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No, you are not of ‘greater moral value’

No, you are not of ‘greater moral value’

I loathe the expression ‘check your privilege’ – it serves entirely to silence debate and foster division – but I did have an occasion yesterday when I truly understood the temptation to use it. I had been delivering a talk on how scientists can have a greater impact on public policy at one of the UK’s leading science institutions (which I shall not name, as in all other respects it is a truly fantastic place). During the Q&A, one of…

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Heroes of Brexit

Heroes of Brexit

Today, at 11pm, the UK will formally leave the European Union and regain its status as an independent nation. The struggle to secure British independence has been a generational one, secured in the teeth of political, business, academic and civil society establishment that was institutionally committed to Europe and that sought to deligitimise any who thought differently – from Cameron’s ‘fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’ to the endless claims of ‘stupid’, ‘bigoted’ and ‘uneducated’ thrown at Leavers since 2016. Yet…

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GuestBlog: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold’: Where next for the Liberal Democrats?

GuestBlog: ‘Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold’: Where next for the Liberal Democrats?

Jack Nicholls was once very nearly a political academic, but is now another thing. He considers himself an egalitarian liberal and Euro-pragmatist. He’s gotten used to the wilderness now. All views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the host of this blog. I have a leaflet in my house, somewhere, with the words ‘Project 320’ on it. It is amber and white, it was delivered in I think mid-November, perhaps earlier. It…

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What If? A Brexit Fantasy

What If? A Brexit Fantasy

This post is a fiction, a fantasy. The subject of this post was chosen by the winner of my pre-election sweepstake. It is intended to be plausible (though see the afterword), rather than probable, and a light-hearted exploration of how history could, in a very different world, have turned out differently. In particular, none of the positions, statements or actions taken by real-life politicians referred to in this piece should be taken as the actual positions, statements or actions they…

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Guestblog: The problem with the Labour Party (by Stephen Burgess)

Guestblog: The problem with the Labour Party (by Stephen Burgess)

Stephen Burgess is an academic scientist. Politically speaking, he self-identifies as left-of-centre, although he typically feels to the right-of-centre amongst other academics. He grew up with a pathological hatred of the Tories, but to this day isn’t fully sure where that came from. The views expressed in this post are those of the author alone. I am a scientist. When you are writing a scientific paper, you make your main point at the beginning, and then you provide evidence to…

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Age and wealth effects

Age and wealth effects

When thinking about how voting patterns differ with age, people distinguish between three types of effect: Age effects: The effect is a factor of the person’s age. For example, maybe young people are more likely to vote for a party promising lower tuition fees and old people for a party promising higher pensions. With an age effect, as people get older, their voting patterns will change. Cohort effects: The effect relates to a specific cohort of people (e.g. those born…

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Human fallibility and robust institutions

Human fallibility and robust institutions

Note: I began writing this post before the election; I finished it after. I’ve indicated where the break is. It’s amazing that a system of a billion weasels trying to hose each other, i.e. capitalism, works as well as it does. Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. Many human institutions are not optimised for perfection. They’re optimised for robustness. Capitalism is a case in point. Certainly, a huge amount of human endeavour is wasted in an arms-race of advertising, or in…

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It’s Brexit or Corbyn

It’s Brexit or Corbyn

Some of my friends reading this are fully commited You know who you’re voting for – and this post isn’t for you. Others will have voted to leave the EU. Hopefully you know that the only way to stop the arguing and get Brexit done is to back Boris and vote Conservative tomorrow. This post isn’t for you, either. But a goodly number of you are centrists or swing voters. You know who you are. You basically think the free…

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Why now, not then?

Why now, not then?

There’s a good question I’ve been asked a few times over the last week, usually by people who don’t usually vote Conservative but may be considering voting for Boris next week. It’s why are the Conservatives only pledging to do some of these things now, when they’ve been in power for nine years. It’s a reasonable question, but there are also some very good answers. 1. We have a new leader Boris Johnson is not David Cameron or Theresa May….

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Ten positive reasons to vote Conservative

Ten positive reasons to vote Conservative

With the general election just over a month away, here are ten positive reasons to vote for the Conservative Party. 1. We’ll get Brexit done. We’ll leave with the good deal Boris has negotiated, which takes back control of our laws, our money and our borders while permitting a close trading relationship – and we’ll do it quickly so we can get back to focusing on important domestic matters. 2. We’ll hire 20,000 new police officers. And we’ll make sure…

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