Thursday, 29 November 2012

bad faith

pic:Anglicans On LIne
this is the position that being in bad faith can get you into.  Bad faith is a bit like lying, only not quite.  If you tell a lie it all gets quite strenuous and tiring, as you have to remember to keep your story straight.  If you tell the truth it's much more relaxing, because you never have to remember your story, you just know it.  Bad faith is when you don't exactly lie, but you change the truth to suit yourself.  It's when, for example, you have a meeting and the meeting decides something.  Those at the meeting don't know at the time that a different decision has already been taken, at a higher level of the organisation than the meeting's participants.  When they discover this later, instead of simply noting it, and maybe wishing communication lines were better so that they didn't have their meeting in ignorance of important facts, they change the minutes of the meeting to make it look as though they had taken the same decision as the higher level did.  That, comrades, is Bad Faith.  And sometimes it's worse than lies.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

fixing Jim

as a retired member of BBC staff I received a letter today from the "acting Director-General", Tim Davie, (the letter is dated 15th November) apologising in "profound and heartfelt" fashion to every victim of abuse by Jimmy Savile, and asking me to give evidence to a review set up under the chairmanship of Dame Janet Smith if I have any information in connection with Savile's activities.  The appeal for witnesses makes reference to people "familiar with the culture or practices of the BBC during that time" (from 1964 to about 2007, essentially).  Well, yes I am, as I worked for the Beeb from 1984 to 1997, with one short break.  And I don't think anything I could report would be of interest to this review.  I never met Savile.  I was 30 when I started working at the BBC, so not a vulnerable young person.  But what are they going to do?  Dig him up and hang him?  Genuine paedophiles who have worked on children's programmes at the BBC over the years must be breathing a sigh of relief at this.  There must have been, and must still be, paedophiles working in children's broadcasting - because that is what paedophiles do.  They seek to have contact with children.  Savile was not a paedophile.  He liked girls who had reached puberty, but he liked them young and unprotected, so he cleverly found ways to be allowed to hang around hospitals and children's homes as well as TV studios.  He was a strange and creepy individual.  Everyone knew that.  People who watched him on television knew that.  And best of all, he's dead, so no-one has to go to prison, no-one has to give evidence in court - which might implicate others.  We can't have that.

I wish Dame Janet well with her review.  But all we need to know really is that in the 1960s and 1970s young girls got felt up, and worse, quite routinely, and it was not much disapproved of.  Now, it is disapproved of.  Good.  There has never been a time when it was thought OK to interfere with children.  So "culture and practices" are a red herring.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

letter to women clergy

this is a letter to the women clergy of the Anglican Diocese of Europe (who are many), sent out following the vote that there shall not be women bishops.  I thought it was worth reproducing, and I thank Bishops Geoffrey and David for sending it.  I got it from Bishop David's blog

Letter to the women clergy of the Diocese in Europe

Following on the failure of the proposed legislation to enable the consecration of women as bishops to gain necessary approval in the final consideration vote in the General Synod, Bishop Geoffrey and I have sent the following letter to the women clergy of our diocese: 

21 November 2012

To the women clergy of the Diocese in Europe


Dear Sisters

As a result of the vote in the General Synod yesterday,
there is deep sadness and disappointment felt by so many in our Church, and
bewilderment in the world we are called to serve. For both of us, yesterday’s
pattern of voting raises questions about the processes of the General Synod in
considering this kind of legislation. We know from the results of the diocesan
synods across the Church, including our own, that the Church of England does
want women bishops. The size of the majority which voted in favour of the
legislation at the General Synod yesterday confirmed this. However, as we know,
the hurdle to attain 2/3 of the votes in each house of the Synod is a high one,
and rightly so, when we need to decide on important matters which touch upon
the unity of the Church. In the house of laity there were 6 votes short of this

We have to remember that what was defeated yesterday was a
particular and quite complex piece of legislation. A great deal of work has
gone into this and much of that will not be wasted when, in due course, a new Measure
comes before the Synod to enable the consecration of women to the episcopate
and to make proper provision for those with theological reservations about this.

In the face of the widely shared disappointment resulting
from the Synod vote, we both want personally to affirm and uphold the valued
place that women priests and deacons have in this diocese. As an international
part of the Church of England, very much the Anglican Communion in miniature,
we in the Diocese in Europe are already aware of the blessings that women in
all three sacred orders of ministry bring to Churches of the Anglican Communion
in the Americas, the Pacific and Africa. Moreover, we observe very closely the
fruitfulness of the ministry of women bishops in our sister Churches of the
Porvoo Communion in Iceland, Finland, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, even while some
other partner Churches do not accept this development.

Let us pray earnestly for a healing of our strains and
divisions and that God will help us to find a way through these difficulties,
with wisdom and with generosity towards each other.

May God also grant us strength to continue to witness
with integrity to the Gospel of love, justice and reconciliation.

Your brothers in Christ

 +Geoffrey                                                                 +David

 Bishop Geoffrey                                                         Bishop


Tuesday, 20 November 2012

back to the kitchen

the Church of England says no to women bishops, and this issue may not be reintroduced for another five years, unless various chairs and vice-chairs call for it. Which I would be very surprised if they do.  Very sad, very disappointed, very much a backward step, it wasn't by much, but it was a democratic vote. The people have spoken.  How I wish they wouldn't, sometimes.  But there you have it.

Friday, 16 November 2012

grossly offensive

Steve Bell, Guardian today
this cartoon, because of the references it makes, is grossly offensive to me.  But I publish it anyway.  Those who complain to the management when I publish something on my blog that they don't like may complain about this Jew-hating shite and have me hauled in.  Anyone?  Anyone? *sound of tumbleweed*

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

cui bono?

yesterday's story about the trial of former MP Margaret Moran can be read here.  She did fiddle expenses, in a calculated and fraudulent manner.  Others have gone to prison, but she will not, as it appears she has had a mental and emotional collapse, and was absent because unfit to stand trial.  It is possible she will be discharged.  Whatever her state of health, it seems to me that if she is to be found guilty she should have a criminal conviction as the others did.  Otherwise justice is not served.  It will of course never be known how many MPs engaged in fraud over their expenses.  It can easily be discovered, and mostly has been since parts of the media got their claws into it, what irregularities took place - although when what was done was within the rules it seems wrong to punish people retrospectively.  I am referring to actual fraud here though.  Falsificaation of documents for financial gain at the taxpayers' expense.  All those who have stood trial and gone to prison have done so as a result of complaints to the police, nearly always made by former members of their staff or associates, within their own party.  As you might expect.  this is true of Margaret Moran too.  It follows that there must be quite a number of others.  Mr Salter, who was one of the few who committed fraud by claiming GBP 1000 a month for four years, from 1997 to 2001, for a London property he did not have, has had no complaint made, and so has not been prosecuted.  I suppose I should have made the complaint myself.  I may still do so.  What do readers think? To commit fraud in this way you need to represent a constituency which is reachable on a daily commuting basis.  Of that ring of constituencies around London, the MPs I knew all, with the exception of Mr Salter and Michael Trend, the then MP for Windsor, had places in London.  Mr Trend was found out - a disgruntled former member of his staff had him followed and saw that he drove back to Windsor every evening - and he had to stand down from parliament.  No need to have Mr Salter followed, he boasted that he went back to Reading every night, but I saw him fill in the claim forms for a thousand a month.  It was the Michael Trend affair which obliged MPs from 2001 on to provide their mortgage documents or rent agreement before claims for London property could be reimbursed.

Here in France things are rather different.  MPs do not have much scrutiny of their expenses.  They also do not have the media snapping at their heels every five minutes.

It's a sad business.  I'm sorry for those who went to prison, and I'm sorry for Margaret Moran.  They are all paying the price for what they have done, as they must.  I hope they all, including Margaret, come out the other side of this.  Paying  your debt to society means just that - once you have had your punishment the debt is settled and you are clean.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

James Walsh says Reading Labour is biased!

For those who have better things to do than pore over the comments on my blog, I give you the following comment, posted earlier today by someone purporting to be James Walsh, who is RATHER CROSS.  I am starting to have lots of fun with this.

ps I am not taking the post down, and will SEE YOU IN COURT if you are so minded. The original has already been on Facebook and Twitter, and this will be too. love and kisses jg.

Dear Jane,

Some serious allegations you make here – I trust you are able to substantiate one or two of them in a Court of Law?

I happen to be the James Walsh you refer to as a “nasty piece of work….who goes in for dog-whistle homophobic campaigns elsewhere” and this description of my character and previous activities came as a most unpleasant surprise to me.

I’m no lawyer but, in this one sentence, I believe you have both defamed my good character and damaged my chances of receiving an unbiased hearing at the forthcoming Labour Party Parliamentary hustings. Pretty serious stuff, I’m sure you would agree.

The recent addition of a comment by “Anonymous” is further evidence that your libel has damaged my reputation.

I take this matter extremely seriously and, as such, will be seeking legal advice on how best to proceed this morning. In the meantime, I suggest you think carefully before you post your scribblings on this blog in future and consider the effect your postings have on innocent people. I am by no means a wallflower, but your description of me and my work is extremely upsetting and completely unjust.

In the meantime, you might like to consider the following two actions:

1) Substantiate your claim that I am a “nasty piece of work” publicly with evidence. You may wish to contact Slough Borough Council, Runnymede and Weybridge Labour Party, Hammersmith Labour Party, Westminster North Labour Party, Bracknell Labour Party or Slough Labour Party during your research. I can also point you toward three or four of your former Parliamentary colleagues, including two former Ministers. If you need more sources should the evidence prove thin, I can point you to others from across the public and private sectors.

2) Substantiate your claim that I “go infor dogwhistle homophobic campaigns” with evidence. Again, please contact the above organisations for your evidence. I have also worked for a gay London-based candidate as his election Campaign Manager and I’m sure he will also be able to help - though perhaps not in the way that you now need.

As I said, I will be taking legal advice regarding this extremely damaging libel. I have taken screen-grabs of the offending piece and these shall be submitted as evidence.

James Walsh
8 November 2012 12:19

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Reading Labour selections

What is below is an edited version of a briefing I received from a well-placed political source.  Just sayin'...

The Reading West selection is between Groulef and Debbie Watson in a sort of New vs. Old Labour way (which seems curiously antiquated). Tony Jones is bigging up Richard Davies for East.  East is, according to a "local source", all about the local candidates but West is Labour's priority. (This is no surprise. Ed.) Davies is heavily backed by the 'young' Labour crowd - the new people that have appeared such as Duncan Bruce, who were all over Matt Rodda in 2011 but had ditched him by this year.    Page has been spotted lurking around Rodda but not Woodward.  James Walsh is a nasty piece of work who goes in for dog-whistle homophobic campaigns elsewhere.  But he won't get it.

Monday, 5 November 2012

a little cultural moment and some smiles

I have been taking photographs, headshots, of the congregation of the church I go to, to make a gallery for the benefit of us all.  Just a little project of my own.  The congregation is British, a lot of them international civil servants like me, and it is also African, a lot of them Nigerian, there are some French, some Pakistani Christians, who are anglophone, a few north Americans (including the priest in charge, who is Canadian of Armenian descent) and some Malgache (from Madagascar), who are francophone.  I have noticed some little cultural differences in people's responses to being asked if I can take their picture.  They are broadly these:
African men do not demur from being photographed, and smile broadly and openly for the camera.  African women do too.  Though every one of the African women, no exceptions, has asked me to show them the picture on my camera as soon as I have taken it.  No-one else has asked.  British men, without exception, make a jocular remark of some kind "Are you getting my best side?" that kind of thing.  British women, without exception and regardless of age, are self-deprecating, "I'm not photogenic". "My hair's bad today", that sort of thing.  None of the Africans, or the French, or the north Americans, says anything like that.  North Americans and French are not very likely to smile in photographs.  The British do, and the Africans do.  I have yet to take any pictures of Malgache people.  Will let you know if there are issues.

Friday, 2 November 2012

who volunteers abroad?

this piece from matador (where I had not looked before,and it is interesting), titled "Only WEIRD people volunteer abroad" took my eye this morning.  Hat-tip Andrew Wilson for putting up a link to it.  It is American, and it cites some research which shows, not very surprisingly, that the vast majority of Americans who volunteer outside the US are white and have a bachelor's degree and a family income above the average.  How else would they have the luxury of being able to do it in the first place?  Of course huge numbers of people, probably most people everywhere, volunteer in some way.  And a lot of those people are poor, and black.  Think of women in ppor neighbourhoods who do unpaid work for their church, or who look after neighbours' children on occasion.  Think, come to that, of people who feed  their neighbour's cat while the neighbours are away.  Volunteering is something most people are willing to do.  Those who reject the very idea, and who are firm in the belief that they will do nothing they do not get paid for, are most likely deluding themselves, but in any case tend to give the impression to others that they are narrow, life-hating and misanthropic.

Anyway, back to the piece, which I recommend you read, and click through some of the links too.  Nowhere that I could see does it stand up the notion that those who volunteer (it is really talking about relatively privileged young people from north America who go and do volunteer work in Africa or similar) are actually weird.  What it does indicate, backed up by research, is that large numbers of them believe that they are useful to the communities in which they volunteer, because they are better at what they do than a local person would be.  That surprised me a bit.  My American niece (OK, her parents are British-born) volunteered with the Peace Corps in Togo several years ago, and was very clear that for her this was going to be a learning experience.  She had never set foot in Africa before that.  She would learn, and if she could be helpful while doing so all to the good.  She took French classes before going there, and remains fluent in French.  My British niece volunteered in Tanzania at a slightly younger age, and for similar reasons and with similar objectives.  Tanzania is anglophone, so she had less need of prior language classes.  I don't believe either of them thought they could do local things better than locals could.  Perhaps it is normal for Americans to think so, as the research behind this piece indicates. Maybe that is what is intended to be understood as weird about those people - that they would think they could run an African clinic better than an African could.  But hey, maybe they are right.  Maybe it is wrong to assume that because someone is local they will be good at running a clinic, or teaching children, or whatever.  Still less that they will be better at it than a non-local because of their origins or ethnicity.  Maybe the wrong question is being asked, or answered.

What struck me here too was the testimony of an American who volunteered in Italy, I think it was earthquake relief.  She sounded scandalised that an acquaintance had been turned down for volunteering for earthquake relief in Japan because they could not speak Japanese.  She herself had gone to Italy speaking no Italian, and described the language barrier as a personal difficulty for her, rather than as a difficulty for the local colleagues she was working with, which it undoubtedly was.  If someone had come to work with her int he US with no English she would have treated it as a personal difficulty for herself, no?  Why did she not take an intensive course in Italian before going there?  Bizarre.  Did no-one suggest it to her? Perhaps readers of a north American persuasion can confirm (or deny) that north Americans really do refuse to learn the language of a place they are intending to spend some time in.

Personally, I have my doubts.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

why oh why?

what's the connection?
plenty of bandwagon jumping has been going on, we are told.  First there was a memorial ceremony in Reading for LibDem former mayor Jim Day - I remember him as Not Safe In Taxis, as they used to say - which, inexplicably, Mr Salter attended, making a speech about himself, which was described by one who was there as "totally inappropriate".  Why was Mr S there?  He was MP for Reading West, which includes the Tilehurst area represented by Jim Day for many years.  OK.  But Mr S spent almost all his time as MP prancing about and doing photocalls in Reading East.  And for quite a lot of Jim Day's time the MP for Reading West was Sir Anthony Durant.  Is Sir Anthony still alive?  If so was he there?  If not why not?  Mr S has form on this.  When a person who has or has had prominence in Reading political life dies Mr S forces himself on the family, pestering the grieving relatives until they give in and let him speechify about himself at the obsequies.  He's even done it to the families of murder victims. Jim Day was mayor, there must have been some civic input into the memorial, so why was Mr S allowed to take it over like this?

The picture, from His Master's Voice, shows an event held (now we're getting back to normal) in Reading East, at the Pakistan Community Centre, at which a German former journalist was promoting her book about her conversion to Islam.  It might well have been an interesting event.  You can see though from the picture that Mr S is not pictured with the author, meaning that he was not directly associated with the event, but he was present there (you can see the publicity behind him) promoting something quite different.  So why was Mr S at this event?  Was the Reading East MP invited to this event in his constituency?  If not why not?

Mr S is promoting a "big get-well card" for Malala Yousafzai, the girl shot by the Taleban for speaking out for education for girls.  A bit late to support her now, after she has been shot.  Mr S has visited Pakistan, once to my knowledge, in the company of, and as the guest of, male dignitaries of Pakistani origin from Reading.  Nowhere around that visit did he speak out for girls' education or against the Taleban.  Quite to the contrary, he gave a platform to known Taleban supporters who said they would not let their daughters go to school. And of course we all know that back in the day he marched with the book-burners of The Satanic Verses.  There were informal groupings in Parliament on these matters in my time there, including one which raised money and awareness for girls' education in Afghanistan.  I belonged to this group and donated to a girls' school in Afghanistan.  Mr Salter did not. I currently help to support five children in Pakistan, contributing so that they can attend a school which educates both boys and girls, together.  Does Mr Salter do any of these things?  He did not in his time in Parliament, and had nothing to say on the subject.  So why is he promoting this now?

Why?  Mr Salter has only ever promoted anything, or publicly supported any cause, if he sees it as in his own interest.  The Angling Trust, which Mr S told us loudly a while ago that he was now organising, has gone rather quiet, and it has been weeks since we have seen any pictures of Mr Salter gurning at parliamentary receptions on their behalf.  So I imagine he has moved on to other things.  The question is what?  I thought an elected mayor of Reading had bitten the dust as a notion.  But maybe not.  And maybe he just needs a job.  I remember him saiying, as if it were something profound he had only just thought of, "there's nothing so ex as an ex-MP".

Why?  Not only why is he doing this but why, apart from the usual obligations His Master's Voice has to copy out everything Mr Salter sends them, is his appearance being publicised in this way?  I only ask.