This is the Way the World Ends

Photo: Wikipedia

As the Syrian conflict drags on, it becomes possible to speculate about how it might end.  As the first major conflict to emerge in a world context of universal communication and limitless reproduction of the stories and imagery of war, it has cemented itself in the imagination like no other conflict of recent times.  This… Continue Reading ➤

‘Vote Leave, take control’ – the misleading promise of the Brexiteers

Photo: Ken Mayer

The assertions of the ‘Leave’ campaign that an exit from the European Union would allow Britain to regain full control of its own borders, seize back decision making from Brussels, and ‘make Britain great again’, tied immigration control and national sovereignty in a manner that resonated with enough of the population to secure a victory… Continue Reading ➤

Why big business is better

The Business Secretary Vince Cable speaking at the Lib Dem party conference in 2011

Received wisdom tells us that small business is important. Political parties representing all shades of opinion clamber to show that they are the ones who have the interests of small businesses at heart, even if they have more mixed opinions of large corporations. The Conservatives describe small business as the “lifeblood of our economy”; Labour promise… Continue Reading ➤

Blasphemy, law and violence in Pakistan

Paul Bhatti (R), Pakistan's Minister for National Harmony, speaking at New York Encounter 2013 about his decision to continue the work of his assassinated brother Shahbaz Bhatti for universal religious freedom in Pakistan, despite threats to his life.

I was trained to believe that the law was a tool for social justice and positive change. As a law student, I viewed the law as a weapon to fight against oppression, marginalisation and discrimination. The reality, it seems, is very different. Like any other tool, the law can be manipulated into being used in… Continue Reading ➤

Western Sahara: An unreported imperialist outrage

Sahrawi refugees try to reconstruct their camp in Algeria after floods in 2006. Their was of life is on many levels destroyed

We are all familiar with the concept of self-determination: the idea that a group of people should be able to govern their own futures. Many cases of it being denied and subjugated are reported daily in the Western media. But the case of Western Sahara is not. Morocco’s illegal occupation of Western Sahara began in… Continue Reading ➤

The Lib Dems’ big problem: and how to solve it

A Lib Dem 'Facebook flashmob' in Trafalgar Square before the 2010 election, when Lib Dem fortunes were at their apex. But a failure to articulate a clear message is making this election battle significantly more difficult.

Becoming a Lib Dem was never a fashionable choice. But never in my lifetime has my party been as unpopular as it currently is. Much of the dissatisfaction arises from our decision to join – and, to some extent, our priorities during – a Coalition which our leader always said he was open to considering,… Continue Reading ➤

English: a global language, but a language nonetheless

A language laboratory in Huaihua College's Western Campus in Huaihua, Hunan, China. The rigid teaching of English in some Asian nations is hampering learners' abilities to make creative use of the language, thus harming cross-cultural communication

In the occasional but ever-growing English language fancies of South Korean TV, there is an instructional approach to answering the question “How are you?” A celebrity on a variety quiz show, a reporter interviewing an American musician or a TV character traveling through Sydney will answer all the same, verbatim, in a monotone, “I am… Continue Reading ➤

The Greens: unprincipled and incompetent?

Credit: Ben Waters

“They have fine ideals, they’re just very naïve.” So remarks a resident of Brighton & Hove about the Greens, the party running the local council. Even a cursory glance at how the authority has been managed since 2011 when the Greens took office reveals a great deal to support this view. They doubled parking charges… Continue Reading ➤

Playing politics: Do the numbers stack up?

Spot the George: Has the Budget merely become an exercise in political theatre?

As we approach the General Election in May, there will inevitably be a steady flurry of manifesto pledges and pre-election bribes from all of the major political parties. Just recently, Labour announced plans to cut tax relief for the wealthiest pensioners in order to fund a slash in university tuition fees by one-third. Add this… Continue Reading ➤

Misunderstanding the lessons from Charlie Hebdo

A pencil left by a Charlie Hebdo supporter in Place de la Bastille, Paris

January 7th, 2015. Chérif and Saïd Kouachi burst into the office of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing nine of its contributors. A few hours later, Anne Hidalgo, the Mayor of Paris, sends a tweet calling on the French population to “react to this act through a sacred union around the principles of the Republic”. … Twelve dead,… Continue Reading ➤