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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘government’

The Sons of Iraq – a Step towards Stratified Democracy?

The level of violence in Iraq has decreased to the point where troop withdrawals by both the British and the Americans are once again being discussed seriously. Iraq and the United States have reportedly set a preliminary timetable to start withdrawing American forces from Iraqi cities from next June, according to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari last week after his meeting with US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice. The Zebari-Rice agreement would link troop reductions to the achievement of certain security milestones. But, given how cautious President George W Bush has been to committing to a timetable for American withdrawal, for his Secretary of State to agree to one at all is an indicator of how much better things have become. And, of course, a few weeks before, Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a statement to Parliament announcing the intention to further reduce British troops in 2009. Who would have thought it a year ago? So, what’s changed the battleground so much in the past 14 months? Partly the much vaunted ‘surge’ of American troops in Baghdad, while merely displacing many insurgents to other parts of the country, did create short-term some of the essentials for peace at least in parts… 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

Quo Vadis Zimbabwe: an Issue of Values

by Alan Tonkin As the crisis in Zimbabwe worsens and the country slips further into turmoil, Alan Tonkin has forwarded this piece he wrote for the Global Values Network web site he runs. GVN is one of the most advanced projects in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at national, international and even global levels. Alan’s piece not only presents an incisive analysis; it draws attention to both the very real human tragedies being experienced in Zimbabwe and the dangers which could engulf the region if the country is allowed to implode. I am honoured to publish Alan’s work as a ‘guest blog’. Different politics – different world views The issue of the release of the final Zimbabwe Election results is being contested by both ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change but for very different reasons.  Before going into these reasons one needs to look behind the claims and counter claims in order to more fully understand why there is this dispute. Zimbabwe: a brief review of recent history Going back over the period following the Second World War, Southern Rhodesia was still a British colony which in 1953 was incorporated into the Federation of Rhodesia &… Read More

Tariq Ali gets Benazir Bhutto wrong!

So that old agent provacateur extraordinare, Tariq Ali, has attacked the naming in Benazir Bhutto’s will of 19-year-old son Bilawal as her successor as leader of the Pakistan People’s Party, describing it as “a digusting medieval charade” (His article was the front page lead story in the New Year’s Eve edition of The Independent – and he appeared on that morning’s editon of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, reiterating his position.) In describing the succession of Bilawal as “medieval”, Tariq was spot on! Moreover, his description of Asif Zardari, Bhutto’s widower (and Bilawal’s father), as a “feudal potentate” – a Lord Chancellor or Grand Vizier? – who will run the party until his son is old enough, is also pretty close to the mark. Where Tariq misses the point is to call it “disgusting” and a “charade”. He goes on to say: “How can Western-backed politicians be taken seriously if they treat their party as a fiefdom and their supporters as serfs, while their courtiers abroad mouth sycophantic niceties concerning the young prince and his future?” The point is: this is very much how the politcians in Pakistan must act if they wish to design an alternative government to the military dictatorship… Read More

Africa: the KEY Question (Debt Relief, Development & Values)

by Alan Tonkin With the impetus of the ‘Make Poverty History’  campaign growing stronger and stronger day by day as we approach the Gleneagles summit, I’m delighted Alan Tonkin has allowed me to reproduce this new feature from his Global Values Network web site. (GVN is one of the most advanced in the world at using Spiral Dynamics to monitor shifts in societies and assess impacts at both national, international and even global levels.)  Alan’s piece is a thoughtful but impassioned piece for the G8 leaders to adopt a multi-vMEME approach to the many different problems facing Africa.   In considering the current debate around the forthcoming G8 Meeting to be held at Gleneagles in the UK and the position of a number of the G8 countries on debt relief, there is little doubt that there are high expectations that the developed nations will go some way to resolving the debt burdens of the poorer countries, particularly in Africa. Africa is the only continent where living standards have declined over the last 20 years. To some extent this is due to the debt burden many countries carry and their repayment commitments but in many cases this is also the result of dictatorships, poor governance and… Read More

Hull OFSTED hits the Mark – but misses the Point!

After months of speculation in the media and undoubtedly trepidation at the Guildhall (seat of Kingston Upon Hull City Council) and in Essex House (the headquarters of Hull’s Local Education Authority), the results of the inspection last September by the Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) have been made public. 2002 was a bad year for Hull Education. The city returned to the bottom of Britain’s GCSE league tables after managing one place above bottom the previous year and slumped 11 places down the primary league tables. Director of Learning Peter Fletcher, in post only a year or so, held Hull’s headteachers accountable for the GCSE league table performances last Summer while the Hull Daily Mail screamed out its headline, ‘Do you care?’  at parents who allowed and even facilitated truanting by their children. The OFSTED report has largely upheld these two positions. Fletcher and Essex House get off pretty lightly while headteachers are criticised for not being focussed enough. However, it is parents and the truancy issue which seems to have most vexed the inspectors. Since the LEA is considered to be pursuing a robust anti-truancy policy – truancy sweeps in conjunction with Humberside Police have made local headlines several… Read More

A Tale of 2 Councils…and the Real Challenge facing Simone Butterworth and Jim Brooks

The county of North Lincolnshire and my home town of Hull are virtually neighbours. Just 5 miles of the A63 through the East Riding of Yorkshire and a mile or so of the Humber Bridge separate them. North Lincolnshire Council has been awarded Beacon Council status. Following a damning Audit Commission report, Kingston Upon Hull City Council is under serious threat of some form of central government intervention unless, by December 2002, it can show demonstrable progress against its remedial Action Plan. Why such different scenarios for two local authorities geographically so close? Systemic thinking? Nothing symbolises the differences between the two councils more than the critical field of Education. For it is its strategies in Education that have seen North Lincolnshire achieving Beacon status in two consecutive years. (Although the Beacon award was specifically for Education, to achieve the award, the Council per se has to be perceived as a high-performing local authority.) By comparison Hull has been bottom of the GCSE league tables for 4 years out of the past 5; the year it wasn’t bottom, it was next to bottom. There are those in Hull who look enviously at the semi-affluent farming communities around Scunthorpe. They proclaim that, if… Read More