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British Politics

Over the weekend the cash-for-access ‘scandal’ over Conservative party donors possibly having dinner with David Cameron in exchange for large donations broke, after a sting by Sunday Times journalists. Predictably the news was followed by ‘outrage’ from the press and the Labour Party over the affront to democracy such donations represented, followed by a statement from David Cameron claiming it had nothing to do with him and that Peter Cruddas was acting independently. Despite the vast amount of news coverage generated by this latest scandal, almost none of it is actually news. Should we be surprised that Party donors get to have dinner with Party leaders? If we are, it is only because of our own ignorance. It says quite explicitly …

The findings that have recently started to emerge from enquiries into the riots that tore through cities across England in early August 2011 paint a picture of systematic disadvantage, ingrained tensions, and radical disjunction between societal groups. Though it has proved impossible to pin down any single unifying cause for this undercurrent of societal disquiet, there is a strong implication that in the absence of concrete policy proposals to mitigate the riots’ causes and effects similar events are likely to take place again — possibly even in the near future. Though at the moment it is too early to provide much more than a diagnosis of ‘what went wrong’, I believe that the prevailing narratives about the riots have ignored …

On the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme this week, former Defence Secretary and darling of the Tory Right, Liam Fox, suggested that ‘it is a game for academics’ to discern as to whether a Cameron Government policy (i.e. without Liberal Democrat restraint) would be that different from a Coalition Government policy. I reckon it’s not just an ‘academic game’, but nevertheless I’ll give it a go. The central contention here is that a Tory majority Cameron Government would, mutatis mutandis, be no different to today’s Coalition Government in terms of ideology, public policy and behaviour. Some academics agree. Tim Bale and Robin Kolodny observed recently that Britain has a ‘Coalition government but one that, to all intents and purposes, looks, sounds and …

As the old adage went, the Tories used to be the party of the nation and Labour the party of class. Indeed, the term ‘One Nation’ is an old Tory favourite. Benjamin Disraeli’s description of Victorian Britain in Sybil, his 1845 novel, describes a society divided between the extreme rich and equally extreme poor. It was a compelling literary attempt to address the more undesirable impacts of industrialism, namely the problems of urban poverty and widening social inequalities. But things change. Nowadays, to many, the Tories steadfast adherence to the Thatcherite Treasury views of the 1980s makes the older ‘One Nation’ sentiment more anachronistic. Indeed, bankers seem oblivious to the big society. It seems Labour would be wise to pinch …