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Showing posts from July, 2011

catching up

I've been very busy and haven't been updating this blog as I should.
There are so many things to comment on since I last posted.


I spent this past weekend at the most inspiring event I've been to in a very long time. The Academy, organised by the Institute of Ideas for its members, was mind-blowing stuff. It's worth becoming a member of the IOI to get invited next year http://www.instituteofideas.com/academy2011.html I did the history strand during the day, looking at the English Civil War, empire, the origins of welfare thinking and how fascism developed in Europe. Other people did ancient Greek and Roman thought, we were all together, to discuss the rise of historical consciousness, in the afternoon. 
I knew little about the English Revolution before doing the reading for this and it's fascinating. The Putney Debates by The Levellers, recently published with an introduction by Geoffrey Robinson QC, is a cracking read. Geoffrey's intro is interesting but his life…

Battle of Ideas Festival 2011 Satellite debate at Birmingham Salon

As regular attendees to Birmingham Salon will know, we were inspired to organise meetings in Birmingham after attending The Battle of Ideas Festival - an annual event which takes place at the Royal College of Art, London on the last weekend in October.

This year we are very pleased to be hosting our second Satellite debate, entitled Warning - Women at Work! This will be a panel debate with four speakers discussing equality in the modern workplace.

The debate will be on Wednesday 12 October, 7.00pm until 9.00pm, at our usual venue The Studio, Cannon Street, Birmingham B2 5EP

The blurb for the debate is now on the Battle of Ideas website:
http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/index.php/2011/session_detail/5777/

Speakers will be confirmed in due course.

My latest Free Society Column

Heady stuff as hair meets the High CourtMonday July 11, 2011An argument about a schoolboy’s haircut has gone to the High Court. Jason Smith finds that the courts are increasingly being asked to arbitrate on moral and cultural issues that should be left to common sense.
What is indirect racial discrimination? Is it being culturally insensitive while having no racist intentions? Is it being racist in an obtuse manner? Is it being oblivious to your own racist views? Recently the High Court gave an example of what it is – it is not giving due consideration to ‘a fundamental cultural practice’. A teenager known only as G has been a victim of this kind of discrimination perpetrated by his North London school. G, along with many British teenagers, wears his hair in tight cornrow braids. The school’s uniform policy stipulates ‘short, back and sides’ for boys and he therefore contravenes this policy. Exceptions are made to this rule for Sikh and Rastafarian pupils who may wear their hair below c…

It's better to have a bad free press than a “good” controlled one.

Brendan O'Neill in The Telegraph http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/brendanoneill2/100096123

Cameron holds a press conference at Downing Street this morning (Photo: Getty) This is a line that should send a shudder down the spine of every man and woman who cares about freedom of the press: “It is vital that a free press can tell truth to power; it is equally vital that those in power can tell truth to the press.” That threat, that ominous, Orwellian rewriting of the phrase “telling truth to power” as “using power to enforce the truth”, was uttered by David Cameron this morning. Cameron is doing nothing less than hinting at a rearrangement of the relationship between the state and the media. For too long, he implies, journalists have been at liberty to hack and investigate and say what they see fit; now, post-hacking scandal, those in authority must step up and cast a more watchful eye over these antics. When I once argued that the Guardian’s “almost pathological pursuit of the News of t…

My article on Foston pig farm has been re-published by Voltaire (Sweden)

VAD GRISARNAS VÄNNER BÖR VETA OM STORA FLÄSKFARMERDet senaste grälet mellan brittiska jordbrukare och djurrättsaktivister handlar om en cirka 30 tunnland stor grisproduktionsanläggning i Foston, Derbyshire, som föreslagits av Midland Pig Producers (MPP). Anläggningen skulle hysa 2 500 suggor och producera över tusen grisar i veckan.  http://www.voltaire.se/sv/blogs/58.1718/spiked/vad-grisarnas-vanner-bor-veta-om-stora-flaskfarmer