Letters - 15 November 2019

From a bygone age to note of this world

A bygone age

Ken Clarke, who is retiring as an MP, now seems to represent a bygone age of politicians who were intelligent, tolerant and modest. The present conduct of the government disturbs me greatly. We Quakers aim to be inclusive, but now at Westminster yah-boo politics seems to be the norm with the prime minister setting the tone with bravado and bluster that seems a very far cry from his party’s claim to be working together for everybody.

I see at close hand the problems of poverty and austerity in a school where I help young readers. I am sure such problems are widespread across Britain. I am very concerned also that a prime minister who strikes me as very impetuous has his finger on the UK’s so-called independent nuclear so-called deterrent. What do other Friends think?

Ken Veitch

Unclear transformation

We are members of Burford Local Meeting who would like to add our voices to those of Rex Ambler (30 August) and others who have expressed concern about the decision of Britain Yearly Meeting (BYM) trustees, in conjunction with Woodbrooke, to change the structure of BYM work in support of Local Meetings, including the appointment of new staff.

We do not know what detailed terms of reference have been designed for the new ‘head of local development’ to be appointed by BYM. But we are concerned about some of the wording that appears in the advertisement for the post, notably: ‘Alongside the opportunity to transform the experience of Quakers across Britain, we offer a generous benefits package.’ The implication that the post-holder will him/herself lead and drive through a programme of change, with a financial incentive to do so, seems to us to be deeply inconsistent with Quaker principles of right ordering in decision-making. It suggests an approach which is very much top-down, much as a company CEO might decree.

We recognise the implementation of local development is intended to involve local consultation. But how this is to happen (we would prefer our Area Meeting to be involved), and what kind of ‘transformation’ we can expect, is unclear. It does appear to us that this initiative has been designed with too little attention paid to Quakers’ main motivators – our spiritual principles and our grassroots.

Graham Hadley
Representing Burford Meeting discussion group, Oxfordshire

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