This week’s most read: MH17, Tony Blair and the new leader of the BNP


The most read stories this week:

Malaysia planej1. Outraged about Gaza? Fine. Now worry about SyriaDave Rich

2. The five worst MH17 conspiracy theories - Josiah Mortimer

3. Tony Blair was right about some things, however uncomfortable that makes you feelJames Bloodworth

4. Yes Scotland’s NHS scares and lies strategyPeter Russell

5. 5 things you should know about the new leader of the BNPJosiah Mortimer

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Outsourcing child protection services is not the answer


The competitive process has not delivered value for anyone

Children ncrjIn May of this year, the government published plans to outsource child protection services to private providers.

Understandably, the Department for Education’s (DoE) idea of placing such hugely sensitive public services in the hands of for-profit companies met with widespread alarm. The government was forced to partly back down following a vigorous campaign by unions and children’s charities and an overwhelming negative response from those responding to their consultation. Read More »

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Trojan horse and the unbearable silliness of the denialists


Denial and deflection over extremism is a disservice to Muslim communities

Trojan horse plotjOne of the most frustrating and depressing aspects of following extremism-related stories in the UK is the predictable frequency with which the denialist brigade rush to the fore to hush things up.

Whilst the twin towers in New York were still smouldering, we had this brigade trying to convince us it was an inside job. The day after 7/7 the same suspects were out in force claiming it was a MI5/MI5/CIA/Mossad operation, they can never quite decide which agency was involved but they are sure it was one of them. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Responses

Is Boris really happy to destroy one of the most important bird habitats in Britain?


The Mayor’s pet plan risks destroying an important wildlife habitat

Boris JohnsonjThe Mayor of London has declared that the new research on his plans for a Boris Island airport contains ‘no show stoppers’ and he regards the reports as ‘hugely encouraging’.

If he really believes this, he must be happy to destroy one of the most valuable and internationally important bird habitats in Britain.

There have been two major reports in the last week which have highlighted the potentially disastrous impact on birds of building an airport in the Thames Estuary. The Davies Commission, which is looking at the issue of aviation expansion for the government, received a consultant’s report by Jacobs, which was blunt: “all the [Estuary] airport options proposed would result in a large scale direct habitat loss”. Read More »

Posted in Environment | Tagged , , , | 4 Responses

Prison system in crisis: officer numbers slashed 30 per cent under coalition


The number of prison officers has been cut by nearly a third in just three years, according to a new report by the Howard League for Penal Reform.

PrisonjThe study, ‘Breaking Point’, shows that in some prisons the number of prison officers has actually halved, while 18 prisons have closed or turned into immigration removal centres since the coalition government came to power. Read More »

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George Osborne: making failure look like success


Celebrating today’s GDP figures as a victory for the chancellor would be a like praising the punctuality of the chauffeur who arrives at his destination three hours late

George Osborne nc1jThe British economy is finally back to where it was prior to the onset of the 2008 financial crash. Six long years just to get back to where we were in the first year of Gordon Brown’s tenure as prime minister.

And a large portion of the blame for the financial crash has been laid at the door of Labour’s last PM by the Tory party and their friends in the media.

What’s surprising is how little opprobrium is directed at the current chancellor on the basis that it’s taken the UK far too long to get back to pre-crisis levels of growth. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Responses

UK GDP up 0.8 per cent


UK GDP grew by 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014, according to the latest quarterly national accounts from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The key points from the latest release from the ONS are: Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , | 3 Responses

Online protest works: workfare firm pulls out after Twitter storm


A Bristol-based computer firm has pulled out of George Osborne’s Help to Work scheme after a backlash from welfare campaigners on social media.

When activists discovered last week that Byteback, a computer repair company, was involved in the government’s workfare scheme, they descended to Twitter, Facebook and the blogosphere to express their outrage and ask the company to pull out – many giving them one star reviews on their page. Read More »

Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , , | 2 Responses

No, Russia Today is not ‘just the same as’ the BBC


RTjQuestion more, certainly. But be careful who’s asking the questions

The ability to look at things ‘with an open mind’ can sometimes be an overrated quality in a person. At a time when we are all supposedly ‘citizen journalists’ with swathes of unverified information at our fingertips, it’s also rather dangerous – who hasn’t been ill and Googled a medical condition only to find that at least some of the ‘advice’ on offer is dangerous hearsay? ‘Oh but you must have an open mind,’ the pseudo-enlightened person will say, probably rounding things off with a warning against ‘judging’ something which may kill you.

This isn’t to excuse the mental stolidity of the conformist, but rather it is to draw attention to the need for certain boundaries – a willingness to believe absolutely anything isn’t ‘edgy’ or an act of rebellion; it’s actually rather stupid. In keeping an open mind there’s always a risk that you let your brain drop out entirely. Read More »

Posted in Media Integrity | Tagged , , , , | 19 Responses

Half UK voters support renewable energy as ‘top priority’


Nearly half the British public believe investing in renewables is the top priority for energy security, according to a new poll.

Fracking ncrjPerhaps more surprisingly, the view is reflected by voters across the four largest parties – including UKIP.

Almost half (48 per cent) of those surveyed picked investing in renewables as their number one energy priority, far ahead of building new nuclear reactors, which came in second at a distant 15 per cent. Support for fracking trails fourth at 13 per cent, after ‘reducing consumption’.  Read More »

Posted in Environment | Tagged , , , , | 55 Responses
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