It seems that politicians are wedded to imposing conditions in return for benefits and that sanctions will remain part of that regime. However, employment support providers know that you achieve most with jobseekers when the relationship is positive, providers are trusted and jobseekers want to work.
It looks as if 2015 could turn out to be Europe's Year of the Insurgents... More than at any time since the end of the Cold War, Europe needs clear, determined leaders who can calm voters' anger and offer reassurance that better times are coming, especially for those who have been hardest hit by the age of austerity. Anger, fear and intolerance of minorities are a highly dangerous mix - we have seen before where they can lead when populist politicians fan the flames. The coming year will be a test that Europe must not fail.
The reality is, being a whistleblower is a tough road to tread - as the former CIA analyst Ray McGovern said. At best, you get a pat on the back and a free glass of wine at an awards bash in Berlin.
The creation of an English Parliament would face considerable issues and political hardship; given the size of England in relation to the rest of the Union. However taking into account the current path we are on, I believe that the creation of a federal Britain is the only viable route we can take. This will help to create a more democratic society, paving the way for another 300 years of political union.
Think of a 'foreign fighter'. Are they a young male, aged between 19-29, probably of Middle Eastern origin, and possibly a Muslim? Are they associated with the concern and debate over Syria and Iraq? To most people it's more than likely that this is the image that comes to mind. This isn't necessary wrong, but it's definitely not completely accurate.
I am tired of hearing people like Russell Brand criticise and whine (particularly as Brand is doing very well out of the current system he claims to hate) when they cannot even be bothered to do two simple things that can start to make a difference: think and vote.
Politics, in many ways, is the same and, as we move into what will be a long and, for the politically disinterested, a tortuous and boring General Election campaign, we will see a dash for the centre ground.
Nick Clegg is probably the modern politician who seems to try the hardest to engage with the public; despite the almost constantly negative responses. He hosts a weekly radio show, makes frequent public appearances (even set to appear on Channel 4's The Last Leg to try and convince at least one undecided voter directly) and has been a vocal critic of the delays in the Chilcot Report.
A little more than two years ago, I resigned from my position as the Danish minister of culture and left the social-liberal party that I had been a member of for 15 years. I had become a pessimist about the politics we were pushing and the way we did it. I launched a new political party named The Alternative. And everything since has made me optimistic about democracy.
I am not opposed to turning on the money printing presses. But I am if the result is a boom to be followed by a bust with a few benefitting enormously at cost to many in the meantime. This is the time for QE, but Green QE is what we need and is not what we're getting.
Defined by a storm in a D cup, this week The Sun newspaper's decision to 'hilariously' pretend it had listened to anti-Page 3 campaigners was offensively unfunny. Put to one side the endless debate and incorrect columns about Page 3's supposed demise, if the aim was to cynically generate a shed load of free PR for the declining red top then bravo, didn't they do well. Now the challenge they face is trying to convince the rest of us that we should keep reading.
As an ex-drinker, I still look at a bottle of Old Speckled Hen with feelings of nostalgia, as it links to a time when I was in a pub with friends after a hard day's work. Plain packaging will remove this link and (in my opinion) will undoubtedly lead to a drop in smoking rates.
We need all political parties to look at the mandatory financial protection scheme as a matter of moral responsibility to protect international students in the UK, who do not have any safety net to fall into in case of any organisational failure of their institution or conflict in their home country.
Germany has a way to go before a 'multi-culti' side-by-side living is taken as a given, but I don't believe it to be impossible. Which is why I sometimes can't help thinking: pull yourself together! Show the world what a big nation you are!
As the representative of one of the oldest European minority faiths on this continent, I want to reach out to the diverse Christian communities, the diverse Muslim communities, secular groups, governments and politicians, to help us stop this growing trend of antagonism and conflict. I believe that we have the responsibility to recreate an atmosphere of tolerance and mutual respect between the secular modern state and religious movements, in order to make sure that the experiment, which we call Europe, is not going to fail.
Reductions in the claimant count will always be welcome, but what is needed from all parties between now and 7 May are policies which support all young people out of unemployment and into sustainable work.