SIR PETER BOTTOMLEY: Arguing for the sake of Heaven

Sir Peter Bottomley
Sir Peter Bottomley

Public and private events of the week came together on Wednesday when a small conservative female rabbi addressed the monthly parliamentary communion breakfast on the Argument for the sake of Heaven.

She said that some problems are technical: how does the engine work, or why it is not working?

Some have multiple answers: what are the ways from West Worthing to Westminster?

Some have polarities: one person’s aim needs the opponent’s point too.

She recommend trying to bring a sparring partner’s intended result and their arguments into a resolution.

Examples when this might help include the balance of justice and mercy, of the individual and the group interest, of fairness and of freedom.

She quoted a book on The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation and Hope are Reshaping the World – it suggested over 25 years ago, in simple terms, that the West is guided by fear, India and developing countries by hope and that parts of the Middle East by shame.

Like many others, last Thursday was a day for polling stations at the local elections – Arun district had a year off.

I am proud that relations between local supporters of the main political groups are good. With very few exceptions, we know the others are alternatives, not enemies.

We each give much of ourselves, of our time and our talents, and of our best and we often do it together, in town and county halls, in the Civic Centre and in the House of Commons.

After interesting conversations in the constituency on Saturday, I joined the next generation who were running or walking around much of the Isle of Wight, before hearing the new priest-in-charge in the village give a sparkling address. The hymns were great too.

By Sunday evening we were in our garden with long-term friends who have the welcome ability and habit of telling me when my thinking or actions are wrong.

On the holiday Monday, Virginia and I sat quietly in the garden under the canopy of trees that concealed noisy birds. It was fun to wonder whether they were arguing, advertising or just claiming territory.

Are humans the only species who argue more-or-less logically?

On Tuesday I listened to people at the Grenfell United meeting in the Speaker’s House.

The tragic events reminded me of how, with many others, I had set out to reduce road casualties greatly.

Instead of taking unnecessary deaths for granted, we knew there were ways to bring down the avoidable distress and loss.

The same has happened in rail and air transport. There is more to do.

Then we have the discussions on the net value of screening for breast cancer and for prostate cancer.

Last week I had spoken strongly for the HPV vaccination to be offered to young males in addition to young women.

A lighter note: I go racing two or three times a year.

At Plumpton John Paxman often acts as a steward – he used to lead at Worthing’s Gifford House, the Care for Veterans home previously the Queen Alexandra Hospital Home.

When chatting to him this week, I realised what fun there can be in speculation about the likely winners in each race.

I support sensible betting; I oppose the existing high limits on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.

They have not been allowed in Irish betting shops.

I argue to bring the stake down to £2 here.

That would be a step towards heaven?

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