Thursday, December 31, 2015
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
1. Nowhere to state the contact details (address, email, mobile, etc) for the person making the submission
2. Nowhere to state the contact details (address, email, mobile, etc) for the person identified as the migrant 'estranged spouse partner'
3. No contact details for where this signed and dated form should be sent - no address, email, fax, etc.
4. Erm, that's it. Major fail.
A landline number is available in our Media Suite which houses the television and radio facilities - +44 (0)191 334 6472.
Friday, December 04, 2015
The piece is endorsed in today's lead editorial in the paper - and by Angela Eagle, Labour's MP for Wallasey, the Chair of Labour National Policy Forum, Shadow Business Secretary & First Secretary of State:
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Friday, November 20, 2015
Thursday, November 19, 2015
Along the way, I had opportunities to speak with some fabulous people including (no particular order) Jeffrie Murphy, Avital Simhony, Elizabeth Brake, Jack Crittenden, Terry Ball, Rick Herrera, Cameron Thies, Doug Portmore and several others.
And it is worth saying that ASU's Tempe campus is still the most gorgeous university campus I've seen yet - and even better than it was in 1999 when I was last there. If you haven't seen it, go now. You will thank me.
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Thursday, November 05, 2015
. . . and so blogging will be even lighter than normal. Some readers will know that I'm from New Haven so being here is very much a homecoming. I come under the wing of the brilliant Scott Shapiro as a visiting fellow in the Yale Center for Law and Philosophy in the Law School and thoroughly enjoying my time thus far - and looking forward to my time here. An inspiring place with inspiring people.
I spoke at two events. The first was Dean's class on Hegel's Philosophy of Right where grad students have been reading it alongside my book Hegel's Political Philosophy - received some great questions and discussion. The second was with all the philosophy grad students to discuss how to publish - which went much longer than planned as the discussion flowed and flowed.
A highly enjoyable trip and hope to be back again soon.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Monday, October 12, 2015
Join us for the Great British Pub Quiz - with questions from the British citizenship test and some surprises. Entry costs £2 - and open to everyone. A great night out and chance to see Phil Wilson MP.
The event is hosted by Thom Brooks - and sponsored by the Sedgefield Constituency Labour Party.
Ben Holland, "Political Theory and the Impact Agenda" (intro)
Andrew Vincent, "The Ideological Context of Impact"
This article sketches the ideological backdrop to deliberations on higher education over the last century; it then situates the concept of ‘impact’ within contemporary ideological debate. It argues, in the final analysis, that impact is an aspect of an anomalous ideological hybrid, still emerging in 2015, which remains worryingly capricious in terms of the way in which it is trying to reconfigure the character of university life. The article argues that political theorists should be critically alert to this reconfiguration.
James Alexander, "A Sketch of a System of Theory and Practice"
Most political theorists are committed to one particular view about the relation between theory and practice. It is argued in this article that there are in fact four possible ways of relating theory and practice, which are distinguished in terms of the answers that are given to two distinct questions. Derived from this is the suggestion that all political theorists can be classified according to whether they are sanguine, phlegmatic, melancholic or choleric. The purpose of this sketch of a system is to indicate the questionable nature of much of what passes for modern political theory – especially that of the now dominant sanguine tradition, which has for several decades especially concerned itself with the ‘impact’ theory can have on practice.
John Dunne, "The Impact of Political Theory"
Any systematic understanding of politics requires theory: an organised, if not necessarily self-conscious way of seeing and thinking about it. The point of studying and teaching about politics in universities is educational: to help others to understand it better and bring that understanding into their own lives and the lives of the communities to which they belong. Political theorists have a distinctive responsibility to recognise this and show those they teach and those with whom they work how to generate and organise better understanding of why politics is as it is and what it means for everyone's life. The competitive rating of performance to secure university funding deploys criteria that are intellectually absurd, politically disgraceful or deeply corrupting of intellectual and educational purpose. Whatever else they have managed to add to political understanding by their own work, every academically employed political theorist ought at least to have shown those they teach unmistakably why that is so.
Thom Brooks, "What is the Impact of Political Theory?"
I am very grateful for the contributions by Andrew Vincent, James Alexander and John Dunn to this symposium on ‘impact’ and political theory. Their papers provide insightful perspectives and different critical engagements with my recent piece for this journal. Their reflections force me to revisit my central argument that the impact agenda unveiled in the United Kingdom's new Research Excellence Framework (REF) need not be the negative development for political theorists that many fear – and perhaps even that it should be embraced.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
The verdict from former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith:
Good piece - he's right about the distance between rhetoric and action https://t.co/BcAgjlrpoY— Jacqui Smith (@Jacqui_Smith1) October 10, 2015
Friday, October 09, 2015
Wednesday, October 07, 2015
Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Monday, September 21, 2015
Friday, September 18, 2015
Thursday, September 17, 2015
Monday, September 14, 2015
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Thursday, September 10, 2015
Universities minister should take greater notice of how satisfied students are with their teaching and learning
Johnson's concern is that teaching quality is too variable within and across universities with students receiving very different kinds of experiences. He has announced he will introduce a new 'Teaching Excellence Framework' that will provide students with more information about their studies and so, Johnson argues, drive forward competition in the sector.
So where to begin. No one can - or should - argue that it's crucial universities deliver excellent teaching and learning to students. There exist various league tables bringing together information like library spend per student, staff to student ratios and graduate employment.
There is also a National Student Survey that asks students from across all UK universities a whole range of questions. These now figure prominently in national league tables - especially the figure for 'overall satisfaction' - and they provide institutions with crucial anonymous open text comments about the positives and negatives experienced by students along the way.
It could be easily argued that students don't need even more data about university study. If anything, they're probably overcome by a proliferation of it.
While the government is concerned about a 'lack' of sufficient competition between institutions, this seems too one dimensional looking only at the fact the great majority charge the top rate of £9000 per year because they could recruit students willing to pay it. If the government truly wanted greater competition, then it should not only have lifted student quotas but also lifted the top rate of fees to see if going higher would lead to some being able to recruit despite charging more in fees. The fact so many willing to pay the current top rate suggests the government is stifling competition.
And, of course, they want competition on their own terms. Universities out of favour can only charge less - not because students are not willing to pay more, but because the government won't let them. So let's call it competition on the cheap.
So what do students make of their education? The overall satisfaction rates are the wild envy of any government department. Universities scoring 90% or more satisfaction may not do well enough to make the top 10 in a particular field because others score even higher. Go on. Imagine the Home Office or 'BIS' with a satisfaction score that high. Too difficult? Thought so.
If Jo Johnson is so interested in value for money and delivering for students and taxpayers, then let's see two other satisfaction surveys. Let's compare the public's satisfaction with Johnson's department against student satisfaction at about any university in the UK. I'd bet the universities win hands down.
Or better: let's compare the satisfaction of academics working with the UK's research councils against student satisfaction at about any British university. Yes, that's a contest you'll never see because the councils would much rather worry about having the Universities Minister's confidence or that of university management than the confidence of the academics they serve and undertake the research projects. I'd like to be proved wrong, but fear I won't be.
A final point. The Teaching Excellence Framework is to be modelled on the Research Excellent Framework. The later is a complex exercise assessing research quality of departments through weighted consideration of their research outputs, impact and environment (roughly). It is cumbersome and highly time consuming. The 'TEF' looks much more than a quality control mechanism like an Ofsted report branding institutions excellent, good, etc. with each permitting tuition fees up to a particular threshold. Or so I'm reading the tea leaves.
This would make it very different from the REF - and also a bit pointless. It might be better for Johnson to focus more on not more information for students, but perhaps better information. Find meaningful statistics that can be used for genuine cross-institutional comparisons. And then let students vote with their feet on which institutions deserve their money. After all, it is the students that are going to university and not the minister.
It is impossible to see these proposals being rushed out with such thoughtlessness and not think here's yet another minister diving head first into an area he or she knows little about with the aim of making a change that gets some media attention so it raises the individual's profile helping him or her secure a much better ministerial position he or she actually really does want. If we must have a Tory in this position, I'm beginning to miss David Willetts. A lot.
Monday, September 07, 2015
Saturday, September 05, 2015
Interview conducted down the hallway from a fabulous conference I was attending in Ghent, Belgium - about 1 hour from Brussels. Link to be added when in hand.
. . . the link to the 4 part interview programme can be FOUND HERE (series 7 episode 4 (S7 E4) parts 1 to 4). http://www.madeintyneandwear.tv/programme/the-week/
We discuss immigration, plans for local devolution and the big stories happening that week.
Thursday, September 03, 2015
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.”
READ FULL STORY HERE
Tuesday, September 01, 2015
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....
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Friday, August 28, 2015
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Monday, August 17, 2015
Saturday, August 15, 2015
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.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
"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).
READ MORE HERE.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Monday, August 10, 2015
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
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Tuesday, August 04, 2015
Monday, August 03, 2015
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
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).
Friday, July 17, 2015
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
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
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.