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Showing posts from January, 2013

Hating Politics?

Broadcaster and blogger Iain Dale posted about his growing disillusion with politics recently.  It seems to have started from a realisation that Question Time, the default programme for political obsessives, is becoming too irritating to make for stimulating viewing any more, while there's also a sense in Mr. Dale's blog entry of annoyance at the incommunicado status of some of his recently elected friends.  Let's hope he hasn't just blogged because people aren't returning his calls any more (although I know the feeling....)

Personal issues notwithstanding, he has a point about the negative impact of media reporting on politics.  We have increasingly few independent or interesting politicians at work today because of a pervasive fear that anything uttered which veers slightly off the accepted line will be reported in sensationalist fashion.  Ministers and MPs prefer to retreat into bland uniformity rather than genuinely engage in political dialogue because the wor…

'Lincoln' Verdict

Went to see the film 'Lincoln' and penned - or blogged - this verdict.  Not wholly taken with it I fear!

Blogging For Free

There continues to be much online conversation about the evils of unpaid internships, and in particular about the willingness of high profile sites - notably the Huffington Post and the Guardian - to make use of free blogs from unpaid bloggers.

The problem can be simply stated.  There are many more people wanting to write than there are organisations willing to pay for it.  Thus, a glut of would-be opinion formers are happy to hawk their material around on free sites because at least it gives them a profile.  It is foolish to blame HuffPo or others here.  If people refused to contribute blogs to the sites - most of which remain as unread as this admirable blog - then the owners would soon need to revise their strategy.  But in the era of free internet comment that is an unlikely scenario.

My real concern over this is that good quality writing and journalism is being devalued.  Writers who articulate opinions in elegant and stimulating ways, or journalists who spend time ferreting out…

Cameron's Maastricht Moment Approaches

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I’m not sure ‘Fresh Start’ is quite the right name for a group of Tory MPs who are busy re-hashing what is by now a pretty hackneyed message within the Tory party.The self-proclaimed group is publishing a report calling for the repatriation of significant powers from the EU to Britain.So the same call that has been made by Tory MPs since Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges speech – a fresh start indeed.
Yet, of course, the group’s report remains newsworthy because David Cameron is himself entering the European maelstrom with a speech due on Friday that advance spin suggests will be redefining the British relationship with Europe and calling for a referendum on the terms of our membership.Mr. Cameron is going to complete the work that John Major began with Maastricht it seems, although Mr. Major himself had rather assumed that the Maastricht agreement was an end in itself, requiring no further finesse.
The problem for Mr. Cameron is that of the few policy positions he does hold, a vague but cl…

Wodehouse Restoratives

In this time of hardship there can be few better restoratives than regular readings of P.G.wodehouse, the undoubted master of the comic bon mot.  Happily for Wodehouse aficionados - and they are surely legion - the BBC has spent at least some of its licence fee wisely in the commissioning of a new Sunday night series based on the Blandings novels, ranking alongside the immortal Jeeves as one of Wodehouse's outstanding serial creations.  Blandings begins this Sunday.  Meanwhile, the BBC's Hugh Schofield has been given to musing about P.G.Wodehouse's French connection here.

Students and their Lectures - the University Failure

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So finally a university lecturer has had a go at students for not attending lectures.  The highly regarded medieval historian Guy Halsall, who adorns the York history department, apparently let loose something of a rant that involved his expression of displeasure that too few students bothered turning up for his lectures.  He posted his views online, on the university’s virtual learning system, telling students that they had missed the chance of hearing from one of the premier medieval historians in the world, to whom conferences pay large sums of money when he goes and guest lectures.  Professor Halsall intimated that the vast sums of money being spent on a university education were being wasted. He has a point, of course.  The fees of £9,000 a year should be starting to focus students’ attention on the real value of university education.  And while his comments may seem a little too self-regarding (although one could equally ask, why shouldn’t they?) they raise the thorny issue of …