Author Archives: Jim Hodgson

Evangelical Christianity and liberalism: the compatibility question


In an election supposedly predicated on the issue of Brexit, few Liberal Democrats expected the issues of gay sex and abortion to dominate the headlines for the Uk’s most unequivocally pro-European party in 2017. Tim Farron’s repeated refusal to answer the question as to whether gay sex was a sin during an interview in April resulted in exceptional news coverage of the Lib Dems, but for the wrong reasons. Having led the party to a succession of impressive by-election victories and surpassing his own target to reach 100’000 members 3 years early, it was – up until that point – going so well. Farron was forced to clarify his position in Parliament the following day, exclaiming “I do not” (think gay sex is a sin). Unfortunately for the Liberal Democrats, the costs of Farron’s 24-hour inertia were colossal.

I won’t hesitate to disclose that the unfolding of this story was somewhat uncomfortable for me, worsened by Farron failing to distance himself from a statement that “…abortion is wrong”, made in 2007. Whilst many of my compatriots dismissed these stories as irrelevant, citing Tim’s positive voting record on LGBT rights, I was initially less willing to swat it aside. As a former member of the Labour Party, I have borne witness to the absurd realities of blinkered party-political tribalism, and believe it to be a dangerous trait. From disposing our future prosperity through continued support of hard Brexit, through to dodging his ostensible links to the IRA, for some folk it’s clear that Jeremy Corbyn is incapable of wrongdoing. The obstinance of Corbyn’s loyalists are reminiscent of a cult. Liberal Democracy necessitates divergence from this configuration; the Liberal Democrats are the party of evidence-based policy.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 60 Comments

Leaving the EU hampers progress on climate change

For as long as I can remember I’ve felt that those of us blessed with the safety and prosperity of life in the developed world have a moral duty to support those who are in need and less fortunate. So, for the past ten years I’ve been determined to do all I can to support the biggest issue facing our planet, to fight with others to find a pragmatic, achievable response to the problems of climate change and environmental protection.

I’ve often been frustrated at how this issue – the habitability of our planet – has been stuffed down the back of the political sofa, removed from public life, and quashed by contemporary discourse. It’s pained me to witness and learn how the severity of this challenge has been continually undermined by conventional economics…the system which perpetrates the false notion of unlimited growth on a finite planet.

Climate change is the primary driver behind my internationalism. Without working in union to find solutions immediately, we can expect global poverty, food shortages, more extreme weather, civil unrest, and gargantuan levels of refugees as a result. These are the very real risks we face in a rapidly globalised world. Quite simply, we cannot solve such an enormous problem with an isolationist, inward looking attitude. We cannot face this issue without cooperation with our friends and neighbours in the European Union. The EU is perhaps the best hope we have got of sending an example to the rest of the world: profiling a model of hope, collaboration, prosperity, peace and progression.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 9 Comments

Climate change deal shows there has never been a better time to support the Lib Dems

The world woke yesterday morning to an early Christmas gift. Not a novelty knitted jumper or bottle of tipple, but something more poignant altogether. Unconventionally, the gift in question was not only immaterial, but universal, unquantifiable, and intergenerational: the prospect of a deal on climate change in Paris.

The final agreement includes a commitment to keeping temperature rises ‘significantly below’ 2C, with the aim of 1.5C as a target. Whilst 2 degrees may sound inconsequential, the difference between today’s average global temperature and that during the last ice age is around 5 degrees. Our climate has never changed so rapidly, it’s unequivocally due to human activity, and avoiding the problem could result in temperature rises of 5-6C by the end of this century. Ask a climate scientist to describe what a 5-degree-world would be like, and you might just wish that you hadn’t.

Whilst a UN agreement provides a mandate for action, the thorny issue of how we get there is likely to make the COP21 negotiations look like a doddle. To this end, we must turn to the pillars of reasoned progress: science and politics. Earlier this year, the Tyndall centre (host to some of the world’s leading climate scientists) published an analysis of future climate projections for the 21st century: exploring 400 different possible ‘routes’ to achieving what has since been agreed in Paris. Of those, 86% rely on unproven technology, such as Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). For the remaining scenarios, emissions would have had to have peaked in the past at around 2010. Assuming technology will solve the climate problem is an aspiration, not a grounded projection. Whilst it’s unlikely that non-existent technologies will fit the bill, it’s even less-likely that Dr. Emmett Brown will be using his DeLorian to help us fix the emissions of the past.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 19 Comments

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