Without a moral compass British values lose their way and now we’re seeing the consequences

CompassA little late to the party on this…

Over the last few weeks a battle for the heart and soul of our schools has intensified as we’ve witnessed the repercussions of the Trojan Horse episode that has engulfed a handful of Birmingham schools. What started out as an investigation into the Islamisation of state schools has raised a host of thorny issues with four distinct groups wading in to fight their corner; Muslims, the government, secularists and faith schools.

The hardest of these groups to pin down – in terms of their agenda – are Muslims. It would be wrong to generalise about what Muslims want from our education system, or at least from those schools whose students are predominantly from a Muslim background. The news has obsessed itself with the supposedly organised plot to take over non-faith state schools in England by Islamists and run them according to their beliefs and ideals, but of the 200 complaints filed against 25 predominantly Muslim background schools, surely a large proportion of these will have come from Muslims themselves.

Moderate Muslims, who are willing to embrace many aspects of British culture do exist, but it’s been hard to find voices from within the Muslim community being broadcast that have criticised what has been happening in the Birmingham schools. Most of those who have been on radio and television have been defensive, criticising the Ofsted reports of the investigated schools as political propaganda and dismissive of the findings. Salma Yaqoob, former leader of the Respect Party who now leads the ‘Hands off Birmingham schools’ group is a case in point. On Question Time on June 12th she managed the impressive feat of having the entire rest of the panel including three MPs from different parties disagreeing with her vehemently over her support for the governors and leaders on the Birmingham schools at the centre of the row.

It has become very difficult to draw the line between hard-line Islamists who have been blamed for attempting to infiltrate the schools and pushy parents who are very conservative in their outlook. In 2007, the Muslim Council of Britain, which is a self-appointed umbrella body for 500 mosques, schools and associations, produced a document entitled ‘Meeting the needs of Muslim pupils in state schools’, which set out to ‘promote greater understanding of the faith, religious and cultural needs’ of pupils from an Islamic background. In it there are recommendations that Muslims should be allowed to be exempted from various parts of the curriculum. For example: ‘dance performances before a mixed gender audience may also be objectionable’, ‘studying forms of music and drama that may raise religious or moral concerns for Muslim pupils and parents’, or that pupils should not be exposed in schools to ‘potentially harmful forms of music’. It also suggests that special provision should be made during the school day to attend prayers, especially on Fridays and that certain lessons are stopped during Ramadan.

Amongst some sensible methods of promoting understanding there are a large number of points that would significantly alter the way schools are run and some of these are reflected in a more hardline fashion in what has been happening in Birmingham such as removal of music and sex education from the timetable.

There appears to have been a rapid realisation in government over the last few weeks that multiculturalism and diversity has its limits when it comes to education and that forceful imposition of narrow religious values and activities on non-faith schools goes beyond a point of acceptability even if those schools are producing good exam results. Ministers have become quite agitated to the point of falling out over concerns that the inherent values of this country are being undermined in these schools and need to be protected and enforced to stop them becoming hotbeds of extremist Islamic thinking and breeding grounds for anti-British sentiment.

Whether these schools have started promoting radical forms of Islam or have just been increasingly run along the line of more strict forms of Muslim thinking, there is an uncomfortable truth that is emerging: equality has its limits.

Equality, which is essentially a good thing, has been a guiding ideological light over recent decades. There has been significant and welcome progress on race relations, equal pay for men and women and most recently, the introduction of gay marriage.  The Equality Act of 2010 has its protected characteristics listed as age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation. Most of these can sit quite comfortably alongside each other, but religion can be troublesome. The Equality Act effectively implies that all religions plus non-religious belief are of equal value. So Islam has the same worth and recognition as Christianity or atheism. What is now entering the public consciousness is that some Islamic beliefs and interpretations do not fit easily with how we would like to see our education system run. There is a clash with British values, even if we’re having trouble defining what they actually are. Much of this comes down to integration into our wider society and treating all pupils and staff with equal respect, which has more to do with human rights than values as such.

The problem is that you can’t just tell schools to teach British values and expect everyone to adhere to them overnight. Values are inherited and imbued into hearts as well as heads. They go to our core and are not easily changed. British values have developed and changed over the centuries as our society has moved forward, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Hopefully this episode is a reminder that one of those British values is that we hold the highest is respect for those things that have proved their worth. Andrew Lilico wrote this on the Conservative Home site a few days ago about our attitudes to different religions (not just Islam):

‘We should not seek to treat all religions equally. If your religion burns widows or mutilates girls’ genitals or demands folk be murdered for drawing cartoons, we don’t need to treat it the same as a religion that advocates free will, humility, obedience to the authorities, orderly conduct, self-discipline, self-denial, self-sacrifice, that in Christ there is neither man nor woman, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, toleration of those we disagree with, respectful and orderly debate, and so on.

‘As for “British values”, insofar as they mean anything at all, “British values” are Broad Church Anglican values – they are the creation of a particular form of Christian understanding that evolved in Germany and was applied in fullest effect in England. There used to be a requirement that schools teach Christianity and have a predominantly Christian assembly each day – but anti-Christian “liberals” wiped all that away, not appearing to grasp that it was Anglican Christianity and Anglican values that create and protect secular liberalism.’

A recent YouGov poll found that although a majority of those surveyed believed that government funding for faith schools should cease, there was a 4 per cent margin of support for Church of England schools compared to a 40 per cent margin of opposition to Muslim schools. Is that because C of E schools reflect British values, which in turn in many ways reflect broad Christian values? Or is it because church schools have proved their worth over time. After all, long before the state decided to take on the role of maintaining education in this country the churches were there educating those children who couldn’t afford to pay for their education. The reason we still have church schools now is a result of that legacy.

When groups muscle in and seek to impose their agenda on our schools, we quite rightly get upset and annoyed. This could be Islamists seeking to impose their worldviews on schools by manipulation and pressure, or equally the humanists and secularists who have taken this opportunity to launch another salvo of attacks on faith schools. Sadly their misguided beliefs that removing faith from the school environment may well win them support from those concerned about what has been going on in Birmingham even though not one of the schools under investigation is a faith school. The issue is not that faith schools are inherently wrong or bad, but that religious belief is being applied from outside in an inappropriate way to fundamentally alter the way some schools are being run – something that even faith schools are not allowed to do.

If British values are to mean anything, there are some things we need to get straight. The importance of religion in many people’s lives cannot be ignored. Nor can its influence on the values we hold. If we think secular liberalism has all of the answers and can produce a set of values that will tie our society together, we need to go away and think a lot harder. There needs to be a moral foundation that cannot be created out of nothing. Too many of our leaders have little understanding of religious belief in general and of the differences between individual religions. Lumping them all together under the Equality banner and assuming everyone will want to play along nicely is a recipe for disaster. It’s when we study and learn to understand different religions that we can begin to make sense of where they are coming from. Christianity has had a big part to play forming our ‘Britishness’. Islam has not.

For too long the moral compass that our society has passed down through the generations undergirding our values has been neglected. As Islam has become more prevalent, the more extreme forms have met little opposition as multiculturalism and equality have frowned upon interference. Tolerance has been the name of the game and we have been left not knowing which way the compass was pointing. It’s when we brush the dust off it and start observing it again that we realise that there are certain values and actions that rather than being tolerated, even if we disagree with them, need to be challenged and addressed. If we are to have a society that is at relative peace with itself and functions effectively for the good of all of its people then we have no alternative.

Categories: Education, Equality, Government, Islam

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27 replies

  1. Are there lines which need to be drawn? Re-drawn rather! Then acted upon. But how, by whom, and under what authority? Unfortunately I have to declare a particular interest:- I am not only a British-born man but also a member and supporter of UKIP, and a return of our law-making authority FROM the E.U., back to Westminster. It is from Brussels that many of these new ‘slants’ to the law have appeared in our legislation, and it will take massive, long drawn-out tussles to dismantle the process by which this situation has been enacted ON Britain! Only now are the fruits of basically foreign thinking being ripened in our schools and their ‘obligations’!

  2. Good set of questions, but I feel it doesn’t dig deep enough. As SB’s comment above demonstrates, it is attractive to have a clear view of what is the source of authority; part of our problem is that there isn’t a consensus about this, and ‘liberalism’ in its widest definition lacks any real basis for this. Without that one is struggling to provide a real legitimation for ‘British’ values over against ‘Islamic’, let alone being able to define British ones. The ‘Broad Church’ ones actually depend on an implicit acceptance of a biblical worldview – but doesn’t want to admit it, so ends up leaving them to demolished by the sceptics because it has no real root except in the Christian faith, which it’s not preparted to use as a source of legitimacy!

    Ultimately God calls us to ‘repentance’ – which is a call to a total commitment to his way of doing things. Any attempt to mix and match will leave one confused, and its that confusion that we are now reaping.

  3. Not sure that even as a Brit I want to sign up to “British values” when they seem to include dishonest practices such as, “Pay cash and we won’t charge you VAT” — an approach that’s becoming increasingly common amongst small businesses. I understand where they’re coming from, as they watch the likes of Amazon dodge taxes, but it’s not a game I want to play. Perhaps basic honesty in business is one of the things we need to get straight?

    Then there’s the other “British value” that allows HMG to make land-grabs using compulsory purchase orders so that business interests such as airport expansions, road and rail developments (HS2 being one of the most obvious) can drive people out of their homes to destroy vast swathes of countryside and/or heritage.

    Or do so-called “British values” only matter in the religious sphere, leaving those behind business interests and market forces to do whatever they please, with a pat on the back from government to carry them forward? Strange: when armed militants do land-grabs, they’re called extremists and terrorists; when government does it, it’s called progress.

    • There’s a whole other conversation on what British values are to be had. I think those examples you give Phil are good examples of what British values aren’t. Honesty, freedom of speech and belief, a commitment to democratic rule and respect for the law are a start. If this is an opportunity to have an open debate about what we should care about as a country, then I am very happy to see that happen. Of course the government can’t decide to define British values and then get us all to stick to them. it’s easier for us to talk about what they are not and then do what we can as a country to avoid and clamp down on the worst excesses and encourage and support those things we feel should be of value.

  4. Gillan, I didn’t realise how much of a bigot you are! My reading of the news was that there was no extremism discovered in Birmingham schools but that some, perhaps unwelcome, elements of Islamic practice had crept in.

    Let me go back a bit; I’ve worked and lived in multiethnic communities for much of my life – 70 years, thus far. During that period, I’ve known many Muslims; in fact, during the late 80s and early 90s I worked within and with the Islamic community in Spitalfields, East London, for seven years. I saw no evidence of emerging extremism but we weren’t attacking, bombing and disrupting overseas Islamic countries at that time. I’m pleased, too, that about a decade ago I joined the first scriptural reasoning group at St Ethelburga’s, in the City of London. There a group of Jews, Christians and Muslims examined and shared their faith and sacred books, determining just how little separates us. I’ve shared a platform with Muslim environmentalists and was one third of a panel, on Climate Change, in a two hour broadcast on the Islam Channel. Even attended a Muslim meeting on Jihad – it was roundly condemned by all present.

    When we see, in the media, attacks on Christians in other countries, we feel anger; but we expect Muslims, here, to behave differently. Why?

    Now, let me comment on your comments on ‘British values’. Not only do you exhibit bigotry but a rather poor understanding of history and society. Following the Second World War, there was a powerful sense of cohesion and shared values. That was a fairly obvious response to years of fighting a common enemy and of enduring bombing and serious shortages of almost everything. Gradually that faded away as conditions and society changed. Go back through British history and you will find periods of shared values, separated by longer periods of division – through politics, class, wealth and even religion. Of course, Christianity, played a significant role in our shared values, in the arts and elsewhere in our culture. But it was heavily interpreted by the Church and society of the time so values changed; remember, pardoners were once an accepted element of European Christian society. They became one of the reasons for Christian protest and the formation of the Protestants. Later, we transported poor people who stole to eat to Australia, and that was accepted by the ‘Christian’ society of the time – not forgetting the terrible acts between Roman Catholics and Protestants.

    So where and what are these immutable values, this fictitious Britishness? Our history is of a mongrel community made up of migrants from a multiplicity of separate and different European groups. Those European groups being derived from others who followed the route out of Africa.

    Jesus’ recorded comments on outsiders are interesting and appropriate. He accords the values of concern, care and love not to a Judean but to a Samaritan. According to Josephus, relationships between the two groups were frequently violent yet Jesus uses a Samaritan as an example of goodness; self righteous religious Judeans, however, get much less complimentary reference. Whited sepulchres, comes to mind.

    Islam isn’t the problem, ignorance and narrow minded bigotry are; specially when dressed up with false Christianity.

    • Roy – your experiences offer an interesting perspective. However, imo it’s rendered ineffective by describing Gillan’s views as bigoted. That’s beyond the pale and smacks of those who rant “Islamophobe” at anyone who dares to think for themselves and be non-PC. In following this blog from early days I’ve admired the intellectually honest and disinterested way Gillan handles issues, even where I strongly disagree with his analysis.

      Gillan put his head above the parapet on a thorny issue that may have begun 22yrs ago when the BBC reported the Muslim Council wanted to create a Muslim parliament in Britain. In those days politicians were so seduced by the sanctity of liberal tolerance that we were frog-marched into the shotgun marriage with PC-culture. So, they didn’t have the intellectual equipment to grasp extremist doctrine and were impotent to deal with it.

      What offends me, and I expect many, are media descriptions of jihadis as being ‘British’. This is where we need to draw a line and not insist in keeping our heads in the sand. Many independent journalists have investigated these issues more thoroughly than Gillan, the latest being Andrew Gilligan. Today, he exposes instances of extremist teaching being permitted in the Cardiff school of the brothers who ran off to Syria and Iraq, where they issued a propaganda video.

      Therefore, I believe the nation would welcome clear-cut evidence of ordinary Muslims eliminating the poison in their very midst.

      • Richard, you respond to one element of my comment and, it would seem to me, conveniently disregard the remainder. I used the word bigot simply because Gillan successfully pointed to the splinter in the eyes of Muslims whilst wholly ignoring the planks in those of many Christians. I note that you, too, refer to poison in the midst of the Muslim community but that you make no comment on our disastrous interventions in the affairs of Islamic countries. I should say, some Islamic countries; there are others, some apparently the source of much fundamentalism, that are OK, Saudi, for example. Pure hypocrisy!

        Let us leave the botched partition of the Indian sub continent, by Britain and concentrate on our support for the USA which targets drones on fundamentalists and non fundamentalists alike. I had the privilege of working in the very early days of the Viet Namese resettlement in Britain. I learned from the people arriving here and by reading widely and became an unofficial spokesperson for the new community. I failed to find any high moral motive for the destruction of so many people’s lives, let alone the equally countless deaths. Thank the Lord, Britain refused involvement. However, we accepted surrender from the Japanese forces and then handed Indochina ‘back’ to France. Perhaps we started the process of civil war?

        Have you counted Britain’s failed interventions in Afghanistan or contemplated the US support for the Taliban in order to bring problems to the then USSR occupation? How, I wonder, would we react if a predominantly ‘Christian’ country was attacked by a Muslim coalition to drive out extremism. The USA can be so described, in terms of its cultural and financial colonialism. If you were living in a majority Islamic country would you regard this with equanimity?

        I used the word bigot because, as far as I could see, Gillan based his blog on Christian principles and then chose to entirely ignore the teachings of Christ. I quoted the parable of the Good Samaritan but you didn’t respond. I also objected to the false concept that my values are necessarily quintessentially British. I noted the changes in these values that have occurred throughout history.

        I live in the same London Borough as Andrew Gilligan: please do not quote him as an expert on Islam, he is not, just another ranter motivated by unfortunate right wing politics. On the other hand, I right from probably a limited but at least a long and flourishing link with London’s Islamic communities.

        • Thank you Roy for your responses. I don’t consider myself to be an expert on Islam and can only write on what I see and observe. The Muslims I know are lovely people, but they have integrated themselves into predominantly non-Muslim communities. What I find immensely frustrating is that more moderate Muslims are given much less exposure in the media than those who would be perceived as more hardline. It is also hard to understand why the government has had to invest in its Prevent program to combat extremism in Muslim communities. This rightly or wrongly gives the impression that those communities are unable or unwilling to address these issues themselves.

          I agree that our foreign policies have caused a huge number of deep-seated issues and problems abroad. Are these British interventions something we are proud of as a country right now? I would hope that we have learnt something from them and the reluctance to get involved in Syria looks as though things have changed here.

          Loving (or at least respecting) our neighbour irrespective of their culture and background should be something we value in this country. The church has a role to encourage this and speak out when this does not happen. With a reduced voice this becomes less effective, but the church still has enough of one to keep talking.

          I may give the impression that I believe there was a golden period where Christian morals and values reigned supreme, but I’m well aware that such a time has never existed. With an increased rejection of religion and belief in moral absolutes though, we are seeing the consequences more widely in the significant breakdown in family stability in particular with all of the trauma it can bring.

          I still believe that Biblical Christianity offers the more for this country than anything else, because I have not seen anything that offers a better alternative, whether it be Islam or secular liberalism or anything else.

        • Thank you Gillan for your rather more moderate response. Like you, I believe that Christianity is ordained by God and is a response to the loving sacrifice that his son made for us. However, I do not believe that God rejects the worship of Islam nor the love of its followers.

          I’m rereading EJ Holmyard’s ‘Alchemy’ which I first read, at school, shortly after it was published in 1957. The book is about the origins and development of chemistry – I was once an industrial chemist. Holmyard points to the great contribution made by Islam, keeping science and philosophy alive during the Dark Ages and, in particular, to the refinement of the moral and spiritual elements of alchemy. Islamic texts were later translated and applied by English scientists who were predominantly Christian and that influenced our culture to a considerable degree. These were ideas about approaching God through spirituality and through purification.

          Every attack on Islam makes the work of the vast majority of non fundamentalists more difficult. The rather nasty and false claims made in Birmingham only reinforced the beliefs of those who have begun to think of non Muslims as their enemy and an enemy of Allah. Offsted found no evidence that fundamentalism was not being countered but the examination brought more fear into the minds of a community that is feeling beleaguered, threatened. They need our support, our prayers and our love. There have been unpleasant Christian fundamentalists, too , and we feel threatened when we are all labeled in that way.

      • Roy – I didn’t disregard your comments at all for they’re covered in the 1st sentence. The fact is, I was brief because Friday to Sunday is when I’m usually cyber-silent. But I had a window to catch up on email and intended re-blogging this post but just couldn’t let your description of our host as someone intolerant of others’ opinions and beliefs remain unchallenged. My apologies for any offence taken in not responding more fully.

        I understand why you stress ‘speck’ and ‘plank’. Those verses have been dominant in my thoughts for weeks as being basic to following our Lord’s instructions.

        Also, as I’d read a factual article, I referred to it. Please note my reference to Gilligan was as an ‘investigator’, certainly not an expert. I simply wouldn’t refer to him as such compared with those I regularly read, especially those who were born into Muslim families and who became truly born-again after encountering Jesus Christ. They know Islam intimately.

        You indeed made valid points, especially on the Samaritan parable. Had time allowed, I’d have pointed out Jesus said to the woman at the well, “Salvation is of the Jews”. So, I’d be interested if you know the Muslim ’take’ on that remark? (Many preachers mistakenly impugn her character for she was well respected, maybe even as a prophetess, in her community – John 4:42 refers.)

        I’m certainly not ignorant of our history and was going to suggest ‘our values’ may have started to change when we reneged upon our part in fulfilling the Balfour Declaration. Also, I’ve studied the history of alchemy and its spiritual aspects in particular. These could be related to current developments at the Christian ‘cutting edge’.

        Lastly, I have a personal respect for Muslims as people who are more spiritually inclined than most of us. (I’ve blogged about a special encounter at http://wp.me/p1Y1yB-yW.)

  5. You British need to make up your mind: either moral relativity or the Judaeo-Christian God hypothesis.

    There is no middle way:


    • fab article DS! Many thanks.

      • If you think it’s ‘fab’ then you you will think that Magna Carta is ‘fab’: why did your ancestors put the Judaeo-Christian God hypothesis first? (Re-read Magna Carta – your ancestors centuries ago were way ahead in their intellectual thought compared to you 21st century Christians).

        Are you sure that it was the barons that brought the dictator King John to heel or the theology of liberty, freedom and security of the Church?

        I hope that you Christians will be able to teach your children their great Judaeo-Christian constitutional heritage and celebrate Magna Carta next year on its anniversary with the ringing of church bells throughout your land.

        I know that, all around the world, lawyers will be celebrating next year.

        • Oh dear, Delta Singh; the Magna Carta certainly did not significantly constrain King John or those monarchs that followed, only the Civil War and the death of Charles I did that. Neither did the Magna Carta form the basis of any facet of constitutional law. You are right in that it defined relationships between the monarch and the Church but it had little effect, if any, on the relationship between the monarch and the peasantry.

      • Oh dear! I can’t seem to reply to roytrindle.

        You know not English (and British) history from a lawyer’s point-of-view. The principle at stake was: Lex (the Judaeo-Christian God hypothesis) or Rex (dictatorship (for example, the Divine Right of Kings; Parliamentary Sovereignty (an invented doctrine by by A.V. Dicey); the Marxian doctrine of the ‘dictatorship of the Working-Class).

        ‘the Magna Carta certainly did not significantly constrain King John or those monarchs that followed’.

        This is incorrect as the principles of Magna Carta, and the principled tensions between the people (politically sovereign) and the State were recognised by Henry I – with his Charter – prior to the dictator King John signing Magna Carta. The future would hold constraints violently expressed.

        ‘The Second English Civil War’ (the ‘American War of Independence’) was fought across the Atlantic by the grandsons of Puritans who had fled your country (why would they do that? (clue: Downing Street is named after that traitor-Christian-preacher George Downing)).

        ‘only the Civil War and the death of Charles I did that.’

        Non-sense. The gains of the English Civil War had been reversed by William of Orange who invaded your country, with the connivance of your political elite, at the head of an army: a very British coup. In other words, you British have been living, from a constitutional point-of-view: illegally for over 300 years.

        Further, King George III (or better the political elite in parliament) oppresed the British colonists in the American colonies. You British had not learnt the lessons of the English Civil War. The grandsons of the English Civil War won: the American Declaration of Independence.

        ‘Neither did the Magna Carta form the basis of any facet of constitutional law.’

        This is not what lawyers around the world believe – even in oppressed countries such as Iran. Indeed, lawyers still cite the principles of Magna Carta in 21st century case law.

        ‘You are right in that it defined relationships between the monarch and the Church but it had little effect, if any, on the relationship between the monarch and the peasantry.’

        I said no such thing; but, even if I did mine and your views of the Church seem to be at odds: for me the Church is the people who sit in the pews (no people no church).

        When you write ‘but it had little effect, if any, on the relationship between the monarch and the peasantry.’ you must mean it (Magna Carta) had no relationship between any dictator and his people.

        It is quite clear to the children of the world, studying British history, that the British: do not know who they are as they know not where they came from nor where they go.

        Britain has memorials (churches) but no memory.

      • @Delta Singh
        Neither Magna Carta nor any other early English charters had anything to do the peasants, they had no rights. Where Magna Carta refers to rights, it means the rights of the Barons. It is a peculiarly American idea that Magna Carta is of any relevance today, you will not find it relied upon in any modern English judgment.

        William of Orange was invited to the British throne by Parliament and his position was regularised by the 1688 Bill of Rights.

  6. I know you were quoting from Andrew Lilico, but it needs to be pointed out that no form of Islam requires female genital mutilation. This is a cultural practice in some parts of Africa. It is illegal in Britain and does not fall under the section on freedom of belief in the equality act. It is not a religious practice. We need to get this point across, and we need the Islamic leaders in this country to help us.

  7. P.S. of course, not knowing that doesn’t make you a bigot. We really need to stop throwing this word around. Lots of people are misinformed about what the real teachings of Christianity are. I don’t go around calling them bigoted and ignorant.

  8. billellson

    You ask for citations of Magna Carta in modern case law?

    Woolf LJ in ex p. Naghdi [1990] 1 All ER 257 mentions applicant sought to rely on Magna Carta and art. 6 rights (EConv.HR) but there they seem to be interpreted as informative of the right general approach rather than providing an enforceable right.

    Hobhouse LJ in Re B (Minors) (Wardship: Power to Detain) [1994] 2 FCR 1142 at para 1150 said words to the effect that c.29 (of Magna Carta) is the origin of the right of the individual to liberty without proper and legally justified reason to deprive it. This was cited approvingly in Delaney v Delaney [1996] 1 All ER 367 at para 374.

    So William of Orange was invited? On whose authority? James II was on the throne and he was the lawful sovereign legal authority.

    Why did James II flee this country?

    Why did James II’s senior military advisers defect?

    Why did William of Orange land at Torbay at the head of 1,000 soldiers?

    A very English coup had taken place – that’s why.

    • It is generally regarded as bad manners to copy other peoples work without acknowledging the source. You have cut and paste two paragraphs from a comment that Michael Henley made on David Allen Green’s post ‘A Magna Carta Challenge’ on his (Green’s) blog ‘Jack of Kent’.

      Furthermore it not helpful to strip Henley’s comments of their context. 15th June was the 799th anniversary of the signing of Magna Carta. Green asked on twitter if anybody knew of any examples where an English judge had relied upon Magna Carta in modern times and considerable discussion followed. Green then set out a challenge on his blog:

      “When was the last legal case, if any, that was determined by the fair trial right set out at Article 29 of Magna Carta?

      Put differently: when was the most recent English legal case (either at first instance or on appeal) where the “ratio” was Article 29 of Magna Carta? That the outcome of the case would have been different but for the application of Article 29 of Magna Carta?”

      Henley responded, but as Green observed that both cases “examples of the tendency of judges to garnish their judgments with Magna Carta. None of them seem to me to have c. 29 as their ratio.”

      I did not, as you claim, “ask for citations of Magna Carta in modern case law?”. I stated with regard to Magna Carta “you will not find it relied upon in any modern English judgment.” A statement you are unable to contradict.

      • billelleson

        First of all my sincere and unreserved apologies to Mr Henley for failing to cite him – and Mr Henley – if you are reading – I have completed my own research.

        You state: ‘I stated with regard to Magna Carta “you will not find it relied upon in any modern English judgment.” A statement you are unable to contradict.’

        In R (Casey) v. Restormel Borough Council [2007] EWHC 2554 (Admin) the Council thought that it had discharged its duties towards an applicant who was homeless and therefore concluded that it had no further duty to accommodate Casey. An ‘out of hours judge’ ordered the Council to provide accommodation ‘until further order of the court’ if the Council applied to have the order ‘varied or revoked… on forty-eight hours notice.’ (para. 17)

        Accommodating Casey required, ultimately, the taxpayer, considerable money. The Council was ‘delayed’ by this country’s justice system to apply to have the order ‘varied or revoked’.

        On the issue of ‘delay’ affecting the Council, Mr Justice Munby had this to say: ‘The court was not even able to offer a date within 48 days, let alone 48 hours’. (para. 30)

        This is what Mr Justice Munby said about the defendant council’s delay:

        ‘The delay I said was simply indefensible. I referred to Magna Carta, expressing the view that the potential delay here amounted to a denial of justice in the sense which that phrase is used in Magna Carta. My reference was, of course, to Chapter 40 of Magna Carta, which is to be remembered remains in force as part of Chapter 29 of the Statute of 1297, and which declares that:

        ‘”Nulli vend emus, nulli nefarious, aut differ emus, rectum aut justiciam (To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay, right or justice).”’

        ‘The opportunity for subsequent reflection gives me no reason to moderate my views. (para. 28)

        Mr Justice Munby went further:

        ‘It is fashionable nowadays in some circles to decry as no longer relevant anything more than twenty or thirty years old. But there are some principles that ring down the centuries. Magna Carta may be only eight years short of its eight hundredth anniversary, but its message in this respect is timeless.’ (para. 33)

        On the issue of delay that was his ratio decidendi.

        You British are proud. God’s judgments have begun on your church. You still will not rend your hearts to humble yourselves. It is written: ’I shall speak to these people through the lips of foreigners and still they will not listen to Me.’

    • The problem with R (Casey) v. Restormel Borough Council [2007] EWHC 2554 (Admin) is that it is not really a judgment at all, but a judicial rant about the under-resourcing of the Administrative Court, and a whinge about procedure. No substantive issue is determined.

      Munby J does not rely on Magna Carta, but merely uses it to illustrate the point he is trying to make.

  9. Gillan, In view of Roy’s connections with the Muslim community perhaps he could advise on Monday’s report of a Christian NHS manager suspended without representation for praying with a Muslim colleague.

    She claims, “I fear I may have been entrapped by a colleague who encouraged me to discuss my faith, who willingly agreed that I could pray for her and who even accepted an invitation to a church charity event,” Victoria said.
    She added that Christian groups are required to fit around managerial arrangements in the Trust whereas, by contrast, joint staff and service-user Muslim fellowship meetings are always facilitated, regardless of any staffing issues.
    “There is undoubtedly a pattern of inequality of treatment of Christians and Muslims in the NHS. Regardless of allocated break times, Muslim staff can pray five times a day, which I am not objecting to, but Christians are often denied time off on Sundays or permission to take breaks during their lunchtime for prayer or religious worship”. (Source – http://www.christianconcern.com/our-concerns/christian-nhs-manager-suspended-for-praying-with-muslim-colleague)

    • I think that the key paragraph in the Telegraph report is the following:

      “A friend had recommended it to me, a book called I Dared to Call Him Father. I hadn’t read it. I still haven’t. But it is a story about a Muslim woman who converts to Christianity.

      That was an act of extreme insensitivity: it would appear that complaints only arose after this. The current climate of anti Islamic feeling, often expressed loudly in the media, does not help. There is a history, between the two faiths, of forced conversion: it is a pity that people are so historically and culturally ignorant. The lady who was suspended adds comments of unfairness and entrapment; of course, I do not know exactly what happened but these suggest some prejudice against Islam.

      Back in the mid 70s, whilst working in the City and a member of the URC, I started going to a City church for Holy communion, later joining a prayer group. One of the other group members, a worker priest, gave me money to continue a summer holiday playscheme project, working with Bangladeshi children in Spitalfields. He offered me more money to give them Bibles and I declined. The Bangladeshi community would have shown me the door, very quickly. I enjoy working with Muslim friends and, where that friendship has developed, there have been times when we would discuss even argue theology. Friendship and trust were key. Otherwise, I’m happy to share all that we have in common, to respect and be respected. I really find the claims of unfairness and, even worse, persecution by British Christians to be risible and very, very sad.

    • Thanks Richard for drawing attention to this. It’s hard to know how much of this is the full story, but given other stories from the NHS it’s not entirely surprising. We don’t the the nature of the relationship between Victoria Wasteney and her Muslim colleague, but offering to pray for someone or inviting them to a church event should never bring grounds for suspension. The book she gave possibly wasn’t the best decision, but again we don’t know the full circumstances. If a Muslim colleague did these for me I would only have a problem with it if I felt I was being forced into something that would affect my role in the work I did. Some NHS managers appear to be clueless when it comes to religion and religious sensitivities.

      Another very disappointing piece of news. Fortunately these are unusual but it doesn’t make that any easier for Miss Wasteney.

  10. Thanks Roy. I know the book and agree it was a rather insensitive action. Your story reminds me of what a travelling evangelist said years ago about living in various Islamic nations and befriending locals. Once acquainted they’d be happy to for him to share his faith, even interested in hearing the Gospel. (It may have been the man who walked the world carrying a cross.)

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