A few years ago, when I was compiling an anthology, modestly entitled Democracy (published by Mainstream and also available as an e-book, since you ask) I wanted to include something from Benn's battle to renounce his peerage. Ever generous, he gave me a copy of the speech he was not allowed to deliver, and which had never been published... This is what Tony Benn wanted to say.
One of the bugbears of being a politician is the risk that a controversy might erupt at any time about things that have little or no direct connection with their day-to-day work. Recently David Cameron has been criticised for surrounding himself with alumni of his own school, Eton, who (so the charge runs) cannot understand the day-to-day lives of normal people. Other stories down the years have concerned politicians' finances, sexual affairs, family connections and youthful indiscretions. What really irritates voters? YouGov set out to find out in a survey...
I bring important news from Scotland. Nothing much is changing. I realise this will disappoint those people, journalists in particular, for whom stability is boring, bereft of news value and therefore to be ignored. In this case, however, I believe the stability in Scottish views of independence tells us something significant: that most voters have made up their minds.
Teachers work some of the longest hours of any profession with many working 50-60 hours a week. Our work is essential, our pay is not high, our pensions not gold-plated and we cannot be expected to work more hours than we already do. There comes a point when it is impossible to ignore what is happening.
After Ed Miliband's price freeze plan took the party conference season by storm, energy was rarely out of the headlines in the final months of 2013. The most recent twist came last week, with uSwitch showing that bill payers are £53 a year worse off today than in January 2013, despite high profile action from government aimed at countering price rises.
Sectors that require seasonal working such travel and leisure can also harness the benefits of homeworking. This has happened in the United States, where students, in particular, have embraced homeworking in the summer and Christmas holiday period. We certainly feel Europe and the UK in particular has yet to benefit fully from drawing on these additional resources.
Some interesting poll results have just been released, investigating what the British public think about our economy and the ways to fix it. The poll, by YouGov for the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, strongly suggests we're giving up on capitalism and want the state to run more of the economy.
Why is all this "play the man not the ball" stuff rolling out from Tory HQ and their friends in the press? It's to divert us from the really big political story: that the Tory Party is in deep trouble. Their famed grassroots operation is shrivelling up. The foot soldiers are defecting to Ukip in their droves.
The country simply does not trust the press to handle complaints fairly or uphold journalistic standards effectively, without the independent checks proposed by Lord Justice Leveson. It wants to see, at the very least, a future press self-regulator undergoing regular inspections by an external body to ensure it meets basic standards of independence and effectiveness.
It would be easy to imagine that political party members would by definition be supporters of the party leadership, the most devoted and enthusiastic of anyone in the country. This is not necessarily the case, especially since winning elections normally requires a party leader to reach out beyond his or her party's natural support... Sometimes the relationship between party leaders and their party membership can be a fractious one.