstag, surrounded by national media. "This fire," he said, his voice trembling with emotion, "is the beginning." He used the occasion - "a sign from God," he called it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion.
Bush used 911 as an excuse for "Homeland Security" which will keep his family in power indefinitely in America. Bush's people were as likely to have been behind the fallen twin towers as Hitler was behind the Reichstag fire. But this is England I am describing.
Our most senior judges have almost unanimously voted that Blair's terror laws are unjust, and one has spelled it out in the starkest terms. This Government is a greater threat to our way of life than all the terrorists.
Blunkett was the most reactionary and repressive Home Secretary in my life time. Now his successor proposes an end to our most fundamental Human Rights
In Germany, two weeks after the Reichstag burned out, the first detention centre for terrorists was built in Oranianberg to hold the first suspected allies of the infamous terrorist. In a national outburst of patriotism, the leader's flag was everywhere, even printed large in newspapers suitable for window display. Blair now portrays his Jewish Tory opponents as flying pigs on New Labour posters.
Blair will now fight an election by frightening us with a false terrorist threat. Perhaps a small attack terror will be arranged. It probably will not be necessary. It is utterly clear that Blair lied about weapons of mass destruction, and took the Nation to war on a false prospectus.
In Germany, within four weeks of the terrorist attack, the nation's now-popular leader had pushed through legislation - in the name of combating terrorism and fighting the philosophy he said spawned it - that suspended constitutional guarantees of free speech, privacy, and habeas corpus. Police could now intercept mail and wiretap phones; suspected terrorists could be imprisoned without specific charges and without access to their lawyers; police could sneak into people's homes without warrants if the cases involved terrorism.
Immediately after passage of the anti-terrorism act, his federal police agencies stepped up their program of arresting suspicious persons and holding them without access to lawyers or courts. In the first year only a few hundred were interred, and those who objected were largely ignored by the mainstream press, which was afraid to offend and thus lose access to a leader with such high popularity ratings. Citizens who protested the leader in public - and there were many - quickly found themselves confronting the newly empowered police's batons, gas, and jail cells, or fenced off in protest zones safely out of earshot of the leader's public speeches. (In the meantime, he was taking almost daily lessons in public speaking, learning to control his tonality, gestures, and facial expressions. He became a very competent orator, just as Blair is today.)
Don’t laugh and say it cannot happen here. No one would have believed, 10 years ago, that a leader could deceive the country as badly as Blair has done, as transparently as Blair has done, and not be forced to resign. Twenty years ago it would have been inconceivable that anyone modelling such a bizarre personal lifestyle could remain as Home Secretary as Blunkett almost managed to do.
The Blair Government has been undermining our Civil Liberties for years, attacking Habeas Corpus and the right to trial by jury, the fundamentals of our democracy. At the point where the judges have condemned him as a threat to our National Heritage, he uses their very judgment as an excuse to take liberty away from every one of us. We are about to have inflicted upon us all manner of restrictions on our liberty, on the whim of the executive.
Charles Clarke insists that Liberty must be sacrificed for the sake of security. But the basis of these whims may be as phoney as the dodgy dossier Blair stole from a students 10 year old thesis on the internet. The opposition say that this law would be a victory for the terrorists. Even if that has a symbolic truth to it, the more fundamental truth is that it would be a victory for Blair's executive power. It would mean the end of the Judiciary as a political balance to the executive. Parliament is already cowed by his majority. His only real challenge might come from the billionaires who control our media, who have nothing to do with democracy, whose only concern for freedom is for their own. He has successfully cowed the BBC into submission through the Hutton Report.
Like Hitler, Blair has never had the majority of the People of this country vote for him. Most people have given up on voting. Both main parties are very right wing.
It is not too late to speak and to act. Very soon we have a chance to vote in a strategic fashion. We can vote against anyone who supports the continuation of the Blair Government. Right now we need to make our voices heard, so that our liberty is maintained. Speak to your MP. Speak to your local Councillors. E-mail all your friends. This is a crucial moment. Don't let it pass.