The clocks have gone back. It’s now 1990

Published in The Huffington Post on Sunday, 30th October, 2011.

As we enter November and leave British Summer Time behind, we reach the 21st anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation as prime minister. Despite the melodrama of more recent political events, it is hard to imagine what Westminster must have been like in the three weeks between Geoffrey Howe quitting the cabinet and Thatcher being forced from office. Or is it?

The issue of Britain’s place within Europe was dominating the political agenda. An unpopular prime minister had suffered a damaging rebellion from her own party. The Tories were trailing in the polls. The economy was inching towards a recession. And a high profile member of the cabinet had just resigned.

Far from being unique, this has an eerily familiar feel.

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Anti-Slavery Day 2011 – Ask Your MP to Support EDM 2257

Am I Not a Man and a Brother?

There are up to 30 million people around the world – including thousands in Britain – that remain enslaved today. Academics such as Kevin Bale suggest that there are more slaves today than at any other point in history. Tuesday, 18th October, 2011 will mark the UK’s Anti-Slavery Day and the European Union’s Anti-Trafficking Day. Mark Hendrick MP today tabled Early Day Motion 2257 in the House of Commons that sought to draw attention to Anti-Slavery and that called upon the government to take a more pro-active stance in the fight against slavery. If you would like your MP to support the motion, please write to them using the information before.

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Ed Miliband’s new Shadow Government in full (October 2011)

Following the changes that Ed Miliband made to Labour’s Shadow Government on October 7th, below is a full list of the new Shadow government. The list includes Shadow Secretaries of State (underlined), with Shadow Ministers listed below.

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Ed Miliband needs to address Labour’s talent deficit and add steel to the Shadow Cabinet

What's ahead for Ed Miliband's Shadow Cabinet?

Since the last General Election many of the heavy weights that dominated the New Labour political landscape have left the frontline of British politics. David Miliband, Alistair Darling, Alan Johnson, Jack Straw and of course Peter Mandelson and Gordon Brown all stood down from Ministerial positions. This exodus followed the departure of people like John Prescott and John Reid who stood down when Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister in 2007. This provided a welcome opportunity for new blood to come through – but it also intensified a talent deficit that is apparent right across Westminster as Labour lost a great deal of its front bench talent and institutional memory. The sheer dominance of Blair and Brown over the last twenty years has stifled the development of top class politicians. As a result, Ed Miliband’s Cabinet over the last twelve months has had a mixed record and has been relatively lacklustre in holding the Conservative government to account.

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Will social media networks come back to haunt tomorrow’s politicians?

Throughout modern history innovations in the way that we communicate with each other have had a profound impact on the political landscape. The emergence of the print media, the telegram, radio and television have all revolutionised the way that politicians operate. Today the internet and twenty-four hour news organisations mean they must always stay on message and never switch off. This is in stark contrast to previous eras. In a time before the majority of households owned a television, Labour Prime Minister Clement Atlee was asked by journalists if he had anything to say to the nation as he returned from a foreign trip. As he stood on the runway his response was a stern “no.” Imagine the reaction if this had come from David Cameron or Tony Blair. Atlee was a pre-eminent figure of the twentieth century but sad fact is that he would not have stood a chance today.

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Getting a job in Parliament: Tips for your CV

Regardless of where you are applying for a job, your CV is the single most important weapon in your armour. This is especially true if you are applying for a job with an MP. Unlike starting a career with a bank or with a council, there is no human resources department to handle the recruitment process. It is often down to the office manager or researcher to go through the CVs and make a decision about who to put through to the next stage (the MP probably wont see your CV until the interview ). It is unlikely that whoever is making a decision will read through every word on every CV – they will skim read and look for reasons to take the application seriously. Given the already considerable pressures on a researcher’s time (and the fact that a typical job in Parliament will easily attract between 150 and 200 applications), your CV has to stand out. Continue reading

Privacy: the 21st century civil rights dilemna

The revelations and high drama relating to the Murdoch empire has dominated the news both in the United Kingdom and further afield. It is the ultimate irony that the fallout from the illegal and immoral invasion of privacy to sell ‘news’ is in fact fuelling the sale of more newspapers and more ad revenues for the broadcasters.

Despite this, the debate over hacking and the News of the World has rightfully spread, first to the issue of media, politics and ethics, and then to the further erosion of public trust in the British establishment. However, I cannot help but feel that many are still missing the point. The events of the past few weeks feeds into an even wider debate, a debate that will inevitably come to dominate the civil rights agenda in the twenty-first century: the issue of privacy.

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