Category Archives: Society

Revenge of the Blob

All of Europe is haunted by a specter — or, more accurately, a Blob. 

The Blob gets its title from its namesake horror films, and was coined by perennial British cabinet minister Michael Gove, who used it to describe the vested interests in the field of education when he was the sector’s secretary of state. 

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Why Britain Is Broken

‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.’  

That’s from George Orwell’s dystopian future Britain in Nineteen Eighty-Four. The words are spoken by the novel’s inner party inquisitor O’Brien, and they could be wryly altered to fit our times: ‘If you want a picture of Britain’s future, imagine waiting, unsuccessfully, for a doctor’s appointment— forever.’   

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Britain Is Falling Apart

There’s a macabre joke in Britain these days that my friends and family also play. We compete to see who has had to wait the longest for medical treatment. It starts relatively innocuously. People talk of the ordinary things: like having to wait days to get an appointment with a doctor. They call up in the morning at 8 a.m., only to be told that all of the slots are gone. Best of luck tomorrow.

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Captain Tom and Gross Offense

You may be a little surprised to hear that in Britain, being ‘grossly offensive’ is a crime. Joseph Kelly might feel similarly. On Monday he was convicted for sending a tweet – admittedly a fairly nasty one – about the late charity fundraiser Sir Tom Moore. When he shook his head – in disagreement or disbelief – during proceedings, Sheriff Adrian Cottam threatened to place Kelly in cells.

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WHO Knows Best

Here’s a conversation to which, in one form or another, I have been party more than once in the past week or so. Perhaps you have done the same.

In discussing the latest twists of the Covid-19 pandemic, person one says something to the tune of ‘I can’t remember. Is the Delta variant the Indian one, then?’, and person two, if they do not reproach the other for their lack of politesse, says something resembling, ‘er, I don’t know. I’ll just check’.

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Cyber War

For the owners and operators of the Colonial Pipeline, the resumption of normal operations following an attack of ransomware probably brought little pleasure. Not least because, according to an official, they had paid up to $5 million to the attackers in ransom in the process. But to have one’s business entirely paralysed in this way is not so much a wake up call, as it has been fashionable to call it, as a time to get serious.

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Boycotting Cotton

As the mechanics of China’s genocidal repression of its Uighur minority has become more and more evident, the hunt has been on to find the link between the systematic suppression of a cultural minority and global commerce.

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Prey

Review – Prey: Islam, Immigration and the Erosion of Women’s Rights by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues that Muslim immigration is diminishing women’s rights in Europe in a way that is measurable and sustained. She makes an empirical case for asylum seekers and recent immigrants perpetrating an out-of-proportion number of sexual crimes, and contributing to a de facto culture of seclusion in which – at least in some parts of the European continent – women venture outside less than their male peers and partake less in society.

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