Angry atheist rants

As I approach my role as Vice-Chair of Birmingham University Labour Students (BULS) by keeping religion and my position in BULS totally separate. So, this post you’ll be reading from BULS member and atheist Max Ramsay, rather than BULS Vice-Chair Max Ramsay.

Ancient copies of the King James Bible are carried during a procession at Westminster Abbey to mark its 400th anniversary. Photograph: Chris Jackson/AFP/Getty Images

Today David Cameron declared “Britain is a Christian country and we should not be afraid to say so” and “that the Bible has helped to give Britain a set of values and morals which make Britain what it is today.”.

Now, I’d like to point out that I respect everyone’s right to have whatever faith they so wish. But, to be quite honest, Cameron really hasn’t read much of the King James’ Bible if he believes this is the case.

Now the first point is something seemingly imported from the USA. Given that a poll in 2004 conducted by the BBC showed that 39% of the UK population did not believe in God. That’s right, today we’re anything but a Christian nation, we’re a secular nation.

You may say, “Oh, but we were founded upon Christian ideals and it has played a such a vital part in history in the last few centuries.”. Really?! If we did derive our morals and values from the bible we’d still find acceptable;

  1. General slaughters (I Chronicles 20:3, Judges 8:10 and Deuteronomy 3:6-7)
  2. Burying victims alive (Numbers 16:32-35)
  3. Killing unbelievers (Deuteronomy 13:5, 13:6, 13:8-9 and 13:15)
  4. Genocides (II Chronicles 14:9 and 14:12 and II Samuel 12:31)
  5. Raping (Isaiah 13:15-16)
  6. Slavery (Exodus 21:2-6 and 21:20-21, Leviticus 25:44-46 and 1 Peter 2:18-21)
  7. White supremacy (Romulus 12:1-3 and 12:19-21 and Philipians 3:18)
  8. Jewish Persecution (Matthew 27: 22 and 27:25, John 7:1 and 8:44, Acts 7:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15)
  9. Women’s persecution (Leviticus 15:19-21 and 18:19, Proverbs 21:19, Corinthians 11:3 and 14:34-35, Ephesians 5:22-24 and Timothy 2:12-15)
  10. Justify physical punishment of children (Leviticus 20:9, Psalm 127:3, Proverbs 13:24, 22:6, 22:15 and 23:12-14)
  11. Homophobia (Leviticus 20:13 and 18:22, Deuteronomy 23:17-18, Romans 1:24 and 1:26-27 and Corinthians 6:9-10)
  12. Oppose medical science (Acts 15:29, James 5:13-15 and Matthew 9:2-8)
  13. To justify war (Exodus 15:3, Deuteronomy 20:4 and 1 Timothy 4:18)

Now can Cameron really claim that we were founded upon these values? That we derive our morals and values from the bible? And that we’re still a Christian nation? Again, while I respect people’s right to believe this, it is quite clear that what binds us and gives us true sense of values is secular enlightened thinking.

Max

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The old fetish

Chris Riddell 11 December 2011

Friday was the day the old fetish returned. The day Cameron delved into nostalgia. And the day he set Britain at odds not only with the other 26 EU member states, but rationality itself.

What we saw on Friday was a Prime Minister with his hands tied by dogmatic backbench MPs. But not to worry, it seems Cameron had unveiled his all powerful ‘veto’. The only problem with this is that it’s not a true veto of any sorts. Negotiations will still be ongoing, the remaining 26 EU states will still formulate an agreement and Britain will not be present to have any say in the talks.

This is catastrophic failure for Cameron who has severed any attempts to help salvage the Euro which is not only in the EU’s interest but vital in Britain’s interests. In the words of a Facebook update by my own brother:

Tory lol. Blame the economic problems on the Euro crisis, then veto the plan to save it knowing full well that the the EU will cut you out and essentially get rid of any say you have in determining the future of Europe, and by extension, Britain

Some may call it Bulldog spirit, I’d like to call it naively dogmatic.

Max

That Old Chestnut

David Cameron has a nerve. Not only has he U-turned over his pledge in opposition to hold a referendum over the UK’s terms of membership of the European Union, but today he had the temerity to force Nicolas Sarkozy to back down and accept his presence at key Eurozone talks to try to deal with the Greek debt crisis on Wednesday.

Once again, only one year into the new government, a Conservative prime minister is becoming about as stable on Europe as Edwina Currie is on her feet. We all know deep down he is a staunch Euro-sceptic, so why doesn’t he have the guts to come out and be frank with the British people, and say that he would love us to turn our backs on our continental partners, but that he also loves us to lecture and patronise them on economic policy, despite the fact that UK growth is anaemic at best, and backwards at worst, thanks to his policies.

A referendum on EU membership now would of course be absurd, but having called for one in opposition, the PM should stick to his guns and create a disunited and discredited government, and do us all a favour by breaking up the coalition and triggering a general election. You can’t have your bun and eat it, and you can’t be half in, half out, of the EU – leaving the Eurozone (or more accurately, Germany) to do all the hard work and then turning up to talks this week to act as one of the key players while facing a referendum proposal at home from your own backbenchers is hypocritical and downright embarrassing for Britain.

It was Ed Miliband, incidentally, who called on Cameron to give up his trip Down Under and attend the meeting, therefore whether or not you agree that Cameron has a right to be there, it is clear that the Labour leader is ahead of the curve on this one, as he was on phone hacking and as he was at PMQs this week.

It might sound like a cheap shot from the comforts of opposition – and we all know Blair and Brown disagreed over the Euro – however it is clear that yet again the Tories are divided over Europe. Europhile or Europhobe, this is one of the few reliable constants of the European project.

We told you so

Going to use a bit of the Brigid Jones BULS blog formula this morning.

It turns out there’s going to be the biggest drop in middle-income families incomes since the 1970s and so pushing 600,000 more children into poverty according to the IFS. This is while Gideon (George) Osborne has announced a £840 million tax break for multinationals using tax heavens while it turns out the amount of tax money lost in the FTSE 100 by tax avoidance is estimated to be £18bn. So much for the cuts being “progressive”.

To insult to misery, it turns out public sector job losses will 50% higher than originally predicted. So much for Cameron’s pre-election claim that any Minister who came to him with front-line public sector cuts would be told to go back and have a rethink.

Max

9/11 Ten Years On, Coalition Politics and Blood Donation

9/11 – A Warning from Recent History

For someone of the age of the current crop of Labour Students, it is particularly difficult to believe that it is ten years tomorrow since the lives of millions were changed forever on September 11th, 2001. Most of us were still in primary school at the time, and it is perhaps apt that our generation – one that was constantly told we were growing up too fast – had our innocence of the world around us robbed so suddenly on that bright Tuesday morning. Hearing and seeing the images of the planes hitting the World Trade Center still transfixes all of us, and as much as we might want to look away having seen enough, we can’t quite bring ourselves to stop watching.

However it is our generation – the 9/11 generation – who will be the politicians and headline-makers of the coming years, and if anything good can come of the last decade, it is surely the lesson  that those in power have a responsibility not to overreact when faced with such onslaughts. Our party’s most successful leader (in electoral terms) no doubt had good intentions, but made the grave error of marching the troops gung-ho into an unplanned and illegal war, probably creating a whole new generation of terrorists in the process, while at home him and those around him were complicit in eroding many of the freedoms we were meant to be protecting, including detention without charge and freedom from torture. If the horror of terrorism reaches us again, we must pause and assess the causes before acting. The same rule should apply for other crises, like the riots this summer.

Backbench Tories Have Nothing To Worry About

Today is the final day of the Plaid Cymru autumn conference in Llandudno, north Wales. The outgoing leader, Ieuan Wyn Jones, made his final conference speech yesterday after an electoral drubbing for the nationalist party in the Welsh Assembly elections in May. Unlike in Scotland, where the SNP have been successful, he argued that coalition government in Cardiff Bay (of which Plaid was the junior party) meant Plaid’s achievements in government were smothered by Labour, and that the party was punished by voters for not claiming credit for them.

Aside from the fact that Plaid achieved very little in government in a time of economic turmoil other than a referendum with poor turnout which managed to bore even political anoraks, their experience in coalition should serve as a lesson to Westminster politics. This week Tory backbenchers, angry over law and order, Europe and abortion, moaned that the Lib Dem ‘tail’ was wagging the Tory ‘dog’ and that Nick Clegg was being given too many concessions by the Prime Minister. However come the election in 2015, the Tories will have nothing to worry about, as the voters are likely to give them sole credit for any successes – particularly if the economy picks up (not a given considering Osborne’s slash-and-burn approach) – and they will certainly not be looking to make some sort of permanent alliance with the Lib Dems, contrary to what some commentators are predicting. The coalition dog will probably have his tail docked when the voters are next given a choice.

About Bloody Time

This week the ban on gay and bisexual men giving blood for life in Britain was finally overturned (although you’d be forgiven for not noticing the leap forward because the BBC thought Strictly Come Dancing was more important on the news bulletins that night). This is a triumph that equality campaigners have been working tirelessly for for years, and at last gay men will be able to save lives and help tackle the urgent need for more donors. No more will the official policy imply that gay men cannot be trusted to practice safe sex and ‘probably have HIV’.

Although the ban was only replaced with a one-year time lag since a donor’s last encounter, it is still progress, and puts us more in line with the situation in similar countries.

The end of Murdoch’s political monopoly?…Let’s hope so

To be brutally honest, when this whole phone hacking milarky began to come out 6, 9 months ago I really couldn’t care that much. But now, truly, everything has changed. The biggest circulatory newspaper of all time is being dropped, Andy Coulson has been arrested, murder and soldier victim families phones being tapped and quite frankly, the media will never truly be the same again.

So what can we identify and salvage from this wreckage? Well first off to get you in a good mood only Ed Miliband’s finest performance as Labour leader to date by being the first to call for enquiries, the first to call for the axing of the PCC, the first to call for Rebekah Brook’s resignation and the first to demand the transfer of the BSkyB bid to the competition commission. Ultimately, this is a welcome overcoming of fear of the Murdoch empire. Too long has a US-based media tycoon dictated overarching control over Britain. Don’t get me wrong, Labour’s hands are far from clean when it came to dealing with the tycoon master, but this is a major break not just for Labour but for British Politics as one major political force cuts it’s links with the media empire it feared. Miliband despite his fine performance recently has to be careful as already a senior Miliband aid received a “very hostile” threat, not veiled at all, from a News International journalist warning: “You have made it personal about Rebekah, so we’ll make it personal about you.”.

This break for British politics is all very well but it depends on Cameron following suit, which he has so far shown to be unwilling. It is clear that Camero also fears the monopoly and is too entwined in the spider’s web of Murdoch’s empire to truly break free. It was Cameron’s decision to bring in Coulson fresh from News of the World not only in to his team while in opposition but as Director of Communications in No. 10 despite an uneasy background record and he has paid dearly for this judgement. Let’s hope Cameron can make the right decision over the BSkyB deal as this is truly the real prize in all this chaos.

For Murdoch to jettison the very paper that brought him into the British media it seems that he realised the true potential of BSkyB. Newspapers are in decline, the future is the internet and TV. Sky’ revenue is already greater than the BBC’s which combined with his remaining papers would place Murdoch beyond reach of any rival media circles and organisations. With this power he could begin to truly cripple one of Britain’s greatest institutions, the BBC. Any chance that Sky would remain a fully bias free organisation is impossible given Murdoch’s record with the Times, the Sun, the NoW and Fox News over in the USA.

We’ve made our move, it’s time for Cameron to follow suit and do the right thing and remove this poison from British politics once and for all.

Max