Why Colombia faces a much stiffer Referendum test than Northern Ireland in 1998…

The Constitutional Court of Colombia has given President Santos four months to complete his four years of Havana Talks with the FARC and put the deal to the people in a referendum. Remind you of Senator George Mitchell in 1998, musing: ‘I’m fed up with these Stormont Castle Buildings, I’m having a child soon, I’m outta here by Easter, unless you guys get off the pot’? There are eight other uncanny similarities in the upcoming plebiscite across Colombia, with ours …

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This set of sensible recommendations subverts any notion that wellbeing might be cast as an abstract, woolly or unobtainable aspiration

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When Health Minister Simon Hamilton and Finance Committee Chair Daithí McKay speak at Carnegie UK Trust’s important wellbeing gathering tomorrow, their appearance will provide further evidence that the holistic agenda continues to boast substantial support across party and department. It has not been proceeding in a vacuum. As the debate around welfare continues its stubborn impasse, wellbeing appears less stricken. Both Hamilton and McKay, co-patrons of Carnegie’s engagement with the political establishment in this regard, have demonstrated a keen interest …

Read more…This set of sensible recommendations subverts any notion that wellbeing might be cast as an abstract, woolly or unobtainable aspiration

What can government engagement with ‘well-being’ bring to community confidence?

‘Well-Being’ is an odd term. It offends my grasp of the English language, in that I was never taught a verb: ‘to wellbe – I wellbe, you wellbe, he, she, it wellbes…’, nor even the slightly less gauche hyphenated ‘well-be’. Nevertheless, it has entered the policy lexicon, and is surely preferable to the simplistic concept of ‘happiness’, much beloved of tabloid editors, as they print interminable lists of towns, cities and regions making their citizens more or less happy / …

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How to win a Scottish Referendum – ten iron laws…

Leaving aside the politics of the upcoming referendum, for a moment, however hard that is, let me explore the ten iron laws of referendum campaigning: Referendums are not elections – they encapsulate issues and ideas in theory, rather than people and personalities; that is why political parties find them so hard – because parties are irrevocably wedded by endless experience of promoting candidates to viewing them through that prism. It also explains why opponents are usually keen to pin a …

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Time for a closer look at what’s under the bonnet of a Scottish referendum?

1974 and 1975 were rich years for student politics at the University of St Andrews – not one, but two general elections in 1974, followed by the ‘EEC’ poll of 1975; throughout the endless debates stimulated by the miners’ strike and consequential three-day week, the narrow Labour leads in February and October, followed by a large vote in favour of remaining in the European Economic Community I can never recall the possibility of a referendum on Scotland’s future being posed …

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Watching the Twelfth: Ladder of Escape…

Spellbound by Joan Miró’s brilliant exhibition at Tate Modern on Monday, it was fresh in my mind as we set off early on Tuesday 12th July for Augher and Clogher – in it, his ‘Ladder of Escape’ appears and reappears as a running theme, symbolising a way out, a hopeful exit, but sometimes a ladder of futility, going nowhere, leading to a dead end. Where would the Orange commemorations be leading? I walked down the Lisburn Road at 9.00, as …

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