Political Cultism – Is it akin to religious cultism?

Jeremy Corbyn is often referred to as having a cult following and the same is said of Nigel Farage of course. Brexit itself seems to be cultish too but our view of cults is often more likely to be connected with religious extremism rather than politics. So the question is do political cults have a commonality with religious cults?

According to Wikipedia in sociological terminology, sects are products of religious schism and therefore maintain a continuity with traditional beliefs and practices, while cults arise spontaneously around novel beliefs and practices.

Well Brexit certainly fits the ‘novel beliefs and practices’ definition as it is based very much on belief rather than facts/reality and it’s proponents (Brexiteers) can be fanatical in their following of it despite strong evidence challenging their often seemingly emotional based stance.

But what of Corbynism? Is it akin to say Thatcherism or Reganism in that its followers see themselves as the true believers whilst they look upon the scepticism of others who do not subscribe to their beliefs as being, in religious terms, heathens? Certainly, in my experience Labour Party members and supporters who see themselves as Corbynistas will often refer to anyone else, even fellow Labour members who are not in the Corbyn sect, as ‘Tories’, the political alternative terminology to the religious heathen I guess. Subscribers to the political sect known as Blairism are particularly hated by Corbynistas yet both Blairism and Corbynism have both been the majority view within the Labour Party in the past 20 years. I’ve heard it said that some Corbynistas hate Blarites more than their traditional ‘enemy’ Thatcherites!

Interestingly though, Johnson, whilst probably being more of a Brexiteer than any members of the Brexit Party, does not seem to have a cultish following. Indeed, he seems to be widely unpopular other than with extreme right wingers. Is that because he switched from being an EU supporter and because he is seen to be a politician who follows the crowd. In other words not a true believer in Brexit?

What makes some of us look upon Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters as being akin to cultists is that they will back their leader no matter what. No criticism of him is acceptable in any form from any quarter and they ‘know’ that anyone who does question Jez is a ‘Tory’.

As a Liberal who likes to hold a healthy scepticism of all political leaders, often particularly Liberal ones, this defence of ‘The leader’ come what may is hard for me to get my head around. I think I smelled something worryingly like cultism with the people who surrounded Nick Clegg during the Coalition Government days. They, like Jez Corbyn’s backers, were not for hearing the noise outside of their seemingly closed group and the consequences were dire for liberalism as it is now starting to prove for Labour too.

To conclude I think it is perfectly possible for political cultism to exist as an extreme form of the political sects which clearly exist within some political parties. The other interesting point to consider here is that those who look to be backing what seems to others as being a cult will probably deny that they’re cultists. Is that because they don’t see themselves as cultists? Is it only those outside of a cult who can see cultism for what it is?

And finally when does a sect, political religious or otherwise, become a cult?

North West Development Agency (NWDA) gone but not forgotten on an Aughton grass verge

The NWDA was abolished by the Coalition Government some 5 years ago. It was a quango giving out Government cash towards worthy infrastructure/economy developing causes across the north west of England.

Like most quangos it was not much loved and few will have mourned or even noticed its demise. So what brings it to mind now?

Well walking along the busy A59 in Aughton, literally on the Sefton/West Lancashire boundary I found this lying in the grass verge:-

img_9281

It’s glass plaque on a stone plinth saying that a project was supported by the NWDA. So what was the project? It took us a couple of minutes to work it out but it seems it must have been the gateway planting of trees and shrubs on the Sefton – West Lancs boundary. I wonder how that project will have driven the West Lancs economy forward?

Did the Lib Dems hold back the worst excesses of the Tories?

www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/david-cameron-and-george-osborne-should-not-forget-the-lib-dems-know-where-the-bodies-are-buried-a6952641.html

The Independent has the story on its web site – see link above

I think even the most extreme Coalition hater (I await the rants to start) will concede that the answer to the question is yes especially as those worst Tory excesses are being played out now as there is no brake on the Tory right wing what so ever.

You see you have to try to see past the Clegg hating which for some, after his Tuition Fees U-turn, is all but impossible. To many voters if Nick Clegg said today was Monday they would automatically assume he was lying even if today was indeed Monday! What a legacy Nick has to live with.

But of course this Independent article makes some well informed comments, although it has to be said the electorate actually voted, under our utterly unrepresentative electoral system, for more right wing Tory policies in 2015. Well that was the effect if not really the intention because the Lib Dems were either battered for holding the Tories back or alternatively battered for not holding the Tories back enough. Only our first post the post electoral system (so loved by Tories and Labour) could deliver a new government of the Tory far right when more than 60% of the electorate was seemingly trying to create the opposite.

But to return to the Independent article, I was also taken by this quote from David Laws “The Lib Dem leader thought that a major weakness of both David Cameron and George Osborne was that they had little sympathy with or understanding of people on very low incomes, and were inclined to write them off politically as ‘not our voters’.”

Yes of course it sums up well how many Tories look at those less fortunate in our society but I have also heard Labour folk use a similar turn of phrase when talking about other matters. In other words if you come from a section of society or a place that does not return Labour MP’s/councillors why should we give a stuff about you.

It is of course pure tribalism and both Labour and Tories represent their own tribes and care little and indeed have great hatred for the other tribe. Sadly, UK politics is very much based on such appalling tribalism and that’s why we are in the mess that we are in.

With thanks to my spotter Jen Robertson

Maghull North Station Project – Exhibition at Maghull Town Hall

I went along to this exhibition today as did quite a lot of local folks. It was certainly busy whilst I was there.

Maghull North Exhibition 24 11 15

Network Rail, Merseyrail and Merseytravel were represented and they were taking notes of residents comments. Here are a few I picked up on:-

* The draft design of the station is too boxy and bland – Don’t want to end up as nondescript as Aintree Station when it was modernised.
* Will some of the circular buses be diverted there because the bus access along narrow roads is poor to the present Maghull Station?
* Can there be a memorial included to reflect the historic Moss Side Hospital that was on the site before? This refers to the pioneering work done there during and after the First World War into shell shock.
* Can the old Maghull Station be renamed Maghull Hornby to differentiate it from Maghull North?
* Can Maghull North name be changed to say Maghull Moss Side for example?

Draft designs which look a little boxy and bland.

Draft designs which look a little boxy and bland.

As far as I could see the response to the project was very positive although a few were sceptical of it actually being built as it has been talked of since the 1940’s I am told. However, with the previous Coalition Government giving around 90% of the money required to build the station Merseytravel are clearly very serious indeed about getting it constructed soon.

Maghull North Station – What’s the latest news on Maghull’s promised 2nd station?

I continue to track (ged it?) this long-promised project which I have campaigned for over donkey’s years.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station.  Photo taken looking north from the School Lane road bridge. The Ashworth South site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

Site for the new Maghull North Railway Station. Photo taken looking north from the School Lane road bridge. The Ashworth South site is to the right and Mersey Avenue to the left.

My last posting along these lines (get it?) of 28th April said:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2015/04/28/maghull-north-station-so-when-will-it-get-built/

The latest news from Merseytravel, the public sector body which administers/oversees Merseyrail [the private sector train operator] says this:-

Merseytravel is working with Network Rail and Merseyrail on the design and operation of the station. We are also working with Sefton Council and the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Persimmon Homes [it seems they will be the house builder].

HCA are currently land owners of the station building and car park site alongside the railway line. Persimmon will be building residential properties on HCA land adjacent to the new station [this means the Ashworth South site which used to be Moss Side Hospital].

At present we are developing the design and costs for the station and these will be included in the Full Business Case for the station project.

The station will require planning application and there will be community engagement as part of that process. It is intended that the station has the same train frequency as the other stations on the line.

Jo Swinson – Equalities Minister but treated by a man as a secretary!

Former minister Jo Swinson has spoken of the “delicious” moment she was mistaken for a secretary by a senior government official.

Jo_Swinson

The ex-MP, an equalities minister in the coalition government, was speaking about the difficulties faced by women in the workplace.

She said the official was mortified when he realised his mistake.

The former Lib Dem MP, who lost her seat at May’s general election, pushed through reforms allowing shared parental leave, seen as one of the biggest changes in employment law under the coalition.

She spoke out against all-women shortlists at a Liberal Reform fringe meeting at the party’s conference in Bournemouth. But she argued that some state intervention and positive discrimination was needed to shift ingrained cultural attitudes, offering an insight into her own experience at the heart of government.

“I remember as a minister, when I was making a public appointment, the officer for public appointments was coming along to discuss who we were going to appoint to this position and the interview process,” she said.

“And basically came into my office and talked to me with the clear assumption that he thought I was the secretary to the minister.

It was wonderful – the look on his face when he realised his mistake.”

And the lesson from this is one for us men not to assume that when we go to a meeting with someone whom we do not know that it will be with another man! Equalities clearly has some way to go.

With thanks to Jen Robertson for the lead to this story.