Huw Clayton

Huw Clayton


27 comments posted · 68 followers · following 0

11 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Why the Left should l... · 1 reply · +5 points

"And let's be quite frank: the Queen and members of her family live off the hard-pressed taxpayer no less than the most abject benefit claimant or most pampered and useless quangocrat. They just cost more."

I could be wrong - but doesn't the income from the Crown Estates actually exceed the cost of the Civil List? I know that then raises the question of who owns the Crown Estates (not to be confused with the Duchy of Lancaster) the monarch or the government - but since the monarch waives all rights in the income from them and there would surely be at least an arguable case that money is privately owned by the Royal Family, it should be considered.

Otherwise, I enjoyed that post Heresiarch (as a republican)!

11 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Votes for prisoners? · 0 replies · +1 points

No, because the thought of her being removed entirely from the democratic process is an alluring one.

11 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Get out of jail free? · 2 replies · +2 points

I think the current one looks weird, frankly, so that is not a consideration!

11 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Get out of jail free? · 4 replies · +2 points

That's a very interesting point actually - not shallow at all (most nation states seem to be about pomp and pageantry rather than practicalities). How about the Union flag, but with a green rather than a blue background (for Wales)? Just a thought.

12 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Karen Armstrong and th... · 0 replies · +2 points

The answer is (although I should caution that this is a simplification as (a) I'm not a Roman expert and (b) it's horrendously complicated and in any case kept changing) is that Rome allowed freedom of religion as long as the peoples who were following other religions acknowledged the supremacy of the Roman religion and the Roman gods. This was of course why Judaism and especially Christianity were so problematic.

I would also add Gibbon's (wrong and very misleading, in fact, but pertinent) quotation (paraphrased, as I can't remember it exactly):

"To Roman citizens, all religions were equally true; to philosophers, equally false; and to the magistrate, equally useful."

The religious organization of Rome was so closely bound up with social control (as it was in say, Egypt or Persia) that to attempt to defy it was to threaten the foundation of the Roman state.

In addition, though, I would like to make the following points:

1) There is no question that in the Roman empire most Romans (as opposed to subject/client peoples) genuinely did believe in the gods of Rome and they went through religious rituals not for the sake of it but to appease the gods. This also applied very much to philosophers, but Gibbon couldn't admit that as he was trying to portray Rome as the forerunner of the Enlightenment and the alteration (please note: not the specific rejection) of the notion of an interventionalist deity.

2) Roman persecution of Christianity in particular varied in character from political to religious according to the Emperor - Nero was political, for example (he needed a scapegoat and he found one). On the other hand, there were undoubtedly emperors who were religiously motivated - Diocletian, for example, who launched the last persecution of Christians in the empire.

Hope that's of interest.

12 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Let\'s give the Falkla... · 0 replies · +3 points

Well, at risk of being a real pedant:

It would, because nobody could live there. There would be very little grass, and it would be damn near impossible to build anything without the use of heavy-duty mining machinery. So the British defence of self-determination would sort of go by default.

I agree with your main point though - this isn't about realpolitik, it's about principle. Britain could abandon the islanders tomorrow - but at the same time, that would be a breach of their human rights, and would leave us in an awkward position going forward on other things (particularly the perennial vexed question of Northern Ireland, another enclave that realpolitik would suggest should have been abandoned long ago). We've done such things in the past I know, but...just because bad things have been done by us to people in the past, does that really mean we want to add to the list?

12 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Let\'s give the Falkla... · 2 replies · +2 points

As I recall, Solomon never actually carried through on his threat - when one of the women offered to surrender her claim to the other to save the child, he knew she was the mother.

On the other hand, isn't there at least a risk that the Argentinians would rather have the islands destroyed than left in British hands? There was an awful lot of damage done in the Falklands War, and the only reason more wasn't done is because the Argentine commander was a brave and intelligent man who ignored some of the more bonkers orders sent by Galtieri.

12 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Let\'s give the Falkla... · 2 replies · +1 points

Why would we want it back? It took us five centuries to get rid of it in the first place.

12 years ago @ Heresy Corner - Richard Dawkins\' mistake · 0 replies · +1 points

Since almost no GPs in this country are in fact MDs - the most common degree is the Baccalaureate of Medicine - your strictures therefore would apply to them, with bells on.

I am a doctor. I have a doctorate, which I earned by seven years of hard work. My GP is a BM. Yet, paradoxically, she is called Dr and in my private life I am usually Mr. When I call myself Dr, that's not an affectation, silly or otherwise - that's my absolute right. Moreover, because of people who try out of ignorance to belittle it, it is a right I stand hard on when I am pushed. I have even refused to call several rather stuck-up medics who tried to patronize me "Dr" on the basis that they are not doctors and I am. Courtesy titles should not be extended to those who lack courtesy!

(Of course, the real story behind this is that the BM should be reclassified as the MD - it takes six years and is the third or fourth most gruelling and difficult degree to get. However, it hasn't been, and it likely won't be, so that's irrelevant to this discussion.)

To answer the main question, Dawkins is a DPhil, but as he was also a Professor, on retirement in 2008 he was granted the right to continue using this title as Professor Emeritus ("deservedly gone", i.e. retired after a successful career) and "Professor" is correct. Only on rare occasions would it be denied - as in, for example, if he had been caught forging scientific evidence (and with all his many and egregious faults, he has certainly never been accused of that - his historical accuracy is more debateable, but that was again not relevant to his post as a scientist). If you want an example of such a case, google Richard Lacey.

12 years ago @ Heresy Corner - The end of the road fo... · 0 replies · +2 points

Interesting, thanks. One incredibly minor quibble - the benchmark for politicians sitting in the Commons not the Lords was not 1911 (although it made it much less likely) but the second Parliament Act in 1949. After that time, the balance shifted decisively towards the lower house and being PM from the Lords really did become unthinkable. Home was therefore available only because a new mechanism had been put in place to allow peers to renounce their peerages. (It is also worth pointing out that he was a member of the House of Commons until he inherited his earldom - so he was a professional politician, not merely a random aristocrat, although you did not of course imply he was. Had the mechanism to renounce a peerage been available in 1951, he might still have been in the Commons in the first place.)

Between 1911 and 1949 there were two occasions when peers were seriously considered for the top job:

1923: Marquess Curzon. The only experienced politician in a government very short of talent, he was regarded as the obvious contender. However, he was personally unpopular and that, along with his membership of the Lords, told against him, so the King plumped for Baldwin instead.

1940: Viscount Halifax. Personally popular, hugely experienced, very able and unquestionably a strong candidate - however, not the choice of the nation at large, who considered him an appeaser and wanted Churchill. Halifax's excuse was that he did not think in such a crisis he would be able to run a government from the Lords, but that was, it is generally agreed, only an excuse to save any potential difficulties with the National Coalition over accepting Churchill.

From the point of view of Greece and Italy, surely it marks the moment that national ambitions must be subordinated to wider economic ambitions rather than the moment democracy withers of its own accord? That is, these governments have been sent in at the behest of the European elite and not with the consent of the people, in a bid to save the euro. I doubt if it's a conspiracy as Hannan claims (does anyone seriously think politicians are that bright) but it's still about an economic situation more than the political one.

This situation may always have been the aim - to make the nation state a subordinate to the Euro area - but it doesn't usually end well. I seem to recall a bloke called Schleicher tried it once in Germany, in a bid to cool panicking stock markets. The time was 1933. The result was Hitler.