Thursday, 14 August 2014
Monday, 11 August 2014
London Evening Standard letter: We have a moral responsibility to stop genocide in Iraq with UK air power
Online at Evening Standard here.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Bring the people to Westminster
Your editorial (28 July) argues that Ed Miliband’s proposal for a public PMQs is “the wrong answer to the right question” of bridging the gap between the public and the political elite, and that it would be difficult to ensure that the selection of “average” citizens for these sessions was truly representative.
I support Ed Miliband’s proposal, but would go further by bringing “the people” into Parliament directly, by introducing Citizen Senators into a reformed and renamed House of Lords, selected by lot as per jury selection.
They would serve one-year terms and be given training. They would compose 50 per cent of the chamber, with the remainder made up of “Expert Senators” selected by an independent appointments system, and “Political Senators” appointed by the party leaders. The bloc of Citizen Senators would be sworn to consider legislation purely on its merit, eschewing political or other bias, much as jurors are sworn to serve justice alone.
This system would have numerous benefits, including maintaining the admirable expertise of the present House of Lords, providing an antidote to the increasing professionalisation of politics and being truly representative.
Chair, Pragmatic Radicalism, Rugby
View online here.
Tuesday, 29 July 2014
Boris has all the time in the world
Re the poll finding that Londoners are "against Boris Johnson taking a second job as an MP while he is still Mayor": this would be his fourth job, as Johnson already has a newspaper column and is a non-fiction writer, with a biography of Churchill coming out in October.
Saturday, 19 July 2014
Sir, I applaud the BBC Proms for broadening the appeal of classical music beyond its normal audience.
Music may be integral to the portrayal of sport in popular culture, but the dominance of sport in this culture makes it hard to make classical music accessible for all.
Governments, aided by the media, regard participating in sport as vital for young people’s physical and character development. This is not true of music, despite its study helping people to develop skills such as teamwork, discipline and creativity. Sadly, music is often under threat in state schools due to centrally mandated curriculum changes which emphasise “vocational skills” and the widespread misconception that classical music is boring and elitist.
Only by making learning a musical instrument as ubiquitous as learning to kick a football around can we ensure that music has a sporting chance.
Friday, 13 June 2014
Panellist at SOAS Kurdish Society / Kurdistan Regional Government UK Representation event on "What future for Syria's children?"
I set out my view that once the basic needs of camp inhabitants are met, it is vital that the world makes every effort to cater for the needs of all humans for culture and creativity. More about my proposed charity can be read here. The basic aims are to:
- Encourage and facilitate international artists and relevant organisations to bring entertainment to refugee camps by organising concerts and workshops, with an initial focus on refugee camps dealing with the Syrian humanitarian crisis.
- Encourage genuine cross-cultural exchange by ensuring that concerts and workshops in camps include as far as possible, local artists and camp residents as well as international artists.
- Through the involvement of internationally famous artists, and educational organisations, raise awareness in donor countries of the suffering of refugee camp residents and about the conflicts from which they have fled.
- Raise money for its own services and also for “normal” humanitarian relief work in refugee camps.
- Organise a fund-raising and awareness-raising concert in the UK involving international artists to fund the first visit to a refugee camp.Boost the well-being of camp residents and help them cope with trauma by involvement in artistic expression, learning or entertainment.I am working with leading figures in the UK music industry on a possible series of gigs to raise funds for Syrian children in refugee camps. More details soon.
Saturday, 7 June 2014
The ceremonial which surrounds the Queen’s speech may strike younger voters as bizarrely irrelevant flummery
Sir, As a council candidate I spent ten minutes on polling day convincing a reluctant 18-year-old to vote for the first time. My pitch about maintaining a thriving democracy did not include reference to any of the following, heard during the coverage of the Queen’s speech: the Lord Privy Seal, the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Lord Chancellor, the Earl Marshal, the George IV diadem, the Speaker’s Chaplain, Sovereign’s Heralds, Trainbearers, Black Rod, the Great Sword of State, the Cap of Maintenance, the Robing Room, the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, the Yeomen of the Guard, the Serjeant-at-Arms, the Pages of Honour, and calls of “hats off strangers”.