Age and the Politics of Envy

(Can’t find a direct link to the source of this missive, sorry! It’s to The Independent)

Sirs,

Michael Brown, as is appropriate for someone of his advanced age, misses out several vital points in his vigorous support of older political leaders. Firstly, he assumes that with age comes wisdom. This is demonstrably untrue as shown by Heath, Thatcher, Foot, Brown and many other elder statesmen who went further and further off the rails the older they got. Secondly, he assumes that age is a mechanism whereby ability finally outstrips ambition. Given the long string of mostly incompetent older ex-party leaders and current MPs, this is also demonstrably untrue. Finally, he forgets that by-and-large all three leaders have been chosen by ordinary party members and unionists rather than their blinkered peers in the Commons, and the public mood is for a clear-out of dried-up deadwood.

Politics these days, unlike the civil service, is a meritocracy based on competence and electability, not a polite queue where chaps get promoted based on years of service and being “sound”. As a result, for the first time in a long time, politics is interesting and this has to be a good thing.

Paul Harper (aged 50)

It got published as:

Shortest Suicide Note in History

To The Independent:

Sirs,

Legend has it that Michael Foot wrote the “Longest suicide note in history” for the Labour Party. It looks like Clegg has written the shortest one for the LibDems: “There is no future for us as a party of the left.” I don’t know whether to quietly cry or piss myself laughing…

Paul Harper

Aggressive Atheism

Written to The Independent around the time of the Pope’s visit in 2010 :

Sirs,

With over 50% of British people responding “none” when asked what their religion is, it is understandable that the Pope and other religious leaders are panicking. However, it is spectacularly arrogant of them to assume that it indicates in any way a decline of our moral standards, or a loss of “our heritage”.

What nonsense! It means that over 50% of our population has grown beyond the need for assorted churches’ guidance because we are capable of thinking for ourselves, and we realise that morality is a lot deeper than any holy book written thousands of years ago.

When religious leaders say one thing but do another, then the growth of atheism and lack of faith and trust in religion is totally understandable – predictable, even. Long may it continue.

Paul Harper

It got printed (in the section “Pope in Britain”):

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/letters/letters-perspectives-on-education-2081557.html

Science Funding

At the time in 2010 when were the ConDem Coalition were starting to announce where budget cuts were going to be made, the big-spending science projects got their oar in, making a lot of fuss. Letter to The Independent:

Sirs,

There seems to be a lot of fuss being made about possible cuts in science funding, which frankly I don’t understand. We pour millions, if not billions, into pointless “big science” projects like CERN and assorted astronomy efforts – for what? As far as I can tell, the only tangible end result from this is a collection of egotistical scientists who think they’re TV presenters.

The Higgs Boson is going nowhere, nor is the rest of the universe. We can let the boys have their expensive toys when we get other higher priorities properly funded.

Sadly the image of science in this country is discoloured by the likes of Prof. Brian Cox and their rampant television egos. While we have scientists who think dramatic images of themselves are more interesting than the science they purport to be promoting, then they’re on a hiding to nothing. Quite right too. Science needs to grow up and realise it needs to fit in with other priorities.

Yours,

Paul Harper

Male Dancing and Alcohol

Holly Williams wrote a piece about male dancing in The Independent.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/holly-williams-no-manual-could-improve-a-mans-dancing-after-seven-pints-2073172.html

This letter followed:

Sirs,

While Holly Williams’s assertion that “no manual will improve a man’s dancing after seven pints” is correct, extensive successful personal research has proved repeatedly that since the difference between a straight man and a gay one is just over five pints, she’s probably wasting her time anyway.

Yours,

Paul Harper

Sirs, 

While Holly Williams’s assertion that “no manual will improve a man’s dancing after seven pints” is correct, extensive successful personal research has proved repeatedly that since the difference between a straight man and a gay one is just over five pints, she’s probably wasting her time anyway.

Yours,

Paul Harper

Blair Hatred Is Easy To Understand

To The Independent:

Sirs,

John Rentoul’s simplistic and blinkered attempt to analyse the British public’s hatred of Tony Blair misses out one huge collection of people from his extensive list of caricatures: those ordinary, non-political people who knew the conflict was wrong, misguided and corrupt from the point if its conception and kept to that view.

Those of us with functioning brain stems who knew the whole WMD story was ridiculous, who objected to being lied to about it and who marched in our hundreds and hundreds of thousands were ignored and dismissed as idiots & loonies. The trouble is, we were right, and remain right to this day.

Making a public spectacle of ourselves is not something that comes naturally to us – we prefer to leave that sort of thing to motor-gob students and people with a lot of free time on their hands. We did not, in general, start to support the war once it started – it is very possible to vigorously support our armed forces while being bitterly opposed to the conflict they have been sent to – and we are certainly not using any resultant guilt as an excuse to hate Blair.

We were lied to, our armed forces were misused as political cannon fodder and over a hundred thousand innocent civilians have died, and we resent it.

It is a shame that the hypothetical “open mind” that Blair’s biographer Mr Rentoul so desperately wants to see wasn’t occupying 10 Downing Street at the time this calamitous decision was made. It is almost certain that 7/7 would not have happened if it had.

Paul Harper