Sunday, August 02, 2015

My thoughts on the Calais migrant crisis



I've been interviewed by a number of media organisations over the last few days, including BBC News, Sky News, Al Jazeera and France 24 and several radio stations such as BBC Radio Newcastle and BBC Radio Tees (from 27.30).

I've written a short post for the leading Labour Party blog LabourList on how the current crisis should be addressed. In short, there should be less finger-pointing and more cooperation at several levels. First, the UK and France must work more closely together to calm current tensions, but realise any measures are likely to only affect the short-term. Secondly, they should work together with their EU counterparts on a more effective strategy for handling asylum claims and tackling illegal human trafficking. If not, the Calais crisis will only continue for much longer.

Friday, July 17, 2015

So why were the UK polls so wrong?

The polls for the May 2015 election had Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck. I was interviewed by Australia's ABC News 24 the day after the election. I had spent a long night at our local election count with my friend and MP Phil Wilson (who I'm delighted to say increased his vote share) -- Wilson succeeded Tony Blair as MP for Sedgefield. Many theories were sprung to explain the unbelievable.

But my view was - and remains - that Labour supporters were not sufficiently motivated to vote for our side. The Tories did much better than expected because their side was more motivated to turn out at the polls. The last few days of negative polling stoking worries about a Labour-SNP coalition that both Labour and SNP firmly rejected worked to get Tory voters in the election booth while ours stayed home. Or at least that's what I said on live television -- and also what I said in my column for The Journal (which is the UK's regional newspaper of the year). This is now confirmed by new research from the British Election Study.

Told you so first . . .

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Brooks Blog to produce new journal rankings

It is now about 4 years since I last published journal rankings in Philosophy. My original post can be found HERE and it's one of the more popular links on this blog. I know it's regularly used, but it can also be updated and improved.

I will shortly announce a new poll - the most comprehensive yet - of philosophy journals to inform a new ranking. I am likely to group journals in categories A, B, C and so on as before, but retain a numerical ranking as well with scores.

So watch this space. In the meantime, please look over my earlier rankings - recommendations for how they might be updated and revised are most welcome.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hegel Bulletin - Is Hegel a Retributivist?

Hegel Bulletin - Is Hegel a Retributivist?

The above is a link to my article first published in the Bulletin of the Hegel Society of Great Britain in 2004, but only now available online through Cambridge University Press (thanks to CUP agreeing to publish a revamped Hegel Bulletin). This piece was a runner-up for a graduate essay prize.

The article marked an important turning point for me. It is my first substantial examination of Hegel's theory of punishment where I begin to make clear that he could not have been a retributivist. I did not yet argue for his having a unified theory of punishment and so my view of his theory has sharpened although I would continue to defend more than 10 years later the arguments of this piece. Perhaps the biggest finding is that - with the possible exception of Peter Nicholson - just about every scholar writing on Hegel's theory of punishment is shown to have made significant errors in how he conceives his project and how punishment fits into his systematic understanding of philosophy.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Durham Expert Hits Out At Migrant Guide

Durham Expert Hits Out At Migrant Guide | Metro Radio - Number 1 for the North East. Your Music, Your Life



Hilarious response to my interview - publishers admit that "practical guide" for migrants to the UK does not say how to contact police or report a crime. Just like the UK citizenship test handbook who's official study guide has the same author. It's time naturalised citizens had a voice - and maybe a hand - in these things...

PRESS RELEASE: Budget 2015 and immigration statement – Prof Thom Brooks, Durham University

Budget 2015 and immigration statement – Prof Thom Brooks, Durham University
 
For immediate release
 
*TV and radio broadcast facilities available*
Statement by Professor Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government at Durham University on today’s budget speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt Hon George Osborne MP:
 
“Today’s announcement leaves many questions unanswered and stones unturned.
 
The Budget is 123 pages long, but has only one mention of ‘immigration’. It is used once to refer to non-doms.
 
This is not enough and it’s surprising to see this from a government that claims to take immigration seriously. There is no mention of borders or Calais. At a time of increasing pressures on public services, the government should be looking to reintroduce a Migration Impacts Fund through a new surcharge on visa applications. This is an opportunity lost.
 
The newly rebranded living wage might make the UK more attractive to increased migration. This policy aimed at a domestic audience may have an impact beyond our borders and raise new headaches for achieving reduced net migration.”
 
ENDS
 
 
MEDIA INFORMATION
 
NB – Please note that Professor Brooks is also a member of the Labour Party and Communications Lead for the Sedgefield Constituency Labour Party.
 
Interviews
 
Professor Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government, in Durham Law School, Durham University, is available for comment on Wednesday, July 8, and Thursday, July 9, 2015, on: +44 (0) 191 334 4365 (office) or thom.brooks@durham.ac.uk
 
Alternatively please contact Durham University Marketing and Communications Office on +44 (0)191 334 6075; media.relations@durham.ac.uk
 
*TV and radio broadcast facilities available*
Durham University’s academic experts are available for interview via down-the-line broadcast quality TV facilities from our Durham City campus, via broadcast provider Globelynx.
 
To request and check the availability of interviewees please contact the Durham University Communications Office on +44 (0)191 334 6075 or email media.relations@durham.ac.uk.
 
You can book the Globelynx fixed camera and circuit direct by logging into www.globelynx.com. The IFB number is +44 (0)191 384 2019.
 
If you have not booked a Globelynx feed before please call +44 (0)20 7963 7060 for assistance.
 
A broadcast quality ISDN radio line is also available at Durham University and bookings can be arranged via the Media Relations Team on the contact details above. The ISDN number is +44 (0)191 386 2749.
 
A landline number is available in our Media Suite which houses the television and radio facilities - +44 (0)191 334 6472.
 
Photographs
 
A high resolution headshot of Professor Thom Brooks is available on request from Durham University Marketing and Communications Office on +44 (0)191 334 6075; media.relations@durham.ac.uk.
 
Further reading
Migration Impacts Reduction Fund, by Thom Brooks, research briefing published 2015.
 
 
An earlier paper, The British Citizenship Test: The Case for Reform, by Thom Brooks, was published before the current test was launched, in The Political Quarterly in August 2012.
 
About Durham University
-          A world top 100 university with a global reputation and performance in research and education
-          A member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive UK universities
-          Research at Durham shapes local, national and international agendas, and directly informs the teaching of our students
-          Ranked in the world top 25 for the employability of its students by blue-chip companies world-wide (QS World University Rankings 2014/15)
-          In the global top 50 for Arts and Humanities (THE World University Rankings 2013/14)
-          In the 2015 Complete University Guide, Durham was the only UK university to receive a top ten ranking for all of its subjects and 19 of Durham’s 22 subjects were ranked in the top five.
-          Durham was named as The Times and Sunday Times 'Sports University of the Year 2015' in recognition of outstanding performance in both the research and teaching of sport, and student and community participation in sport at all levels.
 
END OF MEDIA RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE: Three reasons why Bloomberg can't run for London Mayor

Three reasons why Bloomberg can’t run for London Mayor
 
For immediate release
 
 
*TV and radio broadcast facilities available*
 
London will have a new mayor now that Boris Johnson has become MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip. Several candidates have put their names forward from Zac Goldsmith and Sol Campbell to Sadiq Khan and Tessa Jowell among others.
 
There’s been much interest in trying to persuade New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cross the pond and throw his hat in the ring. Bloomberg won three terms and a popular campaigner. He counts London as his “second home” and David Cameron’s senior advisor Steve Hilton has called a Bloomberg candidacy “an incredible coup for London”.
 
Bloomberg has said he will not run for London Mayor. Howard Wolfson, his former Deputy Mayor, said Bloomberg loves New York too much to leave. But could he change his mind and make a surprise announcement?
 
All candidates must be a citizen of the UK or EU. Bloomberg is currently ineligible as an American, but some have claimed that his citizenship could be fast-tracked because of his significant investment in UK business.
 
Bloomberg’s problem is that it’s all but impossible for him to receive British citizenship in time to stand for London Mayor.
 
The first reason is he fails the residency test. Bloomberg’s considerable investments in this country aren’t enough. Americans like him must normally be resident in the UK for five years. An investment of £10 million or more opens the quickest path to applying for settlement, but would still require residency for two years.
 
Marriage to a British citizen can reduce this period and Bloomberg was married to a UK citizen. But the residency requirement would only be reduced to three years and you must be married at the time of the application. Bloomberg divorced his British wife over 20 years ago.
 
If residency were not a problem, Bloomberg would face at least two further hurdles. One is he’d have to study and pass the Life in the UK citizenship test. I’ve described this as ‘like a bad pub quiz’ containing obscure facts few British citizens know and might prove especially challenging for an outsider. It can take several months to book a test and it’s required for permanent residency.
 
A second hurdle is that citizenship applications must normally wait one year after receiving permanent residency before applying for citizenship—and the outcome normally takes about six months after applying.
 
Bloomberg’s failure to meet the residency requirement on any grounds, his needing to pass the citizenship test and the 18 month or more wait after a likely two or more year qualifying period are three reasons why Londoners should firmly rule out what would be an extraordinary political story. He can’t run even if he changed his mind. But it could happen in the following election so watch this space.
 
 
ENDS
 
 
MEDIA INFORMATION
 
NB – Please note that Professor Brooks is also a member of the Labour Party.
 
Interviews
 
Professor Thom Brooks, Professor of Law and Government, in Durham Law School, Durham University, is available for comment on Monday, June 22, and Tuesday, June 23, 2015, on: +44 (0) 191 334 4365 (office) or thom.brooks@durham.ac.uk
 
Alternatively please contact Durham University Marketing and Communications Office on +44 (0)191 334 6075; media.relations@durham.ac.uk
 
*TV and radio broadcast facilities available*
Durham University’s academic experts are available for interview via down-the-line broadcast quality TV facilities from our Durham City campus, via broadcast provider Globelynx.
 
To request and check the availability of interviewees please contact the Durham University Communications Office on +44 (0)191 334 6075 or email media.relations@durham.ac.uk.
 
You can book the Globelynx fixed camera and circuit direct by logging into www.globelynx.com. The IFB number is +44 (0)191 384 2019.
 
If you have not booked a Globelynx feed before please call +44 (0)20 7963 7060 for assistance.
 
A broadcast quality ISDN radio line is also available at Durham University and bookings can be arranged via the Media Relations Team on the contact details above. The ISDN number is +44 (0)191 386 2749.
 
A landline number is available in our Media Suite which houses the television and radio facilities - +44 (0)191 334 6472.
 
Photographs
 
A high resolution headshot of Professor Thom Brooks is available on request from Durham University Marketing and Communications Office on +44 (0)191 334 6075; media.relations@durham.ac.uk.
 
Further reading
 
 
An earlier paper, The British Citizenship Test: The Case for Reform, by Thom Brooks, was published before the current test was launched, in The Political Quarterly in August 2012.
 
About Durham University
-          A world top 100 university with a global reputation and performance in research and education
-          A member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive UK universities
-          Research at Durham shapes local, national and international agendas, and directly informs the teaching of our students
-          Ranked in the world top 25 for the employability of its students by blue-chip companies world-wide (QS World University Rankings 2014/15)
-          In the global top 50 for Arts and Humanities (THE World University Rankings 2013/14)
-          In the 2015 Complete University Guide, Durham was the only UK university to receive a top ten ranking for all of its subjects and 19 of Durham’s 22 subjects were ranked in the top five.
-          Durham was named as The Times and Sunday Times 'Sports University of the Year 2015' in recognition of outstanding performance in both the research and teaching of sport, and student and community participation in sport at all levels.
 
END OF MEDIA RELEASE

Friday, July 10, 2015

PRESS RELEASE: Boris Becker faces new test match for UK citizenship

Six-time major singles tennis champion Boris Becker has revealed he intends to apply for British citizenship (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/tennis/33076340). At 17, he became the youngest Wimbledon men’s champion in 1985 and he’s served as a BBC commentator since 2003.

Becker likely meets most criteria for becoming a British citizen. He’s owned a London flat and worked in the UK for many years, but that’s not the only hurdle this former champion must jump. Becker would have to pass the UK’s citizenship test.

Tony Blair’s Labour government introduced the test in 2005. The Tory-led coalition made the test a standard requirement for citizenship applications from 2013. The test costs £50 and applicants must answer 18 of 24 questions correctly to pass.

Becker may find this a difficult test match to win. Professor Thom Brooks, at Durham University, is the leading expert on the British citizenship test and says it’s unfit for purpose and “like a bad pub quiz.” Brooks became a UK citizen in 2011 after moving from the USA.

“The test urgently requires revision,” says Professor Brooks. “Practical everyday necessities like how to contact an ambulance, report a crime or register with a GP are missing. But new citizens are required to know the year Emperor Claudius invaded Britain and which street Sake Dean Mahomet launched the UK’s first curry house—many of the test’s facts I doubt most British citizens know or even should know to be British.”

Over 1 million tests have been sat over the last 10 years. Professor Brooks says it’s time for a fundamental rethink on the test’s purpose: “There’s never been a review of whether the test is fit for purpose more than a decade since it was launched. The government should announce a major review preferably led by a naturalised UK citizen who understands the system inside and out to ensure the test meets public expectations and is beneficial. This is important for all present and future citizens alike, including Becker.”

New citizens receive a small gift at regularly convened citizenship ceremonies across the country, such as a small medal or cufflinks. It’s unclear whether Becker would display them alongside his many tennis trophies won over his remarkable career.
FOR MEDIA CONTACT, SEE HERE

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Current Controversies in Political Philosophy

. . . is my new book out now with Routledge!



Current Controversies in Political Philosophy brings together an international team of leading philosophers to explore and debate four key and dynamic issues in the field in an accessible way.

Should we all be cosmopolitans? – Gillian Brock and Cara Nine

Are rights important? – Rowan Cruft and Sonu Bedi

Is sexual objectification wrong and, if so, why? – Lina Papadaki and Scott Anderson

What to do about climate change? – Alexa Zellentin and Thom Brooks

These questions are the focus of intense debate. Preliminary chapter descriptions, bibliographies following each chapter, and annotated guides to supplemental readings help provide clearer and richer snapshots of active controversy for all readers.

Table of Contents: Introduction. Thom Brooks, Political Philosophy: Current Controversies I. Global Justice 1. Gillian Brock, "Approaching Global Justice: Should We Be Cosmopolitans or Statists?" 2. Cara Nine, "Territorial Rights: An Undisclosed Premise in Theories of Global Justice" II. Rights 1. Rowan Cruft, "Human Rights as Individualistically Justified: A Defence " 2. Sonu Bedi, "Anti-Perfectionism and the Right to Privacy" III. Feminism 1. Lina Papadaki, "What is Wrong about Objectification?" 2. Scott Anderson, "Objectification: A 21st Century Reassessment" IV. Climate Change 1. Alexa Zellentin, "How to Do Climate Justice" 2. Thom Brooks, "Why Save the Planet?"

Reviews:

"A welcome, well-executed and irresistible invitation to students and teachers both to engage critically and to advance in creative ways recent work in political philosophy on central topics of universal interest."
David A. Reidy, University of Tennessee, USA

"This volume provides an accessible and very engaging introduction to some of the most important debates in political theory by some of the finest young scholars working in the field. A valuable resource for undergraduate teaching and advanced researchers alike."
Christian Barry, Australian National University, Australia

[READ MORE HERE]

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hegel Society of Great Britain 2015 conference

“Hegel and the Philosophy of Mind” September 3, 2015 to September 4, 2015 At St Edmund Hall, Oxford

Conference Programme
Please note that the registration deadline is 1st August 2015.

Thursday, 3rd September
1.00-1.30 Conference registration
1.30-3.00 Paul Redding (University of Sydney): “Hegel’s Subjective Logic as a Logic for (Hegel’s) Philosophy
 of Mind”
3.30-5.00 Karen Ng (Vanderbilt University): “Life and Mind in Hegel’s Subjective Spirit”
5.30-7.00 Markus Gabriel (Universität Bonn): “Intuitions, Names and Propositions in Hegel’s Philosophy of Subjective Spirit”

Friday, 4th September
9.30-11.00: Molly Macdonald (Queen Mary, University of London): “Hegel and Psychoanalysis: Negation, Thirdness and the Binding of Subjects”
11.30-1.00 Lucia Ziglioli (Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand): “Subjective Knowing: The Challenges of Hegel’s Philosophical Psychology”
Max Winter (Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena): “‘Time is the Being of the Subject itself’. Hegel on the Temporality of Spirit”
2.00-3.30 Mark Alznauer (Northwestern University): “Natural and Spiritual Defect in Hegel”

For further details and registration see: http://hegel-society.org.uk/conferences/2015

Sunday, June 28, 2015

"How Not to Save the Planet"

. . . is the title of my forthcoming target article at the journal Ethics, Policy & Environment. The abstract:

"Climate change presents us with perhaps the most pressing challenge today. But is it a problem we can solve? This article argues that existing conservationist and adaptation approaches fail to satisfy their objectives. A second issue that these approaches disagree about how best to end climate change, but accept that it is a problem that can be solved. I believe this view is mistaken: a future environmental catastrophe is an event we might at best postpone, but not avoid. This raises new ethical questions for climate change: what are the moral implications of a future climatic catastrophe that might be delayed at best? What practical consequences might these implications yield? This article argues most political philosophers have misunderstood the kind of problem that climate change presents and the daunting challenges we face."

[READ MORE]

Friday, June 26, 2015

Which philosophy blogs do you read?

Brian Leiter has a poll up now. VOTE HERE for your favourite blogs. Delighted to see The Brooks Blog made the list.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New report out on A Practical Guide to Living in the UK

A link to the report and relevant pages can be found here [READ MORE]. And more. And more still.

The press release that I've sent out is:

New migrant guide is ‘unfit for purpose’
 
The Government’s guide for migrants features numerous errors and omissions, according to a new report by a Durham University academic.
 
Thom Brooks, Professor in Law and Government at Durham University said the guide is ‘unfit for purpose’.
 
His report shows mistakes in the guide’s information on gaining UK residency and citizenship, on marrying or divorcing a non-British citizen and making tax payments.
 
The Practical Guide to Living in the United Kingdom provides information on health, education, work and volunteering to newly arrived migrants. It is designed to help migrants understand the legal requirements for short and long-term residency ‘to settle in quickly and enjoy your new life’.
 
Professor Brooks, himself originally from the US and a British citizen since 2011, uncovered surprising omissions such as how to report emergencies to the police and calculating and paying income and council taxes. He also found outdated information.
 
Professor Brooks said: “The Government published a new citizenship test in 2013 which was like a bad pub quiz. They claimed migrants should know more about their responsibilities than rights to claim benefits.
 
“Ironically, the new Practical Guide includes more information about claiming benefits than ever before”.
 
The guide provides migrants with information about claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, legal aid and using the small claims courts.
 
Professor Brooks added: “It is unsurprising the author of the Practical Guide also wrote the Official Study Guide for the citizenship test. Both contain avoidable errors and omissions that should be obvious to anyone, like me, who has experienced migration first-hand. It makes me wonder how carefully such guides are checked by the Home Office”.
 
Professor Brooks’s report found more information about the health service, education and work in the Practical Guide for new migrants than the UK citizenship test.
 
He said: “This shows the Government has the wrong priorities. If it isn’t necessary for new citizens, why then for new migrants? The focus surely must be on contributing to British life and not a how-to guide to make claims for people who might not have visited the UK yet”.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Happy 800th birthday, Magna Carta!

Yesterday marked 800 years since the Magna Carta's signing in 1215. The Political Studies Association asked me if I'd make a brief video about the importance of the Magna Carta for political theorists to mark the occasion. The video can be found here.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Liz Kendall for leader of the Labour Party

I've received the following from Liz Kendall:
Liz Kendall for Labour Leader
Dear Thom --
I love my party and I want it to have a fresh start.
Thank you for backing my leadership campaign. I really appreciate your support and wanted to write to you personally to explain why I want to lead our party.
We all know how bad the election result was for Labour. Across the country people worked week in, week out, for a Labour government - but we fell far short.
Why? Because too many people didn’t trust us on the economy, and we didn’t offer a positive enough alternative for the future that everyone could feel part of. 
We must change our party to change the country 
Labour needs a new Leader and a new approach to win in 2020. 
I’m in politics because I believe everyone should have the chance to fulfil their potential and live their hopes and dreams, no matter where they’re born, what their parents did, their gender, sexuality or the colour of their skin.
Yet too many inequalities – in power, wealth and opportunity – still hold our country back.
As Labour members, we believe in solidarity: that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone.
And under my Leadership, Labour will once again show how our values are essential to meeting the challenges of the modern world.
 
Together we can win for Labour in 2020.
There are two things you can do right now to make sure this change happens.
If you have any relatives or friends who feel like you do, please encourage them to sign up to vote in the contest. They can sign up as registered supporters for only £3 or if they’re members of an affiliated union they can sign up for free by clicking here.

You can also nominate me for Leader at your CLP. Please go along to your local party’s nomination meeting and give me your backing.

Thank you for helping Labour make this fresh start, and for your support.

With best wishes
 
 
Liz Kendall MP
 
lizforleader
http://www.lizforleader.com/

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Inspirational Academic Award

Delighted to say I'm runner-up for the inaugural Inspirational Academic Award from Durham Students' Union - a university-wide award. Last year, I won their Lecturer of the Year Award for my Faculty. Further delighted to see one of our Durham Law students is shortlisted for an award, too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Magna Carta panel at St Andrews

Many thanks to the Centre for Global Constitutionalism at the University of St Andrews for inviting me to speak on their special panel commemorating the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta entitled ‘Magna Carta: A Global Charter of Liberty for the 21stCentury? Roundtable Discussion’.

The event took place yesterday at the University of St Andrews and hosted by the School of International Relations’s Centre for Global Constitutionalism.  The panel was chaired by Professor Nick Rengger (Head, School of International Relations, St Andrews). My other fellow speakers included Professor Malik Dahlan (Institution Quraysh, formerly Harvard University), Professor Sir David Edward QC (Edinburgh) and Professor John Hudson (St Andrews). Professor Hudson was recently invited by the Queen to discuss the Magna Carta at an event in Buckingham Palace.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The election lesson we must learn is relevance

. . . is the title of my latest post for LabourList. A small taste:

"I believe part of this project of renewal should focus on Labour as the party of union: of trade unions, of the union of our United Kingdom and of the European Union. Ed Miliband has suffered more criticism than deserved, but one idea he has right is One Nation Labour. You can already see George Osborne talking explicitly about One Nation politics in his pursuit of Northern ‘powerhouses’. Labour is better placed to be a One Nation party committed to defending union. Making this case relevant to everyday life is a major challenge. But so much is at stake from the unity of our country to our prosperity as part of a strong EU. Let us be the party that defends all that is ‘Great’ about ‘Great Britain’ and our place in Europe."

READ MORE HERE