Risk aversion and worst case scenario planning govern our lives

This is an interesting article in the Telegraph about the way that each time the government promises “freedom” from Covid restrictions then soon seem to find another reason not to in fact “grant freedom”. The goalposts keep moving. I was struck by this piece of analysis:

What seems to be going on is that every one is covering their backs. Ministers want to pass the buck to the scientists. They want to be able to say “What a triumph for our policies” if things turn out fine; and “We followed the science” if they turn out badly. The scientists don’t like being made to carry the can for what is basically a political judgment. They want to be able to say “These were only scenarios, not predictions” if things turn out fine; and “We told you so” if they turn out badly. Each group is trying to manipulate the other. Balanced assessments based on actual evidence are sadly missing.

That is – both sides are risk averse. Each side is trying to avoid being in a position where they can be accused publicly of having made a mistake. The result; the scientists produce a range of models including some at the very “pessimistic” end. This way – if the government picks a more optimistic model they can still say “well; we gave you the pessimistic model and it is the government’s fault that they chose to use the optimistic model”. And the government chooses to base policy on the worst-case model so that if things go wrong no one can say : “it was your fault; you should have used one of the more pessimistic models”. Everyone is risk averse and the public ends up with a bad outcome.

Continue reading “Risk aversion and worst case scenario planning govern our lives”

The new intolerance

This is a story about Keith Starmer falling afoul of a righteous brigade in his own party. Apparently he visited an evangelical Church in London which is helping with the vaccine rollout. But it turns out that the pastor of this Church holds traditional religious views on homosexuality. According to the article the pastor wrote to the Telegraph in 2006 to criticise proposed New Labour legislation (secondary legislation the ‘Sexual Orientation Regulations’) and to argue against this legislation on the grounds that it would oblige Churches to promote homosexuality. This is what he wrote:

The regulations force Christians in churches, businesses, charities and informal associations to accept and even promote the idea that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality. For the sake of clarity, this is not what the Bible teaches and it is not what we believe to be the truth. In our view, these regulations are an affront to our freedom to be Christians.

And in 2013 the pastor again wrote to the Telegraph to protest against gay marriage. This was before the law was passed. This is what he wrote:

If the Government gets its way, it will not be a victory for equality. Equality requires diversity, and diversity requires distinctiveness, and marriage is and always will be distinctively a union between a man and a woman. By changing marriage from its historic foundation it would be creating a legal fiction, and consequently devaluing this vitally important social institution. The Government is not respecting difference, and it is not promoting a plural society.

As readers can see this is the pastor arguing for his own value system and traditional views.

Following Keith Starmer’s visit to this Church an internal Labour party “LGBT” group has criticised the leadership:

We have spoken with the leader of the opposition’s team regarding his visit to the church on Good Friday that does not align with our values on conversion therapy or LGBT+ equality…

This visit was unacceptable and we made this clear to LOTO. 

The leadership issued the inevitable grovelling apology.

That is – because the pastor of this Church at the time that legislation on gay issues was being debated in parliament wrote a letter to a newspaper expressing his point of view (against the proposed changes in the law) no one from the Labour party can ever meet him. Not ever. (Regardless of any other good work he may be doing in the community – such as promoting vaccine in minority ethnic communities; where it is sorely needed).

I wonder if these people have any grasp of what they are doing, of what kind of society they envisage? For a start they certainly don’t believe in the traditional British idea of democracy; that when legislation is being debated in parliament people can write to newspapers arguing for one side or the other. Not it seems have they embraced the idea that “I respect your right to hold an opinion even though I disagree with it”. They want to send the pastor into complete Coventry, for ever, because he had had the temerity to express (in a newspaper) a traditional value system which conflicts with their own. They propose a society in which there is only a single truth. This is in fact a cult. These people have the same kind of mental fragility as is typically found in cult followers. They can’t cope with difference and diversity. They need a simple world with a single truth.

I hope that in 20 years time people will look back on this as an extraordinary time. Some kind of aberration. But I fear that this is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

The false narrative about racism in the UK/US

Anti-racism campaigning and criticism of alleged racism seems to (rather like ‘feminism’) be making a comeback. Black Lives Matter protests are part of it – but page after page of the Guardian and the Independent are full of stories of racism. White young people are told that they enjoy “white privilege” – a vacuous idea designed it seems to explain any failings at all on the part of their black and ethnic minority compatriots and brothers.

The liberal press has been strongly hinting at the idea that higher incidences of Covid amongst black and ethnic minority populations in the UK are the result of racism. Almost as if Sars-Cov-2 is being accused of having aligned itself with the white racists in power. The news that there are significantly lower rates of vaccine take-up amongst these sections of society is tricky for this narrative – but I have even seen this reported as evidence of racism.

Continue reading “The false narrative about racism in the UK/US”

No resistance?

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is going currently through Parliament. If enacted into law this bill will a) give the police completely arbitrary powers to “give directions” to “to prevent the disorder, damage, disruption, impact or intimidation mentioned in subsection …” caused by noise from a demonstration. In effect any demonstration which makes any noise (as most do) can be controlled or shut down by the police at will. A second important provision gives the Home Secretary the power to issue secondary legislation to define what “serious disruption to the life of the community” or an organisation is for the purposes of the 1986 Public Order Act. [2] This Act already gives police powers to restrict demonstrations. By allowing the Home Secretary to add new definitions of what constitutes “serious disruption” the power is created to allow the Home Secretary of the day to decide what is permitted and what is not. For example; if a vegan group decided to picket outside MacDonald’s to protest against their use of beef then the Home Secretary of the day could quickly issue secondary guidance which would define this as causing serious disruption to the life of the community or an organisation (MacDonald’s) and the police could, in effect, shut down the protest.

Continue reading “No resistance?”