Soundings

Articles from No. 44, Spring

After Copenhagen: It Will Take Strong Political Will to Overcome the Sources of Resistance to Meaningful Action on Climate Change
********** The debacle of the Copenhagen conference is only the beginning of a protracted period of international negotiations which, at least at the moment, look likely to come to grief. Another conference is promised for 2010 in Mexico, but if...
A Social-Democratic Sheen on a Neoliberal Core
Peter Mandelson's speech to the Work Foundation, Going for growth: building Britain's future economy, January 2010 Lord Mandelson's speech to the Work Foundation in January 2009 (available at www.theworkfoundation.com/) began with a bold claim that...
Ethical Socialism: A Re-Engagement with the Traditions of Ethical Socialism Offers Valuable Insights for the Renewal of the Centre Left
********** We still live under the long shadow of Margaret Thatcher's avowal to abolish socialism. For a decade New Labour banished the word. Exponents of the Third Way declared that socialism was dead. It was an outdated doctrine, despised by the...
Everything to Play For
The shadows of the 1970s still hang over the Labour Party-which has not since 1979 been able to put together a winning coalition that includes the aspirations of its core supporters. Once the left alternative to the cumulative problems of the postwar...
Filling the Void: Burnley and the Everyday Politics of the BNP: What Are the Reasons for Recent BNP Electoral Gains?
********** In the 2002 local elections in Burnley, the BNP received almost 10,000 votes, securing its first elected representatives since 1993. By the following summer the party had eight local councillors, briefly making it the main opposition...
Global Crisis and the Developing World: The Slump-Unlike the Preceding Boom-Is Only Too Inclusive
********** Developing countries have never been immune to the storms that rage in financial markets in industrial countries, or to the impact of recession in the core of capitalism, but the recent period is somewhat unusual in the history of global...
How Soaring Inequality Contributed to the Crash: Inequality Is a Cause, as Well as an Effect, of the Crash
********** Despite a series of 'stop-go' crises between the Second World War and the early 1970s, the UK experienced only one very shallow and short-lived recession in this period-in 1961. In that year output fell by 0.2 per cent over two quarters....
Interpreting the Crisis: Doreen Massey and Stuart Hall Discuss Ways of Understanding the Current Crisis
********** Doreen There are many different ways of thinking about the current crisis, but certainly one useful way is to think about the present as a conjuncture-this way of analysing was very productive in the discussions about Thatcherism in the...
Making Banks Fit for Purpose: Banking Reform Must Be Based on an Alternative Vision of Their Role in Society-And a Better Understanding of Their Recent Disfunctioning
********** The December 2009 Pre-Budget Report announced that banks paying bonuses of more than [pounds sterlling]25,000 would be levied with a non-deductible tax. This swipe at the bonus culture marked an apparent symbolic break with the previous...
Media Prospects: Georgina Henry, Simon Bucks and Julian Petley Talk to Joy Johnson about What the Future Holds for the Media
********** What kind of political changes do you think are on the horizon? Julian One major problem is the threat that a future Conservative government will abolish Ofcom-which may have its faults, but is nonetheless a useful arms-length organisation....
Pensions: Time to Vote with Our Money: The Vast Pool of 'Workers' Capital' Tied Up in Pension Funds Represents a Potential Source of Leverage for the Securing of More Responsible Corporate Behaviour
********** The size and power of workers' pension funds has grown astonishingly in recent decades. In the UK pension fund assets are currently worth well over 80 per cent of national GDP ([pounds sterlling]1,150bn); (1) and the figure continues...
Talking of Mothers: Maternity Is Returning as a Central Subject of Discussion: What Effects Does This Have on Our Wider Thinking?
********** I come here as wife, I also come here as a mother; that is my primary title, mom in chief. My girls are the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about when I go to bed. When people ask me...
The Broken Society versus the Social Recession: How Should We Approach the Social Problems of a Post-Crash Britain?
********** Politics is about the defining of crises. If everything is just fine, people have no interest in changing anything, or in trying out something new and potentially risky. But if convinced that things somewhere are going very wrong people...
The Future of Roads: We Need a Better Road Politics, to Help Us Explore More Imaginative Possibilities for Getting People out Their Cars
********** You can learn much about recent British history and politics just from driving along a single stretch of road. Our collective hopes and fears about the kind of society we want to live in lie buried in the asphalt. The history of roads...
The Labourist Tradition: A Return to Labourism-Not the Same Thing as the Labour Party-May Now Be Our Best Hope
********** The main progressive political party in Britain for a hundred years has been Labour, which is distinguished from European socialist parties by its close and organic links with the trade unions. However, the core, traditional working-class...
The Return to Elitism in Education: A Society's Attitudes to Innate Intelligence Are Closely Correlated with Its Levels of Inequality
********** As inequality becomes ever more deeply entrenched into contemporary everyday life, there has been a creeping return to the idea of innate ability. At the same time, priorities in education have become increasingly determined by a utilitarian...
Transforming Welfare: New Economics, New Labour and the New Tories: We Need a Transformation in Welfare Provision, but Even More Important Are Measures to Tackle the Underlying Causes of Inequality
********** Over sixty years we have grown accustomed to benefits and services provided by the welfare state. All the while, the volume of provision has expanded exponentially, driven by a growing and ageing population, by rising public expectations,...
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