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Malheureusement, nous ne sommes pas tous Charlie 2: Rules of Engagement

by David Stevens and Kieron O’Hara

Last week in this blog, we argued that goods such as belonging and commitment were the chief drivers of extremist groups, alongside a rejection of mainstream thinking. In a book which appears next month, The Devil’s Long Tail, we claim that suppressing ideological messages in the hope of preventing radicalisation is simply not effective, as they are not the chief motivators of such people, and furthermore that the emergence of the web hasn’t changed this calculation.

Nevertheless, this kind of thinking pervades the anti-extremist drive. In the UK, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has just written to over 1,000 Islamic leaders to suggest that “There is a need to lay out more clearly than ever before what being a British Muslim means today: proud of your faith and proud of your country.” One assumes that a would-be jihadi might struggle to assent to this proposition – and if he or she heard it from an Imam at the local mosque, then he or she might well assume that this message was mere government propaganda.

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Revolt on the Right wins ‘Political Book of the Year’ award in the 2015 Paddypower Book Awards

A book co-written by a Nottingham academic has won the prestigious Political Book of the Year award in the Paddypower Political Book Awards 2015.

Revolt on the Right: Explaining Support for the Radical Right in Britain, by The University of Nottingham’s Dr Matthew Goodwin and Manchester’s Dr Rob Ford, was praised as ‘ground-breaking’ and ‘an essential and enjoyable reading’ by the judges.

The award-winning book beat off stiff competition from Alan Johnson, Luke Harding, Simon Danczuk and Matthew Baker, Anne de Courcy, Andrew Roberts and Chris Bryant.

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No Borders

By Natasha King

In 2014 a photograph taken by activist Jose Palazón, a member of the migrant rights group Asociación Pro Derechos de la Infancia, went viral. It shows a number of African migrants stuck on razor wire at the top of the fence that marks the border between the Spanish enclave of Meillia and the rest of Africa. While the migrants are stranded atop the wire, some golfers continue their game on a manicured course below.

The message of the photo is blunt: there is a gaping inequality between those living in Europe and those – generally poor, generally non-white – who are excluded from entry. Put simply, border controls are among the most obvious means that relatively wealthy states have of maintaining inequality.

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Malheureusement, nous ne sommes pas tous Charlie: Combating (Online) Radicalism

by David Stevens and Kieron O’Hara

The attacks by Islamist gunmen on the Parisian offices of Charlie Hebdo magazine and elsewhere have shocked the world, drawing attention away from ISIS and the Syria and Iraq conflicts, and back to the apparent enemy within. Europe’s wealthy, tolerant and secure democracies, the story goes, harbour a critical mass of dangerous people whose goal is the overthrow of its Enlightenment principles.

Following such a dreadful event, it is unsurprising that there are immediate calls for ‘something to be done’ about these radicals with their scant respect for human life or free speech. Nowhere does this seem more pressing than in the online world. The web is seen as a conduit for the radicalisation of the vulnerable, and governments around the world are scrabbling for ideas as to what to do to combat this menace.

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Endless procrastination makes Chilcot look like a waste of time and money

By Louise Kettle

The news that the publication of the findings of the official Iraq war inquiry is once again to be delayed has outraged MPs and the families of the soldiers involved. Familiar accusations of a whitewash and concerns over public confidence have already been raised. Now it is not only the content of the Chilcot report that must be questioned but also the delay itself. The continued procrastination undermines the very reason for the inquiry’s existence.

After the vast array of difficulties experienced throughout the Iraq War, the inquiry was set-up with one clear objective: to identify lessons for the future. Since 2009 the UK government has pumped more than £9m of taxpayers’ money into the inquiry in order to identify these lessons.

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The Enduring Relevance of Rosa Luxemburg

By Andreas Bieler 

The work of Rosa Luxemburg has received renewed attention in recent years. To celebrate the centenary anniversary of her seminal book The Accumulation of Capital in 2013, a collective of colleagues from within the Marxism Reading Group of the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice (CSSGJ) at Nottingham University have written the article ‘The Enduring Relevance of Rosa Luxemburg’s The Accumulation of Capital’, which has now been published online by the Journal of International Relations and Development. In this blog post, I will present some of the key findings of the article.

First published in 1913, The Accumulation of Capital represents Rosa Luxemburg’s quintessential contribution to Marxism and an exceptional, yet equally controversial, ‘modification’ to Marx’s original scheme of accumulation. Built on a cordial critique of Marx’s model of expanded reproduction, Luxemburg’s intervention offers not only a new framework to study capitalist economic development, but also a historical and political compass with which the expansion of capitalist social relations through colonialism and imperialism can be analysed.

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Russia’s ‘New Way of War’? Asymmetric warfare and the Ukraine Crisis

By Bettina Renz

As I argued in my previous blog entry, ‘Russia Resurgent?’, conclusions about Russia’s conventional military capabilities drawn from operations in Crimea and the subsequent armed conflict in East Ukraine should not be exaggerated. In terms of manpower, training and equipment Russia is likely to trail far behind NATO and advanced Western militaries for a long time to come. However, Russian military performance particularly in Crimea has also raised concerns in the West about its growing abilities to wage asymmetric warfare. A NATO Defence Committee Report entitled “Towards the Next Defence and Security Review: Part Two – NATO” and published in July 2014 concluded that Russia had developed ‘new and less conventional military techniques’ and asserted that its use of ‘these asymmetric tactics (sometimes described as unconventional, ambiguous or non-linear warfare)…represents the most immediate threat to its NATO neighbours and other NATO Member States’. In the same report, former Chief of Staff of the British Armed Forces, Lord Richards, cautioned that whilst NATO had significant military capabilities ‘there was every chance it could be defeated by asymmetric tactics’. The report recommended that NATO, in response to this challenge ‘create an Alliance doctrine for “ambiguous warfare” and make the case for investment in an Alliance asymmetric or “ambiguous warfare” capability’.

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Don’t hold your breath for the devolution revolution

By Alison Gardner

The Smith Commission’s recommendations towards ‘devo-max’ for Scotland have dragged the question of English devolution out of Whitehall’s cupboard of forgotten political options and thrust it blinking into the political spotlight.  English local authorities have seized this opportunity to lobby Parliament to move beyond the Westminster-centric debate of ‘English votes for English laws’ and decentralise key powers and funding streams to local authorities.

In 2011, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, promised a public service revolution built around the principles of “localism”.  However, local government academics, Jones and Stewart, found that the subsequent 2011 Localism Act contained multiple centralising powers, particularly in respect to finance.  By 2013 the English local government funding system was declared to be “broken” and in need of fundamental overhaul.   So what are the prospects for the current localist movement to reach beyond technical reforms to overturn the existing pattern of central-local relations?  Are there now favourable conditions for a ‘localism revolution’?

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UKIP: A flash-in-the-pan or a long-term insurgent?

By James Dennison, Matthew Goodwin and Caitlin Milazzo

New political parties, it was once said, can shoot up like a rocket but come down like a stick. Since its sharp rise from 2010 the UK Independence Party (Ukip) has been described in similar terms; a protest party that has captivated our attention but which is unlikely to remain on the political landscape.

Nigel Farage and Ukip might have won the European Parliament elections in May, and two parliamentary by-elections in Clacton and Rochester and Strood, but they do not have sufficient ‘staying power’ to remain as a significant political force. Thus one commentator concluded: ‘I doubt now that Ukip will ever establish itself as a serious force. There simply isn’t the time before the general election, and after the election everything will be different’.

But to what extent, if at all, is this true? With less than five months until the 2015 general election, is Ukip likely to fall out of the sky like a stick or might the party be attracting a more durable following?

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Not Love, Actually

By Philip Cowley 

Everyone knows that people don’t much like MPs. But spend any time around Westminster and you’ll hear a much-repeated caveat: whilst people don’t like MPs as a species, they quite like their MP. For politicians it’s a bit of a comfort blanket; after years of press and public hostility, they can reassure themselves that the animosity is nothing personal, that whilst other politicians may be disliked, they personally are OK. More than a few are banking on this helping them out come next May.

It’s only partially true, though.

There is a difference between how people view MPs in general and their own MP, but the difference is often exaggerated.

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