Peace I miss you

December 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

 

 

A collection of images from the Syrian Civil War. There are no heroes, these images detail the suffering and death ordinary citizens face every day.

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Every community needs a hero

June 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Community engagement is the buzz-word in government at the moment. Although news organisations have passed it by, David Cameron’s Big Society campaign is still an important part of government policy, effecting everything from housing policy to local elections. The Big Society seeks to shift ownership of community management from the state, to the general public. It is the friendly face of the Conservative’s suspicion of a large state capable of forcing its hands into the lives of every day people.

Strong communities are intrinsically valuable, they promote trust and mutual ownership. We English have a tendency to hark back to the ‘good old days’ where people watched out for one another. This discourse was dreamt up by newscasters looking for an emotive sign off, and historians seeking to appeal to the public mood, but it remains true that communities with a ‘village feel’ where divergent classes of people live alongside one another, are happier communities.

Big Society policy may have its values in the right place, but it will ultimately prove unable to realise its potential unless it recognises the importance of community leaders. Rather than absolving themselves of all responsibility and hoping that the community will pick up the slack, local governments ought to be identifying ‘Community Heroes’ who have the energy and enthusiasm to encourage apathetic residents to pick up a shovel and muck in.

Wards in the South West of Birmingham exemplify this issue. Follow the railway tracks south of New Street out of the city and you can see the stark effect committed individuals can have on a neighbourhood. On the one side you have Quinton and the Northern fringes of Selly Oak. Areas which have benefited tremendously from community engagement. Organisers linked to local government, or the Neighbourhood Watch have ensured that local problems are quickly dealt with. In Quinton Community Leaders were able to pressure a telephone company into dropping plans to erect a new mast. East of the line lies Selly Oak proper, a grotty little ward with zero upkeep and even less community engagement.

A high level of involvement isn’t for all, however local governments facing cuts ought to find creative ways to recruit and train new leaders able to take up the rains when council jobs are axed.

Latin America calls for new international drugs policy

April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

The regulation of drugs has joined climate change, terrorism and the financial system as a policy area which can only be dealt with through international institutions. States are notoriously inept when it comes to working together to solve these international problems. They tend to focus on their own domestic advantage, as they should, rather than look at the bigger picture. However, these problems are not going to go away and since states remain concerned with the goings on within their own borders the responsibility falls to international institutions to pick up where states leave off.

Today the Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina called for a new international agreement on the trafficking and sale of illegal drugs. Speaking at a summit in Cartagena, Colombia, the former intelligence officer turned president, made the case that international policy on the matter ought to favour greater liberalisation and regulation.  He stated that:

“”Our proposal as the Guatemalan government is to abandon any ideological consideration regarding drug policy (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach to drug regulation. Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that drug consumption and production should be legalised, but within certain limits and conditions.”

Whether it is greater or fewer regulations that are being discussed governments ought to foster a policy which promotes the involvement of international institutions. Without these they will be left with a fractured and broken set of domestic rules which cease at the borders of the state.

Labour still ahead but Lib Dems are real winners in the polls

February 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

The latest polls show labour is still just ahead of the Tories at 41% to 37%, however it’s the Lib Dems who are the unlikely winners in this race.

What Cameron’s actions over the last few weeks have shown is that he is desperate to keep the government together. He fears a Blair style reshuffle which would weaken his government and damage policy. It’s because of this fear that he was so quick to defend Lansley against attacks from Ed Miliband during PMQs.

In the latest poll race, the Lib Dems only just made it to the finish line, hobbling in with a mere 7%, whilst UKIP snapped at their heels on 6%. It was revealed this week the that the Lib Dems might be getting cold feet in the coalition. Those close to Cameron fear that they might walk out of the coalition agreement a year and a half before the 2015 election. This would leave Cameron without a majority in parliament, a situation which would effectively cripple his government.

If the Lib Dems continue to feel they are losing credibility in the coalition they could begin to make increasingly large demands on the Conservatives. This new found confidence could begin in the next few weeks as the two sides battle it out over the upcoming budget. Lib Dem heavyweight David Lewis is pushing for his £10,000 tax allowance and with the backing of Simon Hughes and Labour’s Ed Balls it is looking increasingly like a possibility.

This policy has united Hughes and Lewis who stand at opposing ends of the often muddled Lib Dem political spectrum. Hughes is the foremost social democrat in the party, whilst Lewis (who is the only Lib Dem not to oppose the Tories) has staunchly liberal economic views.

Hughes attacks Lansley as country turns against NHS bill

February 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today The Guardian news paper has reported that Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Lib Dems, has come out against Andrew Lansley saying that he should be replaced after the reform bill becomes law.

On the Andrew Marr show this morning he said “I’m clear we need to move on from this bill. My political judgment is that in the second half of parliament it would be better [for Lansley] to move on.”

Simultaneously a YouGuv poll has shown that the country is strongly against the bill. A poll for the Sunday Times shows that “only 18% of people said they supported the NHS reforms. It revealed that 48% opposed them, with 34% saying they were not sure.”

Labour ahead in the polls

February 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

The latest figures from YouGuv show Labour are ahead in the polls, but only just:

“Latest YouGov/Sun results 9th Feb CON 38%, LAB 41%, LD 9%; APP -20”

This could partly be because of the Tories NHS reforms and it could partly be down to their blustering over Europe. We’ll have to wait and see if this lead still remains during the council elections in late March. Read more.

The complete list of organisations against the Government’s NHS bill

February 9, 2012 § 9 Comments

There is no single list of every organisation against the Conservative’s NHS Reform bill which is currently making its way through parliament. The ICB decided to make one.

Here is the complete list of every professional body against the bill (so far):

This is a work in progress so please feel free to contribute amendments, links, and contributions in the comments.

Thanks in part go to whoever did this man’s grunt work

Mostly though, thanks go to everyone who has already contributed to this list.

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