Region Archives: UK

On Welfare and the Budget, reality for Stormont is acceptable

Only the rashest observer would claim that s/he has a complete understanding of the complexities of welfare payments and reform and the  other details of the negotiations that are said to be reaching a climax. My feeling is that they are less about negotiations and more about accepting realities they can live with. On welfare more…

Outsourcing solutions may be the secret of dealing with more than the past

Well, perhaps amid the encircling gloom the political parties have seen some light at last. The details of the agreement on welfare reform are awaited but it looks as if any new money will come from Westminster mainly to deal with the past which is surely fair. Adds: United Executive request for a total of £2.1 billion over 10 more…

Time for other parties to break Executive ranks as Sinn Fein sacrifices northern interests for southern ambitions

Following on from Mick, let’s  begin by making the best possible case for Sinn Fein, the party which seems the most intransigent in the inter- party talks. The Conservatives’ strategy for the next five years to a produce budget surplus of £23 billion by 2019-20 is probably unsustainable, unless the rate of growth picks up more…

#SluggerSoapBox: In praise of Bob Purdie 1940 – 2014…

From Stephen Howe who is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Bristol, having previously taught for many years at Ruskin College Oxford and worked at the New Statesman.  Irish writings include the 2000 book Ireland and Empire, and contributions to Irish Political Studies, Irish Historical Studies, and the new Oxford Handbook of Modern more…

What Stormont must do to convince Cameron to up his offer

Are the political parties still hoping that David Cameron will turn into a White Knight and Save Ulster from Austerity?  What does Stormont have to do to persuade him to answer  their pleas to up his offer? Among the elements are: devising a proper three year  plan for the first time so as the world more…

Is it the end of the line for Queen Elizabeth?

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Earlier today the bookmaker Coral closed the market on bets around whether the Queen would announce in her Christmas broadcast this year that she was to step down. This would follow the practice of other European Monarch’s who have annouced their abidications in favour of a younger generation. There was a flurry of bets in more…

Wuz Rory really robbed of glory?

Just like the politicians, outrage seems to be the default position  if we don’t get our way, this time over  sporting prizes,  judging from the Belfast Telegraph’s reaction to Rory McIroy, the bookie’s favourite,   pipped  by Lewis Hamilton for BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Angry Northern Ireland sports fans last night slammed the shock more…

“Can Scottish Labour, under Murphy, learn to think big?”

So Jim Murphy, a machine politician from his very earliest days in the NUS, takes over the helm at Scottish Labour. He has an unenviable task ahead of him. The Yes campaign may have won the #IndyRef battle but the unionist parties now show every sign of terminal weakness in their war for the future of the Union. more…

Is the arrival of Cameron and Kenny more than part of a tired old ritual?

 The credibility and effectiveness of the devolved institutions is on the line, writes  David Cameron. Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy  warned if a deal isn’t done then the Northern Executive will “crash”. “The implications are that the Executive can’t continue to function. You go into a crash and you go back to an election and more…

Paper trail: from Northern Ireland’s hooded men to CIA’s global torture

Letter from Home Secretary Merlyn Rees to Prime Minister Jim Callaghan in 1977, when the UK was (successfully)arguing in Strasbourg that the techniques used were not torture

In August 1971 the UK authorities arrested and interned hundreds of men in Northern Ireland. Fourteen of them were selected for “special treatment” – torture in a specially-built interrogation centre at a British Army camp. The men were subjected to the soon-to-be infamous “five techniques” of hooding, stress positions, white noise, sleep deprivation and deprivation more…

I wish I had food banks when I was homeless

The topic of food banks came up this morning on social media and on BBC Talkback, it’s an area I have particular interest in because when I was younger, I spent some years (fairly important formative ones at that…) homeless. It wasn’t that I was living rough per se. I did spend a good few more…

Alex Salmond plans to return to Westminster

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If the good people of East Sussex think I’m as big a danger to the Westminster Parliament as Guy Fawkes, then they’re right. Alex Salmond Scotland’s former First Minister, Alex Salmond is attempting to make a return to the Westminster Parliament in May 2015. Salmond who has always enjoyed the House of Commons, will likely more…

RIP Fred Catherwood

All of forty years ago I sought  the views of Sir Fred Catherwood who has died aged 85, about Northern Ireland – I can’t remember what aspect exactly. I interviewed him in his  a large and rather bleak East Anglian house – a house rather like his religion I thought at the time ( rather unfairly). more…