Archive | January, 2012

Gay Marriage, Conservative Divorce?

‘Prediction is very difficult’, said Niels Bohr, ‘especially if it’s about the future’ – and it’s always potentially embarrassing when you revisit things you wrote and in which you had confidently predicted what was to come. Take, for example, this 2009 article, looking at the likely state of the Conservative Parliamentary Party after the election. It […]

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The Iron Lady Special Edition

The Iron Lady has been a great success with cinema audiences. It has also provoked much comment about what it says about Thatcher and Thatcherism and also provoked speculation about what impact it might have on current political attitudes. As we don’t like to be left out of a heated debate, some of us at […]

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How to be an MP

I recently spoke at the book launch for Paul Flynn’s latest book How to be an MP. It was, people think, the first book launch held in the Speaker’s House, and was introduced by the Speaker, John Bercow.  I think I was invited to speak because, a few months ago, when Paul Flynn was getting […]

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Who or what is ‘progressive’?

On 3 July 2012, I am hosting a one-day conference, exploring the contradictory and shifting meanings of the word ‘progressive’ in modern British history. Over the past few years, this has become a ubiquitous political word, with all three main parties vying to present themselves as the most progressive. All three have also drawn upon […]

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Happy Birthday, International Drug Control?

One hundred years ago today the International Opium Convention was signed at The Hague. The original 11 signatory countries agreed to introduce national legislation banning a particular menu of drugs, more for reasons of prejudice and economic vested interests than for their inherent danger. As a result, many drugs remained legal, notably tobacco and alcohol. Since […]

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Wrapping up Taiwan 2012

In the end, the result of the combined presidential and legislative elections looks like a comfortable and routine win for Ma Ying-jeou and the KMT. Sitting presidents who successfully steward an economy through a global crisis and reduce pressing security threats, seldom fail to be re-elected. Yet, those who have followed the campaign closely will […]

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Nick Clegg: more warm words on employee ownership?

In a recent speech in the City of London, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called for more firms to follow the example of John Lewis by making their employees shareholders in the company. This belief in employee ownership was, he said, a ‘touchstone’ of modern liberalism that he hoped to see become a central feature […]

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The 8th Legislative Yuan and the blue-green divide

The joint presidential and legislative elections in Taiwan are over and it is time to sum up the results. Without doubt, there will be plenty of opinions why the result turned out the way it did. The presidential election seemed to have overshadowed the legislative ones in terms of visibility, but the legislative elections were […]

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Experiencing the Taiwanese Campaign Rally

This is the second Taiwan Presidential election I have had the pleasure to observe on site. In 2008 I spend more than two weeks on the road and managed to watch rallies and election related events in Pingtung, Kaohisung, Tainan, Changhua, Taichung, Taoyuan and Taipei. This time my trip was shorter and the election observation […]

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What if Gordon Brown had called an election in 2007?

It is now more than four years since Gordon Brown decided not to have an election in late-2007. No election in post-war history has come so close to being called, only then not to happen.  Having allowed speculation about a possible contest to get out of hand, Brown baulked at the final hurdle, once shown […]

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