Lunar society

April 1, 2009



“Today’s Lunar Society has several hundred members and includes leading practitioners from all walks of life in Birmingham and the wider region, people who are prepared to help shape the scientific, political and social agenda not just here in Birmingham and the West Midlands, but nationally and internationally.”


“It must have been a thrill. Something like TEDTalks with Stilton. Writes Adam Hart-Davis:

The Lunar Society believed in argument and cooperation. They had long discussions about why thunder rumbles and decided the best way to test their various theories was by experiment. Boulton made a 5-foot-diameter balloon from varnished paper, and they filled it with a terrifying mixture of air and hydrogen (”inflammable air from iron”). They lit a fuse underneath, released the balloon into the night sky on a calm, clear evening and waited for the bang. Unfortunately, the fuse was rather long, and they all assumed it must have gone out; so they began to talk among themselves, when there was a colossal explosion, and they all said, “There it goes!” and forgot to listen for the rumble! Watt was at home 3 miles away and wrote that the bang was “instantaneous, and lasted about one second.” This seems self-contradictory, but in any case, the experiment failed to produce a simple answer to the original question.

There you have it: science, explosions, debate, optimism, politics, technology, curiosity. The future started more than two hundred years ago.”


Demos – 2020 – Northern lights

March 3, 2009



“What kind of places do Europe’s northern cities want to be as they look forward to 2020? Can they tell a distinctive story of optimism, inclusiveness and imagination?

Glasgow as a city is often pulled south- by comparison, competition and control- to Edinburgh, Manchester and London. But what if Glasgow chose to look north and east instead? Might its Nordic neighbours provide a better ‘urban peer group’ for Glasgow to exchange ideas, learn and collaborate?”


“Glasgow 2020 is a project to collect together the imagination of the city to tell a new story about its future. This site is a place to read and submit stories, make wishes and check out events about the future of Glasgow. What’s your story?”


The Bruges Group – The Cost of Regulation

March 2, 2009



“Everyone, including politicians, agrees that red tape stifles the economy. Unnecessary and preventative regulation, based on no data or scientific investigation, let alone a risk assessment, impedes entrepreneurial activity, social existence and liberty. It makes the lives of those it tries to protect, empty and dull; it prevents technological development; and lowers economic performance, keeping many people in poor conditions.

William Mason looks in this paper at the development of the regulatory structure and the forces that drive it – political ambition, the need for officials to make a mark for their career, single-issue lobbying organisations that do not have to deal with the consequences and, above all, the European Union.

Regulation for the European Union is a necessity as it is the strongest method of integration, the political structure’s aim. Only by imposing endless legislation and strengthening the regulatory structure can the various bodies of the EU show their power over national parliaments. What has actually developed with the various sources from which regulations can hit us is a regulatory competition, with each politician, organisation and political body trying to outbid the others. The result is catastrophic for the economy, social existence and any idea of freedom and responsibility.

William Mason analyses the sorry state of affairs we have found ourselves in, gives examples and even provides the solutions of how to create a freer and more harmonious society – better able to help each individual achieve his or her potential.

Politicians need to have the courage to implement radical changes if we are to survive as a free people. If we do not take action to eliminate the drivers of over-regulation, there will be no society left to decide what level of regulation is appropriate – merely individuals and the state.”


IPPR Security in a Globalised World

March 2, 2009



“These recommendations focus on two main areas:

# Conflict prevention and intervention in conflict environments; and

# Strengthened multilateralism (with particular reference to regional security organisations, nuclear non-proliferation, and global biosecurity).

Our report is both a warning and a call to action. We face serious and worsening international security challenges but provided we are willing to learn lessons, to change the way we think, to find the necessary political will and to adapt our policy solutions and instruments to new circumstances, there is much that can be done. We offer this interim report as a contribution to the necessary process of policy change that must now unfold.


Think Tanks – Institute for Public Policy Research

March 1, 2009



“The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) is a UK think-tank with strong ties to the Labour party that claims to produce progressive ideas committed to upholding values of social justice, democratic reform and environmental sustainability. IPPR is based in London and also has a branch in Newcastle, IPPR North.

It was founded in 1988. The founding director was James Cornford.[1] The institute has also been led by Gerald Holtam, Matthew Taylor, now Chief Executive of the Royal Society of Arts,[2] and Nick Pearce, a former special advisor to David Blunkett MP. Former members of staff include Patricia Hewitt, David Miliband and Tristram Hunt. The current co-directors are Lisa Harker and Carey Oppenheim, on a job share basis.[3]”


“Since 1988, we have been at the forefront of progressive debate and policymaking in the UK. Through our independent research and analysis we define new agendas for change and provide practical solutions to challenges across the full range of public policy issues.

With offices in both London and Newcastle, we ensure our outlook is as broad-based as possible, while our Security Commission, International Team, Climate Change Programme, and Migration, Equalities and Citizenship Team extend our partnerships and influence beyond the UK, giving us a truly world-class reputation for high quality research.”


Bruges Group – The Lisbon Treaty

February 27, 2009



“The Red Lines
The Government claims to have defended the UK’s sovereignty so that the Lisbon Treaty will not be able to affect; taxation, social security, foreign and defence policy and justice and home affairs. They also assert that there is an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights. These are the so-called red lines.

Annexed to the Treaty are Protocols and Declarations, designed to enforce the red lines, however they do not have sufficient legal force, and are often too vaguely worded, to defend Britain’s interests from encroachment by the EU.

Michael Connarty MP has also said on behalf of the European Scrutiny Committee,

“We believe that the red lines will not be sustainable. Looking at the legalities and use of the European Court of Justice, we believe these will be challenged bit by bit and eventually the UK will be in a position where all of the treaty will eventually apply to the UK. If they can’t get these things firmed up, we think they will leak like a sieve.”

Even if the red lines were effective as the Government claims they can only defend British interests as long as the Government is determined to protect our freedoms and independence.”


The Bruges Group – The Culture of Deceit

February 27, 2009



“It may no longer be particularly shocking to see such clear evidence of a British Government’s dishonesty over our relations with ‘Europe’, if only because this is something which has since become so familiar. Scarcely a day now goes by when British politicians and civil servants do not make statements relating to the European Union which can be shown to be based at best on concealment of the truth or even on direct falsehood.

The purpose of this paper is to explore the fundamental reason why our involvement with ‘Europe’ has introduced into our politics a culture of deceit which is quite new in our history, not least by obscuring the scale on which it is changing the entire way in which our country is now governed.

In the light of the European Union now making the final moves towards political integration, it is particularly urgent that the nature of this culture of concealment should be analysed and more widely understood.”


The Bruges Group – Euro-Creep

February 27, 2009



“The UK has to be obey judgments made in Brussels which override decisions made by our own democratic institutions. What is more the British taxpayer has to pay Brussels £ billions each year for the ‘privilege’ of being bound by EU law.

Recently the EU announced its intention to take more control over Britain.

These plans include:
– More EU control over taxation
– More EU control over financial services
– More EU control over justice and home affairs
– EU control over resources
– More EU control over energy
– EU control over building regulations
– More EU control over healthcare
– More EU control over the transport industry”


The Bruges Group – Constitutional briefing paper – Health

February 27, 2009



“Dr Rotherham’s study is a timely reminder that the principle of subsidiarity must be fought for, if it is to be maintained. The success of our National Health Service should be judged not by its adherence to some theoretical model in Brussels or the Hague, but in the daily experience of those it serves.”


The Bruges Group – Are the British a Servile People?

February 27, 2009



“As we look at the way our country is governed now and compare it with the situation around the time of the Second World War, we can see many changes and none for the better.

In this paper it is explained how successive British governments have surrendered our democracy to layers of international bureaucracy which have acquired completely unaccountable power over our legal, political, economic and social decisions. The largest of these transnational bureaucracies is the United Nations and the most powerful is the European Union, whose aim it is to turn itself into a post-national state.

This process has, Kenneth Minogue argues, deprived our elected politicians of real power and taken away their opportunity to behave in a genuinely statesmanlike manner, leaving them to become involved in make-believe changes to society, expenses manipulation and general nest-feathering.

Professor Minogue analyses the transnational bureaucracies that add to the burden of regulation and increasingly control so much of our lives. This increased meddling, he argues, is creating a feedback loop where ever more regulations are required in an attempt to undo the damage caused by the initial unnecessary state interference.

At the heart of the matter, Professor Minogue argues, is the curious form of idealism that disdains pride in Britain and British culture, preferring to give allegiance to a far more vaguely defined ideology of internationalism. This rejection of national sovereignty, and the subsequent embracing of unaccountable transnational institutions, as advocated by our political establishment, has led to the British people submitting to more and more authority which comes dressed as virtue.”

“If I am right about the consequences of an idealism that has been invested in a riskless and therefore unreal perfection, then the widespread indifference among Britons to the dangers of Britain abandoning democracy in favour of submission to a benevolent oligarchy in Brussels would cease to be mysterious. The mediocrity of our politics, and of our political class, would result from the fact that a large component of the British population, especially among the educated, can only recognise two concerns. One is the grand and slightly mad project of perfecting the world, and the other is the search for personal happiness and satisfaction. The real world of politics, however, is about grander issues of national interest in the here and now and many of our contemporaries are so lost in posturing unrealities of global perfectionism on the one hand, and the demands of immediate personal satisfaction on the other, that they lack even the capacity to recognise much less to respond to the political realities that are shaping Britain’s future.”