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The Unspoken Blair

What does it mean to take responsibility for something?  The Telegraph takes Blair to task for failing to take any reponsibility for the war in Iraq and all its consequences.  His argument is that it is not he, or the British or the Iraqi public which are causing the violence but the extremists.

Yet if you deliberately bang your head against a wall, you are responsible for your injuries.  It is entirely unconvincing to argue that it is not you, but the people who built the wall that are solely at fault.

In a complex situation, all parties will usually have some responsibility.  And it is irresponsible to pretend that you have no choice but to carry on banging.

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When is a debate not a debate?

when it’s a petition.  But it also seems to be code for finding out how the press will respond to an idea.  Which is a pity: debates are meant to be about the reasoned exchange of opinion and to end in resolution.  What is needed is to take consultations sufficiently seriously that they become debates with the people affected.  Media-based positioning is merely spectacle.

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Not waving but drowning

It is shame that Tony Blair has got so out of his depth.  Reducing carbon emissions will not happen by hoping someone else will deal with them (such as scientists that the government is barely funding), or that the UK is not really responsible for much (ignoring all that embodied carbon).  He still hasn’t grasped the gravity of the situation and encouraging people to dump their responsibilties elsewhere will not help.

Leaders are meant to make a difference, rather than follow the line of least resistance.  But as sea levels rise, at least he will have plenty of opportunity to enjoy swimming on his holidays.

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Consulting embryos about their fate

Do we want mixed animal-human embryos?

Since no one is willing to guarantee a cure for anything, I suspect not.  But here’s how you rubbish a piece of consultation: declare the responses to be ‘unbalanced’.  This item on itv.com, for example, reported that “concerns have been expressed that organised groups, opposed to any kind of embryo research, made up the bulk of respondents.

So if the public do not want something you want, then the consultation hasn’t worked properly.  Convenient.

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Who says they don't want an OFR?

Could Gordon Brown have difficulty joining things up? His abolition of the OFR was announced to the CBI conference, a gathering of business management – and justified because it was ‘better for business’. But the OFR was essentially a report directed at shareholders; it was designed for their benefit, not the convenience of managers. So why was its abolition announced at a meeting of this special interest group for managers?

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Capitalism – red in tooth and claw?

Gordon Brown has said he will abandon the OFR. A good 5 years of effort, looking at ways to introduce the stakeholder into companies’ deliberations have gone to waste. Presumably all the talk about non-financial risks being necessary to assess a company’s impact, even for shareholder, was just spin. And ‘New Labour’ will be safe in Gordon’s hands.

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Securing ID

The UK government wants to construct a huge database holding information about every citizen. The justtification is that it will ‘increase security’. Yet it is technically possible to secure identification – even biometrically – while holding very little information centrally. However this might not serve the other purposes of the central database…

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The Accountability of our Politicians

What are the legitimate demands of accountability on politicians. The received wisdom of the western democracies is that the ballot box suffices. But do people vote for policies or personalities? When celebrities stand for office, you can expect a high turnout. But should you expect people to vote according to what they stand for or who they are?

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Global Accountability – no taxation without representation

Bush again. Why do I feel depressed? Perhaps because of the sense of powerlessness. After all there has been an election which will affect everyone in the world, but most of the world’s people haven’t been able to vote. And most of us will find Bush’s policies taxing, but we have no representation. And when was the last time you voted for someone at the UN?