I haven’t blogged for a few days. It’s not that I have nothing I want to say, it’s just that I’m finding it hard to find a way to say it. So to start the week, I’ll just pick up on a few of the things that caught my eye …
NEW GENERATION LABOUR MY A***
New Generation Labour under Ed Miliband repudiated the Iraq War – at last. Did that take courage? Not an ounce – it was the only way to appear to put a stake through the heart of New Labour, and distance himself from the Ancien Régime. It lasted as long as the Labour Party Conference – he promptly reinstalled in his new shadow Cabinet prominent members of the contemptible bunch who supported Blair and his wars blindly and uncritically.
He had little choice, because nothing has changed in the thing the People’s Party became under Blair, Brown and Mandelson.
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
LABOUR AND TORIES IN THE DOCK
Yet another former Labour Minister, Denis MacShane, has been passed on to the polis (Scotland Yard) by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and has been suspended by the Parliamentary Labour Party.
He may soon join four of his former Labour colleagues in facing criminal charges, three former Labour MPs - Jim Devine, Elliot Morley and David Chaytor – and the current MP for Barnsley, Eric Illsley (currently suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party).
He may also enjoy the company of two suspended Tory Lords, Lords Hanningfield, and Lord Taylor (who faces criminal charges).
Need I mention in passing that Labour hopes to form the next government in Scotland? (The Tories have as much chance as they have of passing Annabel Goldie through the eye of a needle.)
CONSULTANTS AND THE REVOLVING DOOR
Last week a probe was demanded into the handing out of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money in fees to consultancy firms run by former employees. (The total forked out to consultants by the Scottish Government is in excess of £100 million pounds a year.)
As a former management and training consultant for many years, I can say with confidence that a large part of consultancy contracts are awarded in a manner that ranges from contractual, resourcing and negotiating incompetence to practices that can only be described as dubious or unwise at best.
I have repeatedly offered to those in government who might benefit from it free advice on resourcing management and training consultancy, and my 12,000 word paper on the subject. I published this paper in full on this blog over a number of instalments (now withdrawn). The response was a deafening silence. I tended to draw certain conclusions from that silence, but just in case I am mistaken, I repeat the offer -
I will be happy to mount a one-day seminar, totally free of charge, to any Scottish Government agency, offering advice on dealing with providers of management and training consultancy services, backed up with a free 12,000 word manual on the subject. In these challenging economic times, the saving potential from £100m is not to be sneezed at.
PSEUDO SCIENCE HEADED FOR OUR SCHOOLS
Mumbo jumbo and gobbledegook is headed for Scottish schools from a group of creationists promoting ‘intelligent design’. C4ID is comprised of a number of people with a fundamentalist Christian background. They view biblical passages as literally true, rather than as myth or legend, or poetic imagery for primitive peoples.
Those involved occupy significant positions in academia and medicine, and have high academic qualifications. In case you think that somehow makes their scientific position on evolution and creation a respectable alternative to established science, it should be pointed out that high intelligence and formal qualifications are no barrier to holding barmy ideas, as even a superficial knowledge of history demonstrates.
When religion enter the equation, rationality rapidly exits by the nearest window, and George Orwell’s doublethink – the ability to hold two contradictory proposals in the mind at once – reigns supreme.
Someone once said “The highly intelligent tend to become credulous just at the point that the ordinary man becomes sceptical”. An example comes to mind of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and the Cottingley fairies.
Once the a prioiri assumptions are made that a Supreme Being exists and the Christian Bible, in the King James version, is the unchanging, literal Word of God (instead of being in reality a highly-contested selection (by Christian and other Abrahamic religions) from many ancient manuscripts, mainly Jewish in origin, written by a wide range of scribes in the pre-Christian era and the very early Christian era, mostly unknown, subject to multiple competing interpretations from within the Christian religion itself, and only one of a number of competing bibles) then anything is possible.
The bolthole of faith - i.e. belief without evidence or open to the light of reason and logical questioning and evidence-based analysis – becomes the refuge from any challenge.
It then becomes a burning imperative to implant these a priori assumptions in the young before they are mature enough to understand and apply the process that has lifted the human race from primitive superstitions and dogma – the scientific method. When we observe this insidious process in totalitarian societies that we don’t approve of, we call it indoctrination and brainwashing, but when practised by religion, we smile indulgently and avoid thinking about its dangers, especially to our children and our democracy.
I told two old friends recently a story of my early teens, when a friend and I were being questioned by the police after causing a minor disturbance in a public building. We offered our incredible defence to a big Glesca polis, and advanced our credentials as two good, churchgoing boys.
We got a long look from him, then he said “You know how the bible says Jesus wance walked oan water? Well, that’s nothin’, boys – I wance rode right up the Clyde oan a bike …”
Watch out for material and influences heading for your schools that say the world was created in 4004 BC (around the time we know that man domesticated the dog), that Adam was a real person, and that evolution is “just a theory”. Don’t be impressed by the supposed ‘eminence’ of the backers of this dangerous nonsense, aimed at your children.
It will claim to come from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, but look hard for an insidious American fundamentalist influence.