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

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