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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Faiths Forum statement on Woolwich

Following yesterday's appalling attack in Woolwich, I am pleased to see that the Faiths Forum for London has issued the following statement (, of which one signatory is the London Jewish Forum (on whose Steering Group I sit):

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The sovereignty of Parliament

My heart stopped when I just read the following words on BBC News ( "In the Commons on Tuesday, MPs will vote on an amendment to the Marriage Bill, put forward by the Humanist Association, to allow recognised groups to officiate at marriage ceremonies." I didn't know that there was an MP called the Humanist Association - what party is s/he? I'm all for lobbying by groups like the Humanist Association, but MPs' role is to seriously consider such groups' competing arguments and then to reflect those arguments in proposed amendments. The reference to "an amendment...put forward by the Humanist Association" is a little blatant for my liking. I know the world, but can we not at least maintain the pretence that MPs are deciding these things independently? Lobbyists must never be seen to over-reach themselves in terms of influence. My criticism of this BBC report's language is not meant to imply criticism of the Humanist Association or of its amendment. I remain a convinced supporter of marriage equality: and I would love to have been there to vote for it today.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Safe at School and homophobic bullying

Prior to reading Wednesday's Standard (, I lived in ignorance of the self-proclaimed, self-appointed "Safe at School campaign", one of whose member(s) is quoted as saying: "Parents expect a school to provide an education, not subject their children to gay propaganda."

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Litmus test for Lib Dem government

I hold no brief for the late Mr Jimmy Mubenga, who died in the midst of being deported from the UK to his native Angola after completing a two-year prison sentence for assault occasioning actual bodily harm ( We have rules about who needs to be deported and when, and that is reasonable. It is also reasonable for the deportees still to be alive when they reach their destination. I await the outcome of this inquest with interest. It is good that the Coalition Government includes Liberal Democrat ministers who can be expected to stand up for the rights of people like Mr Mubenga, however unpopular this may be. The more Liberal Democrats stand up for individuals' right to justice in all circumstances, the more people will understand what Liberal Democrats are for.