No one made the case for elected mayors

May 31

This afternoon Michael Fallon and Ed Balls were on Radio 5, discussing the local election results. After a bit of Punch and Judy stuff, Balls was asked about the underwhelming demand for elected mayors. His response was, in tribal terms, a bit of a blinder: “David Cameron said it would mean Borises up and down the country – the...

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Can Andy Burnham save our mental health services?

May 31

One day, when I was a teen, I started to cut myself, making thin little slits on my ankles and arms with a penknife. I stopped sleeping. I started to hear strange noises and voices in my head at night. Then I started to fall out with everyone at school; I found myself dipping into a weird sense of ecstasy: watching myself saying and doing...

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The “Big Society” lives on in Queen’s Park

Mar 30

Earlier this week, Rowenna Davis asked a very good question: what’s happened to the Big Society? Should the coalition ever wish to revive this maligned initiative, it could do much worse than look at Queen’s Park, the local government ward in the North of Westminster, where the residents have begun to campaign for a community...

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The strange case of the disappearing department

Feb 08

Of all the government departments to lead, you might think the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is a bit of a cushy number. You could hardly say it’s high profile. You might know that Caroline Spelman is the Secretary of State, but I challenge any of you to pick Richard Benyon, Jim Paice or Lord Taylor of...

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My Obsession with Grant Shapps

Jan 31

I suppose it’s a bit odd to admit to a growing preoccupation with a Tory minister. But the unavoidable truth is this: I’m becoming increasingly obsessed with Grant Shapps MP. Our current generation of front bench politicians are largely sensible, sober, and utterly downcast men and women. On a media day they drone out their...

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Standard Operating Procedure

Oct 29

Errol Morris’ 2008 film about Abu Ghraib is available in full on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3NKikNcHM4

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