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Immediate thoughts about the Paris attacks

November 14, 2015

A response to the November 13th attacks in Paris written in the immediate aftermath; it is apparent that the perpetrators were radical Islamists linked with Islamic State. I have a certain amount of difficulty trying to square my ideals of a tolerant, rational, multicultural, open society with the unhappy reality that such a thing is wide open to attack from those who don’t share such ideals. I don’t have answers, just thoughts and questions at the moment, some of which are here.

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Tax Credits – a lettter to my MP

October 28, 2015

Once again, I felt compelled (more specifically, I got a nagging email from 38 Degrees) to write to my MP about something. Here it is, for posterity. Particularly pleased with the use of “inveighing” and “awry”.

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Corbyn and the Overton Window

August 16, 2015

Far from the riotous spectacle of the Republican presidential candidate nomination fiasco lies the far more dismal spectacle of the Labour Party leadership election. It is unfortunate that we have to go through this but there was a disastrous misjudgement by the allegedly Great British Public at the general election, Ed Miliband resigned, and here we are.

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A few brief thoughts in advance of tonight’s Rebublican debate

August 6, 2015

In essence, the candidates will be making a pitch to the Republican “base” i.e. their core supporters, in the hope of getting nominated as the Republican candidate in US presidential election of 2016. The Republican base consists of three main elements:
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Multiple Shooting Atrocity I-Spy

June 18, 2015

Multiple shootings are as American as apple pie, Frasier, and disastrous foreign military interventions. But when one happens, how many of the following can you spot in the minutes, hours, days and months afterwards?

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My Manifesto

May 6, 2015

10 quick points, in no particular order:

  1. Privatised utilities brought back into public ownership – privatisation has made utilities less efficient, less accountable, and various shady businesspeople obscenely rich.
  2. An end to PFI as a sneaky way of getting stuff without paying the cost upfront. All that happens is that spivs and scoundrels make squillions from it. New hospitals, schools, infrastructure etc. to be paid for through taxation.
  3. Progressive taxation – top rate back up to 90p, and a massive crackdown on tax evasion and avoidance by both individuals and corporations. Anyone who mentions the Laffer curve to be given a thorough kicking.
  4. Massive government R&D investment in renewable energy and nuclear power (sorry, Greens, you’re wrong on that one). We should aim to be world leaders in technology for fighting climate change.
  5. Private sector and all the management crap out of the NHS. And schools. And the rest of the public sector. Happy for private sector to sell me fruit and veg, not happy for them to try to run a health service.
  6. A tax on multiple home ownership (possibly depending on the value of the home) that makes it financially disadvantageous to own more than one. Reduction or elimination of the rentier class – make them work for their money (owning stuff doesn’t count as working).
  7. An evidence-based approach to all Government policy where there is uncertainty about the best way to approach something – pilot projects, double-blind trials (where possible), results to be published.
  8. Pledge that if the Republicans contrive to win in 2016 we will have nothing to do with them – that will be the end of the “special relationship” until sanity returns to the White House.
  9. Openness and transparency in the negotiation of international trade deals (TTPP et al). Private companies can’t be allowed to wield greater power than elected governments.
  10. More benefits for the less well-off. We’ve had 30 years of wealth being transferred upwards – time to reverse the flow.

I might add more if / when they occur to me.

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The ghost of Margaret Thatcher wants to sell you a house

April 14, 2015

The Tories have decided that people should be allowed to buy councils should be forced to sell their council houses. Apparently this is because the idea of a “property owning democracy” makes them feel all fuzzy and happy. Here is why this is a terrible idea (from the point of view of the 99%, obviously – for the Tories’ natural constituency it’s a jolly good one).

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