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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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...

Published

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...

Published

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...

Published

17 April 2013

BBC vs LSE, and the point of journalism

A curiosity of the BBC's undercover trip to North Korea is that hardly anyone has framed the argument in the terms which matter and would once have seemed obvious. Namely: as the debate about the trip went up the chain at the BBC, no-one seems to have considered it important to ask the governing body of the LSE whether it minded having its institutional brand, imprimatur and name hijacked. When asked, the LSE said it wasn't happy. But the BBC and its fans (let's especially include the articulate and usefully clear piece by Robin Lustig in the Guardian) merely repeat the mantra that the BBC was responsibly considerate as to the risk its trip posed to the club-members who accompanied it.... Read more...

Published

17 April 2013

Mrs Thatcher: good for our souls as well as our wallets?

Several Thatcheristes have been putting the record straight: that she didn't "destroy" the unions but democratised them; that she wasn't a wrecker of manufacturing; that she closed fewer mines and shipyards than Labour had before her. But we have had more challenging arguments, too. They hinge on her failure to crush the welfare state, or the left-liberal elite. That was part of her failure to win hearts... Read more...

Published

15 April 2013

Why Mrs Thatcher was hated

Mrs Thatcher was not funny or warm, at least not in public. She wasn't even populist. Unlike The Gipper, it is unlikely that she will ever become a National Treasure. She represented - was like - a very small segment of British society: the lower middle class. Her virtues were those of a stage nanny or governess, as in Mrs Doubtfire, or Mary Poppins, or Anna from The King and I. She was firm, friendly, upbeat, undaunted. She treated us all like children. But above all, she decided that what we all needed was plain speaking.... Read more...

Published

10 April 2013

Is di Canio a Fascist?

I haven't had time to research Mr di Canio's words and works, but the issue raises the knotty problem of what a Fascist is. Most obviously, is it possible to be a Fascist but not a racist? In practice, most if not all Fascist regimes and movements have been anti-Semitic and anti-black, amongst many other anti-nesses. But racism is not really the defining characteristic of the  ideology. Read more...

Published

02 April 2013

Inequality? Mind the culture gap

The income and wealth inequality gap between the top 1 per cent and the remaining 99 per cent has featured a good deal recently. It's getting wider. But it matters very little. What matters is an emerging cultural gap. Read more...

Published

16 February 2013

Margaret Hodge and the Commons’ PAC: Not heroes

Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home was on the Andrew Marr Show sofa and joined James Landale in doing the now obligatory obeisance to Margaret Hodge for her "brave" work as chairman of the House of Common's Public Accounts Committee. This is all nonsense. Read more...

Published

10 February 2013
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