Terry Waite: beginning with personal reconciliation
In 1987, while travelling on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury to help in negotiating the release of western hostages captured by Hezbollah, Terry Waite was himself taken prisoner. He was held, largely in solitary confinement, for almost five years and was subject to torture and mock executions during the first year of his captivity.
Poor? Take more risks, says former banker Lord Freud
It has long been apparent that demeaning and demonising benefit recipients to provide a rationale for deep welfare cuts is part of the government's strategy. Given the distribution curve of human behaviours, it is inevitable that some who receive benefits will be feckless, lazy and scrounging, just as these defects will also be found in the more prosperous strata of society. Now, Lord Freud – the Welfare Reform Minister – has found a new slur to cast on poor people.
“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.” Tony Benn's words are no less true for being so widely and frequently repeated. That the failure brings immeasurable suffering which cascades down through the generations, is beyond dispute.
'Incentivising' pensioners: Lord Bichard and the fifth commandment
Today (24 October), a man with a substantial pension and a seat in the Lords demonstrated either his ignorance of, or indifference to, values which almost all cultures understand as underpinning the cohesion of a decent society.
Political speeches and the true 'greatness' of a nation
Writing in the Observer on 14 October, the paper's chief political correspondent Andrew Rawnsley presented readers with a composite of the speeches given by the leaders of the three main parties at their recent conferences. It is an amusing swipe at the banalities and dog-whistles of political rhetoric, which you can read here: http://bit.ly/UVtj78 but it is also a reminder of something ugly and delusional which underlies that rhetoric.
It may appear graceless to ask the question, but how likely is it that Andrew Mitchell would have managed even the evasive partial apology heard today if he had thought he could get away with his arrogant loutishness towards officers of the Diplomatic Protection Group and retain his job?
Our minds tend towards the creation of categories. The capacity to classify and order is the engine of learning and enquiry. When permitted to go unexamined, it may also be the source of prejudice and injustice.