Jill Segger's blog

Nothing to fear? Security, privacy and dissent

Nothing to fear? Security, privacy and dissent

The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has said reports that GCHQ are gathering intelligence from phones and online sites should not concern people who have nothing to hide. Hague's refusal – on security grounds of course – to either confirm or deny the UK's links with the US Prism secret surveillance programme is a source of further disquiet.

The sacrament of the teapot: resolving conflict in York

“I'll get you a nice cup of tea.” There can be few people in these islands – particularly in England – who have not heard these words at a time of distress. In shock or bereavement many of us will have smiled through our tears at being gently offered the national sacrament of solidarity.

Small circles and unarmed forces at the National Memorial Arboretum

Small circles and unarmed forces at the National Memorial Arboretum

War memorials and Quakers do not always get on. The kind of memorialising which is strong on military ceremony and pride does not sit well with us and we tend to avoid it. But we hold it important to remember all people killed in war, civilians as well as combatants. “This is the use of memory – for liberation” TS Eliot wrote in Little Gidding. And if we are to be liberated from bitterness, hatred and the propensity to pass conflict down the generations, we must remember well.

The Drones Quilt: stitching for Noor

The Drones Quilt: stitching for Noor

Last Saturday (27 April) demonstrators gathered for a protest march at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire from where drone attacks on Afghanistan are now controlled. On 7 May, the Drones Quilt – a project initiated by the Fellowship of Reconciliation – will be handed in at Downing Street. Between these two events, I heard a moving ministry from a Friend who had participated in making a square for the quilt.

Gove and Truss: an impoverished view of education

Gove and Truss: an impoverished view of education

The Department for Education and Skills appears to be channelling for some of Charles Dicken's more grotesque characters. Gradgrind Gove has long been preaching his gospel of 'facts' and rote learning. Now he has decided that children and teachers are not working hard enough and has called for longer school days and shorter holidays. His sidekick M'Choakumchild Truss, not to be outdone in ensuring that our youngest citizens should not be permitted to slack, has this week criticised nurseries which allow toddlers to “run around with no sense of purpose.”

A ceremonial funeral and a common destiny

A ceremonial funeral and a common destiny

“Lying here, she is one of us, subject to the common destiny of all human beings”. Speaking at
Margaret Thatcher's funeral yesterday (17 April) , the Bishop of London reminded us of what a funeral is actually about.

Margaret Thatcher: her legacy, her funeral and our future

Margaret Thatcher: her legacy, her funeral and our future

That a politician as divisive as Margaret Thatcher should polarise opinion in death is probably not surprising. Unfortunately, responses on both sides of the divide have done little but entrench bitterness and have pointed yet again to the sterile confrontationalism of so much of our politics.

Duncan Smith and the moral vacuum at the heart of our politics

Duncan Smith and the moral vacuum at the heart of our politics

On Radio 4's Today programme this morning, Iain Duncan Smith was asked if he could live on £53 a week. His response perfectly illustrated the moral vacuum which is at the heart of our politics.

One nation, aspiration nation or condemnation?

One nation, aspiration nation or condemnation?

Politicians tend to become grandiose when they are trying to sell us an idea. The rhetorical use of the concept of 'nation' to corral us together under a conveniently high-sounding label has, in recent months, tried to sign us up to being both 'one nation' and an 'aspiration nation.'

#TruthfromPoliticians: time to demand better

#TruthfromPoliticians: time to demand better

Not long ago, a solicitor who has recently started attending Quaker Meetings for Worship told me that over a lifetime of practice, he had on many occasions been impressed by Friends who would put themselves at a legal and financial disadvantage by strict adherence to the truth. Although this is by no means a virtue confined to Quakers, its absence is perhaps more common than its presence and has in recent weeks, come into sharp political focus.