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Business and Society Politics

Sharon Shoesmith and ‘Accountability’

Sharon Shoesmith is accountable for the cruel and tragic death of Peter Connelly. Government ministers are accountable for serious events that occur in their area of responsibility. But what do we mean by accountability? Does it mean that we expect those in ultimate charge to immediately take poison or be summarily executed when things go […]

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Politics

Let’s AV it for the voters!

It’s the last week of the AV referendum campaign and time for the politicians to butt out and let the voters take over. In fact in this particular campaign they should always have been taking a back seat. We know their views, and they are not a surprise. Among MPs, if we assume there are […]

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Politics

My Definitive View of the AV Debate

I’ve written two previous pieces on particular aspects of the Alternative Vote (AV). Now that the referendum and date of 5th May are confirmed, I’ve put together a more comprehensive view of the debate and its current arguments. If anything I haven’t considered here comes up, I will try to address it. If you want […]

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Politics

A Brief Explanation of the Alternative Vote

A UK-wide referendum is scheduled for 5th May 2011 to determine whether there should be a change in the voting system for the UK (Westminster) Parliament. The choice will be between the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system, in which you give an ‘X’ to each listed candidate in a single round of voting […]

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Healthcare Politics

Some thoughts on drug policy

Former Home Office Minister under Labour, Bob Ainsworth MP, has ’embarrassed’ his party leadership by claiming that ‘prohibition isn’t helping [and] the ‘War on Drugs’ is failing’. I would think that one useful way of approaching the issue is to consider the balance of harms affecting drug users (who choose to use drugs) and non-drug […]

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Business and Society Economics Politics

Towards ‘Clever capitalism’

The lesson of the New Labour years that ended in the biggest global economic crisis since the 1930s is a simple one. ‘Shareholder value’ capitalism is a beast that cannot be made to serve social democratic purposes. By social democratic purposes, I mean those that see harm done to one citizen as harm done to […]

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Economics Healthcare Politics

NHS Reform – for Worse or for Better?

Published on Left Foot Forward on October 5th Under the coalition’s planned NHS reforms GPs could find themselves with a serious headache. Patients armed with detailed outcome data and on-line hospital reviews may enter a GP’s surgery demanding referral to a named specialist at a hospital in another part of the country. The patient-choice imperative […]

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Business and Society Economics Politics

Union Action Against the ‘Cuts’

This post was published on LabourList on 13th September 2010. The TUC conference starts today, and union leaders are declaring war on the coalition’s deficit-reduction strategy. Although some union leaders are talking about ‘civil disobedience’ campaigns and co-ordinated strikes, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber is taking a more cautious and constructive line. He wants a […]

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Philosophy Politics

Amartya Sen in Edinburgh

I had the chance to see the great economist and social philosopher Professor Amartya Sen at the Edinburgh Book Festival on the 29th of August. I use the word ‘see’ not to imply that I had a personal meeting with him, but because he actually said disappointingly little at the large public event in which […]

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Politics

Voting for AV

This post appeared on the Labour List website on 30th August 2010. There can be only one rational reason to vote against AV in next May’s referendum, and that is to undermine democratic government in Britain. This explains why ludicrous right-wingers such as Matthew Elliot and Lord Leach are in charge of the campaign for […]