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Politics

Look into my eyes, look into my eyes, the eyes, the eyes, not around the eyes…

A national living wage, look into my eyes… Britain deserves a pay rise… don’t look under my eyes, look into my eyes…

You’re under.

The surprising inclusion of a national living wage is not a cynical attempt to divert your attention from what is yet another attack on those most vulnerable.

While it’s inclusion may appear to be an attempt to capture the red flag inside the Labour heartlands while diverting attention from the swingeing cuts to tax credits and benefits elsewhere, I can promise you this is only a fortuitous coincidence.

You will ignore my adoption of the Living Wage Foundation’s lexicon to announce what is essentially a raising of the national minimum wage and you will not question my decision to award only those aged 25yrs and over this increase. You should not ask what this means for the 2 million or so under 25’s who will not gain from this announcement. Again, it is just a happy coincidence that so many young people under the age of 25 happen to be working in such poorly paid jobs.

You will kindly forget that the minimum wage was on course to hit £9 p/h by 2020 in any case and remember instead how shiny my hair looks on tv.

You will not be discouraged by the fact that my best ever new national living wage thing falls short of what the Living Wage Foundation have called or that they did so under the assumption that all those tax credits I just cut would be there to compensate for receiving such pittance.

Instead you will recall the exuberance displayed by Iain Duncan Smith and feel that something very good indeed must have been done.

My new and brilliant national living wage is not an attempt to distract from the fact that public service workers will experience a real-term reduction in wages over the next four years with inflation expected to return to 2% a year and in no way was it meant to draw attention away from yet another budget that makes students, low-income large families and the disabled significantly worse off.

Remember Iain. He hasn’t celebrated like that since Jonathan Woodgate headed in that extra time winner in the 2008 League Cup win.

Three, two, one… you’re back in the room.

The great Polish poet and aphorist, Stanisław Jerzy Lec described politics as a Trojan horse race.

It is an analogy that most of us accept implicitly. In fact, so normalised has the idea become that in December 2013 when the then Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources responded to allegations that his party had misled the public by saying ‘Isn’t that what you tend to do during an election?’ the electorate could barely summon a pair of eyebrows between them to raise in despair.

Today’s threat does not come in the form of a ‘horse of mountainous size,‘ however. It would be a far sight better if it did. We might be more wary of it. Instead, our ‘votive offering’ arrives in the shape of a harmless looking treaty that promises much and which, like the horse that sacked the city of Troy, will not reveal the horrors lurking within it’s gut until it is too late.

The TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) is essentially a number of bi-lateral trade negotiations between the US and the EU. The largest of these agreements, the TiSA (Trade in Services Agreement) aims to bring together 51 states. It may surprise you that you haven’t heard much about ‘the biggest trade deal in the world‘, but it really shouldn’t. You are not supposed to for reasons that will soon become apparent. Read More

The Overton Window is a widely held political theory described by Joseph P. Overton, former Vice President of the Mackinac Centre for Public Policy which holds that in any given time and for any given topic there exists a narrow window of politically acceptable policies.

It is worth noting that such policies do not become acceptable because of deeply held beliefs by the politicians themselves. Instead, those policies deemed to be acceptable are those which a politician can safely discuss in public without damaging his/her prospects of re-election. Shifting the window then to include policies outside of the window is reliant on public engagement with ideas that lie on the periphery.

After Alan Kelly’s unveiling of the government Housing Strategy, it would appear that the campaign for the next general election is in full swing and re-invigorating Labour’s fortunes is foremost in his thoughts. Read More

 

Introduction

The aim of this submission is to bring a different perspective to the Commission’s work. I hope to demonstrate how social constructionist perspectives may help to understand the myriad influences and narratives that underpin social inequality in Scotland at present and put forward my reasoning for the devolving of all powers that do not affect the rUK directly in order to address these issues.

I aim to introduce the primary concepts at the core of social constructionism and the rationale behind social constructionism’s emergence out of postmodernist ideology. These ideas will then be expanded upon to explore the particular challenges and opportunities this provides for the Commission and future policy makers within an episteme of fiscal consolidation and growing inequality.

I also hope that some observations from the emerging fields of behavioural economics and modern social psychology will lend itself to a greater understanding of how the Commissions recommendations can influence the emergence of a new social contract in Scotland that more accurately reflects the wishes of her people. Read More

The definition of an optimist is someone who believes that this is the best of all possible worlds. The definition of a pessimist is someone who fears the optimist is correct.

Perspective then is a powerful tool. It was sadly lacking last Friday morning as exhausted by weeping and trembling, I found myself wandering the streets of Edinburgh once again, without an ideological roof over my head.

Like many others, I wondered what next and it seemed the answer appeared no sooner than I had begged the question. 45 groups emerged almost simultaneously from the fog of hard fought defeat. Then the 45plus. The WeAreTheFortyFive…

I have to admit to being astonished by the seemingly boundless resolve of those who had already picked up the saltire from the fallen and with all the fire of youth, threw themselves on once more. But there is a danger in cobbling something together as a reaction to events as the Vow pledged days before polling illustrated. Read More

 

Comment: The latest research in the field of big data and social physics reveals that the best way to secure ‘Yes’ might simply be to reveal a bit more of ourselves.

The idea of a ‘collective intelligence’ within societies and communities is not new. The origin of the word, ‘kith,in ‘kith and kin’ derives from the archaic English and Germanic words for knowledge. The same word that provides the root of ‘couth’ indicating a person of some sophistication and its more oft met antonym, ‘uncouth’.

Our ‘kith’ then is the circle of peers in our community from which we take much of our instruction when it comes to decision making and most of our learning. Taking advantage of this fact and some rather surprising research in the developing field of social physics may equip us with the gentle ‘nudge’ we need to bring the remaining undecideds on board the big blue bus. Read More

 

On average, an Asian elephant weighs anything from three to five tonnes. Their African brothers are larger and heavier still, weighing anything up to and in excess of seven tonnes (7000kg). And yet, these incredible beasts are often successfully controlled by nothing more than a short stake and a piece of rope.

Understanding this phenomenon is essential to securing a ‘Yes’ vote on September 18th. Read More

Ecclefechan’s finest son, the essayist and philosopher Thomas Carlyle implored man as his first duty to conquer fear, to get rid of it entirely; for he believed man was unable to act until he did so.

Concern is understandably behind much of the reticence displayed by those yet to commit themselves either way to the Independence debate. It is not however, the fear we imagine it is; dispensed so cheaply by the Bitter Together campaign. It is more insidious. A creeping unease in the pit of the gut. As we will discover, this trepidation is wholly justified but I hope that by naming this fear we might finally begin to dispel it.

And if by flashing a bit of leg in the direction of those undecideds, I can persuade a few to join me in a chorus of Meg Ryan ‘Yessing’, then all the better.

The undecided will ultimately determine the fate of our nation. If the reactionary polemic and increase in hysteria witnessed recently are any indication of unionist jitters, it is almost certainly because Darling et al have realised that they are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of those undecided they had hoped could be bludgeoned into submission with casual threats and intimidation. Read More

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