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Category: Campaigning

Hunger for change. The messed-up debate about free school meals

Hunger for change. The messed-up debate about free school meals

In the midst of this pandemic, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts. A few of us, led by Marcus Rashford, are endeavouring to provide the poor with some meat and drink. The government has decided for now to set its face against helping and…

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The Corbynite delusion about YouGov contributed to their defeat in 2019

The Corbynite delusion about YouGov contributed to their defeat in 2019

Team Corbyn learnt that Labour would lose the 2019 general election three months before a voter had gone to the polls. On September 22, the Sunday morning of the party’s annual conference in Brighton, John McDonnell walked with his wife, Cynthia, to a meeting room in the bowels of the Metropole hotel. What the shadow chancellor was about to find out would prove difficult to stomach. In the last days of August, Niall Sookoo, Labour’s director of elections, and Tim…

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Privileged lives matter: the British opponents of cancel culture and their very debatable motives

Privileged lives matter: the British opponents of cancel culture and their very debatable motives

Isn’t it a disgrace that you can’t express all your half-baked saloon bar prejudices without someone wanting to make a deal out of it? This is not the way that the self-declared opponents of cancel culture put their case of course, but then, they are being pretty incoherent. Let me help Sarah Vine and Adam Boulton, though both of them really should know better, being eminent political journalists and all that. A libertarian approach to this question would run as follows. Anyone could…

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Election Battlegrounds: Guzzledown

Election Battlegrounds: Guzzledown

Political Betting doesn’t often discuss exhibitions of 18th century art, but I can highly recommend the Hogarth exhibition currently showing at the commendably eccentric Soane Museum in London. It is a very rare opportunity to see in one place all of Hogarth’s masterly sequences of ‘Modern Moral Subjects’, including A Rake’s Progress, A Harlot’s Progress, and Marriage A-La-Mode. Most topical, though, is The Humours of an Election (1754-1755), depicting a (literally) hard-fought election in the two-member constituency of Guzzledown, Oxfordshire….

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The Midas touch. Living in a world of abundant knowledge

The Midas touch. Living in a world of abundant knowledge

In the middle ages, Timbuktu was fabulously wealthy. It controlled the gold trade and it had all the riches that you would expect from that. Mansa Musa, the sultan, had a fortune that you couldn’t dream away, you couldn’t wish away.   The sultan, as a good Muslim, performed the hajj, making the pilgrimage to Mecca. Being fabulously wealthy as well as a good Muslim, he travelled with a retinue of 60,000 men. All along the way, he gave gold to…

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Why there has to be trust in a complaints procedure for it to be effective

Why there has to be trust in a complaints procedure for it to be effective

It was barely 5 months ago that Dame Laura Cox issued her withering report on an entrenched culture within Parliament “cascading from the top down, of deference, subservience, acquiescence and silence, in which bullying and sexual harassment have been able to thrive and have long been tolerated and concealed.” Strong stuff. But despite token words of condemnation and promises to learn the lessons and implement the necessary changes, the report – let alone the promised actions – seem to have sunk…

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The persistence of lack of memory. How the state retirement age was changed and communicated

The persistence of lack of memory. How the state retirement age was changed and communicated

Old sins have long shadows. The equalisation of state pension age was first mooted in the early 1990s and was enacted in 1995. Yet it remains controversial now. The action group WASPI campaigned in the last general election and that campaign arguably made the difference in some marginals.  Theresa May might conceivably have got an overall majority if it had not been for their efforts and the whole course of Britain’s departure from the EU, among other things, might have been radically different….

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Men of Honour?

Men of Honour?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJxxQM7GxJA In Peter Hennessey’s Reflections radio series, Margaret Beckett was asked why she abandoned the Catholic faith of her childhood.  The event which crystallised her disenchantment was John Freeman asking Cardinal Heenan what one word summed up the Church.  Margaret waited, expecting something like “charity”or “love”. The Cardinal’s answer was “Authority”. Perhaps not a surprising answer for an institution long steeped in hierarchy and an acute sense of its own magisterium.  But in light of the revelations over recent years of…

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