Friday, November 03, 2006

"Tolerance" and "Diversity" in the Church of England

We read:

"The former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey of Clifton, has been banned from one of the oldest cathedrals in Britain after accusations that he has become an "instrument of disunity".

Lord Carey, who has become a champion of orthodoxy in the Anglican Church since stepping down from the top job in 2002, was due to speak at Bangor Cathedral, North Wales, in February. The Dean of Bangor, the Very Rev Alun Hawkins, is understood to have imposed the unprecedented ban because he feels that Lord Carey has become a "divisive force" and has been "disloyal" to his successor, Dr Rowan Williams, who was born in Wales.

Relations have been strained since Lord Carey blocked the appointment of Dr Williams as Bishop of Southwark because he believed that he was too liberal on the gay issue.


The Church of England is tolerant of everything except Bible teachings.


Business groups welcomed a report calling for a low-carbon economy but warned that companies must not foot climate change through green taxes.

David Frost, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "Business has a leading role to play in tackling the impact of climate change and the signs are that many are accepting that responsibility. It is crucial however that business and the government continue to work together and the temptation to regulate and tax is resisted."

The Stern report published today warns that ignoring global warming could turn 200m people into refugees as their homes are hit by drought or flood. The report was drawn up by Sir Nicholas Stern, the Government's chief economist. Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, said: "The Stern Review adds up to a powerful argument for collective action by the nations of the world. Provided we act with sufficient speed, we will not have to make a choice between averting climate change and promoting growth and investment."

The CBI called for a global system of carbon trading and a partnership between the public and private sectors to help combat climate change. Mr Lambert said: "A global system of carbon trading is urgently needed as the nucleus around which the worldwide action needed can be built in the most economically efficient way."

Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC, said: "This review shows that immediate action against climate change could boost the economy. The Government urgently needs to use this opportunity to develop a green manufacturing strategy and plan to improve energy efficiency in the workplace. Tackling climate change by supporting the growth of low carbon and carbon free technologies - from renewable energy to low carbon vehicles - could also benefit British business and create jobs."

F&C, one of Europe's largest asset managers, said the investment industry is well placed to finance a transition to a low-carbon economy, but needs "long-term signals from Government that sensible, market-friendly solutions will be implemented." Alain Grisay, chief executive of F&C, said: "The Stern report makes it clear that the global economy is poised to enter a phase of massive economic transformation, akin to experience of the introduction of railways and electricity and more recently the global communications revolution. The big difference is that these earlier breakthroughs occurred spontaneously, whereas this time, we have to will into being what can only be described as a fundamental shift in our energy system." He added: "The imperative now is for a sensible policy framework that gives business and investors the confidence to plan ahead. The sooner we know what the rules will be, the sooner we can act."

The Prince of Wales' Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change, which is made up of fourteen senior executives from some of the UK's leading businesses, also welcomed the report. Speaking for the group, James Smith, chairman of Shell UK said: "We hope that the Stern Review will create further impetus for discussions between British business and the Government about how the UK can scale-up its action on climate change in such a way as to ensure that we have first mover advantage in these massive new global markets".

Hugh Scott-Barrett, chief financial officer of ABN Amro added: "The City of London is already leading the world in terms of the volume of carbon traded. Policy leadership by the UK and the EU will help maintain the City's competitive advantage and will ensure that the money that has already started flowing into low-carbon funds gets invested in British and European innovation".

Neil Carson, chief executive of technology group Johnson Matthey, said: "We think that the transition to a low-carbon economy could have a profound impact on British businesses. As Stern points out, 'the innovation associated with tackling climate change could trigger a new wave of growth and creativity in the global economy'. Britain should be at the crest of this wave".



If there's one thing Gordon Brown loves, it's an inquiry. During the row over tuition fees, Charles Clarke, the then education secretary, told me that the clash between himself and the Chancellor hinged on Clarke's refusal to launch a long investigation into the problem of higher education finance on the model of Derek Wanless's NHS report.

On this basis, at least, Mr Brown will be very happy with Sir Nicholas Stern's inquiry on the economics of climate change due to be published tomorrow, and reported to weigh in at a forest-clearing 700 pages.

According to the Tories, Mr Brown's present preoccupation with climate change, a subject that was central to his conference speech in Manchester, is entirely political, a response to David Cameron's tireless green campaigning since he became leader.

If a Climate Change Bill follows Stern, the Tories will also claim the announcement as a triumph for renewable politics. When he was shadow environment secretary, Oliver Letwin proposed just such a bill with the support of the Lib Dems and invited the Government to come on board: nothing doing.

Two things have undoubtedly changed. The first is that the science of global warming has more or less arrived at a point of consensus, symbolised in popcorn politics by Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth. There are still doughty sceptics urging caution, such as Nigel Lawson, who will deliver his preliminary thoughts on Stern on Tuesday. But the political horse has already bolted.

The second shift is the electoral strategy to which Mr Cameron has now committed his party (which, it must be said, gave short shrift to climate change in its 2005 manifesto, drafted by one D. Cameron).

Last December, the new Tory leader quickly grasped that his party was second in 88 of Labour's top 100 marginal seats. It followed that, to win, he had to capture Lib Dem votes, and, to do that, he had to paint his party an appealing green. Hence, the party's demand that Tony Blair and David Miliband, the Environment Secretary, include a Climate Change Bill in the Queen's Speech (declaration of interest: my wife works for Mr Miliband).

In its principal contention, however, the Stern report soars above such petty party politics and delivers one of the most significant intellectual knockout blows of our times.

For decades, it has been orthodox to speak of green policy in terms of necessary sacrifice, subordinating economic growth and personal comfort to the survival of the species.

This, it must be said, made a great many people irritated. They suspected they were being subjected to a sneaky new Puritanism based on dubious science, by authoritarians who had lost the economic battle and were now looking for fresh ways of telling people what to do. The American Right called the first wave of environmentalist politicians the "water melons": green on the outside, red on the inside.

Stern, however, turns the argument on its head. If we want to stay rich, he says, we must be green. He sets the price of the measures needed to curb global warming at 1 per cent of GDP, and the cost of ignoring the science at 10 per cent (at least). If his economic model is correct, this is what we political analysts call a no-brainer. Pay the parking premium for your 4x4. Turn the television stand-by off at night. Put that green box out with the papers and the bottles on a Tuesday. Because, pesky as all this may be, it is a good deal less pesky than the alternative. Do you fancy paying the Tidal Wave Tax?

The politics of Stern will be hugely entertaining, as well as important. All sides will speak loftily of the need for cross-party consensus, and then savage their opponents for undermining it. It will be a terrific punch-up, even if it is initially conducted in the noble language of Gaia and our debt to future generations.

Ministers will claim that Green Dave has been captured by the Friends of the Earth just as Old Labour was captured by the National Union of Teachers. Mr Cameron will say the Government is just playing catch-up with his own campaign.

Tomorrow, the Environment Secretary is expected to make a statement to the Commons in response to the report. The Tories sniff that they will be busy showcasing their new Young Adult Trust for good works by young people, but something tells me that they will take time out from the activities of young adults to pile into the green debate. Once Stern is released, there will be a furious battle for control of the dossier.

In fact, the risks and the opportunities for each party reflect the respective positions of Opposition and Government. Mr Cameron has the freedom to voice outrage and -impatience and to prod the lumbering beast of Whitehall. In campaigning for a Climate Change Bill, he has positioned himself as a Green Chartist, frontman of the nifty "Can I have the Bill Please?" website petition.

The risk is that his elan as a campaigner may undermine his image as a prospective Prime Minister. The Conservatives' suspicion of Labour targets in public services has long been one of their strongest suits. Mr Cameron's argument that annual targets are needed for the reduction of carbon -emissions may sound gutsy, but I am not sure it has the ring of practical policy.

Still, it looks as if the Tory leader will get his main wish. One Downing Street source tells me that a rapid response to Stern is being planned and that "it is very likely now that a Climate Change Bill will be part of that".

At the heart of Stern's recommendations is a radical extension of the existing arrangements for "cap-and-trade": a market mechanism whereby those carbon producers who exceed their quota purchase credits which are invested elsewhere in clean -technology.

Who, precisely, would police such arrangements? Both parties are much taken by Arnold Schwarzenegger's initiative to make California the first state with a mandatory cap on greenhouse gas emissions. The Tories are enthused by the use of the California Air Resources Board to set industry-specific goals for emissions reductions. All Number 10 will say is that any comparable body in this country would be "independent". But how independent? As independent as the Bank of England?

But the most formidable task ahead of the Government is different. The contract that Messrs Blair, Brown and Miliband must put to the British people is that, if we can change our behaviour here, they have the influence to make a difference on the international scene.

It is extraordinary to consider that if every light in Britain were turned off for good and every gas-guzzling suburban citizen decided to live like Swampy, all the eco-slack would have been picked up by China in 13 months.

Senior officials have high hopes that the 44th President of the United States (McCain? Clinton?) will be responsive to the arguments in Stern. But he or she will not be inaugurated until January 2009. There are whispers of a shift of position by President Bush next year, but no more than that.

Meanwhile, there is enormous diplomatic pressure on Angela Merkel, who assumes the presidency of both the G8 and the EU in January, to deliver the beginnings of a post-Kyoto protocol that does not make China and India snort with laughter.

And this geopolitical dimension, much more than the expected Climate Change Bill, is the real problem: persuading the British electorate that it is worth the candle (literally, when it comes to turning off lights). That's the trouble with saving the planet. You have to get a whole species on side.



A council has warned staff against using the phrase 'political correctness' at work because it might offend people. A booklet outlining 'equality' policy to council workers claims using the term at work can be damaging and even linked it to the Ku Klux Klan. The bizarre publication also orders staff not to use words like 'policeman', 'fireman' and 'chairman', suggesting they are classic examples of 'exclusionary language.' While the word 'ethnic' is also outlawed for being not 'appropriately descriptive.'

The 44-page training book called 'Equality Essentials' has been used for staff training courses at Kirklees Council in West Yorkshire. The publication outlines forms of damaging behaviour in the workplace and rates them on a five-level scale. The authors claim that moving things around on someone else's desk is as serious as punching or kicking them. And workers are instructed to come up with 10 things they can do every day to make colleagues feel better.

Tory MP for Shipley Phillip Davies, a patron of the Campaign Against Political Correctness, branded the pamphlet 'extreme and patronising.' 'How much is it costing to produce all this garbage?' he said. 'The policy is full of either the blindingly obvious or utterly ridiculous nonsense.'

A section of the 'PC booklet is devoted to denouncing the use of the words 'political correctness'. It states:'Political correctness is often used to describe what some of us think are unnecessary changes which don't really bother anyone. 'The term political correctness was coined in 1988 by John O'Sullivan III, who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. He was making an after dinner speech complaining about how Black Americans were being allowed to take the jobs traditionally reserved for the white majority because of a wave of political correctness. 'Since then the phrase political correctness has almost universally been used to decry changes which aim to prevent offensive behaviour.' It goes on to say because this takes the form of 'blaming the victim, denying peoples experience or expressing the view of a popular majority,' using the phrase can represent a 'physical attack.'

The authority's new Tory leader Robert Light blamed his political opponents and said the booklet was no longer being used by council staff. 'We don't think it is relevant to use this booklet. We are trying to achieve the situation where the council has a more professional, modern approach. Diversity is still an issue for us but we will be taking a common sense approach rather than being part of the PC culture. 'Kirklees Council has had the title of most PC Council in Yorkshire and we are determined to change that view.'

Mr Light added:'References to the Ku Klux Klan and Nazi Germany are really extreme to use in a training guide even as a reference, it's very bizarre. 'I find it more unbelievable that they complain about the use of the word ethnic when it is the term that Government bodies, think-tanks and local leaders all use. It's very off the wall.' Kirklees Council employs more than 18,000 people and has a budget of more than 470 million pounds.



The songwriter behind one of the most famous gay anthems has promised o50,000 to a group of firemen disciplined for refusing to hand out leaflets at a Gay Pride march. The Rev George Hargreaves, a former music mogul who is now a Pentecostal minister, still earns an estimated o10,000 a month in royalties from the 1985 pop song So Macho. The single was recorded by Sinitta, with an even camper B-side called Cruisin', and became an instant hit in gay clubs across Britain, thanks to its catchy disco tune and cheesy lyrics, which included the line: "He's gotta be big and strong, enough to turn me on."

More than 20 years later, its proceeds are to be used to help to fund a legal appeal by nine officers from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue who were punished for refusing to attend a gay parade. Mr Hargreaves, who believes that homosexuality is a sin, said he believed that the human rights of the firefighters were violated after they refused to attend a Pride Scotia event in Glasgow in June. The officers at the Cowcaddens station, led by watch manager Brian Herbert, claimed that they acted on moral grounds when they disobeyed an order to hand out fire safety literature at an event billed as a "gay, bisexual and transgender festival". They said that they also feared that they would be kissed by excited revellers.

Their stand was supported by the Fire Brigades Union, but the officers were sent written warnings and ordered to attend "diversity training" courses. Mr Herbert, who is just two years from retirement, was demoted to crew manager, resulting in a salary loss of 5,000 pounds per year.

At an internal hearing in Glasgow yesterday the firemen appealed against the punishments, arguing that they were entitled to object on grounds of conscience and that the public relations exercise was not a core part of their duties. The result is expected to be made public later this week. The men are likely to take the case to court if they are not exonerated formally. Their stance has attracted condemnation from gay rights groups, but was supported by the Roman Catholic Church, which said that obeying one's own conscience was "a higher duty than that of obeying orders".

Mr Hargreaves says that he owes his life to a firefighter who rescued him from a house fire when he was a boy. He is now pastor of the Hephzibah Christian Centre in Hackney, East London. He has homes in London and Scotland and plans to stand for Scottish Parliament next May. In an election broadcast on behalf of his party, the Christian Party, he said: "Consider the influence of minority interests, such as the homosexual lobby, on all aspects of society, simply because they've made their presence felt. The ancient city of Sodom could have been saved if only righteous people could be found." Last night he said: "I am not homophobic. In my music days I had many friends who were heterosexual playboys and many who were gay playboys. As we say in the Church, we love the sinner, whilst hating the sin."



Fitness fanatics eat them for a quick breakfast and parents choose them for children's lunchboxes. Yet despite their wholesome image, many cereal bars contain so much sugar that they would qualify for red "junk food" alerts on packs under the traffic-light labelling system devised by the Food Standards Agency.

A survey of 20 well-known cereal bars by the consumer watchdog Which? found that each one would be classified as "high in sugar" and would require a red warning logo. More than half the bars also contained high levels of saturated fat that would require a red alert. A Kellogg's Fruit 'n' Fibre Bar, for example. contained 10g of sugar, more than a McVities Penguin bar, with 9.7g, and not far off a Nestl‚ two-finger KitKat. Jordans Original Crunchy Honey & Almond Bar contained the most fat overall, 6.8g. But the bars with the most saturated fat were the Nesquik Cereal & Milk Bar and the Nestl‚ Golden Grahams Cereal & Milk Bar, each with 2.1g of saturated fat. These contain more saturates than a Mr Kipling Almond Slice cake.

Researchers at Which? magazine decided to investigate cereal bars after a study in July found that three quarters of 275 breakfast cereals contained high sugar levels. Weetabix Weetos 20g Cereal Bars contained 8.2g of sugar and Kellogg's Coco Pops Cereal & Milk Bars 8g of sugar, both more than the sugar in two McVitie's HobNobs biscuits.

Neil Fowler, the editor of Which?, said: "Although the packs are plastered with wholesome images and claims, the 20 bars scrutinised were all high in sugar and more than half were also high in saturated fat "These findings are worrying given the recent report that showed that obesity in Britain is more prevalent than in many other European countries." The bar with the least sugar (5.6g) and least fat (1.6g) was Nestle's Fitnesse Original. This and Jordans Frusli Raisin and Hazelnut bar came out best for saturated fat, at 0.7g per bar.

In a statement in the Which? report, Kellogg said that it had been assumed "that eating cereal bars as a snack is a problem when, in fact, the consumption of high carbohydrate snacks between meals has been shown to lower overall daily calorie intake and helps reduce hunger". Nestle said it had been cutting saturated fat in its cereal and milk bars and planned further cuts. The Nesquik bar now has 2g of saturates and Golden Grahams 1.9g per bar. The company said that both provided important nutrients. Jordans said that to cut the fat level it would have to use artificial additives, which was against its policy of using only natural ingredients. It added that 87 per cent of the fat was from oats and nuts, which were "good" fats essential for health.



English literature students who reduce Hamlet's agonies to "2b or not 2b" will not be penalised so long as they display an understanding of the subject, an examinations authority has ruled. While the use of text message jargon would not achieve top marks, it would be accepted if the answer was right, a report by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) said.

The SQA report on Standard Grade English - the equivalent of English and Welsh GCSEs - reveals that examiners are becoming increasingly concerned about literacy standards among pupils. Many students have a grasp of English so poor that they resort to the stunted shorthand of the text message. The assessor's report says that candidates are failing to achieve good grades because the quality of their English does not match the quality of their answers. The SQA said yesterday that while text shorthand was "not acceptable" in exams, the positive-marking philosophy of the Scottish system meant that marks would still be given for correct answers, even if they were written in text message.

"In English the candidates need to show knowledge [of the subject] and express it appropriately. Text message language is not considered appropriate," a spokesman for the SQA said. "However, an answer written in text would be accepted if it was correct, but the candidate would not get top marks. To get the best marks they would have to write in standard English."

The liberal approach is not echoed in England and Wales where GCSE candidates lose marks for failing to write in standard English. Edexcel, one of England's largest exam boards, said: "We acknowledged that text language has its own lexicon, but students need to know why it is inappropriate within a report, an exam or a business setting. "If in geography students used short forms of words and were rushing towards the end of an essay, and had used the words correctly earlier, they would be forgiven. "But in English text language would be frowned upon and they wouldn't be given marks for it."

Dave Smith, of the Plain English Campaign, said that it was no wonder more and more employers were complaining about the poor literacy skills of school leavers. The SQA report concluded that teachers should emphasise to pupils the importance of avoiding "informalities of talk and text language in written submissions except during direct speech".


Scots want independence: "The majority of Scots favour breaking away from the rest of the UK and embracing independence, according to a poll on the eve of the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union between Scotland and England. The ICM poll showed support for Scottish independence running at 51 per cent, the first time since 1998, the year before devolution, that support for separation has passed the 50 per cent mark. Only 39 per cent of Scots are for the status quo, and 10 per cent said that they did not know whether they wanted independence, according to the poll of 1,000 voters north of the Border.

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