The Coalition’s War on Privacy

Source: PA

Published in The Huffington Post on Wednesday, 4th April, 2012.

It’ been a torrid couple of weeks for David Cameron. Ministerial incompetence combined with headline grabbing cock-up’s such as the Granny Tax, the Pasty Tax, a tax break for millionaires and the fuel crisis have produced an entirely self inflicted news cycle that refuses to die.

You have to feel for Armando Iannucci. Anything in the new series of The Thick of It will look positively tame in comparison.

The government has broken Westminster’s golden rule: they have done the hat-trick of getting the policy, the politics and the PR catastrophically wrong.

Continue reading

As We Approach the Olympics, it is Time to Start Taking Slavery Seriously

Published in The Huffington Post on Wednesday, 21st December, 2011.

On 10 December 1948 the United Nations declared “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Last week marked the 63rd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Forged out of the ashes of the Second World War, the Declaration set out inalienable human rights based upon the pillars of justice, dignity and equality.

Article Four of the Declaration states “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Despite this, human trafficking, the modern day version of the slave trade, is flourishing.

The United Nations estimates that 12 million people around the world are enslaved and at least 600,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year. Academics such as Kevin Bale claim that real number of people who are enslaved is likely to be closer to 30 million. This includes thousands of people in the United Kingdom.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading