'We are not New Labour or Old Labour but Manchester Labour'
I'm sad to report that the North West Enquirer has gone into administration, hopefully it can be rescued but it's website is still active and I have found a great article on it which I want to reproduce here as for one thing we don't know how long it's going to be on their website and I think it's worth preserving. It is about Sir Richard Leese who is the Labour leader of Manchester council and Manchester politics in general. Fascinating topics if ever there were.
'We are not New Labour or Old Labour but Manchester Labour' by Kevin Gopal _____________________________________ Published on Jul 13 2006
AFTER a decade something’s finally stuck to Richard Leese. The civic leader, who more than any other has managed to dodge public rows and accusations, has been hit – with a knighthood.
Leese became leader of Manchester City Council just weeks before the 1996 IRA bomb attack on the city centre. In the ten years since there’s been the odd spat with the chief constable over police performance and he’s been put on the defensive over Urbis, but, by and large, he’s evaded the controversies that attended another municipal knight, Sir Albert Bore in Birmingham, or Mike Storey, the former Liverpool leader.
Last month came Leese’s knightood, for services to local government. “I’m very pleased,” he says, sitting in his shirtsleeves at the table in his town hall office. “Like anyone else I think the personal recognition is great and I have to say that councillors don’t get it very often. But I got it because of what’s happened in Manchester over the past decade. I wouldn’t deny I played a prominent role but a phrase we use more these days is Team Manchester and it’s recognition of Team Manchester.”
A knighthood probably wasn’t what Leese had in mind when he came to Manchester in the late 1970s. Born and brought up in Mansfield, he graduated from the University of Warwick and worked as a teacher in Coventry and the US before moving to Manchester to take up a post as a youth worker. He came into politics via trade unionism and opposition to Thatcher’s cuts and, inspired by Labour’s swing to the left, became a Crumpsall councillor in 1984. “That swing to the left was certainly a positive thing as far as I was concerned – even if it did make us unelectable.”
At the time, Manchester – led by Graham Stringer – Liverpool, Sheffield and London boroughs such as Lambeth, believed they could take on Thatcherism and win. But Leese draws a contrast between the libertarian tradition of Manchester’s left and the militant-dominated Liverpool and Lambeth. “If the Trots had been dominant I don’t think I would have been involved, at least not to the level I have been.”
Young, idealistic and learning on the job, Manchester’s councillors joined those in the other cities and refused to set a rate in protest against cuts. But they blinked first when central government refused to buckle and when Labour failed to win the 1987 general election there was no plan B. Some councillors walked away from mainstream politics; others, like Leese, stayed, believing that as Labour councillors they continued to have a duty to represent Manchester’s people.
“We had to work out a plan B, which I suppose was what now would be described as pragmatic but I think it’s far more analytic than that,” says the holder of a maths degree. The plan was to tackle unemployment and poverty not by a welfarist approach but by getting people into jobs or, if they were in poor jobs, improving their skills.
“Clearly given that local authority and public budgets were in decline the jobs weren’t going to come from the public sector so there’s only one other place – the private sector. If we weren’t going to engage with the private sector we weren’t going to create the employment we believed we needed in Manchester.”
Leese says that approach has created economic growth that in parts of the city outstrips the South East, as well as a growing pride in the city. Together they make Manchester a much better place to live than 20 years ago. But he’s careful to avoid that territory where civic pride becomes civic hubris – there’s no talk of “world-class cities” from him – and he admits that the job is only half done. With unemployment in parts of the city reaching 50 per cent of the working-age population, “there is still a long, long way to go”.
Some see the gulf between the city centre and wealthy suburbs, on one hand, and the poorer parts of Manchester as evidence of a trickle-down approach to urban development that doesn’t really work. But for Leese it’s more a question of timeframes. Manchester’s decline took 75 years. “The idea we can turn it around in just a couple of years is a non-starter. One of the strengths since the early 1990s is to think about regeneration in 15 to 20-year timescales.”
When it comes to regeneration, the council’s chief executive, Sir Howard Bernstein, has a higher profile than its leader. But it’s a mistake to think that means Bernstein holds all the power. He couldn’t operate as he does unless Leese had the self-confidence to give him his leash.
“Howard is a very talented person. We wanted to make sure he could use his talents in particular ways and not get bogged down in the minutiae of the bureaucracy of the council. Our own relationship is on an ad hoc basis. We have no structured meetings. Sometimes we can meet six times a day. Some weeks we might not meet at all but exchange the odd text message or phone call.”
Manchester’s success in regeneration prompted one Labour source recently to call the city a “metaphor for New Labour”. Leese is adamant, in a rare soundbite, that “we are not New Labour or Old Labour but Manchester Labour”. The truth is that Tony Blair needs Leese more than vice versa.
Leese was opposed to the Iraq war and has criticised the government on other matters but says the good outweighs the bad. As evidence he points not only to Labour winning a third term nationally but Manchester Labour picking up seats from the Lib Dems in May’s local elections.
As for the post–Blair landscape, he says it would make no more sense for a new prime minister to kick over Blair’s traces than for Leese himself to have radically changed direction when he took over from Stringer having been his deputy for six years. Instead, he says: “You’ll see a continuation of policy but addressed in a different way – more a change of style than substance, a change of style that I’d sum up as a more inclusive approach.”
Manchester is looking to central government on two major issues. Leese says he is confident that last week’s announcement of funding for Metrolink expansion will be followed up with a successful bid for money from the Transport Innovation Fund, meaning expansion can be delivered in one and not two phases.
On the forthcoming White Paper on local government, likely to offer more power to city-regions, he calls for an “evolutionary approach” that would build on the co-operation achieved through the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities, the grouping of ten councils set up after the abolition of Greater Manchester Council in 1986. That means no new tier of government, no London-style assembly or mayor and certainly nothing involving a referendum, he says.
Leese also insists that tensions between Manchester and the rest of the North West have diminished. He has played a full part in regional politics, supporting elected assemblies – unlike Stringer – when they were on the cards, sitting on the reorganised North West Regional Assembly and chairing its housing board.
But Manchester is where he intends to remain. Aged 55, he has no intention of following Stringer into the Commons or indeed going anywhere else.
“Am I going to go and waste time in Parliament or something like that as a backbencher? Absolutely not.
“Age makes a difference. Graham was ten years younger than me when he went to Parliament. If I was 35 and had been leader then I might think differently. Actually, I don’t think I would.”
¶ 10:49 pm5 comments
Chris Barrie - What a guy! Chris Barrie, what can you say? He's the man. Obviously a actor of comic genius. Not only is there Arnold Rimmer, there is also the gone but not forgotten Brittas Empire and a whole host of other stuff you can check out on his website here. The really cool bit is that it looks like you can get a signed photo! Well that's my Crimbo presents sorted.
¶ 10:30 pm0 comments
Fly me to the Moon - Update.
I have looked this up and worked out that if you used Andrew Rosindell's travel expenses at the same rate as the Manchester to London Megabus rather than the magic carpet he uses you could travel there and back to the Moon more than twice!
Perhaps he is trying to store up the money for a European bid for lunar glory from his own travel expenses. I suppose that would be the one good thing about a future Tory government that we would find out about a lot more of this and they would have more opportunity as well, indeed the only good thing as they would bugger up the country a treat no doubt.
¶ 10:19 pm0 comments
Keith Bradley in hospital shock!
Fortunately this is good news. Keith Bradley the former MP for Manchester Withington and recently enabled Lord is to become a member of the Christies Hospital board. This news brings extra pleasure to those who know about the election campaign in Manchester Withington where the campaign of now MP John Leech by name, Leech by nature, was an example par excellence of Lib Dem bare faced lying cheating misleading disreputable scaremongering if ever there was one.
What they did just before election day was to say that Christies was going to shut. There was never any indication that this was infact the case. It was sheer scaremongering of the lowest order and then that oiky little toad for an MP Leech gets elected by a few hundred votes.
I say role on the next election. The Lib Dems nationally are going down, and the gloss has well and truely come off Leech so the next candidate for Labour in Manchester Withington will be well placed to take the seat back. There are also some interesting financial aspects to politics in Manchester Withington the lady who bankrolled to the tune of 20K Leech's last election campaign has defected to Labour. The CLP in Withington is also getting it's act together. They had Neil Kinnock in for a fundraiser which rasied 6K. So come the next general election I sincerely hope to see Manchester Withington as a Labour gain.
¶ 9:54 pm7 comments
Energy Predator States
This is just a concept I am playing around with. The countries that fit the bill to me are China and the USA. They both have the following characteristics. Your thoughts are appreciated on this.
Energy Importer: They need to import large amounts of energy to keep their economies going.
Major Energy Companies:They will have major energy companies headquatered in the country. They don't necessarily have to be state owned but they will be able to exert significant influence in government and they will have considerable interests abroad.
Energy Security:It will be an important part of the country's foriegn policy. It will be an issue of concern to the country's elite and they will take part in energy diplomacy for instance with diplomatic backing for gas piplines.
Military Power Projection: they will be capable of using military force in support of their energy interests, this may be joint excercises or it may be armed intervention.
State Subsidy: the state will support financially efforts to secure it's energy supplies for instance in foreign aid or soft loans or tax breaks.
Global Reach: They will be interested in securing new energy supplies whether they are in Central Asia, Africa or South America
Anyone would think they drink the stuff
Oil having an effect in world politics. Well I never. Here is an article from the website Tompaine.com which is well worth a look. It's call Hunting Hugo and is about US policy towards Chevez in Venuzuela
¶ 9:36 am0 comments
Your Birthdate: September 4
You have an extraordinary character - moral, responsible, and disciplined. Your sincerely and honesty shine through in almost every situation. Driven and focused, you rarely let your emotions get the better of you. You're level headed and rational. People count on your to look at things objectively.
Fly me to the moon
The Guardian diary mentioned one Andrew Rosindell MP in today's column. I'm guessing that this is the same Andrew Rosindell MP who seemingly flys to the House of Commons on a magic carpet given the cost of his travel expenses.
His claim for last year was a whopping £7698 while Gordon Browns was £90 less and it's not like he only has to get to Romford on the money as he stretches it all the way up to bonnie Scotland.The government is thinking
Personally I use the megabus for my intercity travel £2.50 London to Manchester return which if I spent the kind of money he does on travel would take me 1,200,000 miles. Surely enough to take me to the moon.
¶ 8:02 am0 comments
Monday, October 30, 2006
The Guardian is reporting that Augusto Pinochet the former military dictator of Chile has been arrested on charges of murder, torture and kidnapping. Some would say that we should leave him alone now that he is over 90 but I think that no ex dictator should ever be able to sleep easy in the knowledge that no one is out to get them because we should.
Ruling a country in the world does carry some responsibilities with the job. It's not just an opportunity to get off to international conferences, march your troops up and down and redecorate your imperial palace in dictator chic style bling. One of the most important is not killing your own people, torture is also a very bad idea. I hope the present vice president of the US is taking note hear. Infact if one of the people who've taken the Cheney swim presses charges then that big ol Dick could be paying more than a passing visit to a local cell if he decides to exit the God Almighty U. S of A.
¶ 9:10 pm2 comments
It's the end of the world as we know it
The report by Sir Nicholas Stern on the economic impact of climate change should have us all worried by the bit that caught my imagination was where he said that the resulting depression if we don't do anything will be worse than that of the Great Depression of the 1930's.
This interesting thing about that is not just the suffering that will create on it's own but also the political rammifications of that as the Great Depression played a signifcant role in the rise of Hitler and hence the second world war.
There is the possiblity that the economic and political effects of climate change will be worse for humanity than the mass migration of 100's millions of people. If Hitler had happend today he would have undoubtedly have had weapons of mass destruction and the likelyhood is that he would have used them as he was certainly by the end rather mentally unstable.
This raises the question of whether the world's nation states and international organisations would be able to cope with the coming chaos. Personally I think we are woefully underprepared. We can hardly find any African Union troops to go into Dafur so much tougher challenges we hopefully bring increased resolution but I fear there is a perception in the international community that the price of inaction is less than the price of action. Which as the Stern report demonstrated is completely wrong but none the less attractive to some countries.
¶ 8:47 pm0 comments
They just keep you hanging on ....
I can't stand call centres whether that's working in them or even worse actually having the misfortune to phone them. One of the key things that I detest about call centres is that by making you wait longer they get to make more money out of you from the cost of the call. That's all this 0870 and 0845 stuff. And if there is one thing worse than that it's making the very poor have to phone and get charged for claiming their benefits.
So I would I would like to give a big hand to the Derbyshire Unemployed Workers Association who used the Freedom of Information Act to bring this to our attention and to Jim Murphy the government minster at the Department of Work and Pensions who's sorted it out.
¶ 6:03 pm0 comments
Your starter for 10
Can someone tell me the point of the London Assembly?
Seriously I would be interested to know. Is there one and if there is, is it different from merely being a comfortable booth on the way to Westminster? I ask this because I know in technical terms it is meant to hold the Mayor to account but I can't think of one thing where it has. That loathsome reporter from the Evening Standard seems to have done a better job of it and probably gets paid a lot less into the bargain.
¶ 4:15 pm0 comments
My head hurts....
I'm doing a bit of my autumn term essay for my International Political Economy course. The catchy title is "Compare and contrast 'Realist' and 'Liberal Institutionalist approaches to the feasiblity of international cooperation".
One of the journal articles i'm looking at for it is "Anarchy and the limits of cooperation: a realist critque of the newest liberal institutionalism" at first I thought it was a piece of on the Mingers of Cowley street scrabbling around to find a few millions to repay there dodgy donations but it appears not to be the case.
It turns out the essay question is a bit of a trick one as it makes no mention of neo liberal institutionalism which has been the a major part of the academic discourse in the subject for the past couple of decades. You live and learn eh. This is different of course to to the economic neo liberalism that the IMF likes to impose on country that it gives financial aid. Academia obscure? Never. At least not with the help of the Economic and Social Research Councils Heroes of Dissemination - academics who explain to the public what on earth they are going on about. Apparently plans for Heroes of Insemination have been shelved as unethical.
Anyway when the essay is handed in I shall post it on here and we can play Bullshit Bingo.
¶ 11:54 am0 comments
Man beats vegtable in election
Brazil's leftwing president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, won power last night in a landslide victory for his second term, a month after being forced into a run-off by allegations of corruption. With most of the votes counted, Lula had 61%, Geraldo Alckmin his opponent from the Social Democratic Party, often went by the nickname chuchu, a tasteless green vegtable.
Lula won by letting ordinary people know that he was on their side and giving them bundles of cash, this made any attempted dirty tricks scandal by his campaign seem trivial. With the Met just itching to interview Blair over cash for honours we all hope that Number 10 is taking note of this successful electoral strategy.
¶ 9:30 am0 comments
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Still true today?
Do you think this is still true today? From Yes, Prime Minister:
Jim Hacker: The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country; The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country; The Times is read by people who actually do run the country; The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country; The Financial Times is read by people who own the country; The Morning Star is read by people who think the country ought to be run by another country; and The Daily Telegraph is read by people who think it is.
Sir Humphrey: Prime Minister, what about the people who read The Sun?
Bernard Woolley: Sun readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits.
¶ 5:18 pm0 comments
Friday, October 27, 2006
I saw a small piece about extraordinary rendition on Sky news this morning I didn’t catch all of it but it set me thinking. This is not the first time that this story has surfaced while I can’t prove it there is definitely something up. If the Vice President for Torture is happy to go on the record and proclaim the need for waterboarding then the stuff they get up to but don’t tell us must be pretty horrific. If I were to posit a Rumsfeldian analysis it would be a known unknown.
The whole issue calls into question the special relationship. There can are three possible scenarios. Firstly we knew nothing about American methods. A see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil approach. If the special relationship is as close as we are lead to believe and sometimes we have the Americans sitting in on the Joint Intelligence Committee that to me seems not entirely credible.
The second is that we kind of suspected something was going on. We knew that they were roughing up there sources a bit but then this is war and in war nasty things happen sometimes so we stuck out head in the sand and got on with it. This to me seems the most likely option and a great discredit to the nation it would be to.
The third that we knew all about it and British national were instrumental and approving of this activity. I think that this is a possibility, though I don’t think that this is the most likely option
My view is that there can be no room for compromise, no equivocation, no back tracking from what separates us from our enemy. Extraordinary rendition is a phrase like collateral damage that at meant to nullify the emotional meaning of an act which is actually kidnap, torture and detention without trail.
Looking at this from an international relations perspective, could we be seeing a new norm developing relations between states, namely that it is OK to torture “terrorists” It’s not like the Chinese are going to object to that, Russia is quite happy to flatten Grozny or how about Africa, South America and the Middle East as the upholders of civil liberties I think not.
While the United States may be thinking that it is doing itself a favour in the war on terror I passionately believe that it is a major strategic error. If it is to defeat terrorism then it has to show that it has a better vision for humanity than the terrorists. It won the cold war not by force of arms but by force of ideas. That freedom is an essential human liberty and that America is its home. Other systems may be strong, may be able to repress their populations but America inspires respect rather than fear. It seems something to me that it is not worth giving up for the sake of “intelligence” of disputable value.
To me this strengthens the case that the international system should be run of the basis of law and the responsibility to protect principle rather than on the basis of power relations as this has the be the foundation stone on which we can create an international system that respects human rights, encourages freedom and ultimately brings about a more just and peaceful world.
To all the other bloggers out there you know that this is going on as well please don’t be quiet about it. There is plenty of blogspace to put into the bloggersphere all the mundane stuff that we usually put there but sometimes you just need to do something with a bit more significance.
¶ 4:09 pm0 comments
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Student politicians tend to have big ego's but are any as big as that of one Dan Snowdon's ? The University of London Union Vice President (Welfare) proclaims on his blog that he wants to be the first Liberal Democrat Prime Minister! Which says volumes about what he thinks Ming's chances are.
Mr Snowdon appears a bit confused about how to become PM as he has launched a bid to become the next failed Lib Dem candidate to be Mayor of London. No Dan you need to be in Parliament to be Prime Minister, you'll work it out eventually.
But Dan is not alone in his quest to become Mayor he is seeking the advice of failed mayoral candidate, failed party leadership candidate and nasty anti gay by-election candidate but that doesn't stop him from being bi , why did the word hypocrite spring into my mind Simon Hughes. Hopefully Hughes can set the lad straight ie even though the Lib Dems are desparate they are not that desparate as to need his services.
And what of the fantasy policies has this guy got. Well for starters there is an increase in the discount to 50% on student fares paid for by making under 16's pay. That'll help tackle the one in three London kids brought up in poverty.
Next up is his "Big Policy"pedestrianising areas of central London including Soho and Covent Garden, from 9am to midnight. There would be licensed Black cabs waiting outside the exclusion zone and this is the best bit. They are going to be subsidised by council tax.
Let me get this right this guy wants hard pressed council tax payers not to fund education in their own borough's or even get home help for frail old people he wants to subsidise binge drinkers, tourists and rich business men on the piss, that sound like taking the piss to me.
As some of you know I’m doing an MRes in Global Politics at Birkbeck. A substantial part of the course is the dissertation about 15,000 words to be exact and I just wanted to have a play around with a few ideas about what I will do it on before the deadline rather than after.
I always think that it is better to do something which you’re interested in. What I’m most interested in at the moment in international relations is the growing power of China and what effect this is having on the international system. The nature of the course isn’t so much a traditional realism vs. liberalism international relations course thought these are covered rather it deals with international political economy which is the interaction of states and markets and with the globalisation debate, which I want to reflect in the nature of the dissertation.
What I am proposing to study is China’s growing demand for oil and the effect this is having on the international system in particular the position of the United States. Are we seeing states act in a way where they are defining there national interest in terms of their energy security? For instance the Chinese state owned China Exim Bank is providing financial support to the three main Chinese state oil companies Sinopec, China National Petroleum Corporation and China National Offshore Oil Corporation so they can go around the world buying up oil assets in order to secure for China the oil necessary to keep the economy functioning and the Chinese Communist Party in power.
If you look at what is happening in Central Asia you have the Americans there partly because of the war on terror but also because of the oil and natural gas and the Chinese are there as well. Not least because it is their back yard. Central Asia is natural territory for the Chinese as it’s not known as an area renowned for its vibrant democracy and support for human rights. Indeed the Chinese have set up an organisation called the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which is a collection of repressive central Asian states, China and Russia. I remember Mark Leonard now of the Centre for European Reform making a point at a Fabian fringe meeting at conference this year that they were trying to create an anti democratic axis. Though I would add that such an organisation would also be very useful in smoothing over any trade problems as well.
It is important in international relations to engage with theory after all it is mainly a theory based discipline. Essentially I disagree with Hegemonic Stability Theory this is the idea that the international system is run by one powerful state; the Hegemon, in the 19th century it would have been the British but is now considered to be America. I want to argue the case that at least in terms of energy security the position is much more anarchic and that we are in a very multipolar world where no state is all powerful.
Finally there is the issue of the methodology. I don’t want to get caught in the trap of it being all theory as theory is basically erudite opinion. If political science is to be scientific then it has to work within a framework of fact. There is a major problem in international relations in that to be scientific the results that you produce really need to be reproducible but if you are arguing about the decline and emergence of major powers this is not really within the ability of academics to reproduce. That should not mean however we cannot take a rigorous behaviourist approach. Ideas on how to actually achieve that are most welcome.
¶ 2:04 pm0 comments
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Big Green Men
I worry about David Miliband, the guy's not stupid, in fact he is about as clever as the population of Texas at least. So why then are we being outflanked by the Tories on the environment on the day we find out that we are going to get a climate change bill in the Queen's speech. By backing calls for annual targets the Conservaties make us look weak and ineffectual when in reality we are doing some good stuff.
Also the perennial Tom Watson has highlighted another issue brewing with his unique pearls of wisdom "So, the body that owns our nuclear waste will be the one that makes the financial decisions on the costs of storing it. Now it wont take a rocket scientist and certainly not a nuclear scientist to know that public confidence will be lost if they think there is the slightest chance that this stuff is going to be packaged on the cheap." This is simply the government kicking up a fuss on an issue and getting themselves some rubbish press for what gain exactly. Check it out in full here
¶ 9:10 pm0 comments
Private schools: The real social apartheid? Why are we so obsessed with faith schools when it is private schools that really divide communities? It's only a relatively small proportion of the a faith schools pupils will actually grow up and still believe and going to a faith school, even a good one won't set you up with life chances anywhere near as good as going to a private school. Yet we aren't seeing any government plans to make private schools take 25% of there intake from less affluent backgrounds. Only seven children out of a hundred nationally go private but the problem is particularly acute in London where roughly 1 in 5 does. Basically if you can afford to bail out of the state system in the capital you do. This is despite recent significant improvements in attainment in the state sector across London.
So what are the advantages of private schools? Essentially a private education means that you are buying entrance to the best universities and from there the best jobs follow. But surely the effect of the money is mediated by peoples natural ability. Well actually no. Research for the Sutton Trust shows that more than half of media opinion formers came from private schools, a proportion that has gone up over the last 20 years, while a third came form grammar schools and the comprehensives which educate 90% of our children provided only 14%. What about politics? More than 4 in 10 of MP's went private including both Tony Blair and David Cameron. And the law? 7 in 10 barristers privately educated.
Private schools cream off the most able and wealthy students. This makes the task for the state sector even more hard than it is already. They can also afford to pay there teacher more so naturally they attract the best staff save for the few devoted to a public service ideal. Every child deserves a great education not just those whose parents can afford private fees. We need to talk more about the kind of society we are creating because it is not just education, inequality is eroding the life chances of all except those at the very top. This is wrong and unless we start to shout about it, it's just going to carry on.
¶ 6:01 pm0 comments
The one where I tell the most powerful people in the Labour people to sling their hook in favour of Cruddas All elections are a contest between more of the same vs. change. I think that the up coming Labour Party leadership elections will be won by the candidates who can best claim to be the change candidate with frightening the voters to much. I don't want to talk too much about the battle for leader. That is for another post but suffice to say that it will not be John McDonnell. The other key thing to remember is that the Labour Party has been a bit neglected over the last few years which in some respects is a consequence of being in Government but is also part of a political strategy to differentiate the leadership as more rightwing than the membership in order to appeal to the floating voter.
Essentially this strategy has been effective in that it has lead to three general election victories a feat that the party has never in its history achieved before and one that we all to easily forget in the arrogance of power. But politics is like the weather, always changing. What was right in 1997 is not now. The Labour Party needs to be shown a little love, it needs to be appreciated. The potential leadership candidates need to court, as my Gran would say, the party.
So who are the potential deputy leadership candidates? Possibly it is easier to ask who isn't running but anyway as things stand at the moment Harriet Harman, Peter Hain, and Jon Cruddas are certainly running. Jack Straw, Hillary Benn and possibly Hazel Blears will have a crack. Alan Johnson will be considering if he wants to slug it out with Gordon for the top job and may opt for deputy if he doesn't fancy it. There may well be others John McDonnell will be wanting a running mate from the campaign group no doubt. Tessa Jowell and Margaret Beckett may also fancy there chances. So we could be looking at a field of up to 10 candidates I doubt very much that there will be 10 on the ballot as they wont all be able to raise the support but lets have a look the runners and riders.
Harriet Harman: Well in this day and age one of the top two jobs in the Labour Party should be held by a women preferably me people started laughing to much when I suggested that I go for leader. I mean no one will remember when I was Secretary of State for being useless and especially the single parent benefit cuts. Not a Harman supporter then? Fraid not luv.
Doesn’t this make you a big sexist pig like Kerron and his all women shortlist antipathy. No it doesn’t as I’m not judging her on her gender. I’m judging her on the fact that she doesn’t have the necessary qualities. If she had a constituency in the country other than posh metropolitian London labour luvvies. If she was good on TV. If she wasn’t a useless cabinet minister then I would be more impressed but as she doesn’t she won’t be getting my vote.
Peter Hain: Peter has the fortune in politics of being interesting. He is a bit of a chancer, I mean what else can you call a saffa perma-tanned ex liberal representing a Welsh valley seat and I like that in a politician. After all the political profession requires balls and before you spit your cornflakes Harriet I mean attitudional rather than anatomical ones. I think that the politics are spot on but I feel that you are losing traction. I would be happy to see Hain as DPM combined with environment secretary which would really put green issues at the heart of government.
Hillary Benn: What are you playing at. There is this huge space in the main leadership contest between Gordon and Reid on the right and John McDonnell on the left that you could easily fit into and do very well. You were a fantastic speaker when you came to Manchester Gorton and did dinner with Gerald and the Gorton CLP. I have been an admirer ever since.
You know your brief inside out. If your blagging it like most ministers it doesn’t show. You just need a shove in the right direction. If you play it right then prizes worth a whole lot more than the warm bucket of spittal of the deputy leadership can be won. So Hillary in your own best interests I can’ vote for you for deputy.
Jack Straw: Been around for ever. Don’t think that he can embody the necessary change. Iraq. The veils thing can’t help to much with the electorate being the Labour Party. So no Jack as they say on The Dragons Den “I’m out”
Hazel Blears: I love Hazel. She is like a ray of sunshine. She has done some good and interesting stuff as a MP. Not least the Labour Academy in her constituency which I went on. She is also Labour in a very deep sense which I like. In Douglas Alexander’s phrase “Cut me I bleed Labour” could apply to her. Yet her problem is in this election is she is Blair’s emissary to the party and the party want’s change so it ain’t going to be Hazel that gets this job, this time. So Hazel I think that you should have a big job after the election. If Reid gets reshuffled in the new era then I would want to put you in the Home Office but in this crowded field I don’t think that your right for the deputy leadership. Still think that she’s fantastic though.
Alan Johnson: To be honest I just don’t get Alan Johnson. I don’t know why but I just don’t. Perhaps this is my political blind spot. Sorry Alan in best Simon Cowell scowell “it’s a no.”
Tessa Jowell, Margaret Beckett and the other also rans. Sorry peeps to slow but I think that Jowell would be OK has some of Harman’s metropolitan faults but not so gratingly. Beckett been around for ever and this is about change she also has difficulty emoting which is important for a modern politico.
Jon Cruddas: The idea of decoupling the deputy leadership from being DPM is a political masterstroke. I think that the party needs it. Also if the party chair position and the deputy leader position merge then we will have in effect an elected Labour Party chair which I think is an improvement on the situation now. As I mentioned earlier the party needs courting and I think Cruddas can do it as he understands the nature of the beast better than anyone of the other contenders.
But the guy hasn’t got cabinet experience. Well Tony Blair hadn’t run a whelk stall worthy of the name before he became PM. It also makes supporting Cruddas feel like your going on an adventure. Being involved in politics is to much keep your head and wait your turn, Cruddas is attempting to break that which I think is commendable.
Voting for the disaster that was Iraq doesn’t do him any favours but then the rest of them made the same mistake. There can’t be many Labour MP’s who have had a continuously rising membership over the last 18 months, indeed there are probably quite a few MP’s that would have like to have seen their membership go up once in the last year and a half.
He is also dead on the money when it comes to representing his working class constituents which is something that the middle class party is not taking seriously as it should do. Essentially Cruddas manages to combine the necessary change that the party desperately needs while being potentially a real electoral asset to the party. So he’s got my vote.
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Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Torygraph in Trouble
The BBC is reporting here that The Telegraph is going on strike. Firstly I would like to take my hat off to the NUJ for getting such an august conservative institution as the torygraph to be unionised in the first place.
Secondly I don't think we are going to see the last of this with the Telegraph as the structure of the newspaper industry is changing with the internet and free papers
Third is this the first time that a conservative MP in this case Boris Johnson has taken up collective action and gone on strike.
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Anyone for seconds? You may remember a while ago I pluged Rupa Huq's new book Obviously the power of this blog must be massive as it's already on its second print run. I hear that it particularly well read in Bethnal Green and Bow.
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Gorgeous George Sells Up
One of George Galloway's pads is on the market, more here, at a cool 825K but then it is sarf London. So it's not the Brick Lane address that he would have put as his primary residence when he stood in Bethnal Green and Bow in 2005. I expect that the Inland Revenue will be looking forward to a slice of capital gains tax then.
You can pop round for a viewing by phoning up Foxtons Balham on 0208 772 8000
I don't care what you say I just love this song. It's probably something to do with the fact that it came out when I was a young lad.
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Monday, October 23, 2006
Thinking cap onI'm having think at the moment about who to back in the forthcoming Labour Leadership contests. I don't think that it would be wise to rush in supporting the first candidate that comes along Tom Watson brings news that Benn is going to stand for deputy. This makes things alot more difficult. More on this later in the week.
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New Labour New Britain New Youtube
I do like this video not least because some of it was filmed in Manchester. You can also play spot the Labour student which is always fun.
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The greatest electoral show on earth
There is a rather nice lady on my course who is from the United States. She'd been a finance director for some congressional bid and worked for Sen. Patty Murray before she came over here to do a masters.
Anyway we were having a chat and she was telling me about Sen. Murray and I was going like "She's the one from washington state along with Maria Cantwell who was the one who got elected last time" and she was like "How do you know that? Most people in the states don't know who Patty Murray is." Well I have to admit more than a passing interest in American politics.
Not many people I know are really excited about the mid terms nor were they rooting for Rep. Anthony Weiner to win the democrat primary for mayor of New York nor are they seeing if Obama is going to get a VP nomination. The internet means that we on this side of the pond can see it all unravel in brilliant technicolour detail. So try the New York Times it even has videos
I still hate Thatcher
I'm grossly affronted at the restriction on my civil liberties well documented here and here.
Is anybody else up for exercising their democratic rights and going to Parliament in the fine clothing of a I Still Hate Thatcher T-shirt. If so contact me at willparbury the squiggly at sign thingy hotmail.com
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A riposte to Henry Jackson
There is a post on the Progress Blog by James Rogers of the Henry Jackson Society I have sent a comment to which I thought was worthy of reproduction here.
If you take a historical view democracy in the span of human history is very much the exception. We are very luck to be living in times when it is considered to be legitimate you must be democratic. The question should not be are we in favour of democracy we can take it as read that we are. The question should be how democracy is promoted throughout the world? The position of the Henry Jackson society is that they are in favour of using military force to promote democracy yet I regard military action as a startlingly ineffective way to create democracies.
Take for instance the 3 biggest US interventions post WWII - Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. As yet only South Korea can lay claim to a fully functioning democratic state. Iraq may have had an election but presently has as much chance of internecine civil war as stable democracy for its future path.
What prospects for their doctrines future application? Would military action in Iran strengthen or weaken the hand of pro western reformers in that county? Want to help the case for human rights in China? How about bombing Beijing. It could also help clear some of the sites needed for the olympics. Two birds one stone. Ridicule is not the most high minded of political attacks but then the absurdity of some political ideas make it inevitable.
So how do we create democracies? Firstly was should keep our own democracy in good health. Our citizens should be given the opportunities to lead fulfilling lives. We should maintain our civil liberties. Essentially we are trying to create in the mind of the citizens of totalitarian state that there is a better way to conduct their affairs therefore we should make our societies attractive enough for them to want to change their own. This is essentially how the cold war was won.
Second we should be promoting the rule of law across the globe as the accountability of power to law is a vital step in the creation of democracies. A democracy is not fit to bear the name unless it has an independent judiciary. We should also promote civil society and economic growth in non democratic countries because both will promote the civil institutions separate from the state itself that are needed for the creation of democracy.
Further we should use methods covert and overt in the support of dissident movements in totalitarian states. This can take many forms, free reporting on the BBC world service, diplomatic isolation and elite sanctions on states that transgress multilateral norms and the supply of cash and intelligence to pro democratic movements abroad.
Moreover the single most successful example of peace and democracy has been the integration of western Europe in the EU and NATO we should work with other multilateral bodies to ensure they are successful in promoting democracy amongst their members. An immediate example would have been the proper funding and logistical support to the African Union mission to Darfur.
No single state not even the United States let alone the United Kingdom has the moral authority to send it's military forces to the other side of the world and impose its favored method of social organisation on a country. There are however key principles that we need to purse in order to promote democracy; Peace is better than war, multilateral better than unilateral, engagement better than isolation. The prize is not the total elimination of war, even democracies go to war with each other sometimes, but rather that war becomes the exception rather than the norm of international relations which is a prize ironically worth fighting for.
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Saturday, October 21, 2006
Burying a marriage
I am part of the non Daily Mail reading section of the Great British public that couldn't give brass monkey what politicians get up to in their private lives. So Ivan Lewis leaving his wife does not mean as Mike Herbert from the Daily Mails commnent section says "More cheating policians, no wonder Britain is in such a mess." FDR tackled the great depression and the second world war while being disabled so him getting a bit on the side seems only a fair deal for services rendered.
The thing that amused me is not that his new girlfriend is 11 years old than him as evryone knows that older women can be fantastic, think Helen Mirren. No it's that Cllr Maggie Gibb is responsible for the tagging the parents of absentee children to make them turn up to school perhaps if she tagged the men of bury she might also reduce adultery as well as truancy.
It really wouldn't suprise me if No 10 is thinking about tagging all government ministers just to keep tabs on them with their wives and husbands also able to keep track of them. I think this would do much to keep the government off the front page of the news of the screws probably to the relief of all
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Friday, October 20, 2006
More good news unless your Kerron
Kerron Cross's favourite MP Burnley's very own Kitty Ussher has been appointed PPS to Margaret Hodge. This is the first rung on the ministerial ladder. It's the one where you have to shut up, vote the right way and get off any interesting select committees that your on in the hope that some day you will become a parliamentary under secretary and actually get your hands on the government machine. So well done Kitty it cannot be long until you get your feet under the cabinet table and really get to run the country.
Rumours that she is about to do a Cruddas and enter the deputy leadership contest are apparently unfounded. I say hold on for the top job Kitty.
The really surpring thing is that we didn't hear the news from Kerron himself afterall we are led to believe that he blogs from parliament perhaps the day job was getting in the way.
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Jane's a right one
Jane Griffiths used to be the Labour MP for Reading East until the last general election when the seat was won by the tories. The twist in the story is that Jane was deselected by her local party infact I think she was the only Labour MP in the last election cycle to be so afflicted.
It does take special effort for a sitting MP to be deselected. You might have thought that she would be a bit introspective or even a bit mea culpa but not a bit of it. She's rajun cajun bitter and twisted and it's great to see. No nicy nicy drivel, she goes for the jugular Check her out here
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Thursday, October 19, 2006
From the LA times. Roll on 2008 at least they are constitutionally immune from electing George W. again.
Inroads Into GOP Country
Democrats find control of Congress within their grasp as more and more seats appear to be in serious contention, even in solidly red states. By Janet Hook, Times Staff Writer October 19, 2006
WASHINGTON — America does not get much more Republican than Idaho. President Bush pulled in 68% of the vote in 2004, and the state has an all-GOP congressional delegation.
But to keep one of Idaho's House seats in Republican hands, the national GOP in recent weeks has poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars for television ads and brought in a parade of party bigwigs to campaign.
Such a huge effort in a district that should be a cakewalk for Republicans is a measure of how deep into GOP territory the fight for control of Congress has reached.
Over the last two months, the number of House Republican seats in serious contention has jumped week by week, giving Democrats an ever-bigger target to shoot at in their quest for a majority. Even a top Republican strategist estimates that the number of highly vulnerable Republican seats has more than doubled in recent weeks — and now far exceeds the 15 seats Democrats need to pick up to win a House majority.
"Things look very bad for them now," GOP pollster Frank Luntz said of Republican prospects. "There used to be 15 races that were vulnerable, then it was 20…. Today you'd say 35 seats are in play."
In the battle for the Senate, prospects for Democrats to pick up the six seats they need to win control are brighter than they were a few months ago.
All that reflects an unusually fluid political landscape that has sent candidates, party leaders and interest groups scrambling to recalibrate strategy. The Republican Party has dropped plans for ads in South Carolina and other areas they now consider lost causes. The AFL-CIO has opened fronts in its $40-million get-out-the-vote drive in Tennessee and Virginia, reflecting the union's assessment that Democratic chances have improved there. National Democratic leaders are taking greater interest in districts in California and Minnesota, where newly strengthened candidates need support.
"It's hard to keep track of the new races that are looking very competitive," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), vice chairman of the committee responsible for electing Democrats to the House. "They are popping up all over the place."
Bush will be doing his part for Republicans today, campaigning for two incumbents who are in worse political shape than they were just two months ago: Sen. George Allen of Virginia, who had been expected to coast to reelection but is now less assured after a series of missteps; and Rep. Don Sherwood of Pennsylvania, who is fighting for political survival amid accusations that he tried to choke his mistress in 2004.
The president has remained publicly upbeat about Republicans' prospects, despite the bruising the party has taken over the congressional page sex scandal, sectarian violence in Iraq and criticism of Bush's handling of the North Korean nuclear threat.
But privately, GOP anxiety is growing — especially among House Republicans who believe their leaders' handling of the page scandal surrounding former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) has made a bad situation worse. After listening in on a telephone conference call among House Republicans last week, Luntz said, "The bitterness about how the leadership has handled Foley is indescribable."
In more evidence of the challenge facing Republicans, a new poll found that voter support for the party and its continued leadership of Congress had sunk below the level Democrats saw before they lost control of the House and Senate in 1994.
The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, released Wednesday, pegged voter approval of Congress at 16%, matching its lowest point since the House bank scandal of 1992 that set the stage for Democrats to lose their majorities. Voters in the new survey also said they preferred Democrats over Republicans to control Congress, 52% to 37% — a gap that, according to a Wall Street Journal account, far exceeds the 6-point lead that Republicans enjoyed just before taking control of Congress in 1994.
The poll included 1,006 registered voters and carried a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.
Still, some analysts say Republicans could reduce their losses in the final weeks of the campaign if the spotlight moves to issues that play to GOP strengths, such as the war on terrorism and falling gasoline prices.
"The spotlight could shift another time or two before Nov. 7," said Charles Cook, editor of the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.
For some time, the House has seemed much more likely than the Senate to turn Democratic. That was in part because most of the competitive Senate races were in conservative-leaning states, such as Montana, Missouri and Tennessee — thought to be tough terrain for Democrats. Not long ago, only two incumbent Republicans in Democratic-leaning states seemed ripe for picking: Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania and Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island.
In recent months, however, developments have made it easier to imagine Democrats winning the six seats they are looking for. Some analysts have practically written off Montana, where Republican Sen. Conrad Burns has been under fire for his links to disgraced former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Democrats are running close to or ahead of Republican opponents in four other key states: Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and Missouri.
In the final three weeks of the campaign, both parties will be deciding on almost a daily basis how to allocate resources. "This is a very fluid process," said Brian Nick, spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Republicans are debating how much money to pour into Ohio. GOP Sen. Mike DeWine is trailing his Democratic opponent by double digits and may be a lost cause. But the state has several competitive House races that would be hurt if the national party pulled back.
Republicans also face a choice about how much to invest in New Jersey, where Sen. Robert Menendez is about the only incumbent Democratic senator who seems at risk.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee this week put up its first ad for him. Republicans transferred $500,000 to help GOP challenger Tom Kean Jr. pay for ads. But it remains to be seen whether the GOP will make a further commitment to this heavily Democratic state.
The battle for the House is even more fluid. The Cook Political Report's count of the most hotly contested Republican seats has hit 43, up from 35 in early September.
In the GOP stronghold of Idaho, an especially surprising contest is brewing. In a race to succeed Republican Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, a bitter GOP primary was won by state legislator William Sali, who has been at odds with the state party establishment and has had trouble raising money.
The National Republican Congressional Committee this week weighed in with an ad attacking Democrat Larry Grant. The airtime it bought was worth $377,000 over three weeks, according to a survey of local stations by Grant's media consultant, Peter Fenn. To further boost the Republican, Vice President Dick Cheney, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) have campaigned there.
"If someone had told me six months ago that Republicans would bring in the vice president, the speaker of the House and the Republican chairman in a month and a half's time, I would have said they were stark raving crazy," Fenn said.
Meanwhile, Republicans have pulled back most of their efforts to challenge Democratic incumbents such as Rep. John M. Spratt Jr. of South Carolina and Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia. The GOP campaign committee has given back airtime it had reserved for those races, as well as for two open seats in Ohio.
Democrats are juggling candidates' demands for attention and resources. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has begun listing "emerging campaigns" to encourage donors to give to promising candidates.
Among them is Charlie Brown, the Democrat challenging Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Roseville), who has been under scrutiny for his reported links to Abramoff, the former lobbyist. Although that is a solidly Republican district, Democratic Party leaders are now encouraging safe incumbents to donate to Brown. Earlier this week, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) headlined a fundraiser for him.
The Democratic campaign committee is also taking new aim in Minnesota, where Republican Rep. Gil Gutknecht had been favored to win reelection. Encouraged by recent polls, the committee plans to air an ad against him.
The midterm campaign now heads into a final stretch that plays to a Republican strength: the party's much-vaunted ability to get its voters to the polls. Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said the party would spend $60 million for get-out-the-vote efforts and other endgame programs.
But Democratic activists are poised as well. In addition to the AFL-CIO's get-out-the-vote drive, the liberal group MoveOn.org, which began with plans to target about 30 congressional races, now plans to make phone calls targeting as many as 50.
Some Democrats fear they will not have enough money to take full advantage of the political opportunity. But Pelosi, speaking during a day of West Coast fundraising, said she had brought in more money than expected.
I was crossing High Holborn at the junction with Southampton Row and Kingsway when I saw amongst the traffic a great mop of blond hair. Low and behold it was Boris Johnson on his bike. Unlike his boss I couldn't see the car behind with the clean pair of shoes. I am of the opinion that Clarkson should be put under house arrest on Sark where they have no cars and that everyone should be able to ride a bike without fear of imminant death which looks like the experience of a lot of cyclists
The vast majority though of London cyclists look quite fit so I am considering risking life and limb and joining this group of urban lemmings but Boris was looking rather porky. Although the chance of me turning into a blond tory like him are pretty small.
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Sunday, October 15, 2006
At least you got an ology ...
This is the text of a presentation that I cobbled together from various bits of the net for my issues and methods in political and social research class last friday. It deals with epistomology which is not a subject practiced in the union bar. At least not conventionaly...
This presentation is going to be about Thomas Kuhn’s influential work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. We are going to look at
Why the work is relevant to people who are not studying Newtonian physics?
What are the key contentions of the book? And then we look in more detail into the 13 chapters of the work which is probably not a good thing to do on Friday 13th.
Finally we shall look at some of the criticism of Kuhn’s work.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a work from the academic discipline of the philosophy of science. I doubt very much that we have many people here who are studying the philosophy of science so I think it is important to ask the question what relevance is a work on the philosophy of science written over 40 years ago to modern students of the social sciences
I would argue that the relevance is not in the scientific work that are the examples of Kuhn’s study for instance Newton’s Principia or Franklin’s Electricity, personally I would find it difficult to fit a reference to either of those into an essay on globalisation, but rather in the value of its epistemological approach. That is to say the important thing is how Kuhn views the nature of knowledge.
So what does he say?
The central concept of the work is the paradigm. Essentially a paradigm is the intellectual framework that defines a scientific discipline during a particular period of time. Kuhn argues that science when in one paradigm is “normal science” The other key term is a paradigm shift which is the movement from one paradigm to another.
Paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics at the end of the 19th century. At that time, physics seemed to be a discipline filling in the last few details of a largely worked-out system. In 1900, Lord Kelvin famously stated, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." Five years later a technical examiner at the Swiss patent office who went by the name of, Albert Einstein published his paper on special relativity, which challenged the very simple set of rules laid down by Newtonian mechanics, which had been used to describe force and motion for over three hundred years. In this case, the new paradigm reduces the old to a special case
In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn wrote that "Successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science." (p.12) Kuhn's idea was itself revolutionary in its time, as it caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science. Thus, it caused or was itself part of a "paradigm shift" in the history and sociology of science. The book starts with Kuhn formulating some assumptions that lay the foundation for subsequent discussion and by briefly outlining the key contentions of the book A scientific community cannot practice its trade, he argues, without some set of received beliefs (p. 4). These beliefs form the foundation of the "educational initiation that prepares and licenses the student for professional practice" while the nature of the "rigorous and rigid" preparation helps ensure that the received beliefs exert a "deep hold" on the student's mind. For instance this course will give us assumptions as to what is proper research in the social sciences With this background we can then conduct what Kuhn calls normal science which operates within the given paradigm of the time. However, "normal science often suppresses fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic commitments" (5). Kuhn also defines research as "a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes supplied by professional education" (5). Kuhn does not argue however that the conceptual boxes are so strong as to prevent the emergence of anomalies to the existing paradigm. As they "subvert the existing tradition of scientific practice" (6). These shifts are what Kuhn describes as scientific revolutions—"the tradition-shattering complements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science" (6).
The book then goes on to look in more detail at how paradigms are created, and how do scientific revolutions take place? He asserts that inquiry begins with a random collection of "mere facts" During these early stages of inquiry; different researchers confronting the same phenomena describe and interpret them in different ways (17). He argues that in time, these descriptions and interpretations entirely disappear. As a preparadigmatic school (movement) appears. Such a school often emphasizes a special part of the collection of facts and often, these schools vie for pre-eminence.
From the competition of preparadigmatic schools, one paradigm emerges to quote Kuhn "To be accepted as a paradigm, a theory must seem better than its competitors, but it need not, and in fact never does, explain all the facts with which it can be confronted" (17-18) As a paradigm grows in strength and in the number of advocates, the preparadigmatic schools (or the previous paradigm) fade. As Kuhn argues "When an individual or group first produces a synthesis able to attract most of the next generation's practitioners, the older schools gradually disappear" (18). But what you may ask happens to those who still hold to the views of the old paradigm? Kuhn states those with "older views . . . are simply read out of the profession and their work is subsequently ignored. If they do not accommodate their work to the new paradigm, they are doomed to isolation or must attach themselves to some other group"
The new paradigm transforms a group into a profession or, at least, a discipline (19). And from this follow the trappings of academia,
1) The formation of specialized journals.
2) The foundation of professional societies (or specialized groups within societies—SIGs).
3) The fact that members of the group need no longer build their field anew—first principles, justification of concepts, questions, and methods. Such endeavours are left to the theorist or to writer of textbooks.
4) promulgation of scholarly articles intended for and "addressed only to professional colleagues, [those] whose knowledge of a shared paradigm can be assumed and who prove to be the only ones able to read the papers addressed to them" (20)—preaching to the converted.
Anyone doing global politics will be thinking this is just like international political economy.
So now that the new paradigm has arrived what happens now? Or to ask the question another way. If a paradigm consists of basic and incontrovertible assumptions about the nature of the discipline, what questions are left to ask?
Kuhn argues when paradigms first appear, paradigms are limited in scope and in precision. Apparently paradigms gain their status because they are more successful than their competitors in solving a few problems that the group of practitioners has come to recognize as acute" (23). But more successful according to Kuhn does not mean completely successful with a single problem or notably successful with any large number (23). Initially, a paradigm offers the promise of success. Personally I think that this doesn’t sound all that revolutionary and rather undermines his argument. Kuhn argues however that the Normal science which follows the paradigm shift consists in the actualization of that promise of success made. This is achieved by
1) extending the knowledge of those facts that the paradigm displays as particularly revealing,
2) increasing the extent of the match between those facts and the paradigm's predictions,
3) And further articulation of the paradigm itself.
In other words, there is a good deal of mopping-up to be done. Mop-up operations are what engage most scientists throughout their careers. Mopping-up is apparently what normal science is all about! This paradigm-based research (25) is "an attempt to force nature into the preformed and relatively inflexible box that the paradigm supplies" (24). Kuhn then asserts a range of conditions that occur during normal science which to me seem to strike at the basis of scientific enquiry. For instance:
i. no effort made to call forth new sorts of phenomena.
ii. no effort to discover anomalies.
iii. when anomalies pop up, they are usually discarded or ignored.
iv. anomalies usually not even noticed due to (tunnel vision/one track mind).
Apparently there is also no effort to invent new theory (and no tolerance for those who try) as "Normal-scientific research is directed to the articulation of those phenomena and theories that the paradigm already supplies" (24). Kuhn acknowledges these as restrictions, born from confidence in a paradigm, and turn out to be essential to the development of science. By focusing attention on a small range of relatively esoteric problems, the paradigm forces scientists to investigate some part of nature in a detail and depth that would otherwise be unimaginable" (24).
. and, when the paradigm ceases to function properly, scientists begin to behave differently and the nature of their research problems changes. Though if I’m not sure how we are to get to that position if considering his earlier contentions. There is
v. no effort made to call forth new sorts of phenomena.
vi. no effort to discover anomalies.
Well basically he says you find them anyway and they lead to
1) Discovery—novelty of fact. 2) Invention—novelty of theory
The paradigm changes that result from the invention of these new theories brought about by the failure of existing theory to solve the problems defined by that theory. This failure is acknowledged as a crisis by the scientific community. Normal science does and must continually strive to bring theory and fact into closer agreement. The recognition and acknowledgment of anomalies result in crises that are a necessary precondition for the emergence of novel theories and for paradigm change. In responding to these crises, scientists generally do not renounce the paradigm that has led them into crisis. All crises begin with the blurring of a paradigm and the consequent loosening of the rules for normal research. All crises close in one of three ways.
1. Normal science proves able to handle the crisis-provoking problem and all returns to "normal."
2. The problem resists and is labelled, but it is perceived as resulting from the field's failure to possess the necessary tools with which to solve it, and so scientists set it aside for a future generation with more developed tools.
3. A new candidate for paradigm emerges, and a battle over its acceptance ensues (84)
We should also look at some of the criticisms of Kuhn’s work: 2 in particular standout to me.
Firstly Margaret Masterman, a computer scientist working in computational linguistics, produced a critique of Kuhn's definition of "paradigm" in which she noted that Kuhn had used the word in at least 21 subtly different ways. While she said she generally agreed with Kuhn's argument, she claimed that this ambiguity contributed to misunderstandings on the part of philosophically-inclined critics of his book, thereby undermining his argument's effectiveness. Kuhn responded to Masterman's criticisms in his postscript to the third edition, using the expression "disciplinary matrix" to refer to a set of concepts, values, techniques, and methodologies instead of the term "paradigm."
Secondly in his 1958 work, The Uses of Argument, Steven Toulmin argued that a more realistic picture of science than that presented in SSR would admit the fact that revisions in science take place much more frequently, and are much less dramatic than can be explained by the model of revolution/normal science. In Toulmin's view, such revisions occur quite often during periods of what Kuhn would call "normal science." In order for Kuhn to explain such revisions in terms of the non-paradigmatic puzzle solutions of normal science, he would need to delineate what is perhaps an implausibly sharp distinction between paradigmatic and non-paradigmatic science.
We have seen the birth and life of a paradigm. We have also sought to probe the reasons for its demise. Personally I do not find his theory entirely convincing Kuhn argues on p34 To desert the paradigm is to cease practicing the science it defines. Yet I would contend that the nature of scientific enquiry means that to unquestioningly accept the paradigm is to cease practicing science. As I see the nature of science is to question the present academic discipline which following the following the view of Steven Toulmin I would contend is a much more frequent occurrence than the Kuhn model suggests. But then we are in a research methods class which in the Kuhnian view will indoctrinate us with methodological paradigm of modern social science so we just might need a paradigm shift.
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