Monthly Archives: June 2014

Liverpool can and must “move on” from resentment

The PR debacle over Ed Milliband having posed for photographs with a copy of the Sun and subsequently apologising, raises a number of issues.

In one sense this is to be welcomed. Mr Milliband is at least apologising for one of his own mistakes, instead of offering one for which neither he nor Brother Ivo and his readers bear any responsibility. A return to a coherent moral universe is something to be applauded. How much of an error this was is debatable.

He plainly knew what he was doing.

It was a posed event and his handlers could not have been unaware of the image to be projected which was innocent enough. All three major party leaders had the same opportunity and took it: they were associating themselves with England’s bid to win the Football World Cup. It was all pretty innocuous and doubtless they would have done the same if any other of the home nations were our sole representative.

The association of the newspaper with his party was far from unprecedented. During the Blair/Brown years Labour was only too happy to have the support of one of the country’s largest publications, especially one which spoke so often to and for the constituencies with which Labour traditionally associated itself.

But in the world of grievance politics, he had sinned and swiftly felt the need to repent. Liverpool had spoken. How dare he consort with their hated enemy, and where that citiy’s historic resentment post -Hillsborough headed, the Left quickly fell in line.

An early attack on Rupert Murdoch and all his works might normally be expected by way of atonement – or in reality- by way of placating of his followers. Yet that can’t happen, for Mr Milliband is shortly to meet the Murdoch representatives in a bid to either win over their support for the coming election or at least modulate the criticism into a minor key.

Paradox time: at a point where he most needed support, he demonstrated by his volte face his unworthiness of it. He had fallen into that familiar trap of the politically supine. In the words of Alexander Auguste Ledru-Rollin ” I must follow them , for I am their leader”.

He is not the only one. Liverpool’s clergy, both those in post, and those with historic links to the city routinely articulate that city’s institutional hatred of a newspaper and all its works, despite it having acceded to the demand for an apology. The Sun gave its apology for bad reporting on the Hillsborough tragedy on 12th September 2013. The offending Editor Kelvin Mackenzie added his personal apology the following day.

Brother Ivo holds no brief for Rupert Murdoch and his organisation. He and it will manage well enough whatever he, Ed Milliband or Liverpool will think. What surely matters is what happens to those incapable of “moving on” from past wrongs.

In this Liverpool’s clergy perhaps need to be more active. Isn’t the essence of the Christian message the forgiveness if sins and moving un-encumbered towards a newer and better life?

Wallowing in historic grievance has not served the people’s of the Middle East or Ireland particularly well. In contrast, whatever one thinks of the EU, the co-operation, reconciliation and ” moving on” needed to build it certainly serves as a pointer to a better way than clinging to resentments.

Good leaders, secular and religious, move their people on, sometimes whether they like it or not. One only has to call to mind the grumbling which Moses endured. Peaceful treating with one’s opponents was what characterised the lives of Ghandi, Martin Luther King and the more modest Gordon Wilson who forgave those who killed his daughter in the Inniskillen bombing.

Liverpool needs to move on.

Doubtless there will be those who will insist that this case -their case- is different, that their enemy is uniquely undeserving, yet that is a nonsense.

Liverpool can draw on its own history.

Brother Ivo woke up this morning with a hunch. He followed it up with a simple Google search and was proved right. Liverpool is twinned with Cologne. Both cities had seen their homes and communities destroyed in the Second World War and their sons decimated twice within a generation. Somehow the leaders of those communities were able to find ways to put that past aside.

What is perhaps most striking is the date of the twinning: it was 1952.

Liverpool, its leaders, and those who wish them well should ponder what it took for that early generation to set aside their resentments and losses to choose reconciliation. This is not for the benefits of the Murdochs or even the Labour Party, but rather for a people who have been bigger than this kind of self indulgent self pity and should be again.

If you found this interesting or helpful, please pass it on by link on twitter/ Facebook or email. Brother Ivo remains away from his home computer without his twitter password 



First they came for the racists…..,

Brother Ivo has found himself significantly embroiled in the debates over UKIP and its detractors of late. It is not something he was particularly keen to do, he is not a member, and certainly does not believe that they have all the answers, anymore than any other political party.

He was clear however that plain speaking and a reflection of what ordinary people think is not to be stifled in a democracy. Even in this modern world, the membership of the United Nations is comprised significantly of undemocratic regimes. One of the first signs of privilege is taking one’s blessings for granted.

Free speach is fundamental to Brother Ivo.

Readers will also know that Brother Ivo is clear in his view that the political correctness which underwrote much of the attempted silencing of the debate over EU immigration is a deliberately political movement designed to frame debate by controlling what may and may not be said.

The capture of certain concepts – ” fairness” is an obvious example, is another stage in that movement, yet Jesus parable of the workers in the vineyard illustrates how complex such a seemingly simple and attractive idea may be. There is no one “fairness” but the radical left will coral us unto their version of it, given half a chance.

It is with that analysis in mind that Brother Ivo was sorry to see the Church of England bishops deciding that membership of the British National Party should become a disciplinary offence. One can understand the decision: the church is very sensitive to its slowness in recognising the consequences of Nazism in Germany and Fascism in Italy and many of its members foolishly fellow travelled the road from the high unemployment of the 1920’s depression to “Arbeit Macht Frei”.

Yet therin lies the paradox and danger.

” Work makes you free” was a fair enough slogan when first advanced. Of course it does: it gives you choice, independence and economic liberty – many things to appeal to the mass unemployed of inter war Europe. Yet surely we should appreciate that it is not where you start, but where you finish that matters. Christians are called to move from original sin to salvation, yet there is a two way street here. The power of the Church can intoxicate and lead us astray, even as they set out with good intentions.

Political Correctness is no friend of the Church: its followers are antithetical to Christ. Brother Ivo is not confident that the bishops understand this.

This may be why the Anglican bishops find themselves seduced into taking the first steps of political censorship at this time.

Why now?

The BNP vote is declining. We are not seeing a neo-Nazi revival, there are, apparently, no known BNP priests within its ranks so why now?

Could it be that our overwhelmingly Socially Democratic bishops would like to proscribe UKIP but, with such significant current support, dare not do so directly, so they choose instead to send a “signal” by this decision? Certainly there are one or two in the ranks who would cheerfully conflate the two parties.

We have never had a similar approach to parties of the far Left.

Might we expect the Socialist Workers Party to be similarly proscribed ? One somehow doubts it. Yet “a next ” there will surely be; there will be another serious “threat” requiring an extension of the banned list. Perhaps climate change deniers will be a sufficiently minority to be similarly rejected by all “right thinking people”.

This is in keeping with the shaping of the debate, the narrowing of thought, the limiting of what may be said which is part of the strategy of the politically correct. Brother Ivo was there when this began. It started with linguistic policing only – one was upbraided if one spoke of ” fighting an election”. Now we have moved on and a major non-political institution has proscribed political thought. Might others follow? Will the British Legion or the National Trust be next? Why not?

As we approach the 70th anniversary of D-Day we need to remind ourselves that Liberty is hard won with great sacrifice: it is easily surrendered, incrementally.

Those who crossed the Normandy beaches were a mixed bunch. There were Christians, atheists, homosexuals, homophobes, and of course, Eisenhower brought a segregated Army to our rescue. They united to fight an enemy which permitted but one way of thinking-their way: much like the politically correct of today, with whom the Anglican Bishops have sided, with no real existential urgent threat.

” First they came for the racists, and I did not speak out, I was not a racist : then they came for the climate change deniers, I was not a climate change denier and I did not speak out: then they came for the homophobes…. Oh wait …the Church of England has a statutory exemption from conducting gay weddings. Gee aren’t we lucky we’re not next on the list.

Brother Ivo remains abroad without his twitter password and would appreciate any help in publishing these thoughts if you found them thought provoking.