“Question with boldness even the existence of God” – America as a Christian Nation.

August 24, 2012

The often quoted claim that the United States of America is a “Christian nation” is not an attempt to link the percentage of the population who identify themselves as Christian, with how the Country should be governed; but is in fact a suggestion that the Country was founded by devout Christians, developing a country on the Christian system of belief and values.
This simply isn’t true.

The true genius of America’s Founding Fathers lies in their commitment to the separation of Church and State. It is impossible to quantify how huge an experiment this was. Church and State had been intrinsically linked without question for at least a thousand years. The merging of the two, was based on religious authority. To question that, was to question the legitimacy of religious rule itself. A truly revolutionary concept.

It is true that none of the Founders were Atheists, many were deists and highly critical of Christianity, and few were devout Christians. None were Theocrats. Christianity cannot claim the Founders as their own, nor can they claim the intention of a Nation built on Christianity. We Atheists, similarly cannot claim the Founders as our own. Neither have a strong case. To understand the brilliance of the Founders barrier between Church and State we must examine the context of the period in which they lived. We must not view them through 21st Century Atheism/Christian Right tinted specs.

1776 was a time far before Darwin produced the greatest scientific discovery of all time, the greatest story ever told; The Origin of Species. It was a time when, up until very recently, to question Church doctrine was punishable by torture, imprisonment, or even death. For over a thousand years the basis of government was questioned very periodically and with very little acknowledgement of the fusion of Church and State. The two were the same thing. Kings and Queens derived their ‘right’ to rule from God. That they were the middle men between God and humanity, and so they were not accountable to anyone other than God. Powerful barons at times tried to overthrow the Monarchy; Simon De Montfort (power hungry, had no intention of popular rule), Oliver Cromwell (Puritan; as fundamental as Christianity gets). But the logic that the Monarch derives their power from God was left unchallenged, and was still at the heart of the understanding of how Government works by 1776.

The Church was at the centre of the community. Education was predominantly Christian by nature. And Capitalism was developing in the Northern States whilst the Southern States seemed poised to hold onto an economic system built on slavery; the two systems would one day clash violently, resulting in the triumph of Capitalism. We almost instinctively link the birth of modern Capitalism to the United States. But Capitalism has its roots in Christian thinking. Weber once argued that the type of Protestantism that made its way to the United States in the 17th Century differed vastly from the old Catholic powers, in that it exhalted the importance of the individual and his/her duty to improve the materialistic needs of those around them. Before the Constitution officially separated Church and State we can see that the new Protestant work ethic surrounding the materialistic desires of the individual was helping to foster the atmosphere of a nation built around the individual. In this respect, Christianity played a pivotal role in the building of America.

During their schooling the Founders would have attended Catechism classes, sang hymns, and made to learn and recite Bible passages as was the norm for the education system at the time. The majority of the population would have been subjected to Christian literature, and not much else. And this is where the Founders differ.

They were all, without exception, members of the upper classes. Their education would have been mixed. It would certainly have included the necessary Catechism classes and hymns and Biblical recitals, but it would also have been mixed with new Enlightenment ideas coming out of Europe around the time. It is important to note that Thomas Jefferson was schooled in Latin, Greek and Classical Literature. His Philosophy teacher was a man named Professor William Small; himself a child of Enlightenment ideals. Jefferson’s philosophy lessons covered morality, ethics, and the study of early Greek atheist writers.
Benjamin Franklin was a student of the Socratic method, and idolised the Ancient Greek Atheist. Franklin himself states quite openly:

“I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life, I absenteed myself from Christian assemblies.”

Franklin exemplifies Socratic reasoning with:

“The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.”

– We may call Franklin a Deist, but I’m pretty convinced he’s as close to Atheist as the 18th Century could ever produce, given the lack of scientific understanding for much of how the World, and human biology worked.

It would seem that the United States of America, as a political entity is wholly secular. The Constitution itself is a beautiful piece of Enlightenment literature. It unequivocally states the end of the Divine right to rule. A 1000+ year old settlement that not even the Magna Carta could break. It gives power to the people in a way that had never been considered before. But whilst the political resolution was indeed secular, the majority of the American public in the 1780s, were Christian. But that is largely irrelevant to our understanding of what America “is”. For that, we have to understanding the Constitution, and the people who framed it. As already noted Franklin was pretty much an Atheist. Jefferson on the other hand, was simply anti-Christian. He was Deist:

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

“Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined and imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity.”

“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.”

“Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear.”

And, I think most importantly of all Jefferson’s writings…. a letter he penned to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802:

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State.”

– In fact, the Christian Right in Jefferson’s time attempted to block his Presidency based on the belief that he was an Atheist. Jefferson is a deist. He believed in a creator, but not the God of Christianity. He believed more strongly in the principles of the Enlightenment; individual freedom, the supremacy of human reason, and a binding separation between the Church’s ethical positions, and the State. He believed in certain teachings of Jesus (but denied his divinity) that supported the golden rule seen throughout the World and not limited to Christianity; treat others as you wish to be treated. This is where the new Christian Right and the Founding Fathers part ways.

The 1950s saw a new strand of Christian thought, moulded to political agenda with the Christian Right. This took on three branches:

  • Anti-Communism.
  • Hayekian Free Market Principles.
  • Opposition to social liberalism; values that appeared to be incompatible with traditional Christian thought.
    In short, it was a response to the massive changes economically, socially and politically taking place during the middle of the 20th Century. Science and technology were becoming ever more necessary and sophisticated. Darwinism was being taken seriously. Women were ever more liberated, working and forging careers. Immigrants from non-Christian backgrounds were arriving. Communism was supposedly threatening property and individual freedoms. The Christian Right could vastly broaden their appeal, if they aligned themselves with a political and economic view point that Government = bad, Corporations = great. Suddenly poorer people struggling to put food on their tables will vote Republican to uphold traditional Christian values, not realising that economically their neighbourhoods will be ignored, investment dried up, and any sort of Welfare help cut to within an inch of its life…. all for the benefit of a few wealthy tax cuts under the almost hilarious – if it weren’t so curiously dangerous – rhetoric of “Well, they’re wealth creators”. So, the Christian Right has a broader appeal.

    This merging of Christian fundamentalism with the Right Wing can be most clearly seen with its most revered members. Billy Graham managed to link Christian dogma with anti-communism and as a result, ranks a record 41 times between 1948 and 1998 on Gallup’s poll of Most Admired Men in America. The agenda seems obvious; align Christian Right Winged thinking with the National identity; make America a Christian-Right country, and claim it has always been so. And it’s had its successes….

    In 1979 Ronald Reagan appointed a man named Paul Laxalt as his campaign manager. Among the campaign team, and later the White House staff, Laxalt was known as the “First Friend” for his close relationship to the President. Laxalt, in 1979, whilst Senator for Nevada, introduced a Bill called the ‘Family Protection Act’. Note the naming of the Bill. Point three on my list above, points to opposition to social liberalism. This Bill is a prime example of that. ‘Family Protection’ is worded to suggest there is an imminent attack on YOUR family. Be afraid. Where does this attack come from? Well, according to the Bill; pretty much everywhere that isn’t fundamentally Christian. It restricted access to abortion, restricted gay rights, and offered tax incentives to stay at home moms. It is a curious paradox of the Right Wing; they claim to be anti-big government, yet enact very anti-Constitutional, anti-separation of Church and State, anti-individual rights, where ever those individual rights don’t suit their very narrow vision of what being an ‘American’ truly means; (Christian, white, rich, male).

    Like the rest of the Right Wing, Christian America holds Reagan up as a great President. The perfect Christian Conservative. It seems Christian voters are happy to overlook his disastrous Presidency (truly one of the worst in history – as I have noted in a previous blog), simply because his values were Christian by nature. Reagan’s legacy was one of homelessness, selfishness, arrogance, lack of compassion or empathy, hate, Corporate greed, death, and misery. All in the name of an economic policy disastrously known as “trickle down”. History will remember both him and Thatcher as little beacons of horror and misery for the majority. That’s all.

    Thankfully Laxalt’s Bill never made it past Committee stage, but the fact is that as small Christian Right pressure groups popped up during the 1960s as a way to counter the social liberalism of the day…. by the 1980s, they had members in both Houses of Congress, and very close to the President. This says three things to me about the nature of the American identity by the 1980s; people are willing to vote based on religious conviction, ignoring the economic implications of their vote. Two, most people in the US considered their faith to be of great importance. Three, those who do vote based on religious conviction, are anti-Constitutional in their belief that religion should play a part in the legislative process, and not simply be kept between the individual and their ‘God’. And Reagan was the ideal candidate to play on this anti-Constitutional religious dogmatic approach to politics. He was quite willing to break down the wall that was so brilliantly erected between Church and State some 200 years previous. In 1984, Reagan gave a speech the National Religious Broadcasters. The only President up until that point to agree to give a speech to them, in which he states:

    “Let’s begin at the beginning. God is the center of our lives; the human family stands at the center of society; and our greatest hope for the future is in the faces of our children. Seven thousand Poles recently came to the christening of Maria Victoria Walesa, daughter of Danuta and Lech Walesa, to express their belief that solidarity of the family remains the foundation of freedom.”

    – This irritatingly nasty little manipulative quote stands to try to define what it means to be a human being. God must be the centre of our existence. The family, can only possibly be a religious concept. To a Christian public angry at the social liberalism and apparent moral relativism born out of the 1960s, this must have sounded wondrous. It is also, of course, nonsense. The entire paragraph, utter garbage. Let us not forget that whilst Reagan stresses the importance of ‘our children’ for the future of the Nation, he was busy cutting away all social programs, oversaw the closing of schools and libraries on a huge scale, creating a legacy of child poverty that still hasn’t been fixed, ensuring that the gap between rich and poor widened beyond anyone’s expectations. This wasn’t a man who cared about humanity, or “our children”. But he believed in God, and so the public warmed to him.

    In 1988 Reagan completely destroyed any trace of Enlightenment thinking that brought around the creation of the secular United States of America with his State of the Union address, in which he states:

    Well now, we come to a family issue that we must have the courage to confront. Tonight, I call America — a good nation, a moral people — to charitable but realistic consideration of the terrible cost of abortion on demand. To those who say this violates a woman’s right to control of her own body — can they deny that now medical evidence confirms the unborn child is a living human being entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all federal funding for abortion — and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense.

    And let me add here: so many of our greatest statesmen have reminded us that spiritual values alone are essential to our nation’s health and vigor. The Congress opens its proceedings each day, as does the Supreme Court, with an acknowledgment of the Supreme Being — yet we are denied the right to set aside in our schools a moment each day for those who wish to pray. I believe Congress should pass our school prayer amendment.

    – Here, he completely reasserts the link between Church and State. He includes the famous phrase from the Declaration. He appears to be trying to link himself to the Founders. Suddenly political America has a “Judeo-Christian tradition”. This is a Theocratic President, not a secular, democratic, constitutional President. This is a Christian that the Founders specifically wanted to keep away from Government.

    The rewriting of history to suit Christian America is a regular occurrence from the 1950s until the present day. Somehow, it has managed to convince a Nation that “One Nation, under God” was always a part of the Pledge, or that “In God We Trust” always appeared on the dollar bill. Both of which are a product of the rise of the Christian Right in the 1950s. Jefferson and Franklin would have reacted with anger at the inclusion of “One Nation, under God” on any public institution.
    The rewriting of history doesn’t stop there. The Christian Right are experts at rewriting the Bible to appear to support their prejudices. As noted above, anti-social liberalism is a key ingredient in the making of the Christian Right, and this social liberalism extends to homosexuality. We see the influence of the Christian Right in the passing of the ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ – again… using ‘defence’ to hide the fact that they are slowly breaking down the barrier between Church and State, slowly eroding individual rights, replacing them with Christian theocratic ‘values’. The ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ states:

    “In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

    -If this isn’t a restriction of human rights, by a bunch of homophobic anti-constitutional theocrats, I don’t know what is. This is the ultimate in Government power over individual rights. It is a restriction on ‘love’. Which on the surface, appears to be based on Biblical principles, but underneath it is clearly a case of prejudice making its way into law. I say this, because if marriage were in fact based on Biblical principles, we could all marry our sister’s as advocated in Genesis 20:1-14. Or we could, by law, have a right to take concubines as advocated in 2 Sam 5:13
    and 2 Chron 11:21. Or that we’d be forced to shave our wife’s head as advocated by Deut. 21:11-13. Or a wife would be banned from offering an opinion of her own, especially in Church as advocated in I Corinthians 14:34-35. Or if a man rapes a virgin, as long as he pays, he is entitled to marry her as advocated in Deut. 22:28. Or we may take a child of a foreigner, and marry her, because by law she’d be our property, as advocated by Leviticus 25:44-46. And so it goes on. The ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ is simply a Bill of prejudice, and nothing else.

    What The ‘Defence of Marriage Act’ shows is how vast the Theocratic Christian Right has managed to penetrate a Government that was built on anti-Theocratic, Enlightenment principles. Language like “Defence” and “Freedom” and “Individual” when linked to Christian-inspired changes to the law, are an attempt to provide a direct link using secular language, to the nature of the Founding documents and the people who penned it, whilst being vastly incompatible with the ideals set out by the Founding Fathers as they seek to limit the rights of anyone who doesn’t fit the narrow band of “Christian” that they attempt to perpetuate. It is within this context that it isn’t surprising that the Republican Party requires the Christian vote to be electorally successful, and so with that need comes deeply anti-constitutional, anti-freedom policies designed to placate Christian extremists with regard to abortion, homosexuality,and the teaching of evolution above creationism (I refuse to call it ‘intelligent design’).

    The growth of the Christian Right seems to be a reaction to a perceived ‘threat’ to their understanding of how a moral society should work. It is true that Protestantism, as noted by Weber, set the ball rolling for the freedoms that would paradoxically come to shatter the grip that the religion had on the Country. The attempts by Reagan, and later by Presidential candidates like Santorum to make sure the wall between Church and State be forever knocked down have had their successes when trying to define the United States as a ‘Christian Nation’, but luckily the principles of the Enlightenment and the atmosphere created by the Constitution seem almost always likely to prevail, unfortunately the Christian Right will always have an incalculable affect on the nature of National identity within the very secular United States. It is the nature of a secular Constitution, a secular system of Government, contrasting with a majority Christian population.

    Nevertheless, it is within the atmosphere of an almost entirely Christian Nation, in 1776, before Darwin, before Einstein attempted to provide a theory of everything, before anyone had even suggested the model for the Big Bang; that a few men came together, and questioned the prevailing notion that a society should be based on religious values. People who insisted that reason and inquiry were key to progress, and who told us all to question everything, including the existence of a God. Were they influenced by Christianity? Of course. It would have been impossible not to be. But breaking the chains that Christianity had forced upon its subjects for so long, was an act of great rebellion. To build a country around these new principles was ground breaking, and without any precedent. To them, they were not building another Christian nation. They were building something that transcended religious belief. It is something the Christian Right have attempted to destroy time and time again over the past sixty years. For my part, I am with the Founders. Religion should be kept as far away from the public sphere as notably possible.

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  • There’s nothing for us here.

    August 12, 2012

    The majesty of the Olympics really has struck a chord with the UK over the past two weeks. This has to be down to the fact that we as a nation have absolutely no confidence in our sports stars. With good reason. Every year The Sun would ask “Can Tim win?” when it came to Henman at Wimbledon and every year the answer a firm “no”. Every four years we drape ourselves in red and white and pray to God that England don’t end up going to a penalty shoot out. And every time, our overpaid, over valued, and under achieving footballers let us all down. I get caught up in this myself. So, on the rare occasion that our sportsmen and women actually out perform even our most positive of expectations, a cynical nation suddenly takes notice. And so it was. Jessica Ennis’s utterly spectacular performance at the Heptathlon. Greg Rutherford came from nowhere to take the Men’s Long Jump Gold. Mo Farah became a national treasure for his outstanding performances to take the double Gold in the 10,000 and 5,000 metres. Team GB is third in the rankings, the highest we have achieved since 1920. Our sports stars have a lot to be proud of, and i’m sure they will lives in the celebrity spot light are just beginning.

    The organisation, the happy faces, the atmosphere in the country has been buzzing after months and months of grim economic news on a daily basis. And yet, through all the delight at the success of the Games, I cannot help but feel slightly uneasy at the comparisons between the riots in London last year, and the Olympics this year. There are of course comparisons that can be made arbitrarily if we must; both the success of Team GB, and the riots last year caught everyone off guard……. and that’s about it. Comparisons shouldn’t be made between the two.

    I keep hearing phrases like: “London needed this, after last year“. As if it is simply a matter of good vs evil. As if the Olympics has neatly patched over the problems that inevitably lead to social unrest; of which there are many. It seems as if the Olympics is being used as a tool to deflect attention away from what will always result in violence. The economic destruction of the country by the current government and a complete lack of opportunity is a wound that cannot be dressed so weakly by a sporting event.

    According to the DWP, the poverty rate in London is 6% higher than the average for the rest of England, at 28%. And it’s rising. 220,000 people live in overcrowded accommodation; 60,000 more than 10 years ago. Housing benefit changes mean people are struggling to stay in their homes. And whilst the outer boroughs are cheaper, they have even bigger funding problems; 35% of primary schools in the outer boroughs are overcrowded; 8 of the 10 primary care trusts with the fewest GPs per population are in Outer London, the unemployment rate in the poorest areas are at their highest levels in decades, and The poorest 50% have less than 5% of financial or property wealth whilst the richest 10% have 40% of income wealth, 45% of property wealth and 65% of financial wealth. – According to London’s Poverty Profile. And here is the most telling fact on poverty and inequality in the Capital: Babies born in Southwark, Croydon, Haringey and Harrow are twice as likely to die before their 1st birthday than those born in Bromley, Kingston and Richmond.
    So how is the government dealing with this? Well, whilst the riots were taking place, the Mayor was on holiday in the US. The Chancellor was on holiday. The Deputy Prime Minister was on holiday. The Prime Minister was in Tuscany having tennis lessons in his rented villa. And what we have now, is a situation where the government have insisted that it is for our own good, that the poorest areas lose housing benefit, Sure Start, youth clubs, libraries, and all hope that maybe the education system might provide opportunity (the end of EMA for example). All of this during an atmosphere of rising inflation, rising unemployment, a broken NHS, and the biggest double dip recession in 50 years. Any lasting hope has been cruelly ripped out of the communities that are the most economically vulnerable, and replaced by fear of losing everything, and we act surprised when this results in social violence? The riots may have appeared on the surface to be a bunch of opportunistic thugs. But the underlying issue, the social deprivation, high unemployment, high VAT rates, the end of EMA, rising inflation, the mass of cuts to youth services, and the unfair and shock economic violence by a government that has grown up enjoying the benefits of a strong public service, only to loot it when they came to power, thus burning the ladder up which they themselves climbed, is an obvious precursor to social violence from communities that feel ever more excluded.

    It is no wonder that riots appeared in London as government cuts began to hit. Islington, Hackney, Westminster and Camden all hit the top ten list of worst areas for child poverty in the entire country. And top of the list? Tower Hamlets. With this damning conclusion to the report by The Campaign to End Child Poverty:

    ‘The poverty line means that, after housing costs, all the household bills and family’s spending needs will need to be met by around £12 or less per family member per day.
    ‘For many families, especially those reliant on out of work benefits, it can be substantially less.’

    I’m pretty sure schools in Tower Hamlets don’t offer Archery as a subject.

    What has the Mayor, or the Government done to change the fact that over 53% of children in the borough of Tower Hamlets live below the poverty line? It is the worst area in the UK for child poverty, and one of the rioting boroughs…… The Government have scrapped community-based youth projects. Despite almost 3000 signatures demanding the service not be touched, by residents. Local community-based services were there to help the youth in those particular areas. They knew they area. The staff often lived in the area and had struggled themselves. And the government scrap it. Youth services; gone. Educational Maintenance Allowance to help young people stay at school; gone. Tuition Fees; tripled. Employment; non-existent. The UK now has the biggest gap between rich and poor than three quarters of the OECD nations. Reuters interviewed a man during the riots, who said:

    “There’s two worlds in this borough. More and more upper middle classes are coming and we’re being pushed out. The shops are pricing stuff like it’s the West End, we can’t afford the rents. We’re the outcasts, we’re not wanted any more.
    “There’s nothing for us.”

    – This is the economic backdrop that leads to social unrest. Jumping in front of the problem holding an Olympic banner is not the answer. Nor is it a way to deal with the problem.

    “London needed this”.
    Yeah, there’s nothing more that those whose youth clubs have been closed, schools underfunded for decades, welfare all but scrapped and jobs with regressing wages, struggling to pay for their homes love more than a government who spent the entire riots last year, in private Tuscan villas telling them that the wealthy man who had his own stables growing up, should be held up as their aspirational hero. “We know you can’t afford to live….. but at least we won the Dressage!”

    We see the the crowds, and the British flags, our Royals, and the wonderful music that this country has produced, and the athletes, and the spectacle at we can put on, and we rightfully feel privileged to be a part of such a great country. The Olympics has its place in the history of London. We should be proud of our athletes. They have done us proud in the sports arena. But it isn’t a bandage for the massive problems we currently face. The deep underlying social and economic issues that lead to unrest can only be sorted via real investment, and a strong support system in the most affected areas. The Olympics cannot do that. It is sport. It does not even begin to deal with the problems caused by an ideology that benefit those who can afford to live in a World where dressage appears frequently in every day vocabulary, and so destroyed the World of those who now insist “there’s nothing for us here“.


    Aidan Burley and the curse of the nasty Party

    August 3, 2012

    800px-Olympic_stadium_and_The_Orbit_during_London_Olympics_opening_ceremony_(2012-07-27)_2

    The Olympic opening ceremony was a spectacular representation of the progress from industrialism to, well, Dizzie Rascal apparently. I adored it. There cannot be many more years go by without Danny Boyle not becoming Sir Danny Boyle. Boyle’s opening ceremony expressed progression. He not-so-subtly directed the audience left ward. Though it seems to have angered the Right Wing. And rightly so. It was a kick in the teeth to everything they stand for. It was a display of the achievements of the Left in this country. Tory MP Aidan Burley tweeted during the opening ceremony with the following:

    This is the same Aidan Burley who was sacked as Parliamentary Private Secretary after attending a Nazi themed stag party, in which he himself hired Third Reich outfits and toasted the groom with nazi salutes. Burley’s credibility as a political commentator to be taken seriously, is hardly rousing.
    Unfortunately for Burley, the NHS (opposed by the Tories), Welfare (opposed by the Tories, at every level), and union advancements to fairer work conditions (opposed by the Tories), minimum wage(opposed by the Tories) and maternity pay(opposed by the Tories) is modern Britain for the majority of the people living here. It isn’t champagne, nazi themed stag do’s and taxpayer funded moat cleaning for the majority. It is multicultural, it is black, white, gay, straight, female, male and everything else. It is dole queues, and a lack of hope – largely the result of the policies of his Party. It isn’t just a golf course is Kent with wealthy businessmen and a group wank over their new yacht. I cannot imagine Burley is going to last much longer as an MP.

    Boris Johnson has said there was nothing left winged about it, Cameron has called Burley an idiot for suggesting it. They are both wrong. Burley is right. It was left leaning in nature. That’s why I loved it. To suggest the glorification of the NHS, of union advancements and of the suffragettes were not left leaning, is to suggest that the Tory Party had either supported all of those things, or played a part in them. This would be disingenuous and they know it. It works to the Tory Party’s advantage if they show how much they just love the NHS, if they keep quiet and reluctantly support the show of union advancement. Why let them have that? They achieved none of it. They fought it at every opportunity. So yes, the Olympic Opening Ceremony declared what every decent Brit cherishes; and none of it came from the Conservative Party.

    So everyone from the far left to the Prime Minister weighed in on this, attacking Burley for his tweet, and telling us all how wrong he was. That he should apologise. An embarrassment to the Tory Party. And I think that’s a mistake we on the Left make far too often.

    Burley is a Tory that has contempt for anyone that isn’t like him. But he isn’t alone. He is a regular Tory. They all think like him, the rest of them just have the sense to stay quiet. Or, Burley just has the balls to say exactly what he thinks. This is troubling, because come election time (as in 2010) the Tories can present themselves as new, cuddly, loving, ‘compassionate conservatives’, that the NHS is safe in their hands, that their budget will deliver growth and help for ‘hard working families’, that the likes of Burley do not represent the whole Party; because any outward display of their true colours is quickly silenced, not just by their Party superiors, but by the left. We demand apologies. This is in fact the British Left shooting themselves square in the foot, because it allows the Tory Party to engage with mass thought and mould communication around it. If we did not complain so loudly, the Tory Party would doubtlessly show themselves for the awful bigoted bunch of over privileged toffs that they have always been, rendering them unelectable. We now know that the NHS was not safe in their hands. We now know that listening to the advice of Britain’s biggest businesses when they supported the Chancellors plans to cut, cut, cut, was a massive lapse of National judgement in collectively believing they wanted to actually help the country rather than line their own pockets…. we know this, because it has failed miserably. We now know that they had planned to raise VAT yet cut Corporation tax and other wealthy taxes. We now know that many of their associates working for them keep their money in offshore accounts whilst shamelessly attacking anyone on welfare. The attacks on welfare are easy. These people do not fund the Tory Party, so they are unneeded; the country hates benefit cheats, because the media completely over hypes the situation, whilst the biggest cons – the tax avoiders who fund, work for, and appear in the cabinet (see George Osborne) sit comfortably dividing and conquering. But…. let them speak, their one weakness, their regressive attitudes to absolutely everything, and they will fall.

    Burley later attacked the decision to allow Dizzee Rascal to perform. He wasn’t sure why we allowed rap music to feature. A further attack on multiculturalism. Clearly Burley isn’t aware that Dizzee Rascal has four number 1 hits, a Mercury Music award, NME awards, BET awards, has worked to encourage youth voting, and is internationally known. This isn’t an obscure musician. This is a guy who epitomises a certain age group, a certain social and economic background, and has shot to the top. He is also from the East End, not far from the Olympic village. A global musical star, from that area. Seems like the right choice to me. Who would Burley choose instead?

    The two fundamental belief that drive everything the Tory Party stand for, that I despise are:
    1) The rich are ‘job creators’.
    2) Unless you are white, heterosexual, English born, and have a mind for business, wearing a suit the moment you were born; you are different, and different = wrong.
    Give them the opportunity, and they will express both of these dangerous ideas time and time again. They will play on prejudices to make sure their obvious bigotry is somewhat clouded – i.e- mention constantly how awful people on welfare are. Deflect the negativity onto those who have no real political representation. And it works, because a pessimistic population has no time to look into these claims, as everyone is working more, for less, thanks to Tory economic policy.

    The Tories are rather good at covering their inherent prejudices. If we take the case of Chris Grayling, the Minister for Work and Pensions; this man is a compulsive liar. But he backtracks. Or his lies are just forgotten; glossed over by the Tory spin machine. Usually compulsive liars; those whose lies become a sort of way of life, are nothing to worry about. But when they hold incredibly important offices with the responsibilities of those of Grayling, we must all be concerned. I would go so far as to suggest he has one of the most profound records of fabrication in any government of the post war era.
    As shadow minister for work and pensions, Grayling pushed the lie that £2.5bn was lost to benefit fraud in 2006 by stating:

    …billions of pounds are still being lost to fraud.”

    – Actually, less than a billion was lost to fraud in 2006. The National Audit Office who actually released these figures said that £690m was lost to fraud. Chris Grayling has never admitted his mistake here. It is also extremely odd that he seems to take offence at the morality of misspent taxpayers money, given that his Parliamentary expenses receipts show that he bought a flat in Central London, less than 17 miles from his constituency home, using tax payers money, and then renovated said flat, with tax payers money, claiming almost £2000 alone for refurbishing the bathroom. One wonders what taxpayers are getting out of the fact that he can have a more luxurious shit every morning? Or what taxpayers are getting out of his lovely new £1,341 kitchen And one wonders how this is any different to a single mother getting a few £ extra out of the system every week. In fact, it is worse, because Grayling is on a salary of £64,000 and has a house that was worth £600,000 in 2000, and two buy to let properties in London. Grayling spread the cost of the renovations on his flat over two years (one year would have gone over the maximum allowed by Parliament) claiming:

    …..decorator has been very ill and didn’t invoice me until now.

    Grayling, is a hypocritical, lying turd.
    After saying that he supported the right for B&B owners to not allow gay couples to stay in their B&B, he backtracked, stating:

    I am sorry if what I said gave the wrong impression, I certainly didn’t intend to offend anyone… I voted for gay rights.

    – Humble apology. Though a complete fabrication. If we look at his voting record on gay rights we find that….
    Civil Partnerships – Grayling voted against.
    Fertility Treatment for Gay Couples – Grayling voted against.
    The Repeal of Section 28 – Grayling did not show up to vote.
    The Right for Gay Couples to Adopt – Grayling voted against.
    – He couldn’t have lied more if he tried. There are more examples of Chris Grayling’s lies, blogged several times. The most prolific, and where I started my research is here.

    We know where their hatred lies. Burley disliked the left wing attitude that the Olympic opening ceremony took on. That includes the trade unionism. Is it any surprise a Tory Party member – whose current cabinet is made up almost exclusively of millionaires – dislikes a movement that protects those who do not have a voice in Parliament? We are all playing the Corporate game. They want you to work longer, for less pay, whilst the guys at the top do less, for more. Here is a government that have led the country into the biggest double dip recession in decades. They have blamed the unions, Labour, the snow, the royal wedding. All whilst giving the wealthiest a huge tax cut. It is easy. There aren’t many public services – Sure Start, libraries, youth centres – that would ever likely benefit Conservatives, so swap them for a wealthy tax cut, and they’re all happy. It seems we have become a country that judges its success on how well we treat the wealthiest. The balance is tipped in the wrong direction and it has all but destroyed the economy.
    In two short years the UK has gone from signs of growth and recovery (1.2% in the first quarter of 2010 – Labour’s last few months – staggering given the recession that we’d just come out of), to a shocking -0.7% drop in growth. There is no one left to blame. The economics of ‘businesses and rich people create jobs’ is a myth. Demand creates jobs, and by stripping the economy of demand as part of their unfortunately named “Budget for Growth” in 2010, the Tories have been given the harsh reality of making sure they only look after the people who fund them. Because let’s not forget that as part of Grayling’s flagship ‘back to work’ programme, the company Deloitte Ingeous was awarded 7 out of 40 contracts to get people back to work…… this comes after the same Deloitte Ingeous donated £28,000 to Grayling in 2009. The same back to work programme that found a certain Mr Stephen Hill fit for work.

    Stephen Hill had been referred to a Fit For Work assessment by the private healthcare company Atos, after signing up for Disability Living Allowance whilst waiting for tests on his heart. Despite the fact that doctors had diagnosed him with heart failure, he was still found “fit for work”. He appealed, and won. But the Department sent him another letter demanding a second assessment, this time whilst he was waiting for heart surgery. The assessor commented:

    “Significant disability due to cardiovascular problems seems unlikely.”

    Stephen Hill died a couple of weeks later. Atos have just won £587mn worth of new contracts to carry out assessments.
    Welcome to Corporate England, and the joys of private healthcare companies.

    A country works best with a healthy national health service to ensure healthy members of an economic community. It works best with a safety net to catch those who fall, or who cannot help themselves. JK Rowling famously defended the welfare state with this rather beautiful summation of how it works:

    I am indebted to the British welfare state; the very one that Mr Cameron would like to replace with charity handouts. When my life hit rock bottom, that safety net, threadbare though it had become under John Major’s Government, was there to break the fall. I cannot help feeling, therefore, that it would have been contemptible to scarper for the West Indies at the first sniff of a seven-figure royalty cheque. This, if you like, is my notion of patriotism.

    It works best when those who benefitted the most from a healthy public sector – roads, health, education – do not burn the ladder up which they climbed for future generations, as the Tory Party is doing now. It works best when we fight to protect the most vulnerable, not to force them to work in order for unemployment figures to look better on tomorrow’s newspaper. It works best when we focus on how our Nation treats our poorest, and not how many yachts our richest can now afford.

    Back to Burley. He is not alone in his contempt. Along with Grayling’s apparent dislike of homosexuality (and the disabled, claiming 75% of those on disability, were “skiving”), and the entire policy of forcing those with quite blatant disabilities back into work just to improve employment figures, whilst using the new found revenue flow to fund tax cuts for wealthy donors, other Tory’s have been quick to show, and then hide their true colours these past few years.

    George Osborne, the Chancellor, a noble post, stood up in Parliament, and referred to gay Labour MP Chris Bryant as a “Pantomime dame”, followed by a sickening smurk and a barrage of laughter from his pompous back benchers.

    “There is a real danger that the abolition of section 28 will lead to the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle as morally equivalent to marriage.“

    – Theresa May, the Equalities Minister. Seriously.

    “if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

    – Tory MP Philip Davies, after an act of vandalism which was later proven to have not involved any Muslims at all.

    “Feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots.’

    – Tory MP Dominic Raab.
    This is the same Dominic Raab who complained about tax payers money should not be spent on Government staff who are working on union projects. And yet, doesn’t seem to have a problem with millions of £ in taxpayers money being given to previously mentioned companies like Atos. Raab appears to rabidly dislike Unions marching, but has no problem with a company like Care UK majorly benefiting from changes to the NHS at a time when they donated £21,000 to the private office of the health secretary. Raab seems to have no problem with his party choosing Philip Green to head the “efficiency of government spending review” despite himself keeping his multi-millions in offshore accounts, being accused of excessive pay by awarding himself a dividend of £1.2bn, whilst his company avoided £125mn in tax payable to the UK, whilst also being accused of treating workers poorly by using sweatshops. By the way, the money spent on union planning that Raab is so angry about, came to £6mn. That’s about 20 times less than Philip Green’s company alone avoided in taxes. We see where Raab’s priorities lie. Alongside the rest of the Tory Party; with Corporate England.

    So you see, it is wrong of us to insist on silencing Tory prejudice. It is inherent to them. They are the party of big business and bigotry. The nasty party. They haven’t changed, nor will they. Shouting abuse at Aidan Burley will not make him change his views that multiculturalism is anti-British, or that the NHS, the suffragettes, and the union movement are all disastrous. He, and his wealthy colleagues are simply playing a Corporate game with the lives of ordinary people. We should leave them to spurt their occasional venom at anyone who isn’t like them. It does the right wing no favours, and can only turn voter after voter off ever voting for these putrid little scumbags ever again.

    And maybe, just maybe…. the ‘left wing’ aspects of the Olympic opening ceremony were used, because they are the things the British are most proud of.