Criticising our leaders and faith-based leadership

We live in a free society where we can criticise our leaders without fearing for our lives and I value that immensely. We ought to be challenging Theresa May on the appropriateness of a deal with the DUP. For the same reason, Labour’s Diane Abbott can’t now claim unfair treatment for the criticism that was directed at her during the campaign. She said some silly things and in a democratic society we ought to challenge what people say. But perhaps all those who want to defend Theresa May and DUP will be more likely to listen to John Major who voiced his concerns about it on BBC news yesterday.

The Good Friday agreement says this:

…the power of the sovereign government with jurisdiction there shall be exercised with rigorous impartiality…

If the British government form a deal with just one Northern Ireland party they are not exercising rigorous impartiality.

I saw this on Twitter this morning:

Obviously I would rather see more seats for Green MPs than DUP MPs and so I might be biased, however electoral reform would also benefit parties like UKIP, and I would never vote for UKIP. In the 2015 election UKIP won over 3 million votes but only got 1 MP. There’s something wrong with the system when we end up with leadership that is not representative of the diversity of views in the population.

I also want to say something about faith-based leadership which has no place in modern politics. We should all demand that our leaders base policy decisions on evidence and reason rather than religious faith and here’s why. When a government legislates for something like, for instance, putting warning notices on cigarette packets, they can and should provide sound evidence to support the decision. If instead their decision is based on their faith all they can offer is “God said so” which does not speak to the people in the population who follow a different faith or who have no faith at all.

William Clifford, a nineteenth-century English mathematician, speaks more about this in his essay, The Ethics of Belief. He starts with a story about a ship-owner who is about to send his ship full of emigrants out to sea. The ship is old and not very well built and he doubts that it is seaworthy. Rather than putting the ship through expensive refitting he decides to trust in God that all the unhappy families will be cared for and he casts his doubts aside. The ship sinks killing everyone on board. Clifford says the ship-owner had no right to believe in the soundness of his ship because there was no evidence to suggest it was seaworthy.

He had acquired his belief not by honestly earning it in patient investigation, but by stifling his doubts.

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