The attractions of abstractions

‘Words have power’ is a common sentiment among public life’s scribblers, as well as many of its participants. One sense in which this is true is that they give solidity to what George Orwell termed “pure wind” in his famous essay about political language.

The distinction between abstract and concrete promises is the subject of a piece in UnHerd today by the writer Zachary Hardman. Citing Orwell and others, Hardman argues that politicians’ increasing focus on the abstract has untethered our politics from people’s lives.

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Ep. 178: Starmer, Starmer, Starmer, Starmer, Starmer Chameleon

This week we discuss whether Keir Starmer is the true heir to Blair – with the election prospects to match – why elite podcaster Joe Rogan is refusing to take a Covid-19 vaccine, and the British government’s policy focus on free speech at universities.

Joining us isn’t the roadmap for opening up Britain from lockdown.

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Farah London: ‘Our city doesn’t need to be governed by politics’

In this episode of the podcast we speak to Farah London, mayoral candidate in the capital’s elections this May. She accuses Sadiq Khan of letting the city down during the pandemic, outlines how she believes the city’s air pollution can be quickly addressed, and argues that the city would be better served by a non-partisan mayor.

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Labour faces the UK’s constitutional conundrum

It will doubtless relieve many of you to know that Labour has quietly set up its constitutional commission, touted last year by leader Keir Starmer as the union’s saviour. Early in February Labour’s city mayors and a combined authority met with former prime minister Gordon Brown, beginning the exciting proceedings.

Amid the usual bromides about political disquiet, one comment by Sheffield mayor Dan Jarvis was striking. “People in England need and deserve a better democracy as much as people in any other part of the country,” he said, calling for “the devolution we need to take back control”, presumably with a wink.

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Podcast Ep. 177: Live From Aled’s iPad

This week we discuss the great EU vaccine debacle, the GameStop stock mania, and shenanigans at Handforth Parish Council. Those seeking informed legal commentary on parish councils should consult David Allen Green.

Joining us is our lack of authority.

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