The Internet at 50: Surveillance, Censorship, Control

2019 is the birthday year – the Internet is 50 and the WWW is 30. What started as a borderless free exchange of information and views, mainly between academic users, has transformed into a fully commercialized and ubiquitous communications mechanism. So ubiquitous, indeed, that it seems difficult to imagine life without it. So essential to…

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Racism and the Hostile Environment

In 2012 Theresa May, who was the Conservative Home Secretary at the time, introduced the Hostile Environment Policy with remarks including that: “The aim is to create, here in Britain, a really hostile environment for illegal immigrants”. The policy ran into trouble when Operation Vaken’s notorious ‘Go Home’ vans created a popular outcry. Overall, the…

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The Strange Death of the Conservative Party

You must have noticed. The Conservative Party just doesn’t seem like itself any more. Gone is the cautious pragmatism that once characerised it. The unifying principle of ‘one nation conservatism’ has been flushed away in favour of an unashamedly confrontational mode, whether in the guise of ‘a hostile environment’ or ‘people versus parliament’ posturing. The…

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Economic Illiteracy (3): “The Country Can’t Afford It”

The facts are deeply worrying. A third of the country starting to experience third world economic conditions? It makes the Brexit vote easier to understand, more as a political scream of anguish than a judgment on the EU. The housing shortage is damaging the UK economy, and the problem is getting worse by the day.…

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Why Did Some Newspapers Conduct A Three Decade Campaign Against The EU?

To see the scale of the problem take a good look at the Euromyths website. There it all is, neatly arranged in alphabetical order. Some of the references are comical, others are somewhat sinister. Of the 647 entries listed, 538 are attributed to UK newspapers. Of those 538 the top ten most frequently cited newspapers…

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New Left Thinking – Old Wine In New Bottles?

There’s a lot of talk about new ideas coming from the left, a rethink precipitated by the Great Crisis of 2008. This single event put paid to the idea of free market capitalism as somehow perfected and inevitable, the only conceivable economic system that could underpin a prosperous future. As a financialised world economy was…

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O’Connell’s Law of Political Nostalgia

Formally stated, the law amounts to something like this: At any given time, the ineptitude of our political leaders will leave us wishing they could be replaced by previous political leaders, who, at the time, we felt to be as inept as any political leader could be. Of course, the term ‘ineptitude’ doesn’t quite capture…

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Brexit: “It Will Be Terrible”

One of the recurring themes of Brexit since 2016 has been bewilderment and incredulity on the part of Remainers as to the obdurate resistance of the Leave camp to any arguments pointing out how much worse off Britain will be as a result of leaving the EU. The ‘divided nation’ description has become commonplace as…

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Economic Illiteracy (2): Rogoff and Chicken Soup

In a recent book, The Curse of Cash: How Large-Denomination Bills Aid Crime and Tax Evasion and Constrain Monetary Policy, distinguished economist Kenneth Rogoff argues, exactly as the book’s title says, that large-denomination paper money, cash, has a corrosive social impact, and that such forms of cash should be eliminated. My first response to this…

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