On the morning of the 19 April 1989, the population of Liverpool woke up to a disturbing headline.
Only four days after the Hillsborough Disaster, The Sun newspaper, under the editorship of Kelvin Mackenzie, ran a story headlined ‘The Truth’.
On the morning of the 19 April 1989, the population of Liverpool woke up to a disturbing headline.
We are blessed by the presence in my parish of three Nordic Lutheran chaplaincies. One important difference between us, however, is that in Norway, Finland and Sweden – as in many other European countries – the major Christian denomination is at least part state-funded.
Things are going badly for the Coalition, but we must keep our eye on the ball: the ball being Labour’s renewal.
Labour has to convince people it can be trusted to run the economy. It has to prove itself capable of decisive, authoritative leadership.
In exactly three months from today, London (with the support of the rest of Britain) will welcome and host the 2012 Olympic Games. Many are excited by this prospect, while some are simply indifferent.
Eleven of the fifteen teenagers who were murdered in London last year were stabbed. One of those was only fourteen years old. If this doesn’t provide testament to the fact that youth violence is still a problem in this country then it is unclear what ever could.
What we are seeing now is a revolt of voters on middle incomes against the cosseting of the very wealthy by the Conservatives.
However, we have a long way to go before we can assemble a broad electoral coalition of people on low and middle incomes in support of fairer rewards at work and expanded opportunities across the whole of society.
So, Cameron and co are incredibly cosy with a powerful agenda-setting elite. Big surprise.
More interesting is Alex Salmond’s part in the whole affair.
Labour are enjoying their best month since the general election defeat in 2010. Columnists and pundits from across the political divide are now openly discussing the likelihood of a Labour majority in 2015. Even Miliband’s strongest critics have been forced to recognise his position has strengthened.
The news that the UK has officially entered a double-dip recession puts into perspective the omnishambles of the last few weeks. ‘Carry on Qatada’ and the banana skin budget could be dismissed as routine mid-term wobbles from which the government might be expected to recover.
Politicians that answer the questions posed by the electorate do well. Politicians that shape the questions the electorate want answered do even better.
In the months after the general election George Osborne won his reputation as a master at setting the question.
In the beginning, there was Wall Street, and then the global Occupy movement was born. To be fair, it was fairly successful. For a while.
In public squares across the world, the political elite who instigated the disaster of economic liberalism were baited and denounced by a reawakened citizenry.
Yesterday our Anglo-Saxon protestant nation celebrated the accomplishments of a Middle-Eastern Catholic in slaying a monster from Germanic folklore.
Personally I‘m all for it, especially the recent campaign to get us another bank holiday. We have the fewest in Europe and any excuse is a good one.
Only a New Yorker can ‘bustle’ whilst waiting, stationary, at the traffic lights… It’s a drizzly April dawn in New York City, but the city’s famed frenetic energy is already on display.
Economic democracy is about creating the opportunity and ability for people to influence decisions that affect their personal economy. This could range from worker representation within a firm, through shareholder decisions on bonuses, to a government’s representatives being given first-hand understanding of how austerity will affect its people.
As plenty of other voices both on this blog and elsewhere have pointed out, it has not been a great few weeks for the Conservatives. Last Monday, Baroness Warsi sought to blame the Lib Dems for the political chaos unleashed following last month’s budget, and for the battering taken by both parties in the polls as a result.
This week’s labour market statistics brought some welcome news – unemployment (on the broad ILO measure) fell by some 35,000 with the rate dropping from 8.4% to 8.3%, whilst employment rose by 53,000. But a look at the detail behind the headlines provides cause for caution.
Until George Osborne’s hara-kiri budget it was widely assumed that the economic battle lines for the next election had been firmly set. The Conservatives would eliminate the structural deficit by taking an axe to the public sector and go to the polls on the back of a modest giveaway budget and claims to have sorted out Labour’s mess.
Out of control, out of touch, the government seem to be ‘out’ of everything. The ‘omnishambles’ narrative has taken a giant leap forward and has now become a mainstay of British political commentary on the government’s leadership of the country.
Last week I somewhat facetiously suggested that Labour should adopt another new clause IV. The idea was to do away with the idiotic blather that had replaced a coherent (albeit flawed) position on property ownership.
Anthony Painter pointed out that he had written a more fulsome version of this article before we even lost power.
Just before the 2010 general election George Osborne, as chancellor-in-waiting, made a speech that outlined his forthcoming economic strategy. He argued that 1980s free market policies had been substantially correct and still provided the model for improving UK competitiveness.
It’s fair to say that the fallout from the 2008 financial crisis has not been kind to the left. A favourite talking point of those writing obituaries for social democracy is that right-of-centre governments have come to dominate the continent, holding power in 22 of 27 EU countries.
With times hard for families as it is, rising food and fuel bills, simultaneously made worse by cuts to housing benefit, tax credits and the looming spectre of unemployment, the Conservative-led government is again piling on the pressure with the threat of withdrawal of child benefit payments for families of persistent truants.
If Labour does not want Mrs Thatcher’s aphorism – that the facts of life are Conservative – to come to pass, it has to relearn what it means to be socially conservative.
If you thought we had talked about tax quite enough for one year, you may find this blog post a tad disappointing. Tax and the implications of this year’s budget is yet again (or potentially still) on the agenda.
Ask anyone whether they approve of benefit fraud and the answer is universally no.
Stories are an important part of politics. Not long after heads have rolled and tears been shed, narratives are born and accepted ‘truths’ emerge about the past. The Major era is a case in point: once widely regarded as farcical, it has now been reinvented (largely by nostalgic conservatives) as a success.
When David Cameron flew out to Asia last week, he did so on a Boeing 474 owned by Sonangol, the Angolan state oil company.
Regardless of whether or not Ken manages to turn the tide of Boris’s intimidating poll lead on May 3rd, one of the ideas in his manifesto is such a gem that it simply mustn’t gather dust on the Labour party’s policy shelves if he’s defeated.
In the ongoing kulturkampf between the new atheists and the faithful, the claim is often made that the United Kingdom is becoming a much more secular place.
In one sense, this is clearly true. In the British Social Attitudes Survey of 2008, more people said that they did not believe in God than did.
Jonathan Haidt’s new book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, argues that while liberals hold a virtual monopoly on compassion, and value fairness highly, they are ‘virtually tone-deaf’ to wider human instincts such as loyalty, respect, and sanctity, which are understood instinctively by conservatives.
As the great man said, you can’t have one without the other. That’s the issue at the heart of the government’s reforms, and why calls for ‘traditional’ marriage are confused.
Traditionally marriage has little to do with romantic love, and only a passing dalliance with monogamy, at least as far as men are concerned.
This is a moment Ed needs to grasp. Cameron’s ratings are slipping and Labour’s lead in the polls is stabilising, but we need something big to really start to build positive Labour support.
Ed has so far been clear that he doesn’t want to over-promise and under-deliver, and I agree that Labour cannot and should not promise the earth.
Labour’s biggest problem for the last 4 years, as many have already noted, has been a loss of trust.
Frankly, there are a lot of practical steps to be taken before we can be truly trust-able. Bradford West provided ample demonstration of what happens when we allow nepotism and a politics of separateness to overcome our constituency parties.
According to George Osborne, the strength of an economy is reflected in its bond yields. Textbook theory tells us that if a sovereign state can borrow cheaply on the open market, it is considered less of a risk for investors.
On Tuesday George Osborne expressed his incredulity that some of the richest people in our society pay the least tax. This once again brings to the fore the supposed distinction between avoidance and evasion, one which even the excellent Richard Murphy was not entirely clear about on the Moral Maze last month.
We all know that there is something wrong with the way we do politics in Britain.
The election of George Galloway in Bradford West is only the latest in a long line of shocks to the political system.
Between 1997 and 2010, Labour lost five million votes.
The electoral coalition Labour had carefully nurtured in their 18 wilderness years fragmented, and with it power was lost. Votes disappeared in all directions: the Conservatives gained 1.1 million votes, the Lib Dems 1.6 million, the BNP half a million, and 1.
Come 2015 Labour will need a compelling vision of the state and its role within society and relationship with the economy. Tony Blair was right in ‘A Journey’ when he wrote of how parties can reap political rewards by dominating the policy agenda – even if such policies run into opposition in the short term.
Arriving where Jesus’ body had lain, the disciple notices the grave-clothes rolled up in a corner of the tomb: ‘he saw and he believed’.
Such conviction does not come easily to the majority of Britons today, of whom many indeed are suspicious of what can seem blind faith.
The aftershocks of George Osborne’s budget ripple on, but one aspect of the last couple of weeks has barely been mentioned.
Things used to be so simple. It was the 1990s: the Cold War was over, capitalism had won; its victory synonymous with the onward march of globalisation. The end of history was declared. The Bretton Woods institutions – the IMF, the World Bank – had emerged as the champions of the monetarist consensus.
One of Blue Labour’s great gifts to its party has been to reignite its enthusiasm for hearing and telling proper stories.
Ed Miliband’s speech at Southampton yesterday – in which he spoke about his Dad’s little-known period of service in the navy – might not have made big headlines, but it struck a chord with me.
Even without the small matter of Labour losing the Bradford West by-election on a 37% swing, the intended resignation of Liam Byrne from the Shadow Cabinet and House of Commons would have been spun as bad news for Ed Miliband.
It’s an unusually hot spring afternoon in east London.
As colourfully painted barges chug past the new Olympic Media Centre and day trippers wave from the boats, I find myself standing with a youngish woman in a slightly ramshackle – but nonetheless luscious – communal garden on the banks of the canal.
And things are getting radical.
Government housing policy has fallen off the political agenda recently, but a series of reports over the past few weeks have shown that the housing crisis in Britain is escalating at an alarming rate.
Among the most progressive initiatives of the three post-1997 Labour administrations were the introduction of the minimum wage and the strengthening of income support for those on low earnings.
The announcement that James Murdoch is to step down as chairman of BSkyB will have provoked sighs of relief in offices all over Westminster.
His continued presence has lingered over British politics like a pungent cloud.
By all accounts it has been a bad couple of weeks for the Tories. Labour has done well to capitalise on the three big issues: the top rate of income tax, hot pasties and party funding.
A clause smuggled into the Legal Aid Bill at the last minute will create a new criminal class – the estimated twenty to fifty thousand people who squat in empty buildings. The change in the law is driven by an unholy alliance of property developers, big landlords, and the right-wing press.
FC Barcelona, The Green Bay Packers, Bayern Munich, Saskatchewan Rough Riders, Harpoel Jerusalem, Galatasaray AS, The Memphis Redbirds, and Helsingborgs FC: just a selection of the growing number of professional, fan-owned sports clubs from around the world.
A4e, the welfare-to-work company, has had a tough time of late. Back in February, the company’s founder Emma Harrison resigned as its chairman amid allegations of fraud. Critics of public service outsourcing pounced upon A4e’s misfortune as an example of the dangers of using the private sector to deliver public services.