Ben Tavener from Curitiba, Brazil — São Paulo LGBT Pride Parade 2014

I was born in 1985. In 1987, just two years after I was born, the British Social Attitudes Survey reported that 75% of the British public thought that homosexuality was “wrong or mostly wrong” with only 11% saying that it “wasn’t wrong at all.” It, therefore, wasn’t surprising that in 1988 the Conservative government agreed to an amendment to the Local Government Act called ‘Section 28.’ Now notorious, this amendment stipulated that homosexuality could not be promoted by schools or local authorities.

Whilst this was an amendment made by a backbench MP, it was taken up by Margaret Thatcher’s government…

Socialism is not synonymous with statism. A socialism worth defending must be about radically transferring ownership, power and control to the people

Photo by Hennie Stander on Unsplash

What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘socialism’?

I ask because I think that many people associate socialism with one of two things: They either think about the totalitarian state socialism enacted under Stalin in the USSR or they think about European social democracy, which entailed, in the immediate post-war period, nationalisation, redistribution, Keynesianism and welfarism.

In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with these mental associations: Social democracy and Stalinism are both different forms of socialism that existed in the 20th Century and, for many people, they serve as a model of what socialism was…

By turning politics into a strategic game, the FPTP system is destructive of real democratic politics & stands in the way of change

Still from BBC News coverage of Election Night 2019

Leaving aside the formation of a national government in 1931, it has been 120 years since a single party in the United Kingdom was able to command the support of a majority of the voting public.

Even in his great landslide election victory of 1945, Clement Attlee’s Labour Party only won the support of 47.7% of the voting public and support for Mrs Thatcher’s Conservative Party never rose above 43.9%. Whilst Blair’s Labour Party managed to win an election in 2005 with only 35.2%

The language of the mob is being used to delegitimse those using the power of social media to fight for social justice

The Churchill statue being defended at a recent Kill The Bill protest in London. (Credit: HUCK Magazine video on Twitter)

The right have convinced themselves that the values that they hold dear are under threat from what is often described as a ‘woke mob.’

If I am to understand their argument, the claim being put forward is that woke acolytes want to supplant debate with an unthinking conformity to a set of group norms centred around the politics of identity. Should you resist, you will be threatened with reputational damage until you desist or face cancellation — either by being no platformed or by losing your job or social status.

The language of the mob is immediately instructive, because it…

Failing to teach students about the history of race and racism robs them of a more sophisticated understanding of history and it excludes and marginalises BME students. This must change.

Children in Brixton lining up to see Queen Mary in 1938

I was teaching History to a group of 11 year olds. The topic was the Norman Conquest. I’d just got to the point of the story where the Normans invade when a black boy put his hand up and asked:

“Were there any black people in Britain at that point, Sir?”

I didn’t have a ready answer, but I guessed (correctly as it happens) that, since the Roman Empire included northern Africa, then there must have been black Britons in Roman times. I therefore reasoned that it was possible that there were small numbers of black Britons in 1066.


Any analysis of his time as leader must focus on his achievements as well as his failures, not least of which was to decisively shift the debate in British politics to the left

When Corbyn’s name was put forward for the leadership of the Labour Party in 2015 it was possible to get 100/1 odds on him becoming leader. Many of those who supported him within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) did so because they wanted to broaden the debate, fearful that the party would be dragged to the right. Even Owen Jones, who would become one of Corbyn’s biggest defenders in the media, didn’t expect that he would win and feared that his presence in the contest had the potential to further discredit the left.

I, like many others, was shocked by…

The Prime Minister hides his obvious flaws in plain sight, so why are so many people willing to ignore them?

Confronted by an angry father, Boris Johnson was accused of coming to the hospital merely for a press opportunity. As the cameras flashed and the confrontation became heated, Boris Johnson said something remarkable, but revealing.

“Well actually, there’s no press here,” he mumbled.

The father looked stunned as he turned to the gathered press and pointed at the row of cameras that were filming and taking pictures of the confrontation.

“What do you mean there’s no press here?” he said, “who are these people?”

It was a striking moment because Johnson immediately realised that the mask had momentarily slipped. His…

The existence of billionaires is a symptom of a manifestly unjust society that cannot be justified to those who lose out.

Picture: Chronis Yan/Unsplash

Yesterday it was reported that Jeff Bezos increased his wealth by $13 billion in single day. Just this increase in his wealth is 30 times more than The Queen’s £350 million net worth. His current net worth ($189 billion) is just a little bit less than the entire economy of Greece ($218 billion) and according to a recent estimate, he makes $2,489 per second. This means that if he walked past a suitcase full of money, it would be barely worth his time to pick it up.

To say that he has ‘earned’ this money would be an abuse of…

The Labour Party has always been divided between pragmatism and principle. To foment real change, the party must find a way of combining the two by rooting its politics in a radical but realistic response to the current crisis.

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire/PA Images

The Labour Party has always been split between pragmatists and idealists. The idealists argue that there is no point in having a Labour Party unless it remains true to its values and the pragmatists don’t see the point in principle unless it can be put into practice.

The idealists are old-school Bennites and new-school Corbynites. They don’t see a conflict between their insistence on ideological purity and the quest for power. For them, the reason the progressive left don’t win power is because the establishment ensure that this is the case. They point to the unfair treatment of Jeremy Corbyn…

The qualities that served him well in his staggering election victory in 2019 are the same qualities that make him unfit for the task of governing in the current crisis

Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

It’s often said that political leaders should ‘campaign in poetry and govern in prose.’ A pithy reminder that the qualities that might serve a Prime Minister well when campaigning for office are not the same qualities that lead to a successful government. Theresa May and Gordon Brown knew how to govern but were woeful campaigners, Cameron and Blair excelled at both. By contrast, Boris Johnson is a Prime Minster who is never more comfortable than when campaigning, because the art of electioneering entails painting a picture for the electorate in broad brush strokes — something Johnson excels at. …

James Armstrong

Teacher of Politics who has taught Politics, Economics and Philosophy at A-Level and has had a very varied career in the teaching profession

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