Thursday 26 October 2023


 There is something indecent about the way some people who have made a lot of money through the skills and labour of others seek to minimise how much tax they pay. Taxation is not an evil to be avoided. It is the most effective means a society has to ensure that all its citizens live a good enough life. 

My thanks to Just Money Movement and Church Action for Tax Justice 
                             for this photo.  

Dear Rob,


The Conservative donors who own the JCB digger company may be hit with a £500 million tax bill according to the Guardian.

HMRC has been investigating brothers Anthony and Mark Bamford’s extensive offshore business empire for over three years.

The Bamfords are alleged to have aggressively minimised the payment of UK taxes. HMRC may seek to recoup large sums of lost tax if the allegations are proven correct.

In September a Labour MP asked the Conservative Party if they would return £10 million donated to them by JCB.

JCB were also recently spotted at the Labour Party conference, exhibiting along with many

Friday 20 October 2023


 I subscribe to posts from Open Britain. They provide worthwhile analyses of the state of Britain. Try this latest post for size - I find it's so good I want to share it with you:

My thanks to the Guardian newspaper for this telling image 

Dear Rob,

We're not the only ones worried about the UK's flimsy safeguards against political corruption. Lord Evans, outgoing chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL), spoke out yesterday about the UK's "very weak" compliance with ethical standards, urging for a complete "overhaul" of the way we regulate ministerial conduct. 

Evans brought up the government's recent decision to reject many of the CSPL's recommendations on improving political transparency and oversight. Even for the few meagre reforms that Sunak's government has elected to adopt, Evans is concerned that recent governments have already been ignoring the existing rules. The CSPL chair described it as a

Monday 16 October 2023


In my research for 'Mine to Die' (my latest book, due to be published in February 2024 - see this website link here), I discovered the remarkable life story of Charles Wilfrid Tregenza (1891-1974). His father was a mayor of Penzance and a Wesleyan Methodist, a man of standing in the local community. The family lived in Boslandew House in Paul, near Mousehole. Wilfrid Tregenza (as he was known to all) was the eldest of four brothers, all educated at the Truro Wesleyan College and all became conscientious objectors during the Great War (1914-1918). 

I knew enough about this remarkable man for my research purposes but I did not realize until the early summer of this year when I read the inscription on the bench outside by the kitchen door (see the end of this blogpost) that he had been a worshipper at the very same Friends Meeting House that I was now attending.    

Before Charles Wilfrid, aged 24, volunteered for battlefield ambulance work in 1915, he had enjoyed the glittering prizes that came his way as a fine athlete and a gifted scholar. By the time he was thirteen, he was winning swimming races; at eighteen, he was the school football captain and excelling in swimming, cricket, and athletics, as well as achieving outstanding public exam results. He became the first Cornish boy to win a scholarship to Cambridge where he read Mathematics at Downing College, gained a Cambridge blue and graduated with a double First in 1910. By 1914, he was mathematics master at King Edward's Grammar School, Chelmsford and a year later, mathematics master at Queen Mary's School, Basingstoke. To many observers the pathway to a headship must have seemed clear.

Charles Wilfrid Tregenza (1891-1974)

However, in 1914 a war in Europe began that was soon termed the Great War and then, in time, the First World War. In August 1915, Charles Wilfrid Tregenza signed up as an orderly for the British Red Cross Society and was soon working with the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU). His Methodist Christian faith had led him to an active pacifist position. A year later, conscription was introduced by the British government and when he heard rumours that conscientious objectors (COs) were being shot for desertion, he and several other FAU men decided to return to England to challenge the principle of conscription. Back in Cornwall, the tribunal he faced did its best to get him to compromise and return to


 Chris Nineham's 30-page essay was published this autumn as a Stop the War pamphlet. Chris is a British political activist, author, and founder member and current vice chair of the Stop the War Coalition. Here is a bullet-pointed summary of his Introduction: Selling War, the Six Steps he presents as the way forward to peace, and his Conclusion.

Chris Nineham's Stop the War pamphlet - Autumn 2023

Introduction: Selling War

  • 'Truth is the first casualty of war' is a commonplace saying that captures the reality of war. If the wider population were to understand the sheer horror of war it would be much harder to keep them on board. Lloyd George, the British PM, said this to the editor of the Guardian newspaper at the height of the carnage of World War One: 'If people knew the truth, the war would stop tomorrow'.
  • It is now widely accepted that the recent Western wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya were motivated by a desire to prop up Western influence in oil-rich and strategically important regions. But at the time, Western governments and media were saying that these wars were all about saving people from fanatics and dangerous dictators. Our troops were spreading democracy, human rights, and countering terrorism.
  • At present, the Western war effort in Ukraine is being presented as a fight for freedom, democracy and peace; the Russians are claiming that their actions are designed to thwart neo-Nazis who have seized power in Ukraine. Most of the global south is avoiding taking sides - but here in the West any criticism of the military involvement in the Ukrainian war is met with denunciation. There is a

Wednesday 4 October 2023


The first time I browsed in the small library in the Marazion Meeting Room was when my wife, Louise, and I were curating her textile art exhibition in early September this year. Serendipity pointed me to A Quaker Book of Wisdom - with the well-chosen title helping guide me. This book became my first borrowing from the library. In the last week of September, I read its 170 pages and began to look forward to writing this blog-post. By the beginning of October, I had been accepted as the new Librarian by our Marazion Quaker community, an event which makes the beginning of this blog-post series even more special for me. I hope when you read my reviews of the library books I read, you will be encouraged to borrow these books yourselves as Quakers, or purchase or borrow elsewhere.

Robert Lawrence Smith (1924 - 2021) was a birthright Quaker, a direct descendent of the first generation of Quakers in America. He toyed with the idea of being a medical man but was always drawn to the humanities and had a long career as an educator, including the headship of Sidwell Friends School, America's largest Quaker day school, from 1965 to 1978 His book is a distillation of the Quaker wisdom that has guided him through the decades of his life up to his mid-70s. The subtitle is 'Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service, and Common Sense' and the structure is indeed simple and effectively serves its purpose of providing insight into how Robert Lawrence Smith has found his inner peace and calm. There are ten chapters - Silence - Worship - Truth - Simplicity - Conscience - Non-violence - Service - Business - Education - Family - with a Prologue titled 'Let Your Life Speak' and an Epilogue summary of the book's messages which is called 'A Quaker Legacy: Ten Life Lessons'. More on that Epilogue at the end of this blog-post. 

Robert Lawrence Smith, the Headteacher from 1965 to 1978, playing chess with a student at Sidwell Quaker School (thanks to The Washington Post for this image).

For your consideration here, bullet-pointed, are some of the thoughts of Robert Lawrence Smith:

  • My Grandfather (who wrote a monograph tracing three centuries of his Quaker family's life in America) was echoing a central message of Quakerism resoundingly set forth by George Fox, the religion's seventeenth-century founder: "Let your life speak". 
  • Quaker wisdom provides lasting sustenance...the compassionate Quaker message needs to be heard in today's complex, materialistic, often unjust, and discriminatory society. Every day brings new public debate over issues Quakers have always addressed: war and peace, social