Are our MP’s too open to powerful vested interests?

Catching MPs with their hands in the till might be becoming a bit of a pastime for circulation-hungry newspaper editors, except that in exposing Jack Straw and Malcolm Rifkind for discussing consultancy work with a fictitious Chinese company in a sting operation, perhaps what’s really happened is that the Daily Telegraph have again drawn attention to something most MPs do to supplement their income. It has however become a sore … Read more

Is surveillance a threat to human rights in the UK?

The 800th anniversary of Magna Carta is 2015 and it provides a useful time to reflect on the balance between human rights and state power, especially in the light of the Snowden revelations of state surveillance through the internet, mobile phones and other technology. How strong are our rights as compared with the needs of the state to maintain security and public safety and its other responsibilities? Are democracies succeeding … Read more

How the Ukraine conflict requires mature statesmanship

The collapse in relations between the West and Russia over the Ukraine conflict reads like a textbook example of how nation states get sucked into a conflict which creates its own dynamic from which neither side seem able to extricate themselves. It makes a fascinating case study were it not also that the consequences of a false step would be lethal. It is ironic that this is happening in the … Read more

Is press freedom at risk from commercial interests?

Readers of The Daily Telegraph will have awoken this morning to find that their chief political journalist Peter Oborne has resigned in protest at what he regards as editorial subservience to commercial interest and to the owners, the Barclay Brothers, over under-reporting of the Swiss HSBC scandal. He says that there was a concern that the paper would lose vital advertising revenue and thus journalistic freedom, the truth and press … Read more

Is the moral compass of today’s politics too weak?

It’s something many “secular” minded people might resent, but it’s very refreshing to have a warning from the Church of England that today’s politics is setting people against one another and scapegoating vulnerable groups. It is being said that politicians are deficient in their moral compass. People might not like having religious groups commenting on the political arena, especially as there is such a marked trend away from traditional religious … Read more

Is there excessive influence by the wealthy and powerful?

We’ve had a week of negative reports about tax avoidance by wealthy individuals through Swiss HSBC accounts and large donations to the Tories by City of London and Mayfair people, particularly the latter in hedge funds. It raises several issues for the student of politics. Setting aside the question of the rules governing taxation and how they are enforced, we can look here at the funding of political parties and … Read more

Why the British obsession with Brexit from the EU?

A curious aspect of current British politics is the huge amount of energy being invested on the Eurosceptic right about holding a referendum on Brexit, on Britain leaving the EU (formerly the EEC). Yet, public opinion seems remarkably disinterested. The issue has potentially massive implications for the economy and Britain’s future role in the world, and yet it is hardly being discussed so far in the long election campaign of … Read more

Insurgency politics is all the rage

Both in the UK and across Europe the angry reaction to the years of austerity has produced new political forces both on the right and left, insurgency politics in the form of populist movements that threaten the old cosy status quo of established political parties. As such they are disturbing the traditional ways of doing things and threatening to upset the electoral applecart in several countries in 2015. In Britain, … Read more

A UK political system in crisis

Today UK politics is confronted by the challenge of the breakdown of the two-party system and is struggling to come up with behaviours to deal with the new reality. A UK political system predicated on the First Past The Post electoral system and the long-term historical dominance by two main nationwide parties is arguably ill-equipped to respond to a multi-party situation, made more complex by a trend towards nationalist parties … Read more