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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

‘heroes and inspirational figures’

Martin McGuinness for President?

Martin McGuinness, the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, always good for a soundbite, is certainly making some interesting news stories these days.His effective admission yesterday (3 October) that the Provisional IRA did commit murder when innocent people died as a result of their activities is another – major? – step forward in Northern Ireland’s unsteady and decidedly volatile route to a lasting peace. McGuinness told The Independent: “The IRA were involved in quite a number of incidents which resulted in the accidental killing of innocent people and the term used by the relatives of those people who were killed was that they were murdered. I wouldn’t disagree with that. I’m not going to disagree with their analysis of what happened to their loved ones…. I accept that, in the circumstances where innocent people lost their lives, then it’s quite legitimate for the term murder to be used.” Of course, McGuinness maintains that the army and police personnel and Unionist paramilitaries blown up or gunned down by the IRA were legitimate targets in a ‘bitter war’ – to say anything other would be to disrespect both his own past and the hundreds of IRA members who died or served jail sentences for their cause.… Read More

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

Lose a Cat, lose a Father….

Yesterday we – my wife, Caroline, and I – attended a service for the interment of my father’s ashes. A few hours later we picked up a new cat, a 6-week old male kitten we’re calling Basmati – ‘Basmati Rice’, geddit?! Baz, as we tend to call him, is settling in remarkably well and is a real delight after what seems to have been 6 months of loss. Personally I would never admit to being religious or, in any sense, ‘spiritual’ beyond having a strong but rather vague conviction that there is something bigger than me ‘out there’.  On the odd occasion I do think about it, I tend to think of this ‘something’ in God-the-Father/Allah-the-Compassionate terms – which I attribute to cultural memes rather than any spiritual intuition. And I certainly consider myself far too rational to entertain anything superstitious! Yet, for several years now, I’ve had the thought that I would lose Artemis, my cat, and Ted Rice, my father, within a very short time of each other. Of course, I could rationalise this by arguing that both were approaching the end of their natural life and had already lived significantly beyond the average age of their sex and… Read More

Is the Big Society in BIG Trouble?

So the day after David Cameron effectively relaunches the ‘Big Society’, with a new ‘white paper’, his key figure in charge of implementing the Big Society, Lord Wei of Shoreditch, resigns…. That could hardly be worse timing! Surely Cameron knew Wei was going?!? In which case it would have been much more politically astute to have rescheduled the launch of the white paper. As it is, Wei’s departure is a gift to Labour, with Shadow Cabinet Office minister Theresa Jowell saying, “….yet again”  the Big Society is “descending into farce. Only a day after Cameron told us all to take more responsibility, it appears that there will now be nobody in his government responsible for bringing the Big Society into reality.” If Cameron didn’t know Wei was going, then it says something about Wei that he could time his resignation to such negative effect or about either Cameron’s judgement in recruiting such a fickle ally or  Cameron’s treatment of Wei that he could undermine his boss in such a damaging way. Whatever the circumstances of Wei’s depearture, the effect is damaging both to Cameron personally and to the development of the Big Society concept. Whether you think Cameron is being honest when… Read More

Well, are the Arabs ready for Democracy?

On 22 February David Cameron, in an address to the Kuwaiti parliament, hit out at suggestions the Middle East “can’t do democracy”, saying: “For me, that’s a prejudice that borders on racism.” Even at the time it was blatantly clear that such statements were part of his and French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s campaign to persuade the United Nations to approve military action against the forces of Muammar Gaddafi viciously and bloodily repressing pro-Democracy rebels across Libya. A little over 6 weeks later, as NATO tries not to apologise for bombing the hell out of the first armoured column the hard-pressed Libyan rebels have been able to assemble in what is now a de facto civil war…as revolutionary Tunisia and revolutionary Egypt wonder what on earth to do next now they’ve gotten rid of their dictators…and Syrian security forces exterminate yet more pro-Democracy protestors on the streets of Deraa, I’d argue it could be construed as racist not to ask the question: “Can the Arabs do Democracy?” After all, thousands of Arabs have died over the past 3 months in the name of Democracy. If we’re not to devalue their lives, we have to ask whether their sacrifice for their cause is justified.… Read More

The Northampton ‘Supergran’ and the Issues She raises

The footage of ‘supergran’ Ann Timson belting hell out of a bunch of would-be ‘smash ‘n’ grab’ scooter boys at a jewellers in Northampton the other week (7 February, to be precise) has had me musing ever since it was first  broadcast. The fact it is has become a ‘viral phenomenon’, spreading right around the world, has only caused me to muse further. By pure coincidence, a camera man was over the road filming for a documentary and he managed to capture the entire event on film. The footage was aired on ITN News that evening. Within hours, it was on YouTube and received nearly 6,000 views over the next 24 hours. Now there are multiple versions all over YouTube, Daily Motion, etc, using Superman logos and music like Chris De Burgh’s ‘Lady in Red’, etc, etc, etc. Ann Timson’s onslaught has made news bulletins in the United States, Australia and many other countries. The event itself raises important questions – as does the fact it has become such a ‘viral phenomenon’. Just in case you haven’t seen it or you need a reminder, here’s a slight edit of the original footage…   Ann Timson So what made a 71-year-old grandmother with arthritis in… Read More

The Mamas & The Papas: Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll or Incest, Addiction and Unreleased Albums?

Did you know The Mamas & The Papas have an album out of new material – ‘MANY MAMAS & PAPAS’ – and it’s arguably even better than the albums they made in their mid-60s heyday? Er, hang on, I hear you say, how can The Mamas &  The Papas have an album of new material out when 3 of them are dead – Mama Cass Elliot since 1974? Well, of course, it’s not the original 4 members – though leader John Phillips (died 2001) is present throughout, had a hand in writing all the songs but one and produced and arranged all the material. Original Papa Denny Doherty (died 2007) is on many of the numbers – with Phillips’ protégé Scott Mackenzie (of ‘San Franciso’ fame) on others. The Mamas this time around are John’s daughter Mackenzie Phillips, more than surpassing stepmother Michelle Phillips in the role of soprano while the rotund contralto role of Cass is given a pretty reasonable pastiche by the nearly-as-rotund Spanky McFarlane (once of Mamas & Papas soundalikes Spanky & Our Gang). The music, which was actually recorded at various sessions in the 1980s by the touring Mamas & Papas and their backing bands, still treads the pathway between bright pop… Read More

‘Radical Islam’ and the Return of Tony Blair

Wow, Tony Blair sure is back in the news in a BIG way! First the Gordon Brown-bashing memoirs, then having eggs and shoes thrown at him in Dublin on Saturday and being a star guest yesterday on the inaugural showing of the new breakfast programme, Daybreak. And, of course, in the Sunday Telegraph both he and Brown were bashed by former Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt for failing to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq adequately. (Dannatt was in uncompromising mood, blaming Blair and Brown explicitly and personally for needless deaths.) Perhaps the most interesting set of comments to emerge from the seemingly endless round of interviews the former prime minister has conducted were those to do with ‘radical Islam’ and the threat that would be posed by a nuclear Iran. Talking about radical Islam in general, he described it to ABC News as “…the religious or cultural equivalent of [Communism] and its roots are deep, its tentacles are long and its narrative about Islam stretches far further than we think into even parts of mainstream opinion who abhor the extremism but sort of buy some of the rhetoric that goes with it.” Blair told the… 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

Munir Hussain and the wrong messages of Judge John Reddihough

What has our kingdom come to when a man and members of his family are tied up by knife-wielding masked intruders and threatened with death, some of the victims escape, get help, chase the perpetrators and beat up badly one of them, only to be jailed for excessive use of force…?!?!? This is effectively what has happened to Munir Hussain and his brother Toker who were jailed this week for 30 months and 39 months respectively. Walid Salem, the intruder they caught, suffered such injuries (including, it is claimed, a permanent brain injury) in what  was clearly a sustained attack by the Hussains that he was considered unfit to be tried on a charge of unlawful imprisonment and was merely put on a supervision order. In sentencing the Hussain brothers, Judge John Reddihough described the assault on Salem by the Hussain brothers as “a dreadful, violent attack”. It undoubtedly was. Among the implements the Hussains and 2 other neighbours used to beat Salem were a cricket bat and a metal pole, (Reportedly the cricket bat was used to strike Salem with such force that it broke in 3!) “This case is a tragedy for you and your families,” the judge told Munir Hussain.… Read More