Income Tax is the Best Way to Fund Public Services…

a red wall with a white sticker on it

How we fund our services has always been discussed in elections. Even in N. Ireland where border politics tends to dominate, every one of us knows that we need to pay more if our NHS is to function properly and be able to look after our sick and our elderly properly. However, in this election both of the UK parties of government – Labour and Tory – are rushing to reassure the electorate that income tax will not go up …

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The Best Background for a PM?

Very many people will have thought Rishi Sunak had an excellent background for a future PM. He had studied PPE at Oxford and then for an MBA at Stanford in the USA before working in investment banking and helping to set up a successful ‘hedge fund’. He was bright, well-educated and had skills in banking & finance, what could go wrong? Unfortunately, when you see him interviewed you get a real sense that he considers himself perfectly qualified for the …

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Antisemitism – a Shield to Protect Israel?

silhouette of man

I cannot prove that I am not anti-German, or that I am not anti-Muslim. Such accusations are almost impossible to disprove. Even uttering the phrase, ‘I am not anti-Muslim’, invites people to consider, ‘Is he being truthful, or is he in denial. So how should I respond when I, like anyone who has criticised Israel, am invited to take steps to prove that I am not antisemitic. (See attached picture of sample tweets.) What is antisemitism? Even though the word …

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Memories of UWC Strike of May 1974…

UWC strike 1974 paisley

In May 1974, I was a 13-year-old schoolboy who would return home from school each day for the usual glass of milk and sandwich with my mother at the kitchen table. On 14th May I did not realise the significance when my mother slapped down a copy of the Newsletter on the table in front of me and asked ‘Well what do you think of that?’ The page in question outlined the intention of the Ulster Workers Council (UWC) to …

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Atonement and Scapegoats…

grayscale photography of praying hands

European Christians and Jews both share the idea that the sins of the community can be paid for by another being – for Christians it is Jesus who died for our sins.  In English we call it ‘scapegoating’ when a community blames someone else and they suffer in our place. This concept first appears in Leviticus 6 verses 5-10 which outline the Jewish ritual which takes place on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, where the slaughter of a bull and two male goats …

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Why Unionists tend to Support Israel…

No-one can have missed the Israeli flags that have been flying over Loyalist areas of N. Ireland in recent months. On Slugger at the weekend there were comments on this issue. Over the past few months, on Twitter and on Slugger, I have been asked to explain why unionists predominantly side with Israel despite the horror that is being inflicted on Gaza. I have previously tried to answer this question briefly, but it deserves a longer response. Unionists are not …

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Who Owns our Government?

5 pieces of banknotes on yellow and white textile

Your first though might be ‘We the people’ as we vote every 5 years for a new government, but the person who pays for something usually owns it. Running a political party is not cheap, you can spend up to £54,000 per seat when you run candidates for Westminster[1] so for the whole of Britain the cost could be £33million. Running for council seats or for devolved administrations is slightly cheaper, but large political parties such as Labour or the …

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It’s not antisemitic to demand an end to mass murder…

a building that has a bunch of debris in front of it

As a law-abiding, retired school teacher, it came as a surprise to discover last week that I was part of the ‘mob’ that is threatening democracy – if you can believe our PM, Rishi Sunak. His Friday night condemnation of those of us who refuse to sit quietly as the children of Gaza are murdered is mainly based on the claim that marchers intimidate the country’s Jewish population by using the slogan ‘From Gaza to the Sea, Palestine will be …

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Imperfect Politicians…

london, westminster, bridge

Have you ever wondered how some politicians get away with everything while others have their careers blighted by seemingly small actions that upset the wrong people? When the tape of Trump bragging about grabbing women by their pussies first leaked, many of us thought he was finished, but he won that election, and even now, he is more popular than Biden. This is despite being found liable for sexual abuse and defamation with $83 million in damages awarded against him, …

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Valentine Fails…

On Sunday a small Valentine’s Day gift arrived from my wife. As you will see from the picture below, while romance may not be dead after 30 years of marriage, it is more spiky than soft and sweet. This got me thinking about what I will get my wife this year (any suggestions of a suitable response are welcome) and reminded me of the too frequent occasions when we men do not live up to our wife/girlfriend’s expectations of the …

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Is there anything to be said for the John Major Option?

I have been critical of the DUP in the past but Jeffrey Donaldson has my sympathy. By failing to push through a vote on his deal over the Windsor Framework last Friday, Jeffrey Donaldson seems to have damaged his reputation and his authority in the DUP. His indecisiveness does not look good but decisions always look easier from the outside, or in retrospect. He has 3 obvious options left, but I will suggest a 4th option which is risky and …

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No More Nanny State?

an older woman holding a baby's hand

According to the Economist Magazine the term ‘Nanny State’ first appeared with the introduction of a 70mph speed limit on England’s motorways in 1965. More recently it has been used to express outrage at schools being asked to supervise teeth brushing for primary school children. The term is often used by people on the political right who object to the state behaving in a paternalist way, directing or encouraging people towards better life choices such as drinking less, smoking less, …

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Can Israel Learn Anything from the Northern Ireland Peace Process?

a building that has a bunch of debris in front of it

The TV images that appeared on Saturday 7th October last year are seared into the memory of those of us who watched in disbelief on that afternoon. For many the grotesque display and abuse of the body of a German girl (Shani Nicole Louk), followed by the image of a female Israeli soldier, her trousers bloodstained, being lead away filled us with horror and anger. We don’t accept women being treated in that way and wanted to signal our disgust …

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Potential solutions to the Israeli / Palestine conflict…

A couple of thousand people (myself included) walked on Sunday’s ‘Peace in Gaza’ march to the US Consulate in Belfast. When I posted pictures of this on Twitter (@arnoldcarton) some of the more polite responses argued that seeking peace without destroying Hamas entirely is naïve, it is argued that seeking a ceasefire now and a negotiated settlement is unrealistic, that wars end when one side has won and the other know they have lost. This is worth exploring. Those who …

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The Story of Us…

person holding string lights on opened book

Every country in the world has its founding myths or stories. America had the Pilgrim Fathers and the War of Independence, Sweden has its tales of the Norse Gods and Rome had Romulus and Remus raised by a wolf, What is the story of our country? If you ask this question in N. Ireland the response you receive will probably fit into three broad categories. Some will say that our story is long tale of linked island nations coming together …

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It is Different for Working-Class Communities…

white printed paper

In the 1970’s there was a catchy Joe Jackson single with the lyric “Don’t you know that it’s different for girls?”. People back then already knew that females had a different experience of sex and relationships and the song surprises us by inverting our expectations. What is the connection between this and the Dublin Riots? For approx. 30 years I worked in the same large secondary school with approximately 45 teaching staff and like all large schools we employed roughly …

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Will Jeffrey Make our Christmas Dreams Come True?

bauble balls hang on christmas tree

It is almost December and the excitement is growing, will Santa Jeffrey make our Xmas dreams come true? When we unwrap our Xmas present, will the colourful wrapping paper hide an unchanged Windsor Framework Box, and when we open that will we find the NI Protocol inside with minimal changes? Or will it contain a ‘Supermajority’ for the Border poll? Is Emma LP still hoping to be the fairy at the top of the Christmas Tree or will Michelle get …

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Yellowstone – a dystopian future for the USA?

Every now and then a film or TV series catches the mood of a nation and it’s viewing figures take off, it becomes an enduring classic. In the early 1980s, a time of massive unemployment in the UK we had Auf Wiedersehen Pet about migrant British workers and Boys from the Blackstuff with Yosser Hughes anguished cry of ‘give us a job, I can do that’ both catching the national mood. In the more prosperous 1990s the American import, Friends …

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Beyond Black and White: The Complexities of Morality…

grayscale photo of man standing in front of stairs

Many Protestants of my generation (over 60) will have had a similar upbringing to myself, attending Presbyterian Sunday School each Sunday at 10:30 and then the main church service from 11:30 to 12:30. Despite the fact that attendance was compulsory (according to my parents) I enjoyed the experience, taking the words of ‘What a Friend we have in Jesus’ literally and feeling inspired by religion and later wowed by the 1977 Jesus of Nazareth series. Initially, I felt immune to …

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Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) – What Straight Boys Need to Learn…

person overlooking on tall trees during daytime

In the past 18 months we have seen the unpleasant side of male sexuality exposed many times. Andrew Tate was reportedly making significant money by promoting misogynistic ideas to young men through social media. Apparently, he was gaining in popularity with young men until Greta Thunberg caught him with her “[email protected]” response to his attack on her. Russell Brand is in the news again; he lost his job with the BBC back in 2008 over his shocking on-air comments about …

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