Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My political influences

Thank you to Andy Hinton on "Wouldn't it be scarier to discover everything you believe is absolutely right?" for tagging me on my political influences.

My delay in writing this is due to giving it a lot of consideration. I came up with a list of 80 influences and anti-influences. I then realised that I was including mere heroes and anti-heroes while ignoring the "elephant in the room".

So, I'll take a deep breath and acknowledge the elephant first. Jesus is my main political influence. There, I've said it. As I say, I considered a list of 80 influences but I have read of, been reminded of, talked about or sung about the life and teachings of Jesus on virtually every day of my life except for a 8 year gap when I was an agnostic. So I can't really ignore put it mildly! In essence, I would not spend time working on political causes if I was not a Christian. I would be out making more money and spending it. The main passage from the gospels I would cite as my "mantra" would be the Beatitudes - Blessed are the meek etc.

Now, a few influences hand-picked from that list of 80:

Churchill - I virtually worship the bloke's memory and have since I was a child when I visited Chartwell, his home.

Private Eye - my most regular read over the last thirty five years. It is hilarious and cutting with a passionate sense of justice.

The Liberal Democrat party - a continuous guiding light

The Guardian - I am a proud Guardianista

David Penhaligon, John Pardoe, Paddy Ashdown, Shirley Williams and David Rendel - five liberal heroes

Willie Hamilton - his book "My Queen and I" was one of the earliest political books I read (when I was about 16). I read every word of it and have been a replublican ever since.

John Maynard Keynes - his "accelerator" theory has stuck in my mind ever since I read of it thirty years ago. This man made economics natural for me.

George Orwell's Animal Farm - a brilliant work!

Cornish Methodism, Celtic christianity and my family - I am not a methodist but my grandmother was. I feel the influence of Cornish Methodism. I feel a strong affinity with Celtic Christianity - especially its connection with the elements.

Lord Donald Soper - Methodist leader and veteran public speaker - I used to watch him speak at Speaker's Corner in Hyde Park most Sundays. I think he was well into his nineties when I last saw him there. He was an exceptionally passionate, devoted and funny speaker. His pacifism was mind-blowingly strong and clear. His put downs were hilarious. I remember him saying this, once when he was heckled: "My friend here proves once again that there is nothing more dangerous than the Bible in the hands of a lunatic". He shouted this with great aplomb and had the audience in stitches, if not the heckler. The phrase, incidentally, beautifully applies to my final "anti-influence" at the bottom of this post.

The American Founding Fathers - the US constitution has to be in my top three of written works. It is awesome. Its awesomeness is amplified by the fact that we in the UK, the supposed mother of democracies, are still struglling to catch up with what the Founding Fathers decided over 200 years ago.

Anti-influences :

- the BNP and race hate generally
- the Poll Tax - more than anything else, I got involved in politics because of the poll tax. I was absolutely incensed by it because of its inequitousness to the less well-off.
- George W Bush - the monkey in the room

I think I am probably too late to tag anyone else. Sorry.

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