Posts by Paul Clein
Education Secretary Michael Gove has already achieved something I cannot recall any of his predecessors managing.
He triggered a successful vote of no confidence not just by the more abrasive National Union of Teachers but also by the traditionally uber-moderate Association of Teachers and Lecturers.
No doubt his supporters and apologists regard this as a badge of honour. Personally I see this as a reasonable assessment of the worst Education Secretary of at least the past 20 years. It almost makes one nostalgic for John Patten and Kenneth Baker - but not quite.
As it happens, I've read several books about Russian history in recent months, including John Reed's account of the November 1917 Revolution, "Ten Days That Shook the World."
What was salutary was how passionately involved in political discourse and how idealistic most members of the Russian working class seem to have been at that time.
How ironic that less than 80 years later, with capitalism reintroduced, the former Soviet Union produced a new breed of oligarchs following the privatisation of state owned enterprises who acquired riches on a vaster scale than any Tsarist acolyte ever did.
This country has had successive governments for over 30 years which have advocated free market economics coupled with more lax regulation, resulting during that period, amongst other things, in the predictable gradual erosion of workers' rights, increasing centralisation of power in Whitehall and a widening gap between rich and poor.
I am old enough to remember the regular debates over several years of the mid-1970s about what the UK should do collectively with the once in a lifetime windfall of money from the (at that time) embryonic North Sea oil development, which it was posited, was going to enable the transformation of Britain.
The insane off balance sheet funding of public capital projects known as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was first introduced in the latter years of John Major's Tory government of 1990-97.
The Militant Loans taken out by Liverpool City Council in the mid-1980s involved borrowing £101 million from Swiss and Japanese banks over 15 years with total repayments of £157.5 million. These ended in 2001.
No one (me included) could argue that the 30th Olympiad of the modern era - London 2012 - was not a resounding success as were the subsequent Paralympic Games.
Back in March 2008, I was asked to contribute the "No" case for one of the Daily Post's weekly debates which posed the question "Will the 2012 Olympics benefit Merseyside?"
Back in May 1993, I was the Liberal Democrat representative at a public meeting held in what is now the HQ of the Unite union near Commutation Row in Liverpool city centre.
The purpose was to mobilise broad support to oppose the impending plans of the then Tory government led by John Major to sell off British Rail.
Odd bits had already been sold off under Margaret Thatcher (British Transport Hotels, some freight services, etc.), but even she balked at selling off BR passenger services en bloc, which she saw as an overly problematic exercise.
Anyone buying tickets for a show these days will usually have to pay a booking fee and / or service charge.
Laudably, some venues still don't charge any fee at all if you buy tickets at their box office and pay in cash.
Some others charge only a modest flat rate fee. These are the exceptions, however.
Booking tickets on-line - the sole option for some venues - costs varying amounts depending on the source and the difference in charging levels from different agencies is often significant for the same event. Why is that?
We all have our pet hates and I'm no exception. I go to a fair few live contemporary music events, not just in Liverpool.
Live music is something I've enjoyed for over 40 years but unfortunately there is a dark cloud on the horizon.
It was Churchill who famously said that democracy was the worst form of government devised by man apart from all the others.
It isn't perfect, can be messy and cumbersome in its workings but it's the best we've got.
One of the fundamental principles on which our democracy is founded is accountability and transparency about decisions made in our name.
In his book "Ends and Means", Aldous Huxley takes 200 pages or so to illustrate two basic truths - that bad means are not justified by good ends and that when an enterprise fails, the roots of that failure can often be traced back to its having started in the wrong manner.
.... Quarter measures more like, if truth be told. One can understand Cameron and Osborne's reluctance to take concerted action to deal with the collapse of trust in British banks, or more pointedly, British bankers.
After all, who likes to see the prospect of so many former school chums, fellow Bullingdon club members and Tory party donors going to jail for conspiracy to defraud just about everyone with a mortgage and / or a bank or savings account?
Setting up a Government inquiry is all very well, but smacks of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted