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

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

Will you take a sausage roll First Minister?

Radio Scotland drama by David Ireland, also pictured actors Gary Lewis, Veronica Leer and Robert Jack

That’s a line from radio drama Trouble and Shame written by David Ireland, produced by BBC Scotland and broadcast on Radio Ulster/Foyle last Monday night. Andy Hunter is a slightly unhinged Glaswegian. He comes over and kidnaps the First and deputy First Minsters, holding them hostage in his car. Not for financial gain, or terrorist spectacular, but to force unionist Paul and republican Patsy to talk to each other and sort out the differences of their communities once and for … Read more

We’ll All Pay for Devolved Administrations’ Budget Cuts

The reality of massive public spending cuts has finally hit the devolved administrations (if not all their politicians). As Mick highlighted in his recent essay, NICVA’s report suggests that Stormont will have to make budget cuts of (at least) £1.2 billion in the next five years. Earlier today, the Independent Budget Review in Scotland recommended a fall in public sector employment of between 5.7% and 10% by 2014-15. In both Scotland and Northern Ireland, the debate about ring fencing health spending (which … Read more

Calman Will Deepen Scots Economic Misery

In May, the new coalition in Westminster pledged to implement the long-delayed Calman Commission recommendations for the Scottish Government. The Calman report, originally published in June 2009, was sat on by New Labour, but now its recommendations for Holyrood seem certain to be introduced within the coming months. The most eye-catching feature of Calman’s proposals is in the area of fiscal policy. Since 1998, Holyrood’s budget has doubled and many in the Parliament, particularly within the SNP, have long complained about the … 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

Slugger’s comment thread rebuild – redux

You may recall that – a few weeks ago – I posted an idea on how we can add value to Slugger’s comments thread. It met with a mixed reaction, and while some of you liked the idea and saw possibilities in it, there were also some extremely perceptive objections. As a result, we have ruled the idea out of bounds. We are keen, however, to try and give Slugger more of a community dimension for a number of reasons, … Read more

A solid statement that North-South cooperation is here to stay

Armagh is now on the Irish diplomatic circuit.  Next month the highly regarded Southern Joint Secretary of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC), Tom Hanney, leaves to become Irish ambassador to Belgium. His successor, Anne Barrington, is finishing her days as ambassador to Tanzania. The man who will fill in over the summer, the current Southern Deputy Joint Secretary, Bill Nolan, used to be ambassador in Zambia and Lesotho. His predecessor, Niall Honohan, is now ambassador to Saudi Arabia. A … Read more

Friday thread: Improving Slugger’s comments

One of Slugger’s virtues is its comments thread. Unlike a lot of blogs, Mick applies a certain standard and trolls, threats, sockpuppetry and flamebaiting are generally discouraged. This isn’t done perfectly or consistently because it’s a big job to do and involves hours of unfunded work. We do the best we can under the circumstances – and at least half the job is done when people find themselves occasionally clipped. For the most part, commenters are better-behaved on Slugger than … Read more

From the Scotland Bill to Scottish independence…

The inclusion of the Scotland Act amongst the UK Government’s 22 Bills has pushed Scotland’s place in Britain back up the discussion list in many quarters. Personally I am surprised that the Conservatives have moved so quickly on the issue when it potentially poses such a risk for the continuation of the union, particularly given that David Cameron claims to have the Union Jack stamped onto his insides like a stick of rock. For me, the implementation of the Calman … Read more

Gordon Brown’s gaffe ‘detoxifies’ Tory immigration policies…

Interesting times. Danny Finkelstein said on Newsnight last night that Brown’s clumsiness comes already discounted with the price, and therefore this won’t have much of an effect. I beg to differ Danny. It will have an effect almost precisely because in comparison with the larger affairs of state, it is relatively trivial. It will matter, because it shifts more of those crucial folk with light preferences in politics (ie, the ones who still ‘don’t know’ when they lift the pencil … Read more

Election 2010: Smarter GB electorate playing with the political classes?

Alex Kane reckons that the Tories will still make it across the line in this election. My own view is that the forces at work are more complex than at any time in my memory (and I can go back to about 1970), not least because of the complex tools available via the net (take a bow Electoral Calculus). I suspect the humble two party swingometer is functionally dead from here on in. Regardless of the outcome of this election. … Read more

Sunday polls: Conservatives nose ahead in a volatile race

Still not brilliant news in Sunday’s polls for the Tories, but I would rather be in their shoes than Labour’s today: no momentum and the campaign (substance vs, erm, ‘the damned Tories’) is slowly disintegrating. Things are still holding up pretty well for the Lib Dems. And after last week’s wobble (as Clegg came into the frame) Cameron’s ratings seem to be heading north again. If I were a Labour hack, one thing (amongst many) to worry about is not the polls … Read more

Are Tory bloggers an asset to their party?

Hindsight is a great thing isn’t it? Surely we all saw that the Tories weren’t on a winner going into an election with the promise of nasty medicine? I mean, I wondered if it would hurt them, but at the time, it was a consideration that got crowded out by others. But it hasn’t worked, has it? The bookies should be paying out already to Tory punters, given the state of the economy and Brown’s lack of charisma. So why … Read more