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Open Democracy is a digital commons that aims to provide an independent journalistic alternative to corporate media. It publishes articles from over 5000 authors, aiming to challenge the political and economic status quo, promoting genuine openness in debate and democratic alternatives.

The philosophical and political implications of 'The Spirit Level'

If you want a primer on Wilkinson and Pickett's joint book The Spirit Level, then the pieces here are worth a look (one by me). And for a comprehensive set of responses to their critics, including a pre-emptive strike against Gerry Hassan’s recent piece on OK this is all you need. (It is worth noting too that Wilkinson and Pickett’s work is peer-reviewed; that of their critics isn’t.)

For me as a philosopher, the thing about The Spirit Level that is most exciting is that as a study of the pervasive harms of inequality it strongly suggests that John Rawls's 'difference principle', which says that inequalities are OK provided that they materially benefit the worst off, a principle that has dominated political philosophy for 40 years, is simply wrong. Empirically wrong.

Caroline Lucas does it for the Greens

Now is not the time for soundbites, but I feel the hand of history on my shoulder, so I can’t help it. A century ago, the Labour Party won its first seats in Westminster. Just a generation later, it formed its first government. And another generation later, it formed perhaps the greatest government that this country has ever had, the 1945 Labour government. Now the torch has been passed. The first Green Party MP.

Now, we’ll be similarly unstoppable, I believe. (And the time-scale needs to be shorter. The planet can’t wait 50 years.)

Reflections from outside Parliament: The political class and the crises we face

I spent yesterday ‘on point’ for Green Party Deputy Leader (and my fellow Norwich Councillor) Adrian Ramsay, in a series of interviews on College Green just outside the Houses of Parliament. Adrian spent the afternoon speaking live to Sky and the BBC, and doing pre-records with numerous other media outlets (from across the world), as the great and the good of politics-as-usual came and went, doing much the same: Peter Mandelson, Alan Duncan, Michael Howard, Ming Campbell, Ben Bradshaw, Ed Balls, David Miliband, Frank Dobson, etc etc.

"I'm not a racist, but..."

Many voters are 'against immigration' and against foreign aid (they say things to me on the doorstep along the lines of: "We should take care of our own; that's enough"); and yet they insist that they are not racists. This includes many Tories and the whole of UKIP – and many ordinary voters.

My reaction, perhaps like yours, is to suspect that, actually, in many cases they are racists. But it is hard to prove that; dangerous to say it (at least, to someone's face) – and, I increasingly suspect, not always true, not by any means.

The last refuge of prejudice

It is no longer socially-acceptable to exhibit prejudice against ethnic minority people on grounds of their ethnicity, women on grounds of their gender, or working-class people on grounds of their class. The last bastions of discrimination are being overcome: such as prejudice against gay and lesbian people, and against disabled people.

But is there one crucial bastion of discrimination still strongly in place?

The real scandal in the hacked climate change e-mails controversy

It is day six of the 'scandal' over the hacked emails from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences, in which a thousand or so private email messages between climate scientists were hacked into and made public. According to the ostriches hoping that Copenhagen will fail, these emails demonstrate that climate-science is in serious trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Can East England clean up the UK?

As an MEP Candidate campaigning around the East Region in the last few weeks, I’ve frequently asked and been asked the question: what can June’s European Union Elections really do for Britain? And aren’t Euro-politicians all a load of sleazeballs, anyway? The results of a recent EU Public Opinion Monitoring Unit poll show these questions to be central to the perception of the EU across the country. It found that a mere 38% of UK respondents claimed interest in the upcoming elections.

How can politicians revive interest in these elections?

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