First 100 days series: what is State Education For?

First 100 Days Series.

Education Network: what is State Education For?

Taking office in May, the new leader of the Department of Education will have to take the lead in responding to a number of critical questions. What is the role of academies and free schools within the English state education system? How do you close the gap in educational achievement? How should you assuage a workforce which feels overworked and disgruntled? Though these issues are pressing and deserve immediate responses, they all implicitly presume that we know the answer to a more profound question: What is state education for? This critical question has rarely been on the political agenda, resulting in a state education system bloated with inadequate responses to these urgent issues. This piece seeks not to provide any answers, but rather argue that even just careful deliberation of the question could be catalytic for positive radical transformation of the English state education system.


First 100 days series: Mainstreaming Mental Health

First 100 days series.

Health Network: mainstreaming Mental Health.

Mental Health is often considered ‘the Cinderella’ service of the NHS. Mental health is chronically under-funded, given a lack of priority and there exists a huge disparity of esteem in comparison to physical health. So, the question is: will Ed Miliband be the fairy Godmother who finally ensures that mental Health patients receive the services that they deserve?


First 100 Days Series: Adapting to a financial revolution

First 100 Days Series.

Finance Network: adapting to a financial revolution.

At the time of the 2010 election, the financial sector was still at a critical point post-crisis. The hoped-for global economic recovery was stuttering, international regulators were drafting a slew of new rules, and fundamental questions were being asked over the social cost of the bank bailout.


States of morality

If there is one question which haunts the hearts of those of us on the left with an interest in international relations it is this: is there a place in foreign affairs for morality? In a field where Bismarkian realpolitik has long reigned supreme, where anarchy and the infamous security dilemma are the ground states of being, does morality matter?


Blue Labour Returns

Of all the half-baked ideologies the opposition has flirted with over the last five years, none is more repellent than Blue Labour. Yet like a particularly stubborn brain-chewer from The Walking Dead, it shambles onwards in the face of every adversity, gobbling up column inches and spawning forth platitude after platitude- hectoring, moralising, criticising, sniping, compromising and equivocating.


To put it Bluntly

If you’ve seen the news recently, you’ll have noticed a row has flared up between two of the most unlikely people, namely Labour’s Shadow Minister for Culture, Chris Bryant, and James Blunt. The latter was angered by Bryant’s remarks that our media needs to be more diverse and gritty to better reflect contemporary Britain, and that currently it is too dominated by public-school elites and Downton Abbey type programming. This caused Blunt to lash out with a surprisingly vitriolic display resplendent of Thatcher-era rhetoric. He accused Bryant of being motivated by ‘the politics of envy’, stating “Mr Bryant's populist, envy-based, vote-hunting ideas” [are] more likely to hold the country back than "my shit songs and my plummy accent". He then continued to declare that his “boarding-school education had perhaps protected me from your kind of narrow-minded, self-defeating, lead-us-to-a-dead-end, 'remove the G from GB thinking' which is to look at others' success and say 'it's not fair'”.


Lucy Powell MP: into the breach

Lucy Powell was perhaps the candid choice for taking on the role of Shadow Cabinet Office Minister and vice-chair of the election campaign. Despite being relatively new to the House, having become MP for Manchester Central in 2012, she is a staunch ally of Ed Miliband. She previously ran his leadership campaign in 2010, and worked as his Deputy Chief of Staff after that. 

Now, however, she seems to be more in demand than ever. Her schedule already fully packed only three weeks into the job, we caught up with her about how it was all coming along.


Will a picture of Nick Clegg's face be enough?

An overview from Neil Coyle on his campaign strategy.

It is presumptuous to suggest we will beat the Lib Dems in Bermondsey and Old Southwark in May, given Simon Hughes’ majority and 30-year record. But we won a majority of councillors in the constituency this year on a 12.5% swing that would win us the seat if replicated again. Additionally, there is hope in that Lord Ashcroft’s local polling puts us neck and neck.


Labour must speak for England

The Better Together campaign may have limped over the line in the Scottish Referendum, but in no sense was this an enthusiastic endorsement of the Union. A recent poll declared that a majority of Scots now favour independence, and there have already been mutterings from the SNP of another independence referendum in the near future. Meanwhile the bad-tempered devolution debate in the House of Commons on the 14 October was dominated by the West Lothian question and ‘English votes for English laws’. It seems that the Union is destined to fragment further, and questions surrounding England and Englishness will be become increasingly pertinent in the years ahead.

The Scottish referendum revealed just how powerful a force nationalism can be in politics. Many of the discontents expressed by the Yes campaign were no different from those felt across the UK but draped in the flag of national identity, they captured imaginations and inspired people on an emotional level which has been so conspicuously absent from the contemporary political arena.


The immigration 'debate' has descended into racism- nothing more, nothing less

What a week it’s been; we’ve had two ‘-gates’, #CameronMustGo and even #OsborneMustBeUrineTested. Furthermore, last Friday frenzied shoppers trampled each other into linoleum floors trying to pick up some (let’s be honest, not that great) offers on TVs and electrical items. But I don’t want to talk about any of that. I want to talk about that which we are ‘never allowed to talk about’: immigration.


China: becoming the world's investor

As China continues its global expansion, the balance of the world economy is changing. Assessing this change and the future of China as a world player requires an understanding of the socio-economic narrative that underlies China’s growth. As China’s international investment presence continues to grow, the focus of this article will be to ask whether China’s ‘Go Out’ strategy towards overseas direct investment is a threat or an opportunity for the world economy. In particular, what are the implications of Chinese policy for developed countries such as Britain?


Labour must seize the initiative on crime and punishment

Cast your mind back to April 2010. While Gordon Brown’s unorthodox approach to winning friends and influencing people (step forward Gillian Duffy) will live longest in most people’s memories, the beleaguered PM wasn’t the only Labour heavyweight making waves on the campaign trail. John Prescott was also doing the rounds in marginal seats up and down the country. Armed with only a microphone and Labour’s fabled 1997 pledge card, Prescott tried to explain to voters that the party had delivered the brave new world that Tony Blair had promised 13 years earlier. 


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