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 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...

Published

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...

Published

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...

Published

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...

Published

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...

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
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