Events

On Burma and Bigotgate……..

Read Melissa Benn’s latest pieces on the web. Further comment on ‘bigotgate’ in Public Finance, and a piece on one of Burma’s most celebrated activists, the poet and comedian Zarganar, recently sentenced to thirty five years for criticising the government’s handling of cyclone Nargis in 2008, on the Guardian’s Liberty Central section of Comment is Free.

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Election matters, and why this election matters so much

Two excellent pieces today on separate aspects of the election campaign. Francis Gilbert has written a cogent piece on Comment is Free on why Tory policies for schools will spell disaster for our education system. In the main paper Natasha Walter analyses the deeper reasons for the absence of women from the front line of politics.
There are many reasons, of course, for the shift in modern politics, away from a collegiate/cabinet emphasis to a more Presidential style of party leadership but the set piece TV debates have only accelerated this trend.

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Ending rejection: news from Labour Party Conference

Spoke last night at full and very lively fringe meeting at Labour Party conference on the importance of ending selection or, as we in Comprehensive Future call it, rejection at 11 plus.The other speakers were Vanessa Everett, the head of both a comprehensive school and a small secondary modern in Kent, and Aaron Porter, Vice President of the NUS. Everett’s speech was powerful testimony to the damage that the eleven plus can do to children; she told many disturbing stories of young children weeping,

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Maya centre meeting: update

For those of you following the campaign to promote government funding for long term psychodynamic therapy as opposed to merely offering everyone quick fix CBT, particularly for those on low incomes, you might be interested in a rather lyrical summary of aspects of the spring meeting, which I chaired, at the Houses of Parliament, and put on by the Maya Centre.
A full report of this historic meeting will soon be available –

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Breaking through the silence

Please come to a special event, Breaking Through the Silence, put on by the English PEN Writers in Prison Committee and JAM, an organisation set up to nurture, promote and perform new music in the UK, in support of imprisoned and persecuted writers throughout the world, but particularly highlighting the situation of Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of resistance to Burma, who will be 64 on Friday, June 19th.
The event is to held at St Margaret’s Church,

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The conundrum of Caroline Flint

For the moment, I am only going to set out a couple of questions currently buzzing round my brain about the Caroline Flint affair, in particular the matter of those photos coupled with her angry comment that Gordon Brown used her and other women in the Cabinet as ‘window dressing.’
Yesterday I had at least two spats with friends and family about whether her agreeing to that Observer photo shoot fatally undermined her political credibility; everyone I spoke to was adamant;

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Jaw dropping tales.

The political world may be in free fall but so was I, for a brief moment last week, and here’s something I learned in the process.
Last Wednesday night, when leaving the Orange Prize Party at the Royal Festival Hall. I tripped and fell, taking almost the entire impact on my chin and jaw. ( For this we cannot blame the free Tattinger champagne at the event, of which I had but a glass and a half,

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Thoughts of a non swine kind….

For the past few days I have been ill with spring flu of the non swine variety, the illness that has affected so many in recent weeks, including, so I read in today’s coverage of the Cannes film festival, the actress Penelope Cruz whom I find it impossible to imagine looking anything other than gorgeous. Anyway, as befits the thought processes of someone with a fever, dizziness, cough etc but the continuing domestic tasks of a mother of two,

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Crisis time.

For the first time in my life, I am worried for the future of our democracy. As the expenses crisis deepens, here are a few observations.
* while MP’s from all parties have been ‘ caught out’ by careless accounting and unjustified claims, I was particularly outraged by money claimed to dredge a moat, fix piping under a tennis court and trim wisteria on a country cottage.
* I don’t want to see political leaders playing at being very angry,

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