Archive | August, 2011

How much influence has neo-liberalism had on British politics?

This was the question asked at ‘A Permanent Revolution?’, an event organised by the Centre for British Politics and the Centre for Political Ideologies. Most of those who have written on this subject have described the ‘capitulation’ of Britain’s political parties, portraying neo-liberalism as the ideological equivalent of a tidal wave which has swept away […]

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New MPs kick off

One of the most striking features about the House of Commons after the 2010 election was the number of newly-elected MPs.  A full 36% of the House was newly-elected, including 48% of Conservative MPs.  In the past, newly elected MPs have tended to be relatively acquiescent – at least to begin with – but one […]

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The politics of being human

Most of our science and philosophy is ‘humanist’ and anthropocentric. It carves up the world into neat little distinctions between man and nature, human and animal, and human or non-human. It places man at the centre of its politics and legitimates his dominion over other beings and things. However, the Human Genome Project revealed that […]

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In the rebellion game, everyone’s a winner

Conservative MPs are the most rebellious in the House of Commons, as the right kicks against Cameron’s leadership.  Actually, that’s not true.  Liberal Democrats MPs are in fact the most rebellious, with widespread rebellions against the policies of the coalition.  Actually, that’s not true either.  The party which has been the most rebellious since 2010 […]

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Riots Special Edition

The recent riots – which began in Tottenham on August 6th, but rapidly spread first across London and then across the country – have prompted innumerable instant responses from politicians, journalists, and academics alike. Some have been more considered than others. Among the politicians, the Prime Minister has promised a ‘social fightback’ against the groups […]

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Daniel Bell: he predicts a riot

One way of understanding the recent spree of looting and rioting seen on the streets of England is in terms of a clash of two ‘cultures’ first identified by the American sociologist Daniel Bell in his book The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism. Published in 1976, Bell’s study mapped out two antagonistic cultures. One consisted of consumption, of instant gratification, of […]

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The Prime Minister: a man you’d shoot tigers with?

In  1953 the Labour MP Maurice Edelman wrote the political novel Who Goes Home in which a revered Parliamentary commentator states: On the whole, British Prime Ministers have to be the sort of man you can trust with your eldest daughter or your sister or your wife or mother – a sort of father-figure. A man […]

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Cowley’s Syndrome

One of my lifetime ambitions is to have a law named after me, like Godwin’s Law, or Parkinson’s Law. An attempt during the 2010 election to establish Cowley’s Law of Election Campaigning (that there is an inverse relationship between the importance of any election campaign technique and the amount of media coverage devoted to it) […]

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The riots: empowering the wastrels?

In 1899 the National Union of Teachers argued that ‘the danger to the British Empire lies within the homeland. The wastrel, the ne’er-do-well, the rickety and the criminal, these and not the Krupp gun or continental jealousy are the real danger’. This, the union argued, demonstrated the importance of the authoritative teacher in maintaining civic […]

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Tony Benn and the 1981 riots: plus ca change?

While doing some reading for my thesis, I came across this intriguing entry in Tony Benn’s diaries, from 8th July 1981: … there have been riots in Southall, Toxteth, Manchester, Wood Green and they are dominating the news stories…Robin Day and so on asking if the police should have riot shields, tear gas and rubber bullets, […]

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