Politics & campaigns.

This is not a party political site and not very partisan in any way. My emphasis has tended to be on the quality of debate and campaigning, and especially on the need to appreciate represtentative democracy (government through elected representatives whose own views matter), and to be sceptical of the claims of vox pop, "the people", social media, Crowd Wisdom, and "direct action".

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Somerset Levels flooding: who’s levelling with us?

It's 30 years since I spent serious time researching the Somerset Levels and its precarious balance between farming and wildlife, which of course hinges on how much flooding to allow. That was for my book, Wild Britain. Where are we now? Read more...


12 February 2014

RDN on LBC on AGW, Met Office & PMQs

I had an interesting outing on Iain Dale's LBC show yesterday, invited to comment on the Met Office's apparent disavowal of David Cameron's remarks in Prime Minister’s Questions on the recent storms and possible, likely or probable links to climate change. I remarked, perhaps a little casually, that the Met Office's tune - I should perhaps have emphasised tone - had changed somewhat. Once quite the cheer-leader for what one might disparagingly call alarmism, it now seems to emphasise uncertainty. Read more...


10 January 2014

RDN on immigration on BBC Scotland

The Call Kaye programme asked me what I thought about immigration in view of the news that Scotland had experienced a 370,000 net immigration in a decade. (I think this number derive from a Migration Observatory report, Migration in Scotland.) I said immigration is a mixed blessing and that England, having experienced a lot of it, was within its rights to now want a bit of a breather, to benefit both incomers and "hosts" (yes, I can convey inverted commas on steam radio). What followed rather surprised me. It should not have, and would not have had I read Iain Martin's excellent piece on immigration (and Scotland, and the Union) in Standpoint (December 2013). Read more...


05 December 2013

Selsey: The jewel of Manhood

[This updates in June 2017 a piece which first appeared in late 2013.] All my life, like my father and grandmother before me I have known and loved Selsey, in West Sussex. It is the town at the tip of the Manhood peninsula south of Chichester, and famous for the Bill (its beak pointed at the sea). It has for years had Bunn's, Europe's biggest caravan park and now - abutting that - there is a brand new instant wetland, also Europe's largest of the kind. It is, in fact, a-buzz with change and far livelier than previously. Recently, I have taken to day-dreaming about Selsey's future. Read more...


24 November 2013

Parris’ “Conservative Futurism” developed a little….

Matthew Parris is spot-on in his "Futurist Conservatism" piece ("Dig deep, sow seeds and watch Britain grow: The UK needs HS3 as well as HS2. We need two new cities and more technical colleges. We need long-term vision.", The Times, 9 November 2013) Libertarians will roll their eyes, as will Luddite Conservatives: the idea of optimistic, forward-planning conservativism is an oxymoron. So be it. Conservatives like planting trees in their broad acres, why not new towns in yours or mine too? Read more...


10 November 2013

“Hannah Arendt”: a fine movie

This is tricky. I have spent  no  more than half an hour, ever, reading Hannah Arendt and none at all reading about the contemporary reaction to her "banality of evil" pieces in the New Yorker. Nothing daunted, I will risk riffing on the similarities between Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand, partly because they were contemporaries; partly because both are the subject of bio-pics; but mostly because they seem to touch on the same verities. Read more...


23 October 2013

RDN and the FT: Schama and the Mail

Mine is hardly a timely intervention (as we call contributions to debate now), but I thought I'd post here a letter offered by me to the FT for publication but not used by them. It follows a piece by Simon Schama in the FT (5/6 October 2013) strongly deprecating the Daily Mail's accusation that Ralph Miliband wasn't a patriot. By the way, though in all sorts of ways I am a cosmopolitan liberal, I am strongly in support of the sort of line taken by the Mail's Paul Dacre in his Guardian piece on how his paper stands for the suburbanite mind. I agree that this mindset is the backbone of Britain, and I share many of its prejudices. Read more...


12 October 2013

RDN in BBC Wildlife on trust and science

It was fun to be interviewed by Stuart Blackman for his piece, "You Can Trust Me, I'm a scientist..." in the Agenda/Analysis pages of the August edition of the BBC's Wildlife magazine. Mr Blackman did good work dissecting a horribly intransigent issue, but I'd just add this... Read more...


11 August 2013

Mrs Thatcher, Ayn Rand and Bishop Chartres

It's a bit soon to make a proper judgement, but Bishop Chartres seems to have delivered a blinder of a sermon at Mrs thatcher's funeral service. Saying he wasn't going to be political, he was very highly political in an important way. I mean that he laid what looks like a trail between Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher. Here's the key sentence (culled from the Daily Mirror's website). It's on spiritual development :
First there is the struggle for freedom and independence and then the self-giving and the acceptance of inter-dependence. Read more...


17 April 2013
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