Why Corbyn’s symbolic refusals matter – in a good way

After being criticised for not singing the national anthem at a war memorial event, Jeremy Corbyn has come under attack for missing his swearing-in at the Privy Council. Corbyn’s actions have proved welcome terrain for his opponents, obsessed with the new Labour leader’s comportment and choices – from how he wears his tie to whether […]

On seeking to be discovered

This is not a post about Jeremy Corbyn or about Bernie Sanders. And yet, these two men with long, seemingly modest, political careers illustrate the very modern phenomena of “being discovered”. Suddenly, today, they find themselves star-like, shining and glistening. Admirers follow them, “like” them, retweet their words, and sell their once handled, disposable coffee cups on eBay; two older […]

A Labour Party of protest or government? Bringing politics back in

A party of protest or a party of government – according to Gordon Brown these are the options, the choices at stake, suggesting they are very different things, polarities even. Those who protest don’t govern and those who govern don’t protest. But is this right? Social movement organisations, the back-bone of the protest movement, also govern […]

Is there only power or the wilderness? On Labour selecting a leader

Instead of obsessing about taking power in five years, Labour should support projects of social transformation today. This is the kind of leadership Labour needs. In power or in the wilderness, the British Labour Party it would seem has two settings. Or, at least that’s what they tell us. The present struggle over leadership of […]

More than “the icing on the cake”: Can conservative Christians legitimately refuse to create pro-gay messages?

The legal drama over conservative Christian refusal to provide gay people with a printed or iced message has been seen as a political dispute between gay equality, on the one hand, and religious freedom or rights of expression on the other. This post argues for a different approach, focusing on the extent to which religious beliefs […]

Academic freedom – what we can’t choose not to say

On 20th March, the University of Kent held a symposium on academic freedom to mark the centenary of the AAUP 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom. Yet, while some people argue against constraints on speech, others argue for the right not to speak. This posting is an extended version of a talk given at the symposium. […]