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Showing posts from January, 2020

Keir Starmer has a lot to offer

The Labour Party is in the process of making a decision that will decide whether it can recover from the defeat in 2019 General Election.  All the candidates have much to offer and are making their case well.

No doubt for some the decision will be difficult.  Others may well have made up their minds on the simple binary of Left-wing-Right-wing.

The choice should be whoever is best placed to pull the party together.  Someone who can form a front bench of all talents and across the spectrum in the party.

That is what Harold Wilson did in the 1960s.  His government included Roy Jenkins on the right and Barbar Castle on the left; it included Crossman and Crossland, and Tony Benn with Jim Callaghan.  It presented a formidable team.

Keir Starmer brings to the top table a formidable career outside politics, having been a human rights lawyer and then Director of Public Prosecutions.   He is a man of integrity and commitment who believes in a fairer society where opportunities are more widel…

Out of Brexit a new beginning?

One thing that strikes me about Brexit is how readily people entrenched in the in-out camps.  For either side, the reasons were 'obvious' - so obvious that neither side could see the point of view of the other.

One oddity is that the Left had more reason to vote leave and 'destroy' the European dream than had the right. Yet, on the whole, the liberal left was taken on the mantle of knights in shining armour to defend the EU.   It left Jeremy Corbyn on a limb - his instinct was to Leave.  But his party had become overwhelmingly pro-EU.

Once upon a time, it was mainly the Left who campaigned against British membership.  For Tony Benn, it was a question of sovereignty.  The left entrenched into an anti-EU position.  An 'ever closer union' based on capitalism was not for them the utopia they sought.

During the referendum, I campaigned to remain in the EU, but I always understood the arguments for leaving.  Remainers wonder what went wrong.

What went wrong was the …

Laurence Fox begs questions about QT

This week, the actor Laurence Fox got into an argument with a member of the audience on BBC's flagship politics show Question Time.  He has also had to apologise for remarks he made about the casting of a Sikh in an acclaimed movie, Sir Sam Mendes' '1917'.

The issue was whether the press attacks on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have been motivated by racism.  Fox adamantly dismissed the idea as ridiculous.  That was foolish, and the question needed to be considered.


Analysis of media coverage shows that there have been persistent negative stories about Harry and Meghan.  So, what motives it?  Is it in the public interest, or is there another agenda?

The BBC insists on putting celebrities and actors on the panel, not because they have anything particular to say, but one assumes to brighten up the show.  After all, we are all intrigued to know what actors and reality TV shows have to say about current affairs.

Shows like BBC QT have an aura of respectability and estab…

The prophets of doom?

Little has come from the Summit at Davos, or at least not much that indicates the major economies are coming together to tackle the pressing issue of our time: climate change. 
Political leaders are more interested in promoting growth in world trade than in tackling its environmental consequences.  They are fighting over tariffs, but none of them really wants to restrict world trade.  Yet, that is what needs to be done if they are to stop carbon emissions. 
A recent report for the OECD projected carbon emissions from global freight transport is set to increase four-fold over the next quarter of a century.  This has to be added to the carbon emissions from manufacturing.  
This is the carbon footprint of global trade.  Global trade is killing our planet, and there is little prospect of anything being done to stop it.

President Trump attacked the 'prophets of doom' and the 'pessimists' over climate change. The child, Greta Thunberg says action is required to stop carbon em…

Pesticides ingested with microplastics by fish

We are more aware than ever before that microplastics (plastic particles under 5 mm) are an abundant type of debris found in salt and freshwater environments.  They can be readily ingested along with food and enter the 'food' chain.  
It is not yet clear what harm if any the ingestion of microplastics has in the food chain, although some studies have found depressed growth and lethargy.

In a Limnology & Oceanography Letters study, researchers demonstrated the transfer of microplastics through the food chain between microscopic prey and larval fish that live in coastal ecosystems. They also found that microplastic ingestion interferes with healthy growth in fish larvae.
The investigators also looked at the effects of a common pollutant (the pesticide DDT) that attaches to microparticles in coastal waters. Organisms were not able to detect or discriminate against ingesting microparticles with high levels of DDT.
"Even short exposure to high levels of microplastics can imp…