Throughout our history charities and other civil society groups have acted as a buffer between the individual and the state and consistently spoken truth to power. In challenging times this is a voice we badly need to hear. Let's put charities back at the heart of society, for real this time.
Politicians are beginning to wake up to the fact that they can no longer silence the younger generations. For far too long young people in our country have been taken for granted with a view that they are not passionate, engaged or informed enough to shape it and its future.
It is clear that Emily Brothers is not seeking to reap a dividend from her disclosure, by becoming a self-appointed spokesperson for the transgendered community; and, short of the entire trans community moving to Sutton and Cheam (and it is two places so we would fit comfortably) it is not likely to enhance her electoral chances. So, why do it?
While the negotiations around issues such as immigration are very important, they are not the whole story. Of perhaps equal significance are the developments within the EU itself. These changes may, in the end, have an even larger bearing on the outcome of any 'in-out' referendum, if and when the time comes.
In the lead up to the 2015 elections we are looking at our leaders and wondering who will be best to take our nation forward. As we watch them, we don't simply analyse their words, we also want to get a feel for the people behind the scripts, to understand if they are able to put it all into action. So it seems worthwhile to analyse their actions and see what they can tell us...
Like conflict, austerity leaves people scarred, changing them forever, and disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. It is ultimately self defeating. Most tellingly, it is the poorest who suffer most under austerity, as in war, whilst the richest always profit...
While we rightly celebrate today, all is not rosy. Forces close to home are intent on weakening people's rights here, and undermining our standing abroad. The Tories are threatening to walk away from the ECHR and rip up our Human Rights Act, replacing it with a weaker Bill of Rights... Walking away from the ECHR would mean closing ourselves off to the world. This reverses centuries of history and is so very un-British. Our moral authority to press other countries on their human rights record - a cornerstone of our foreign policy - would be chopped off at the knees.
A core strategy approach is fundamentally a risk averse approach. For a politician, especially for the Labour and Conservative parties, that want a chance of ending up in government, a core strategy approach is the best chance of ending up there. The chances of a majority are though, slim. If they want to win on their own then they need to look beyond their core.
Salmond it seems, just cannot bear to be out of the political limelight. If I was Nicola Sturgeon, I'd be grinding my teeth in frustration... Poor Sturgeon has barely had a chance to stamp her authority on her massively enlarged and politically raw party before Salmond swung the narrative back onto him.
Earlier this year the Government unveiled plans for one of the most ill-thought through policies of this Parliament. It's called the Secure College - a new Titan prison for young offenders. It sounds good in theory. It's supposed to be a new institution that will 'transform youth custody' by prioritising learning. In reality it's a flawed, expensive and potentially dangerous idea.
Theresa May's thinly-disguised efforts to portray herself as the next prime minister must stick in the throats of Bbobbies on the Staffordshire beat.
Do you want my alternative, semi-serious take on George Osborne's Autumn Statement, David Cameron's PMQS gaffe and Gordon Brown's decision to stand down from parliament? Here's the political week in 60 seconds...
The advent of fixed-term Parliaments means that we know when the next election will be. We know when purdah will kick in and given the need for the 'conscious uncoupling' of the Coalition, we are already in a state of permanent election campaigning.
The Electoral Commission estimate that 7.5million people who are eligible to vote are unregistered - that's ten cities the size of Sheffield. And, as a result of the move to IER, the Electoral Commission themselves have estimated that a further 5.5million people are at risk of dropping off the register. So many people missing off the register would mean decisions on the future of the country are decided by a smaller and smaller group of people, with political parties gearing their policies towards those they know vote. It is self-reinforcing, and risks corroding our democracy from the inside out.
Michael Dugher MP has announced that he has decided to "stop demonising motorists and start championing them", going on to say that governments have seen motorists as a "cash cow" and have been creaming cash off them with fuel taxes and penalties". The reality is of course very far from this.
Over the past two years I have had the pleasure of working in politics, many people I have met and told about my struggle with mental illness within the political bubble have been understanding and compassionate, but others not so friendly towards the a young adult with mental health problems working in or around Westminster.