Friday, 28 August 2015

DD306 : Living Political Ideas - the Readings Book has arrived

It appears at first glance to be quite a thick book, but the printing is large which will help.

It also sets out what the Rooms are about and some of the topics that will be covered. Looking forward to Room 5 if for no other reason than I have been in Sierra Leone, and in Yugoslavia before the break up and Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo since. It will be interesting to get other people's take on those situations.

Room 3, Religion and Politics is going to be a massive struggle try and see both sides of an obviously one sided argument. Superstition and the 2000 year old philosophies of  desert dwelling peoples have no place in modern life, let alone modern politics.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Labour Leadership Contest

I returned from holiday to find I had received my ballot paper.

I have voted online (to save the party money), so it is now a case of waiting until 10th September and hoping that the labour party doesn't self destruct between now and then.

Corbyn may not be everybody's cup of tea as a political leader, but maybe it is time for a less polished, more down-to-earth style of politics.

Regardless of who eventually wins the leadership contest Labour needs to successfully and actively engage all current non-voters - 
  • 14 year olds and above who have not yet voted, 
  • the disillusioned, apathetic or lazy who are registered but didn't vote
  • anybody who may not even be registered to vote. 
If they can mobilise what is a large number of non-voters or never-voted that would be a game changer.

But the biggest challenge is that Labour faces is their need to do a better job of explaining how it is possible to help the working poor without damaging the economy, and this is doubly difficult with a right-wing press that seems happy to report Tory policies as being successful regardless of the facts and without any sort of scrutiny or challenge.

If you believe their should be greater equality, that the state should look after the least advantaged, that people need a helping hand rather than a handout and that those who benefit most from the state, its institutions and infrastructure should  pay more for gaining this benefit then its going to be an interesting few years ahead.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

DD306 : Living Political Ideas - Set Course Reading - "On Violence" by Hannah Arendt

The first thing you can say about the set reading for DD306, "On Violence" by Hannah Arendt is that the front cover is not exactly interesting.

I took the book on holiday and didn't get through the first chapter, it is not exactly gripping reading and is written in quite, for me, an odd and challenging style, and I found I had to keep re-reading passages to try and work out what the author meant as there were too many double negatives and unnecessary commas.

I can't see this book being read any further until absolutely necessary.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

DD306 : Living Political Ideas - Facebook page(s)

It looked as though last years DD306 Facebook page was going to carry on for this year having been renamed to remove any references to Oct14.

However, there is now a new and alternative DD306 Facebook group secifically for Oct 15 starters so it will be interesting to see if they book continue in parallel or combine in some way.

Of course anybody on the PPE Pathway should be in the PPE Facebook Group

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader : Q & A in Luton

Well it wasn't easy getting there, 90 mins of heavy traffic, changed road layouts, confused TomTom and road works diversions which took me to parts of Luton I don't expect I'll ever see again, but I eventually got to the Luton venue just in time.

The venue was full and the crowd were a lot younger than I had imagined. Jeremy Corbyn spoke for about 40 mins on various things such as how 0.5% Corporation Tax could make further education free for all, and preferable to the impending possibility of removing fee caps whereby Oxbridge universities can price all but the very rich from their courses, on stopping  multinationals such as Boots from avoiding paying tax on UK based profits, on protecting social and council housing from being sold off, on a sensible minimum wage, on scrapping Trident and various other topics.

It would appear from media reports that there is a real momentum behind #Corbyn4Leader, and I really hope this is maintained all the way through to the ballot. This could be the start of a popular movement for social responsibility, it could be exciting times ahead.

DD306 : Living Political Ideas - Time to walk the walk.......

I have always lived in parliamentary constituencies in which my vote, on its own, has been pretty insignificant. It has never stopped me voting, and I have always voted, but I have always lived in very safe Labour seat or as now an extremely safe Conservative seat, and therefore it has meant that I have never felt the need to get involved.

Working for the expected Labour landslide in the past, or in the last couple of elections, campaigning against the inevitable Tory win has seemed a bit of a waste of time. What could I possibly do that would make a difference?

So what has changed.

Jeremy Corbyn appears to me to have the honesty and integrity that has been missing in politics since John Smith sadly passed away. John Smith was surely the greatest Prime Minister we never had, and somebody who could communicate to everybody with a credibility and sincerity sadly lacking from many of today's professional politicians.

So what sort of country do I want to live in....... a country where,
Benefits are a safety net, not a way of life, but benefits at a level that allow people to live with dignity
Where those who cannot look after themselves are cared for properly,
Where a suitable minimum wage means working a 40hr week means you earn enough to live on,
Where those who earn more, contribute more (and I say this as somebody who is fortunate enough to pay 40% tax on some earnings)
There is a Re-nationalisation of industries that do not have proper market competition (and that never should have been sold), such as Railways and utilities.
There is a 'National Bank' to stop people having to use loan sharks and pay day loan companies.
Where there is social mobility, inequality is reduced not increased and those that govern are a true representation of those they govern.

..... Yes it is all a bit utopian and will probably never happen, but if the Conservatives get another election win then it may be too late for the NHS, the disabled and the elderly, unless of course you happen to come from money.

So enthused by #Corbyn4Leader I have not only joined the Labour Party, I will also be going along to his Q&A in Luton Tuesday 28th. I will let you know how that goes.......

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

DD306 : Living Political Ideas - I have the book !!!

It has not been easy to find, but having trawled the internet I eventually managed to find this book on a second hand book site. So some light summer reading before the course starts proper.

Strangely I am missing the imposed study discipline that impending deadlines bring, but I am also aware that this is my last course and with the course fees having moved from effectively being a decision on how to spend hobby money, to now being a serious family effecting financial decision, and as my last course I'd really like to enjoy it.

The pressure is off slightly as the aim for this course is a Pass2 or better, but I doubt that I will be able to change gear at this stage so it will pretty much be 100% effort unless I get seriously disillusioned.

So, lets see what this book is all about then........

Friday, 10 July 2015

DD309 : Doing economics: people, markets and policy - Feedback of sorts

Had I looked harder yesterday, rather than being blinded by the result, I would have seen a link to view your performance in the examinable component.

It shows the assessment criteria and how each section could be rated.

Assessment criteria
Scale: Excellent, Good, Clear Pass, Bare Pass, Bare Fail, Fail

Criteria :
i. Research question: clarity and relevance to the module
ii. Literature review and economic theory: clarity and relevance to the module
iii. Selection/collection of data/evidence: effectiveness in addressing the question
iv. Analysis & research method: effectiveness in integrating theory, data & evidence
v. Aptness of conclusions in drawing threads of argument together
vi. Evidence of independent thought and initiative
vii. Standard of presentation and referencing

I was glad to see that I was marked either Excellent or Good in the above criteria, and especially that for 'evidence of independent thought' it was Excellent, given that I had taken a far from easy course in this project, and pressed on in this direction against the advice from my tutor to simplify the project.

The other information on the site was the performance of all students in the EMA, which was a pretty standard bell curve sort of distribution.

It would be nice to get some more detailed feedback though - but I'm not sure if this is available.