Gay bishops must be welcomed if the Church wants to stay relevant

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Sunday 04 September 2016 20:52
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The Bishop of Grantham is in a long term relationship
The Bishop of Grantham is in a long term relationship

With regards to Nicholas Chamberlain, the Bishop of Grantham's, announcement that he is gay: surely we want the Church to be open and honest and keeping up with a changing world. Should we be focusing on shame, guilt and misery or love, warmth and understanding?

Church numbers are falling and this only shows the divide between some Church doctrine and wider society.

Nicki Bartlett

Address supplied

Another solution to the junior doctors’ strikes

Strike action is no longer the way. This is no longer an industrial dispute about the terms of a contract. My only possible employer as a doctor in England has told me what my terms of work are, and that I must abide: either agree to it or stop being a doctor. This is illegal. The battle is now in the courts, not the picket line. Striking will simply loose us public support.

They have forced us into this corner and we must suffer until the illegality of it can be proved beyond reasonable doubt in a more rigorous forum than social media.

Alex Darbyshire

Address supplied

Why a second Scottish independence referendum is a distant dream

As Nicola Sturgeon launches three months of nationalist dogma upon Scotland, wrapped up as a "conversation", the timing and content of the latest YouGov poll is particularly unfortunate for her. Perhaps most concerning for the SNP is the toxic combination of, despite Sturgeon’s two months' of grandstanding over Brexit, backing for independence being at almost exactly September 2014 levels plus, crucially, the clear emergence of a single party – the Tories – in opposition to the SNP.

Sturgeon bigs up Labour's problems as a bonus for her party. Maybe she's correct. The SNP now makes the questionable claim to be the only party of the left.

But Labour's decline has been more than matched by Tory growth in Scotland. Plus, in this era of personality politics, that Ruth Davidson's popularity has surpassed her own will be more than vexing for the nationalist leader.

The SNP owes its power in Holyrood, yes to public appeal, but also because support for independence coalesces in one party. The now likely prospect of opposition to nationalism also being concentrated in a single party threatens the SNP's Holyrood dominance in coming years.

The next three months could conceivably be as rewarding as the SNP hopes, but short- and medium-term indicators suggest the opposite. It's looking less than positive for Sturgeon’s UK break-up dreams.

Martin Redfern

Edinburgh

Politics stagnates as we call for debates

Political discussions inevitably end with a call to have a "great debate" which will somehow solve the problem in question. I have great difficulty deciding what this means. Debates, after all, involve two parties saying why one is right and the other plain wrong, which we hear several times a day in the media when two politicians engage in a "debate". A lot of heat and no light.

Or is the appeal being made to us, the people? But up and down the country we discuss the latest news every day, and what good does that do? Can we get any further than an airing of opinions?

David Gist

Address supplied

Further memories

A pity to have missed A Bag of Boiled Sweets by Julian Critchley in John Rentoul's obscure titles for political memoirs. It's an entertaining read as well!

Chris King

London N3

An effective, joined-up alternative to the Prime Minister’s flawed policy on race

On 27 August the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced that there is to be an “audit of public services to reveal racial disparities and to help end the injustices that many people experience”. The audit will document the experiences of black and minority ethnic groups and their outcomes in areas such as education, health, criminal justice and employment. It will also consider the inequalities faced by white working class boys.

The production of data and having clear evidence to provide a foundation for the development of policy and actions to address racial inequalities is to be welcomed, and we commend the Prime Minister for returning the issue of race and racism to wider political and public attention. However, we have a number of reservations regarding the Government’s approach.

First, there is already considerable data documenting evidence of racial inequalities across both the public and private sectors. The latest report by the Equalities & Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Healing a Divided Britain, for example, highlights racial disparities across education, employment, housing, pay and living standards, health, criminal justice and participation. This builds on their five-yearly report on equality in England, Scotland and Wales, and is in addition to the large body of evidence available from organisations such as the Runnymede Trust, the Black Training & Enterprise Group, ROTA and The Afiya Trust as well as existing government data such as Section 95 statistics on race and the criminal justice system.

Second, while we recognise the constraints of austerity, the EHRC and other bodies fighting for a more equitable Britain have suffered unprecedented cuts over recent years, limiting their capacity for research, growth and impact. It is unfortunate that the Government has, only now following the Brexit vote, returned explicit attention to race discrimination despite the continued necessity of anti-racism work.

Third, while we acknowledge the disadvantages faced by white working class boys within British society, we argue that to conflate this with racial discrimination is unhelpful. The disadvantages faced by this group are due to inequalities based on socio-economic status, class and poverty, not because they are white. If, as a society, we are to purposefully address the disadvantages faced by racial minorities and white working class boys it is imperative that we recognise the different barriers faced by the two groups.

To properly address the disadvantages faced by black and minority ethnic groups and white working class boys we therefore ask the Government to reconsider plans for an audit and the collection of yet further data and instead use available evidence to focus on taking action to address unequal outcomes. We advise against a top-down approach to any actions. Such work needs to be done in collaboration with black and minority ethnic community groups and race equality and social mobility organisations.

We also ask the Government to redirect any funds currently ring-fenced for the audit and invest them in those organisations already working to challenge racism, support victims and hold public authorities and other organisations to account.

The socio-economic duty, which the Government failed to implement in the Equality Act 2010, should be brought in as a starting point to address the issues of poverty and the impact of austerity on our poorest communities. The current public sector equality duty in the current Equality Act 2010 also needs to be considerably strengthened.

We need better assessment of the impact of the Government’s own policies relating to counter-terrorism, immigration, austerity and access to justice on racial inequalities in the UK, and a clearer understanding of everyday racism and the ways in which this restricts opportunities and progress for Black and minority ethnic groups. Related to this, we argue that where organisations fail to attract, retain and progress these groups, they should be publicly named and an imperative placed on them to improve.

Baroness Doreen Lawrence

Dr Melanie Crofts, University of Northampton

Dr Nicola Rollock, University of Birmingham

Lord Herman Ouseley, Independent Crossbench, House of Lords

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Journalist, Author & Broadcaster

Dr Omar Khan, Runnymede Trust

Baroness Hussein-Ece OBE, House of Lords

Professor Gemma Moss, President, British Educational Research Association

Aeion Swinton, Ministry of Justice

Professor Danny Dorling, University of Oxford

Professor Gemma Moss, President, British Educational Research Association

Robin Landman OBE

Andy Gregg, Race on the Agenda

Simon Albury, Campaign for Broadcasting Equality

Professor David Gillborn, University of Birmingham

Professor Diane Reay, University of Cambridge

Anjona Roy, CEO Northamptonshire Rights & Equality Council

Dr Vikki Boliver, University of Durham

Professor Gill Crozier, University of Roehampton, London

Henry Bonsu, Broadcaster & International Conference Host

Dr Akile Ahmet, London School of Economics & Political Science

Dr Paul Warmington, University of Birmingham

Professor Bill Bowring, Birkbeck College

Dr Jasmine Rhamie, University of Roehampton, London

Professor Clive D Fraser, University of Leicester

Bevan Powell, Chair of the NILE Group

Professor Vini Lander, Edge Hill University

Dr Craig Morris, University of Greenwich

Dr Verna Wilkins, Publisher

Dr William Ackah, Birkbeck College

Dr David Ashton, Independent Consultant

Dr Lorna Roberts, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Mel Stewart, University of Birmingham

Tony Warner, Black History Walks

Dr Erica Joslyn, University of Suffolk

Jane Woods, Changing People

Dr Geeta Ludhra, Brunel University, London

Dr Vicky Duckworth, Edge Hill University

Dr Rajesh Patel, Manchester Metropolitan University

Dr Rachel Boyle, Edge Hill University

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