Monthly Discussion Group 21 February 2018

When: 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Wed 21st Feb.
Where:
The Black Horse
166 Friargate
Preston
Lancashire
PR1 2EJ
The Black Horse

1. An ex-Brtish soldier, James Matthews, has been charged with “attending a place or places in Iraq and Syria where instruction or training was provided for purposes connected to the commission or preparation of terrorism”. The interesting point here is that he was in Syria to fight for the Kurdish PKK forces against ISIS. (He says that footage of an ISIS fighter holding up the decapitated head of an executed woman led to him getting involved.)

Apparently terrorism laws in the UK prohibit engaging in violence for a political or ideological cause and the government has long repeated warnings that fighting with any group could lead to legal action.

a. on the apparent facts of this case (as far as we know them) should fighting against a totalitarian state abroad be an offence in the UK?
b. would the suffragettes, so lauded by Mrs May this week, have fallen foul of this legislation had it existed in 1918, and could other domestic causes suffer that fate now?

2. The suffragettes were prepared to be imprisoned, and even to die, for the cause of votes for women. Since then we have gradually given the vote to all men and women, and then lowered the age to 18. On the face of it democracy can only be a good thing – at best giving all citizens an equal say in who governs in our name.

But is it actually a good idea? Is it a good thing for someone who is ignorant of the facts to have the same voting power as someone who has thought through the issues diligently. Has it led to personality politics with one-liners being more persuasive than policies?