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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Cameron’

Could Bernard Jenkin and Iain Duncan Smith be 2nd Tier thinkers?

Maybe there is some hope of 2nd Tier thinking emerging amongst UK politicians….? I was greatly heartened yesterday to hear Bernard Jenkin, on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme call for strategic thinking to create a “deep and sustained analysis of what kind of country we want to be in 10 or  20 years time.” Jenkin, Chair of the Public Administration Select Committee (PASC), was being interviewed about the Committee’s report, ‘Who does UK National Strategy?’, published mere hours before the first part of the Government’s Strategic & Security Defence Review. The Committee’s report suggested there was a tendency for Whitehall to “muddle through”. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were cited as examples where there had been a lack of over-arching strategy. The report also warned that the UK’s capacity to think strategically had been undermined by assumptions that its national interests are best served by its relationship with the US and economic links within the European Union – “Uncritical acceptance of these assumptions has led to a waning of our interests in, and ability to make, national strategy,” Unfortunately Foreign Secretary William Hague attempted to make political capital from the report, saying it showed a “chronic lack of strategic thinking in Britain’s… 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

Cameron & Clegg: where’s the vision?

2 months ago, in ‘Liberal Conservatives’: New Politics?, I wrote about my hopes that the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition might indeed be the start of the ‘new politics’ Nick Clegg says he’s always believed in. I talked about the need for 2nd Tier thinking in Government to take us beyond repeating the same old mistakes, ideological conflicts and embezzlement of the public purse. A month on I’ve yet to see real signs of 2nd Tier thinking in anything the new Government does. Yes, as Henry Porter wrote in last Sunday’s Observer (11 July), they’ve made a good start. “…the coalition has moved with degrees of fair mindedness and deliberation that are refreshing. To be sure, there have been blunders, like Michael Gove’s botched announcement on scrapping new schools, but it surely is right to suggest that doctors be put in charge of spending GPs’ £80bn budget, to remove the target culture from the health service and provide 24-hour cover. The withdrawal from Sangin and setting a deadline for ending combat in Afghanistan is welcome, as is the review of defence needs and spending. For once, our relations with the world appear to be conducted by grown-ups without displays of fawning or self-importance…..In… 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

Is Britain really broken?

As part of his pre-election manoeuvring, Conservative leader David Cameron, according to the BBC, has today accused Labour of ‘moral failure’ and presiding over a country in both economic and social recession. He has said the UK rewards parents who split up and is a place where professionals are told to follow rules rather than do what is best. As an example of what he calls ‘broken Britain’, Cameron talked about the case of 2 brothers sentenced today for brutally attacking 2 other boys in South Yorkshire. The brothers, aged 10 and 11 at the time, attacked their victims in Edlington, Doncaster, last April. They threatened to kill their victims, then aged 9 and 11, stamped on them and attacked them with broken glass, bricks and sticks. The brothers admitted causing grievous bodily harm with intent. While stressing that the case is not typical, Cameron cited it as a shocking example of what he calls Britain’s broken society, one of the key themes of the party’s campaign but a diagnosis rejected by the Government which said the Doncaster case was “uniquely terrible and extremely rare”. In a book of interviews with him by GQ editor Dylan Jones, published this week, Cameron… 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

Time to turn against Cannabis!

The dangers of cannabis use are back on the front pages thanks to a report just published in The Lancet from a team led by Theresa Moore & Dr Stanley Zammit. From their meta-analysis of 35 studies from around the world, Moore & Zammit inferred that any use of cannabis – which means even taking the drug just once – was associated with a 41% greater risk of experiencing some form of psychosis – and possibly even developing full-blown Schizophrenia. People who smoked the most cannabis were the most likely to suffer a psychotic breakdown; for frequent users, the risk rose to between 50% and 200%. Overall, cannabis could be to blame for one in seven cases of Schizophrenia and other life-shattering mental illness. With up to 40% of teenagers and young adults in the UK believed to have tried cannabis, the researchers estimated that the drug could be behind 14% of cases of Schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses. Perhaps fortuitiously Gordon Brown announced on 18 July that the status of cannabis was to be considered as part of a wide-ranging drugs review commissioned by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith. The Brown-Smith move was initiated a week after former Tory Party leader Iain Duncan Smith called for reclassification of cannabis from ‘C’ back to ‘B’ in… Read More