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Mohammed Amin
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I have no wish to defend every idiotic health and safety ruling. However I fundamentally disagree with Roger Scruton's proposition. The emphasis on health and safety saves lives and prevents injuries. I have no wish to return to the situation that prevailed a few decades ago.
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I agree entirely. I have been a fan of education vouchers since I first came across the concept in the early 1980's. I haven't checked but did Milton Friedman mention the idea in "Free to Choose"? Politically they are a difficult concept to get over. In particular if we are serious about the educational benefits, then vouchers need to be usable in fee paying schools as well so that there is a genuinely mixed economy of totally free voucher only schools, and schools charging varying amounts of supplementary fees on top of the state voucher. Our socialist opponents would paint this as a government subsidy to rich parents who already send their children to fee paying schools. Practical politics is likely to require banning top-up fees. Even so, they would dramatically improve the school system. We also need to allow "for profit" schools which take state pupils.
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I agree with Adam Afriyie's comments above. I addressed similar issues myself on ConservativeHome earlier this year in my pieces http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2012/07/paying-tax-is-not-a-moral-issue.html and http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2012/08/the-corporate-duty-to-avoid-tax.html
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Paul There are a relatively small number of socialists who explicitly argue for equality of outcome. A much larger number of woolly thinkers claim to support equality of opportunity, but actually end up arguing for policies aiming to achieve equality of outcome because they fail to think clearly. In my view the proper Conservative position is to support equality of opportunity along with a safety net for those who need it. Equality of outcome has nothing to do with Conservatism. However it is wrong to go from there to taking potshots at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, or even worse attacking the Equalities Act 2010. I believe strongly that discrimination on the grounds of any of the "protected characteristics" in EA 2010 s.4 is wrong, and it is the job of EHRC to help prevent such discrimination.
Toggle Commented Dec 2, 2012 on Equality at ConservativeHome | Thinkers' Corner
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I strongly support the point Roger Scruton is making. A further and important aspect of Labour's politicisation of this area is the "Public benefit" test that is now part of charity law. The reality is that it was introduced as a way of getting at public schools. Accordingly, it is no longer enough that a charitable institution provides education on a non-commercial basis with any surpluses being ploughed back into the educational activity. Instead it has to demonstrate "public benefit", a woolly test whose interpretation is led by socialists. That test is now being used to question the charitable status of the Plymouth Bretheren, and we can expect to see it misused more widely. A Conservative government should have the courage of its convictions and repeal Labour's public benefit test on the grounds that it was never more than a political deception.
Toggle Commented Nov 2, 2012 on Charity at ConservativeHome | Thinkers' Corner
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This hypothetical "ticking bomb" scenario has been around for decades, and has no more validity now than when it was first used as a discussion aid. The real world does not offer us the simplicities of test discussion topics for philosophy seminars. William Hague and indeed the longstanding position of our government and other civilised governments have it right; torture is wrong, and cannot be made right just because the rewards from torture may seem attractive in a particular situation. The USA and the UK suffered a terrible loss of moral authority under Bush and Blair, for which we will be paying for decades in the form of an increased threat to our safety. I applaud the current government for recognising that there is no conflict between moral values and our long term security interests.
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I agree with half of James Arbuthnot's proposition, namely that absention is not the best course of action for Britain. However the interests of peace, and Britain's own national interests, would be better served by Britain voting to recognise Palestine as a state which should be admitted to UN membership. Ending the occupation of Palestinian territory by Israel is best resolved by negotiations, but negotiations and UN recognition should not be thought of as alternatives. That is a false dichotomy.
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Of the three alternatives available, the Foreign Office has chosen the apparently easiest and least controversial option. However the British national interest would be better served by voting in favour of recognition of Palestine now.
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I note as well that this government has done nothing to restore the intent of marking Holocaust Day to its original form for marking the demise of six million Jews and continues to allow the civil service and other politically correct institutions under its supposed control to mark it without mention of the Jews, but emphasizing the deaths of a few thousand "minority" groups and adding the qualification that the Jewish victims are "alleged" to be ... I have attended the National Holocaust Memorial Day Commmemoration Event on several occasions, including the last two. I don't recognise your comments quoted above as having any correspondence to the events that I attended. Were you there or at some other event?
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As I explained in my piece http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2011/09/the-state-needs-to-exit-the-marriage-business.html the problems come from confusing two things: (1) A civil law relationship. Civil law is under the full control of the state and can be changed as the state wishes. (2) A religious relationship. Religious relationships are defined entirely by the views and beliefs of those who are the parties to the relationship, and the religious communities to which those individuals belong. The state simply has no power or legitimacy in this space. I fully support gay people being able to have the same type of (1) relationship as do I and my wife Tahara. Conversely, my religion, Islam, does not recognise any type (2) relationship between gay people. I don't have the energy or finance to be polygamous, and Tahara would never allow it! However if I wanted to take a second wife within a type (2) relationship, I would not regard the views of the state as remotely relevant. Conversely I would accept that the state did not regard my second wife as having a type (1) relationship with me.
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Footfall at the conference seemed much lower this year than last, and there also seemed to be fewer exhibition stands. The fundamental problem is that the leadership want a stage managed event for the media, which makes the main auditorium a sterile environment. The fringe meetings are far more interesting to attend. Accommodation is the really big cost; for me Manchester is free (my home town) but Birmingham is expensive. However I don't want to go somewhere grotty by the sea.
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I am all in favour of making whatever changes to community sentences that are needed to prevent re-offending. I also never want to be thought of as "soft" on crime. However we need to never forget how expensive prison is, and the extent of prisoner re-offending. What we need are innovative ideas aimed at a country without crime where our prisons are empty. Obviously that is an ideal, but I am concerned that too often parts of our Party automatically reject any new thinking about crime.
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Paul You raise some good questions. However I want to disagree with one of them. •Elected police and crime commissioners are part of the answer: they will provide that direct accountability so you can finally get what you want when it comes to policing. They are. But aren't the proposed areas too big to give local people a real sense of ownership - and thus make accountability work? In my own Thames Valley area, for example, do people in Milton Keynes really identify with people in Marlow. Do people in Denham, near the edge of London, identify with people in your own Witney constituency? To be a credible role, the elected police and crime commissioner needs to be able to hire and fire his chief constable. At the same time, large police force areas have economies of scale. You cannot have areas for elected police commissioners which are different from the police force areas. Small scale localism would be very inefficient here.
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Is a person with one parent descended from pure Anglian stock, and the other parent from pure Zulu stock, black or white, and are they immigrant or native? The fact that most people would categorise them as "black" and "immigrant" is a political decision, not a scientific one. eg I understand that Barack Obama ticked the US census box for "black" even though under US census rules he would have been equally entitle to tick the "white" box. His decision properly reflects the racism from white people experienced by people who are half black and half white. We need to overcome the obsession with race that many, including you, seem to have. I don't care what ethnic group someone originates from, and I don't care how recently his ancestors came to the UK. What I do care about is whether the person is a law abiding contributor to our society.
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The Founding Fathers of the United States got it right when they designed the US constitution. The right model is representative democracy alongside an entrenched Bill of Rights. Historically referenda have regularly been exploited by demagogues and tyrants. While I don't mind a referendum once a generation (although even then I regard it as unneccesary) I believe the modern desire for greater direct democracy to be misconceived. Almost all issues are not suitable for decision by the man in the street, and the death penalty is a good example of that. People should be free to organise what e-petitions they want, but Parliament should be equally free to disregard them if it wishes.
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I deplore anti-Semitism in all cases. However what particularly annoys me is anti-Semitism amongst Muslims, for the simple reason that I believe Muslims should be "The best of people" as stated in the Quran. Accordingly it grieves me when they are not. Historically, anti-Semitism is primarily a phenomenon amongst Christians. As far as I am aware, Hindu India and Buddhist China were not anti-Semitic, despite having small Jewish communities since time immemorial. Until the twentieth century, anti-Semitism was far rarer amongst Muslims than amongst Christians. Sadly modern Zionism has changed that. See http://www.mohammedamin.com/Community_issues/Anti-Semtism-amongst-Muslims.html
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Michael Gove is performing well in one of the most critical ministerial jobs. Any short list of key subjects will invite complaints from advocates of those subjects omitted. I believe that the list is as good as any. What really matters is to concentrate pupils attention on the subjects that matter, and to save them from being diverted into some of the "rubbish" subjects that lead nowhere. As someone who spent his career as a chartered accountant, I cringe every time I hear of another gullible young person who has been duped into doing soemthing like "business studies" in the sixth form. The Russell Group has recently done its bit, by making it clear that some school subjects are far more valuable than others, and publishing a list at http://www.russellgroup.ac.uk/russell-group-latest-news/137-2011/4746-new-guidance-on-post16-study-choices/
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It appears you are not familiar with the Australian phrase "Whinging pom" which they use to describe people from this island.
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Being 60, I have watched this debate running since about the age of 10. (I was politically precocious!)I will keep it brief. The European project has never been about just trade; it has always been about "An ever closer union". That is something I support, and its goal was to make another European war between states impossible. EU aspirations are what embedded democracy in Spain, Portugal and Greece after the dictators, and they are the main reason democracy embedded in Central and Eastern Europe after 1991. They have helped in the democratic reform of Turkey since the AKP was elected in 2002. The EU is not perfect; no organisation is. For many years it had a democratic deficit as the Member States had too much power and the European Parliament too little. The balance is improving. The EU would have become better, faster, if Britain did not have the schizophrenic attitude that it does. From the very beginning, the continentals have wanted us in because of our democratic tradition and leadership potential. However instead of leading we spend most of our time whinging, in true Pommie style!
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Paul There is a real problem for spouses in religious marriages, where there is not a civil marriage alongside. For legal purposes, the spouse is not married and has none of the rights of a spouse. It is exactly the same problem that a cohabitant has, when two people cohabit without getting married. However this well meaning attempt to address the problem is doomed to fail, and any attempt to implement it will lead to an outcry. It is as silly as requiring all cohabiting relationships to be registered with the state. When people make choices about their lives, the state should leave them alone. I see that as the essence of Conservatism. If they wish to have their relationship recognised by the state, they already have the choice of doing so, by entering into a civil marriage. In passing, I share the view of the think tank Ekklesia that the state should get out of the marriage business. See http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/research/papers/abolishmarriage Instead, the state should only offer civil partnerships on the same terms regardless of the gender of the two people concerned. If more than two people wish to have sexual relationships, in any combination, that is their business, not the state's.
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Anthony There is an APPG on Anti-Semitism. The full list of APPG's is at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmallparty/register/contents.htm
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I don't like the word either, and prefer "Anti-Muslim hatred" which is a closer analogue of Anti-Semitism.
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Helen No time or government money is spent protecting faiths or non-faiths from criticism. While I haven't trawled the Government's budgets, I suspect that a small amount is spent on our official state religion, Anglicanism. The need, which is a real one, is to prevent people being physically attacked or discriminated against because they have one of the nine protected characteristics set out in Equality Act 2010 section 4. One of those protected characteristics is religion or belief. I hope that you agree that people should not be physically attacked or discriminated against because they hold any particular religion or belief, even Pastafarians.
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Chris Allen's report is 58 pages long, but enough of a "page-turner" for me to finish it. I had read most of the internet available material before, but am grateful for his giving up a week unpaid to write it. "Islamophobia" is a word often either genuinely or deliberately misunderstood. Accordingly I am pleased that Chris starts with a nuanced explanation of its meaning. However it would be better politics to focus on "Anti-Muslim violence" and "Anti-Muslim hatred" because they are simpler concepts which are harder to misrepresent. The APPG has done the right thing in terminating its relationship with Engage, which was inevitable given Chris Allen's findings.
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