» 2013 » February ¦ What You Can Get Away With

I’ve tried not to comment much on the whole Rennard business because I’m pretty sure I don’t really have anything to add to the reams of online commentary on it. I’m very aware that my position as a white, straight, cis, male, middle class British person in a position of minor authority makes me extraordinarily privileged by any reasonable assessment, and any commentary I make on it would be from that position of privilege.

(And in one of those great blogging coincidences, this post by Guy Sigley explores some of that in more depth)

What’s prompted this post is a wider thought about politics prompted by listening to a discussion on Radio 4’s Today this morning – though I’ve heard it said many times, long before the Rennard allegations went public – that politics is a tough business and all people involved in it need to toughen up and get a thick skin. How did we get to the position where insidious and low-level bullying became an integral part of the system? Yes, it’s pervasive throughout culture, in the public and private sectors, but why are we content to allow it to continue in politics?

Part of the problem is that the process of politics has become effectively separate from the world it’s supposed to connect to. As I wrote last month, we’ve got to a point where ‘politics’ now solely refers to the political process, and we end up treating all that as nothing more than one big game, more obsessed with who’s up and who’s down, rather than what they’re actually doing. When maintaining or improving your position in the hierarchy becomes more important than anything you might actually do with that position, is it any surprise that politics becomes just an excuse for a set of dominance behaviours?

I wish I had some concise and simple solution to offer here, but I don’t. All I know is that we need to change the way we do things, but that’s going to take a lot more than just a soundbite.

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Gove’s proposed history curriculum forgets that we live in 2013, not the 1950s – Anna Claeys explains how the proposed new history syllabus is missing a huge amount of context in the rush to celebrate ‘Britishness’.
The Man Behind The Brilliant Media Hoax Of “I, Libertine” – How a night-time DJ created a non-existent literary sensation.
February 19, 1942 – The day Nazi Germany invaded Winnipeg, Canada. It happened, though maybe not in the way you’d expect.
Five Days In North Korea – A report from a trip inside the DPRK.
Run For Your Wife review – Possibly the greatest ever review of a Danny Dyer film as a fully immersive theatre performance.
Letter from the prostitute that didn’t want saving, 1858 – A fascinating slice of social history from Victorian London.

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130260: Construction of temporary retail unit during redevelopment work, St Runwald Street.
130350: Erection of interpretation boards, Balkerne Gate, Duncan’s Gate, East Gate.

Please note that I am a member of the Council’s Planning Committee for this municipal year. This means that I’m required to act in a ‘quasi-judicial’ manner with regard to applications before the Committee and as such, can’t make comments in favour or against planning applications as I may then have pre-judged them before they come to Committee. I can give advice on planning issues and what to do if you have a comment or objection. However, my ward colleagues Bill Frame and Jo Hayes aren’t members of the Committee, so they’re free to comment as they wish.

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Cycle Helmets: The impacts of compulsory cycle helmet legislation on cyclist fatalities and premature deaths in the UK (pdf) – A long piece of research but an interesting one, coming to the conclusion that the reduction in cycling caused by a compulsory helmet law for cyclists would cause more deaths than the helmets would save.
This is not an argument… – BenSix on the Iraq war: “It is hard to express what an appalling man the late dictator was: a man who was cruel that would not merely invade a nation but torch its resources as he fled; a man who was so spiteful that when militants shot at his car near a little town he threw hundreds of its residents into jails and torture chambers; a man who was so arrogant that he claimed to have had an 100% approval rating in the polls. The great tragedy of the Iraq war is that it began in a country run by this specimen and made things worse.”
The new planning legislation concentrates decision-making power at the national level, while eroding the ability of councils to mitigate the local impacts of development – For those of us who’ve dealt with planning issues recently, this isn’t a surprise, but apparently there are still some people out there who think Eric Pickles actually believes in localism.
The Liberal Democrats must rediscover why they even exist – or extinction is certain – Cicero’s Songs says something that a lot of people have been thinking.
Plus Ca Change, Plus Ca La Meme Bullshit Chose – Flying Rodent on Iraq War protest nostalgia: “I mean, this is surely the big story here. When nearly half the population base their opinion on a war – a war with a bodycount big enough for a respectable mid-20th century conflict, mind – on tall tales and oogah-boogah, you’d think that would be an issue. And yet, from what we’ve seen this week, it barely rates a mention.”

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You can tell I’ve got a new toy to play with – here’s a couple of videos I shot yesterday from the launch of Colchester Comedy Festival, featuring Anthony Roberts of Colchester Arts Centre and Miss High Leg Kick abseiling off the side of the Town Hall.


For more on the festival, see their website, Facebook or Twitter.

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I went to help out in the Eastleigh by-election yesterday, and it turned out to be a day when Nick Clegg came down to campaign as well. At the end of the day, with a lot of volunteers gathered back at Lib Dem campaign HQ, Nick and our candidate, Mike Thornton, spoke to those who’d gathered. As I had my bright and shiny new phone with me, I decided to record some of it. Unfortunately, I only realised when I’d finished that I should have been holding the phone on its side for the better picture.

If you want to go down and help or donate, you can find more details on the local party’s website.

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130220: Extension on first and ground floor, Ipswich Road.
130272: Retrospective application for flags and signage, Queen Street.
130303: Residential access including permeable surfacing to front of property to enable parking for two cars, Cowdray Avenue.
130314: Single story kitchen extension, St Paul’s Road.

Please note that I am a member of the Council’s Planning Committee for this municipal year. This means that I’m required to act in a ‘quasi-judicial’ manner with regard to applications before the Committee and as such, can’t make comments in favour or against planning applications as I may then have pre-judged them before they come to Committee. I can give advice on planning issues and what to do if you have a comment or objection. However, my ward colleagues Bill Frame and Jo Hayes aren’t members of the Committee, so they’re free to comment as they wish.

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