Thursday, April 14, 2005

Matched to this hour 

To the adoption meetings last night for our two City seats. Guest speaker is Lord Dholakia, an inspiring and comforting performance. Inspiring to hear the basic Civil Liberty issues so clearly stated. Comforting, to find my party so firmly on the side of sense and right and decency.

My mother had the misfortune to experience rule by both Stalin and Hitler. I know from childhood story bones what it means to live under regimes that reject the standards of decent Civic and Liberal society. Part of my reasons for being a Liberal Democrat is to fight every step taking us towards such darknesses. The current Labour Government and the Conservative Opposition alike are playing fast and loose with freedoms won at great cost over centuries. This is a time that provides justification for a Liberal Party, defending such freedoms against frightened and sometimes popular attacks. I am glad to play my small part in this defence.

The manifesto is a good start. As Navnit Dholakia says there
“I have been been horrified to find that Labour doesn’t seem to understand that in fighting crime and terrorism, the point is to defend Britain’s justice and democracy, not give it away. ..We won’t surrender Britain’s liberties.”

Even the much-criticised Mark oaten says:
"This Government just keeps trying to take away citizens’ basic freedoms – such as the right to jury trial, or to demonstrate peacefully outside parliament. They even wanted the power to lock anyone up at the whim of the Home Secretary."

Lets show we have the passion and urgency to carry this message across the country.


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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Donald James Kennedy 

A good Scots name isn't going to hurt North of the Border! Great news for Charles and Sarah.

But really what are they going to do about the Baby Bond thrust on them?

My son was born literally into my hands. When he looked into my eyes the world turned quietly on a diamond around us and the future suddenly took on a near century more of urgency. However much you are told and sensibly think about it, the reality of a whole new person, as young as they come however old you are, is a surprise every time.

I look forwards to the energy of Charles' campaigning...


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Monday, April 11, 2005

Music for Freedom 

Some puzzlement at the choice of the Finlandia suite as the LibDem theme music for this election. Must have been a long night at Cowley Street speculates Simon Titley. But for me it looks OK (for sound I'll have to wait to hear the version used). The theme has been used as a song of freedom around the world - notably by the students at Tien An Men square before their demonstration was crushed.

For a background to the liberation themes in Sibelius' original composition see the Helsingin Sanomat.

Of course we could have used the original music for Calon Lan...


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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

05 05 05 and beyond 

A great initiative summarising and linking Election Blogs for the UK .

But just when we threaten to get a little bit parochial with British concerns in the runup to May 5th it is good to be reminded of the wider world especially that talking away in languages Not English.

The Global Voices Online blog looks like a real and fresh resource. Congratulations to all concerned with it. The Global Voices Manifesto says: Global Voices is an international effort to diversify the conversation taking place online by involving speakers from around the world, and developing tools, institutions and relationships to help make these voices heard.

This reminds me a little bit of the role played by FORTNIGHT magazine in Northern Ireland. For a long time the only place one could read in one place the lethally conflicting views of participants in NI events. Mind you FORTNIGHT didn't get too starry eyed in its self-descriptions.

FORTNIGHT is under threat for some inexplicable reason so perhaps we can get discussion of this globally...


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Sunday, April 03, 2005

A remarkable life 

Some thoughts,.

One I hope isn’t an urban legend. The then recently enthroned Bishop of Crakow, out ski-ing in the Tatra mountains accidentally crossed the border into Czechoslovakia. He was arrested and charged with two offences. Illegal crossing of the border and concealing his identity by impersonating the Bishop of Crakow.

No such anonymity at the time of his death for that young bishop become Pope.

There was never any doubt about his political impact in east Europe from the moment he became Pope. When he visited Poland as Pope the first time his celebration of Mass was carried on Channel 2 of Polish TV. Channel 2 because this had more restricted coverage and in particular was easier to jam so it couldn’t be picked up in then Soviet-occupied Lithuania.

There is no doubt he played a vital role in upholding the moral consciousness that led to the peaceful dismemberment of the Soviet Empire and the liberation of my mother’s homeland.

And he is owed deep gratitude for forcing all of us to face up to the true complexity of horrors that fell on the Jewish peoples of Europe and in forcing his church to face up to a truer knowledge of its place in those events.

But in the early 1980’s I recall the deep alarm of Catholic friends with background knowledge of Catholic institutional politicing about the pressures and directions of policy statements and institutional appointments. This disquiet continued right through to his death, tellingly in a more Samizdat and underground form. They (and indeed I ) would still see Pope John the XXIII as the greatest Pope of the last century in terms of living spiritual renewal of the Catholic faith and saw Pope John-Paul as dedicated to the long-term negation of much of the work of the Vatican II conclave.

The College of Cardinals, which can now vote in a Pope on a majority rather than requiring unanimity, is made up almost entirely of Cardinals appointed by the late Pope. I have expectations rather than hopes about the outcome of this conclave.

Peter Black's thoughts echo mine with a bit more hope ... I really do not expect a Liberal Voice in the Vatican, quite the opposite.


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