Posts tagged with ‘politics’

Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson

Of course no non-fiction book these days is published without a subtitle; this one is Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World. It is a book with a particular argument to make, that tax havens are a Bad Thing. And it does a good job of making it engaging and readable, considering […]

Decline & Fall by Chris Mullin

Decline & Fall is the second volume of Mullin’s diaries, which I bought on a whim to read on my phone without having read the first volume. The first volume was about life as a junior minister in Tony Blair’s government; this one starts with him being sacked after the 2005 election, and so is […]

Egypt, Libya, foreign policy and honesty

I have been following events in north Africa closely, both via the usual media outlets and Twitter (see, for example, Andy Carvin’s one-man newswire for all the latest rumours swirling around). But I haven’t said much about it on this blog because, well, it’s a complicated subject of which I am ignorant. It has often […]

Yes to AV.

Just a quick pointer to a couple of my blog posts from last year’s election: ‘First Past The Post makes politicians lie to us’. And the follow-up: ‘FPTP makes politicians lie to us (hypocrisy update)’. I would actually favour some kind of proportional representation — this one seems quite ingenious — but at least AV would […]

Egypt joke

A joke I heard a few years ago, can’t remember where: Three agents are drinking in a bar, from the CIA, Mossad and the Egyptian secret police. After a few beers, they all start boasting about their tracking skills, and have a bet to see who can be quickest to head out into the desert […]

More thinking about Wikileaks

One interesting thing I’ve noticed since Wikileaks exploded out of its relative obscurity: I keep finding myself of things which I wish someone would leak to them. So, after FIFA awarded the World Cup to Russia and Qatar in what is widely asumed to be a more-or-less bent bidding process, I thought ‘there must be […]

Thinking out loud about Wikileaks

I’ve been feeling a bit ambivalent about the latest Wikileaks kerfuffle — not an unusual reaction, I suspect. Because I don’t think there’s anything inherently sinister or unreasonable about the fact that diplomats want to be able to say things in private that they wouldn’t say in public. And quite apart from the Swedish sexual assault […]

The chill wind of austerity

Gosh, it’s been a depressing week in British politics. Austerity is such a grey, foggy, Victorian sort of word. They’ll be talking about retrenchment next. And you don’t have to be an expert in the fine details of the budget to realise that there’s no way the government can cut total spending by 20% without […]

Horsetrading and backroom deals?

We’ve heard a lot in the last fortnight about horsetrading and haggling among our politicians, and some commentators profess to be deeply offended by it all. But surely negotiation and compromise is how policy is always arrived at: it’s just not usually so obvious. Even within a normal single-party majority government, there must be disagreements […]

Election debrief

Going in to this election, it became clear that whoever was in government would have to raise taxes and cut spending, but no politician was willing to spell out the details. So the best we voters could hope for was a government which shared our priorities when making those decisions. On that basis, the result […]

Why I like STV

I’ve been mulling over the various flavours of voting reform available and I’m most tempted by Single Transferable Vote — which is, as it happens, also the system favoured by the Lib Dems at the moment, although that’s not particularly why I like it. No, what I like about it is that it allows you to […]

Voted.

Well, I voted Lib-Dem, for several reasons but not least because the higher their share of the national vote, the stronger the case for voting reform. If a split centre-left vote results in the Tories winning this constituency, I will be kicking myself, but it probably won’t happen here. And the fact I had to […]

FPTP makes politicians lie to us (hypocrisy update)

Yet another leaflet through the door, this one from the Conservatives, folded so that on one side it says, in great big shouty letters: Honest Politics? on the other side, it quotes the Lib Dem leaflet as saying “Only the Lib Dems can beat Labour here…” with a big arrow pointing at the quote and […]

First Past The Post makes politicians lie to us

Here are some direct quotes from leaflets delivered in this constituency: Labour leaflets: ‘Only Labour can keep the Tories out here’ ‘It’s a straight choice between Labour and the Tories round here’ Lib Dem leaflet: ‘Only the Lib Dems can beat Labour here’ Conservative leaflet: ‘Only the Conservatives can beat Labour here’ All of them accompanied […]

A permanent swing to the Lib Dems?

There’s a post over at FiveThirtyEight suggesting, basically, that since first past the post tends to lock us into a two-party system, the Lib Dems could take the pragmatic (i.e. deeply cynical) decision to quietly drop the issue of voting reform and instead concentrate on cementing a place as the major left wing party in […]

More on voting reform

I think this statistic is very telling (from ten days ago, so the exact number has probably changed… but the point stands): The Lib Dems climbed to a high of 33% in the voting intention polls this week, and it seems that this figure could be higher if Clegg’s party were perceived by the majority […]

#bigotgate & proportional representation

Two passing observations on the election. Firstly, on Gordon Brown’s little faux pas today. Clearly being caught describing a voter as ‘a bigoted woman’ makes him look like an idiot, especially since she hadn’t actually said anything especially bigoted. On the other hand, I’m curious about the ethics of the news organisations using a recording […]

Interesting idea in BNP manifesto

I never thought I’d find a thought-provoking idea in the BNP manifesto — it’s not a party of deep, lucid or original thinkers — but I did think this was, if not a good idea, at least an intriguing one: 30. Outlaw the conducting or publication of opinion polls in the last three weeks of […]

Links

Which Queen? Which speech? Who cares? | Daniel Finkelstein – Times Online Interesting piece by Danny Finkelstein about just how little attention the voters are paying to politics, most of the time: 'In his invaluable book on the last election campaign, Smell the Coffee, Michael Ashcroft provides the result of polling he commissioned to track […]

A passing thought on the Nutt business

Politicians are always quick enough to invoke ‘scientific advice’ when they want to deflect responsibility for an unpopular policy decision, like the availability of different treatments on the NHS, or the mass slaughter of animals during a foot and mouth outbreak. And as long as they actually are acting on good scientific advice, fair enough. […]

Echoes from the Dead Zone by Yiannis Papadakis

Yiannis Papadakis is a Greek Cypriot anthropologist, and Echoes from the Dead Zone is based on his fieldwork in Turkey and on both sides of the Green Line in Cyprus. he investigates the different attitudes of people on each side of the conflict, and in the process has to confront all his own prejudices from growing […]

Let them eat farls

More gloomy news from Northern Ireland. I can’t tell you how depressing it was a few weeks ago to be woken by Radio 4 reporting on the terrorist attack that killed two soldiers in Northern Ireland. Because really, if you’d asked me to pick one unambiguously good news story from my time on earth, I’d have said the ending of […]

Some names for IRA splinter groups

Funereal IRA Eel IRA Ambiguity IRA Frivolity IRA Campanology IRA Imbecility IRA Diagonal IRA Confessional IRA Digressional IRA Irish Rational Divination Army Irish Fashionable Celebration Army Wiry Publican Calibration Army Fiery Snatching Lubrication Sarnie