• Check It Out

    The most recent census returns in the UK and in New Zealand show that the majority of people, in both countries, now have no religious belief.

    That necessarily gives rise to the question – in the absence of divine direction, where do people now look to find moral guidance? My most recent book, What Does It Mean To Be Human? (available in all good bookshops) is my attempt to answer that question. Check it out.

  • The True Cost

    It is hard to take seriously the voices of those currently asserting that Brexit has come with a considerable economic cost. Where were those voices at the very beginning of what became the Brexit saga, when we were assured that membership of what was then the Common Market would produce great economic benefits to the UK?

    There were some of us who warned at the outset that paying twice – as both taxpayers and consumers – for expensive Common Agricultural Policy food, while at the same time closing our market to efficiently and cheaply produced food from the Commonwealth, and opening our manufacturing industry up to tariff-free competition from German manufacturing was a recipe for disaster. We also declined to accept the constant assurances that there was no intention or possibility of the Common Market metamorphosing into a European super-state.

    What a pity that those now happy to make a conclusive and damning judgment of Brexit should have stayed silent while the whole imbroglio was developing!

  • The Political Minefield

    Poor Christopher Luxon. His lack of political experience (and judgment) is constantly being highlighted – not least by his recent foray into the treatment of child criminality.

    So keen was he to draw attention to his assertion that “Labour is soft on crime” that he was prepared to run the risk of being disowned by experts in the field. He was unwise enough to resurrect a proposal for “boot camps” for young offenders that has a history of failing and that he should have known would be rejected by those who know more on the subject than he does.

    The episode demonstrates the pressure he is under to score a goal or two. It also shows that he is having to watch more than one competitor.

    It is one thing to contend with Labour for support (especially when the polls suggest that Labour is making ground), but political life is not as simple as that. Luxon has to take account not only of those voters who will stay loyal to Labour; he also has to watch out for his rival to his right. He cannot afford to leak support to Act by being out-flanked on the right.

    He must be thinking, over the last few days, how much simpler it was to run a commercial airline than it is to deal with the constant cross-currents of politics.

  • New Book

    I have a new book being published this month. It is entitled “What Does It Mean to Be Human?” and is an attempt to arrive at a moral code of our own making – one that will serve all our interests and those of other creatures and of the planet – using our own knowledge, experience, emotional intelligence and reasoning ability, without reference to the supposed benefit of divine guidance.

    The publishers are offering a 25% discount on the paperback price in the pre-order period before the publication date at the end of the month. The discount is available at www.austinmacauley.com/book/what-does-it-mean-be-human and requires the use of the code Author 1022. Happy reading!

  • Three Little Words!

    The crucial moment in the Black Ferns’ Rugby World Cup triumph came in the closing minute. The Red Roses had used a penalty to kick to the corner, and from the throw-in that followed they had clearly planned to use a rolling maul to get the ball across the line – a tactic that had already produced three tries for them during the match and that had been utilised on numerous occasions over the long period of their world dominance.

    The lineout was clearly going to be the last play of the game and the try would have secured victory. It was expected on all sides that, following the well-established practice of thousands of teams before them that had been faced with this prospect, the Black Ferns would not contest the lineout – a tactic usually justified on the specious ground that jumping for the ball would merely distract from the crucial task of resisting the rolling maul.

    No one watching the game could doubt that the odds were strongly on the Red Roses winning the ball and then driving it across the line, whatever desperate efforts were made to withstand them.

    Miraculously, however, it now emerges that Wayne Smith, the Black Ferns coach, who had constantly urged his team during their preparation for the World Cup to play with courage and daring had got a message to them that at such a crucial moment they should “Get someone up!”

    He was saying in other words – ‘“Don’t follow the usual practice, but contest the lineout.” He calculated that the Red Roses would not expect the Ferns to jump for the ball and would feel able – as usual – to then settle down to organising the rolling maul that they knew would produce the winning try.

    When the ball was thrown in, the Ferns duly put up a jumper who surprised the England jumper, to the extent that she failed to catch it cleanly and knocked it forward. The knock-on was signalled by the referee, and because time was up, it meant the end of the match. Daring and the unconventional had produced the victory.

    The lesson is there to be learned, not only in the same particular circumstances but also across the game as a whole. Think for yourselves and do what makes sense to you. Three little words made the difference!