Not quite red Ed

Labour Leader Ed Miliband MP Speaks At Progress Conference In London. by mass419

(c) mass419

Tom McGuire

When Ed Miliband took his place on the (curiously almost exclusively blue) platform to make his speech to the conference, there was a mutual understanding that it was time he delivered. A year on from his dramatic victory over his brother Ed Miliband is yet to convince the country that he is a Prime Minister in waiting. Nick Robinson was busy reminding BBC viewers that Margaret Thatcher took a long time to convince her party faithful, and indeed the country, before she seized the initiative so dramatically and speculating outlandishly that we could be about to see one of those moments. Read more of this post

Not easy, but right?

(c) Alex Folkes/Fishnik Photography

Tom McGuire

‘Not easy, but right.’ These were the buzzwords in Nick Clegg’s keynote speech to end the Liberal Democrat Conference in Birmingham on Wednesday afternoon. They underline the determined mood that has gripped his party of late, as they visibly gain confidence with time and experience in office.

There is no hint of an apology for what has happened but there was a stark admission that ‘no matter how hard you work on the details of a policy, it’s no good if the perception is wrong.’ This does not work well for a party previously accused of being unfit for government and not ready for power, it all makes Clegg seem hugely naïve. Read more of this post

No tax, no justice

(c) Images_of_Money

Adam Parsons is the editor of Share The World’s Resources

The issue of tax has never held such widespread public attention. Following the global financial crisis in 2008, tax issues that had been campaigned on at the margins for decades suddenly became the subject of high-level intergovernmental deliberations. Global tax regulation has turned into a priority in the G20 agenda, while global forms of tax are today the subject of major civil society campaigns.

At the same time, direct action groups such as UK and US-UNCUT are taking the call for tax justice onto the high street. And now the billionaire investor Warren Buffett has forced the issue of tax code loopholes into the political mainstream. But there is another side to the not-so-gritty subject of taxation that lends itself less readily to the popular imagination, even though it remains critical to poverty eradication in developing countries – the issue of domestic tax collection. Read more of this post

‘But what then is capital punishment if not the most premeditated of murders?’

(c) G.Goepfert/Amnesty International

Ben Rowan

The execution of convicted murderer Troy Davis took place on the morning of the 22nd of September in Jackson prison, Georgia, via lethal injection. Davis was arrested in 1989 for killing an off duty police officer, Mark MacPhail, and sentenced in 1991 to death.

The case has had overwhelming publicity and the execution has been condemned by the European Union, NAACP, Amnesty International and various support groups across the world. His supporters number in their thousands and include prominent figures such as Jimmy Carter, Pope Benedict XVI and former FBI director William Sessions. Read more of this post

A cruel, cynical stunt in the name of ratings and grim entertainment

(c) Beacon Radio

Georgia Lewis

It is timely that I have been reading a book about the history of Bedlam, London’s notorious mental institution. It was here that in the dark days of patient care for the mentally ill, Bedlam was a particularly ghoulish tourist attraction. People would pay to stare at the inmates, to mock, to marvel, to laugh and point. It was horrific and cruel.

But have we moved on from those days? If the last episode of The X Factor is anything to go by, probably not. People do still mock the vulnerable, the afflicted, the different, the unfortunate and the deformed. Indeed, we have so many more forums to do this now with Twitter, Facebook, blogs, readers’ comments on newspaper websites and so on.  Read more of this post

Western perceptions after 9/11: The view from a UAE resident

(c) _PaulS_

Georgia Lewis

In the 10 years since the 9/11 terror attacks, the world has changed and not necessarily for the better. The way we travel has been laced with paranoia – removal of half our clothes as we go through security and the farcical disposal of half-used tubes of toothpaste is now part of going to the airport. Measures to combat terrorism include everything from the removal of bins at Tube stations to invasions of entire countries based on prejudice and assumptions rather than real evidence of any involvement in 9/11. Read more of this post

Four men arrested over Bedfordshire ‘slaves’

(c) AndrewHA

Katy Owen

The latest case of human trafficking to hit the headlines highlights the complexities of trafficking and slavery in this country. It also demonstrates how the government’s new strategy against human trafficking is far off the mark of what is needed to tackle the issue.

The charity Stop the Traffik defines trafficking as the act of being deceived or taken against your will and transported into slavery for any kind of exploitation. Importantly, it says, trafficking can be across borders or within a particular country. Read more of this post

UK unemployment reaches 2.5 million

(c) born1945

Katy Owen

The latest statistics show that unemployment is on the rise having just gone over the 2.5 million threshold – or 7.9% of the population. It is difficult not to think back to this time thirty years ago when the figures were heading in a similar direction.

For Margaret Thatcher unemployment did not have a negative enough effect electorally to prevent her winning in 1983 with a background of over three million unemployed. Polls showed that while people cited unemployment as the issue most affecting the country, they gave inflation as the issue they thought most affected them as individuals. Furthermore, Thatcher seemed to succeed in convincing most voters that unemployment was not the government’s responsibility. Read more of this post

Back From The Brink: A review

(c) firthcycles

Tom Bailey

In ‘Back from The Brink’, Alistair Darling’s recently published autobiography, the former Chancellor sets out his many challenges whilst at the Treasury. It was certainly one of the most dreadful inheritances at that office. The account both details the economic challenges facing him and hits out against both the stupidity of bankers and the failures of politicians across all parties.

It is one of the more enjoyable inside accounts of New Labour, both lucidly written and well peppered with anecdotes. Tony Blair’s book, which has become the reading of choice for the upper echelons of the incumbent Tories, was ruined by the approach of the last hundred or so pages of the book. At this point, it should have been re-titled something along the lines of ‘Gordon failed because he was not ME’. Read more of this post

Opposition to the 50p tax rate should be based on evidence, not opinion

(c) joncandy

Andrew Rodgers

Is it now simply a matter of time until the 50p tax rate is abolished? It seems likely. Not just because of ideological opposition from the Tories, but because Ed Miliband has chosen not to restate his position during the leadership campaign: that he viewed the 50p tax rate as a permanent measure. His silence on this last week is probably a tacit admission that he would compromise on this issue when in power if the economy has recovered.

The simple fact that a letter in the Financial Times from 20 economists, calling for an end to the top rate of tax, was able to set the news agenda to the extent that it did last week, is quite staggering.  But the fact that the letter contained no actual evidence in support of their assertions and was still able to do so is worrying.  Read more of this post