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Discussion > The right to bear arms

My heart used to go out to the 18 - 21 year old peers - disenfranchised for three whole years before they could take up their seat

Dec 22, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Hi Dung
I think you mean Chamberlain not Eden, Eden was the Suez Crisis man.

The 3000 years comes from the Mycenaean Age which ended around 1100 BC(e), the Greek City states were well known for warrior kings (Agamemnon and so on). So I think it was a conservative estimate.

I have to agree with
"That democracy should be sacrosanct, non negotiable and unshakable but Heath gave it away and so far no government has taken it back."

But conversely the Scottish parliment of 1706 gave up all of this so Big Alec is within his rights to ask for them back, no? I'm not sure of the constitution at the time but surely the Confederate states in the United States also were at least partly justified in their attempted breakaway? It's all a very difficult problem, one BBC programme I enjoyed the odd times I was able to listen was The Moral Maze usually ending up in a discussion like this.

I don't think there is any doubt that arms bearing citizens are a much stronger lobby than non-arms bearing ones, but whether this improves things is a bit of a moot point. A bit like feedback from clouds in that respect ;)


Dec 22, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


My memory and my history stand corrected yet again, thank you sir :)
The Alec Salmond situation shows the hypocracy of Cameron. I totally agree that Scotland should be able to withdraw from the UK if it so decides (I would be sad but it should be their choice). Cameron is giving the Scots the right to vote on it but he will not give us a vote on the EU.

The discussion about the right to bear arms is very like discussions about national defence, most countries arm themselves, some for the wrong reasons but mostly to protect the country and its interests. Whenever arms are used, people get killed and injured but "better them than us" seems to be the common mindset. I would say that same mindset applies to people and if a man is prepared to break into my house and steal my property, threatening or using violence in the process, he should lose the protection of the law and I should have the option of threatening or using firearms as required. Most criminals like some countries are not open to negotiation.

Dec 22, 2012 at 11:39 PM | Registered CommenterDung

From the Ecclesiastical Uncle, an old retired bureaucrat in a field only remotely related to climate with minimal qualifications and only half a mind.

It’s still apparently Christmas for the Bishop and climate is in the cupboard.

So democracy.

I have only voted once only to find myself filled with disgust at what I had done. Back in the 60s, I suppose. Why did I do it? What did I know? The recipient of my vote was certainly a chump. Like the average chap, I had had to rely on that unruly band of ruffians –journalists –for advice, and, as we know now they are in the manipulation business and inherently untrustworthy.

However, this realization was negative of course, a mere winge - and what should be done about it not easy to imagine.. Mindful, however, of Churchill’s Democracy is the worst system of the lot except all the others, I could and can comfort myself with the thought that greater brains than mine have been baffled over these matters.

But since those days, we have let things get worse. The most serious erosion of good governance results from the fact that we allowed our MPs to pay themselves. So what should we expect? Well, conviction politicians are replaced by careerists. So, we don’t have politicians with burning desires to change things; we have middle class functionaries making a living in a system that threatens their survival every election. So it should be no surprise that they cling to the system that got them in in the first place, resist change and the greater uncertainty that would make re-election that much more difficult to ensure, embrace the EU and the erosion of discretion it brings (Not me, Oh Elector, I didn’t support this that or the other measure: that was the chaps in Brussels). Enact laws that ensure political correctness and anything that might rock the boat. These chaps want calm so they don’t have to cope with passion and great ideas that would submerge them and banish them into the obscurity that is their rightful place. But meanwhile things change and as a society we haven’t reacted and suffer as a result.

Again, I detect more than a whiff of a winge in all this. What to do about it – that’s the thing. But this time, I have ideas. Firstly, government should be the business of the governing classes. After all, they know how to do it (or think they do). So the landed gentry should be part of the system. And those who take themselves off to Oxbridge and get good PPE degrees. And those revolutionaries like Viscount Stansgate and (some minor sort of the nobility, I believe) Vladimir Lenin and the like. Born for the job by one accident or another. A mixture of hotheads to stir things up and old boys to keep the whole thing on the rails.

Then, we have compounded the problem by allowing government to expand. Whitehall knows better than I what is good for me –except that I’ m me, the one and only me, and Whitehall’s best is best for the majority and only second best for me. And even theoretically it’s daft- government can never know as well as I the detail that goes into the decisions I make many times every day. So why have we let them assume responsibilities that are ours and that they are totally unprepared to bear?

But not only does government interference necessarily lead to sub-optimal situations for the individual, in most cases the idea that government should concern itself with this or that detail of our lives is wrong in the first place. (Schooling? Shouldn’t that be the families business?)

It is probably correct that most instances of government interference have been designed to protect the under privileged, notwithstanding well remarked scams designed to have the opposite effect that blight the system. But do these efforts have any basis in the underlying economic and biological realities? Neither the lion nor my mother are cabbages: both eat at the expense of another animal. Such exploitation is surely the means by which the fit survive –even in competition within species (ours) for scarce resources. This is how things are and it has lead to expansion of the species, so , for us, it has and still works. So government attempts to reduce competition are contrary to nature and as a result futile. Why should there be benefit?

At the detailed level, Governments have mainly acted by making laws that stop people from doing things. (After the war, Atlee’s government nationalized road transport: what could be more logical than to organize things so that you don’t have empty lorries returning home; so make laws to stop your individual lorry owner functioning and bring him into the system. Didn’t last long, as I recall, nothing got delivered.) So I am stopped from doing things that make my life better – as is everybody - so my and everybody’s output and well being are reduced..

And in parliament, the expansion of government is marked by the number of MPs that are co-opted into government. I’ve no figures but have read that it has expanded so that now maybe over a hundred MPs are now part of government and therefore part of the system that they are elected to represent us against. More stasis.

And this proximity to the detail of government that these appointments as Parliamentary Under Secretary of this or that has brought with it the need for the involved MP to have detailed knowledge –which, of course, nobody should expect from a politician, whose mysterious skill comes from making right decisions in total ignorance. (Calls for knowledgeable politicians on this blog and elsewhere are misplaced and counterproductive. The butcher, the baker, the candle stick maker, the usher, the pusher, the prostitute, etc – too many different sorts of knowledge for the 600 or so MPs we have to have, surely.) The appointments are made not to contribute to decision making but to ensure loyalty.

And the House of Lords. In the course of a previous attempt at reform I recall hearing a totally mystified peer wondering at a proposal to elect the house. Indeed. You’ve got one elected house that is a manifest failure - what on earth do you want another one for? And placement there of past-it politicians is clearly not a recipe that’s going to bring the thinking that is occasionally required when the politicians in the lower house get it wrong and make, not the right decision in their ignorance, but the wrong one. The bureaucracy should stop this happening, of course, but, being subordinate, won’t always find it possible. So corrections will occasionally be required at political level and the House of Lords is there for the purpose. So who should be there? Well, the appointed head of this or that Institution for the duration of his tenure, this or that elected head of the Butchers, Bakers, Candle Stick Makers, the SocRoyal and so on. Leavened by a few retired Senior Ministers and old parliamentary hands to advise on realities.

Moonshine, of course. How is improvement to come about? Well, in this arena people have wishes and a few have been expressed up-thread. I don’t myself think there’s much significance in them. More importantly, what is most likely to happen? Forecasts. Most probably nothing for some time. UKIP seems to represent a stirring of the public mood, but it will have to survive attempts to stifle its activism as unacceptable departure for political correctness. As indeed it is. But sooner or later I think it likely there will be an Arthur Scargill figure who may achieve something. So yes, whether I want it or not, I guess there will eventually be blood on the streets. Not that much I suppose, but some. Arthur appeared nothing if not a conviction politician, so the Arthur of the future would have the right mind-set to free us of paid hacks. Would parliament survive? Only maybe.

So my guess is that sometime there will be change to a rougher but more dynamic world and that the less fit will go to the wall. Me with them, I suppose, if I were t live that long (impossible, I guess) but it would be for the best.

Dec 28, 2012 at 6:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterEcclesiastical Uncle

Ecclesiastical Uncle

Your post above is one of the most wonderful I have ever read on BH. Granted it has nothing to do with climate but I think the Bish likes to see such things discussed on this part of his blog.
I do not want to try and dissect and analyse it, that would be an insult, rather just let it stand ^.^

Dec 28, 2012 at 7:48 AM | Registered CommenterDung

"In the UK the armed forces are...., the police are armed, the criminals are armed and the rest of us are effectively stuffed.
The US constitution gave their citizens the right to bear arms not to help defend against criminals, not to defend against invadors but to protect citizens against the state.
I think it is time we got the same right."


Can you give me any examples of how this has worked in the US? I mean, examples where people have protected themselves against the state?

Dec 28, 2012 at 8:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

Wow, Ecclesiastical Uncle.
I am impressed.

Dec 28, 2012 at 9:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterMessenger

James Evans

No I can not (fortunately) give any examples of the US population using arms against the US government other than that they threw off the yoke of their colonial masters er um that would be us. However I do think that the US government takes a great deal more notice of US voters than our UK government ever has.
What I want to achieve is a situation where the UK government can not happily sit contentedly aloof after having given away our democracy. I also believe as I have said that at some point people in this country should take responsibility if democracy is not returned to them (and I sincerely hope that never happens).

Dec 28, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Registered CommenterDung


Dec 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A