Obama, Europe and Counter-terrorism

By Wyn Rees

Conventional wisdom tells us that a re-elected American President has a two-year window of opportunity in which to carry through his agenda before becoming a ‘lame duck’. Obama approaches that halfway stage and mid-term elections are sounding the end of his incumbency. So how will history judge him on the issue of counter-terrorism, that defined his predecessor? George Bush’s presidency was marred by wrangles with his transatlantic allies over the ‘War on Terror’, by Guantanamo Bay and by issues such as ‘extraordinary rendition’. When Obama came into office he promised to overcome the issues that had poisoned transatlantic cooperation and Europe greeted his administration with relief, hopeful that he would transform the relationship.

Continue reading


Have I Got News For You

By Philip Cowley

I have made it. I can rest easy now, having appeared (if fleetingly, and anonymously) on Friday night’s edition of Have I Got News For.

I was the author of this quote about Ed Miliband’s performance in any TV election debates, which was read out to much amusement.

The thing is: this is (or was meant to be) a pro-Miliband point. It came from an interview I’d done with Channel 4 News earlier in the week, most of which focussed on the debates in 2010 (although none of that made the eventual broadcast), but which also discussed the role expectations play in these events.  The point I was making is that Ed Miliband’s abilities are often under-estimated. This is the full quote (you can watch it in this package) is:

…people have such low expectations of Ed Miliband that when Ed Miliband comes on stage and doesn’t soil himself on camera and  actually presents a very coherent and articulate case, because whatever else you think about him he is a very coherent articulate person, that he will out perform expectations.

Continue reading

The enduring presence of the now parked ‘Go Home Van’

By Roda Madziva and Vivien Lowndes

Following our blog published on 10th February, which featured the ‘Go Home Van Campaign’ as ‘evidence’ of the deepening and expansion of the immigration enforcement regime, we have now conducted an empirical study with migrant support organizations, refused asylum seekers and those without legal leave to remain, generating their views on the impact of this high-profile campaign. Although it has been almost a year since the vans have been taken back to the garage, preliminary findings show that their presence continues to reverberate in the lives of many migrants. While the official withdrawal of these infamous mobile objects could have publicly marked the end of the campaign, many migrants have continued to experience violence and stigmatization in other forms and in different settings. In addition to the increasing community level checks and harassment of people suspected of having an irregular status, the migrants we interviewed cited reporting centres as hidden sites where people are consistently bombarded with the language of ‘Go Home’. Individuals are also being routinely searched and harassed, and having mobile phones with cameras being confiscated in order to ensure that what happens in these securely guarded places does not leak to the outside world.

Continue reading

North and South: ‘A little fierce incendiary’

By Vanessa Pupavac

‘Church and King, and down with the Rump!’ So toasts the aristocratic grandfather in Elizabeth Gaskell’s novel North and South. (http://books.wwnorton.com/books/North-and-South/ ) But Gaskell’s 1855 novel engages with building a modern industrial nation, and specifically rejects the political and social order embodied in the old Cavalier anti-parliamentary toast. Her engagement with the challenges posed by industrialisation has insights for today’s global North-South relations and their future direction. Consider the current civil unrest in Hong Kong (http://libcom.org/black-yellow-hk), or the growing strikes in China questioning the official representation of the harmonious society (https://www.jacobinmag.com/2012/08/china-in-revolt/). This month’s opening of the newly restored Elizabeth Gaskell House (http://www.elizabethgaskellhouse.co.uk/) is therefore a good time to open North and South to more readers. What is to be found there? Gaskell’s plot has strong parallels with Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, where a parson’s daughter from the South of England overcomes her prejudices towards a factory owner from the smoky industrial town of Milton in Darkshire.

Continue reading

The representation of women in politics, addressing the supply side: Public attitudes to job-sharing parliamentarians

By Philip Cowley Dr Rosie Campbell 

Job shares – in which two or more people working on a part-time basis share the same fulltime position – are an increasingly common form of employment. A 2012 BIS survey found that job-sharing was available to 43% of employees.  One group currently not able to job-share in the UK are elected politicians – but there are moves afoot to change this.

This new article (£), just published by the journal British Politics, sets out to see what the British electorate’s reaction to such arrangements might be. It finds no great support for the introduction of job-sharing candidates but nor does it detect overwhelming opposition. Just over a third of respondents were in favour of job sharing or said they would support job share candidates; just over a third took the opposing position; and around a quarter said that they did not know.

Continue reading