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Reality strikes for Obama?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

There is great briefing in this week’s Economist on the new President

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The West Wing way in

Monday, March 30, 2009

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How one of this blogger’s favourite TV shows may help with revision

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A new spin on PM power

Saturday, March 28, 2009

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Students have to go the extra mile to impress examiners on this highly popular topic

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G20 heads up

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The G20 summit in London on 2 April is likely to attract widespread protest

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The wrong of rights?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An important topic for discussion if you are looking at civil liberties, the judiciary, or constitutional reform

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The politics of nudge

Professor Richard Thaler was on great form last night during his lecture at the LSE

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Pension Envy

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Civil Service is under attack again, this time from sections of the media and independent commentators. Their target is the security of pensions that public-sector workers currently enjoy. I suppose this is not surprising really in the current economic climate where envious glances are cast at anyone who still seems to be relatively untouched by the recession.

The main point of consternation is over the level of support given by taxpayers towards these pensions. The alternatives, however, appear to be somewhat flawed; for example, the current method of pension provision in the private-sector is certainly not a model to aspire to. It is difficult to understand why public workers should have their pensions funded by profits in the financial markets rather than by taxation; I mean, this hasn’t exactly worked has it? There seems to be demands for public servants to share in the misery that is hitting others.

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A decade of devolution

My media Monday material is drawn from the rather excellent Total Politics magazine

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Obama: first and last

Saturday, March 21, 2009

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President Obama’s appearance on the Jay Leno show did not quite turn out as he hoped.

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Obamawatch continues

Thursday, March 19, 2009

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The US President’s powers are notoriously limited in the legislative sphere, so how does he get Congress to do his bidding?

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More promises of a bonfire of the quangos

An area not covered by some Politics courses is the issue of quangos.  These non departmental public bodies are a source of great controversy since they are unelected and therefore unaccountable, and spend a great deal of public money.

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Yes, minister?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

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When I read the headline to this story in today’s Indy I was expecting a tale of government will being frustrated by administrative won’t.  Reading the article I was disappointed to find that there was little evidence of senior mandarins deliberately frustrating government ministers.  But it does serve as a useful piece on the role of a minster - a frequently confusing area for students of UK Politics.

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Fancy a debt of £32,000?

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A controversial report by a bunch of university chiefs has stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy on student funding.

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Rawnsley again

Sunday, March 15, 2009

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This article will probably form the basis of my Media Monday session this week, unless I come across anything on the web between now and then.  Of course, students covering UK Issues or Ideologies at A2 will have loads to discuss on the recent attacks in Northern Ireland by Irish nationalists.

Rawnsley’s article is ostensibly about the Tory leader, but acts as a useful primer on PM/Cabinet relations during the Blair and Brown premierships.

Gordomania?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

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There’s a short report in the Evening Standard tonight about Gordon Brown giving his stamp of authority to proposals the Labour Party is considering which are designed to usher in a new era of party politics.  With party membership in long term decline (although there has been a slight blip upwards for the Tories since David Cameron became leader) parties are considering new ways of connecting to supporters who may help out with campaigning.

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A new Lib-Lab pact?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

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Students quite often give me quizzical looks when they see me ploughing through newspapers, scissors at the ready.  Quite simply I am looking for those nuggets of information that will hopefully find their way into a new first past the post article, or one of the tutor2u revision guides.  Here are details of one I filed this morning, which is a corker.  Vernon Bogdanor, one of the most respected authorities on British politics penned an article in The Times last week postulating the idea of a new coalition between a Brown led Labour Party and Lib-Dem rump led by Nick Clegg.  Fantasy politics?

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Question Time - 8 March 2009

Sunday, March 08, 2009

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Here is the latest edition of Question Time, the weekly quiz for politics students

Access interactive version of Question Time - 8 March 2009

Download printable (pdf) version

Politics X Factor

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I’ve chosen this story as my backup for discussion for my Media Monday sessions, presuming perhaps that students may come prepared with stories about events in Ulster.

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The Comeback Kid

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As we are about to start on the Core Executive and the role of Cabinet Ministers, I thought it would be an opportune moment to look at the latest governmental incarnation of Peter Mandelson.

Now a Lord, with the title Baron Mandelson of Foy, the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform still to me embodies the essence of the New Labour ‘project’. The era of ‘on message’, ‘spin’ and pagers with messages telling interviewees what to say originated under the strict dominance of the Labour hierarchy from 1994 of which Mandelson was an integral part. Indeed, he was the co-author of The Blair Revolution alongside Roger Liddle.  This book outlined why and how Labour under Blair would transform traditional party politics and was revisited in 2004 with a new, and updated, edition.

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Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

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The front page of the Guardian presents a quite shocking report about police routinely engaging in surveillance of protestors and journalists, then uploading this information onto a searchable database.

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Larry Sabato

Thursday, March 05, 2009
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I attended an absolutely excellent lecture last night by Larry Sabato, Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia.

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Devolution turns to drink

Wednesday, March 04, 2009
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This story may appear elsewhere on the tutor2u website, but the politics of it are what we are concerned with here.  I have written previously about how Scotland has poughed a tartan furrow in a number of social and welfare policy areas (tuition fees, care for the elderly, etc) and this week the Scottish government laid out radical plans to tackle alcohol abuse.

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UKIP in the spotlight

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

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Its not often you see UKIP getting much press coverage these days, so its good to see a reasonably detailed piece in the Inde today.  Click here for the article.  The basic assertion in the piece is that UKIP are electorally insignificant at 1-2% of the popular vote and that they will struggle to hang-on to their previous level of support in European elections. Certainly the in-fighting of recent times hasn’t done them any good.

Reclaiming liberties?

Sunday, March 01, 2009
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The pick of the weekend’s press coverage of the latest developments in British politics has to be the focus on rights and liberties.  The current government has shown something of a split personality when it comes to civil rights.  On the one hand it has passed the Human Rights Act, but on the other has passed a raft of legislation that has been used to (deliberately or not) severely curtail liberties.  Of course, the Tories before them were not exactly guilt free.  Here we could think of death on the rock, union bans at GCHQ, Spycatcher, banning illegal raves (identified as events where “music with a repetitive beat” is played).  But people from across the political spectrum (except Labour ministers) have expressed grave concerns about erosion of rights and liberties that took years of effort to establish have been swept away by government since 1997.  This weekend a series of events launched by the Convention on Modern Liberty took place throughout the UK.  According to the Observer, the event was the biggest convention on civil liberties ever held in Britain.  Is this a sign that people are no longer satisfied to watch us sleepwalking towards a police state?

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Question Time - 1 March 2009

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The latest edition of Question Time is here:

Launch interactive version of Question Time

Download printable (pdf) version, including answers


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