Research Trends

Pretty interesting trends identified in stats from the ESRC on what topics our best and brightest choose to write their PhDs (we will need an algorithm correcting for nerdiness of course).

Seems there has been a big drop in these areas:

a number of disciplines fell below the target to a greater or lesser extent. These disciplines were: anthropology, area and development studies, education, human geography, science and technology studies, social policy, social work and sociology.

While there were massive increases in the areas of Economic and Social History, Environmental Planning, and Politics and International Relations.

Just saying – sign o the times.

See the general breakdown here.

Bangin’ on the walls

Commented to a friend: Faced with the dubious, bogus, offensive statements of Cameron and Theresa May on immigration yet again, can we insist that even left and activist types, learned professors many of then, not automatically use political asylum as a defence, when all migrants, including so-called opportunist economic and ‘poor’, should be free to move. If capital can cross borders at will, why not labour? Sure, the point is that this is a game of labour flow control, but there are also needs, wants and desires, and a hierarchy of exclusion that must be beaten down. ‘keep banging on the walls of Fortress Europe’ sing ADF. It was not so long ago that the UK was all open armed about commonwealth, or even Eastern European, workers. And the US used to have a slogan ‘give us your poor, tired, weak and hungry’. This was already hypocrisy, but to adopt the language of Labour Party and Con-Dems and talk of asylum rights is to cede the ground and only defend ‘legitimate refugees’ which then means its OK to lock up and deport all the others. It is not OK. As stressed by the anti-deportation campaigns and actions of the No Borders London group etc.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
This quote comes from Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, New Colossus, which she wrote for a fundraiser auction to raise money for the pedestal upon which the Statue of Liberty now sits. 

New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The B-Movie Mind Tricks of David Cameron

What kind of psychosis must it be? David Cameron was already a jittery jumped up bugaboo before he squeaked into power with his austerity for Britain plans carefully wrapped in a not very well disguised Big Society cloak of invisibility. Then the students surrounded Tory Party Headquarters, inundated the roof, and the Police line stood an watched – beset themselves with threats of cuts, playing a long game. David will have been shouting down the phone apoplectic, demanding Met chief Paul Stephenson deploy his forces to protect the HQ from the riff raff. Several hours later, a few arrests – surprisingly few for a major security incident at the Death Star.

Just over a week later, the Police tactic was pretty transparent when a droid police van was left in the middle of Whitehall to be trashed in what both sides of the anarcho-cop line probably felt was a justified  show of cathartic rage. It certainly made for good press photography, but when soon after the Galactic Prince and his ride were taunted by a raiding party in the high street, there would have been more shouting: where were the police. For all the talk of massive numbers of coppers drafted in from far-flung counties, Cameron will have been on the phone again demanding to know how Stephenson could let this happen?

This pattern becomes farce when we consider the events of August, 2011. Police surely by now know the routine when it comes to deaths in custody. They have set up, after all, the judiciously names ‘Independent’ Police Complaints Commission and no doubt have rules and procedures to follow for just the sort of circumstances that appeared to be at stake in the death of Mark Duggan. There will be those who think it was incompetence, those that imagine far more sinister plots, but it certainly seemed that the deployment of Police that day, and even more so in the evening and night in Tottenham was, shall we say, lackluster. The next day, despite talk of still greater escalation of the defense shield for London, general chaos. Only when the rebels formed an alliance and targeted richer suburbs like Ealing did we see Cameron get to use the force in the way he will have wanted all along. Of course he was elsewhere on the planet at the time, flying in on day three to join task force Cobra. On touching down at the airbase we can be sure he was breathing heavily, seeking revenge:

‘Acting Metropolitan police commissioner Tim Godwin has hit back at the government’s criticism of his force’s handling of the riots, saying ‘people will always make comments who weren’t there” (Guardian August 12, 2011)

What we have seen under Cameron is a power play with people’s lives: this inconsequential ‘little too short for a storm trooper’ wannabe Darth PM has control issues and little understanding of wider machinations. The cast includes a media led axis of manipulation with an Emperor orchestrating from afar, inconsequential and futile opposition ‘leaders’, and the liberal democrat C3-PO protocol officer. This space opera has cast the wrong lead, Cameron does not have Jedi training, his destructive use of force just gets people killed, his mind tricks are more suited to Sideshow Bob than any Jedi capacity. In this version the wookie is already an ewok, Hans Solo is encased in Jello but still can’t get out, and Princess Leia is more worried about her horses than the destruction of the News of the World/Alderaan (give her to Jabba). I could go on…

I only wish this were an allegory, but I am afraid it is the game plan of the Tories. Fear is the path to the dark side. This bumbling danger must be airlocked, since despite his apprentice-like appearance, his fooling around with force still amounts to a defense of Capitalism as usual, and even if this time it is cloaked in robes of cheese, the Big Society fiasco is still putting gold in the wizard’s pockets . Do we really want to endure more of such nonsense ? We could say we don’t need to see his identification … that he can go about his business… But laugh it up fuzzball, no, that would be the sunday matinee and its only a fiction. Time to switch to the news channel again.