Imagine going to a Tory Party conference and asking, ‘Hands up all those for freedom and justice’. Ask the same question at a Labour conference. How many raised hands would you see? You can guess the answer.
Despite Tories and Labour agreeing that freedom and justice are good things, they won’t agree on the content of what these ideas mean. Political conflict is also moral conflict. This leads to ugly scenes in Parliament but in other countries, such disagreement gets uglier still. Disagreement becomes lethal.
But why do we have it and what can we do about it?
In trying to answer that, then I am both a pessimist and an optimist. A pessimistic in the sense I believe that conflict is a perennial; an optimist in that I believe that people can live together despite their differences and that this can be done without us having to agree on things like the ultimate justification of morality, whether life has meaning and so on and so forth.
People can be tolerably decent without the threat of eternal damnation. We don’t need religion and we don’t need saints, with or without halos, to accomplish that. We need politics.
So in a nutshell, this is a blog about moral and political conflict and my thoughts on that.
What about me? I have a day job unrelated to politics which means I have less time to write than I would like. I am a Labour voter. I have no religion. As I get older, I detect ever more shades of grey in the spectrum between black and white. For this reason, I am impatient with moralistic denunciations of politicians and politics and want to get people to think beyond facile, trite explanations for the problems we face. If I change a few minds, then this effort won’t all have been in vain.