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Something Old, something New, something Borrowed, something Blue: is ‘Blue Labour’ part of the left response to the rise of UKIP?

May 7, 2013

It is a commonplace for commentators to say following the recent success of UKIP in the shire elections, that it poses a threat to Labour as well as the Tories. There is some truth in this, but a strand of thinking in the Labour Party has been grappling with some of the issues UKIP poses […]

Responsibility without power: the fate awaiting newly elected councillors

April 23, 2013

There was a really good April Fool this year from green think tank the Green Alliance   announcing the abolition of the Department for Communities and Local Government. Apart from the clue in the date of the blog, it didn’t take long to realise that it was a jape because of the wonderful comment about how […]

Green Deal: deal or no deal?

March 23, 2013

The Government’s much-heralded ‘Green Deal’ (1) was launched on 28 January. The objective is very worthwhile – to provide a funding mechanism to enable a lot of the 20-odd million homes in the UK which are energy inefficient to be retro-fitted with insulation and energy efficient appliances like boilers and heating systems that greatly reduce […]

Council tax: the new Poll Tax

March 5, 2013

The Poll Tax riots in 1990 famously brought down Mrs Thatcher and led to the hasty introduction of the Council Tax. Twenty three years later are the reforms to Council Tax due for implementation in less than a month, about to bring the Poll Tax back from the grave? From 1 April, instead of the […]

Reflections on how I came to be influenced by the politics and culture of William Morris

January 31, 2013

As a child in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s I was brought up in the village of Wootton near Woodstock on the edge of the Cotswolds, about 12 miles from Oxford. The village residents included a fair number of writers, artists, journalists and dons. Amongst them were Edmund and Meg Penning-Rowsell, who were great […]

‘City Deals’: a missed opportunity for green growth?

January 15, 2013

Today sees the deadline for the submission of the second round of ‘City Deals’. Twenty cities and city regions are putting proposals to DCLG based around four ambitious objectives to: • Boost local economic growth • Rebalance the economy spatially and sectorally • Decentralise the powers and levers cities need to drive local economic growth […]

Forbidden Fruit: a meditation on science, technology and natural history

December 29, 2012

  Heathcote Williams is a story teller best known for his epic poems such as ‘Whale Nation’ and ‘Autogeddon’. His latest collection of sixteen poems described as a ‘meditation on science technology and natural history’ reflects this story telling skill. It is by turns topical, political and personal. ‘Being kept by a jackdaw’ is a […]

‘Fracking’: America’s new gold rush

December 11, 2012

I was lucky enough to be in the United States for much of the final stages of the US presidential campaign and got to see all the presidential debates. Commentators noted that it was the first time since 1996 that the debates made no mention of climate change. Indeed the most notable reference to it […]

Nuclear power: no answer to energy policy in a changing climate

November 26, 2012

It is eighteen months since the meltdown of the Fukushima Daichi nuclear power complex after the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. Globally, reaction to this series of events has been mixed, with a number of countries including Germany reaffirming their intentions to get out of civil nuclear power generation, others like China and Indonesia […]

‘Edgelands’, urban agriculture and climate camps: towards a future of prosperity without growth.

November 13, 2012

My reflections on a  couple of great books on some of my favourite subjects,  by Paul Farley and Michael Symmonds Roberts  ‘Edgelands: Journeys into England’s true wilderness’, and Owen Hatherley, ‘A guide to the new ruins of Great Britain’. ‘Edgelands’ are those spaces where the veneer of civilisation peels away. They are the debatable spaces […]