Don't Panic
  • The top eight countries who consume horsemeat about 4.7million horses a year.Ten years ago I decided to quit meat. The reasons were fairly high minded - I thought it would be cheaper, easier and attractive to girls.

    Okay, there was also the rejection by my 18-year-old self of what I saw as the anaesthetisation of our society towards the whole process of consumption - which I hoped would be appealing to women.

    So when it turns out that many of us have been scoffing down a little ‘Dobbin’ with our ‘Daisy’, my view is along the lines of ‘Get over it - what’s the difference?’

    After all, horsemeat is incredibly nutritious, cheap and, I’m told, easy to cook. It’s popular in France, Mexico and Central Asia, and the top eight countries consume about 4.7million horses a year.

    The idea that horsemeat should be taboo in the UK is due to the heightened cultural status of the animal and nothing more.

    We see them as pets, and because of this we are quick to bestow personalities upon them.

    If you add to this cultural icons such as Black Beauty, Mr. Ed and the Uffington White Horse,

    Read More »from Get over it. A vegetarian view on the horsemeat scandal
  • In many ways, David Cameron has had a good run so far. He won an election on a fairly centrist agenda, managing to avoid the regular pitfalls of over-promising on manifesto pledges, and ostracising the Tories’ main supporter base.

    His Labour opposition is organised but unconvincing, whilst Cameron’s coalition partner - Nick Clegg - has succeeded in alienating his own party’s core voters, whilst failing to represent the majority (read non-Tory) mood on key issues like the NHS.

    Despite this, stories are rife about Tory plots to dethrone Cameron.

    Many names have been bandied around as leadership challengers; Education Secretary Michael Gove, Home Secretary Theresa May and of course the people’s choice; Boris Johnson. One hears tip-offs about these supposed contenders, but is there really enough negative feeling within the Conservative Party, and if so what are the telltale signs of a challenge in 2015?

    There are contextual elements to consider. For one, the modern backbencher tends to be

    Read More »from Why Cameron is more plotted against than his contemporaries
  • The Arab Spring was a “formidable event,” orchestrated by “free revolutionaries.”  The popular ousting of the “remaining tyrants in the region was inevitable.” Efforts must be made “to educate and warn Muslim people about half-solutions” spread by the Muslim Brotherhood.

    These are the words of Osama bin Laden, indeed - some of the last he wrote before his rude awakening from the US government. He’s referring to the revolutionary movement that has swept the Maghreb region of North Africa, sparked by the self immolation of Tunisian fruit vendor Mohamed Bouazizi.

    Certainly, the Arab Spring will come to be seen as one of the defining events of the 2010s, and while it has been welcomed with almost delirious excitement from the Middle East and liberal West, the events playing out in these states may yet have disastrous ramifications.

    The region is in flux. The leaders of Tunisia, Egypt and - most dramatically - Libya have been deposed, and the resulting power vacuums have opened the path to

    Read More »from How to stop North Africa becoming the new terror front
  • The average British home has an annual fuel bill of £1,252. Energy bills have risen more than five times quicker than a typical household’s income in the past eight years. A quarter of Britain’s homes are now in fuel poverty - with energy bills accounting for more than 10 per cent of earnings. A grand total of six companies provide energy for almost every Brit.

    This is before the “energy gap” is factored in; studies claim Britain faces up to a 20 per cent shortfall in energy production by 2015, as a quarter of our coal and gas plants face closure because they’re too old, too polluting and too wasteful.

    Britain’s economy is exposed, not insulated. The squeezed middle constantly has to contend with turbulent, geo-political gas and oil markets, while also paying a premium to import fuel from abroad.

    We talk too much of rising tides and fearful storms. Climate change policies make economic sense, providing security, efficiency and independence. But in this great age of austerity, with

    Read More »from Is shale gas a sustainable solution?
  • In 1994, at the age of 28, Piers Morgan was made editor of the now defunct tabloid The News of the World. To put that in context, it’s a bit like being made an army general, Premier League football manager or government minister before you’re 30.

    Not only does it display a precocious natural talent but also a well defined skill set. A strong stomach, a monstrous appetite for storing info and the capacity to turn in 60-hour weeks also figure.

    Additionally, I would say such a man probably doesn’t shy away from confrontation - indeed, he may well thrive off it.

    So when American radio host Alex Jones went on to Piers Morgan’s CNN chat show, he knew that he was going to face someone accustomed to frank exchanges of opinions. And watching it back now, it’s fairly clear that Jones’ approach to debating is not based on outmanouevering his opponent. It’s based on nuking them.

    However, outmanoeuvered he was - that is - if Jones is serious about his campaign to deport Morgan back here to the UK. The

    Read More »from Can Piers Morgan actually make a difference to gun control in the U.S.
  • The EU, as an organisation, is difficult to get your head around. It has a four Presidencies; the Council, the Commission, the Council of the European Union and the Parliament.

    So it’s not easy to identify who is responsible for what.

    Additionally, the fact that these Presidencies often appear to be appointed by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) isolates them, and increases the image of a remote, bureaucratic plutocracy. Little wonder then, that this is often the battle cry of the UK Independence Party (Ukip) and the issue that their leader, Nigel Farage, uses to mobilise voters and amplify his call for a referendum.

    But if David Cameron decides to call said referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, this will be the death knell of Ukip, whatever the result, and here are the reasons why.

    As a single-issue party, Ukip would have no electoral legitimacy in the event of the UK exiting the European Union. I’m sure outwardly the 11 Ukip MEPs would display satisfaction

    Read More »from What an EU referendum would mean for Ukip
  • Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone ...
    Sally Bercow has left Twitter.

    For those of you wondering who Mrs Bercow is; aside from being the wife of the Speaker of the House of Commons, she’s probably best known for two things: Her 2011 appearance on Celebrity Big Brother (first evictee) and her prolific Twitter account.

    I should probably state now that I didn’t follow Sally Bercow, so you’d be right to question the quiet satisfaction in the title of this article. I’ll explain: Just because you don’t follow someone on Twitter doesn’t mean you avoid their occasionally irresponsible Tweets.

    Mrs Bercow’s a key offender at this. Recent gaffes have contributed to her account now being closed.

    There are people who buy into Twitter with a genuine desire to interact, to share and to promote. But they do it in the wrong way.

    Too many times, social media is used for spreading rumours, for picking fights and, in some cases, bullying.

    The value of

    Read More »from Why I won’t miss Sally Bercow’s Tweets
  • Samuel L. Jackson’s electoral battle cry went out, and the people responded. America ‘woke the f*** up’, and while attributing the US election to any one factor is severely reductive, it is a different kind of confidence that the USA exudes at present.

    Obama won for many reasons. Commentators were keen to highlight the ethnic factor - that 44 per cent of the Democrat vote came from the non-white public next to a measly 11 per cent of the Republican vote.
    They also pointed out that many women voted for Obama - around 55 per cent (that’s a lot of binders worth).

    Now, neither of these points are revelatory. Conservatism on the whole appeals to those who stand to gain most by preserving the status quo - the clue’s in the name.

    U.S. President Barack Obama attends his first news conference since he was re-elected, at the White House in Washington


    White males in America, Europe and Australasia most frequently find themselves in positions of more power, and it should surprise no-one that this group have voted on-brand. But Obama’s re-election is about more than mere skin tones - it represents a social

    Read More »from How minority America woke up
  • The fireworks are unlit and the champagne unpopped. America has spoken more resoundingly than the news networks wanted us to think: Mitt Romney will not be President, and it wasn’t even close.

    The problem with losing a U.S. election is that everyone knows about it.

    And yet, there is a forgiving atmosphere in America; celebrities seem to maintain their afterglow longer.

    Is Mitt is now consigned to champagne receptions at country clubs with sycophantic billionaires, or will he continue to campaign for the issues that matter to him, like...  What were they again?

    It doesn’t matter now; Romney conceded graciously, and is certainly eligible to represent his party in the U.S.’s upper legislative house - the Senate.

    John McCain returned here after his 2008 kicking by Obama. He was re-elected in 2010, and continues to quietly represent Arizona, which should be enough for a 76-year-old who selected Sarah Palin as a presidential running mate.

    Similarly, George W. Bush’s second scalp - John Kerry - Read More »from What does a defeated Presidential candidate do?
  • This week, confusion has grown over plans to build more onshore wind farms in the UK, after Energy Secretary John Hayes seemingly retracted comments made about a moratorium on building [additional] onshore turbines. The move comes amid widespread opposition to the pledge - made by previous Prime Minister Gordon Brown - which would see the UK shell out £100bn on ‘renewables’ by 2020.

    The problem, say opponents, is as much about natural beauty as the actual amount of energy the turbines produce. The pro-wind farm lobby have framed the conversation in terms of their ‘capacity’ - that is - the amount of energy they can produce working at 100 per cent. In reality, output from them averages at 25 per cent per day.

    But the issue of beauty is the most emotive one, which is why it has become a voter touchpoint for the Right.

    It should come as no surprise that the reason for the government’s dithering is internal wrangling between coalition partners. In a week when former Tory

    Read More »from Could We Come to Love Wind Farms?

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