curiosity about the ways of the world

Category: Politics (Page 2 of 8)

Failing boys at school, failing society

The education system is failing white working class boys. It’s not news and it’s not peculiar to the UK – different studies across the wider world have been saying it in academic language for a long time. But Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, made new headlines with her clearly expressed views this week. Continue reading

The revolutionary power of simple pleasures

What kind of times are they, when

A talk about trees is almost a crime

Because it implies silence about so many horrors

Bertolt Brecht

A catalogue in the post. Not so very long ago that would have brought a promise of armchair gardening. Happy hours leafing through pages of plants I was unlikely to grow, winter evenings plotting summer crops; neat rows of common garden stuff in exotic colours: purple beans, black carrots, blue potatoes. I’d mark the pages diligently and forget to send my order until it was almost too late to sow the seeds. Continue reading

Shoulder to shoulder: head to head

On foot, squeezed into cars, standing in vans, riding pillion, pedalling on cycles, swarming citywards by every road and route, London came yesterday morning doggedly and cheerfully to work.

Plucky Londoners. It sounds very familiar. I can almost hear the voice of Boris undermining the effect of a public transport strike any 21st century day of the week. In fact it’s on the front page of The British Gazette, the government newspaper rustled up during the General Strike of 1926. Continue reading

Scotland needs jesters

Looking up at the Gift Horse skeleton sculpture by Hans Haake

Gift Horse by Hans Haake on the Fourth Plinth: could Scotland risk such public art?

I looked a Gift Horse in the mouth. Or, to be more accurate, I joined the tourists in Trafalgar Square snapping pictures of the latest sculpture occupying the Fourth Plinth. After a day in the Houses of Parliament the Tory ‘long term economic plan’ sprang to mind as I admired the skeleton; bronze bones stark and bold against a cold spring sky.

This first appeared in Sceptical Scot, a new online magazine asking awkward questions about life in Scotland. 

Continue reading

Ad neverendum?

Two grenades top the entrance posts to Little Sparta, Ian Hamilton Finlays garden in the Scottish borders

Retreat or attack? Welcome to Little Sparta

I loiter in the garden and find myself longing for this election campaign to end. And I’m not alone. Over the last few days I’ve been meeting people – politicians, academics and ordinary voters like me – desperate to see the end of #GE2015, as the Twitter hashtags identify this unseemly mess. Continue reading

Can democracy deliver in time for climate change?

Is the NHS equipped to deal with floods, gales and heatwaves of extreme weather?  A deadly serious question is posed in a quiet corner of the Houses of Parliament.  While the media fulminates in a flash storm conjured by David Cameron during Prime Ministers Questions, the Environmental Audit Select Committee contemplates a more fearful threat than Ed Milliband ‘crawling to power on Alex Salmond’s coat tails’. Continue reading

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