Five for Friday

Band site here.

More about the band here.

Band website here.

Artist Myspace

“The only way to change things is to shoot the men who arrange things.” Website here.

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Chicken Fatee

Recipe can be found here.

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David Miliband on the state of the Left in Europe

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Local Volunteers Needed

On the off chance that I still have any local readers (or indeed any readers at all).  I had the following by email the other day:

SEEKING LOCAL VOLUNTEERS FOR A 3-4 MONTH STUDY. We are a design team from the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, University of London. We have been working on a variety of digital devices to expose the home’s microclimate – imagine a miniature weather station. Now we would like to lend these devices to you in return for telling us about your experiences of living with them.  If you are interested and live in SE4, SE8, SE14, SE23 please respond by April 9th 2011. Contact: Kirsten Boehner at kirsten@legiblelandscapes.org or call 07779.168.516.
http://www.legiblelandscapes.org/
http://www.gold.ac.uk/interaction/

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Blue Labour

Blue rose-artificially colouredThese thoughts are inspired by listening to the Radio 4 Analysis programme about Blue Labour.

I should, I think, be sympathetic to the arguments that the proponents of Blue Labour are making.  My formative political education was at feet of traditional right wingers in the Labour Party, people who argued that the fundamental role the party should play is to advance the interests of working people and who had little time for liberal social concerns.  Just the sort of thing that is captured by the “family, faith and the flag” mantra of Maurice Glassman and the Blue Labour thinkers.

Indeed some of their critique of Labour’s period in government clearly resonates with an awful lot of potential Labour voters.  And I’ve seen it myself on the doorstep; one of those crystal clear moments where I lost a little of my political naivety was being told very firmly by Black British lady that her political concerns were about the impact that immigration was having in her neighbourhood.

And it is good to have a coherent political philosophy to test our beliefs against.  The challenge that Blue Labour throws down isn’t one that we should treat lightly.

But, in the end I think it’s critique – or at least the one that is offered on Analysis – of New Labour is one eyed.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t think most people would say that the problem with New Labour was it wasn’t illiberal enough.  Nor were non-metropolitan voices a rarity, David Blunkett and John Prescott were as much a part of the government as Peter Mandelson and Charlie Falkner.

Perhaps more importantly I keep thinking that it is trying to fight the last war rather than offering a vision for the future.

Like a lot of Labour people I’m proud of many of the achievements of the last decade, but I do acknowledge that the flaws in that government were manifold and that it is time to rethink the vision we have of society and how we might achieve it.  I think Blue Labour reminds us of the need to build a coalition that takes the concerns of working people very seriously, and to find ways of enhancing mutual aid.  But we also need to encompass liberal concerns too.  Drawing our vision as tightly as Blue Labour seems to be doing isn’t the path back to electoral success.

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Media bias?

YouGov have done some polling on how various groups in society are portrayed in the British media.  It turns out that we think that young people are the most distorted; with 46% saying they think that as a group young people get an unfair portrayal.

They also asked about whether Conservative supporters and Labour supporters get fair representation and it’s this aspect that I’ve focused on in the slides below.

Clearly there are going to be a couple of big variables in there; if you’re a Tory reading the Guardian you might not feel as sure about the fairness of the portrayal as if you stick to the Telegraph.

But in essence Conservative supporters seem much surer that Labour supporters are being portrayed fairly (51%), than they are of their own portrayal (39%).  Which is interesting given the number of Conservative supporting media outlets there are out there.

Maybe Conservatives have bought the liberal media bias meme that has been so much a part of right wing American political discourse in the last decade.

YouGov don’t seem to have asked about how the Lib Dems supporters are portrayed.  I wonder why?

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Pear and Almond Tart

From 2011-03-20

Recipe here.

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Indicators for Health Inequality

You might have woken up like me to hear that:

Nearly half of all children in England are not reaching what teachers say is a good level of development by the age of five.

Which comes from data produced today by the London Health Observatory and the Marmot Review Team, which is a little wider than the headline.  They also look at average life expectancy, the percentage of young people not in education, employment and training, and how many people are in receipt of means tested benefits too.

They break this down to local authority level and as you’ll see in the slides I’ve produced below Lewisham’s challenge in tackling health inequalities is substantial.

Just to note, the inequality within Lewisham (as measured by the indicators around inequality in life expectancy, inequality in disability-free life expectancy, and inequality in percentage in receipt of means-tested benefits) seems to be less of an issue than it is regionally or nationally.

The question will be whether the Public Health Service when it emerges in a few years time will be able to make progress on tackling these issues.

They will certainly find that some of the levers that have been there in the past may have disappeared.  For example, the Education Bill that is currently going through Parliament removes the duty of schools to cooperate with the local authority; leaving up to schools to decide whether or not to do so.

Similarly, the impact of reducing the levels of funding for services that support the most vulnerable will without doubt make it difficult to have a positive effect on these figures.

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Warm in the Shadows

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Persistent Poverty in Britain

Via email:

I manage the non-profit public discussion series, 21st Century Challenges, at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) in London. We aim to inform and inspire public audiences, helping them to engage with important issues that face society in the coming decades.

I thought I would let you know about next event in the series, as it will be examining the issue of poverty in Britain.

Persistent poverty in Britain
When: 2 March 2011, 19.00-20.30
Where: Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
Tickets: £10 / £7 (Society members) Tickets can be book online at http://www.rgs.org/21cc or by calling our events team on 020 7591 3100

John Bird MBE – Founder and Editor-in-Chief – The Big Issue
Julia Unwin CBE – Chief Executive, Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Discussion will be chaired by Mark Easton, BBC Home Affairs Editor

Further details: http://www.21stcenturychallenges.org/focus/speaker-biographies1/

As the series is not-for-profit, we have a limited marketing budget for the events. Any help you could provide spread the word to people/networks that you think may be interested that would be most appreciated. The series is on twitter @21cc (www.twitter.com/21cc)

All of our talks are professionally recorded and made freely available on our website to try and help broaden our audiences.

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