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Month: May 2019

Initial thoughts on the Augar Review

Initial thoughts on the Augar Review

The Augar Review of Post-18 Education was published today. Excellent summaries can be found on Wonkhe and elsewhere. My initial thoughts on its recommendations are below. Overall, it’s a highly thorough, thoughtful and evidence-based report. Weighing in at 216 pages, it’s packed full of statistics and charts and has made a real effort to get under the skin of the systemic pressures on institutions that drive the behaviour of the sector. The recommendations are similarly nuanced and costed rather than…

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Dawkins, Haidt and Harari on Religion

Dawkins, Haidt and Harari on Religion

It’s fascinating to compare the different views of Dawkins, Haidt and Harari on religion. All three approach it from a sociological/evolutionary perspective but small differences in assumptions lead to quite large differences in conclusions. Dawkins, as is well known, sees religion as a parasitic meme. It’s common across humanity simply because it’s good at spreading and we should examine how different religions grow purely on the basis of how optimised they are for growth, not on any impact they might…

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After May: The Way Forward for our Nation

After May: The Way Forward for our Nation

With May’s departure, the below sets out how I hope that events will unfold for the nation, and for the Conservative Party, over the next few months. 1. After a robust but civil contest, a Tory leader is appointed who is both genuinely committed to Brexit and who is willing to forthrightly champion conservative values, rather than speaking the language of the left(1). 2. New PM asks the EU to alter the Withdrawal Agreement to fully remove the backstop and…

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Leave or Remain? A 2019 Spotter’s Guide to MPs

Leave or Remain? A 2019 Spotter’s Guide to MPs

I had a conversation this week in which I referred to MPs as being Remain or Leave supporters, based on their 2016 vote. That person said, very reasonably, “Shouldn’t we be base things on their current positions, not on what they did in 2016?” That’s fair enough. People change their minds. And their are some MPs, such as Ben Bradley who may have voted Remain in 2016 but whose words and voting record since have been strongly pro-Brexit (though I’m…

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How to win broad support for green taxes

How to win broad support for green taxes

Three word answer: cut other taxes. Traditionally, Green parties sit on the left of the political spectrum. But environmentalism, in its broader sense, enjoys genuine public support across political boundaries. Care for the environment has deep roots in conservative political traditions, both religious (Genesis 2:15) and secular (Teddy Roosevelt creating National Parks). You don’t need to be a socialist to recognise that global warming is one of the major global challenges and that cutting carbon emissions would be a good…

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‘Don’t know they’re born’

‘Don’t know they’re born’

A major reason why young social progressives are turning against free speech is that they can’t imagine being in a situation where the authorities don’t share their values. This comes across very clearly in conversations about the limits of free speech, academic freedom, freedom of association and similar. Many are thoughtful, considered, reasonable people, willing to contemplate that maybe some ‘dangerous’ or ‘offensive’ ideas should be allowed to discussed, within certain limits. But as the conversation continues, you realise the…

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Wonkhe: In Defence of Academic Freedon

Wonkhe: In Defence of Academic Freedon

In my latest piece for Wonkhe I defend academic freedom and the importance of allowing those who would challenge orthodoxy to speak out without being silenced. I also set out some simple steps which university leaders could take to defend this freedom against those who would suppress any dissent. You can read the full article below: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/in-defence-of-academic-freedom/

Harvard descends to new lows in the war on academic freedom

Harvard descends to new lows in the war on academic freedom

It’s a fundamental of our system of justice that anyone accused of a crime, however vile, deserves a fair trial and the right to a defence. This applies to everyone: murderers, rapists, terrorists, racists, paedophiles – and even Harvey Weinstein. Defence lawyers who take on these unpalatable cases are understood to be fulfilling an essential role in the justice system, not to be personally supporting murder or terrorism. The students and authorities at Harvard University clearly think otherwise. This weekend,…

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Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Review: Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang

Minimal spoilers only – no major twists, but does reveal headline content and comments on characterisation, quality of endings and so forth. A brilliant collection of science-fiction short stories. Includes three Nebula Award winners and one Hugo Award winner; the title story, Story of Your Life, was the basis for the major 2016 film, Arrival. The stories are a little longer than most short-stories, typically 40-60 pages and are well plotted, deeply imaginative and have excellent characterisation. Most are set…

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It would be folly for either side to count on victory in a second referendum

It would be folly for either side to count on victory in a second referendum

In my latest piece for Conservative Home, I argue that the febrile politic climate makes the result of a second Brexit referendum inherently unpredictable. This was actually written two weeks ago, but due to local elections and other matters, I’ve only just got round to linking to it. Read the full piece below. https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2019/05/iain-mansfield-neither-remain-nor-leave-could-assume-victory-in-a-second-referendum.html

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