Je ne suis pas Charlie; Je suis Gavin

Like just about everybody, I was shocked last week as news emerged of the terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and the cold bloodied murder of the magazine’s journalists and cartoonists, visitors the office, police officers and, later, customers of a kosher supermarket. And, while I would have liked the terrorists responsible for the attack […]

When is a journalist a “commercial observer”?

The Conservatives are in town – that’s if your town is Birmingham. They are relatively frequent visitors to the Midlands and a few years ago, with a confirmed commission, I applied for media accreditation to cover the conference. My application was denied. The reason that was given was that I was not representing a national publication […]

Outgoing MPs should foot the bill for self-serving by-elections

Democracy is priceless asset. Throughout the world, over the centuries, ordinary people have fought for the right to elect the people who represent them. It is a battle that has been going on in more recent times; and is even going on today. From the suffragette movement in the UK in the early 20th Century; through to […]

Unease at Parliament’s motion on ISIL

Today, Parliament will debate military action against the so-called Islamic State in Syria. Personally, I’m in favour of military action. But I’m extremely uneasy about today’s Parliamentary proceedings. This is the motion MPs will debate: “That this House condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and […]

Devolution and constitutional reform: Is it time to restore the Kingdoms?

Much has been said in the aftermath of Scotland’s “No” to independence about ensuring that the English get a fair deal in any further devolution package. But most of what has been said has ignored the basic question about what our democratic institutions are for. And ‘solutions’ are being put forward without any real debate […]

Vote UKIP (if you want a strong Europe that steam-rollers over Britain)

Today is the day Britain has its say on who will represent us in the European Parliament for the next five years. It is the oddest British election ever, because – judging from the candidates’ and parties’ leaflets – the politicians do not seem to understand what the election is about. They all seem to […]

Ex-gay ad may prove embarrassing to London Mayor Boris Johnson

London Mayor Boris Johnson may yet come to regret getting involved in the decision to pull an advert for the “ex-gay” group the Core Issues Trust after the Court of Appeal today ruled that he should be ordered to give evidence about his role in the decision. The Trust had agreed a contract with Transport […]

Goodnight Madiba

Nelson Mandela has died, it has been confirmed tonight. Madiba, as he was known, was the first post-apartheid President of South Africa, but he was far more than that. By the time I was born in 1970, Mandela had already been in prison for eight years for his leadership of the anti-Apartheid activists. This week […]

The Chancellor is expected to …

“The Chancellor is expected to…” that’s the headline on BBC Five Live’s breakfast news bulletins today – with similar being used across the BBC network and throughout the media. But what, exactly, is the Chancellor expected to do? Or, more importantly, who is it that expects him to do this? What we do know is […]

Actions speak louder than words

I have just received two identical letters from my gas and electricity supplier SSE (or, SSE Energy Supply Ltd and Southern Electric Gas Ltd, to give the separate companies their proper legal names). The letters begin: “When it comes to customer service, Southern Electric believe you should be treated as we’d like to be treated […]

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