Thursday, September 03, 2015

EU referendum: Durham University professor 'delighted' at decision to change question

This piece is in the next issue of Newcastle's Evening Chronicle and The Journal following on from my big news yesterday READ HERE:

Durham University professor Thom Brooks was one of two academics quoted in the report to the Electoral Commission

A Durham University academic has welcomed the changing of the planned EU referendum question after campaigning on the issue.

David Cameron has accepted voters should be asked to choose between the options to “remain a member of the European Union” or “leave the European Union”.

The Electoral Commission said the wording proposed by ministers - “should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?” (which would prompt a Yes/No response) - could be perceived as biased to the status quo.

Durham University’s Professor Thom Brooks said he was pleased as he was one of only two academics quoted in the Commission’s report.

Professor Brooks said the wording was inconsistent with other recent referendum questions like the vote on AV nationally and the independence vote in Scotland. He argued that in both cases a vote for “yes” was for changes and “no” was for no change, and that this could mean the question is biased. The Electoral Commission agreed.

Professor Brooks said: ‘I’m delighted to see the Electoral Commission make these recommendations.
“This is an important vote and it’s crucial to get the referendum question right. It’s now up to the government to take the next step. But I expect they’ll endorse these recommendations in full.”


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

EU Referendum Question Changed - Electoral Commision Report

The UK has a referendum next year on whether or not to stay in the EU. The Electoral Commission held a consultation inviting responses. I'm one of only two academics cited in the report. The other is Professor Matthew Turner of Warwick University.

The Commission notes the proposed language for the referendum in the European Union Referendum Bill: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?"

I am quoted in the report at 4.19 (on page 28):

"Another key factor that explained concerns about this [e.g., neutrality] was the use of 'no' to represent a change. Professor Thom Brooks of Durham University was concerned about the lack of consistency when compared to previous referendum questions:

[Quoting me:] There is a convention that the answer "no" should be reserved for a verdict of no change - and "yes" for a verdict of change. The problem with the current question is that a "yes" vote is a verdict for no change. This is inconsistent with referendums on AV nationally and on independence in Scotland".

The outcome? The Electoral Commission agrees that the wording should be changed to better ensure neutrality. They propose:

"Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"

The answers will not be Yes or No, but "Remain a member of the European Union" or "Leave the European Union".

While I was not the only voice arguing for these changes, I'm absolutely thrilled to see this. Result! Now let's hope the final vote is worth celebrating, too....

The government isn't taking the EU refugee crisis seriously

. . . is my latest piece for Labour List READ HERE.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Talking about migration to the UK's North East

. . . on the new local television channel Made in Tyne and Wear. It's the headline story from 1 minute (see 27.08.2015 Part 1 broadcast) and I'm the first interviewed.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Talking refugees and UK migration

. . . on RT tv, the last of three different interviews I did yesterday LINK HERE). The others were with Sky News and local channel Made in Tyne and Wear.

And the big winner in the Labour leadership contest is...David Cameron

. . . is the title of my latest column for @TheJournalNews READ HERE.

The government is not taking Calais seriously

. . . is my latest piece for Progress Online available HERE.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

EU migration, refugees - and new UK immigration statistics

. . . were the subject of interviews I did today with Sky News (pictured), Made in Tyne & Wear Channel, RT and Express on Sunday. I will post links when I have them.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Corbyn Factor

My latest column for LabourList - the top Labour Party blog - is on the leadership race with advice for each of the candidates. The piece "The Corbyn Factor: is Corbynomics Labour's Future?" can be READ HERE.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Yvette Cooper comes to Durham

. . . and delivered a fabulous speech to a packed audience at Durham's County Hall with plenty of time for questions. As usual, many in the room had already decided on backing Yvette, but several told me she now took their first preference. The race ain't over yet for Labour's next leader.

Jeremy Corbyn comes to Newcastle

Sorry I'll be unable to share stage tomorrow with Jeremy Corbyn for a terrific event organised in Newcastle by my friend, the tireless David Stockdale. Would have enjoyed speaking with Corbyn and hearing what he has to say. Maybe next time. If you're in the area, check it out. Should be fun. Even for friends who give first preferences to different candidates.

Interviewed on Al Jazeera's Inside Story - Chaos in Kos: Greece on the frontline of migrant crisis

Interviewed today for Al Jazeera's flagship daily programme "Inside Story" on EU migration and the crisis in Kos. The video can be watched HERE.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Liz Kendall speaks to Sedgefield Constituency Labour Party

Great to meet Labour leadership contender Liz Kendall MP at a special meeting of the Sedgefield CLP in Newton Aycliffe last night. Liz was terrific and spoke to a full house.

Probably the number 1 view was the need for Labour to have a leader who can make Labour win again, a lesson remembered when our constituency was run by our former MP. Some bloke called Tony Blair who knew a thing or two about getting the Labour Party from opposition to government.

Some fencing and a few sniffer dogs in Calais is just not enough

. . . is the title of my new column for the Newcastle Journal, the UK's regional newspaper of the year. READ MORE HERE.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Labour leadership contest - my thoughts

YouGov published some interesting data about the current Labour leadership contest. If their analysis is right (and their predictions about the 2015 general election were not...), then:

* Jeremy Corbyn continues to improve his lead at the expense of the other candidates. Corbyn is up 10% reaching 53% of first preferences -- giving him an outright win in the first round. Andy Burnham is at 21% (down 5%), Yvette Cooper is at 18% (down 2%) and Liz Kendall is last at 8% (down 3%).

* Labour members who voted in the last leadership contest - ending in Ed Miliband's win over his brother David Miliband - are now only 1 in 10 voters in the current contest.

* Labour members who voted last time still choose Corbyn first on first preferences, but he's on only 39%. The other candidates all do better: Burnham 26%, Cooper 25% and Kendall 10%. YouGov predicts that this group would choose Burnham or Cooper over Corbyn once other preferences are taken into account.

* Labour members who joined when Ed Miliband became leader would choose Corbyn - 52% in first round giving him a win - with Burnham and Cooper tied at 19% and Kendall still at 10%.

* Labour members who joined after the 2015 general election also choose Corbyn, but in much greater numbers: he receives a whopping 63% share of first preferences (and Kendall remains last on 7%).

* The prediction appears to confirm that the Labour membership has lurched much further left starting just after Ed Miliband's election as leader and continuing from the general election.

Corbyn wins across all member groups:

* Full members give Corbyn 49% of their first preference votes - almost enough for a clear majority. Burnham and Cooper are at 22% and 20% respectively. Kendall is behind on 9%.

* The £3 sign-ups are somewhat more pro-Corbyn and much more anti-Kendall. They chose Corbyn on 55%, Burnham on 24%, Cooper on 18% and Kendall on 4%.

* Trade unionists are the most pro-Corbyn of all: Corbyn 67%, Burnham 14%, Cooper 10%, Kendall 8%.

Now for some further surprises:

* Corbyn is the big winner for women voting in the contest. Corbyn wins 48% of the male vote and a whopping 61% of the female vote. Compare this to: Burnham (m-24%, f-17%), Cooper (m-17%, f-19%) and Kendall (m-11%, f-4%). It is surprising to find the two female candidates performing so poorly - receiving only 23% of the vote.

* Burnham is the candidate most party members believe can actually win the 2020 general election. 52% think it's very likely or likely he can do it (and 38% not thinking he can). Cooper comes second and split 45% thinking it likely & 45% thinking it unlikely. Corbyn comes third on 42% v 47%. Kendall comes last again - 19% think she can win and 71% think she can't.

Some conclusions:

* If Corbyn wins, he'll have more support from across more groups than the other candidates. The unions are a particular strength. But he still wins or nearly wins outright for other voter groups.

* Women voting in the contest most prefer Corbyn and only slightly prefer Cooper - by a point or two - over Burnham.

* Burnham appears to have lost support to Corbyn at the expense of electability - most Labour supporters think Burnham most likely to win the next election, but they continue to move towards supporting Corbyn. Kendall has put electability at the heart of her campaign and yet scores last in all categories.

That last bulletpoint leads me to my last point: "electability" and having the best chance at winning the next general election does not appear a vote winner among Labour members if YouGov's poll is correct. So hammering away at that point has not yet helped build support.

Of course, all of this assumes that the YouGov findings are correct. Only time will tell if this is so. And if a week is a long time in politics, another month to go may feel like a lifetime. So the race is far from finished.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Honoured to be included in Debrett's People of Today

Honoured to be included in new Debrett's People of Today. Other new entries are Dame Kristin Scott Thomas, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and over 60 newly elected MPs.

"Established in 1982, People of Today annually recognises over 20,000 individuals who are positively influencing Britain and inspiring others through their achievements and leadership" (from website).


What happens to failed asylum seekers?

. . . is the title of today's headline piece for BBC Magazine online. A great essay on an important topic - and pleased to be quoted in it about why the government's fast-track system was rejected by the UK courts. READ MORE HERE.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

David Ingersoll, Behavioralism and the Modern Revival of Legal Realism

. . . is the title of my latest piece, published in the Beijing Law Review. This journal is open access so free to download here. An abstract:

David Ingersoll’s essay “Karl Llewellyn, American Legal Realism and Contemporary Legal Behavioralism” is a significant, but neglected contribution to our understanding of legal realism in the United States. This article argues that it first anticipates the shape of legal realism’s revival today and shows that Ingersoll was ahead of his time. The once dominant school of legal realism had become a much maligned theory of law when this essay was first published. Ingersoll identifies two varieties of legal realism and most critics focus on only one of them. He argues that legal realism should be revived if it develops its second variety often overlooked which accepts rule skepticism and recognizes the importance of social psychology to predicting legal outcomes more reliably.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

British Citizenship Survey

I'm conducting research for a book Becoming British forthcoming with Biteback. The book is about how UK citizenship works and how it should be reformed. I'm keen to hear the thoughts of both British citizens and non-UK citizens on this topic. The survey takes only 5 minutes and I'd be happy to speak further with anyone interested in a follow-up chat. Please let me know if you have any questions - and please forward the survey link to your networks!

Monday, August 10, 2015

UK Foreign Secretary sounds unsure if his govt has "a grip" on migration crisis

The British Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, is changing his mind daily about whether his government is in control of the current EU migration crisis in Calais and elsewhere.

Only about 24 hours ago, Hammond said that the UK government has got "a grip" on the situation in Calais and turned a corner. He didn't come armed with evidence, but had much tough rhetoric giving clear assurances that all was well.

Today, an interview with Hammond is being widely reported where he says that EU is being invaded by "marauding" migrants in language some will see as more inflammatory that Cameron's comment regarding the UK being "swamped" by migrants.

One day this week Hammond says all is under control. Now he says the European way of life(!) is under threat. So which is it, Foreign Secretary?

Looks like yet more evidence this is a government that has tough sounding talk on immigration, but few effective ideas. Another reason why they could do with advice from those of us who are migrants to the UK...

Friday, August 07, 2015

More interviews

You can catch me HERE on Al Jazeera again on a panel interview discussing Calais migrant crisis. Interviewed a second time for TRT in Turkey - will post link when up.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Interview on Al Jazeera Inside Story programme

. . . on the continuing Calais migrant crisis. Link to programme is HERE.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Monday, August 03, 2015

Sky News interview with Andrew Wilson

I've had a second Sky News interview this evening shortly after 5.30pm with Andrew Wilson. I was asked about Prime Minister David Cameron's new plans announced today that would see landlords forced to evict illegal immigrants -- effectively turning landlords into border agents. My view is simple: if the previous Immigration Minister in Cameron's government, Mark Harper, was mistaken to believe his cleaner was legally allowed to work in the UK (she was not and Harper swiftly resigned), then there is little hope others will do much better than him. Furthermore, these plans have not been shown to be effective: the current trial has not led to a single illegal immigrant being deported. This will do little to improve public confidence - and a poor attempt to divert attention from the continuing migrant crisis in Calais I've been talking about in several recent tv interviews.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

UPDATED: 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 (2x) and France 24 and several radio stations such as BBC Radio Newcastle (from 01:09:00) 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.