Here is my commentary on the Saints and sages for 28 August. This includes Robert Owen, Ramanuja and St Augustine (about whom I have some critical things to say for his dark views of the afterlife) and many other interesting figures. Here is the total list of thinkers covered in this talk:
Shinran (1173-1262) founded the Jodo-Shin Denomination
Shinran uses the term Jodo-shinshu to mean the true essence (shinshu) of the Pure Land (jodo) teaching of his master, Honen. His successors, however, came to use it for the name of their school, with Shinran as the founder, thus distinguishing it from other Pure Land schools that also claimed to succeed Honen’s teaching.
Mondrian, Piet (1872-1944) Dutch painter, painted in many styles including Fauvism and Cubism
Shahrastani 1076-1153, author of the Book of Religious and Philosophical Communities (Kitab al-milal wa-al-nihal) which comprised a vast study of the history of different religions in the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and South Asian worlds up to his day. He also wrote on theology (The Culmination of Demonstration in Scholastic Theology).
Luria, Alexander 1902 Russian psychologist
Wu Ch’eng-en 1500-1582, Chinese novelist from Shan-yang, Kiangsu, who collected foktales that went to make his long novel “Record of a Journey to the West”, which was based on the historical journey to India undertaken by the Buddhist monk Hsuan-Tsang 602-664 to retrieve sacred texts Jivan Singh, scholar and editor of Khalsao Sevak of Amritsar
Mounier, Emmanuel 1905-1960
Le Chapelier, Isaac 1754-1794
Montgomery, L.M. 1874-1942, Canadian authoress of Anne of Green Gables
I have been writing poetry since about the age of 12.. and early on in my life I knew that what I wanted to do when I grew up was to “be a poet”. My earliest poems, written between the ages of about 12 onwards, grew in depth and intensity over the years, and now, in 2016, I have written and published over 900 poems on a wide variety of themes. Robert graves, Professor of Poetry at Oxford, would say that all poetry has only one theme. The journey of the Bard as they learn the hard craft of diction at the hands of the Muse.
But the delight I took in poetry was a deep, not a trivial thing – this poetry, I decided, was something to live and die for, it was the very word of life – it was a probing into the secret fires of existence themselves. At home, our family library shelves were stocked with more exotic fruit, and I feasted deeply: Rilke, whose Duino Elegies I stumbled on about aged 13, simply blew me away, they sounded like I was thinking, I couldn’t explain them, but I understood them in my depths. T.S. Eliot, whose 4 Quartets and other poems became a constant reference point, and whose work I couldn’t help but aspire towards, especially in my early oeuvre, was to me a complete revelation – even though he also introduced a note of weariness and cynicism into the mental pool – and he showed me that the Romantic tradition had matured, and become more sophisticated, and more critical. At school my favourite teacher (the English master) confirmed to me to the wonders of Shakespeare, Keats, Shelly.. Wallace Stevens was another early love, and I treasured my Collected edition of his poems, finding much there to delight in; Arthur Waley, whose translations from the Chinese continuously gave me food for thought; Yeats, whose music and depth entranced me; Hart Crane, who impassioned sonnets of euphoria and despair, thrilled my ear and mind; Dylan Thomas, whose abilities with language caused me to applaud and wonder; Gerard Manley Hopkins, another master of that genre, who had the ability to stretch the tongue and soul into new perpendiculars… And then modern world poets, Pablo Neruda, Zbiegnew Herbert, and so many others, in those wonderful Penguin editions, and the French (for my mother was a French teacher) – Rimbaud, Lamartine, Verlaine, whose works slowly became comprehensible to me (in part) not least because I spent every Easter as a boy in Paris, staying with a wonderful family of friends, in Orsay, and being immersed into the life and literature of living French culture. Indeed, it was here, in Paris, that I began my career as a poet. Somewhat prematurely, perhaps, aged 13, I decided, in all solemnity, that I was in my soul a poet, and that this was what I wanted to do with my life. I had it all decided, I would write some truly extraordinary poems (nothing but the best you understand) and then die, triumphantly, probably before the age of 18. Wasn’t this what poets were supposed to do ? And so I set to it, I wrote, feverishly – I stayed up countless nights till dawn, I went for long walks, I fell in and in of love (never out), and all this before my 18th birthday, which in my mind was to be my formal cut off time. Given this, I had not enough time for formal schooling, even though I loved learning, so I left school early to “become a poet” and travelled throughout different parts of Britain to pursue my Muse. I gave a poetry reading at the Arts Centre in Kendal, and nearly settled in Grassmere. I spent some weeks in Cornwalll working as an archaeological assistant. Poems came forth constantly. I ended up living in Devon, in a delightful village outside Exeter called Thorverton, in a beautiful thatched cottage, entranced by the beauties of nature, by the stream gushing at the back of the house. Nature had long been the most reliable and constant source of inspiration: whether it was the vistas of the Gower peninsular in Wales, which we visited at Christmas to stay with my aunt and uncle, or the rolling hills of the Long Mynd in Shropshire where I went to Summer camp and where I remember walking all night and through into the mists of dawn, or the magnificent scenery of the Isle of Arran in Scotland, whose beauty astounded me, and where I also first encountered the living Muse as the goddess of death and ecstasy both, or the beauties of the Sussex downs, which we explored constantly as a family, or the deep countryside of rural Auvergne in France, where I went with my French family one wonderful Easter, and saw the truly vast myriads of stars for the first time – all of these vistas and scenes were etched not simply on my sight, but on my soul – confirming in me the wonder of being, the magnificence of creation.
Then my father died, (when I was 17, he beat me to it) and I returned to live in Sussex to be with the family again, and I decided to review my life. I swore an oath on his dead body that I would dedicate my life to finish his own work of trying to sort out the chaos the world was in, because by then I had realised what he himself had been trying to do – as a philosopher of management, working at senior levels in industry. So I decided to go back into formal education – for one thing, for by then I had discovered my second great intellectual love of my life, namely, philosophy. I had discovered Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Epicurus, by studying for an Ancient History A level. I marveled at those early Greek thinkers. I had been reading about Spinoza – about his life and devotion to ultimate truth, his uncompromising love of learning and his belief that it might be possible to work out a logic for being, in which everything, all time and space, all nature, all that is, could be comprehended within one great scheme of being, and that God himself/herself might be so encompassed, as a rational living reality, beyond the God of the tribe or national deity that we seemed to have reduced God to, and also even beyond the God of atheism, that atheists so fiercely rejected yet paradoxically sustained (for atheists too have their God, the one they don’t believe in). It seemed to me that philosophy offered the possibility of a middle way, a rational spirituality which could be intellectually coherent and also spiritually satisfying. But to me, philosophy was therefore an extension of poetry – it was the same urge, the same design – to paint a schema reality that could explain itself to itself; it was an art form, in which the stakes were enormous, no less than the universe itself.
Henceforth, my life story has been the tale of these two loves the one poetry, my first and earliest love, and the other – philosophy, which I came to later. By philosophy I am meaning the term in its ancient sense of the quintessence of learning and wisdom, the Queen and goal of Gnosis, thus to me it includes history (always a deep passion of mine – for history is the route to true philosophy), the humanities, the social and natural sciences etc. I have told at length the story of these love affairs, and the many and diverse places in the world to which they have led me, in the volumes of my autobiography, so the details need not detain us here. Suffice to say, however, that in my later intellectual pursuits, as a teacher and scholar of philosophy, religious studies and peace studies, I have never forgotten my first calling, my first Muse. Indeed, were I to die tomorrow, I would ask that the words Poet and Philosopher be inscribed on my tomb, in that order, not due to a differentiation in my relative estimation of their significance, but simply out of due respect for the order of their first inhabitation in my heart.
Now to this poem.. it was channeled, for I know not another word to describe it, on the evening of December 20, 2016 – and arose after long mulling over in my heart about the significance of Druidry, which has become in my later years, another of my passions and delights. As a Peace Druid, that is, one devoted to the revival of the ancient skills of mediation and reconciliation which was essential to the work of Druidry from the earliest times, I have founded an order devoted to this work, called the Order of Peace Poets, Bards and Druids. There are many Druid orders around the world, many in Britain and Ireland, in Wales and Scotland, and some in France, and I have met friends from them in diverse places, for ritual sharing and mutual edification. Often Druidry is an individual calling, and one practices alone or with a small group of like-minded friends. Many Druids combine Druidry with the practice of Christianity, but it is an esoteric form of Christianity they take delight in. Others will combine elements of Sufism, or Qabalah, or Tantric Buddhism and Yoga, or other ancient pagan and primal paths. Ultimately these paths all stem from one source, as Sir Isaac Newton pointed out, just as colored light stems from white light.
OPPBD however is essentially a new / old initiative taken to advance the cause of peace, to help uncover the wisdom of the ancient world at its best, to help usher in an era of harmony between men and women, between science, spirituality and technology, and between humanity, nature and the divine worlds. Druidry is an open ended religious and spiritual faith which puts love, freedom, beauty, kindness, and an emphasis on oral teaching above the worship of scriptures, texts, liturgies, buildings, rituals etc. Druids tend to worship the Spirit of Wisdom out of doors surrounded by the mystery of the sun and the moon and the stars, and above all by the wisdom of the natural world of trees, plants, animals, landscape temples and stone circles. It is the ancient and eternal religion and philosophical teaching of the early inhabitants of the British Isles and the rest of Celtic Europe, which at various times has stretched throughout Gaul, Switzerland, Northern Italy, Spain, Portugal, Central Europe, the Northern Balkans and as far as Anatolia. Later Druidry has spread worldwide with British, Irish, French, European and Celtic civilisation. Celtic spiritual teachings concerned the nature of reincarnation, non violence, truth, honesty, loyalty, love for the beauty of nature, the celebration of life in the arts, in music and dance, feasting & the enjoyment of loving sacred sexuality. Druids were forbidden from serving in battle, or from carrying weapons or fighting or striking an enemy. They sought to use gentle means of persuasion, of song, or example, to turn people to righteous actions. Druids served as mediators, lawyers, judges and counsellors to the Celtic Kings and nobles. Druidry lived on until the Roman conquest of Gaul and Britain all but extinguished it. The key Druid schools of Mona (Isle of Anglesey) were attacked and largely destroyed by the power of the sword. Druid teachings were enshrined in the Bardic schools of the Middle Ages and the legends of King Arthur and the search for the Holy Grail. It lived on in the work of Feinius Farsaidh, Amergin, Bladud, Abaris, Pythagoras, Plato, Taliesin, Myrddin, Ossian, & played a role in the rebirth of philosophy and learning in the early renaissance: Abelard had Druid links. Many Druids accepted Christian esoteric teachings as a continuation and confirmation of their own sublime teachings on peace and non violence. Druidry always had at its core a strong commitment to healing. Druid philosophy largely went underground during the religious wars and tribulations of the Medieval and early modern period of history, but something resurfaced in the work of the great seers, poets and bards of Britain, Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, Brittany, France, Europe, Russia, America, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India and elsewhere. Druids believe their views to be in harmony with universal theosophical and philosophical traditions at their best worldwide: Buddhism, Sufism, Kabbalah, Taoism, Vedanta, Tantra, Wicca, Magick, Slavic, Balkan, Baltic, Asian and Germanic spirituality, Amerindian traditions, classical philosophy, Bahaism, Zoroastrianism: all have an overlap with Druid teachings, which is not surprising since they all seem to derive from one ultimate source. OPPBD believes that ultimate source wants peace on earth and that the time for peace isnow.
In the Renaissance, Enlightenment, Romantic & Modern periods, Druidry resurfaced in the writings and life’s work of figures such as Dee, Postel, Bacon, Fludd, , Sir Philip Sidney, Shakespeare, John Aubrey, John Selden, William Lloyd, John Locke, Hupay de Fuvea, William Stukeley, John Toland, Thomas Paine, Chevalier Ramsay, John Anderson, Elias Ashmole, Sir Robert Moray, Wilkins, Thomas Jefferson, William Blake, Nicholas Bonneville, Iolo Morganwg, Robert Owen, Godfrey Higgins, Mathers, Gardner, Bailey, Gandhi; poets and bards like Blake, Wordsworth, Shelley, Yeats; philosophers like Hegel, Herbert; Hume; esotericists & historians like Keating, Graves, Nichols, Hyde, Steiner, Gurdjieff, Bennett, Shah; scientists like Newton, Boyle, Faraday, Jung, Fleming, Marx, Bell; women mystics….. such as Annie Besant, Anna Kingsford, Dion Fortune, Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, Flora Tristan, Beatrice Ensor & Doreen Valiente, the women behind the Golden Dawn such as Mina Bergson (Moina Mathers), Annie Horniman, plus Olivia Robertson, Doreen Valiente, and ecologists such as Robert Hart, H.J. Massingham, Richard St Barbe Baker, Ruskin, and Thoreau – all have contributed to the evolution of Druid philosophy. Freemasonry, alchemy and various schools of theosophy and esotericism have also contributed to the revival of Druidry but tended to become too secretive and restrictive in their practices. The revival of Druidry was accompanied at this time by a rejection of religious and social and economic corruption and a heartfelt appeal to peace, wisdom, the celebration of the beauties of nature, and a reaffirmation of the wisdom of the eternal feminine and masculine energies working in harmony. Womens’ rights were advanced by the return of the Goddess traditions and the campaigns for the emancipation of women, socialism & human rights was supported by Druids. Communism was also connected to Druidry but it sadly left out the spiritual dimension with catastrophic consequences, although wisely stressed poverty alleviation and the advancement of gender and racial equality.
OPPBD was founded in the UK in the last decade of the second millennium to regather and focus the commitment of Druid traditions to the advancement of peace in our own troubled world. With the troubles in Ireland not yet completely solved, and many communities and individuals in Britain and Europe, the Commonwealth, the Americas and worldwide, continuing to experience violence in their lives, whether overt physical violence, or subtle mental and spiritual violence, OPPBD seeks nothing less than a non violent revolution in the way that our society functions. We have always urged the transmutation of our weapons of war into the tools of peace; the establishment of a UK Ministry for Peace, an Inter-Parliamentary Network for Peace and Reconciliation in the Commonwealth and in other world parliamentary bodies and the strengthening and democratisation of the United Nations. We have also urged the European Union to found a European Union Mediation Service. OPPBD looks forward to a time when the ancient wisdom of peace will shine again as a force for truth, freedom and nonviolence in the world. OPPBD also campaigns for a more spiritual and holistic approach to health and medical healing services and for the availability of spiritual healing, medical herbalism, naturopathy, therapeutic massage, hypnotherapy, past life regression and other ancient Druidic healing arts on the National Health Service and other equivalents worldwide. We advocate a reform of the world of work and the introduction of a citizens wage and the ending of unemployment and poverty, war and the arms race and the dedication of the peace dividend towards education, healing, social justice, alternative energies and an end to reliance on fossil fuels for energy – for which we urge the best minds of the scientific and technological community to work for alternative energy solutions. We urge a non-violent, ecological lifestyle based on love and social justice, an end to fear, terror, ignorance and violence, and an acceptance of an ethic ofpeace, pleasure, wisdom and Joyism instead.
So with that as my manifesto, so to speak,. this poem speaks to the question of what actually is a Druid – how does one become one ? It outlines the various stages, ways and paths that one might become a Druid by. but it is a paradoxical poem. It is a door, an opening, a hypnotic visualisation, a channeling…
I hope you enjoy it, at this magical Winter Solstice time, December 21st, 2016.
And above all let us pray for a more peaceful world in 2017 than we have seen; let us pray that the conflicts in the Middle East get sorted and that the continuous terrorism going on around the planet falls away as when one awakens from a bad dream and the false ideologies that are causing these outbreaks become quietened and restored to wholeness. Some terrorism groups derive from a form of pseudo-gnosis, as if their practitioners have the right to destroy others to impose their own views. For these I have coined a new word: Esoterrorists.. But truth is never like this, in the famous words of St Paul, love is kinder, gentler and more patient than the use of violence indicates. Whoever uses violence to advance their creed, has not found yet the true creed. This is the teaching of the ancient Jains, as of the Buddhists and the Yogis of India, and it was also the teaching of the Ancient Druids, the Celtic priests and priestesses of Ancient Britain, Ireland and Europe. Ankara, where the Russian Ambassador has just been shot, was originally a Celtic foundation. So was Berlin, and many of the other great cities of North Western Europe where terrorist incidents have been occurring. We have to replace the faith of the esoterrorists with than of esojoyism– the taking delight together in the secret beauties of Existence and Being. So let us share this wonder of life together, the sun, the moon and the stars – and not destroy each other’s chance to live, just because we peer into the dark halls of ultimate reality through a different window…
This is my last sermon at the Castle of the Muses, recorded today on November 6, 2016. A great deal of the conflict and violence in today’s world is identified with binary logic, either/or, this v that.. the violence of the USA electoral rhetoric, of the pro-Eu or anti-EU debate in the UK, of Yes or No in the Scottish independence quest, or the ruthless life and death struggles going on in Syria – all these issues are addressed in this short sermon from a spiritual and metaphysical perspective. Teachings from the Druid, Christian, Qabalist, Sufi, Platonic, Hegelian, Pagan and Buddhist perspectives are presented in a clear and accessible way. A solution is presented and a way forward to healing, peacemaking and reconciliation. Gratitude is given to all those who have come to the Castle for short or long visits in the last 6 years, and a welcome to all those who will visit Le Musee des Muses in Limousin, France, where this work will be continuing. We hope to open the Museum to visitors by January 2017. Our work to find a usable philosophy of peace for humanity will continue from there.
Here is my latest audio message, recorded on Samhain eve, October 31st, 2016, at the Castle of the Muses in Scotland. In this short talk I address many issues of contemporary concern, from a spiritual and philosophical perspective. Samhain is the Druid new Year, and marks the final end of Summer and the beginning of the colder season (in the Northern Hemisphere). I hope this short talk appeals not only to my fellow Druid friends, but to a wider sphere: philosophers, students, qabalists, esoteric thinkers of all sorts, and policy analysts, peace experts and peace and conflict researchers. Among other things, I address the following topics: Sophiaphobia and the suppression of wisdom, the protests of Standing Rock by the water protectors, the round up and imprisonment and sacking of academics and journalists in Turkey, the fighting in Syria and Iraq; the future of NATO and Russian-NATO relations, the need for a well thought out peace policy on all fronts for all nations, Jain and Druid and Christian teachings on truth, Dharma and non-violence, the spiritual meaning of ahimsa, the false apocalypse being peddled by violent apocalypticians who would have us fight destroy and kill in order to usher in a return of the Golden Age, and the true apocalypse of Enochian thought and advanced philosophical mysticism, which requires of each of us individually to find our inner enlightenment place… This is only a brief summary of the contents of this talk, which I hope will be of value in these dark and disturbing times we are living through as a planet. Individually, all we have is one small voice each. Together, if we unite our voices into a choir or a harmony, we can sing out the music of peace. So my message is finally optimistic, as a call to reflection and deep thought, so that we can together figure out a way from the current mess, by first inquiring how we got into it in the first place.
This excellent event took place in Edinburgh at the Friends Meeting House just off the Royal Mile, on September 20, 2016. We had come together to discuss two main things. Firstly, to support with the launching of a new book by author and peace activist Vijay Mehta, Author of The Economics of Killing, and Chair of Uniting for Peace. His new book is called Peace Beyond Bordersand is a survey of the ways that the European Union has been helping preserve the peace both in European and in the wider world since it was launched back in the 1950’s. Secondly, we were invited to give our own contributions to the subject of how best Europe might best preserve and protect peace in the wider world in the future, especially int the light of the Brexit result int the EU referendum. Is it inevitable that the UK will withdraw from the European Union ? Is it desirable ? What are the legal and parliamentary ramifications of the EU referendum result ? What impact will it have on the makeup of the UK ? Is it possible that Scotland and Northern Ireland might be tempted to break away from the UK in order to remain in the EU ? And what are the problems and issues facing the EU that resulted in the Brexit narrow result for leave: if they were fixed, might a second referendum be called and result in a vote for Remain ? What position in all this should peace activists and all those who care passionately about the good that the EU has done in promoting peace, actually take at the present time ? What about the many problems that the EU has not been able to solve ? Why has it sat back and not helped stop the fighting in Ukraine ? Why did it do nothing to prevent the violent break up of former Yugoslavia and indeed seem to take sides with the revisionist elements inside Yugoslavia who were trying to dismember the country ? Why is it making sabre rattling noises and talking about creating a new European Army and military command structure to replace or challenge NATO ? Is this really the way to go for Europe, whether we are in or out ?
We addressed these complex issues from a variety of perspectives. As well as Vijay Mehta, speakers included the following: Brian Cooper, Churches Interfaith Secretary and Coordinator, Uniting for Peace. Founder, Christian East-West Study Network. Brian spoke movingly about the history of the moves towards European integration in the wake of the disaster that was world war two and the enormous suffering and violence that had been unleashed on European soil. He commented on the fact that many of the core founders of the EU project had been determined to create a structure of interlocking interests that would result in the continent never again being able to launch a continent wide maelstrom. He also spoke about the deep spiritual Christian faith that motivated many of these founders.
Another speaker was Rob Perkins, a Researcher at Control Arms, and editor of their journal the Arms Trade Monitor. He spoke knowledgeably about how the global arms trade is now converted by numerous treaties such as the recent ground-breaking Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) which was adopted in April 2013, and which is the first global treaty to regulate the conventional arms trade. he explained that the Treaty creates a new global norm against which states’ practice will be measured, by other states and by international civil society. The Uk and 81 other States are Parties (full members) to the treaty and a further 51 are signatories. but Russia and China have done neither, and Israel and the USA are only signatories, so there is a great deal of work still to be done. The following countries, which includes the entire European Union, have ratified the treaty: Albania Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Australia Austria Bahamas Barbados Belgium Belize Bosnia and Herzegovina Bulgaria Burkina Faso Central African Republic Chad Costa Rica Côte d’Ivoire Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Dominica Dominican Republic El Salvador Estonia Finland France Georgia Germany Ghana Greece Grenada Guatemala Guinea Guyana Hungary Iceland Ireland Italy Jamaica Japan Latvia Lesotho Liberia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macedonia Mali Malta Mauritania Mauritius Mexico Monaco Montenegro Netherlands New Zealand Niger Nigeria Norway Panama Paraguay Peru Poland Portugal Republic of Moldova Romania Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Slovakia Slovenia South Africa Spain Sweden Switzerland Togo Trinidad and Tobago Tuvalu United Kingdom Uruguay Zambia. The following countries have so far only signed the treaty: Andorra Angola Bahrain Bangladesh Benin Brazil Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Cape Verde Chile Colombia Comoros Congo (republic of) Djibouti Gabon Guinea-Bissau Haiti Honduras Israel Kiribati Lebanon Libya Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Mongolia Mozambique Namibia Nauru Palau Philippines Republic of Korea Rwanda Sao Tome and Principe Singapore Suriname Swaziland Thailand Turkey Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Republic of Tanzania United States of America Vanuatu Zimbabwe. The following countries have as yet done neither, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, China. Rob explained that the EU may maintain peace within Europe but that it also exports weapons that fuel conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere, with the UK the 6th biggest exporter of weapons globally. Rob wondered what will Brexit mean for the UK – and EU – Arms Trade? He outlined how the UK exports arms currently to a Saudi Arabian regime which is bombing Yemen and causing a disastrous humanitarian crisis. Post Brexit these exports will no longer be subject to EU restrictions so will the UK become an even greater arms exporter. Is that the kind of UK we want to live in ? Also, although it was not mentioned, there was a question hovering unspoken over the meeting at this point: were the intelligence services of some governments involved in swinging public opinion towards Brexit and “manufacturing consent” to give the impression that the UK had overwhelmingly voted in favour or Brexit (which they did not by any means) simply because certain powers (the military industrial intelligence elites) want to unshackle the UK arms industry from EU regulations ? More details on the work of Control Arms and their role in publicising arms control protocols around the planet can be found on their website at: http://armstreaty.org/
After Rob Perkins spoke, we heard some thoughts from Brian Larkin, who is Coordinator of the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre, which sits right next door to the friend Meeting House in the centre of Edinburgh. Brian touched on the impact of Brexit on the debates on Scottish independence and Trident and the increased likelihood of a European Defense Force once the UK is out of the EU. Is this a good or a bad thing from a peace perspective ?
Next it was my turn to speak, and I gave a brief comment on the excellent book by Vijay Mehta, which I had been reading especially for the meeting, and whose contents I summarised for those who have not yet read it. I then spoke about my own IIPSGP project to launch a European Union Mediation Service and spoke about my own publication which explores this idea – and which is available here: http://www.lulu.com/shop/thomas-daffern/towards-a-european-union-mediation-service/paperback/product-4606169.html
I explained that the European Union Mediation Service would be a lasting solution to the ongoing problems of conflict on the borders of the European Union, and proposes that Europe establish a formal mediation service within its existing diplomatic structures, available in times of emergency, in all conflicts, great and small, that affect the lives of the citizens of the European continent as a whole, and not just members of the existing European Union. Similarly, I explained that the EUMS would be available as a neutral service to assist neighbouring non-European countries to resolve their disputes amicably and non-violently. I argued both that The European Union can afford to create this service and that the European Union cannot afford not to create it. This could be part of the peace dividend that we have all been waiting for ever since the ending of the cold war in 1990, and which the citizens of Europe have hitherto been tragically denied, especially in the Balkans. I gave some philosophical arguments in favour of creating such a mediation service and explained that in my role as coordinator of Philosophers for Peace throughout Europe I feel especially upset that too often politicians and bureaucrats are not listening to the visionary interfaith intellectual voices among us, who can see a way beyond the rival architectonics of failed ideologies and religious systems locked in eternal conflict. With spirit as a solvent, these conflicts can be healed and reconciled, I argued.
The meeting was ably chaired by Arthur Chapman, who also serve as Chair of the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre. Details of their excellent work can be found here: http://peaceandjustice.org.uk/ They have a meeting coming up in early October for my old Glasgow based friend George Paxton who edits the Gandhi Way and serves as a trustee of the Gandhi Foundation, and who has written a new book about Nonviolent resistance to Hitler’s Germany.
After we had finished our spoken contributions a lively debate ensured with many interesting questions from the audience and the meeting finished by 9pm, with our minds buzzing with ideas. Let us hope it generated some alternative energy to counter the sombre mood of the nation at present, when a minority opinion against the EU and all it has done for world peace and peace in Europe, has been artificially manufactured, in my considered opinion, by elements in the media (BBC, Murdoch and other behind-the-scenes media interests) to give the impression that the UK is overwhelmingly in favour of Brexit.
In fact, it is worth remembering that in the recent EU referendum in the UK, of all registered voters only 72% actually voted, which means that 28% didn’t vote at all for whatever reason. My own vote (postal) was returned to me and looked like it had been tampered with. I wonder how many others among the 28% were in this category ? Philosophically speaking, abstention is actually a vote for the status quo, which is to remain in the EU. There is also another worrying fact: of the millions of UK citizens currently living abroad, many of them in Europe, no one seems to have either registered or counted their votes, so there is no way of accurately saying how they voted or whether in fact they voted or not. I asked for this information under Freedom of Information legislation and was told “It is not available”. There was no time lag for counting the overseas votes, as there usually is in elections. It seems that something very odd was going on during the referendum and overseas voters often complained that their voting papers arrived too late to vote. This alone should be reason to hold a second referendum, but no one is even talking about this scandal. Of the 72% who actually voted, 35% voted to remain, and 36% voted to leave. This means that 64% of the total voters did not vote to leave the EU. Only 36% of voters voted to leave the EU. This doesn’t seem to me to be a resounding vote to leave the EU. Yet the Westminster bubble acts as if it’s a done deal, and refuses to countenance anything other than Brexit. This makes a mockery of our democracy in my considered opinion. If we are really going to pursue Brexit, there needs to be a second referendum to confirm that is actually the people’s will or not. I made this point in brief in the discussions and questions after our talks. It is worth repeating this – in any average room of 100 eligible UK voters, only 36 of them voted actively to leave the EU. Yet we are being told it was 52% / 48% as if this means 52% of the total population. In fact, it was only 36% of the voting population and an even lower percentage of the total population who voted to leave the EU.
Anyway, it was a fascinating night, and well worth attending. Thanks to the organisers and other speakers who attended and of course the audience who came out to support us on a rather mild and beautiful Edinburgh evening.
And Happy International Peace Day to everyone who wants to see Peace on earth rather than war and the business of war dominating the headlines.
Here is my own short talk recorded for those who were not there to hear in person:
Every day at the Castle of the Muses (soon to become La Musee des Muses) we begin the day with interfaith meditations and prayers for peace and enlightenment, in which anyone visiting the Castle as a guest also joins in. As a regular feature, Thomas reads out from the book the Universal Calendar of Saints and Sages (http://www.lulu.com/shop/thomas-daffern/universal-calendar-of-saints-and-sages/paperback/product-641752.html), which he published in 2007 as the first attempt to provide daily inspiration from all faiths on the planet, not just from one or two religions. The categories are: Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Art Science and Culture, Pagan, Islamic, Jewish, Chinese Taoist and Confucian, Japanese Shinto, Zoroastrian, Bahai, Jain, Sikh, Esoteric, Freemasonry and last but not least, Women who have their own “Sage Femme du Jour”. People include scientists, philosophers, writers, poets, artists, mystics, esotericists, writers, painters, encyclopedists, scholars, educators, teachers, thinkers… Only after publishing his book Thomas discovered that Auguste Comte had done something similar in the 19th century (positivist calendar)except he only has one or two per day, and each month of the year is themed. Also, Tolstoy did something similar, in a book he favoured above all his other books (A Calendar of Wisdom), but his includes wise thoughts from a small selection of sages for each day of the year. Now Thomas has made a commitment to record these daily readings, and to keep this up for a whole year, since this will give a useful daily commentary on the world’s great intellectual and spiritual lineages and how we can best cooperate together for world peace and enlightenment. This project is intimately connected to the INTERFAITH PEACE TREATY.. unless there is deeper understanding between the worlds various faith communities, how can we get peace on the planet ? Mere political diplomacy alone will not achieve the peace we need. Too many religious leaders are preaching hatred and division and a philosophy of “us against them” – this work is about creating an intellectual climate in which genuine deep interfaith peace dialogue and philosophy becomes possible. Here then are the Saints and Sages recorded for August 15 2016, the Day commemorated in the Christian calendar as the feast day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary… Enjoy listening..
INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE OF PEACE STUDIES AND GLOBAL PHILOSOPHY
Director, Dr. Thomas Clough Daffern B.A. (Hons) D.Sc. (Hon) Ph.D.
July 26, 2016
Dear Tim Farron MP, Leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, David Ford MLA, Leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, Colum Eastwood MLA, Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Leanne Wood, AM, Leader of Plaid Cymru, Mike Nesbitt, MLA, Parliamentary Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, Caroline Lucas, Parliamentary Leader of the Green Party, Nigel Farage, Leader of UKIP, Gerry Adams, Leader of Sinn Fein, Arlene Foster, MLA, Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Theresa May MP, Leader of the Conservative Party, Nicola Sturgeon, Leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party.
I am writing to you as a historian and philosopher specialising in peace issues, interested in the question of who has political control over the intelligence services in the UK style system of democracy and constitutional monarchy. I have some historical observations and questions to share with you, as the leader of one of the UK political parties, simply in the interests of truth and ethics.
I think the British people should have every confidence that its intelligence services are never, under any circumstances, ordered to investigate our own politicians and parliamentarians. They should be able to feel confident that the espionage services are never used to subvert democratic leaders and MP’s. Sadly at present we do not have this confidence. What we need to discover is: what are the parliamentary oversight responsibilities over our intelligence services ? Do the intelligence services have a duty to report if they are snooping on, or subverting, elected parliamentarians ? And who gives the green light for this kind of thing, at present ? In other words, before we legislate to change the system, we have to know how it is currently operating.
There are historical instances of British intelligence probably concocting the infamous Zinoviev Telegram to destabilise Labours electoral chances early on in its history. Also, recently it has come out that British intelligence helped fund Mussolini’s rise to power and basically bankrolled his early career. It could be said then, with some truth, that the whole European fascist movement was partly a product of British military intelligence that was at the time terrified of the Bolshevik success in Russia. “Archived documents have revealed that Mussolini got his start in politics in 1917 with the help of a £100 weekly wage fromMI5. For the British intelligence agency, it must have seemed like a good investment. Mussolini, then a 34-year-old journalist, was not just willing to ensure Italy continued to fight alongside the allies in the first world war by publishing propaganda in his paper. He was also willing to send in the boys to “persuade” peace protesters to stay at home. Mussolini’s payments were authorised by Sir Samuel Hoare, an MP and MI5’s man in Rome, who ran a staff of 100 British intelligence officers in Italy at the time. Cambridge historian Peter Martland, who discovered details of the deal struck with the future dictator, said: “Britain’s least reliable ally in the war at the time was Italy after revolutionary Russia’s pullout from the conflict. Mussolini was paid £100 a week from the autumn of 1917 for at least a year to keep up the pro-war campaigning – equivalent to about £6,000 a week today.” (see https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/oct/13/benito-mussolini-recruited-mi5-italy
If British intelligence has historically intervened politically to such an extent already, and there are innumerable other such instances that can be cited, I think it is time to put on statutory footing a few principles, which should be tabled by parliamentary legislation. I hope you will agree with me.
a) no British politicians should be subject to surveillance from the intelligence services
b) no British political parties should be infiltrated by the intelligence services
c) no UK parliamentary politicians (Lords or Commons) or party political leaders should be assassinated, denigrated, smeared or otherwise attacked either physically or verbally by any UK intelligence agents, who are sworn to protect democracy, not to attack it. If they have been involved in this kind of activity in the past, it should be brought to light and apologised for.
c) no British political party members or leaders should be simultaneously serving as UK intelligence agents – we need to differentiate the two functions.
d) there should be no attempt to infiltrate, subvert or denigrate British political parties by UK intelligence agents
e) UK intelligence agents should be forbidden by law from misusing social media to denigrate, blacken or demonise UK political party leaders or members
f) UK parliamentarians should not be recruited to work for MI5 or MI6 as it would compromise them and their future political careers could be subject to blackmail
g) UK parliamentarians should take a pledge and oath not work for foreign intelligence agencies under any circumstances
There are still some people who claim, perhaps rightly, that Tony Blair once worked for MI5 as an agent and was deliberately planted into the Labour Movement to destroy it from within. Questions need asking and answering to establish if this was in fact the case. If so, this is matter of political scandal and shows the over-reach of the intelligence services interfering in domestic democratic politics. This is why we need such legislation. Otherwise, parliament is corruptible and MP’s and Lords can be blackmailed by those operating behind the scenes, and we do not live in a democracy, but what could be called a “demonocracy”. Other questions remain about strange aspects of the deaths of John Smith, Robin Cook and Michael Meacher, and the British public deserve the right to know if their own or any foreign intelligence services were involved.
Agreement also needs to be reached with friendly allied governments’ intelligence services to the effect that their intelligence agents likewise would be forbidden by UK law to infiltrate, subvert, damage, assassinate or otherwise interfere with Britain’s legitimate democratic political party members and leaders. No UK political leaders and parliamentarians should be allowed by law to be serving members of any foreign intelligence agency whatsoever and if found to be so serving, they would lose office automatically.
I understand the proposals in this letter are innovative. I would appreciate your response in writing to my ideas. Perhaps you could let me know your own understanding of the current system as it is currently functioning; in your view, who actually exercise democratic oversight of the UK’s intelligence services, and to whom are they accountable to ensure they do not overstep the bounds of ethics, morality and lawfulness ? The danger of the current system is that it is all too opaque and nobody knows where they stand, or who to trust. If we are going to function as an effective and fair democracy this needs to change. As a historian, I know it is a hallmark of totalitarian systems that they are run by their intelligence services in cahoots with a small cabal; it is a hallmark of real democracies that they are run by their parliamentary representatives. I believe the leaders of all political parties in parliament should also be interested in seeing such legislation put on the statute book, otherwise our democracy is not really playing by fair rules, is it ?
Finally, I would like to add that I am myself neither a member of any political party. Nor, of course, a member of the UK or any other intelligence service. I am merely a philosopher and an academic, and so regard myself as a member of the “Wisdom services”, which is something entirely different, and so I am writing merely as someone who has the best interests of our country at heart.
Dr Thomas C Daffern
The above letter was emailed to all heads of political parties in the UK with representation in Westminster or in one of the devolved assemblies. I was moved to suggest this after reflecting on the Chilcot Report and its failure to address the deeper questions of why the UK was dragged into an illegal war in Iraq, against the obvious wishes of the British people, such as the role of 9/11 in the background, and Blair’s apparent willful sell out to US foreign policy interests. the blatant demonisation of Jeremy Corbyn in the media is another obvious matter of concern, and the way that whenever a genuinely left wing Labour leader raises his head over the parapet of consensual myopia in UK politics, they are found dead in mysterious circumstances. As yet, there appears to be no statutory right of protection for politicians from their own intelligence services, which is a bizarre situation, nor from the intelligence services of even “friendly countries”. The letter suggest that we amend this situation by providing a statutory right of protection for all parliamentarians, either in Westminster or in devolved assemblies. It also prevents the absurd situation of one political party (whoever happens to be in government) misusing the intelligence apparatus to infiltrate or spy on their political opponents. Such behaviors are the hallmarks of totalitarian regimes, not effective parliamentary democracies. There are enough serious security risks to the UK and to its politicians as it is, so that at least this one layer of concern could be removed.
The media has reported on ongoing legal uncertainty regarding these matters. the Independent said: “British intelligence agencies have been spying on MPs and peers in contravention of a decades-old convention prohibiting surveillance of politicians’ communications, a tribunal has heard. Hitherto-secret MI5, MI6 and GCHQ documents revealed in court that the agencies amended internal policies on surveillance of parliamentarians eight times in the past 12 months. The updated internal rules fail to comply with a 50-year-old political convention, known as the Wilson doctrine, which states that no parliamentarian’s telephone can be tapped unless there is a major national emergency and that changes to the policy will be reported to Parliament by the Prime Minister.Green Party politicians Caroline Lucas MP and Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb, together with former Respect MP George Galloway, brought the legal action following CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about surveillance and the collection of metadata. The trio believes it is likely their communications were intercepted. Their case, contested by the intelligence agencies, is being fought in a rare public hearing before the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, although some parts of the Government’s defence will be kept secret. The IPT panel is being asked to confirm that the Wilson doctrine has force in law. Ben Jaffey, representing the Green party politicians, said the case was about what safeguards were required before members of the legislature were subject to intercept or surveillance. He said MPs need to communicate privately with their constituents and potential whistleblowers. The tribunal heard that officers from the three spy agencies have operated under eight different policies concerning interception of parliamentarians’ communications in the last 12 months alone. GCHQ introduced a policy in March this year that did not require approval by the Prime Minister, or any Minister, before deliberately targeting the communications of a parliamentarian. The policy was then revised in June 2015″. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/british-intelligence-service-spying-on-mps-in-defiance-of-laws-prohibiting-it-10411996.html
I have been reading the Chilcot report.. very interesting reading.. pretty damning of the whole enterprise. It is well written and clearly articulated, with a thoroughness that marks the mind of Sir John Chilcot. It is also well presented and numerated to make it easy to navigate.
But it is limited in its scope and didn’t ask all the questions that the UK public are entitled to know answers to, in my opinion.
Some of the several things it doesn’t address at all are:
The whole raison d’etre for war on Iraq and the false use of 9/11 to justify it in the Bush and then Blair establishment
Whether, as I believe to be the case, Bush and Blair are both active Freemasons and that Bush invoked this Freemasonic pledge of loyalty from Blair, and that this appeal transcended the use of rationality or indeed the cogent advancement of national self interest from a British serving Prime Minister
What other pressures were put on Blair to so convince a seemingly rational man that the 9/11 attacks were a casus belli for war against Iraq ? (skeletons in the cupboard ?)
Chilcot says in effect It is obvious that the intelligence was deeply flawed and was gerrymandered to be a pretext for war against Saddam – so while Blair asserts he “acted in good faith on the intelligence he was shown” one has to wonder why he didn’t actually ask on what basis the intelligence had been cobbled together (fantasies based on watching movies…)
From my reading so far there are two conclusions: either Blair was totally Machiavellian and knew he was lying about there being a justification for war on Iraq, and still does, or he was a simpleton who was out of his depth and simply didn’t ask the right questions of his advisers, and had already made the illogical determination to invade Iraq “based on 9/11” in which case both Blair and Bush should have gone to an insane asylum – or he was so frightened of his freemasonic oaths of obligation that he simply caved in to moral blackmail and pressure, and daren’t tell the British public what was going no. This would explain his later flight to the Vatican as a refuge of retreat, since by and large the Vatican is antipathetic to freemasonry.
My sense is simply that Blair is not as intelligent a person as he would like us to think, and was simply truly ignorant, and his ignorance operated in many spheres, such as the false causes given for the war, the lack of true and genuine intelligence for WMD, the failure to ask for cast iron proof of who was behind 9/11, the failure to challenge the assertion that it had anything to do with Saddam whatsoever, the failure to insist the USA delay the invasion until we were ready to adminster the aftermath, the failure to get true international and UN support for the invasion,and the failure to realise that it would stir up an endless hornet’s nest which has led to endless bombings and civil war in Iraq, that has now led to the formation of Isis and the meltdown in Syria, as well as ignorant in not listening to the warnings on all these matters that were a matter of common public discourse among the 2 million people who marched against the war in February 2001, myself among them. Blair also showed ignorance in thinking that he was advancing global freemasonic solidarity by launching the war on Iraq. Saddam Hussein had abolished freemasonry in Iraq and its once flourishing lodges had been pushed deep underground or simply destroyed by the use of Saddam’s secret police. (there are several definitive academic studies documenting Saddam’s war against freemasonry). Saddam’s anti Zionist rhetoric was also anti Masonic and he took whole swathes of ideas in this regard from Hitler’s similar hatred of freemasonry and the Jews. (Most anti-Smites in history have also been anti-masonic). However, the Bush and Blair invasion of Iraq actually played into the hands of the anti-Masonic and anti-Semitic Saddamist networks and further convinced the extreme anti Zionists and anti-Masons that the West is truly an evil and demonic entity and that freemasonry is really a diabolic secretive cult aiming at world domination, and that the only way to fight it is with blood and iron. This had been Hitler’s creed, it had been Saddam Hussein’s and now it has become the creed of Isis and its henchmen. However, what Bush and Blair betrayed was the legacy of actual genuine freemasonry intended by its founders and transmitters – not a cult of secretive power and megalomania and imperialism but a genuine force for educational improvement and moral development, such as evidenced by the Lodge of the 9 Sisters in Paris, which was called by historian Nicholas Hans “The UNESCO of the 18th century” and which included in its members Helvetius, Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Bentham, Lavoisier, Antoine Court De Gebelin, Voltaire, and many others. This kind of freemasonry brought us the “enlightenment” (la siecle des lumieres). The Bush and Blair kind of freemasonry has brought us polarization,and endless wars on terror, mass killings throughout the Middle East by Isis affiliates, random attacks in the USA and the West, violence in Turkey, killings on a daily basis, the destruction of Syria (an enclave of enlightenment Gnostic Islam based on Alawite beliefs which are probably one of the sources of medieval Templar freemasonry) and so on. But of course the Chilcot commission cannot have been expected to go into all this – they are not dealing with ideas, philosophies and motivations or what is often called “psychohistory”. but I think they should have at least asked some of these questions as to Blair’s hidden motivations, as not to do so is to betray truth. But intellectual historians like myself can ask these supplementary questions. After all my doctoral thesis was precisely in the field of “transpersonal psychohistory and the search for peace”.
The real question is – how can states, especially democracies, ensure that they get leaders who are genuinely intelligent, good, truthful and wise leaders ? One small but significant way would be to bring in the Duty of Parliamentary Veracity Bill, so that any parliamentarian who lies is immediately stripped of office.. An other way is to improve our higher education institutions and to ensure that our future politicians are actually educated in the classics of political philosophy, where they will learn that virtue is the best guard against disaster.Compulsory reading of Plato, Aristotle, Maimonides, Aquinas, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Hegel, T.H Green, Whitehead, for all MP’s in their first year, followed by exams ! I fear however we have got neither of these – we have got a class of politicians for whom truth is less important than power, and universities that are forced to assess research quantitatively rather than qualitatively and are more or less penalized if they hire actual living philosophers, rather than scholars who merely trail over the footnotes of dead philosophers.
The Chilcott Report is important reading and everyone who cares about this country should study it and together we should learn its lessons.
At least Jeremy Corbyn (and Robyn Cook and others) and the Liberal Democrats under Charles Kennedy took a principled stand for wisdom and true intelligence in these matters.
The question remains – who will speak up for peace in the malestrom of lies ? This is why the Institute of Peace Studies and Global Philosophy took the step in 2008 of founding the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the Middle East. Without truth there can be no lasting reconciliation. The Chilcot Report has brought us a little closer to truth in these matters. but there is still a long way to go before we get truth in all the related issues such as manipulation of 9/11 as a casus belli, which is not even mentioned by Chilcott.
Finally, whilst it is tragic that 129 British soldiers died in this war, needlessly, it is wrong for the media to largely overlook than perhaps 100,000 Iraqi civilians died as a result of the invasion. the question is, how does one prosecute nations for crimes of aggression ? The International Court of Justice says it is not able to do this. What about the International Criminal Court ? It has jurisdiction over Crimes against Humanity. Article 7 of its treaty defines crimes against humanity as acts “committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”. The criminal court does not as yet have jurisdiction over Crimes of Aggression against individuals, which is absurd.
Enjoy your reading. No doubt many other grave questions will come to the fore in the days ahead. And thank you to Sir John Chilcot and his team. They may not have asked all the right questions, they may not have transmitted all that they know and found out in writing. but at least they have begun a conversation. It is the duty of the rest of us to press home the debate till we get full disclosure and the actual deeper truths emerging which can alone bring peace to a tormented and fractured people of the Middle East and indeed the world. one way to cut through to this, is for people to sign the Interfaith Peace treaty – whether you are Jewish, Muslim, Zionist, Arab, Israeli, British, Scottish, Irish, French, anti-Zionist, Freemason, Secular, Christian, Buddhist, Druid, Pagan or whatever. It is time for peace on this planet and an end to the thought that by creating killing machines, and investing in huge military development projects or weapons of mass destruction we can guarantee peace on earth. This route than can never do that. Its the fantasy land of star wars and star shields. As St John put it, only perfect love casts out fear. The irony of this Iraq war is that whereas “intelligence told Blair that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction” and therefore this was a justification for invasion, in point of fact, it was the USA and the UK and the West (and Russia) who actually had and have the weapons of mass destruction – including nuclear submarines that parade outside the Castle of the Muses here in Scotland, and costs billions of pounds that could otherwise be used to house the homeless, feed the hungry, educate the ignorant, reassure the fearful and clothe the naked. So yes, Blair’s intelligence, ultimately was flawed. No Iraq didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction. But we do.. time to invade ourselves ? perhaps we all ought to be practicing the inner jihad, the search for self mastery that Mahavira and Muhammad talk about.. time for “inlightenment” ?
Here is the text of an open letter sent by myself (by email) on June 30, 2016 to a large group of senior and influential MP’s from all political parties in the UK parliament, urging them to come together as a cross party coalition of moderates specifically to fight the coming general Election on the basis of a promise to hold a second EU referendum if elected. If you agree with this strategy, which aims to increase the decisive democratic input into this once in a lifetime decision, then please write to your own MP accordingly and refer them to this blog.
If like me you are devastated at the negative impact that the recent EU referendum is having on our global economy, and on our society, I am writing, to you as a philosopher who thought long and hard before deciding to vote Remain on very deeply thought-out grounds.
1. I felt it was more likely to keep the UK together (and conversely a Brexit vote would lead to the break up of the UK, with Scotland, perhaps Northern Ireland and perhaps Wales) all organising for an exit from the UK. We could even end up with England entirely on its own, which is frankly daft.
2. I decided that although much in the EU needs reforming, we are more likely to achieve that from within than from without.
3. I suspected that the UK economy would be negatively impacted by leaving the EU, as witness the fall of the pound relative to other countries in recent days, and the collapse of share values etc.
The situation is not however irrevocably decided. Although a small majority of votes cast (in England and Wales) were in favour of Brexit as opposed to Remain, the fact that many people did not vote, or voted Remain in other regions, means this is hardly truly indicative of the true will of the entire British people. A vote not cast is in effect a vote for the status quo, which is therefore a vote to remain in the EU. Here are the figures:
Of all registered voters only 72% actually voted, 28% didn’t vote at all for whatever reason (an abstention is actually a vote for the status quo, which is to remain in the EU), of those who did vote, 35% voted to remain, 36% voted to leave. This means that 64% of the total voters did not vote to leave the EU
What it means, is that if we are to leave the EU, 34% of the voters will have imposed their will over 64% of the rest. This is hardly a ringing mandate for such a massive change affecting the nation for years to come, and indeed, affecting the entire history of Europe.
Or to put this another way, the combined number of voters who voted to leave the EU was 17,410,742. The combined total of those voters who either voted to remain in the EU or who voted to keep the status quo by not voting at all, was 29,089,259. which is 64% of the total.
My suggestion is therefore the following, and the reason I am writing to you as MP’s is that it is my belief that a national coalition of parties should come together at a future General Election (to be held as soon as possible), with the manifesto promise to hold a second referendum. This coalition would present this position before the British people and allow them to decide democratically if they want a second referendum or not.
Such a coalition would consist of moderate Conservatives (either under David Cameron or possibly under Teresa May, who would first have to win the Conservative Party leadership election), moderate Labour (whether or not under Jeremy Corbyn), Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP, Northern Ireland Parties who supported Remain, and Welsh parties eg Plaid Cymru) who voted to Remain. If such a coalition won a General Election they would then hold a second, binding referendum, only this time, by law, every registered voter would BE OBLIGED TO VOTE as in Australian elections (of course they can spoil their ballots if they really insist). I also think the voting age for the 2nd referendum should include 16 and 17 year old voters, as it is they who will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives. We would then get a real and serious sense of whether or not it is truly the majority of the people of the UK who want to leave the EU or not, or to remain. As it is, it is unclear.
The group who would oppose this coalition would of course consist of UKIP, perhaps some right wing or leave supporting conservatives (perhaps under Boris Johnson), perhaps some far left parties, perhaps a break away faction of far left Labour MP’s, some anti EU Greens (under Jenny Jones presumably), Northern Ireland parties who supported leave and so on. I do not think that at present, speaking as a political philosopher, there is any real democratic mandate to take the UK out of the EU. Indeed, it is obvious that 64% of the voters are opposed to this.
Herodotus reports of the ancient Persians that when they had to make a really important decision, they took a first decision when sober, then they took a second decision when intoxicated, and then finally a third decision when sober again, and only if they all tallied, did they do the thing under consideration. I would say that a decision of this magnitude should not be decided against the will of 64% of the voting public. Wisdom should guide the political will of democratic decision making, not short-term rhetoric, based on misinformation and confusion. As someone who loves Scotland and lives here, and who also loves the UK as a whole, and also Europe, I also note that a large majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU.
The advantage of my proposed 2nd EU referendum strategy could take place before any future referendum on Scottish independence might become appropriate – and hopefully postpone it for a long time to come. The hidden question we would therefore face at a second referendum on the EU would really be “Do you dislike the EU so much that you want to leave it even though it would almost certainly lead to the break up of the UK ?” Personally speaking I believe it would be in the long term interests of the UK and its constituent member nations, and for the EU, that the UK as a whole should remain together inside the EU and fight to change the things that need changing from within.
I would also like to see a more proactive peace policy towards conflict resolution to be adopted by the EU ,for example. But we cannot campaign for this if we are outside the EU altogether. At the moment the UK is still inside the EU. Therefore, this is such a critical choice that I think we should reflect on it, and adopt the strategy as outlined above. Otherwise the UK faces the prospect that its national direction of travel has been hijacked by a minority (36%) against the wishes of the majority (64%) with the result that the UK will break up and we will leave the EU, which itself might also begin to break up.. rather than reform.. not a wise choice, surely. A broken UK ? A broken EU ? Is this what we want ? Is this what wise statesmen would ask for ?
I hope sincerely that you will give careful thought to this proposal from a concerned citizen, one of the 64% of British voters who either voted remain or at least voted for the status quo indirectly by abstaining (my postal vote was returned to me by the post unopened, so not counted). I think that unless we do this, the media and extremist anti-EU politicians are going to lead us blindly into a nightmare of both economic meltdown and the break up of the UK, with Scotland and probably Northern Ireland leaving the UK, perhaps even Wales. My strategy, which is a straightforward one, is a formula to keep the UK together inside the EU. I am writing as a philosopher, academic and teacher, not in any way as a “political activist” and indeed, I belong to no political party save that “party” of good people who wish to see the best for our country and for our European neighbours, both now and for generations to come. The death of Jo Cox MP shows what can happen when extremist politics enters the UK body politic. I was very moved to hear so many MP’s paying tribute to her legacy and values. It is in that spirit, a kindred spirit, that I am also writing to you this letter. I am sure she would have approved of this letter and this proposed strategy to enable the British people to come together and have a second chance to truly reflect on the deeper implications of our decision whether or not to stay in the EU and to more properly and comprehensively express our democratic will.
In the wake of the recent EU referendum in the UK, it is relevant to point out the following numbers:
Of all registered voters only 72% actually voted..
28% didn’t vote at all for whatever reason
Of those who did vote, 35% voted to remain
36% voted to leave..
This means that 64% of the total voters did not vote to leave the EU
Only 36% voted to leave
This is a worrying situation..
what it means, is that if we are to leave the EU, 34% of the voters will have imposed their will over 64% of the rest
This is hardly a ringing mandate for such a massive change affecting the nation for years to come, and indeed, affecting the entire history of Europe
My suggestion is therefore the following:
A national coalition of parties should come together at a future General Election (to be held as soon as possible), with the manifesto promise to hold a second referendum
Such a coalition would consist of moderate Conservatives (possibly under Teresa May, who would have to win the Conservative Party leadership election), Labour (whether or not under Jeremy Corbyn),Liberal Democrats, Greens, SNP, Northern Ireland Parties who supported Remain, and Plaid Cymry…
If such a coalition won a General Election they would hold a second, binding referendum, only this time, by law, every registered voter would HAVE TO VOTE (of course they can spoil their ballots if they really insist)
We would then get a real and serious sense of whether or not it is truly the majority of the people of the UK who want to leave the EU or not
The group who would oppose this coalition would consist of UKIP, perhaps some right wing or leave supporting conservatives, perhaps some far left parties, some anti EU Greens (under Jenny Jones), Northern Ireland parties who supported leave and so on
I do not think that at present, speaking as a political philosopher, there is any real democratic mandate to take the UK out of the EU.. indeed, it is obvious that 64% of the voters are opposed to this
I also think the voting age for the 2nd referendum should include 16 and 17 year old voters, as it is they who will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives.
Herodotus reports of the ancient Persians that when they had to make a really important decision, they took a first decision when sober, then they took a second decision when intoxicated, and then finally a third decision when sober again, and only if they all tallied, did they do the thing under consideration
I would say that a decision of this magnitude should not be decided against the will of 64% of the voting public..
Wisdom should guide the political will of the democratic decision making, not short term rhetoric, based on misinformation and confusion
As someone who loves Scotland and lives here, and who also loves the UK as a whole, and also Europe, I also note that a large majority of Scots voted to remain in the EU
The advantage of my proposed strategy is that this could take place before any future referendum on Scottish independence might become appropriate
The hidden question we would therefore face at a second referendum on the EU would really be “Do you hate the EU so much that you want to leave it even thought it would probably lead to the break up of the UK ?”
Personally speaking I believe it would be in the long term interests of the UK and its constituent member nations, and for the EU, that the UK as a whole should remain inside the EU and fight to change the things that need changing from within
I would also like to see a more proactive peace policy towards conflict resolution to be adopted by the EU ,for example.
But we cannot campaign for this if we are outside the EU altogether.
At the moment the UK is still inside the EU. Therefore, this is such a critical choice that I think we should reflect on it, and adopt the strategy as outlined above.
Otherwise the UK faces the prospect that its national direction of travel has been hijacked by a minority (36%) against the wishes of the majority (64%) with the result that the UK will break up and we will leave the EU, which itself might also begin to break up.. rather than reform.. not a wise choice, my friends..