The UK is becoming the self-employment capital of Europe


Whether they are a growing underclass or a sign of the UK economy’s bright future, the growing army of self-employed warrant our attention

Job Centre ncrjThe UK workforce has expanded rapidly over the last year, with the working-age employment rate reaching historically high levels and net job creation of over 900,000 in the year to April 2014.

This is likely to continue in the near term. But most would agree that there are still some reasons to be concerned about the state of working Britain, pointing towards the poor performance of real wages over the last half decade, a squeeze on living standards unprecedented in modern Britain. Read More »

Posted in Sustainable Economy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Men Who Made Us Spend review: how consumerism took over


Me Who Made Us SpendjA new three-part BBC documentary takes aim at the culture of consumerism that has become predominant in our lives

A main target of documentarian Jacques Peretti’s critique of society’s turbo-consumerism is IKEA. The furniture retailers 1996 Chuck Out Your Chintz advert was a bacchanalian celebration of throwing things away – a gigantic skip descends from the sky into which housewives joyously throw away all their worldly possessions only to replace them with the ‘better’ more fashionable versions from IKEA.

The vagaries of fashion are such that IKEA now sells a line of floral granny-ish products designed by Cath Kidston – the epitome of the chintz we were previously being told to put in a landfill. Read More »

Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , | 10 Responses

POLL: Is it time for Britain to frack?


Is it now time to frack? Let us know by casting your vote below

Fracking enjoys widespread support in Britain, according to a new survey.

Research carried out by the research group Populus for UK Onshore Oil and Gas (UKOOG) found that 57 per cent were in favour of the controversial tachnique which extracts shale gas from the ground.

The poll quizzed 4,000 people and found that 16 per cent were opposed, with just over a quarter (27 per cent) undecided. Read More »

Posted in Environment | Tagged , | 111 Responses

The responsibility for ISIS doesn’t lie with the West


While it would be ridiculous to allow the West the moral high ground, it is even more absurd for the Muslim world to transfer the responsibility for ISIS on to the West

ISIS flagjThe Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is emulating al Qaeda, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Boko Haram and pretty much every single Sunni Islamist militant organisation in the world by taking up arms vying to establish a regional – and eventually global – caliphate.

Many in the West and the lion’s share of the Muslim intelligentsia, meanwhile, are relentlessly filling column spaces putting almost the entire blame for the Iraq crisis on George W Bush and Tony Blair. Read More »

Posted in Multilateral Foreign Policy | Tagged , , , , , | 20 Responses

How ‘inclusive’ really is Scottish nationalism?


Even at its highest and most aspirant, nationalism demands self-interest over mutual interest between nations

Scotland independencejEinstein was a little harsh when he said that “Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind”. But given his circumstances, it was understandable.

Nationalism is a particular expression of “we” that can give us safety in a world of nebulous identities, an expression of commonality and it is potent.

Scottish Nationalism is of that brand which is curated not from a dominance challenged, but casts itself as the defender of the oppressed. Like in Catalonia or Quebec it is defined by notions of insurgency against the dominant order to provide dignity to those marginalised by over central states, often governed by aloof politicians. Read More »

Posted in A Britain We All Call Home | Tagged , , , , | 21 Responses

Terrorist toddlers: no change at the Department for Education, then


There is a real cohesion problem Nicky Morgan hasn’t addressed, and it isn’t Trojan horse nurseries

DoEjEducation secretary Nicky Morgan’s first foray into early years’ policy shows there has been no break with that of her predecessor Michael Gove when it comes to Muslim communities.

Today the government has sold a story to the media about ‘Trojan horse nurseries’. Ultimately, her action is counter-productive and can alienate Muslim communities and increase the risks of religious extremism. Read More »

Posted in Public Services for All | Tagged , , , , | 3 Responses

Here’s why the government’s Youth Contract failed


To prevent young people being left stranded and disillusioned on the dole, we need to move away from ‘one size fits all’ approaches

Job Centre ncrjThis week marks the unceremonious end of the government’s Youth Contract Wage Incentive, a fund established in 2012 to help tackle youth unemployment.

The scheme, which paid £2275 to employers recruiting an unemployed 16-24 year old for six months, was originally expected to last three years, but its premature withdrawal comes as no surprise.

As a charity that works with creative organisations to recruit young unemployed people, there has been little or no awareness of its existence amongst employers we work with. Read More »

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

Why US air strikes on ISIS are right, and why the left should support them


Yazidi 1The problem of ISIS won’t simply go away if we close our eyes to it

Overnight US President Barack Obama has ordered air strikes on Islamist militants in Iraq:

“Today I authorized two operations in Iraq — targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water and facing almost certain death.”

Meanwhile this morning PM David Cameron has made a statement in support of the action but has ruled out British military involvement in Iraq:

“…I fully agree with the President that we should stand up for the values we believe in – the right to freedom and dignity, whatever your religious beliefs.”

However a Downing Street spokeswoman added that the UK was “not planning a military intervention”. Read More »

Posted in Multilateral Foreign Policy | Tagged , , , , , , | 55 Responses

Why you really need to pay attention to Iraq’s Yazidi community


This tragic state of affairs needs to be taken up by the international community

YazidijpgWhile the world’s media attention oscillates between crises around the world, there has been a grave omission in coverage of the plight of the Yazidi community in northern Iraq who have been forced to flee their homes, due to the continuing advances of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

The brutality of the IS is regularly depicted through their propaganda videos, which it circulates on various social networking sites. Indeed, countless images of hundreds of Christians and Shia Muslims rounded up, blindfolded and shot have been circulating around the internet since June. Read More »

Posted in Multilateral Foreign Policy | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Responses

Boris fever highlights the undemocratic nature of ‘safe seats’


As the case of Boris Johnson demonstrates, safe seats are treated like aristocratic estates

Boris Johnson ncrjBoris Johnson yesterday admitted something that most of us already suspected: he is looking around for a suitable seat so as to enter Parliament after next year’s General Election.

When I say a suitable seat, I really mean a safe seat: the Mayor is looking for the sort of seat that will parachute him into Parliament unopposed before he (presumably) contests the Tory leadership at some point. Read More »

Posted in Good Society | Tagged , , , , | 31 Responses
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