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politics

independence referenda

Books + Ideas — September 2017

The use of referenda decide questions of borders and sovereignty is not unreasonable - and I have no strong feelings about Scottish and Catalan independence, to take two topical examples - but the idea that fundamental changes can be made based on a bare majority of (say) a 70% turnout of voters seems insane to me. more

English and Australian school governance

Books + Ideas — July 2017

It's interesting comparing the governance of schools in the UK and Australia (or, more precisely, in England and New South Wales). The headline figures are that only 7% of children in England attend private schools whereas more than 30% of children in Australia do so. But examination of the details makes the difference much less: many state schools in England seem closer to me to Australian private schools than to Australian state schools.
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the EU can't save Britain

Books + Ideas — June 2017

The European Union can't save the United Kingdom from the effects of Brexit. Even if they give us everything we want — or the UK government accepts the ongoing payments, freedom of movement, and so forth necessary to maintain Common Market membership — leaving the EU will still be a huge shock for which we are completely unprepared. more

downsizing the UK

Books + Ideas — May 2017

I think the UK needs to consider some serious downsizing.

We should let Shetland and Orkney secede, taking the UK's rights to the North Sea oil with them. That will show Scotland. They can then join Norway, reviving historical links and getting access to the infrastructure needed to manage that oil. more

Brexit and aviation

Books + Ideas — March 2017

The trade situation seems complicated, but the real complexities and dangers of Brexit lie in its effects on services. The agreements here are domain-specific and range across a huge range of areas — nuclear energy, chemicals standards, and so forth — but I've been reading a bit about aviation, something I hadn't originally considered would be affected at all. Here as elsewhere, the Financial Times' coverage is much scarier than that of the Guardian... more

becoming British

Life, Moving — January 2017

I am now a British citizen, after a pleasantly low-key ceremony last Thursday in the County Hall. more

knocking down the house

Books + Ideas — June 2016

We've started the wreckers knocking down our house - and done enough structural damage to it that it's not repairable - but we haven't got any kind of plan for the new house, let alone started building it. more

Leave or Remain? a fundamental asymmetry

Books + Ideas — May 2016

I am not yet a British citizen, but as an Australian resident in the country I get to vote in the forthcoming referendum on EU membership. (Unlike European citizens resident in the UK, or British citizens who have been abroad for too long.) So I take the liberty of using "we" in what follows. more

Alternative Vote for the UK?

Books + Ideas, Moving — March 2011

On May 5th the UK will be voting on (among other things) a referendum to use "Alternative Vote" instead of "First Past the Post" in electing members of Parliament. more

The election

Oxford — April 2010

We're in East Oxford, which is a marginal constituency, held by Labour but with the Liberal Democrats only a few hundred votes behind at the last election. more

Voting

Moving — March 2010

As a citizen of a Commonwealth country resident in the UK, I am eligible to vote in UK elections. And I've just sent off a letter to the Oxfordshire Council registering as a voter so I can do that. more

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