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United Kingdom

The Home Affairs Committee has recently published a report into the work of the UK Border Agency in which it criticises the UKBA for failing to deport more than 600 Foreign National Prisoners who were released between 1999 and 2006 and are still in the country. It also says the Agency is failing to clear the ever increasing “controlled archive” of unresolved cases in the Case Resolution Programme. The report calls on for the Home Office to ‘act immediately to deal with the public scepticism in the effectiveness of the UK Border Agency’. Keith Vaz MP (Labour), Chair of the Committee, said: The reputation of the Home Office, and by extension, the UK Government, is being tarnished by the inability …

When David Miliband spoke at the Cambridge Union last week, was he espousing a new, more creative foreign policy or did he simply wish to defend the Bush-Blair approach of the preceding decade? David Miliband has become something of a peripatetic political being. For large parts of the parliamentary year he simply disappears and people begin to ask the ‘what’s he up to now?’ question they asked of Gordon Brown. But suddenly, almost ex nihilo, he appears again and begins a flurry of speaking engagements, interviews and articles all to do, supposedly, with a political cause he has aligned himself to. The cause that prompted him to speak at the Cambridge Union and at other universities, for example, was the …

The Iraq war was not a success. It was a failure. A dismal failure, and Western governments should learn from their mistakes. Of course, nobody can deny the brutal crimes that Saddam Hussein was responsible for. The savage attacks against the Kurdish population in Northern Iraq, the invasion of Kuwait and the terrorising of innocent civilians in the town of Dujail after an assassination attempt serve as prime examples of the sadistic nature of the Iraqi dictator. The world is definitely safer without him, but this in no way outweighs what the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, have had to give up. Transparency International’s most recent Corruption Perception Index (measured in 2010) ranked Iraq as having 175th most …

Dr. Sophie Heine is a visiting scholar at the University of Oxford Department of Politics and International Relations, a Research Fellow at the Universtité Libre de Bruxelles and FNRS and a Wiener-Anspach Foundation Scholar; her research engages with identity politics and ideology in contemporary Europe. Here, she takes a moment to speak with Politics in Spires regarding the Occupy protests of 2011, and offers a preview of her forthcoming book. I. Your recent work, Oser penser à gauche (“Dare to think to the left”), argues that contemporary progressive politics must redefine its underpinning ideology and articulate a coherent, emancipatory platform for change. This analysis proves particularly relevant to the waves of “Occupy” protests that began in New York in October …

Religious freedom, if it means anything at all, must mean the ability of people of all faiths and none to practice their religion, to form religious associations and perhaps, if necessary, to be exempt from some civil laws, as Sikhs are relieved of the requirement to wear motorcycle helmets. These exemptions should be offered uniformly, based upon the religious beliefs and the impact of the exemption, not on the constitutional status of the religious organization involved. Religious equality means treating all religions the same: Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Buddhists Muslims and Jews, as well as all denominations within each of them. However, religious establishment (a term that may well be essentially contestable in British constitutional law) necessarily carries privileges with it …

At the Alumni Weekend 2011, Dr Mark Philp, Professor Simon Caney and Dr Adam Swift discussed the issue of intergenerational justice and asked questions about how we should allocate resources inter-generationally across areas such as welfare, pensions, higher education and the environment. By means of introduction, Dr Mark Philp, Fellow and Tutor in Politics of Oriel College and a Lecturer in Politics in the University since 1983 as well as a former Head of the Department of Politics and International Relations, set out some necessary assumptions for a worthwhile discussion of intergenerational justice: a non-deterministic world in which our choices actually matter, and an absence of either huge optimism or pessimism about the future (either of which would make worrying …

The role of the mutual sector in forging a strong economy and a more equal society is fast becoming hotly contested territory in British party politics. In the wake of the most severe global depression for more than eighty years and the search for viable and practical alternatives to neo-liberalism, politicians across the ideological spectrum have ostensibly vied to champion and take ownership of the mutualist cause. The values and institutions of mutualism have the potential to act as a vehicle for a new politics of the public interest after the financial crisis, or so the argument goes. For the left in particular, mutualism offers an alternative to the Coalition government’s invocation of ‘the big society’. Nonetheless, the operating frameworks …

Though Western media systems are going through a rapid and often painful transformation today with the rise of the internet and mobile platforms, the decline of paid print newspaper circulation, and the erosion of the largest free-to-air broadcast audiences, the ways in which governments provide direct and indirect support for the media have remained largely unchanged for decades. The bulk of the often quite considerable direct and indirect subsidies provided continue to go to industry incumbents coming out of broadcast and print, while innovative efforts and new entrants primarily based on new media receive little or no support. In central ways, public support for the media remains stuck in the twentieth century, and some parts of these support systems are …