River Wissey Lovell Fuller


November 2010

Ron has a few words to say about the EU, the Pope's visit

and suicide doors!

The EU

I was always in favour of the Common Market, I have to admit that I was even prepared to consider a more federal Europe. That was in the days when we were really talking about Western Europe only. My enthusiasm has decreased as the number of countries included has increased. I still see the value of a common market, but the EU has become much more than that and it has tried to spread eastwards and embrace countries where the cultural and economic differences are too wide.

In my view Turkey is very much a country too far.

Turkey is a large country with a population considerably greater than ours, although it has a developing economy it still has very many people very poor by western European standards and who will be free to come to Britain if Turkey is admitted. Turkey is firmly located in Asia with borders on Iraq and Iran, the principal religion is Islam with a significant proportion of the population devout followers. Its culture is very different from ours. The army is largely in control and the democratic credentials are questionable. Their record on human rights is appalling, especially in their dealing with their Kurdish minority and there is an ongoing war with Kurdish rebels that has resulted in very many deaths.

Tony Blair has urged the EU to accept Turkey as a new member and I understand that David Cameron is also supportive. No doubt they are motivated by the prospect of trading opportunities and are pressured by lobbying from big business, but I fear Turkey's entry would bring many social problems for ordinary folk in the EU and for their governments. Fortunately the governments of Germany and France, as well as some others, are not quite so easily influenced by capitalist moguls. Let us hope that the views of those EU countries opposed to Turkey's entry will prevail.

The Pope's visit

That was interesting. Of course it was a state visit, the Vatican is a 'state', and that brought with it more pomp and more expense to the poor old taxpayer. How come the Vatican is a state? I tend to associate 'state' with 'nation'. How does any country or nation become a state? But the Vatican is neither a nation nor a country.

Despite laying out the red carpet, however, we were told by a leading member of the Pope's team that we were like a third world country and one of the most irreligious countries. Presumably both comments were intended as some sort of insult. Certainly to be told that we were like a third world country was rather insulting but I would regard being told that we are irreligious as mild praise, it implies that we are a thinking nation not given to blindly accepting dogma and seeking evidence to support claims, especially the more incredible claims. The Pope himself went on to say that we are becoming a more secular state and that Christianity is under attack by aggressive secularism. There is no denying that we are more of a secular state than we once were, I have read that roughly 900,000 people attend Anglican Mass each Sunday, possibly a similar number attend Catholic mass, and with considerably fewer attending the services of other religions. Whilst recognising that there will be many others who might regard themselves as religious, with a population of some 60,000,000 it would seem that the secularists are probably in a majority, but secularists are not Nazis, they are not attacking anyone.

Nobody is trying to prevent Christians from following their beliefs but it is not unreasonable to ask where the evidence is to support their beliefs. Neither is it unreasonable to ask why this minority group should have such sway in the country with so much influence in government. Bishops are in the House of Lords as a matter of right and Christian organisations control almost half of the state primary schools. Secularists are not attacking Christians, all we ask is that those responsible for abusing children are dealt with by the law; that gays and women should have the same rights as everyone else; that individuals should be free to use contraception; that children should be encouraged to think for themselves and not exposed to dogma, and that the state should cease giving financial aid to those that oppose these requests. The religious have nothing to fear from a secular state, it is only a secular state that can ensure freedom for the religious to pursue their faith, whatever faith that might be. A secular state will deny the right of any religious group to feel so insulted by the lawful actions or comments of others as to commit violent acts. Throughout history the religious have resorted to torture and even murder of those who chose not to accept their faith, it is not the secularists that are aggressive.

Suicide Doors

When I wrote on this topic last month I felt sure that I had seen a new car with its rear doors hinged at the rear, but I could not identify it and wondered if I had been mistaken. I wasn't, the new Vauxhall Meriva has such doors, I hope others will follow suit.

Ron Watts

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