If you can play football on Christmas Day, why shoot each other on Boxing Day?
Shortly after Christmas 1914, an order was issued by John French, the general in charge of the British troops on the Western Front. He had heard of the informal truces that had broken out along the front on Christmas Day. He ordered that such events must never be repeated. A year later, ahead of the following Christmas, soldiers were reminded that they would be charged with disobeying orders if there was another truce.
In recent years, Britain has slowly begun to wake up to the reality of sexual abuse. The Jimmy Saville scandal triggered shocking revelations about abuse carried out by respected entertainers in the 1970s and 80s. Child abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church have been followed by increased reports of similar outrages in the Church of England. Only this week, it was revealed that the Scout Association had paid out thousands to settle legal cases brought by survivors of sexual abuse.
Exeter students reject arguments in favour of First World War
I had the privilege last week of speaking at Exeter University Debating Society, opposing the motion that “This house believes that World War One was a great British victory.” I am pleased to say that those present voted against the motion by seventy votes to forty.
Government minister to argue First World War was "a great British victory"
Andrew Murrison MP is the government’s special representative on the World War One Centenary Commission. At Exeter University tomorrow (14 November), he will propose the motion “This house believes that World War One was a great British victory.” I have been asked to oppose the motion.
One sign of the impact of militarism is the number of progressively minded people who express a belief in peace but support war once it is proposed. This is rather like being teetotal until you're offered a drink.
Will a Yes vote in Scotland mean the end of Trident?
I wrote yesterday, 16 September 2014, about attitudes in England towards the Scottish referendum.(http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20831) England, Wales and Northern Ireland – as well as places further afield – will be affected by the result. Like many English people hoping for a Yes vote, I’m motivated mainly by a desire to get rid of Trident.
I've been wary of blogging about Scottish independence, not least because I'm well aware of how many English people are writing about it in a way that implies they know more than the Scots. It seems that the referendum debate is engaging thousands of people in Scotland who were previously seen as apolitical. I don't doubt that they know more about the issues than commentators in London.
The political figures of my youth are gradually dying off. Ian Paisley has joined Tony Benn, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan in the ranks of dominant figures of the 1980s who are no longer with us.
Do they expect us to believe it all again? With weary familiarity, I have been reading the government’s claims that we face a heightened “terror threat”. UK governments have been making this claim every so often since 2001. It is usually followed by a fresh restriction of civil liberties or the departure of British troops to yet another war zone.