The Communion of Saints

The Communion of Saints
I hope there's room for me.

Welcome all - especially Mancunians.

Hello anybody lost in the blogosphere. Welcome to the ruminations of a politically left of centre, Man United supporting, blues loving, history-fixated, Catholic wanderer. Be warned, I am a bit of a curmudgeon.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Who to vote for: Major or Minor?

The voting slips are out and it is time to decide who to vote for....exciting hey? Well, no - not really. Who do I want to support for the leadership of the Labour Party? It isn't easy at all; David Miliband doesn't represent enough of a radical break with the Brown/Blair past, a fault for all of the male candidates for the leadership as it happens. They were all, whatever Ed Miliband might now claim, tied in with the decision to go to war in Iraq, to support small-minded policies on immigration, not oppose the removal of the 10% tax bracket for the lower-paid, to introduce the appalling ID card system, support the sort-touch regulation of the markets and be mealy-mouthed in dealing with the issue of European Union expansion.

So, one might ask, why not support Diane Abbott? Well, putting aside the whole issue of wanting somebody electable for the British public, how is it possible to support somebody for whom disloyalty has always been a watchword? She is a rentaquote and in love with her media image and, more worryingly, doesn't let her left-wing politics translate into sending her son to a state school, despite her long-held political views. So, actually, not really that different to the rest of the candidates.

I like Andy Burnham's ideas on tax and think he is more human than the rest of the candidates, although he hasn't much hope of winning. The cards have been too heavily stacked against him from the beginning. Having said that, he represents the place he was raised (not a Scouser, as it happens, but in Leigh, Greater Manchester), sounds different from the other candidates and his heart appears to be in the right place. Also, I admit, his being a Catholic helps his case for me although I am not that sure whether I am happy with him on a few issues.

So - that is my first vote out of the way...what about my second and third? Not Diane Abbott, disloyalty always annoys me. I dismiss support for Ed Balls for the same reason - he was the main cheerleader for Gordon Brown when they spent years trying to push Blair out with no concern of the consequences for the party. So Ed M, or David M?

I took the 'compatibilty test' with The Guardian and it came up with Ed but there is a something of the born-again lefty about Ed; I am sure he will revert to type once elected. As for David M - he looks the part, but so what? He has held a major Office of State and served with a certain amount of panache, but that is no reason to elect him. He rightly points out the good things Labour did in Government and does not resile from the mistakes, which is a reason to show him some respect.

The truth is, I am not sure and don't dislike either of them enough to oppose them by voting for the other.

I am no nearer an answer - any suggestions?

Thursday, 19 August 2010

France's use of Roma as a political tool brings up the stench of Vichy.

Today we read that France has begun the process of deporting 700 Roma - the first of many moves to remove European Union citizen's by force. This follows the forcible closure and destruction of 51 Roma sites by the French police. Another 250 have been targeted.

This is the 'measured' response of the embattled, corruption-tainted presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy. As his poll-rating tumbled he seized upon the incidence of a riot by Romanies involving an attack upon a police station following the killing of a Romany teenager.

The Roma have been offered 300 Euros to leave voluntarily - only 79 have taken up the offer. It puts me in mind of the money offered by BNP leader Nick Griffin to 'encourage' foreigners to leave Britain.

Let us not forget the history of the Romany people: pilloried, enslaved and persecuted throughout the centuries under regimes of all political flavours; it seems acceptable, even under a liberal democracy, to hate the Romany people. If you think I am exaggerating, replace the name of any other religious or ethnic group into any headline containing the words Gypsy, Roma, Romany, Traveller and see how comfortable it makes you feel.

Even worse - consider the fact that the Romany people were, along with the Jews, targeted for complete annihilation by the Nazis and somewhere around a million were slaughtered. No homeland for them after the war, no worldwide respect for their suffering, no abatement of the racism towards them.

We can try to comfort ourselves with the knowledge that France has form - look at the deportation of Jews from France during the war, not just by the occupied French, but also volunteered by the collaborationist government of Vichy France. However, you only have to look at some of the stories about Travellers our newspapers print (alongside the cartoons they use to illustrate them), the laws our government pass or the unsubtle campaigning of all political parties to recognise that we have no reason to feel comfortable with our own treatment of this much maligned community.

What the French government is doing is despicable; sadly, it is not surprising, We should be ashamed.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Why CatholicLeft?

It has been a source of no little irritation to me over the years to be described as a liberal, a commie, a trad, a conservative.....among many other less thoughtful epithets. The one I most dislike is to be referred to as a left-wing Catholic, because this suggests that my politics inform my faith when, in truth, my faith has always informed my politics.

I am on what would be called the left of the political spectrum because of the drive to care for the most vulnerable, the weakest, the least supported that has been instilled in me through my faith. I never cease to be amazed at how often politicians enter politics expressing their faith and then allowing themselves to be frightened away from the policies that had first driven them through fear of upsetting their local parties, their whips or, most tellingly I would suggest, their ambition.

Don't get me wrong, some people truly change their minds but some, not so much.

So - this is me - a Labour man who fell out with them over their appalling views on immigration, dropping into the slogans of the right-wing ('British Jobs for British People' - hmm, where have we heard that before?), the Iraq War, their reprehensible treatment of Travellers, increasingly regressive views on criminal justice, a slavish concern not to upset the right-wing press with progressive taxation and a fear of taking us forward as leaders in the European Union. There is more but that can always come up again.

I am not a Liberal Democrat and won't vote for the 'all things to all people in order to get elected party' that it has always been and I am not in the least surprised to see them in coalition with the Conservatives.

So - I am Labour man wanting to see Labour return to its roots and to being open to those with different views on the Left and not being such a bunch of control freaks.

Socialist? Probably.....Christian Democrat?  Only in the most general sense....Social Democrat? Not of the Gang of Four school. I am a Catholic Left-winger.