When the media, old and new, sink their teeth into a story, it’s hard to prize it away. All it takes is a scent, a glimmer of hope that they may be proved right, for momentum to take over. As is the scenario with Chancellor George Osborne.
Aidan Burley, the Conservative MP, caused a stir on Twitter when he referred to the Olympics opening ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle, as ‘leftie multicultural crap’ He also tweeted, ‘Bring back red arrows, Shakespeare and the Stones!’
Obviously the sight of the brave Doreen Lawrence who fought for years for her son’s justice in the face of instit
When a crisis rips through an economic system, questioning whether that system is fair becomes more frequent and urgent. The sight of tents pitched by a Cathedral that had once been the towering symbol of London, but now dwarfed by the temples of the City, seemed to evoke, in one curious image, the changing and uncertain nature of our times.
An outbreak of psephology has infected the Labour ranks since May 2010. There are few of us left who will hear the words ‘five million votes,’ and not offer up our own interpretation as to why Labour lost them. But converging on a single explanation has proved fraught, almost tortuous at times.
One of the most important contributions Blue Labour should be able to make to the intellectual direction of the Labour Party is the reclaiming of family values.
I made the trek up to Durham last week for Unite’s political school and the Miners Gala. Just a fortnight after Unite’s Policy Conference in Brighton, and with a cold hanging over me, I had considered whether I was really this committed. However in the intervening time I received a (completely unsolicited) letter from the Communist Party.
It is understandable that democratic politics interests itself with the majority. From Ed Miliband’s ‘the squeezed middle’ to Nick Clegg’s ‘alarm clock Britain’, politicians of red, blue and yellow stripes aim to identify themselves – often with ever sillier catchphrases – as the representatives of the majority.
If Cameron’s time as Leader of the Opposition had a uniting theme, it was the ambition to detoxify the Tory brand. It was more than a central theme in fact: it was the driving mission.
The present Coalition government is considering, in its new Justice and Security Bill, a fundamental and undemocratic change to the way in which our justice system is run. The existence of secret hearings has always been controversial.
This is the second part of Matthew’s argument. Read the first part here.
Ironically politicians find themselves in quite a different position from those at the top of media and banking.
After the expenses and phone-hacking scandals you could have been forgiven for thinking that Britain’s elite institutions had hit rock bottom. You would have been wrong. Like a nervous Hollywood studio they seem intent on churning out new sequels, each with more convoluted plots, bigger names and more victims than the last.
All together now: “Paaaaaarliament’s out. For. Summer.” Who will be the most relieved-Cameron or Clegg? Probably both of them. It’s been several months to forget for the coalition. Cue a summer of recriminations, backstabbing, briefings, and counter-briefings.
Mention Tony Blair to a nearby left-winger and they either start to drool or to foam at the mouth. Almost without exception, no-one in the Labour movement reacts in a rational fashion where Blair is concerned.
Read Part I of Jeremy’s piece (‘Falling Standards’) here.
Fetishising the amateur
Welcome to the Age of the Amateur. Qualified experts, specialists, practitioners operating within established, well-regulated trades; these professionals have had their day. True integrity and nous belong to the volunteer, the have-a-go hero.
Seeing Johnny Rotten on Question Time, I braced myself for an infuriating hour of television. But I needn’t have worried: he turned out to be one of the more well-rounded individuals on the panel, expressing views that you wouldn’t usually expect of a punk rocker (albeit through the medium of interruption and occasionally incoherent rambles).
Anthony Blair’s musing over a return to British political life has caused much consternation amongst the Labour movement. The two great criticisms of New Labour as a project, that it was too close to Big Finance and Big Media, are being thrown into sharp relief by Leveson and the events at Barclays.
The last Labour government’s treatment of asylum seekers left a lot to be desired.
It’s not surprising when a certain section of the media cast the most vulnerable in society as good-for-nothing scroungers.
The financial crisis and slowing economy has brought the topic of housing back to the frontline of policy debates, yet the problems within this market started many decades before.
High house prices are not a new phenomenon – although the recent decade’s increase in credit availability had accentuated it.
Jamie Oliver. I probably don’t need to write anything else. Just mentioning his name should be enough to start a lengthy conversation. Or rant. Everyone’s heard of him. Some like to stick an expletive in the middle of his name. Many of us seem to have strong views about him, one way or another.
Has Britain reached a state of permacrisis? The past five years have seen a nigh-on seamless succession of scandals and mishaps that have rocked public faith in the nation’s institutions.
What is probably most worrying about the current situation in the EU is the intense focus on a long term roadmap to create a stronger banking union, without sufficient effort being given to measures needed to sort out the current crisis now.
Since Labour’s election defeat in 2010, most political and policy attention has been focused on redefining the party’s economic mission. In the context of ongoing financial woes – many of which the public have blamed Labour for – this is not too surprising.
In a few weeks, students paying fees of £9000 a year will start their first term at many English universities. Last Wednesday David Willetts signalled the government’s intention to press ahead with the privatisation of higher education.
Universities are charities.
Nye Bevan was right, ‘the purpose of getting power is to be able to give it away.’ We have one of the most centralised states in the world. Of the major industrial nations only New Zealand controls more of its public expenditure centrally than we do.
The fog is now clearing from the political battleground that faces Labour in the 2015 general election.
The Conservative’s original game plan was to eliminate the budget deficit by 2015 and pave the way for a significant tax cut.
The Government’s ‘City Deals’ mark one of the biggest shifts towards devolution of power to local areas that England has seen for decades. It’s a day to celebrate some hard-won freedoms and flexibilities – but there’s a long road to travel before cities can say they have real autonomy over their local economies.
It’s easy to mock the breakdown of the Conservatives’ ‘Big Society’ – I have myself. In the Archbishop of Canterbury’s agreeably vexatious phrase, it’s in danger of being seen as aspirational waffle, though he has in the past voiced admiration for the associational ideals that lie behind the idea.
The living wage is different to the national minimum wage: it pays more, being linked to a higher standard of living for those low-income families that it targets.
I am a passionate supporter of its implementation, not just because of the change it can bring for employees, but also for the benefits it can bring to businesses.
John Denham’s introduction to the Fabians’ latest collection of essays from the centre of the Labour party demonstrates the effectiveness of that woefully underused rhetorical device: ‘concede to win’.
When Ed Miliband delivered his party conference speech drawing a distinction between productive and predatory capitalism last September, the gatekeepers of free market orthodoxy reacted with fury and scorn. He had insulted British business, the wealth creating heart of the nation.
The modern centre-left is beset by an extensively discussed challenge: the ‘diversity-solidarity’ tension. In other words, the unity of population it has historically relied upon is a lot more difficult to come by than it once was.
The Olympics are coming to town for the first time since 1948. And in 2012, as just in the aftermath of the second world war, a housing crisis has been brewing in Britain. In fact, it’s reaching boiling point.