Immigration: pride over our policy, the importance of words…and a mea culpa

A little while ago I was incensed with being bombarded day and night by media stories about Cameron and negotiations about benefits for EU migrants. This is a blog, at the end of the day (good blogging term there), so I blogged about it. What came out was a knee-jerk rant (“Migrants’ benefits debate is a proxy channel for xenophobia in some quarters” (the last three words being added after publication)). Some of the best blogging is based on knee-jerk rants. Not this time. On this occasion I should have been a little more careful with my words.

In the end, I raised the white flag in the ensuing debate and modified my article to emphasise that I was only talking about xenophobia “in some quarters” and that “I acknowledge that many have genuine and sincere concerns about this policy area for legitimate reasons.” Continue reading

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Has unleaded petrol reduced violent crime?

I thoroughly recommend buying and reading the “Big Issue“. It carries a very attractive and eclectic range of articles. One of its features is “My Pitch”, where the story of a Big Issue seller is related. I find myself reading this feature first – it is always fascinating and heart-warming.

I’m now going to raise a topic which was mentioned in “Big Issue” this week in a curious way. Their “Focus” piece was a Q&A with Neil Dudgeon (any relation to Guy Dudgeon who produced “Space Oddity”?-ed).

Who is Neil Dudgeon? – I hear you cry. Continue reading

20th century support for eugenics by Churchill, Beveridge, Keynes etc – what to make of it?

This week, a couple of LDV commenters mentioned the support of eugenics by Beveridge and Keynes in the 1930s and early 1940s. Such support was widely shared by members of the Fabian society and notables such as George Bernard Shaw, Marie Stopes, Harold Laski – even Winston Churchill (earlier in the 20th century).

Debate of this point was not possible on unrelated threads this week, so this article is posted to allow discussion of this interesting, and somewhat disturbing, historic phenomenon. Continue reading

Tide

‘Time and tide wait for no man’
It comes. It goes.
There’s only three things certain in life:
Death, taxes and “Farming Today”
Moonlight. Jupiter. Mars.
We eat. We drink.
We “get on with it”
We make the best fist of things
We come amidst a blaze of glory
Then we go

It’s that simple
Complexity doesn’t help

Cheers old friend!
“Good health!”

Is there a chance that the new Top Gear will be very entertaining but not (borderline) offensive?


The list of past Top Gear controversies is long. There have been allegations of homophobia and criticism of the mockery of Argentines, Mexicans, Germans and Romanians.

I have great respect for Jeremy Clarkson as a motoring and general writer. But he presents a persona to the public which teeters on the brink of controversy and often falls over the edge. Continue reading

Assange: From Townsville to Knightsbridge via Cloud Cuckoo Land

In Evelyn Waugh’s “Handful of Dust”, the fortunate owner of a fantastic Gothic English country pile, Tony Last, has an idyllic life which is gradually brought crashing down by a series of unfortunate events including betrayal by his wife. He ends the book trapped as a prisoner in the Brazilian jungle – the plaything of an insane tribal chief – having to continually read Charles Dickens’ “Little Dorrit” to the inhabitants. Continue reading