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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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The Riots: who’s right – Cameron or Blair?

Today what appears to be the final battle to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya is rightly dominating the news – as it probably will for several days, as stories of valour, celebration, desperation and atrocity are told from the streets of Tripoli. There will also be much speculation about what kind of Libya will emerge from the civil war – even whether the rebels can hold off splintering into their own warring factions. And, inevitably, since the West invested so much in the NATO bombs that so potently aided the rebel victory, there will be speculation as to what the West can do to help build a new Libya that is friendly to the West and accepting of its interests in North Africa and the Middle East. In and amidst this focus on Libya, we also need continue the debate about what brought violent rioters and looters onto the streets of London and other cities just a fortnight back and what we should do about these issues. Both David Cameron and Tony Blair had key articles in this weekend’s Sunday newspapers, setting out their positions. Moral decline, moral panic and folk devils As you might expect for a piece in the Sunday… Read More

Can the Lib Dems get off the Torture Rack?

Can the Liberal Democrats get off the torture rack they’ve put themselves on before next Thursday’s (9 December) vote on the university tuition fees proposal…? One can only hope so. That this was a potential destroyer was recognised by the architects of May’s Coalition Agreement who gave Lib Dem MPs the right to abstain when this issue came up for the vote. Unfortunately, a number of Lib Dem MPs are threatening to vote against Government policy – including former Lib Dem leaders Charles Kennedy and Sir Menzies Campbell, both of whom still carry considerable influence amongst backbenchers. Understandably perhaps in the past week or so Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have tried to resolve the confusion and bitterness by getting the Lib Dems to block vote on the issue…for the proposal, of course. Clegg and Cable are, after all, senior ministers in the Coalition Government. But with the party now as low as something like 14% (Guardian/ICM, 22 November) in the opinion polls – though some pollsters believe that figure is artificially low – and with rioting students calling for Clegg and Cable to dare to meet them in person, it can hardly be surprising that Clegg and Cable are desperate for a… Read More

Wanted: Suitable Latvian Men for Latvian Women

This article on the BBC News the other day (13 October) really caught my eye…about there being a shortage of suitable men for the women of Latvia. Of course, there have been many shortages of men before. Usually after wars there are shortages of men since men do most of the fighting. Even in the one and only truly ‘total war’ of World War II, far more men were killed than women. Eg: the Germans lost over 5 million men and the Soviet Union an estimate of upto 10 million. (If just some of the anecdotes I’ve heard are true, British and American soldiers in the ruins of Berlin in 1945 could have almost any German woman they wanted, especially if they had chocolate, cigarettes, nylons, etc, to give away.) However, a significant shortage in peace time is unusual. Paradoxically statistics show that more male babies are born in Latvia than girls. However, a high early male mortality rate means there are 8% more women than men in the country. Among the under-30s, there are almost 9,000 more men than women. However, this is inverted between the ages of 30-39 so that there are almost 3,000 more women than men. This… Read More

‘Liberal Conservatives’: new politics?

The first day of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition we had Nick & Dave: the Love-In in the Rose Garden which more than a few commentators likened to a wedding, such was the bonhomie and adoring gazes between the principals. Yesterday we had Vince Cable, the Lib Dems’ voice of sensible moderation, and William Hague, the conservative of the Conservatives, sharing the walk along Downing Street to David Cameron’s first cabinet meeting. Not to mention the bizarre spectacle of Lib Dem anti-nuclear spokesperson Chris Huhne taking charge of implementing the Tories’ plans to build more nuclear power stations! Today, of course, Cameron’s at war with a number of his own backbenchers over the intention to fix the level at which Parliament can be dissolved prematurely at a vote of 55% of the House of Commons (up from a simple majority of 51% and making it that much more difficult to get rid of them). At least the Lib Dems are only being berated for this ‘stitch up’ by members of another party (Labour)! Undoubtedly the week since the general election results were declared has been one of the most interesting in modern British politics! The 55% no-confidence level stitch-up is, in fact, a key plank… Read More

What will Islam do for Homosexuals?

A conversation about homosexuality this week with a class of A-Level Psychology students led me to write Just how many Homosexuals are there really? for this Blog. However, as my thoughts developed, it seemed to me there is an issue our kingdom is going to face in the not-too-distant future which CHE-UK really will have to address so that we have something to offer when the issue starts to become pressing. Put simply: Muslims are the fastest growing ethnic group in our population. Islam condemns homosexuality as sinful – eg: Sura 7:80-81, 26:165. As Muslims become more and more a sizeable percentage of our population and political parties are obliged to compete for their vote, how will that fare with liberal policies on social moral issues such as homosexuality? Now, when I talk about Muslims, I don’t mean the relatively small number of fanatical fundamentalist jihadists who aim to bring terror to our kingdom as a precursor to an Islamic caliphate. I mean the ordinary men and women who want little more than decent jobs (usually for the men), a good education for their kids, effective health care, some reasonable leisure opportunities…and the freedom to pursue their religion. They’re not particularly out… Read More

NEETs – are the Tories on the Right Path?

What a pleasure when, from a sociopsychological point of view, some of the politicians appear to be getting it right for once. Or at least partly right! Taking some tentative steps on the right path, maybe…. David Cameron and David Willets have declared they want to solve the ‘NEET problem’ as part of the Conservatives’ plans to sort out ‘Broken Britain’. In case you’re not familiar with ‘NEET’, it’s the acronym for ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’ – and the London School of Economics says that 18% of 16-17-year-olds are NEETs. (Department of Children, Familes & Schools (DCFS) data about a year ago had the figure at around 11%. (Although we didn’t call them NEETs back then, the focus of the HemsMESH project 1999-2001 was how to make unemployed teenagers more employable. The national average then was said to be 14%.) According to research by think tank Reform, NEETs are more likely than their peers to use drugs, be involved in crime, have poor health and have children young – nearly two-thirds of NEET females were mothers by the age of 21, 6 times the rate in the rest of the population. Willets, Shadow Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities & Skills, has… Read More