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Category: General

Political rights and wrongs

Political rights and wrongs

Worrying signs of moves towards illiberalism Opposition parties often complain about the unfairness of the rules of the political game. Until they win a majority. Even the Tories have sung this song. Given their attachment to FPTP – which has delivered Tory governments for 45 out of the last 75 years – they have presented self-interest in more technical (unfair boundaries) or high-flown terms. It was Lord Hailsham who popularised the phrase “elective dictatorship” to describe the ability of a…

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Almost all the front pages are about the virus

Almost all the front pages are about the virus

Is now the time to panic? This is probably the first big test for the Johnson government. How to handle the growing concern about the virus which is sweeping many parts of the world. So far this has been less in UK than in some other European countries particularly Italy. But we live in a world where people do travel and interact and things can happen so fast. It is starting to impact on things like the Rugby Six Nations…

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Political cross-dressing

Political cross-dressing

One of the oddest political developments is how certain concerns are seen as the exclusive property of one side or other of the Left/Right political divide, almost regardless of the nature of the issue or the reality of a party’s record. Green issues, for instance. The general assumption is that being concerned about these puts you on the left side of the axis. Take this quote.  “…..consumption, waste and environmental change has so stretched the planet’s capacity that our contemporary…

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Let’s talk about Islamophobia

Let’s talk about Islamophobia

Vladimir Bukovsky died recently, in the country he called home after his 1976 expulsion from Russia. He was one of the last Russian dissidents from a time when concerns about Russia related not to its interference in Western elections or its financial links with Western leaders but about the spread of its Communist ideology, its brutal control of Eastern Europe, its appalling treatment of those who protested (incarceration as “insane” in psychiatric jails) or those who wanted to leave (Russian…

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The Tyranny of Low Expectations

The Tyranny of Low Expectations

It is generally a good idea, when facing severe criticism from an inquiry, to concede with as much good grace as possible, to keep your immediate thoughts about the idiocy of the judge to yourself and not to try and justify the behaviour which has been criticised. No good will come of it: you will look like someone paying lip service to the findings who really thinks you’ve done nothing wrong. It is advice which the Metropolitan Police singularly failed…

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Jared O’Mara’s likely resignation should prompt another look at extending proxy voting in the Commons

Jared O’Mara’s likely resignation should prompt another look at extending proxy voting in the Commons

The current restrictions help neither the public nor MPs Parliament is – and is meant to be – a tough arena. MPs and ministers take critically-important decisions and need to be accountable for them. Ideas and arguments need to tested and pitted against one another. Failures (and perceived failures) will be pounced on, often ruthlessly. Unfortunate ministers and shadow ministers who make the wrong mistake at the wrong time find themselves at the centre of a political storm often out…

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Lazy Summers but politics can go on

Lazy Summers but politics can go on

In An Italian Education, Tim Parks describes the wonderfully languorous routine of an Italian summer: the shutting down of all but essential services in hot, humid cities leaving them to tourists, the departure for the coast, the gathering of the extended family, the early mornings to enjoy an espresso outside when the day is cool, the encampment at the same spot on the beach amongst the ombrelloni, neatly and beautifully laid out, la bella figura being quite as important when little…

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At this critical time reflections on “Cultivating Democracy”

At this critical time reflections on “Cultivating Democracy”

Occasionally I have planted a gorgeous looking plant; it has flowered briefly then died.  On digging it up I find the dreaded wine weevil or roots which have made no attempt to spread into the soil and find nutrition.  It is a reminder that nourishing the hidden roots is by far a gardener’s most important task.  A plant not strong and well anchored will be blown away by the winds, destroyed by frost or succumb to malicious bugs and parasites….

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