“INCOMPETENCE ON A MONUMENTAL SCALE “

It is very important for us to keep an eye on the progress of Brexit at this critical point in our history. Two headline statements made in the Press this week have stood out vividly for me, and call for comment:

“IT IS INCOMPETENCE ON A MONUMENTAL SCALE”.

Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England; on the planning and process of Brexit.

“DARK FORCES CAN BE UNLEASHED WHEN PARLIAMENTARY POLITICS BREAK DOWN”.

Title of a Newspaper Leader

This week Theresa May brought her Brexit “Deal” into the Commons to be debated and hopefully to be accepted. On the first day before the debate had really begun the Prime Minister and the government were found in breach of contempt of the House on three separate issues. This was totally unparalleled in the history of the Commons: three in the five year life of one parliament was not unusual, but three in one day bordered on the absurd. This was a very ominous start to the week-long debate. It was the first cannonade of uproar that continued to resound in the Commons.

One act of contempt stood out in particular; the Prime Minister had refused a full publication for the House of a report on the legal basis of her “Deal”. This had proved to be at the very least a misjudgement on Theresa May’s part. It was a failure to play her political cards correctly, and seemingly a result of an intransigence which would not take advice. True, it was not to her advantage in the debate to have the report published, but to have refused to publish simply made matters far worse in the event. It heightened the huge storm of protest (equally unparalleled) as she went on to outline and commend her “Deal”.

By day three of the debate, the rancour and heated division had reached a point where she found herself isolated and pleading with some emotion that she had put everything she had into making the “Deal” the best she could; she had worked hard and long and withstood any amount of abuse in her efforts to do her duty. She begged for support for her plan. Not surprisingly, it seems to have had little effect – the issues were too deep and important for that sort of personal appeal. This illustrates the tragedy of Theresa May. Without any question there has been widespread recognition of her sense of duty and commitment to the best for the country and there has been recognition of her refusal to get embroiled in any kind of political mud-slinging. She has maintained great and exemplary integrity. Unhappily, however, severe misjudgements have clearly dogged her path. A readiness to get on with the job and “go it alone” in the face of the confusion of ideas may have seemed in one sense laudable, but unfortunately her decision to “go it alone” proved to be one of her worst misjudgements. Losing all semblance of support, she tended to lean over into a disposition toward autocracy, and, not listening to advisors she came up with a plan that was so unworkable it pleased nobody.

“Incompetence” is a hard and derogatory word, and I have refrained from using out of respect for Theresa May’s integrity, but taking the Brexit process as a whole I think Mervyn King’s description of that process as being a demonstration of “incompetence on a monumental scale has to stand as very accurate. What I am anxious to underline about this comment is something I stressed in the last blog, namely that it is the classic description of what happens to decision making in government when a nation disowns its Maker. Even if there is a degree of courtesy and genuine selfless concern in any particular politician for what is right it is not sufficient to stem any process of judgement. Misjudgements, and devastating misjudgements with dire consequences, are bound to be made when the fear of God remains as ignored as it is in our nation, whoever might lead. Such misjudgements are quickly seen as incompetence.

The second quotation above, from the Press article, spoke of “dark forces” being released when normal “parliamentary politics break down”. Such a statement reflects with very great accuracy what can happen when political incompetence reaches such a degree that orderly government by due procedure and consensus starts to collapse. We can actually see this happening today in numerous places in our world where the dark forces of autocracy, violence and repression have begun to take over from disorderly democratic rule. Turkey is sadly perhaps the nearest country (being in Europe) to witness something of this downward spiral. The author of the article is not suggesting we have arrived at such a point, but he is certainly sounding a warning that we are moving in that direction. He noted that things become “problematic when there is a clash between the Executive and Parliament of the sort we are potentially seeing at the moment”.  He warns against complacency about civil upheaval. Historically we can never overlook the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the consequent rise of Hitler’s dark forces in what was a highly civilised Germany. The fact is that the road ahead of us with Brexit is highly fractious and dangerous. Almost any direction we take will be divisive, and the chaos of bitter division is the point of entry for dark forces. What we need to recognise is that division and bitterness is again something that humanity walks into (whether in Parliament or anywhere else) when we move away from God’s pathway of righteousness.

As a nation we have been under the growing judgement of God for some years. Rather than getting back to God we have as a nation rather increased the speed at which we are rejecting the moral behaviour which he requires. We have increasing lost any semblance of being a “God” culture, and we have reached a crisis point in His dealings with us.

The greatest gift God could give us as a nation at the moment in His mercy would be that of sound competent and godly leadership, but to be sure of that the greater need is for the nation to find its way back to the God of its forefathers.

“In wrath remember mercy”.

07 – 12 – 18

POLITICAL CORRUPTION

The foundational pamphlets which brought this website into being were studies of the prophet Amos and his message to the northern kingdom of Israel. That message was of great relevance to our own nation. It took the form of stern warnings against a godless and selfish, money seeking society for which pleasure took precedence over all else. The warnings were of the inevitable judgements of God against such a corrupt society. The ultimate judgement was that the Israelites would lose their land and find themselves in exile. The Israelites were in no mood to take heed to such warnings and they were either ignored or bitterly resented. In the event it was some thirty years from the time that Amos first began to warn the Israelites until the ultimate judgement actually overtook them. During those thirty years, however, there were serious developments in the political life of the nation; developments which should have made them realize they were on a downward trend nationally. Those developments were in themselves judgements of God.

The first of these trends was growing political disintegration. I quote from an earlier pamphlet: “The first sign of the withdrawal of God’s favour from the nation came in the form of political disintegration and loss of stability. On the death of Jeroboam the nation was straight away plunged into political chaos. Within 12 months Jeroboam’s son who succeeded him was assassinated, and his son’s killer and usurper was also assassinated. The latter’s murderer, Menahem, managed to hold on for 8 years, but only in a bloodthirsty atmosphere of brutal civil war. When Menahem’s son succeeded him, he also failed to last a year, and was murdered. His murderer survived only four years before the Assyrians deposed him. Thus the mark of those years was a chaotic struggle among rivals to gain and hold power. This took precedence over everything else, dragging down the nation, and making effective government impossible”. Political disintegration is unfortunately becoming more marked in the western world, not least in the USA (where politics seem to have reached a lock-down), and our own country.

The second trend was of growing political incompetence, especially in foreign affairs. The Israelites badly judged their own vulnerability in the face of the growing Assyrian super power and eventually were responsible for the foolish policies which opened the door to Assyrian conquest of their land.

A third mark of divine disfavour can be found in the debilitating effect of widespread and increasing political corruption in the nation, not least among its political leaders. I quote again from a previous pamphlet: “Hosea, a near contemporary of Amos, and whose main prophetic activity was at its height during these decades of collapse, sums up the situation with Israel’s leaders in a few terse comments: “their rulers dearly love shameful ways” (4:18); “Judah’s leaders are like those who move boundary stones” (5:10); “They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven …On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine … (7:3-7). Thus the personal degradation of the rulers was very marked were dishonest, they were dissolute, they were drunkards, and they loved it. They were arrogant. Justice and integrity had died. There was no political integrity because there was no personal integrity. The two, of course, can never be disassociated: humanity cannot keep corruption confined to one compartment of its life – it spreads all over. It is a sign of decadence when politicians insist that public life and personal life can be held in separate compartments.

I am writing this on the same morning that the resignation of our Defense Secretary and a senior Minister of the government has been announced. His resignation is due to the “sex scandal” among members of parliament. The same appalling “sleaze” which has been has been exposed at Hollywood threatens to rock the very centre of our government. More exposures are expected; and all this at a time when the stresses and strains of government are at an extreme level with disintegration not too far away. The situation is distinctly disturbing.

Has this behavior always been there? Many would say, “yes!” But many would suspect it has reached new levels. Sex is “in the air”, and open in a way that it has not been before. It certainly points at moral corruption. But does this exposure amount to a new moral beginning? Are we to see a new moral outlook? Or is that taking optimism too far? I suspect it is. The fact is our present position mirrors Amos’s position only too well. We are seeing only too clearly an aspect of the judgement of God.

Perhaps I should add a further quote from the pamphlet mentioned above: It was not political corruption in high places alone that marked the years of rapid decline, however. The corruption was endemic in the whole nation. Greed and gain among the rich provided not only a degenerate example to the less affluent, but drove those who were poorer to evil ways in order to keep up or even to survive. In this way corruption led to violence. Hosea again paints the picture: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds and bloodshed follows bloodshed” (4:1-2). The corruption and evil with which the nation had lived for fifty years, and by which it had lived a profligate lifestyle, was now to become part of the cancer which was to render it incapable of a strong response to the danger it was to face. The political leadership was absolutely incapable of addressing these deep moral and social issues: it was actually itself a part of the problem”.

The signs are all there – time is running out!

 

Bob Dunnett                  02/10/17