Monday, June 20, 2005

More musings

The papers are full of the latest material about the European summit, which appears to be the same rather tired arguing about the same issues which went on in the Thatcher era. If Europe isn't to have a distinctive social model, and is to be a pale copy of the so-called 'Anglo-American' model, then the cynic in me thinks that the 51st State is coming ever closer. Having said that, the presence of two unpopular leaders nearing the end of their terms in France and Germany isn't helping. The CAP does need to be reformed, but as for the Blair vision, I can't say it excites me very much.

Our parliamentary constituency is essentially to be broken up in the next boundary review, and we will end up in a safe Labour seat. I wouldn't vote for the Labour incumbent, although this is likely to be his last term, and it made me think whether, had I not been voting in a marginal, I would have voted Labour, given that there was little or no real enthusiasm behing the choice, simply a desire to prevent a Tory government. However, there has been little or no evidence since the election that they have really learned from the experience.

A couple of examples. ID cards. I had mixed views at first. Being a non-driver, there is a practical case for them, as I often have problems finding suitable ID with an address, not having a driving licence. But the arguments being used in their favour are simply not convincing. They will have precisely no effect on 'terrorism', which seems to be the parrot cry to intruduce all sorts of anti-libertarian measures at present. They will undoubtedly be easy to forge, and will produce a new sideline in the creation of identities. And the cost issue is vital. It is an affront to expect citizens to pay for them. If the cost is £300 plus (as identified by former Labour councillor Professor Patrick Dunleavy of the LSE) then watch support flow away faster than high tide in Morecambe Bay.

And the Religious Hatred Bill. Again, I am in favour of its aims. The BNP use Islam as a convenient way of getting round the incitement to hatred legislation which currently exists, and I want that stopped. But I am ever more convinced that this Bill is not the best way to deal with it. The expectations of some groups arefar too high, and I think an amendment to the current legislation would have made most sense. At the same time, sexual oprientation could have been incorporated, as that will also have to be dealt with at some time. I don't think that many people would be in favour of a society where incitement to hatred is encouraged, and some of the claims of what the Bill might do have been fanciful and alarmist, particularly from Christian fundamentalist groupings such as the Evangelical Alliance (and generally, if they disagree with something, it usually means its worth supporting). But at the same time, there are many unanswered questions.

One thing which should certainly happen is the repeal of blasphemy legislation. Hatred against people because of their religious views is wrong. Criticising religion itself certainly isn't.

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