What next for Nigeria?

The Marina on Lagos Island in Nigeria's capital: the developed façade of a society undergoing profound change

Radios across Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city with a staggering 21 million people, are alive with fiery political debate, catchy political jingles and celebrity endorsements. Election fever has hit the city, and the entire country; albeit over a longer period than first imagined. The election was actually due to take place under the auspices of… Continue Reading ➤

Fourth past the post: what 2015 could mean for electoral reform

Credit: Ben Waters

With the general election now six weeks away, the political landscape of the United Kingdom could hardly seem more fractured. Divided between the establishment parties and the surging forces of UKIP, Green and SNP, it is seeming increasingly unlikely that the electorate will provide a clear winner on May 7th. This chaotic state of affairs… Continue Reading ➤

Brazil’s modernist dream

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Brasília, the capital of Brazil, emerges out of the country’s vast central plains like a modernist dream, with its sweeping concrete parabolas and blown open skies. Built in the late 1950s, it was the crown jewel of Brazil’s modernising project, which promised fifty years of development in five. Brasília now rises up as a spectre… 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 ➤

How John Key could win the election for David Cameron

The "smiling assassin" John Key meets then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Last month, buried deep in The Times (page eight or so), was a statement of audacious significance concerning a comparatively insignificant leader. Journalist Tim Montgomerie, covering a meeting between Prime Minister David Cameron and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, claimed that Key was the conservative leader who “is arguably Mr Cameron’s closest… 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 ➤

Can Tony Benn’s ideas still find a receptive audience?

Tony Benn at the Cambridge Union in 2012

Amidst complaints of growing disconnection from the public, Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats face the prospect of fighting a general election where voters will turn to the smaller ‘outsider’ parties in record numbers. Overshadowed by the already existing and bigger problem of low voter turnout, popular discourse is increasingly turning to the question… Continue Reading ➤

The Politics of the Politics of European Austerity

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in May 2014. Has the advent of the latter's European investment plan indicated a shift in the balance of power in Europe away from German austerity?

The situation in Greece is at breaking point. Local councils have no money and Orthodox churches are having to feed people that authorities cannot cope with. Meanwhile in Athens, the newly elected Syriza party are in a standoff with the European Central Bank as they try to restructure their debt. They promised Greek voters they would… Continue Reading ➤

Why Putin was right to annex Crimea

The Resurrection Church in the Crimean resort of Foros, commisioned by Russian 'Tea King' Alexander Kuznetsov

One year on, and we still keep hearing about the Russian annexation of Crimea. Doubtless the situation in Eastern Ukraine has continued to add fuel to the fire and keep the story in the press, but the media still concentrates a lot on the situation in the peninsula. Illegal as it may have been, however, there… Continue Reading ➤

Why outstanding women of achievement can inspire us all

"If we are strong and have faith in life and its richness of surprises and hold the rudder steadily in our hands, I am sure we will sail into quiet and pleasant waters for our old age" - Freya Stark

In mid-January, I had the honour of receiving an invitation from Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge to report on the ‘Women of Achievement’ lecture series organised in celebration of the College’s 50th anniversary. Once or twice a week, students, members of faculty, and guests all gathered in the Wood-Legh Room of Strathaird House – a beautifully… Continue Reading ➤