Slugger’s site moderation

Just a quick reminder: Slugger has a comments policy. Personal insults, smears and rudeness are not supposed to be tolerated here and we try to stay on top of this with the ‘delete’ key as much as we can. Normally, Mick picks up a lot of this kind of thing, applying his patience and charm (virtues that not all of us are blessed with). But Mick’s away at the moment and not able to get involved. We know that a … Read more

Political Innovation no6: Citizen-control of personal information

This is a cross-post by William Heath – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. If the big political innovation of the moment is to give power back to people, then a good place to do it is with personal data. Whose data is it anyway? Whose health, whose education, whose identity, whose shopping history, bank details, travel plans, creditworthiness? Yet all these personal details, which affect us, are stored on hundreds of state and private-sector databases. If I … Read more

Tory welfare reform, or social Blitz Krieg?

I was struck by George Osborne’s announcement on benefits cuts, but having moved out into the sticks whilst Slugger Central has a new back wall put to it, I missed the opportunity to blog it. Lee beat me to it, and made on of the points I would have made: The idea of capping the welfare levels is an interesting one that has a basis in the principle of fairness.  However, you do wonder if it is a means of … Read more

Service announcement: Minor Facebook / Twitter-related tweaks to Slugger

At the top of this post, there’s a lovely new ‘Facebook Like’ button and a ‘Tweetmeme’ link on the left. These are designed to help you flag up anything you read and like to your followers as well as giving our contributors a bit of feedback. These things only work, of course, if you’re on Facebook / Twitter. Looking at the poor quality of spelling and punctuation in the comments thread, we know that you are all crying out for … Read more

Political Innovation no 5: Government information? Get the public to provide it!

This is a cross-post by Lauren Currie – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. For too long, policymaking has been monopolised by civil servants, self-serving pressure groups and sensationalist journalists. We get a vote once every four or five years and we’re expected to be satisfied with that. Public services are too important to get lost in headline issues, and too big to leave to those who have the time and energy to write letters or sit on … Read more

Pope’s visit and “historical ignorance—that great anaesthetic of all debate in England”

We’ve had a few emotive posts on the Pope’s – in the end – fairly quiet and unobtrusive visit to Britain. Ironically, his visit to the British parliament was shunned by both First and deputy First Ministers for different reasons. Brian says it’s because Britain is a civil nation. Well that depends on which way you look at things. Bagehot’s Notes gets closest to contextualising the terse and downright rude reception given the Pope by some of Britain’s foremost public commentators: … Read more

Cheap flights explained

I probably wouldn’t usually use Slugger to just post up funny things seen on the internet, but seeing as ‘budget’ airlines business practices and the politiking around City Airport have been a theme here, I thought you’d enjoy this from Fascinating Aida: Paul EvansLiving in London but working all over Britain and Ireland. A left-leaning Labour Party member and blogger. I’m on twitter as @paul0evans1 and I blog mainly at the Local Democracy blog though I’m in lots of other … Read more

Political Innovation no 4: See Change – opening policy research to the public

This is a guest cross-post by Ivo Gormley – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. Although Government claims to want our participation and wants us to appreciate its policies, it hides the evidence on which it bases its policies in fat documents and reports that are hard to read and only available free at special events at think-tanks around Whitehall. If we want participation in politics in a way that goes beyond choice we need to share policy … Read more

Political Innovation no 3: Assertion-flagging: for less partisan, prejudiced blogging

This is a guest cross-post by Andrew Regan – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here. Most political bloggers are motivated to fight what they see as bigotry, prejudice, and ill-informed, unjustifiable assertion. This is a fine and noble cause, because the spreading of false beliefs – without the evidence to support them – is bad for all of us, as is the displacement of informed argument by mere rhetoric. All the more so when the perpetrator is powerful … Read more

Political Innovation 2: The politics of buying things

This is a guest cross-post by Dominic Campbell – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here: Well, you wouldn’t still be reading had I called it the politics of procurement now would you? (no, stop – don’t go!). No-one who engages with government procurement comes away impressed with it. It’s a process that wastes £billions and rewards process over outcomes. Yet we all know that, deep down, it’s a symptom of a political problem. It is a system set … Read more

Talking to a brick wall: how to make politicians listen?

It took me a long time to warm to advertising agencies. The first time I worked with one I was working in sales management on Fairy Washing Up Liquid. I was due to attend a meeting at which I was to be told what consumers really thought of the brand. I remember my reluctance to attend. Surely, I reasoned, we already knew the answer to this question as millions of consumers picked up the dark green bottles off the shelf … Read more

#Hackgate: An inquiry would go to the detail no one else wants

I honestly thought we’d seen the last of the (or as Dizzy puts it, the unhacked stupidity of individual politicians) #hackgate scandal last summer… According to a lengthy New York Times piece, apparently not. That said, apart from the onset of a judicial review, apart from evidence from ‘unnamed sources’, I cannot see what distinguishes the current situation from the way it was left last summer. The shabby dealings and evasions of News International are the same now as then… But … Read more

Oppression through the policing of clothing

France’s lower house of parliament recently approved a bill to ban the wearing of a burqa or niqab in public. People caught wearing garments “that hide the face” will be fined 150 euro and those who force women to cover up could be fined up to 30,000 euro and face a one-year jail term. Some of those in favour of the ban say it stems from the French concept of laïcité, a model of secularism which upholds freedom of and … Read more

Political Innovation no1: Towards Interactive Government

This is a guest cross-post by Tim Davies – originally posted on the Political Innovation site here: The communication revolution that we’ve undergone in recent years has two big impacts: It changes what’s possible. It makes creating networks between people across organisations easier; it opens new ways for communication between citizens and state; it gives everyone who wants it a platform for global communication; and it makes it possible to discover local online dialogue. It changes citizen expectations of government. … Read more

Launching the ‘Political Innovation’ project

When bloggers meet, I often find that old allegiances (be they left right, or Unionist/Republican) often dissolve into a different political spilt. Those of us who imagine that we ‘get’ the read-write web against the political colleagues that we have who, we believe, fail to foresee the possibilities or the threats. I’ve occasionally witnessed left-right-and-centrist bloggers in (non) violent agreement with each other – not about political direction, but about what is possible in harnessing the power of the web. … Read more

NI – soon to be the towing and clamping capital of the UK

Car being lifted and towed away in front of Belfat Hilton Hotel in 2008

Belfast is the libel capital of the world – Britney Spears took action through Belfast courts a few years ago – and now Northern Ireland is to remain the towing and clamping capital of the UK. Car clamping on private land was banned in Scotland back in 1991. Now as part of the Freedom Bill, legislation will be introduced in Parliament in November to outlaw “cowboy” clamping and towing on private land in England and Wales. (Landowners will be encouraged … Read more

Lost opportunities the common theme of Labour, past and present

Blair looking back and David Miliband .looking in both directions- it’s been a week of contemplation for Labour in unfamiliar opposition, as the coalition absorbs the pressures of government. Ironically the common theme of the former and the most likely future leader was lost opportunities, under Blair and under Brown. From Blair a confession; from Miliband a bold attack on Brown. At the Institute of Government the former Prime Minister laid out his mistakes with some frankness and gave advice to … Read more