Categories

Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Latest Blogs
Popular Posts

Latest Blogs

ajax-loader

Breaking-Up Britain needs a National MeshWORK

It’s to be seriously hoped that Theresa May doesn’t get the landslide victory on 8 June that was initially predicted – and which she clearly aimed for in calling a snap general election on 18 April. As discussed in 8 June: Time for a Change!, she clearly thought she would be able to crush a weak and ineffectual opposition. To her chagrin though, Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran speaker at  public rallies, has proved a robust and highly effective on-the-stump campaigner. Although greatly under-reported in the largely right-wing dominated mainstream media, he has consistently pulled crowds in their thousands to his campaign events. In spite of the under-reporting, there has been enough grassroots and social media activity to get at least some wider attention to them. In comparison Mays’ carefully stage-managed appearances before mere handfuls of Tory activists would have seemed pitiful if not for ‘doctoring’ of the photos to make the audience seem that much larger. (See the examples below.) Slowly but surely Labour have closed the gap on the Tories in the opinion polls. Whether they can close it enough by 8 June – assuming, of course, that the polls are reasonably accurate –  is a different matter. The third factor in all of this is… Read More

8 June: Time for a Change!

Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap general election on 8 June is being widely seen as an attempt to further weaken – if not outrightly dismantle – a crisis-ridden and ineffectual Labour opposition and to gain a much larger Tory majority in the House of Commons. It was also quite explicit in her 18 April speech announcing the election – see the newsfeed video clip below – that she wants that increased majority so she can eliminate any opposition in Parliament to pushing through her version of Brexit.   May named the House of Lords, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalists as being the ‘enemy’. In a sense it was a little duplicitous for her to include Labour in quite the way she did. Jeremy Corbyn has been reported – eg: The Independent’s Rob Merrick – as saying Labour would vote against a final Brexit deal it didn’t approve of and Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer – as reported by The Guardian’s Rowena Mason & Anushka Asthana – has proposed  that the UK could still participate in various EU structures and agencies post-Brexit. However, in general Corbyn has been broadly supportive of May’s Brexit tactics so far. He… Read More

My SAD Experience

A few weeks ago I self-diagnosed myself as experiencing a mild dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This milder form of SAD is known colloquially as ‘the Winter Blues’ and clinically as Sub-Syndromal SAD. Starting on the Sunday of that week, I grew increasingly miserable and even became tearful at times. Over most of the next week I was lethargic, missed the gym, couldn’t be bothered with going out and really struggled to put on ‘a happy face’ for my tutees and adult education evening classes. Sub-Syndromal SAD is estimated to afflict some 21% of the UK population while full-blown SAD reduces a further 8% to a dysfunctional state (Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, 2017) The influence of the seasons on health was recognised in ancient times – viz Hippocrates writing (c400 BC): “…whoever wishes to pursue properly the science of medicine…[must] consider what effects each season of the year can produce”. Over 2 millennia later Philippe Pinel (1806), one of the founders of modern Psychiatry, reflected Hippocrates when he encouraged medical students to ensure “due attention is paid to the changes in the seasons and the weather”. One of the earliest and most poignant descriptions of what we now know as SAD… Read More

Putin, Trump and the Endgame for Syria

A  couple of years back I stopped writing about Syria. It wasn’t a deliberate decision. It just seemed to happen. The routine nature of the horrific atrocities committed with relative abandon by both sides, with advantage seeming to swing first one way and then the other and then the other and then the other yet again seemed endless and wearisome. Everything that could be said seemed to have been said…and yet still it went on. Meanwhile, the Crimea, the Ukraine, the Scottish independence referendum, the Peshawar Massacre, Charlie Hebdo and other UnIsamic State atrocities, Jeremy Corbyn, the Brexit referendum, Jeremy Corbyn (again!), Donald Trump…. So many other things have happened in those 2-3 years and so many of them ‘closer to home’…and, as the apocryphal ‘McClurg’s Law’ postulates: the more something is closer to you (racially, nationalistically, culturally), the more newsworthy it is (Stephen Moore, Steve Chapman & Dave Aiken, 2009). Thus, it is understandable (in some senses, at least) that Syria went ‘off the radar’ at times not only for myself but for many other ‘thinkers’ and much of the Western media. Now, though, as what seems to be the final, heartbreaking agonies of Aleppo are so grim and apparently so decisive, they actually break through the news barrier and Syria becomes… Read More

Why Brexit makes Me SO ANGRY!!

Carol Thornton is a Green Party councillor in North Lincolnshire. Way back in 2005 she came on one of my training courses in Hull. Our paths haven’t really crossed since but we’re Facebook ‘friends’ and occasionally comment on each other’s postings. Earlier this month Carol called one of my postings about Boris ‘Liar’ Johnson and some of the more dreadful economic consequences of a ‘hard Brexit’ “more overtly political than your usual. Whatever happened to the Spiral?” It was a good challenge that really took me aback. I pointed out that my last 4 Integrated SocioPsychology Blog posts had been concerned with the EU referendum and the development of Brexit. However, I conceded: “I struggle to be dispassionate and objective on the EU issue because Brexit is going to be such a social and economic disaster and #traitormay is just ploughing on regardless. It’s hard to be dispassionate and objective when you feel personally and immediately threatened by something. And I feel personally and immediately threatened by Brexit. I envision living out my old age in poverty because of what these moronic zealots are doing to our country. I am VERY ANGRY!!” When you feel “personally and immediately threatened”, the emotional… Read More

Is Theresa May going to bring about a Constitutional Crisis?

So, after the meeting of Theresa May’s Cabinet at Chequers last Wednesday (31 August), the formal pre-G20 interview (released Sunday 4 September) and comments made at the G20, it appears we are still not much nearer understanding what “Brexit means Brexit” will actually mean in reality. Labour MP Stephen Kinnock told the Westminster Hour it was “the most vaccous phrase in modern political history”. The BBC’s Gavin Hewitt reflects similar consternation abroad: “The much-quoted ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is met with bafflement. A Washington Post columnist said it had as much meaning as a parent declaring ‘bedtime means bedtime’. The French talk of ‘le grand flou de Theresa May’, the great vagueness of the British PM.” In the meantime, in this extended period of uncertainty, hate crimes against ‘foreigners’ continue to rise, the economy flounders for the most part, investment in business & industry remains largely on hold (with threats of withdrawal by major Japanese TNCs), sterling is in freefall more often than  it is stable and savers lose hundreds of thousands via the lowest interest rates in generations. (David Cameron’s legacy truly will be one of best-forgotten ignominy!) Following the Chequers meeting, BBC News (2016c) cited former Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire as saying there was a… Read More

Whither the EU..?

‘Whither the EU?’ is, according to BBC News (2016b), the likely theme for Slovakian president Robert Fico’s proposed informal summit of European Union leaders, to be held in Bratislava in September. (Slovakia assumed the presidency on 1 July.) As the Slovak-Hungarian Most-Hid (Bridge) party, the junior partner in Fico’s coalition government, has said in a statement: “Britain’s decision completely changes the Slovak presidency, it becomes the number one issue… It is extremely important that Slovakia rises to the challenge of this presidency, for never before has a presiding country faced such a tough task”.  Whether or not the UK goes through with a complete ‘hard’ Brexit in quite the way Nigel Farage and Michael Gove called for – and, according to The Guardian’s Jennifer Rankin, US secretary of state John Kerry certainly believes that can be avoided – the EU has huge challenges it must face or it risks falling apart, with dissension between its leaders and more and more far right parties demanding their own version of Brexit. Le Front National’s Marine Le Pen has been a thorn in François Hollande’s side for several years, her demands for a ‘Frexit’ referendum becoming more vociferous in tandem with the fast-growing popularity of Le Front. Neo-Nazi Austrian presidential candidate… Read More

So the Turkeys did vote for Christmas?!?

Well,  obviously it remains to be seen just how much damage Brexit does to the UK – socially, economically and politically. But the initial consequences do not look at all good: Britain’s credit rating downgraded, the pound struggling to get much above the rock bottom it hit on Monday, up and down (but mostly down) stocks and shares (with markets right around the world affected), the banks and many big companies drawing up relocation plans (with consequent loss of jobs), a mooted 25% of companies declaring a freeze on hiring staff, a significant increase in incidents of racial and ethnic abuse, momentum building for a second Scottish independence referendum and Martin McGuinness calling for a referendum on whether the island of Ireland should be reunited. The ‘serious’ newspapers and internet news sites are full of dire predictions of far worse to come. As the so-called ‘Project Fear’ appears to be turning rapidly into reality, it would be foolish indeed to say blandly everything is going to be OK, as Boris Johnson was doing on Monday morning. The pound and the markets were stable he stated an hour or so before the pound hit a 31-year low. Everything is not OK. Not in the slightest. The UK faces an existential… Read More

The REAL Reason for Staying in the EU

EU Countries don’t go to War with Each Other I might have missed it in the deluge of information from both sides in the European Union referendum debate…but, as far as I know, no one has yet fully explored this point. Just beyond the borders of the EU there have been wars – most notably in the break-up of Yugoslavia (which even saw the return of concentration camps) but also in the Ukraine and just across the Mediterranean in Libya. But no member of the EU has gone to war with another member of the EU – nor is there any obvious indication that such a level of conflict is brewing between any member states. No British soldier has died in battle on the European continent since 1945. In and amongst the economic and legal elements of the debate, it’s vital to remember the context of the foundation of what was the Common Market and became the European Union. A ‘common market’ to prevent war The setting up of the European Coal & Steel Community (ECSC), first proposed by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950, was intended explicitly to prevent further war between France and Germany. Schuman declared his aim was to “make war… Read More

Cuba on the Cusp…?

10 days in Cuba in the first half of January was an astonishing experience. A ‘special’ holiday to celebrate wife Caroline’s 60th, there was little of the ‘Winter sun’ we had been led to anticipate. Rather, near-hurricane level winds and torrential rain lasted several days, with sun, cloud and lighter rain alternating for the rest. If the weather wasn’t enough of an experience in itself, then Cuban music, art, architecture and the people themselves left indelible impressions. The music is, of course, fabulous…seemingly a well-schooled salsa and/or rumba band on every street corner in Habana (aka Havana) and a stunning concert by a version of the world-famous Buena Vista Social Club in Varadero on our last night. In contrast to the agonised grimaces of many American and British musicians, their Cuban counterparts seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves and communicate that to their audiences. (There is plenty of healthy RED expressed in the way Cuban musicians so enjoy playing and PURPLE both in that musicians love to be in a band and the affection for their musical traditions.) The art is wonderfully expressive and the architecture awesome, even when it’s dilapidated. As for the people…. Cuba, is, of course, a victim… Read More

ajax-loader