Life is not a gamble

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The Believer, Mr Brightside, The Professor, Generous John and Gut Truster. These are the betting men, leading the “Ladbrokes life”. This group of typical “lads”, enjoying some “banter” and getting up to “antics”. This few, this happy few, this band of brothers…

Sorry, I got carried away there!

Anyway, these guys are the new horrendous irritants stars of the adverts for Ladbrokes. They crop up on virtually every advert break on the sports channels along with an almost countless list of other bookies, all creating campaigns trying to entice you to bet with them by showing gambling as the ultimate form of entertainment and communal activity.

They’re not alone. Celebrities like Scary Spice and Barbara Windsor have lent their endorsements to various online bingo sites, whilst other sites tout themselves as places for people to come together and have a chat and a laugh together.

Gambling, since regulation was relaxed in the 1990s, has become a way of life for millions in the UK. An activity, once the domain of rich men in casinos, dodgy characters in smoke filled bookies and old women in bingo halls, is now as ubiquitous as going to the pub. The market has changed as a result. The Gambling Commission report growth in online gambling, football betting and fixed odds betting terminals, whilst on course betting and off course betting on horses and greyhounds are declining.

Now, before I go any further, I have a confession. In a previous job I was the manager of a branch of Ladbrokes in Dorset. I promoted gambling and made my own living from the gambling industry. I enjoyed many aspects of the job, particularly the chance to watch sport all day and meet loads of different people. It was fun, at times, but it was also poorly paid with appalling conditions. 60-90 hour weeks were the norm, still taking home £15k or less as a branch manager. Staff in betting shops are being bled dry by an industry who make massive profits.

However, the staff are the lucky ones. In my time working for Ladbrokes I saw people losing a whole week’s wages within an hour of being paid. I’ve seen men throwing chairs across the shop after losing their food money. I’ve seen people sit at fixed odds betting terminals for whole days, putting hundreds of pounds in and losing, then coming back the next day and doing it all again. I got to the point that my discomfort with the situation was so great that, when finally given the chance (through unfortunate circumstances) I got out.

I’ve also spoken to someone I used to know who was a financial adviser. He said that it was not uncommon to come across people whose future financial planning was based around winning the lottery. Yes, “it could be you”, but that’s a 14,000,000/1 chance; not the odds you should be using to plan your future.

Gamblers Anonymous are seeing increasing numbers at their meetings. Debts caused by gambling are on the increase. Betting companies profits are soaring, as are their advertising and sponsorship revenues.

Shelagh Fogarty highlighted gambling addiction on her BBC Five Live show this week. On it, people with gambling problems spoke of losses of hundreds of thousands of pounds, defrauding their employers out of thousands, losing their jobs, homes and families. They have got themselves into that position,  and would admit that themselves. However, as gambling is made to look more and more like a normal part of daily life in the image of it we’re sold on our TVs,  there can be no doubt that the gambling industry is causing this and profiting wildly from it. This is a highly addictive activity. Addiction is an illness,  but it’s an illness which our society seems all too happy to help cause and exacerbate in the pursuit of cheap thrills, small financial gains and a vain hope.

So, what can we do? Firstly, don’t get dragged into it in the first place. The occasional bet, not a problem. I enter the Lottery (£2 per week, not huge bucks) and will have a flutter on the Grand National. But when you find that you’re betting most days, maybe with more than you can reasonably afford, you need to take a step back.

Don’t be afraid to express concern for a friend if you are worried. Showing love for someone sometimes means letting them know when they may have a problem. You may be knocked back, but if you aren’t then it may be the first step which someone in trouble needs.

Pray for people you know who may have an issue (including yourself), if you are so inclined.

Most of all, recognise that gambling is a false hope. It is something for us to cling to as a method of earning easy money and giving us either a short term or permanent financial boost. The thing is, as the old saying goes, you never see a poor bookie. The odds are always stacked in their favour. You will win occasionally, but you’ll always like more.

Real hope comes elsewhere,

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In God’s great mercy he has caused us to be born again into a living hope, because Jesus Christ rose from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3 NCV)

Real hope doesn’t come from a betting slip, or a mobile phone app, or an online game of bingo or poker. It doesn’t even come from the disembodied floating head of Ray Winstone. It comes from Jesus. Fulfilment comes from Jesus, not the small chance of financial gain. Joy comes from Jesus, not picking who scores the next goal.

With Jesus we are still taking a risk in this life, but we already know that,  ultimately, we are onto a winner. Odds so short that no bookie will ever want to take your money.

As Mr Winstone says,

“Have a bang on that!”

Don’t get fooled again.

Do you ever wonder why you even bother? Why you talk about the important stuff, try to get your point across, highlight the fear and prejudice being perpetrated around you, only to go unheard and ignored? Why you try to promote love, only for people to choose hate?

That’s pretty much how I feel right now. The European elections have seen gains for the fascist Golden Dawn in Greece, a win for the National Front in France and, closer to home, the populist UKIP in the UK. These parties have flourished on three big selling points; anti-EU sentiment, anti-establishment rhetoric and, strongest of all, anti-immigration policies.

Sorry… not anti-immigration. I mean anti-immigrant.

There is a huge difference. Anti-immigration, which forms part of their policy (singular), is the idea that letting too many people into the country causes an excessive strain on public spending and services, meaning that there is less to get around for those already in the country. It’s an understandable argument, although when immigrants pay more in tax than they take out of the economy and are statistically less likely to claim benefits, it’s also a poor argument.

Because it’s a poor argument, these parties rely on the latter tactic. Anti-immigrant. We should feel uncomfortable about having Romanian neighbours because they are mainly criminals. There are 25 million out of work Europeans who all want your job. Foreign immigrants are diluting our culture, identity and way of life. This isn’t an argument against immigration as a concept, but a tactic which uses fear of the unknown, in this case people from other countries, to bypass the logical arguments against them and automatically leave many people feeling that something as a “bad thing” because it is to be feared and worried about.

I have friends who genuinely are scared of “what is happening to our country” and the “erosion of the British identity”. However, I haven’t heard what actually us happening and how this erosion would be a negative thing.

There are as many UK citizens living in other EU countries as EU citizens in the UK. The main difference is the multicultural aspect which, to many of us, is actually a positive. The rich diversity of human life coexisting on one small set of islands, learning from and teaching each other about language, custom, food,  art, music, fashion and so much more is surely to be celebrated. This isn’t an erosion of identity, but an evolution of it.

Yet, many have chosen to swallow the line from these populist and far right politicians. The gains they have made have been dramatic (although not quite the “earthquake” the media keep stating) and the mainstream parties are talking about learning lessons from this. I pray thus means how to fight back, not how to bow down to them, but I’m not holding out any hope.

One of the lines used a lot recently is how the UK is a Christian country.
Great! Let’s act like one, then.

“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 GNBDC)

“I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink; I was a stranger and you received me in your homes” (Matthew 25:35 GNBDC)

“He must be hospitable and love what is good. He must be self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.” (Titus 1:8 GNBDC)

“That means you must also love immigrants because you were immigrants in Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:19 CEB)

Is that clear enough? Love, hospitality, caring for strangers in a strange land. This doesn’t mean ignoring immigrants who are criminals or a threat to our security. Those issues must always be addressed. But we must also treat people as people as people. Human beings. God’s children. And we must fight against this increasing culture of hatred amongst our politicians, media and, yes, ourselves.

We have to fight back. We have to campaign,  speak out, argue, educate and vote against this politics of evil. We have to stand together, act in love, but in utter defiance against hatred. We have to make this the “Christian country” that people queue up to tell us that we are or aren’t.

This isn’t leftie ranting. I’m appealing to left and right wing people. Religious and atheist. Young and old. Man and woman. Gay and straight. English, Irish, Scottish Welsh and any of the many nationalities who inhabit our islands and the rest of Europe. Vote against the EU or for it. Vote against established parties or for them. Just please, please fight against prejudice in all its forms. We are all better than that.

Vote! Please!

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(Picture by @davewalker. Go to davewalker.cc)

It’s the European elections, everybody!

I know, you can hardly contain your excitement. Please, try to simmer down a bit though, for I have sobering news.

At the moment we have a choice. We have a choice between several different groups of parties who offer different things depending on what you’re after. Some offer a good, solid choice and some offer no choice at all. Some offer even less than that.

To start with, we have the big three. The Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem conglomerate who have been around the block and in power between them since Bruce Forsyth was a lad. We know what they stand for (much the same thing on many issues), we know what we’ll get from them and we know what we think of them. They all take an active role in trying to shape EU policy and, by extension, those UK laws the EU has a say over.

Now, many of us are fed up and disillusioned with these behemoths of British politics. They try and fail and try again and fail again on an endless cycle, getting our hopes up, initially fulfilling, then dashing them once more. Most are happy to vote for one of these three and, if you are, then great. Taking a role in our country’s future, even if only by voting, is important and I’d urge everyone to do it. However, if you want to vote, but are fed up with the LibLabCon stranglehold then you still have choices.

In Scotland and Wales we have the nationalist parties,  SNP and Plaid Cymru. Both are giving an alternative voice which concentrates particularly on prominence for their nations within a wider Europe. They advocate close working ties with the EU and, again, taking an active role. Both top choices for a vote.

We then have parties who promote themselves as “patriot” parties, such as BNP and Britain First. If racism, hatred, fear, lies, intimidation, ties to violent neo Nazis and all round vile human beings are your cup of tea then these are the guys for you. If this is the case, please take a long hard look at yourself. And I hope you’re otherwise indisposed on polling day and unable to make it out to vote.

We then have UKIP. Nigel “friend of the common man because I’m one of them” Farage and his band of faceless people who never get to take the stage away from big Nige for fear of appearing, you know, insane. Now, I can actually see where they get their votes from. The EU is far from popular in the UK and mass immigration, however overstated the issue has become, is a concern for many. However, as I wrote here, the UKIP way of addressing these issues is by fear rather than proper debate. The other problem I have with them, though, is their attitude to the European Parliament. Their voting record is a disgrace, either not turning up or intentionally voting against proposals as a form of protest. This has led to them voting against attempts to protect workers, women and animals. That’s not democracy, it’s the political equivalent of picking your ball up and going home in a huff. It achieves nothing other than ensuring that this who vote for them have even less of a say in the way Europe us run than they already think they have. Ludicrous. If you want to put in a protest against the EU then wait until the general election, when the real power is decided. Then read the UKIP manifesto. Then wonder why the hell you considered voting for them.

Finally we have the Greens. Parties (different ones for England and Wales, Scotland and NI) who are different to the big three, who offer more than the latent racism of the extremists and the pathetic whinging of UKIP. Parties whose voting record in Europe has helped the environment, workers’ rights, women’s rights, social justice and many other things which affect us all. They sit in the European Parliament with the other Green parties, one of the largest groups there, who recogPpnise that the EU is far from perfect, but are willing to work with it to get things done whilst working for reform at the same time.

That’s where my vote is going and why. I’m not a member, I’m not campaigning and I’m not asking you to do the same. Just asking you to vote, and vote wisely. Look at what’s on offer, listen to what they’re actually saying and how they’re saying it. Vote for hope, for people, for a future. Don’t vote for hatred, fear and exclusionism.

But please, vote. Because if you don’t,  there are those more extreme elements who will. And it’ll be all of our fault. 

P.S. If the National Health Action Party are standing near you, consider them, too. The NHS is being systematically destroyed and they’re fighting back.

A reply to Nigel Farage

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Nigel Farage has come under quite a lot of fire over the last couple of days following comments made during an LBC interview with James O’Brien. Admittedly,  not the same sort of storm which Gordon Brown faced after the Gillian Duffy incident or Andrew Mitchell during the “plebgate” scandal,  but hey,  they only insulted (allegedly,  in Mitchell’s case) a member of the public and some police officers.  Farage grossly insulted a whole nation and,  but he likes cigars and pints,  so let’s let him off lightly,  eh?

His main comments involved stating how uncomfortable he’d be if a group of Romanians moved in next door due to their criminality, then,  when asked what would be the difference between that and a group of Germans moving in,  answering,

“You know what the difference is. ”

Charming!

In order to address the relatively muted criticism which followed (next to no coverage by mainstream TV news) he has written this explanation of his comments. So,  that’s OK,  then. All explained. Nothing any right minded individual would disagree with.

Well,  maybe not. Let’s take a look at what he says.

“UKIP will never allow the false accusation of racism levelled by a politically correct elite to prevent the raising of issues that are of concern to the great majority of the British public.”

A politically correct elite,  Nigel? Really? I have two questions:

Firstly,  what,  exactly,  is wrong with political correctness? What is wrong with wanting all people to be treated on their individual merits,  rather than their race,  colour,  nationality,  gender,  sexuality or religion? Why do you object to that so much? Is it,  just possibly,  because prejudice against certain groups forms the basis of so much of your populist rhetoric? Is it because preying on fear and prejudice is how you intend on winning votes? Looks that way to me.

Secondly: Why “elite “? Exactly what is elite about hundreds and thousands of ordinary people taking to social media and radio phone-ins to call a racist spade a racist spade? I am a coach in an office processing pension transfers and I earn less than £25k. I have no degree,  no party political affiliation and virtually no influence. I take my views on you from what you say and do.  What,  I ask you,  is elite about me,  or the many like me,  Nigel?

As for the great majority of people in the UK being concerned by immigration,  I’ll give him that one.  However,  why are people concerned? How many people are genuinely,  directly affected and how many are worried simply by scare stories they hear? I can’t find research to answer that,  so I’ll leave it as rhetorical.

“The unfortunate reality is that we are in political union with a post-Communist country that has become highly susceptible to organised crime.”

We are also in political union with post fascist countries which have been susceptible to organised crime,  but I don’t hear the same concerns about Italians or Spaniards (thankfully).

“Where there are differential crime rates between nationalities, it is perfectly legitimate to point this out and to discuss it in the public sphere and I shall continue to do so.”

No,  there are different crime rates between different countries. It’s not unreasonable to suggest that,  rather than come to the UK to commit crime,  many Romanians may be coming here to make a new start in a country with a much lower crime rate.  If so,  it seems fair to help them.

“Police figures are quite clear that there is a high level of criminality within the Romanian community in Britain. This is not to say for a moment that all or even most Romanian people living in the UK are criminals.”

Ah,  so most of them aren’t criminals,  then!  What’s the concern,  then? Surely,  if they,  on balance,  are unlikely to be criminals,  then there’s no problem with them?

“But it is to say that any normal and fair-minded person would have a perfect right to be concerned if a group of Romanian people suddenly moved in next door. So far as I can see most of those media commentators objecting to this statement are people living in million pound houses for whom the prospect of such a turn of events is not a real one.”

The normal and fair-minded person argument?! Really?! So I assume that,  by disagreeing strongly with Farage,  I am not normal or fair minded? This is a pathetic,  but well used line.  It is immediately dismissive of opponents by questioning both sanity and motive.  It is disingenuous and,  may I say,  something which the “political classes and media elite” which Farage claims to oppose have used for years.

And “suddenly”? Why use that word? Is is because,  if something happens suddenly then it is unexpected? A shock? Probably unwanted? If they just” move in”, it doesn’t sound as sinister,  does it?

And again,  why look at the richer people who criticise UKIP? Because it’s easier to generalise,  after all,  it’s what UKIP do with everyone else. Plenty of normal,  every day people react in the same way to UKIP’s rhetoric.  But,  hey,  we’re all abnormal and wrong-thinking.

“Of course, if we were able to operate a proper work permit scheme for Romanian nationals, with suitable checks, as recommended by UKIP, then nobody would need to be concerned if a group of Romanian nationals moved in next door to them. “

So,  you want to discriminate against particular nationalities? Germans,  French,  Italian,  Dutch etc. are all fine,  but we need to vet Romanians first because,  well, you know the difference…

And maybe,  just maybe,  people wouldn’t worry about Romanians moving next door if they were discussed as the human beings they are,  rather than some sort of underclass.

“High levels of crime associated with Romanian nationals in Britain, corroborated by police sources and statistics, have been a major talking point in the British media for several years.”

Hold on! I thought there was a media campaign against UKIP? But they’ve been talking about this for years? Sounds like there are plenty in the media (many of whom “are people living in million pound houses for whom the prospect of such a turn of events is not a real one.”) who are willing to agree with you and spout the same sort of fear inducing claptrap (oh look,  it’s the Sun,  Mail and Express!)

There is nothing wrong with discussing immigration levels.  There is nothing wrong with addressing genuine concerns about crime levels. There is,  however,  something wrong with deliberately demonising groups of people based on nationality because some of them are criminals. Tarring everyone in an ethnic grouping with the same brush and deciding they are to be feared and treated differently is very wrong. It’s not political discourse,  it’s hatred.

James O’Brien’s first question in the interview was to ask Nigel Farage why he thought people accused UKIP of being racist.  Farage evaded the question over and over,  finally deciding to pretend not to understand what racist meant. He wouldn’t answer it,  so let me.

It’s because UKIP are racist.

They are the only party to have a rule barring ex BNP and NF members joining because they are the only party who needs one.  Their policies and rhetoric attract that kind of mind.

There are plenty of parties out there who represent an alternative to the main three parties.  Please don’t use your vote on one who want you to fear and hate your fellow man.

Update: The interview is, finally, getting some coverage by the BBC. Still not a Duffy moment, but getting there.

There’s only One way of life…

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I was watching The One Show tonight (Yes,  I watch The One Show. Get over it.) and the star and writer of the marvellously funny Rev,  Tom Hollander,  was on. He had mentioned the ridiculous amount of plastic carrier bags polluting the Atlantic Ocean and,  in connection with an item on scientific innovation, suggested that,

“Science is destroying the planet,  so maybe it can help to fix it too.”

And I thought, yes! Science is destroying the planet!  This ‘great force for reason and good’ is actually a force of destructive,  ruinous evil which will be the end of us all!

Let’s look at the evidence. Science has given us guns,  nuclear bombs and chemical weapons; instruments of great suffering and mass killings.

Science has given us vehicles and factories which belch out greenhouse gases,  changing the climate and choking the vulnerable.

Science has given us the race to create so much new technology that we strip our planet of its natural resources,  leaving our children or grandchildren with a barren Earth.

Science has allowed us to create working practices which sacrifice services and jobs in place of efficiency and profit

Science is evil.  It has destroyed lives,  jobs and our world. 

Hasn’t it?

Of course,  it hasn’t.  Science is,  more often than not,  a force for great good.  Medicines saving lives,  communications bringing people closer,  the ability to predict and survive disasters,  cleaner and safer energy,  the list goes on and on.

Science is clearly not evil,  but some people have chosen to use it for selfish or evil means. They have twisted its intentions and practices for their own ends with no regard for the good it can do.

The same goes for religion. It is a common argument that religion is a force for evil.  The scourge of the world.  The cause of all of its ills.

This is also patently untrue. Religion has,  of course, and continues to be used for great evil. Wars,  torture,  oppression, murder, abuse of power, mental and physical abuse and brainwashing are just some of the evils carried out in the name of religion.

They are not,  however,  the reason for the existence of religion.  Religion exists in order to help to bring peace, order, love and salvation to a chaotic world. It exists to bring people closer to the higher power people call God.

Religion has been used to create organised health care,  mass education, peace work, the fight against poverty, campaigning against human trafficking and many other great things. 

The fact is that religion,  in itself,  is neither good or evil.  Science,  in itself,  is neither good or evil.  How people choose to use these tools determines how we view them.  People choose to be good or evil.

It’s easy to focus on the bad points of something you disagree with and call it evil.  It’s easy to focus on the good points of something you agree with and call it perfect. The fact is that very few things are either bad or good,  it’s purely how we choose to use them which determine that.  Where religion is concerned,  only God is truly perfect.  His followers aren’t,  which is why so much evil is done in his name.

Jesus commands us to love, be peacemakers, show forgiveness and help the poor,  sick and vulnerable.  He also calls out those who don’t do any of these things and asks us to do the same. We can’t stop evil,  but we can help to shine a light on it,  and on good,  and help to point people down the right path.

We need to take responsibility for the actions of human beings,  rather than  blame concepts for evil.  And we need to find a better way,  the right way,  to run our lives and the world.

We have been given the way by Jesus,  and we can do our best to follow his example.

No to extremism

(Please excuse some of the language used in this post. Anything offensive is a direct quote from others.)

So, back to Halal meat.

It turns out that, on top of Subway’s recent announcement,  Pizza Express put Halal meat into all of their restaurants without telling anyone!!! (Despite the fact that they actually did tell everyone!)

The media reporting of this has, of course, been totally fair and balanced. I wouldn’t normally link to a story in the Sun, but that is worth reading due to its brilliantly brief deconstructing of their bile.

As part of the ongoing debate,  Premier Christianity on Facebook posed the question “is it ok for us [as Christians] to eat Halal meat?”. A fair question, really. As food which has been ritually slaughtered according to the laws of another religion, is this something we should eat? (The answer, by the way, is why not?)

I have no problem with this sort of debate from a religious perspective. It’s a pretty healthy and understandable debate to have.

Or, at least, it should be…

” I do not want halal meat  there taking away all out rights and trying to control is.  B ger  off and leave us alone this is our country bet they would not let it happen on there’s”

” England is still a christain country … just! unless we soon get some  politicians with the will to  to keep it christain then it will be lost forever, you  try going  to an Islamic country and telling them Halal meat offends you and will they change it … no chance,”

” yes it does matter if they dont like way we live fuck off were they came from.”

” would i eat a muslim,,,,,,only if i had red meat with,but i would have to slit the muslims throat first no problem”

Seriously! And this is just a snapshot!

Of course there were reasonable posts on both sides of the argument, but these were not a small minority of comments. On a Christian Facebook page.

This is what happens when we allow extremists to grab the mainstream political and media agenda. This is what happens when we allow extremist views to creep into Christian broadcasting around the world (not a pop at Premier, whose work I love and respect). This is what happens when we lose sight of Christ and focus on our own prejudices and the World’s selfish wants.

It goes without saying that I disagree with Islam as a religion. I believe that Jesus is the way to God and all other paths are false. I do not, however, believe it or its adherents are evil, just wrong. I love them as God’s creations and I respect their rights to hold the beliefs they hold. If businesses are willing to help them adhere to their beliefs,  without harming others, then fair enough.

But for people to profess faith in Christ on one hand, but then to spout hate and bigotry,  is wrong. It is unChristlike and goes against his teachings,

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,  I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’     “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’     “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'” (Matthew 25:41-45 NIV)

Treat people with love and respect, regardless of background. As Christians it is our responsibility to rid the Church and society of hatred and replace it with love. If we listen to the extremists and say or do nothing then we are as guilty. We must stand up to it and beat it in all its forms; Christian or Muslim, left or right,  black or white. That is where evil lives.

No more.

Give Subway a break

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There is a bit of a media storm going on at the moment regarding food.  This isn’t about food hygiene or finding horse meat in a lasagne. No, this storm is about the decision of Subway to convert 185 stores to ones which only serve Halal food, which conform to Islamic laws about the purity of food.

Subway have done this in areas with high Muslim populations after what it calls “requests from local communities”, with a spokesman saying,

“The diverse multicultural population across the UK and Ireland means we have to balance the values of many religious communities with the overall aim of improving the health and welfare standards of animals,”

This seems, to me, to be fair enough. There are areas of the UK where there are very high concentrations of Muslims, higher than non-Muslims in some, so to ensure they are catered for seems fair, as well as being good business sense on a local level. After all, if a high proportion of your local population are forbidden from eating what you serve then you are automatically reducing your own customer base, so doing something about that would appear to be sensible.

Of course, some of the concerns are centered around animal welfare, as the Subway spokesman alludes to in that statement. Subway have said that, before any animals are slaughtered, they will be electronically stunned to ensure minimal suffering (ignoring the fact that Islamic law states that the animal should be killed quickly and not suffer). This, then, appears to be a very minor concern.

However, the picture at the top of this post draws attention to the main worry of most people; namely, the idea that Sharia Law is gradually creeping in.

If that is you, let me ask you a question; if Subway had announced Kosher stores to cater for Jewish customers, which also served no pork or non-Kosher products, how would you react?

The answer I’ve seen to that is “ah, but they haven’t,  have they?” Well, yes, they have. In the USA, Subway have had Kosher stores for many years. They have not been successful and their numbers are dwindling, but it was done. And where was the media storm? Nowhere. Why? Because one of the main “bad guys” in modern society’s narrative is Islam. Put any other religious group up there and there isn’t a problem, but the fear created due to the actions of a few extremists and a sensationalist media means that there is an immediate negative reaction to anything like this.

There really is no need. Islam is no more “taking over” the UK than afro-carribbeans were in the 50s and 60s or Jews or Irish were in the 1800s.  Like all ethnic groups they are adding to a rich diversity of an already diverse culture. When you visit areas of our country and walk down a street to hear 8 or 9 different languages and see people of several different races and cultures it is amazing. It’s like the world has come to us. To have part of these groups’ native culture take hold is a natural process. There is no one British culture,  just a collection of diverse ones which converge and diverge all over the place and we are richer for that.

If you go into a Subway wanting a ham sub and they no longer serve pork, get one elsewhere. There are plenty who do. However, don’t let this stop you eating there at all. If, as David Cameron argues, we are a Christian country then you are going against Christian teachings to do so. God declared all food clean, and made no exception for Halal (not that it existed then, of course).

This isn’t the thin end of the wedge. This isn’t a Muslim takeover. This isn’t another step down the road to Sharia Law. This is a company addressing the needs of communities and maximising their customer base.

And this is coming from a real bacon lover!