March, 2008

Can Labour challenge society’s confusion between wants and needs?

  |  27 March 2008

In opposition, a party has two functions: to critically scrutinise the government; and to develop and communicate its own ideas and philosophy to offer an alternative vision of how the country should be run. Fulfilling the first of these functions is now relatively straightforward for the Scottish Labour party, as community groups across the country are becoming steadily more vocal about budget cuts and their impact on services, and with the SNP's plans to introduce an expensive, unwieldy and unjust local income tax, it appears the only problem these days in criticising the government is the number of hours in the day.  

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Pastor Wright’s ‘Amerika’ and Barack Obama’s America

  |  27 March 2008

The hate-filled opinions of Pastor Wright are an expression of a new political ideology that is gaining influence in the academy, media and politics: ‘post-leftism' (a term coined by Andy Markovits and Gabe Brahm writing in Democratiya). The post-leftist Noam Chomsky says ‘America is the greatest terrorist state'. Pastor Wright preaches that ‘America is the number one killer in the world.'

Post-leftist Joe Faegin, a former president of the American Sociological Association, calls America ‘a total racist society' and believes ‘the white-racist mind is the basic problem on campus and in society'. Pastor Wright preaches against the ‘US of KKKA' and claims that America ‘believes in white supremacy and black inferiority ... more than we believe in God.'

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Labour must do more to encourage community participation among its members

Richard Angell  |  26 March 2008

I have recently received the honour of being invited to join the governing body of a school based in the heart of Lambeth. I was pleasantly surprised at my first meeting that I was one of about four or five under 30 and wondered how representative this was on the sector more widely. The uniqueness of my situation will not amaze anyone. I have long been an advocate young people becoming governors, especially current students in secondary school. I am proud that the Labour-led Welsh assembly government has pioneered requiring every secondary school to have two pupils on their governing body. If only Westminster would follow suit.

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Servants of the people?

Ivan Lewis MP  |  26 March 2008

We must show we're on the side of ordinary people if Labour is to win again

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Fifth Global Day for Darfur

Michael Farquhar  |  26 March 2008

Recent developments show why our protests are as important as ever

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Fait accompli

Kate Green MP  |  20 March 2008

John Hutton’s philosophy may become self-fulfilling. It needn’t

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Primo Levi and the military covenant

  |  20 March 2008

The young Primo Levi was tormented at the thought of picking up a gun and killing another human being. His biographer Carole Angier writes of his ‘deep horror of violence'. But in 1943, he would ‘resist his instincts and make a moral choice to accept the necessity of killing' by joining the anti-Nazi resistance. After weeks of agonising Levi came to the painful conclusion that his personal ethic of non-violence was inadequate to his times. By joining the Justice and Liberty partisans he resolved a tension between what the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr famously called ‘moral man' and ‘immoral society'.

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The monarchy is progressive: but how best to celebrate this?

Nick Bent  |  19 March 2008

The recent report from former Attorney General, Lord Goldsmith about British citizenship has been widely derided, principally for the suggestion that all teenagers should be encouraged to attend citizenship ceremonies and swear allegiance to the Queen. The idea that Britain's notoriously churlish teenagers, having just left school, might relish the idea of being cajoled into swearing allegiance to any authority figure is touchingly naive, and one cannot help wondering what the palace makes of it.

I'm all for encouraging new forms of ‘rites of passage' for young people, such as primary and secondary school graduation ceremonies, that recognise the contribution that our young people make to society and that celebrate the huge talent and potential they have: respect has to be a two-way street. However, the notion that the nation's teenagers should effectively be coerced into monarchism through a formal citizenship initiation ceremony is just not very British.

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To those who say local government doesn’t matter, compare Labour’s social justice agenda with the negligence of the Lib Dems

  |  19 March 2008

Councils are drawing up long-term plans for their area over the next decade and beyond. Known as the sustainable community strategy, the plans are agreed by all the partners in a local authority area - not just the council. In Lambeth, we're giving our strategy a very clear focus on tackling worklessness. So many of the challenges we face are rooted in poverty, and getting people into meaningful work is the best long-term solution. The urgency of this agenda was brought home to me by three simple facts:

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Clinton’s recovery is based on policies and pedigree – but will it be enough?

  |  18 March 2008

Many were expecting Hillary Clinton to fall short of the challenge set by her husband, and fail to win both the Ohio and Texas primary elections. That she won these contests, as well as Rhode Island, has again focused the US media on the significance of superdelegates. These senators, representatives, governors and former presidents (including Bill), who are likely to decide the Democratic nomination, are being courted day and night by the Obama and Clinton campaigns. Nearly half remain uncommitted. The key question in their minds: which candidate has the support and policy positions to beat John McCain?

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