Saturday, December 19, 2009

Maurice and Olivia

Oh dear, over a week since my last post! Maurice arrived from New Zealand on December 12, and survived the journey with only a bit of jetlag, so we've been keeping him and Olivia fairly busy since then. This evening they've gone to a carol concert at the Albert Hall with Sue and Lyulph; earlier I took them to the Imperial War Museum where we looked through the Holocaust exhibition. Its difficult to comprehend how an advanced society can be led into such inhuman behaviour, though I always think of Milgram's 1974 work on 'The Perils of Obedience' as a partial explanation. No people is immune from the extreme forms of racism, given the conditions.

Maurice & Olivia are certainly getting a broad programme - yesterday we went to the Bloomsbury Theatre for the Atheists Christmas show, some of which was brilliant. I particularly enjoyed Brian Cox's ten minute on the creation of the universe, (an earlier version of which is at was disappointed this wasn't one of the evenings with Richard Dawkins.

Olivia, who is going to do law at Auckland University, accompanied me to a meeting with prison officials to hear about their proposed Belief in Change programme, in which prisoners coming to the end of a long sentence will be guided towards a crime-free existence after their discharge, using mentors of their own faith, but also through mentored discussions among themselves based on common faith-based values. It may sound like a good idea, but I'm afraid there are serious practical difficulties with it.

Maurice came with me to the annual Martyrs Day seminar I chair in a committee room at the House, on human rights in Bahrain, where the government is an hereditary dictatorship. He also sat in on the Equality Bill second reading. I'm tabling amendments to bring discrimination on caste grounds within the scope of the Bill, to which the Government response is that there's no evidence of a problem. It would be miraculous if somehow, the deeply ingrained prejudice on caste in south Asia was somehow jettisoned by migrants to the UK from that part of the world.

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