Bishop of Southwark – challenges to parliamentary democracy posed by referendums

On 19th July Lord Higgins led a debate on the motion, “That this House takes note of the impact on parliamentary democracy in the United Kingdom of the use of referendums.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, on securing the debate, which, as others have observed, is timely. A man who secured a silver medal in the 440 yards relay in the Commonwealth Games in 1950 knows how to pace himself. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Pickles, on his maiden speech with all its fascinating revelations. I look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, shortly.

Of course, I acknowledge that the United Kingdom cherishes a parliamentary democracy. That key point, and all that flows from it, has been powerfully argued by the noble Lord, Lord Higgins. It is the genius of this country that over time we have made use of ancient yet enduring institutions and constantly evolving constitutional practices to serve a thoroughly modern society. The Church was present in the counsels that predated Parliament and the estates that first gathered here. It has witnessed both the supremacy of the other place and the extension of the franchise. We are being looked down upon in stone effigy by those who witnessed Magna Carta, including two archbishops. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark – challenges to parliamentary democracy posed by referendums”

Bishop of Leeds – liberal international order not a natural given or inevitable right

On 19th January 2017 Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Bruce of Bennachie led a debate “that this House takes note of challenges to the liberal international order posed by the development of populism and nationalism around the world.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

leeds-20117-bThe Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to have a debate like this, which allows us to identify some of the more philosophical dynamics at play in contemporary political developments. The excellent Library note for this debate makes it clear that language matters, and that definition of terms is not incidental. Populism is clearly more than a movement of people who listen only to the facts that support the prejudices that they have already nurtured, but it can exploit assertive language in such a way as to obscure truth. This is what I wish to focus on here. Whereas others will discuss the importance of a rules-based international order, I want to say something about language in a post-truth or post-factual world, and pose a couple of questions about the assumptions we make regarding history. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds – liberal international order not a natural given or inevitable right”

Bishop of Derby – populist politics is best understood as a mood, not a movement

On 19th January 2017 Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Bruce of Bennachie led a debate “that this House takes note of challenges to the liberal international order posed by the development of populism and nationalism around the world.” The Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern, spoke in the debate:

derby-19117The Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, for introducing this very important debate. I am not a professional politician, but I invite the House to look at the challenge and at the issues behind the case framed, very articulately, by the noble Lord.

First, I want to argue that populism is not a movement but a moment. One of the writers in the briefing for today talked about a thin ideology. It is not a detailed movement, as the noble Lord, Lord Bruce, said; it is a moment. Nietzsche, in the aptly named The Birth of Tragedy, talked about psychological bonding creating a headless movement—it is an expression of feeling, concern or anger, but it is headless. It is like a mood in the background and is really difficult to deal with. Just like President-elect Trump’s tweeting, it is technological chatter, but very difficult to deal with. It is a mood and not a movement. Those of us charged with a political task therefore have quite a challenge to know what we are getting hold of and how to react. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby – populist politics is best understood as a mood, not a movement”

Bishop of Derby: Opinion polls ‘more in the realm of entertainment than science’

“My opinion is that we should let the polling industry do its best. I would categorise it more in the realm of entertainment than science. It is helpful, people enjoy it and it is useful but we need a sense of proportion.” – Bishop of Derby, 18/6/15

On Thursday 18th June 2015 the Bishop of Derby, Rt Revd Alastair Redfern took part in a Lords debate tabled by Lord Lipsey, to ask the Government “whether they plan to regulate the opinion-polling industry.” He said:

Bishop of DerbyThe Lord Bishop of Derby: My Lords, I want to look at opinion poll industry regulation in a general way, rather than focusing on a particular case, as the noble Lords, Lord Lipsey and Lord McColl, have done.

In the spirit of the Motion I am going to offer an opinion. My first point is about opinion itself. Opinion is, by definition, fragile and changeable. It is lite—that is L-I-T-E, for Hansard—and that is very different from attitudes and prejudices, which are firm and more long-standing. We live in a time of opinion, when people just tweet things without much thought—bang, out goes the view. Continue reading “Bishop of Derby: Opinion polls ‘more in the realm of entertainment than science’”

Bishop of Sheffield speaks in debate on economic leadership for cities

“Sheffield Cathedral has recently celebrated its centenary, together with the centenary of the diocese I serve. This has been marked by a £3 million reordering of the medieval church to make it truly a place for all people and contributing to building confidence across the whole region.”

14.03.27 Bishop of SheffieldOn 11th December 2014, Liberal Democrat Peer Lord Shipley led a take-note debate in the House of Lords on the case for enabling economic leadership for cities. The Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Revd Steven Croft, spoke in the debate. He highlighted the importance of local democracy in enabling economic flourishing, noting the recent commitment by the Sheffield City Council to become the ‘fairest city in Britain.’ He highlighted the importance of community integration, investment in infrastructure and a broad engagement with local democracy as key attributes of a flourishing local economy and called on the Government and future governments to prioritise strategies to improve local democracy. Continue reading “Bishop of Sheffield speaks in debate on economic leadership for cities”

Bishop of Coventry asks questions on democratic reform in Egypt

On 10th July 2014, the Bishop of Coventry, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received answers to two written questions on elections and democratic reform in Egypt.

13.10 Bishop of CoventryThe Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the preliminary assessment of the European Union’s election observation mission to Egypt on 29 May, which claimed that the presidential election in Egypt was administered in an environment that fell short of the principles of the new constitution.

The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi): The European Union election observation mission to Egypt issued a preliminary statement on 29 May. Their headline assessment was “Presidential elections administered in line with the law, in an environment falling short of constitutional principles”. We followed the presidential election closely and staff from our Cairo Embassy took part in the EU’s Electoral Observation Mission. The EU Observation Mission will issue its full report in due course. Continue reading “Bishop of Coventry asks questions on democratic reform in Egypt”

Bishop of Wakefield responds to Government statement on the situation in Ukraine

The Lord Bishop of Wakefield: My Lords, perhaps I may focus my question on Ukraine. It seems to me that there are some senses—not exactly repetitions—in which we are seeing replayed some of the things that were not resolved in the early 1990s with the collapse of the Soviet Union. I remember that at that time I was working at Lambeth as the archbishop’s foreign secretary, as it were, and on one occasion the telephone was brought to me in the bath. There was a call from the gatekeeper telling me that Mr Gorbachev was in captivity in the Crimea and he thought that I ought to know so that I could do something about it. Some very good and quite low-key, and low-cost, initiatives were taken by Her Majesty’s Government at that time to support the development of democracy in the various republics that resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union, including Ukraine. Can we be reassured that, once things become a little more stable, those sorts of initiatives might be looked at again? I am suggesting not carbon copies but that sort of thing.

My other point is that only the churches never recognised the division of Europe. The Conference of European Churches always worked across Europe. There are very serious divisions in the churches in the Ukraine, often reflecting some of the fragmentations that exist in the country as a whole. Again, that is another area where Her Majesty’s Government might work with others to see how one moves towards a more democratic situation.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, I continue to learn how close church links can be across national boundaries. I was in Armenia some months ago and was met by a very chatty archbishop, who seemed to know almost every bishop I had ever met in this country. However, we all know that the Orthodox Church in and across the former Soviet Union is a very complex and divided entity, and not all its branches are committed to anything that we would recognise as a liberal approach to organised religion. Sadly, the different branches of the church in Ukraine represent that rather well.

(via parliament.uk)