Displaying items by tag: Politics
Former first minister Arlene Foster has spoken out against those who say that religion and politics should never mix. When speaking at the St Patrick Centre to a live audience, she discussed her own faith as well as her political career. Expressing her frustration she said, ‘Christianity doesn’t call you to be neutral. It calls you to be salt and light about what you believe in. It does annoy me when people say you have to take religion out of politics and leave it at the door, or like it only happens at the weekend. It is part of who you are. Your Christianity and your faith is something that is with you all the time. You can’t just leave it at home on Sunday night and go out without it on Monday.’
On 29 November, senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia met Iranian officials in Vienna to discuss bringing Tehran back into compliance with the 2015 deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which eased sanctions on Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear programme. The talks could pave the way for the US to rejoin the accord. Israel is making efforts to stop a return to the previous agreement and prevent implementing an interim agreement, a plan the US is considering as a stop-gap if a full agreement cannot be reached. The nuclear talks resumed with upbeat comments despite Tehran's negotiating team demanding that all US and EU sanctions imposed since 2017, including those unrelated to its nuclear programme, be removed.
Nikki da Costa, Boris Johnson's former director of legislative affairs, said senior advisors are letting Stonewall dictate the Government's trans rights policy. She believes the advice being given to the PM is undermining women's rights. She said there is no other organisation - no business, or charity, no matter how big - that can pick up the phone to a special adviser sitting outside Boris Johnson's office and get them to speak directly to the prime minister. 'But that is the kind of access that Stonewall has.'’ Ms da Costa alleged that a group of aides controlled the views that Johnson was presented with in government papers and stopping him from meeting people with differing views on trans issues.’ Carrie Johnson said Boris was an ally to LGBT people at a pro-Stonewall event in October.
The number of deaths of people treated under the Mental Health Act in England rose during the coronavirus pandemic. The Care Quality Commission's findings come amid concerns over staff shortages in psychiatric units. 490 people died while detained under the act in the year to March 2021, 324 of them for non-Covid reasons. The average overall figure between 2012 and 2019 was 273. Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned that shortages of doctors and nurses were now compromising patient safety ‘in every part of the NHS’. Mr Hunt, who now chairs the Commons health and social care committee, said ‘We still put far too many people into secure accommodation when they haven't committed any crime, just because it's the only option left.’
After speaking on climate change Boris Johnson told the media he ‘genuinely believes the UK is not a corrupt country’. But sleaze accusations continue. MPs' second jobs are under scrutiny after Owen Paterson was found to have broken lobbying rules. Questions are raised about the Conservative MP and former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox who earned around £900,000 last year through his work as a lawyer, while International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said it would be ‘wise’ to review the rules around second jobs. Although MPs are allowed second jobs, they are not allowed to use taxpayer-funded resources, or premises, to do so; this rule is being broken consistently. Meanwhile MP Andrew Bowie has decided to take a step back from his role of Tory vice-chair and focus on his constituency where he holds a narrow majority of 843 votes. A friend was quoted saying, ‘He doesn’t want to make a fuss but he’s unable to support the Government after the sleaze events of recent days.’
Txai Suruí is a climate activist who is part of an indigenous community in the Amazon rainforest. She spoke to world leaders at COP26 about the direct impacts of climate change that her tribe is already experiencing. But after the speech she was publicly criticised by President Bolsanaro for ‘attacking Brazil’. This prompted many people to send her abuse on social media. When she spoke to a BBC reporter, she said, ‘I think I said the right words because they attacked me.’ Brazil hosts the two most important and diverse tropical forests globally. Almost 20% of the Amazon forest has been cut down in recent decades. This deforestation must stop before it becomes a savanna. Between 2004 and 2012, Brazil successfully controlled deforestation by 80%, by reducing illegal foresting, creating protected areas and restricting soya and cattle expansion. This resulted in increased food production by large farming complexes and strengthened smallholder farming. See
The UK’s work to tackle modern slavery in developing countries has had limited long-term impact. Its strategy did not build on existing international efforts and experience, and failed to adequately involve survivors - though the Government played a prominent role in raising the profile of the issue globally. Consequently the Government is now reviewing its strategy, to shape how the UK tackles modern slavery in years to come. Civil society organisations were consulted on the development of this strategy. Parliament scrutinised the situation at a hearing on 14 April. Now there are follow-up discussions on government responses to various recommendations. Please pray that key points on access to justice will form part of the Government’s strategy. This process is a key link in the accountability chain, providing Parliament and the public with an account of how well government departments have responded to reviews.
After Arlene Foster stood down from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), her replacement only lasted three weeks. Then Sir Jeffrey Donaldson took over the leadership at a significant moment for NI, as it has come to terms with the effects of Covid and battled the repercussions of Brexit. There have been significant changes on things like abortion and same sex marriage. Although the Church spoke out against changing legislation, Donaldson is concerned over the diminishing church voice. He said that church leaders now find it difficult to speak out in public to give a faith-based perspective on social issues and are not being salt and light in our society. He also believes prayer is the most important thing that the church has available to it: ‘I often encourage Christians to intercede and to give prayerful support to those of us who are involved as Christians in the political process’.
Sir Keir Starmer accused Tories of ‘wallowing in sleaze’ after they voted to protect the Conservative MP Owen Paterson from suspension over lobbying claims. Starmer said the Labour party would not have anything to do with a complete and utter sham process and will boycott the commission set up to overhaul the parliamentary sleaze system. Boris Johnson initially threw his weight behind an amendment tabled by Andrea Leadsom which will halt Paterson’s punishment until a new cross-party committee, chaired by John Whittingdale, has examined the standards system. But now, the level of cross-part opposition has forced Boris Johnson to withdraw this plan, and Owen Paterson has resigned as an MP.
President Daniel Ortega has gripped Nicaragua’s election on 7 November by arresting all competition, controlling electoral authorities, and reinventing himself as a business-friendly devout Catholic. The US is working with international partners to prepare new sanctions to be levied if he wins the election that Washington denounces as a sham. It has also begun a review of Nicaragua’s participation in a Central American free trade agreement and has halted support for any ‘trade capacity building’ activities seen as benefiting Ortega’s government. Nearly half of Nicaraguans live below the poverty line, and an additional 90,000 individuals fell into poverty as a result of the pandemic. Nicaragua is one of the most corrupt countries globally - a costly, painful legacy of misrule by Ortega’s dictatorship. He stole, wasted and misused state resources, which were destined to combat poverty and used for national development, resulting in immense economic costs. See