6.30 am sharp I meet with Alex and Arina at St Pancras International, as the rest of our group trickle in and the questions and excitement begin. Is there time for a coffee says one – yes but stay close we are boarding soon. Where are the rest of them – says another. We get coffee and find the rest of the participants. Does everybody have their tickets I shout? YES! Ok great, let’s go!
After the morning flurry of getting everybody together, checking off names, mini panics of the late comers and giving out of all the tickets, the first ever IPPR road trip is upon us. 40 students of UCL’s finest pack into coach 4 on the Eurostar to Brussels. This sounds like it’s going to be fun. We have a chance to gather ourselves, relax, share snacks and dissertation strategies. Arina, Alex, George, and I are going through the details of our itinerary for our visit to the European Parliament and the European Commission. We are about to visit what is probably the most discussed political project of Europe’s post-war history: the European Union. We had questions, thoughts, interests, and were eagerly awaiting what the epicentre of European affairs had to offer. Did I mention this was all happening behind a backdrop of a 35 degree heatwave!
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks the question of toleration has come to the for again, and a number of individuals wish to institute a policy of intolerance towards the intolerant.
‘We may be a tolerant society’, they argue, but we are not required to respect or even tolerate those who themselves are intolerant. To do so risks undermining the entirety of our own society (as was argued by Karl Popper). Morally, if they do not consider toleration something worth adhering to, surely they suspend their right to tolerance as well. Absolutism in favour of Toleration may even be considered, they argue, contradictory: if we are to hold toleration up as the ultimate good, we must necessarily hold intolerance as an intolerable evil. The position seems to collapse in on itself.
As the dust settles following an unexpected result in Sri Lanka’s Presidential Election, the focus is gradually shifting from discussions on what caused the incumbent’s loss to what lies ahead with the new administration. President Maithreepala Sirisena’s campaign focused mainly on domestic affairs, related to corruption and government reform, yet requires a firm pivot towards prioritising external affairs as well. Post-conflict Sri Lanka and its Ministry of External Affairs, during the past five years, was notoriously foreign to a policy and depended on haphazard and reactive arrangements, to say the least. In fact, the country lacked any coherent message on relevant issues with contradictory statements being made by local politicians and diplomats. This article attempts to note a few areas in which Sri Lanka could improve its Foreign Policy in order to maximise its strategic interests while achieving a sustainable peace for the future.
Free School are the most obvious neo-liberal reforms to the education sector that the UK has experienced since the Thatcher reforms of the 1980s.
For the uninitiated, Free Schools are effectively state schools, which have been granted a greater degree of autonomy and higher levels of funding than state schools. Examples include the famous West London Free School, and the UCL Academy.
Academies (another reform, though left over from the last Labour government) and Free Schools are distinct only in the respect that Academies are existing schools that have converted to Academy status, whilst Free Schools are set up from scratch.
Because Academies are able to adapt and change, freed from pupil allocation by the local authority they are able to compete with one another for pupils. Producing a market or competition in the education sector. Free Schools merely add to the number of schools in an area, allowing a greater degree of completion. In this sense the are the natural neo-liberal extension of Academies.
The frenetic spending that occurs around Christmas is an intense illustration of an economy locked into consumerism, and, in the context of the Great Recession, an economy based on debt.
The recent events surrounding ‘Black Friday’, illustrate the extreme reality brought about by the deregulation in the retail sector, and a further shift from the protection of small market producers towards large commercial players. Wherever these ‘innovative’ sales techniques have been introduced, violence, which in other contexts could be taken as a sign of social instability, has followed suit.[i] Yet the lines over the legality of shoppers’ behaviour remain blurred.[ii]
Trench warfare was the determinant feature of the First World War, responsible for its immense deadliness and devastation. It also lead to the development of modern battle tanks and decisively shaped the design of timelessly popular trench coat. With its devastating effects on the life of millions of soldiers and the general deadlock entrenchment creates between two warring ground armies, it became a powerful symbol for the futility of war.
This futility was illustrated by the “Christmas truce” that took place early in the First World War in December 1914 on the Western Front. German and British soldiers left some of their dug in fortifications along the front line to meet in the no man’s land that separated their positions to talk, sing Christmas carols or even play football together. After this exchange of warm feelings, the fighting and killing resumed.