The Risks of Trying to Define Loyalty

The Government is considering introducing a new form of oath of loyalty for certain kinds of public servants.  They do not seem to have considered the risks this involves.  I hope they have not.  I would not like to live in a country where the authorities did not care about the risks.

How will they decide who has the right loyalty?

People will be required to swear to their commitment to a specific list of British values.  I am not aware of who compiled this list or how.  I do know that many people whom I regard as good citizens would produce different lists and even more would differ as to the interpretation of certain words.

Do you share their views on equalities?

Under some interpretations of “equalities”, I would be unable to take such an oath, as would many Christians and members of other faiths.  Many good people could be excluded from public service needlessly.

Do your view matter?

Having worked in local government, I have always understood that public servants acted impartially regardless of their own political or religious views.   Thus I would never treat anyone adversely because they were in a same-sex marriage.  I would, however, object to promoting that arrangement, as I would have objected to promoting Brexit or Scottish independence.  I believe the same was true for all my colleagues.

What about the really bad guys (and girls)?

The other risk lies in the probable ineffectiveness of the measure.  Spies, terrorists, criminals and self-seekers with no loyalty but to themselves will doubtless swear to anything in order to get where they want to be.


The Risk of an Own Goal to Last for Generations

Overall, the risk is that the Oath of Loyalty will fail to detect the people we would all want to bar from public service but would exclude honest people with reservations about certain points of interpretation, whose loyalty to this country is as good as anyone’s.  Think about the kind of country we will be creating.




The Risks of Global Warming Denial

Remarks by Donald Trump and his team have reignited the debate over Global Warming, or Climate Change if you prefer.   There are very big risks involved.  If America changes direction, a lot of other countries will be tempted to follow.


The obvious risk is that there will be an increase in global warming with the associated effects on the weather, including more volatility and, ironically, colder winters in the British Isles due to disrupting the Gulf Stream.

Of course, the risk to offset this is that we could all go to a lot of effort, possibly to the detriment of economic growth, unnecessarily, if the World has not been getting warmer or if the causes are other than human activity.  The Ice Ages all ended for some reason, and it was not industrialisation.

I cannot provide conclusive evidence either way.  You must decide from all the information available, which risk you think is greater.

What I can do is to point out a few additional risks, costs and benefits which tend to get overlooked in the argument.

  • Pollution is harmful.  Very harmful.  Reducing exhaust fumes from vehicles, for instance, would benefit the health of people living in cities, especially those living near main roads.
  • Recycling reduces the waste of scarce resources.
  • So does energy efficiency.
  • Depending on fossil fuels, or any one source of energy, makes Society vulnerable to any interference with its supply.  Too many eggs in one basket.
  • Trees produce oxygen and consume carbon dioxide.  Destroying forests is harmful to the atmosphere.  Some people and animals depend on the rain forests in particular for survival.
  • Seas are being overfished and polluted.   Human waste, such as polythene bags, kills many species of marine creatures.

So what?

I think these considerations tip the balance in favour of acting as if we believed in Global Warming, almost regardless of the scientific evidence.  This does not necessarily mean agreeing with every idea proposed by the Greens.  It does not necessarily mean going back to pre-industrial society.  We need to invest in scientific research and technological innovation, so as to make life more sustainable and to improve the quality of life for everyone.

We need to manage the risks of failing to manage our resources properly against the risks of damaging economic growth.

New Year: New Risks? Brexit? Trump?

This is the time of year when people ask what new risks to expect.  Brexit and Donald Trump are getting a lot of attention and both may cause problems or opportunities for each of us.

I have written about Brexit previously and will not repeat at length what I said then.  You may wish to refresh you memory by going to


The biggest problem with both Brexit and Trump is uncertainty.

Few politicians have been elected with less of a manifesto, a programme or even a consistent philosophy than Donald Trump.

Regarding Brexit, I agree with Paddy Ashdown that we have voted for a departure but there is no consensus as to our destination.

Uncertainty is bad for business, so it is no surprise that the crystal-ball gazers, or economic forecasters as they are sometimes called, are having a wonderful time.

What can I add to the discussion?  Very little, in one sense.  What I can say is that we must not let these two big uncertainties divert our attention from all the known risks.  Why not carry out a review of the risks you can identify in your business and of the control measures in place.

Risk Dice

Do not be so worried about things you cannot control that you fail to deal with the ones you can.  

If you want to talk, you can contact me on 01925 445215 or by e-mail at 

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