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The Bonfire of Empire

The marking "DG" was said to be an abbreviation of deputy governor, but in fact was a protective code word to indicate that papers so marked were for sight by "British officers of European descent only". -- Before withdrawing from its colonies, UK colonial officials made certain to destroy any papers that "might embarrass Her Majesty's [the] government", that could "embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants or others eg police informers", that might betray intelligence sources, or that might "be used unethically by ministers in the successor government".
posted by MartinWisse on Dec 11, 2013 - 15 comments

Sold out

"Future historians, pondering changes in British society from the 1980s onwards, will struggle to account for the following curious fact. Although British business enterprises have an extremely mixed record (frequently posting gigantic losses, mostly failing to match overseas competitors, scarcely benefiting the weaker groups in society), and although such arm’s length public institutions as museums and galleries, the BBC and the universities have by and large a very good record (universally acknowledged creativity, streets ahead of most of their international peers, positive forces for human development and social cohesion), nonetheless over the past three decades politicians have repeatedly attempted to force the second set of institutions to change so that they more closely resemble the first. Some of those historians may even wonder why at the time there was so little concerted protest at this deeply implausible programme. But they will at least record that, alongside its many other achievements, the coalition government took the decisive steps in helping to turn some first-rate universities into third-rate companies."
posted by MartinWisse on Oct 24, 2013 - 9 comments

Even a stopped clock...

"Spot checks and being demanded to show your papers by officialdom are not the British way of doing things. Yes, of course we want to deal with illegal immigration, but what's the point of rounding people up at railway stations if at the same time they're still flooding in through Dover and the other nearly hundred ports in this country.
I'm astonished that the Home Office has become so politicised that they're actually advertising 'another 10 arrested'. Before long they'll be live video-streaming these arrests. I don't like it. It really is not the way we've ever behaved or operated as a country. We don't have ID cards; we should not be stopped by officialdom and have to prove who we are." -- Even UKIP leader Nigel Farage thinks the home office goes too far with its politically motivated immigration raids at railway stations.
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 12, 2013 - 19 comments

Cutting legal aid

"A fundamental shift in the relationship between the government and the governed is taking place: by restricting access to the law, the state is handing itself an alarming immunity from legal scrutiny. There are several aspects to this: the partial or total withdrawal of state financial support for people who lack the means to pay for legal advice and representation; and for those who can pay, a restriction on which kinds of decision by public bodies can be challenged. In the area in which I work, criminal law, defendants who receive legal aid will lose the right to choose who represents them in court. Specialist criminal barrister Francis FitzGibbon on the impact the UK government's legal aid reform plans are having on the English & Welsh justice system. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on May 31, 2013 - 40 comments

The first time as farce, the second time as panto

As Hegel presumably remarks somewhere, all great Tory crises appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as farce, the second as farce. -- Chris Brooke presents a history of "swivel eyed loon" as an insult used against a certain kind of rightwing Tory. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on May 19, 2013 - 52 comments

Essential advice for David Cameron

"Britain’s modern party leaders are not ousted by stalking horses; they are dragged from their beds in the dead of night, and shot in the courtyard with a Sky News helicopter overhead." -- Former New Labour heavyweight and Gordon Brown acolyte Damian McBride explains how to survive a coup attempt when you're prime minister.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 11, 2013 - 28 comments

10 myths of the UK's far right

"This is what anti-racism looks like. Equal opportunities are not handed down from on high by Westminster bureaucrats; they have been fought for by ordinary men and women. Even at its peak, the BNP never spoke for anywhere near the majority of working-class white people – in Dagenham, or anywhere else. Daniel Trilling, in The Guardian on Ten myths of the UK's far right. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Sep 17, 2012 - 26 comments

Irony? That's like goldy or silvery, right?

Atos Healthcare is a French company that's a contractor to the UK department for Work and Pensions, hired to test disabled benefits claimants on whether they're fit to work. If they are, they'll lose their disability benefits and are back on normal unemployment benefits. It is a controversial company, as its standards for declaring people fit to work are very low, as The Daily Mirror has been showing. By design or through incompetence, quite a few people who are clearly incapable of work are declared fit for work anyway, lose their benefits and some of them even die because of it, either through suicide or through the stress and healthcare problems caused by losing their benefits. (previously.) [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Aug 29, 2012 - 35 comments

Ironically, the only people on the internet now defending forcing people to sleep under a bridge are trolls.

In the midst of the Jubilee celebrations, the Guardian reported that coachloads of long-term unemployed jobseekers were bussed in to steward the Queen's river pageant without pay as part of the UK government's controversial new Work Programme. Jobseekers were made to sleep under London Bridge and given “no access to toilets for 24 hours, and were taken to a swampy campsite outside London after working a 14-hour shift”. [more inside]
posted by axon on Jun 5, 2012 - 235 comments

Of course Fireman Sam votes Labour. He's an FBU brach officer

So it turns out the Doctor is not a LibDem anymore, at least if a Yougov survey of who British people think fictional characters would vote for (PDF) is to believed.
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 7, 2012 - 35 comments

AV explained for cats

Is your Cat confused about the referendum on the voting system on the 5th May? Previously.
posted by paduasoy on May 2, 2011 - 63 comments

If it's good enough for the Oscars...

MetaVote! Britain will head to the polls on May 5 to vote on, er, voting, in a campaign that could change the political face of Britain. A little. It’s a two-horse race between the venerable, incumbent first-past-the-post and the upstart preferential Alternative Vote. Should Britain replace it’s electoral system? These people say yes. These people say no. These people also say no, but for different reasons. Does anybody even care? Let the bickering begin!
posted by londonmark on Mar 11, 2011 - 83 comments

UK Spending Review

The Chancellor of the UK coalition government has announced the details of the Comprehensive Spending Review, setting budgets for government departments to 2014/15. Total savings will be £18 billion. Local government funding will be cut 7% each year for the next four years. The Arts Council budget will be cut by 30%. 490,000 jobs are forecast to be lost over the period in the public sector. The average cuts for each government department will be 19%. The speech. HM Treasury Spending Review pages. Guardian summary. Independent article. Nick Robinson's blog for the BBC. Make your own cuts with the Guardian's interactive tool. Graphic showing 09/10 government spending (that is, before the cuts).
posted by paduasoy on Oct 20, 2010 - 91 comments

Ed Miliband wins UK Labour Party leadership contest

In a victory unexpected until the last 24 hours of the race, Ed Miliband has beaten older brother David to win the leadership of the (UK) Labour Party. [more inside]
posted by penguin pie on Sep 25, 2010 - 29 comments

I am the son and the heir of nothing in particular.

"What are you f**king playing at?” Mr Murdoch asked Mr Kelner in a loud voice and in front of dozens of bemused journalists."
This week, 300,000 copies of the UK's Independent newspaper were distributed for free advertising the paper's claim to editorial independence stating, "Rupert Murdoch won’t decide this election – you will".

According to the Financial Times, Murdoch's son James subsequently stormed into the Independent's newsroom brandishing a copy of the edition, protesting it besmirched his father’s reputation. "Lively times," the Guardian observes.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Apr 22, 2010 - 62 comments

I agree with Nick: you're no Jack Kennedy.

Yesterday, the leaders of the three largest political parties in the UK engaged in a live televised election debate for the first time in history. Most commentators seem to agree that Nick Clegg, the leader of Britain's perennial third party the Liberal Democrats, made the best impression in yesterday's first of three weekly debates leading up to the general election on May 6. The progressive-leaning Guardian even goes so far as to claim that he is now prime ministerial material.

This being Metafilter you will undoubtedly ask, "how does Cory Doctorow figure into all of this?" Well, he agrees with Nick on the Digital Economy Act. Then again, Nick is agreed with quite a lot.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Apr 16, 2010 - 54 comments

'The "climate-change" scare is less about saving the planet than, in Jacques Chirac's chilling phrase, "creating world government"...'

Climate change denial gets a sort of semi-mainstream platform in the UK. The author, Christopher Monckton, seems to be a colourful figure. Now that all the major political parties accept that it's time to do something about climate change, is this a last ditch effort by 1980s right wing relics to stave off the inevitable? Or are we going to be hearing a lot more of this kind of stuff, post-Stern Review (previous)?
posted by Mocata on Nov 5, 2006 - 17 comments

visas for sex or sex for visas

sex for visa racket The Home Office today announced that it is to investigate claims of a sex for visas racket at its main immigration centre in Croydon, south London. According to the Sun newspaper, a former employee at the centre, Anthony Pamnani, alleged that corrupt officials gave women leave to remain in return for sex. He claimed more attractive female applicants were given preferential treatment.
posted by Stars Kitten on Jan 3, 2006 - 38 comments

Plans for English smoking ban under threat

Labour Party charlies cock-up smoking ban plans. Despite years of very public debate on what seems like a fairly straightforward subject, it now looks like the UK government will be forced to rethink its plans to introduce a smoking ban in public places across England and Wales. Research in places where bans are in place all support the claims for health benefits, and the Scottish Parliament is taking the lead in the UK by introducing a total ban next year, so why can't the Labour Party make up its mind? If you're tired of waiting for the government to take action, this site lists smoke-free restaurants and hotels around the world.
posted by londonmark on Oct 26, 2005 - 121 comments

Blair in Trouble...

The UK local elections have taken place, and for the first time ever forced the ruling Labour government into third position, with their worst showing in history. Is this just a mid-term blip, or the culmination of the huge Iraq backlash that will topple the government? With Bush in trouble too, will any of the warring leaders be left come November? And can the Big Intervention website topple Blair himself?
posted by wibbler on Jun 11, 2004 - 13 comments

The Hutton Enquiry

The Hutton Enquiry on-line. Terms of Reference: "...urgently to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Dr Kelly." Hearing transcripts and documentary evidence for your perusal.
posted by Frasermoo on Aug 18, 2003 - 14 comments

The Push For War (by Anatol Lieven).

The Push For War (by Anatol Lieven). "The most surprising thing about the Bush Administration's plan to invade Iraq is not that it is destructive of international order; or wicked, when we consider the role the US (and Britain) have played, and continue to play, in the Middle East; or opposed by the great majority of the international community; or seemingly contrary to some of the basic needs of the war against terrorism. It is all of these things, but they are of no great concern to the hardline nationalists in the Administration....The most surprising thing about the push for war is that it is so profoundly reckless....What we see now is the tragedy of a great country, with noble impulses, successful institutions, magnificent historical achievements and immense energies, which has become a menace to itself and to mankind."

Excecutive summary: Lord Acton foretold all fruit of "military superiority".
posted by fold_and_mutilate on Oct 4, 2002 - 44 comments

A solution to the world's terrorism problems?

A solution to the world's terrorism problems? Mo Mowlam (formerly responsible for the UK government's drugs policy) suggests that terrorist activity is funded by drug trafficking and the best way to combat this is to legalise all drugs. Everywhere. Go Mo!
posted by hnnrs on Sep 19, 2002 - 17 comments

Archer sentenced to 4 years...

Archer sentenced to 4 years... This may not mean much to those from outside the UK but there will be celebrations in much of England tonight as the 'Teflon Tory' finally takes fall. Sometimes justice is done, even to politicians with immense arrogance, money and no apparent morals. The scale of the web of deceit is fascinating and the ending quite poetic.
posted by Mr Ed on Jul 19, 2001 - 19 comments

A Day at the Races:

A Day at the Races: PM Tony Blair calls for the General Election on June 7. What will the next month of campaigning be like? Well, Trimble has already threatened to resign his post in N. Ireland.
posted by ahughey on May 8, 2001 - 6 comments

How to get elected without promising a huge tax-cut.

How to get elected without promising a huge tax-cut. In short, don't have an opposition. Gordon Brown gives the "we're going to win anyway" Budget, promising the kind of fiscal policy Gore claimed to offer the US. The language is even the same: "pay off the debt, reward working families". And since we're more or less guaranteed a Labour government till 2005 (barring the intervention of "events"), it'll a good time for the crudest of comparisons. (more inside...)
posted by holgate on Mar 7, 2001 - 4 comments

"States' Rights" hit the UK?

"States' Rights" hit the UK? First abolishing tuition fees, now providing long-term care for the elderly: the Scottish Executive is making life, um, "interesting" for its progenitor in Westminster. The downside of an unwritten constitution?
posted by holgate on Jan 25, 2001 - 7 comments

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