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Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

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Austerity and the Euro – an Appalling Lack of Quality Leadership

Well, the Eurozone crisis has certainly dominated the news this past week or so – and the Greeks are once again at the centre of it. But this time it’s different. This time it’s not so much the ORANGE vMEME of the ultra-rich financial speculators effortlessly wrongfooting the BLUE-dominated fiscal technocrats in Brussels and Berlin which is causing the problem – though the speculators are still making plenty of money! Rather, it’s the people – the newly-poor, crushed and deprived by the austerity measures wreaking havoc with lives right across Europe – who are democratically electing populist politicians and extremist politicians promising them relief from the austerity. (21 of the Golden Dawn’s neo-Nazi candidates made it into the Greek parliament in the 6 May election.) New Greek elections in mid-June are tipped to give an outright victory to the leftist Syriza bloc which, if Syriza’s leaders stick to their guns, means forcing the European Union to renegotiate the second bailout deal agreed in March, so the austerity measures the Greek are forced to endure are that much less severe. That or Greece tears up the agreement and effectively leaves the euro. In trying to predict what will happen – or what should happen –… 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

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

The Thatcherite Project is ended. Whither Britain?

As Gordon Brown sits in 10 Downing Street and contemplates the terrible drubbing the small turn-out of disillusioned voters inflicted on Labour in Thursday’s local elections – 273 Labour seats lost – while hoping desperately that yesterday’s emergency reshuffle of his Cabinet will at least temporarily stall the intra-Labour campaign to oust him and that Sunday’s European election results will not be as bad as predicted, there is one crumb of comfort for him in all this…. The Thatcherite project, which, with his roots in traditional Socialism, he must have hated, is at an end. Margaret Thatcher’s philosophy of the pursuit of individual wealth in an unregulated market, with few or no social responsibilities, was an ethos driven by the ORANGE vMEME. And, for quite a time, that philosophy seemed vindicated. After being the ‘sick man of Europe’ in the 1970s, Britain once again become an economic powerhouse and a country of standing on the world stage, with Thatcher seen clearly to exert influence on those ‘leaders of the free world’, Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush. Thatcherism reached its Capitalist zenith in 1989 with the collapse of European Communism and even China starting to crawl towards a sort of… Read More