Martin Whitlock - political writings 2001-2004

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Clever, modest and misunderstood

17 May 2004

The development of the European Union has been a quiet, understated exercise in compromise which Britons might be expected to appreciate if they were permitted the political head space to reflect upon it.

Inconsequential opinions

3 May 2004

David Blunkett and Tony Blair think that identity cards are a good thing. And opinion pollsters tells us that maybe 80 per cent of adult Britons think so too. But is this good enough reason for a policy for which the practical benefits seem remarkably thin?

Not insular, but everywhere

26 April 2004

In agreeing to hold a referendum on Europe, Tony Blair has set himself the ambitious task of re-writing powerful British myths about themselves and their neighbours.

Test tube politics

1 March 2004

The government wants a national standard for the availability of medical interventions such as IVF, but it also wants local people to have a greater say in the provision of services in their area. This paradox will not resolve itself for so long as national politics remains the only show in town.

Blair loses the brand

16 February 2004

The failure of the Prime Minister to support his own government's worked-out policy on immigration by workers from the E.U. accession countries of eastern Europe illustrates the credibility gap he has opened up with an increasingly unconvinced electorate. Pandering to the right wing press on the issue will not paper over the cracks.

Fast cars and cannabis

12 January 2004

When laws are broken by responsible people in their millions, enforcement is not the answer. It's time for the government to look for a more constructive approach.

The nasty government?

1 December 2003

Tory leader Michael Howard sounded more liberal than the government on asylum last week. So perhaps it's time to acknowledge that the public attitudes on this issue are more complicated than they look.

The cruelty of numbers

11 August 2003

By toughening up on asylum-seekers, the government is turning complicated human issues into a numbers game that it cannot win. Spare a thought for the innocent victims caught in the fall out.

Real people don't vote

23 June 2003

The connection between elections and reality was always tenuous, but never more so than it is today. Non-voters are not nihilists, but honest citizens increasingly unwilling to collude in a deception.

When perception is the problem

12 May 2003

When it comes to votes, public perception matters more than statistical reality. This makes politicians say (and do) foolish things. In the end we all pay for it.

It’s not the policies, stupid.

5 May 2003

The results of the local elections in England raise questions for all three main parties. But really it all comes down to one big question: What is a political party for?

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