Category Archives: Articles

Pieces (generally short) I have written for this blog.

Zone of Silence

The Belarus Free Theatre performed at the Young Vic this evening. This was in support of the campaign Zone Of Silence. They are asking sympathisers to sign a petition in support of human rights in Belarus. I signed and hope you will want to do the same.

Speed Matters

I have been involved in a lot of discussions over the last couple of years about the broadband speeds that most users need in the UK. This debate was given extra impetus with the Digital Britain report proposal for a universal broadband service at 2Mbps – To ensure all can access and benefit from the

Euro Influence

Over the last few years I have spent a lot of time working on issues before the European Parliament. This experience has shown me just how powerful MEPs are in making laws that have a significant impact on life in the UK. My area of particular concern has been telecommunications where the great bulk of

Expenses Cloud Has Silver Lining of Sorts

It seems like every day now that we hear that a Conservative ‘Knight of the Shires’ MP has been required to retire by David Cameron following the revelation of an inappropriate expenses claim. This has the obvious merit of being a public demonstration of David Cameron’s resolve to deal firmly with Conservative MPs whose conduct

Changier

Following the stunning success of Barack Obama with his message of ‘Change’ last year, opposition parties everywhere are itching to claim the change label in their own contests. In the UK, the Conservatives have been moving into this territory with extensive use of the not-so-subtle slogan ‘Vote for Change’. This creates a challenge for the

An Allowance for MPs but not for Attendance

I have posted before on my thoughts about reforming the allowance system for MPs. While this involves a daily allowance, this is a very different system from the ‘attendance allowance’ system being proposed now by the Prime Minister which I think is a mistake. Any new system should still be regarded as a payment to

JG Ballard RIP

I was sad to hear yesterday of the death of JG Ballard as I have gained so much enjoyment from his books over many years. It’s always hard to pick favourites amongst an author’s work, but the ones that made most impression on me were probably ‘The Kindness of Women’ and ‘High Rise’.

Naughty MPs’ Expenses

As the latest ‘scandal’ about what MPs claim as expenses unfolds, I for one would be happy in future not to know what they spend their money on. That is to say that I hope they will institute a system which does not require item-by-item claims, but uses a simple daily allowance system to ensure

The Gilded Age

My holiday reading this year included ‘The Gilded Age‘ by Mark Twain (writing then as Samuel Langhorn Clemens) and Charles Dudley Warner. It gives a fascinating insight into the development US politics. And while much has obviously changed since it was published in 1873, echoes of its themes can be found in the recent cases

An Unoriginal But Apt Vase Analogy

A commonly repeated quote in UK politics is Roy Jenkins‘ description of Blair’s approach to the 1997 election as being like an elderly butler carrying a Ming vase across a slippery floor from one end of a room to the other. Reading the coverage of the US elections today, this seems to be very much