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Tag: Society

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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Twelve posts from my first year of blogging

Twelve posts from my first year of blogging

A year after this blog (re)started, I thought I’d share a dozen of my favourite posts. A mixture of those that were most read and most commented on at the time (on here or on Facebook/Twitter) as well as a few of my personal favourites. In chronological order: “Have had enough of experts…”: An attempt to find common ground A look at why Leave voters may legitimately share a sceptisism in some cases of experts who have very different backgrounds…

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How Identity Politics Divides Us

How Identity Politics Divides Us

Those of us who oppose to identity politics often do so because we believe that it is a worldview that increases societal division, by encouraging people to divide themselves into groups within society and then pitting those groups against each other. This would be in contrast to worldviews that strengthen society by seeking to focus on what unites and brings people together, perhaps as citizens of a nation, members of a community or even employees of a company. There have…

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Rights vs Freedoms

Rights vs Freedoms

Note that these are not new ideas; they have been discussed extensively in academia and elsewhere. But it is a lens that I find can be helpful. In some recent reading and discussions a concept that has come up is the distinction between freedoms and rights. Broadly, this states that traditional liberalism focuses on freedoms – for example freedom of speech, religion and association – whereas the modern social progressive movement focuses on positive rights, such as the right to…

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On Leaving the Civil Service

On Leaving the Civil Service

Almost a year ago today I formally left the civil service. Handing in my notice was one of the hardest things I’ve voluntarily done. I’d joined the civil service immediately after leaving university and loved it. I’d done incredibly exciting things, from meeting ministers, working on policy as it was formed, going to No. 10 and to the House of Commons and even working overseas in the Philippines. The work was meaningful, enjoyable and interesting; I’d worked with some of…

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Confirmation Bias and Vote Leave’s Crimes

Confirmation Bias and Vote Leave’s Crimes

The differing opinions over whether the fact that Vote Leave broke electoral law had any impact on the result of the Brexit Referendum offer one of the clearest examples of confirmation bias in recent history. In the absence of confirmation bias, opinions should be uncorrelated. The crime wasn’t discovered (or even suspected) until well after the vote, so there’s no way one’s views on the impact could have affected an individual’s votes. And while many other political issues are correlated…

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Poll: What’s the best term for the cultural left?

Poll: What’s the best term for the cultural left?

One of the things I oscillate on is what to call what the ‘cultural left’, ‘progressive’ or so-called ‘socially liberal’ political ideology. By this I mean the ideology which puts a strong emphasis on issues such as race and gender, LGBT rights, the environment, safe spaces and trigger warnings, is pro-immigration, pro-EU and so forth, as opposed to the more traditional economic left, which typically focuses on concerns such as class, economic redistribution, unionisation, nationalising industries, taxing the wealthy and…

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How times change

How times change

As someone who grew up in the ’90s, one of the things I find most surreal about current political debates is the left’s whole-hearted embrace of global capitalism. I was a teenager in the 90s and a student in the early 2000s. I remember reading about the ‘Battle of Seattle’ anti-WTO protests, the Make Poverty history campaign about debt forgiveness and learning in geography about the plight of Vietnamese coffee growers (caused by, so we were taught, the World Bank)….

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Wonkhe: The virtues of university giving

Wonkhe: The virtues of university giving

In my latest article for Wonkhe, I set out the moral case for why graduates should seriously consider donating to their university. As it’s a Wonkhe piece, the piece is written for an audience of those who work in the university sector, but the core messages and arguments apply to any graduate who feels they’ve benefited from their education. Read the full piece below: https://wonkhe.com/blogs/the-virtues-of-university-giving/

Endless surrenders?

Endless surrenders?

There’s a situation I observe that has a strange symmetry. Very often I’ll read someone on the left lamenting a series of endless surrenders to the right, such that officially left wing parties now embrace policies that once were considered right wing. They point to privatisation, immigration laws and casualisation of labour and say that forty years ago Jeremy Corbyn’s policies would be considered fairly moderate. And at the same time, I’ll often read someone on the right lamenting a…

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