To be modern is to find ourselves in an environment that promises us adventure, power, joy, growth, transformation of ourselves and the world – and, at the same time, that threatens to destroy everything we have, everything we know, everything we are.
So we’re supposed to take UKIP seriously, are we? Accept that they represent some legitimate and long-established current of opinion in British politics?
Let’s take those questions in turn.
According to a study by Ipsos Mori, the British people seem to believe themselves to be surrounded by foreigners and scroungers. People perceive that there are nearly five times as many Muslims as there are in reality and that there are roughly three times as many unemployed people as actually exist.
The new family migration rules enacted by the Coalition government have become infamous for curtailing the right of British passport holders (let’s treat this designation for what it is: one based on holding a piece of paper) to bring their non-EU spouse – and, potentially, children – with them, unless they earn more than a minimum income thres
In an interview with the Guardian, the home secretary Theresa May defines an ‘illegal’ immigrant as someone that has ‘no right to be in the UK’. Denying someone the ‘right to be in the UK’ may mean two things.
It’s Saturday morning, and I am flipping through the pages of a tired copy of the Guardian I found on a table. As I skim through it, I end up in the letters section, which today bears the title ‘Difficult decisions on immigration’.
It is remarkable the depths to which the government have stooped in the execution of their immigration policies. The so called ‘go home’ vans and text messages from the home office have been getting significant traction in online (and other forms for that matter) outrage, and for good reason.
That distant growling you can hear is the revving of engines. The main political parties are gearing up for a long General Election campaign, and immigration policy enjoys a prime spot.
The Tories are setting the pace with stop-and-search on the tube and all the restrictions of today’s immigration bill. Tougher noises are coming from other quarters too.
Immigration has been the elephant in the room of Labour politics for many years. Even when Ed Miliband pointed out that it was there, sitting right next to us, many Labour activists chose not to see it.
But Ed Miliband is beginning to make a habit of talking about immigration. It is a habit that most British people adopted a few years back.
StopWatch is a coalition dedicated to promoting a fair, accountable and effective police service, and to raising public awareness about stop and search.
My first visit to Belfast was a revelation. I was young, I had never been anywhere even remotely dangerous, and Belfast at that time was very dangerous indeed. We stayed at the Europa, which was where all the journalists stayed, and which then had the dubious reputation of being the most bombed hotel in Europe.
Ed Miliband is not someone who shies away from a challenge. He has demonstrated this admirably since becoming Labour leader. Getting to grips with the thorny issue of immigration is one thing. Getting to grips with his party’s record on the subject is another. This year he has attempted to do both.
Blogging, even compared to other forms of media, remains a very male dominated activity. It was our intention when Shifting Grounds was launched earlier this year to feature at least one women contributor every day. Regrettably, we have fallen woefully short of that target at times. To an extent this reflects a lack of editorial focus and effort.
Following last month’s agreement between David Cameron and Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, the Scottish Government has now rubber-stamped the SNP’s proposed question for the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence: ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?’
The proposed question has yet to be approved by the Electoral Com
An announcement from Downing Street on Friday confirmed Justin Welby, an oil executive turned bishop, to be the 105th Archbishop of Canterbury and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The Bishop of Durham was nominated by the Crown Nominations Commission, a 16-member body made up of bishops, priests and lay members.
I had just finished my last (official) shift at the Paralympics. Sitting down alone with my last plate of food from the wonderful staff at the Copper Box canteen, I got talking to another volunteer who was at the same table.
As a newly crowned Nobel Peace Prize winner, the EU has a lot to celebrate, not least the role it has played in ensuring peace between the countries of Europe for the past 60 years. But over the same period European nations, particularly western ones, have struggled with the challenges of building cohesive societies.
Much of the discussion of Ed Miliband’s Labour Party conference speech has rightly focused on his audacious appropriation of Disraeli and the rhetoric of ‘One Nation’ Conservatism.
In recent speeches Ed Miliband has made clear his determination to place Labour and values within a framework of national renewal. ‘Rebuilding Britain’ and rebuilding Britain’s economy, policies and society have been consistent themes in his speeches and conversations in the run up to Conference.
For some, the outbreak of vocal patriotism that has met the colour, splendour and British success at the 2012 London Olympics has been a nauseating and worrying phenomenon. Those on the left have always struggled with patriotism.
It’s taken years of debate, controversy, misunderstanding, the rise of the far right, and more debate, yet at last it feels as if there is a Britain and a Britishness in which we can all identify and feel comfortable with. Step forward London 2012, with surely the best answer yet in the “what it means to be British” saga.
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
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.
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.
Since patriotism is so often condemned as ‘a grave moral error’ or as ‘an infantile disease’ – not to mention ‘the last refuge of a scoundrel’ – it is only proper to begin with a short defence of why patriotism and nation-building matter to the Left.
Ed Miliband’s press conference last week marked a real shift for Labour. On that, its supporters and opponents can agree.
Duncan O’Leary says the Miliband speech on migration targeted employers and workers’ rights not immigrants. Owen Tudor has asked us to recognise the labour aspects of what he said. It’s fair to point out that Miliband talked about weak labour standards and higher fines for breaching the minimum wage.
Saul Alinsky once wrote that ‘a liberal is someone who walks out of the room when the argument turns into a fight’. Judging by the response to Ed Miliband’s speech on immigration last week, there is a modern equivalent: to tweet disapproval without engaging in the argument at all.
This was a speech from the Left.
The journey starts just outside Sevenoaks, the very heart of so-called Middle England. It’s a tidy little station, the platform bustling with people braced for their daily commute.
On the 20th of September 2011 Chris Grayling made the assertion that our benefits system was in such a state that it attracted ‘benefit tourists’, immigrants who come here in order to sponge off our welfare system.
During Thought for the Day on Thursday 24th May the Dean of Trinity College, Cambridge addressed the problem of the loneliness and isolation of the elderly in today’s society, particularly in urban areas. Especially emblematic of this, argued Dr Michael Banner, was the fact that so many elderly people eat alone day after day.
Read the first part of Rachel’s argument here.
Ed Miliband and the Labour party have begun to develop a new agenda that’s about building an economy that works for working people, and advances a common good we can all recognise.
‘Transforming capitalism’ is a phrase that goes to the heart of the questions raised by the financial crisis and its aftermath: questions about inequality and irresponsibility; about the values that underpin our economic system; about the kind of society we want to live in, and the kind of lives we want to lead.
In a previous post, I wrote in favour of a model of public service based not on a transaction, “service-user” model, but on selfless commitment to one’s neighbour. It is surely to be lamented that such an ethos has disappeared from so much of the public sector (with, certainly, notable exceptions).
There is a quiet but important discussion happening in Conservative circles: one that – although drowned out by pasties and grannies – could have important consequences for the next election.
Put short, it is a discussion about the role of the working-class in the ongoing, and still much needed, modernisation of the Conservatives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Budget is done. The Tories are the party of the rich. The price of alcohol might go up and hit the pockets of the less well off. The Tories sell access to the Prime Minister and government policy making. And Labour is the party of fairness. Today Labour’s polling is a 17 point lead, tomorrow it’ll take a hit.
George Osborne wants to see how an Olympic moratorium on limited Sunday trading goes. There might be lessons to be learnt, he says. He’s a clever man, George. After all, there’s an election in a couple of years and a few hours extra trading every week for the next two years wouldn’t do the numbers any harm.
The Fawcett Society says that we are at a watershed moment for women’s rights. Women are being pushed out of the workforce, with childcare costs soaring, and cuts to legal aid making women more vulnerable to violence.
Female unemployment has reached its highest level in two decades; beyond the 1.1 million mark.