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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:17 pm 
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Pole: yes, they could create a formal PM role. But there's no actual point, so why bother? [and it would still be theoretically possible that the "Prime Minister" might then not actually be the Prime Minister - what if the Prime Minister appointed an ally or a rival "Prime Minister" for political reasons, while still retaining all the power of the Prime Minister?]

Okay, it's even weirder than I thought it was, then…

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:21 pm 
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Here's something about British politics I've always wanted to know more about: what's the deal with the shadow cabinet? I gather that they're from the out-of-power parties, but I have no idea what they actually do. For example, does the shadow Home Secretary ever work with the Home Secretary on whatever it is the Home Secretary does?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:29 am 
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kodé wrote:
Here's something about British politics I've always wanted to know more about: what's the deal with the shadow cabinet? I gather that they're from the out-of-power parties, but I have no idea what they actually do. For example, does the shadow Home Secretary ever work with the Home Secretary on whatever it is the Home Secretary does?


No.

The shadow cabinet is just the people in the Opposition who are a) presented as alternatives to the real cabinet to the voters; and b) tasked to some extent with countering and opposing them (althoguh these days that's much more centralised; nonetheless, the person who, say, is on TV criticising a speech by the Chancellor is most likely to be the Shadow Chancellor. Well actually no, they're not, because the shadow chancellor is important enough to be in the "too important to allow on TV willy-nilly" category. But the environment secretary will most often by criticised by the shadow environment secretary, etc).

[terminology is a little confused. Traditionally, only Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition (the second-biggest party) has an official shadow cabinet, and other parties are properly referred to as having just spokespeople - so "Liberal Democrat Treasury Spokeswoman", rather "Shadow Chancellor", for instance. However, colloquially people do sometimes talk about other parties having shadow cabinets, I guess because until this election we were in a phase where the line between opposition and 'minor party' was narrowing]

However, just saying "No" isn't entirely accurate. On really controversial issues of national importance, the government may unofficially liaise with opposition parties to try to avoid public disagreement. This isn't common, but it happens sometimes on issues of national security and the like, and also in superficial symbolic gestures.

More substantive is the issue of The Privy Council.

As alluded to above, the Privy Council is a theoretically incredibly important body, with little actual function today. Every Act of Parliament, for instance, is theoretically enacted by "The Queen-in-Council", which means the Privy Council on behalf of the Queen.
In practice, the vast majority of its power has for centuries been delegated to its executive committee, the "Cabinet Committee of the Privy Council", known to everybody today simply as "the Cabinet".

Interestingly, because the Privy Council was the supreme judicial authority as well as the supreme exectuive authority, it continues to have some judicial functions, which are in practice delegated to another of its committees, the Judicial Committee, which is made up entirely of judges. Although most functions were given away to the House of Lords, and later to the Supreme Court, the Judicial Committee has been left with a random assortment of weird jurisdictions. It is the highest court of appeal for ecclesiastical law within the Church of England, for instance. It's also the court of appeal for disciplinary actions within the Royal College of Vetinary Surgeons, and for cases arising from the Court of Admiralty of the Cinque Ports, and so on.

Oddest of all, however, is that the Judicial Committee was, as the expression of the will of the Empress, the court of appeal for the British Empire outside of the UK (because in the UK there was a right to be heard by parliament instead). And this function has remained even where the Empire has fallen.

Which means that the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council is a truly remarkable institution, in that it is a legal body in one country that is almost entirely concerned with adjudicating legal disputes in other countries! If you have a major law case in Kiribati, for instance, or Jamaica, or Mauritius, or Tuvalu, those countries still outsource their highest court of appeals to the UK's Judicial Committee. Even odder is Brunei, where all appeals are to the whim of the Sultan, but a convention exists that the Sultan in fact asks the advice of the Judicial Committee and do whatever they tell him.

However! More relevent to your question, the Privy Council, to which people are now appointed for life, by convention includes not only current and former senior government ministers, but also a small number of the most senior members of the Opposition, and the leader of the third-largest party. [Ironically, because of life appointments, the "Privy Council" is now actually even larger than the House of Commons - although it basically never meets en masse].

The Privy Council doesn't really do anything, but it still holds meetings every week - there has to be the monarch there (or a representative royal), and a quorum of at least three members, oor of course only at least two members when only discussing matters relating to the Opticians Act of 1989.

Crucially, membership of the Privy Council requires a solemn oath of honesty and secrecy regarding all Council meetings (even the words of the oath were considered top secret until Blair). As a result, in really serious situations the government can give information to a few members of the opposition under an expectation of secrecy, which allows for a limited co-operation between the parties away from the gaze of the media. Tony Blair, for instance, as well as lying to Parliament about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, also used the Privy Council to share his falsified intelligence with the leaders of the two main opposition parties, to persuade them not to oppose the war too strongly.

Other than that, no, the Shadow Cabinet has no involvement in government.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:56 am 
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Axiem: the constitution has three formal elements (aside from general tradition and practice): statute law, common law, and authoritative works.

Statute law is just the laws passed by parliament. "Constitutional" laws are passed the same way as any other laws, and don't have to be defined as such. A recent development is that some court cases have suggested there may be two types of laws - constitutional ones and other ones - with constitutional laws taking precedence in case of apparent conflict. [that is, the courts seem to be edging toward the idea of constitutional review] These constitutional laws probably include the Magna Carta, the Acts of Union and the Bill of Rights. However, the fundamental rule of UK politics is "parliamentary sovereignty" - parliament can do anything it likes, no matter what other parliaments have done. So Parliament could do away with the Bill of Rights tommorrow, if it wanted. However, judges may feel that a law that contradicts the Bill of Rights should be ignored, unless it specifically says that it's intentionally superseding the Bill of Rights. [for instance, most of the Magna Carta has long since been repealed and replaced.]

Common law is law created by judges. They basically fill gaps in established precedent, and their judgements establish binding precedents until parliament gets around to explicitly contradicting them.

Works of authority are previous analyses of the constitution that have been accepted as broadly correct. Mostly they're fixed texts that are in some respects out of date; however, Erskine May is actually continually updated. Mostly it's updated to reflect changes in practice, but theoretically you could intentionally change it to say something new - but in that case it might be considered not to be constitutional anymore.


Regarding uncodified constitutions in general: it's worth bearing in mind that all constitutions have large unwritten elements. The US's written "constitution" in particular, being extremely short and often rather vague, is only a small part of the actual US constitution. To take just the most famous example, the written Constitution does not grant the Supreme Court the power of constitutional review - and given that this was not part of the English (or any other, to my knowledge) constitution at the time, it almost certainly was not originally intended. More generally, if you follow a Supreme Court ruling, almost none of the reasoning, the principles, the precedents, the established interpretations, that those rulings are based on are actually codified in the written Constitution, and even a lot of the bits that are officially based on the written Constitution are not actually written down (the right to abortion, for instance, is famously discovered in the right to privacy, which itself is famously discovered from the ideological implications of the written Constitution, rather than in any actual written text). Similarly, incredibly important practices like the filibuster, and indeed cloture to override the filibuster, have no basis in the written Constitution.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:05 am 
Avisaru
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Bloody hell!

I mean the CofE thing kind of makes sense from an historical standpoint (I'll have the ask my dad about that, he's rather in the know about ecclesiastial law), the bit about the empire is just so damn funny!

Oh, and for those of you who don't know what the Cinque Ports are, they're a league of towns along the Kent and Sussex coast formed in 1155, once for trade and defence purposes (you know, in case the French want to attack us), and Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports used to be quite an important position. It is now completely ceremonial and exists only as a historical quirk.

Also, the Cinque bit is pronounced [sɪŋk] not [sæŋk] as you would expect if it were a direct borrowing from modern French (I guess this is a Norman relic?). There's a fantastic rhyme to remind you of this shibboleth:

Quote:
Whoever says "sank"
And not our "sink"
Is a foreigner and foe,
His ship to be engaged
And after bloody battle
Sunk
No prisoners taken.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:12 am 
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Salmoneus wrote:
It's also the court of appeal for disciplinary actions within the Royal College of Vetinary Surgeons.


I'm beginning to think Britain actually keeps adding weird loopholes in their constitution on purpose because they're funny.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:58 pm 
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Salmoneus wrote:
The Privy Council doesn't really do anything, but it still holds meetings every week - there has to be the monarch there (or a representative royal), and a quorum of at least three members, oor of course only at least two members when only discussing matters relating to the Opticians Act of 1989.


Please tell me that you made that last part up.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:05 pm 
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http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-39120245

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:16 pm 
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An amazing thing from TVTropes:
Quote:
Under British law, an MP cannot be impeached or resign; once elected, you must serve your full five-year term. (This rule dates back to days when not all MPs actually wanted the position—it was an unpaid position, and what with the roads in pre-19th century Britain being nothing short of atrocious, being an MP, with the attendant constant travel to Westminster, made it difficult for a member to actually attend to whatever business he made his living in). However, if an MP is appointed to "an office of profit of the Crown"—i.e. a paid government job in an executive or judicial capacity—the constituency from which the MP was elected must hold a by-election, theoretically to give the people an opportunity to ensure that the MP is not being corrupted by the King's money.*note* Significantly, the MP has the option not to stand in this by-election. Thus in cases where an MP either wishes to leave Parliament or is convicted of a crime, publicly disgraced, or in some other way proves unfit, they are appointed to the job of Crown Steward and Baliff for the Chiltern Hundreds or Crown Steward and Baliff for the Manor of Northstead, positions which have no actual duties and are responsible for areas that no longer legally exist. They do, however, come with pittance salaries (usually a few pounds), thereby qualifying as "offices of profit of the Crown", triggering the by-election. The MP then can quietly decline to stand in the by-election, resign from the non-job, and move on with his/her life.

note:
More: show
If you're wondering why the Prime Minister doesn't have to win a by-election in her home constituency after getting the job, we should note that rule was modified around the end of the 19th century so as to not trigger a by-election if the office the MP is appointed to is one of certain high offices, i.e. the ones in the Government.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 4:38 pm 
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Raphael wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
The Privy Council doesn't really do anything, but it still holds meetings every week - there has to be the monarch there (or a representative royal), and a quorum of at least three members, oor of course only at least two members when only discussing matters relating to the Opticians Act of 1989.


Please tell me that you made that last part up.


Nope!
Section 35(1) of the Opticians Act (1989) reads:
For the purpose of exercising any powers conferred by this Act on the Privy Council (other than the power of hearing appeals against disciplinary orders or directions under section 19 above) the quorum of the Privy Council shall be two.

Well, actually apparently the Opticians Act is only one of several exceptions. But yeah. I have absolutely no clue why it was felt necessary to lower the default quorum by one when adjudicating appeals against a decision not to issue an optician's license (but not when adjudicating appeals against disciplinary orders issued by the Council of Opticians - that totally needs three people, clearly!)


Methru: yes, this is entirely correct. There have even been logjams sometimes, when MPs have wanted to resign en masse, but been prevented by the difficulty in getting the paperwork acknowledging them as steward of the hundreds done in time...

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 5:29 pm 
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Today someone should probably explain: the 1922 Committee.

Yesterday, the PM "visited the 1922 Committee", in what was considered a critical moment for her continued career. But what does that actually mean?

Simple! The 1922 Committee is the informal name for the private gathering of backbench Conservative MPs - that is, Tory MPs who do not have jobs in the government. The Committee exists to help backbenchers* orchestrate coherent lines of strategy with their own party leadership, and to relay the views of the backbenchers as a group to the government. Traditionally, frontbenchers (people with government jobs) were banned, but in 2010 Cameron succesfully persuaded the committee to reform to allow frontbenchers to attend meetings, which has apparently helped reduce the independence of the committee, although it's still the case that only backbenchers are allowed to vote on the officers of the committee.

Meetings of the committee are private, and apparently there's a reasonable degree of openness there, although quotes and impressions are occasionally leaked. For important meetings, the media crowd around outside the door of the committee room and try to hear what's going on. Of paramount importance? The tradition that whenever a PM attends the 1922 committee, the MPs signal their support for her by banging loudly on tables (which the media outside can hear).

Apparently, May was greated with general, but not enthusiastic, thumping, indicating that her position is not under immediate threat, but that she is very much out of favour and far from secure in her position.

If the situation worsens for her, the man of the hour will be the Chairman of the 1922 Committee, Graham Brady.

[Brady has been an MP for 20 years. He served in a number of Shadow Cabinet positions in the early 2000s, but has been back on the backbenches for 10 years now, having resigned in protest at a policy he didn't think was right-wing enough. In 2010, he won "Backbencher of the Year" (yes, that's a real award), and became Chair of the 1922 Committee.

He also serves on a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups - he's the Secretary of the Cayman Islands Groups and of the Fluoridation Group, for example. All-Party Parliamentary Groups are informal bodies of MPs devoted to quietly advancing certain interests; their work is done almost entirely behind the scenes in Westminster, not in front of cameras (which helsps them avoid partisanship). Some are serious, albeit informal, policy committees, like the Infrastructure Group that Brady is a member of, and may even have substantial institutional backing - the APPG for homelessness, for instance, has a major homelessness charity running much of its admin; others are more like after-school clubs, as much a part of MP's social lives (note: they don't have any; they have masive workloads, lots of commuting, and despite changes to improve their standard of living they still do a lot of their official work at night, for some reason) as of the national policy environment. Like the APPG for Jazz Appreciation, for instance, or the All-Pary Parliamentary Group for Cheese, of which the Leader of the Opposition is a prominent member. [Jeremy Corbyn loves cheese so much he once attempted to surreptitiously infiltrate Mexico with a bag filled with illegal cheeses to distribute to his Mexican family members and friends. The police stopped him at the border. "It's only cheese!" he said. "Oh, OK then," they said, and let him through. Of such thrilling stories is Jeremy Corbyn's legend made.]

]

If May is in trouble, it may be, say, the resignation of a top frontbench colleague that triggers her fall. But that will only happen if the 1922 Committee seems to have lost confidence in her, and that's what she, and others, will be frequently chatting to Mr Brady about. Mr Brady may well also be the won to tell her that she has to resign. If there is a formal challenge, it's Mr Brady who, according to internal Tory rules, will act as the returning officer over the ensuing leadership election.


The 1922 Committee is unique to the Tories, but the Parliamentary Labour Party is a close equivalent on the other side of the aisle (though the PLP includes frontbenchers as well).

No points for guessing when the 1922 Committee was formed. Yes, that's right: 1923.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 4:02 am 
Avisaru
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Salmoneus wrote:
No points for guessing when the 1922 Committee was formed. Yes, that's right: 1923.


No, that's not crazy; it's the way we do things here. You can't understand how this country works without first accepting this kind of fact.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 5:11 am 
Avisaru
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mèþru wrote:
An amazing thing from TVTropes:
Quote:
Under British law, an MP cannot be impeached or resign; once elected, you must serve your full five-year term. (This rule dates back to days when not all MPs actually wanted the position—it was an unpaid position, and what with the roads in pre-19th century Britain being nothing short of atrocious, being an MP, with the attendant constant travel to Westminster, made it difficult for a member to actually attend to whatever business he made his living in). However, if an MP is appointed to "an office of profit of the Crown"—i.e. a paid government job in an executive or judicial capacity—the constituency from which the MP was elected must hold a by-election, theoretically to give the people an opportunity to ensure that the MP is not being corrupted by the King's money.*note* Significantly, the MP has the option not to stand in this by-election. Thus in cases where an MP either wishes to leave Parliament or is convicted of a crime, publicly disgraced, or in some other way proves unfit, they are appointed to the job of Crown Steward and Baliff for the Chiltern Hundreds or Crown Steward and Baliff for the Manor of Northstead, positions which have no actual duties and are responsible for areas that no longer legally exist. They do, however, come with pittance salaries (usually a few pounds), thereby qualifying as "offices of profit of the Crown", triggering the by-election. The MP then can quietly decline to stand in the by-election, resign from the non-job, and move on with his/her life.


This has actually been the case for ages, and it used to be if you were and MP that you couldn't be charged of a crime while Parliament was sitting (I don;t think that's still the case; we have come a long way since the reign of Charles I).

Salmoneus wrote:
Jeremy Corbyn loves cheese so much he once attempted to surreptitiously infiltrate Mexico with a bag filled with illegal cheeses to distribute to his Mexican family members and friends. The police stopped him at the border. "It's only cheese!" he said. "Oh, OK then," they said, and let him through. Of such thrilling stories is Jeremy Corbyn's legend made.


I'm coming to love Jez-Bi-Wan more and more these days, and I admire his devotion to the cause of cheese.

alice wrote:
Salmoneus wrote:
No points for guessing when the 1922 Committee was formed. Yes, that's right: 1923.


No, that's not crazy; it's the way we do things here. You can't understand how this country works without first accepting this kind of fact.


Absolutely; it's the entire basis of our national security! No foreigner would ever try and undermine the British state because they'd have no clue where to start! :P

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:33 pm 
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Tim Farron just resigned as leader of the Lib Dems wtf is happening?

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:07 pm 
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“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

I had an easier time finding out what football club he supports than what Christian denomination he belongs to. Christian Today simply describes him as "evangelical Christian". I gather than in a UK-context, that most likely means low-church CofE?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:19 pm 
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linguoboy wrote:
“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

I had an easier time finding out what football club he supports than what Christian denomination he belongs to. Christian Today simply describes him as "evangelical Christian". I gather than in a UK-context, that most likely means low-church CofE?


That is the most likely meaning; there are independent evangelical shurches out there, but I'm not sure there are many of them in Westmorland. If he is though he rather represents an anomaly: low-church Anglicanism is otherwise completely saturated by Conservative thought and politics, it's painful to watch whenever they appear in public.

Mind you, this confusion about his actual denomination is partly intentional; evangelicals like to present themselves as if they represent all Christians when in fact they are only a small minority.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 6:27 pm 
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linguoboy wrote:
“To be a political leader – especially of a progressive, liberal party in 2017 – and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible’s teaching, has felt impossible for me.”

I had an easier time finding out what football club he supports than what Christian denomination he belongs to. Christian Today simply describes him as "evangelical Christian". I gather than in a UK-context, that most likely means low-church CofE?


Across the country, yes, either an evangelical strain of CofE, or else a "non-denominational" evangelical denomination.

However, he's from Lancashire, and that part of the world (Lancashire, Westmoreland, the South Lakes) is one of the historic hotbeds of Dissent, in both directions (i.e. the region has both Catholic and non-Anglican Protestant traditions). It's the historic home of groups like the Quakers, the Baptists, the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion, etc, as well as plenty of Methodists. [Lancashire is home to Pendle Hill, capital of 17th century religious enthusiasm - the Quakers, founded after George Fox received a vision there, are well remembered, as are the alleged witches executed there, but groups like the Muggletonians and Grindletonians that also formed around the hill are less well recalled]. So he could well be a Baptist or a Calvinist Methodist, for example. Apparently Preston, his home town, also has Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Christadelphians, Pentecostals, Swedenborgians, and 'Evangelicals'. And the the national cathedral of the syro-malabar eparchy, not that they're protestants. And apparently the world's oldest continuously present Mormon branch. And a large Sunni population, too.

[just north of there, the other side of the lakes, you come to Keswick, the traditional national capital of evangelicalism (and pencils). They have a yearly Convention that draws over 10,000 pilgrims. Billy Graham used to preach there.]

Around my home area, which is a similarly Dissenting area, the biggest groups of hardline evangelicals are the Strict and Particular Baptists, and something like that would certainly explain why he hasn't gone into details. Groups like that are extremely insular - the Strict and Particulars don't even encourage contact or discussion with members of neighbouring Strict and Particular churches, let alone identifying yourself willy-nilly in public. [if you think they're odd, though, we also have a pseudo-Amish commune. And the former world bases of the scientologists, rosicrucians, etc] However, he's clearly not one of those, because then there's no way he'd be OK with gay people.

[and obviously if he were from London or the like, and an ethnic minority, there are a bunch of evangelical anglican or post-anglican African denominations there.]

But I'm guessing most likely he's "Non-Denominational".

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 9:41 pm 
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I like how this claims that the Strict and Particular Baptists are not a product of the Reformation...

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 2:09 am 
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OK, news just in from my dad, he is an independent and worships at a church in Kendal.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 5:49 am 
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Frislander wrote:
OK, news just in from my dad, he is an independent and worships at a church in Kendal.

"independent" as in non-CofE, or "Independent" as in the Congregationalist tradition and/or the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches? Not that it matters much, I guess.

Interestingly, there are at least three rival denominations of non-denominational evangelicals in Kendal. One is a 'Free' evangelical church, one is 'independent', and one is part of a group called 'Newfrontiers'*. There are also nine methodist churches, some quakers, the salvation army, and the United Reformed (an English union of Presbyterians and most Congregationalist groups). And in the town and surrounding countryside, at least 19 Anglican churches. Kendal, btw, has a population of fewer than 30,000 people...

[one of the evanglical churches has now expanded their franchise to the village where Farron lives. I wonder if that's just for his benefit? I don't know how many evangelicals there could be in a village of 2,000 people!]



*which grew out of an underground home church movement in Sussex, then united into an organisation because God sent a prophetic vision of an elephant in a jungle, and then spread out of Sussex because God sent a prophetic vision of a bow and arrow pointed at Europe. God is very inventive when he's visiting Sussex.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:15 am 
Avisaru
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I don't know the specifics, that's as much as dad told me, and probably all he's got from his connections.

The most annoying thing about the whole episode is that it plays into this narrative evangelicals (as represented by organisations such as the Christian Institute and Christian Concern) have of "persecuted Christians" (because the majority of society objecting to the homophobia and anti-abortion activism that evangelicals tend to stand for is enough to constitute persecution in their eyes), and this is only yet further ammunition for them in their campaign of arse-holery which they have been inflicting on the rest of us in the CofE and beyond. I never thought I could get angry at Tim Farron but clearly I thought wrong.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:42 am 
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Frislander wrote:
I don't know the specifics, that's as much as dad told me, and probably all he's got from his connections.

The most annoying thing about the whole episode is that it plays into this narrative evangelicals (as represented by organisations such as the Christian Institute and Christian Concern) have of "persecuted Christians" (because the majority of society objecting to the homophobia and anti-abortion activism that evangelicals tend to stand for is enough to constitute persecution in their eyes), and this is only yet further ammunition for them in their campaign of arse-holery which they have been inflicting on the rest of us in the CofE and beyond. I never thought I could get angry at Tim Farron but clearly I thought wrong.


If the man doesn't think he can do his job adequately and still be honest, it's entirely respectable for him to step down. He clearly doesn't want to live a lie, but also doesn't want to destroy his party.

And actually, I think this is an example where there is persecution. Farron has made it very clear that a) he doesn't think homosexuality is a sin; b) he is in favour of the state granting full equal rights to homosexuals and homosexual couples; c) he is committed to the freedom of expression and freedom of speech of all peaceful activists; and d) his personal preferences are politically irrelevent because he his a liberal and that's what liberalism means. His commitment to both social freedom and social justice is nigh-on unimpeachable.
[yes, he procedurally opposed one gay marriage bill, but only because he wanted ammendments to improve protection of trans people]

And yet about 90% of media attention paid to his political party has revolved around the question of whether he personally thinks people should have sex with people they're not married to*, with the implication that if he doesn't then he must be hounded from public office.

The whole point of liberalism is that personal preferences aren't relevent to liberal political positions - liberalism isn't about thinking the right thing, it's about being free to think what you want. And if we accept this idea that people should only be free to think whatever agrees 100% with the public sentiment of the moment, and that anyone who thinks differently can't be a liberal, then we make liberty the sole preserve of the right-thinking, who are generally in the minority! To sustain liberal norms, we need everyone to support them, and that's not possible when we try to restrict them only to 'our' side. If liberally-minded people from less socially progressive traditions, like Farron, are hounded out of the liberal movement, then we are driving away the sort of support that is necessary to actually win political arguments on liberty issues, as well as undermining the basic principles of liberalism itself.


*from what he's said, and particularly the way he's responded to "are people who have gay sex sinners?" with "we're all sinners", I'm assuming his position is close to the Catholic one: all sex outside (sacred) marriage is equivalent to masturbation, and hence not a good thing to do, and sacred marriage is by definition between two people of opposite sexes. This does not preclude him thinking that sex outside marriage should be completely legal, that it's none of his business to comment on (all the furore about his views has come from people demanding he share his personal opinions, not from him lecturing anybody else uninvited), that wanting to have it isn't wrong itself, or that there should be legally-recognised and equal civil marriages that do not follow the theology of his own religion. If his private preferences have no effect on the political policies he favours, and are held privately and not imposed on or even revealed to others, why is it necessary to demand his removal from any political office? I may not particularly agree with the man in his private views, or particularly like him, but the whole point of liberalism is that that shouldn't matter!

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 8:55 am 
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I completely agree with absolutely everything you say, but the problem is that whenever he does do something like this that is how it'll be spun by those particular groups, who only do harm to the church as a whole. If he feels he can't carry on as leader of the party (and I agree, it's not his fault the media have been so probing about his personal views) then he is allowed to do that, but my annoyment comes from the implications, and again that lending of ammunition thing. Evangelicals are unbearable enough without this to back them up in their convictions.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 4:31 am 
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One question: Are there any rules, norms, conventions or traditions for when British parties hold their party conferences? Apparently it's usually not during campaign seasons, as with US party conventions.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 7:38 am 
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Raphael wrote:
One question: Are there any rules, norms, conventions or traditions for when British parties hold their party conferences? Apparently it's usually not during campaign seasons, as with US party conventions.


It's an internal party matter, so they can be held any time they want. By convention, they're held annually in early autumn, with the major parties each having a week to themselves. Traditionally they have to be held in a large town beginning with the letter 'B', and it has to be by the sea. These restrictions traditionally limited them to Bournemouth, Brighton and Blackpool. In recent years, however, the parties have branched out, particularly to Birmingham, but now even to places like Liverpool and Manchester that don't even begein with a 'B'! (this is partly also because nobody want to have to go to Blackpool these days; minor parties tries Bristol, which fits the he rule, but for some reason it didn't catch on).

These days, the parties also try to grab attention by holding fake party conferences in the spring, around March time. The Tory one is officially called the "Spring Forum", but I think the others go with "Spring Conference".


They're not held within the campaign season probably for four reasons:
- predictability. You don't necessarily know when the campaign will be - even when it's not a snap election, until recently the specific date was set by the PM alone (though there were conventions), so you couldn't be booking everything far in advance.
- distraction. US elections are immensely long affairs, so everyone taking a couple of weeks holiday to produce a TV show isn't a problem. UK elections are usually very short

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