Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the tag “politics”

Lock-in at the last chance saloon?*

Tomorrow the Leveson Enquiry is published. Some very powerful voices seem to be being raised to give the press (yet) another chance. This, decades on from David Mellor’s comment that they “were drinking in the last chance saloon”. Read more…

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By George (2), a Bradford Spring!

Another George is in the headlines and outside the marginals a parliamentary seat has changed hands. (Ref: George Galloway wins Bradford West by-election,). BBC News 30 Mar 2012).  Unfortunately I suspect it is a one-off, but underlying this result there may be a “crack in the dam”. Read more…

Standing up to the blackmailers

Lord Jones of Birmingham (Digby Jones formerly of the CBI and former goat) says we have to be careful that the banks do not decamp to the Gulf because the banks account for 20% “of the entire tax take of the United Kingdom” (BBC News Website 11 January 2011). Others have made similar points.  In effect the banks are saying “play the game our way or else”.  When the Krays did similar it was called a protection-racket and they were accused of intimidation (Met Police: The Kray twins).  The banks may not be literally and directly killing people, but when faced by blackmailers you have to do something. Read more…

Will schools get a sporting chance?

Last week (BBC News Website 24 November 2010: Cameron and Miliband clash over school sports funding) the Prime Minister was condemning the School Sports Partnership as ineffective because of bureaucracy and the small number of pupils playing competitive sports against other schools.  Perhaps he does not realise:

  • Many schools don’t have the facilities that he had at school.  The Eton College website under “Games” declares:
    • There is a vast range of sports available, from the familiar, like soccer,rugby, hockey, cricket, rowing, athletics, squash, to the less familiar like rackets and fives. There are some games which can only be played at Eton, namely the Wall and Field Games. In all there are nearly 30 different games on offer, all coached by Eton masters and professional coaches.
    • The form of Fives played at Eton is of course Eton Fives.
  • For a sport to be safely and enjoyably taught, trained teachers or professional coaches are essential; not all schools have these.
  • Many schools do not have the emphasis on proving themselves superior to other schools by means of competitive sports.  The website declares:
    • There is a school team for just about every boy who wants to play – this amounts to more than 40 teams on some match days
  • Many schools believe that ensuring pupils are active is more important than “playing games”

Perhaps today’s potential U-turn (BBC News Website 1 December 2010: Cameron orders rethink on school sports cuts) means that belatedly he has realised that the majority have a different experience to his and it is a good idea to enable co-operation so as to give ordinary school pupils a sporting chance that matches even a fraction of the “Games” he experienced.

A hard lesson for the Liberal Democrats

It seemed so easy; get photographed signing a pledge that you would oppose tuition fees and work to abolish them. But then you end up in Government and unable to implement your manifesto. No wonder students are giving the Lib Dems a look that would put them six feet under – or possibly 120 times that depth. Read more…

Why do we hate migrants?

The latest attempts to reduce immigration by our coalition government raises some interesting questions.  They are “committed” to reducing the number of immigrants, but with immigration, it’s not the numbers that are the issue (unless you just hate foreigners); it’s the country’s ability to cope with them. Read more…

Enslaved to fear

Is it just me, or is there a determined effort by Government to keep us in fear?  If, in the UK, we can be kept fearful of terrorism, we can be persuaded to accept all sorts of inconveniences.  Similarly in the USA, but there is also a move (fuelled by the Tea-Party) to keep Americans in fear of Government itself.

Read more…

London is housing a problem

The housing benefit controversy illustrates just what a mess London is in. Read more…

The Demographic Gap

With the increased emphasis on “Big Society” and the use of Charity, it is possibly worth pausing to consider where we are going to find the required army of volunteers and paid charity workers.  With the cuts being passed down (see No hope, not much faith, but more charity?), I cannot see the funds to enable charities to employ more people (at all levels).  Neither do I believe that the Government is so cynical that it believes all these volunteering jobs will be taken on by the newly unemployed – have you ever tried to explain to a Job Centre Minus advisor why you are not available for work or not searching for work full-time? Read more…

Fair is foul, and foul is fair

Just what is fair?

Last Friday on Any Questions (BBC Radio 4, Friday 22 October 2010), Fraser Nelson (editor of The Spectator, a conservative political weekly), tried to advance the view that “fairness is about incentives” and that it is therefore fair that a poor (but unemployed) family loses benefits so that they are not better off than their (working) neighbours.  Whilst the working neighbours may be deserving, this approach seems to condemn the unemployed family as undeserving.  Looking at situations like this in isolation seems to me unfair. Read more…

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