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Guardian tempers its analysis of Sweden

After Polly Toynbee’s “The Most Successful Society” piece in the autumn, The Guardian has tempered its tone about the Nordic model in this piece by Nicholas Watt. The analysis is not too bad – Sweden does, without doubt, have a problem with its integration of ethnic minorities and I suspect […]

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345 deaths for the sake of their faith? The Hajj

Every able bodied Muslim is supposed to make a pilgrimage to Mecca during their lifetime, and yet it seems this duty is bound to involve fatal sacrifice for some. This year 345 people have died today (as I write – the number may increase) and more than 1000 have been […]

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The Dead Constitution Sketch

Have we not been over this ground before? Immediately after the French and Dutch No votes, everyone started to debate whether the European Constitution was dead or not. Then the Brits came along with their Presidency and put the lid on all talk. Now with the Austrian Presidency, the farce […]

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Excellent news: all of the UK might get a smoking ban

After months of nasty wrangling, it looks like the UK will finally get a full ban on smoking in all public places. The government has decided that MPs will be give a free vote on any proposals that go further than the previous botched compromise proposals that had advocated allowing […]

EU Politics

The George Galloway, erm, phenomenon?

He managed to beat Oona King in the East London constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow in the 2005 election, standing for his ‘Respect’ party. There were plenty of strange stories of what his activists managed to get up to. But then he managed to win a massive libel case […]

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Slow start to 2006 blogging!

Things have not really started well with blogging in 2006… First of all, I have been hit by all kinds of people trying to put Spam in my commenting system. Damn them. I am doing my best to sort it out – looks like Wordpress can withstand the storm! Trackbacks […]

EU Politics

What criticism of religion is acceptable?

The row over cartoons of Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten goes on and on. Arab Foreign Ministers yesterday condemned the Danish Government for not doing anything about the cartoons, so no surprise there then – article from the BBC here. Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen has stood firm throughout, […]

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British obsessions: police sirens

Barely a day goes past in London without hearing one: the wailing sound of a police siren. You hear the sirens so often that it becomes a bit like Peter crying ‘wolf’ – it is such a normal sound that people just tend to ignore it. This also applies to […]

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The High Commission of South Africa: what a mess

I have just spent most of the morning in long queues at the consular section of the High Commission of South Africa in London – my sister is due to spend 8 months working on charity projects there from 4th January onwards. Now, it might not be as nasty there […]

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UK voters are like grumpy teenagers

Downing Street policy analysts reckon that the UK electorate is presently behaving like a grumpy teenager: wanting responsibility, but not ready to handle it. They tend to view any attempts by the state to cajole or force them to do things as unwelcome authority, with the newspapers further fostering the […]

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Europe, wake up and feel good

I have just finished reading an extremely pleasant and gratifying book: T. R. Reid???s ???United States of Europe??? (buy it from Amazon here). Reid was the Washington Post???s correspondent in London from 1998 until 2002 and his book details how he sees the process of European integration. The book is […]

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I hate this damned island. Let me leave. Soon.

London can get somewhat frustrating, but take a trip out of the capital and into the wilds of the rest of the UK and the situation becomes to dire it???s horrid. I???m sat writing at my seat 42F of Coach C of the 20.15 departure from London Paddington to Swansea. […]