A cautionary tale for progessives

14/11/2016

In May 1998 at the age of 37, I was elected to Tower Hamlets Council. Although I’d been involved in the Labour Party since I’d joined as a 19-year-old student I had lived in the borough for just two and a half years, having moved into my small terraced house in Bethnal Green at the […]
Identity liberalism in the dock

23/11/2016

‘Recently I forgot I was gay because I was too busy doing something else.’ The words of Colm Toibin, the Irish novelist resonated for me because reading them 35 years after I had first come out I realised that I was lucky enough to forget that I was gay most days. Something which had been […]
Can we transcend identity liberalism?

28/11/2016

I wrote recently about the challenge to identity liberalism in the wake of a tumultuous political year. The post was a response to arguments from the American writer Sohrab Ahmari that identity liberals need to be less tribal, and the American academic Mark Lilla that we need a post-identity liberalism which concentrates on broadening its […]
Transformational change: It’s the people, stupid

14/12/2016

The practice of hoarding is a bone of contention in our house. I try not to do it but my partner is a self-confessed hoarder. However in my case there some exceptions, the most obvious of which is books. The other, which takes up rather less space, is a variety of old papers including my […]
Indyref 2: Can we learn to disagree well?

13/03/2017

‘Here we go, here we go, here we go’, is a refrain often heard on football terraces. But for many of us who lived through the tumultuous years of the 1984-5 miner’s strike it will be remembered as the chant on picket lines. It was a time of deep division and the scars are still […]
Tim Farron: Keep calm and carry on

19/04/2017

Travelling back from Glasgow to Edinburgh yesterday evening I found myself cheek by jowl with a couple of guys having a drink. Quite a lot of a drink in fact. There was so much whisky involved that I felt quite intoxicated. It was a curious predicament towards the end of a curious day. And then […]
The party’s over

23/04/2017

‘It really is all over!’, was the message I received from one of my oldest friends when I switched on my phone after a day-long meeting on Friday. Fortunately, he wasn’t referring to our friendship. That’s withstood a fair bit over the years like any close friendship has to. Rather he was referring to the […]
Sprinklers: find the money and start on Monday

17/06/2017

What a wretched week. In a year where tragedy has hardly been in short supply, Grenfell Tower has marked a new low. An accident waiting to happen born out of a scandal hidden in plain sight. These are clichés and yet they are for once entirely apt. Their very paucity seems to capture the most […]