Last week's National Apprenticeship Week was full of discussion. We heard about the productivity gains of hiring apprentices, and concerns around the gender divide. We celebrated the amazing things apprentices have achieved, and heard from business leaders who are pledging to create more apprenticeships.
Voters from the 28 member nations of the European Union delivered an election earthquake on May 25. Results show major gains in the European Parliament for anti-integration, Euroskeptic parties which span the ideological spectrum from the extreme-right National Front which won the ballot in France, to the far-left Syriza Party which came first in Greece.
Britain has indeed produced some of the world's best literature, but to presume that we have done so alone and prescribe a romp through literature that assumes as much ignores the world outside of our shores. If you want to inspire a love of literature, by all means select politically diverse works, gorgeously written, intellectually challenging pieces. But do not pick and choose a whole curriculum in accordance with a narrow, personal political vision.
In light of the European elections, and the ideological cacophony that has resulted, it is worth shining a pessimistic light on our political allegiances. There's a reason that the population of leafy suburbia usually vote Tory, whilst inhabitants of liberal hotbeds known as universities are more likely to decry UKIP's fascist agenda. Our position on the political spectrum seems inexorably contingent on our environment, and this should make us doubt every one of our convictions.
When Tony Blair claims it is religious or cultural difference that will fuel 21st century wars, not the ideologies that caused past wars (The Observer, January 26, 2014) he shows only a skewed notion of religion's place in society and history. He projects a narrow idea of what it means to be religious, and diverts attention from other, more systemic problems.
Populism is on the rise, not just here in Britain but globally. It's no good dismissing it, ignoring it or attacking it. It's no good ridiculing, insulting or bullying populist voters. We need to understand how populist parties have changed over the decades and why modern populist parties are gaining ground.
Elections are framed as a clash of personalities, but whilst this adversarial dialogue is engaging, the US election is not a stage of Mortal Kombat. The US election is a complex discourse between different ideas. Sometimes the ideas aren't that different, sometimes they are. The most interesting difference between the policy platforms of the two major parties is the different origins they have.
Ideology in America is a funny thing. United under the one flag they are divided almost down the middle by their morals and principles. On November 6, the nation in effect, will decide to continue on the path that has been struggling for the past four years, or following the road that led them to crisis in the first place.