The Great Debate UK

Send your questions to Alistair Darling

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darlingDo you have a question you would like to ask Chancellor Alistair Darling? Now is your chance.

At 1:30pm British time on Wednesday, October 21, Reuters is hosting an exclusive Web 2.0 interview with Darling and we want you to send us your questions to put to the top man from the Treasury.

From the crippling global recession to the debate over bankers’ bonuses, it has been a tumultuous year at Number 11 Downing Street. You may want to quiz the Chancellor on one of these topics, ask him about the government’s plans to prevent another downturn or how Labour plan to defy the polls and win the upcoming general election.

During the interview we will put as many of your questions as possible to the Chancellor and will be running a liveblog of the event, much like we did during this social media interview with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

from UK News:

Is five too young to start primary school?

schoolThe largest review of primary schooling in England for 40 years has said children at five are too young to start formal education and that six would be a more suitable age.

The Cambridge University study says play-based learning should go on for another year. Making children start school so young was a throwback to the Victorian age when the factories wanted them to start early so they could finish early and get working on the production line sooner.

Labour set plans for post-crisis society

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Stephen Timms-Member of Parliament Stephen Timms is the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. The opinions expressed are his own.-

I’m heading to Brighton to join colleagues from across Government, the Parliamentary Labour Party and grass roots Party members from across the country.

Thomson Reuters Newsmaker: Ireland and the Lisbon Treaty

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Political leaders gathered in Dublin to debate both sides of the controversial Lisbon Treaty and the implications it could have on the future of Europe.

The panel consisted of Micheál Martin, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nigel Farage MEP, leader of UKIP, Mary-Lou McDonald, Deputy President of Sinn Fein and David Begg, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Who benefits from a file-sharing crackdown?

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jollyroger-300x234- Andrew Robinson is the leader of the Pirate Party UK. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Draconian penalties for file sharing were threatened by the government on Tuesday. In addition to the previously announced 50,000 pound maximum penalty for “IP offences” we are now told that whole families are to be disconnected from the net if just one member is accused of sharing files.

Japan: The election that might change everything

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debito- Arudou Debito, is a columnist for the Japan Times, activist, blogger at debito.org, and Chair of the NPO Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association. The opinions expressed are his own -

Japan’s famous mantra is that things don’t change much or very quickly.  But I have a feeling that this approaching Lower House parliamentary election on August 30 just might prove that wrong.

It is up to us, not politicians, to clean up politics

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guy123- Guy Aitchison is a contributing editor at openDemocracy and writes regularly for its UK blog, OurKingdom -

The Labour politician and intellectual Richard Crossman once described the British constitution, with a sovereign Parliament at its centre, as a “rock” against periodic “waves of popular emotion”.

Britain’s malaise, a view from the continent

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paul-taylor– Paul Taylor is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –

“All political careers end in failure,” the late British Conservative Enoch Powell famously said. And perhaps all political cycles end in scandal.

Leaking in the public interest

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nicholas-jonesNicholas Jones is the author of Trading Information: Leaks, Lies and Tip-offs (Politico’s, 2006). He is a member of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom.

Whatever reservations there might be over the way the leaked information was obtained, the publication of hitherto secret details about the endemic abuse of MPs’ expenses was without doubt in the public interest.

from FaithWorld:

The irrelevant and the interesting in Obama’s religious views

There's been a lot of discussion over the past few months on this and other blogs about Barack Obama and religion. Looking back at it now that the campaign is over and he is starting to shape his administration, it's interesting to see how many of those discussions shed little light on what he would actually do. There were comments about him being a hidden Muslim, for example, or not a real Christian. That speculation seemed based on thin evidence and the assumption he was running for preacher and cleric-in-chief rather than president and commander-in-chief. As a journalist covering religion in public life, after learning whether a candidate professes a certain faith, I want to know how that faith will really influence his or her decisions in office. This is not necessarily the same as listing the soundbite positions used on the campaign trail. (Photo: Barack Obama at the Apostolic Church of God in Chicago, 15 June 2008/John Gress)

Seen from this point of view, probably the most interesting fact about Barack Obama's religious views is one that rarely gets mentioned. It's that he's an admirer of the late American Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). The President-elect has clearly named "America's leading public theologian" as a major influence on his thinking. It comes out less in specific positions than in the way he looks at problems and discusses policies in terms with a "Niebuhrian" ring about them.

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