A radical new direction for the NUS?


The logic of a radical vision for democratic education is winning students over, writes James Elliott

NUSjOften defeated on policy debate after policy debate and used to seeing all their candidates taken apart in the elections, the NUS Left made some gains at this year’s National Conference, most stunning of all being the passing of free education for the first time since 2008.

Yet this was hardly a sweeping victory for the Left. The two leftwing presidential candidates, Daniel Cooper and Aaron Kiely, were crushed by incumbent Toni Pearce. The Left also lost important votes on a national demonstration, campaigning for rents to be capped, and for universities to operate zero-hour free zones. Read More »

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Peter Oborne’s latest Syria dispatch is a disgrace


Peter Oborne’s latest dispatch reads like George Bernard Shaw on Stalin’s Russia

Assad nc jThe humanitarian disaster that engulfs Syria continues to be an object of media fascination. Journalists in the West, whose families are not threatened by government militias or gangs of jihadis, postulate and probe the situation from a distance.

The impetus for intervention has passed, and so the media consensus, ever fluid to the needs and wants of readers, has shifted. Now newspapers seem to be content to gawk at the hideous and seemingly unsolvable violence, and commentators are happy to broadcast the comforting inanity that we were right to stay out of the conflict. Read More »

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Government citing out of date figures in attempt to wriggle out of food bank shame


The government is citing out of date figures in an attempt to wriggle out of its food bank shame, writes James Bloodworth

Food banks imagejThe government (facilitated by the Daily Mail) has gone on the attack today in light of yesterday’s report by the Trussell Trust that almost a million people had visited a food bank in the past year.

It would appear that a senior government source is briefing against food banks while safely behind a veil of anonymity.

“…senior figures in the government yesterday accused the Trust of ‘publicity seeking’ to benefit its own ‘business’, pointing out that the growing number of food banks inevitably leads to people seeking out free food if it is available,” as the Mail reports.

The supposed coup de grace is OECD data, cited repeatedly by the government in interviews with the media yesterday (here, here, here and here), which apparently shows that food poverty in the UK is going down, rather than increasing. Read More »

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Pause for the persecuted this Easter


This weekend, Christians around the world, myself included, will celebrate Easter, the most central event to our faith.

Christian cross ncjAt the heart of the Easter message is a message of love and of hope. Read More »

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Religiously selective schools criticised by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner


A new report by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) has criticised religiously selective faith schools over their complex admissions rules, and has called on the Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) to clarify which admissions procedures are allowed under the law. Read More »

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Debt is still the problem in this cost of living crisis


Debt, rather than earnings, is being used to cover living costs, writes Carl Packman

Kerry CatonajThe UK at long last has had a spate of good news stories about its finances: inflation has fallen, unemployment is down to a five year low of 22m, and on top of that some recent Resolution Foundation research has found that though an increasing number of the workforce are self-employed, the majority of them are content with this for now (the important words being for now).

However sadly there is a ‘but’. While this is all good news on the whole we do still have to ask ourselves whether we feel better off. As Shabana Mahmood MP said in her eloquent discussion with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight last night “people don’t live their lives on a graph”.  Read More »

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If we measure inflation by the RPI, real pay is still falling


If we measure inflation by the Retail Price Index – far more commonly used than CPI in pay bargaining – real pay is still falling, writes Richard Exell

The latest labour market statistics are positive, continuing an improving trend that began a year and a half ago. The headline figures are here.

Job Centre2jThese figures are going to be politically significant. I’ll leave the party-political aspect to the politicians, but we do need to worry about the calls we’re going to hear for higher interest rates.

The unemployment rate is now below the Bank of England’s 7 per cent threshold and earnings slightly above the Consumer Price Index in the latest inflation data. The argument will be that we need to “head off” inflationary pressures by raising the Bank Rate. Read More »

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Cost of living crisis over? Three things the Tory press won’t tell you this week


Recovery. What recovery? asks James Bloodworth

George Osborne nc1jDon’t believe the hype – the living standards crisis if far from over.

Glancing at the papers this week, or turning on the television news, you’d be forgiven for thinking that most Britons are living in a land of milk and honey thanks to the sterling work of chancellor George Osborne. “Cost of living fears groundless,” declared yesterday’s Daily Mail, while according to Guido Fawkes, Labour’s continued emphasis on living standards is “hilarious“.

Their arguments rest on a number of statistical releases that have come out this week – specifically inflation and jobs figures showing – which show that, after six long years, wages are finally catching up with inflation. Read More »

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Britain’s sharia councils and secular alternatives


sharia councils-1jThe secular legal system can uphold the rights of minority women forced to conform to patriarchal religious laws, writes Lejla Kuric

In a secular legal system, the right to hold religious beliefs is absolute. However, the right to manifest those religious beliefs is limited by the need to respect the autonomy and rights of others.

A religious or theocratic legal system, on the other hand, does not recognise such limitations – its notion of justice rests instead on the supremacy of its own revealed truths and the whims of the – invariably male – clerical authorities who interpret them. Read More »

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Villiers calls for new process to deal with Northern Ireland’s past


In a wide ranging speech to be delivered in Belfast today, Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers will call for a new process to address legacy issues, with a “proportionate focus on the wrongdoing of paramilitaries”.

Theresa VilliersjArguing that so far too great an emphasis has been placed on wrongdoing committed by the state, she will use the speech to explain: Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , | 3 Responses
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