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Sharks, asylum seekers, and Australian politics

By Matthew Flinders
We all know that the sea is a dangerous place and should be treated with respect but it seems that Australian politicians have taken things a step (possibly even a leap) further. From sharks to asylum seekers the political response appears way out of line with the scale of the risk. Put simply, Australian politics is all at sea.

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Feral politics: Searching for meaning in the 21st century

By Matthew Flinders
Could it be that conventional party politics has simply become too tame to stir the interests of most citizens? With increasing political disaffection, particularly amongst the young, could George Monbiot’s arguments about re-wilding nature and the countryside offer a new perspective on how to reconnect disaffected democrats? In short, do we actually need feral politics?

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Bring me a scapegoat to destroy: babies, blame, and bargains

By Matthew Flinders
When reading this week’s coverage of the independent report into the regulation of Morecambe University Hospital Trust by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), I could not help but reflect upon the links between this terrible episode in public sector management and Stanley Cohen’s famous work on moral panics and folk devils.

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Reveries of a solitary fell runner

By Matthew Flinders
New Year is – or so I am told – a time to reflect upon the past and to consider the future. Put slightly differently, it is a time to think. Is it possible, however, that we may have lost – both individually and collectively – our capacity to think in a manner that reaches beyond those day-to-day tasks that command our attention?

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Remembering Margaret Thatcher

By Matthew Flinders
Could it be that far from the all-powerful ‘Iron Lady’ that Margaret Thatcher was actually a little more vulnerable and isolated than many people actually understood?

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Saints and sinners, politicians and priests, and the 2013 local elections

By Matthew Flinders
Justin Welby recently used his first Easter sermon as Archbishop of Canterbury to warn of the dangers of investing too much faith in frail and fallible human leaders, be they politicians or priests. Blind belief in the power of any single individual to bring about true change in any sphere, he argued, was simplistic and wrong, and led inevitably to disillusionment and disappointment.

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Election 2015: ‘Don’t vote, it just encourages the b**tards’

By Matthew Flinders
Without a whistle or a bang from a starter’s gun, the 2015 general election campaign is now well under way. Labour’s proposed freeze on energy prices marks a first tentative attempt to seize the pre-election agenda, while the Chancellor’s autumn statement next month looks set to respond by including measures aimed at cutting the cost of living.

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The smart fork and the crowding out of thought

By Matthew Flinders
One of the critical skills of any student of politics – professors, journalists, public servants, writers, politicians and interested members of the public included – is to somehow look beyond or beneath the bigger headlines and instead focus on those peripheral stories that may in fact tell us far more about the changing nature of society. Enter the story of the ‘smart fork’.

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Beastly Eastleigh and the ‘None-of-the-Above’ Party

By Matthew Flinders
I’d never even heard of Eastleigh, let alone been there, until a couple of weeks ago. When I did go there I wished that I hadn’t. The fact that I am told that the ‘notable residents’ of Eastleigh include Benny Hill and Stephen Gough (the ‘naked rambler’ no less) did little to quell the stench of good-times-past that hung in the air. But last week the people of Eastleigh spoke – in record numbers – and their message was clear: ‘sod off’.

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Into the arena: Defending politics at the Edinburgh International Book Festival

‘It is not the critic who counts,’ Theodore Roosevelt famously argued: ‘not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena…who spends himself in a worthy cause’. The arena in question was The Guardian’s ‘Rethinking Democracy’ debate at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and my ‘worthy cause’ was an attempt to defend democratic politics (and therefore politicians) from the anti-political environment in which it finds itself today.

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Do we have too much democracy?

By Matthew Flinders
It’s finally happened! After years of watching and (hopeful) waiting, tomorrow is the day that I finally step into the TEDx arena alongside an amazing array of speakers to give a short talk about ‘an idea worth spreading’. The theme is ‘Representation and Democracy’ but what can I say that has not already been said? How can I tackle a big issue in just a few minutes?

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After the storm: failure, fallout, and Farage

By Matthew Flinders
The earthquake has happened, the tremors have been felt, party leaders are dealing with the aftershocks and a number of fault-lines in contemporary British and European politics have been exposed. Or have they? Were last month’s European elections really as momentous as many social and political commentators seem to believe?

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