A new political discourse: difference without mendacity and incivility?
During last week's Prime Minister's Questions, Michael Meacher, MP for Oldham West and Royton, asked the Prime Minister an entirely reasonable (and, it has to be said, foreseeable) question about inadequate levels of business investment. The reply was a disgrace.
Difference and misrepresentation: a reply to Nick Cohen
Consider these two excerpts: “Writing for the religious website Ekklesia, Jill Segger explained why good people must not show solidarity with ex-servicemen and women.” and “The brutalising experiences of combat lead many to harm themselves and others when they return to civilian life. These people deserve our compassion and support.”
Propaganda could be described as persuasion without morals. It has been a tool of power for centuries and in our own time, its use in inculcating a state of belief which is not in proportion to evidence, is most clearly seen in politicians' choice and use of slogans.
Lose your job, lose your home? An open letter to Iain Duncan Smith
Dear Iain Duncan Smith
I believe you live in a beautiful house – a 16th century Tudor farmhouse which belongs to your father-in-law. Perhaps you'll expect me to be angry or envious. But I'm not. It's natural for people to want to help their children and the more you have, the more you can give.
Rachel Reeves, Ian Katz and the value of seriousness
Last week, Newsnight editor Ian Katz mistakenly made public a Twitter comment intended to be private. In describing the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury as “boring, snoring Rachel Reeves”, he went beyond embarrassing himself and his programme, he pointed up a tendency which diminishes a great deal more than politics.
“The English the English the English are best, I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest”. It seems that the spirit of Flanders and Swann's 'Song of Patriotic Prejudice' took possession of David Cameron during the G20 meeting in St Petersburg last week. It is a pity he was not capable of sharing its tongue-in-cheek take on national braggadocio.
'What canst thou say?' Syria, cliche and creative non-violence
The World Council of Churches, the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Quakers in Britain and senior figures in the Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church have all spoken out in either condemnation or warning against military strikes on Syria.
Sniping at the holiday choices of politicians is a fixture of the Silly Season. Whatever they do, they lose. They are either self-indulgent and free-loading (Tony Blair) or grimly and self-consciously puritanical (Gordon Brown).
Wise monkeys or vicious beasts? Abuse, cruelty and free speech
Our animal natures are in a constant state of tension between the personal and the communal. We have instincts which drive us to gratify ourselves, to dominate for food, status and mates. And then we have the pull towards the good of the tribe, pack or troop and the protection and support it offers.