Archive | February, 2011

French theory, Tunisian practice

Question: what connects a 26-year-old Tunisian market-stall holder, who died in 2011, with a French civil engineer who died in 1922? Answer: a theory of revolution – written by the latter and put into practice by the former, a man who just wanted to sell tomatoes. The stall-holder was Mohamed Bouazizi, whose story is now […]

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Rebels and causes

MPs are on a week’s recess.  It will give government whips some time to recover from what has so far been an extraordinary session.  The first session in any parliament – especially those formed after a change in government – are usually fairly quiet (as this paper shows).  The government usually basks in its election […]

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Politics is corruption, apparently

Everyone’s against corruption these days.  That’s certainly a theme that unites recent mass protests in countries ranging from Bahrain through China, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. But let’s not get the idea that such demonstrations are confined to non- or quasi-democratic states. There have been anti-corruption protests in India as well […]

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Is all politics local?

To varying degrees all mainstream British political parties have signed up to the underlying principle that political institutions should (broadly) reflect the social characteristics of the people they represent.  This is most obvious with sex, where quotas for Westminster parliamentary seats were used by Labour in 1997 and 2005, with other measures used in the […]

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It’s déjà vu all over again

On 17th February 2010, the Coalition Government unveiled a bill that promised to bring about ‘the most radical shake-up of the welfare system for sixty years’. We’ve been here before. At least since Thatcher’s social security reforms of the mid-1980s, ‘the most radical reform of welfare since its inception’ has featured somewhere in the first […]

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A new guardian of the people?

In a world increasingly conscious of security risks, is the EU relevant? Many people – especially in Euro-sceptic Britain – think not. In the diffcult process of fostering integration , the challenge of corralling diverse European states into common security efforts appears to be a step too far. The 2003 invasion of Iraq seems to […]

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A different kind of manifesto

Somewhere in Cairo, an artist is writing a manifesto. Artists’ manifestos are often more political than political manifestos. They are also more entertaining. Artists’ manifestos outstrip art to embrace life. As I argue in my recent book, 100 Artists’ Manifestos, artists are revolutionaries. In 1919 Raoul Hausmann and Johannes Baader ‘founded’ a Dada Republic by […]

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Chinese labour & globalisation

The current restructuring in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is of phenomenal importance to the global economy. In particular it has added millions of workers to the international workforce. Chinese workers often work in conditions of super-exploitation. The impact of the current global crisis on Chinese manufacturing has put further pressure on their wages. […]

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The revolting coalition

How do MPs behave when faced with a coalition government?  For all that behaviour in the House of Commons has changed over the post-war era – with MPs becoming more rebellious and less willing to be lobby fodder – there has been one constant: rebellion has remained the exception, cohesion the norm. Whilst the exact […]

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A polite alternative to the BNP?

The January 2011 Oldham by-election confirmed the UK Independence Party (UKIP) as the fourth largest party in British politics, ahead of the British National Party (BNP). With local elections looming, Drs Rob Ford, David Cutts and I have produced evidence that UKIP is well positioned to become a successful radical right party and a significant […]

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