In an interview on Lusburn’s 98FM radio Negel Farage has compared himself to Charles Darwin. That’s Darwin the scientific powerhouse and author of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Farage said:
“If you challenge consensus, whether it’s in science, politics or business, all through the ages of man the first technique is to try and laugh you off for being a bunch of nutcases. They did it to Galileo, they did it to Darwin, they did it to O’Leary from Ryanair. This is how it works. So to be mocked and derided is not unusual.”
I’ll leave others to mock Farage for his rhetorical style, which so far seems to have served him very well actually. However, I’d like to point out one thing to him. Darwin didn’t particularly challenge consensus. In fact the idea that species change over time had been around since the ancient Greeks. It wasn’t coincidence that Alfred Wallace came up with an extraordinarily similar theory, albeit less fleshed out. The scientific community at the time was on the cusp of proposing evolution, Darwin merely supplied the evidence and put in the hard graft.
So, Farage if you’d like to be taken seriously how about you come up with some evidence?
The UN has launched its largest ever appeal to help the suffering caused by the civil war in Syria. This is from the Telegraph story
Governments, private businesses, philanthropists and “anyone who wants to help” are being asked to contribute a total of $5.2 billion (£3.3bn), said Laerke Jens, spokesman for the UN’s Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
The sum required dwarfs the £1.4 billion the UN appealed for in 2003 to deal with the war in Iraq.
“When you calculate it per capita, it’s not that we are asking for more per head,” said Mr Jens. “It’s just that so many people are affected. It is on an epic scale.”
The UN said that at least 80,000 people have been killed since the conflict began in 2011. By the end of this year they estimate 10.25 million Syrians will be in need of aid, with the number of refugees expected to reach at least 3.45 million.
This chart from the Resolution Foundation has been called ‘the scariest chart in the world right now’. It details the rise in youth unemployment in many European economies.
The Resolution Foundation is an independent think tank which aims to improve the standards of living for low and middle income families.
During the heady days of Labour’s first and second terms in the last government, the incentives to restructure the transport system were negligible. Spending £180 was possible and electorally palatable. Today, with Osborne threatening cuts across departments, the Labour Party must rethink its response to transport policy.
Yesterday, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls announced Labour plans to Freeze Free Schools and means test Winter Fuel Allowance. If Labour is going to present a credible face to the electorate in 2015 they must continue showing how they will make savings, cuts and improvements. In Austerity Britain the country’s transport system is not going to see nation wide investment as it did pre-recession. Labour must create a policy which improves Britain’s failing rail network, airport hubs and addresses the imbalance in regional spending. They must do this whilst maintaining or reducing current spending levels.
The country’s fragmented rail network means that millions seep out in shareholder profits and bonuses. Whilst, ticket prices rise an average of 9% a year. Many rail lines are being renegotiated over the next few years, and a Labour government should look seriously at ways of bringing some lines back under state management, or deeper state regulation.
House prices and lack of affordable housing in inner cities means that commuting will be the only option for many. Improving access to city centres will expose more to jobs and drive economic growth.
What is more, Labour must address the disparity between transport spending in the regions. Residents of London enjoy roughly six times more transport spending per head compared to someone in the North East. The situation in the South West is even worse, where only one rail line services the region.
Finally, HS2 should go ahead and steps should be taken to turn Birmingham into a second airport hub. London’s Airports are unable to expand without destroying existing communities, creating more pollution, or – as in the case of Thames Estuary – killing rare birds. Birmingham Airport on the other hand has room to expand and good links to the rest of the region. An airport expansion to coincide with HS2 would mean that passengers could land and be in Central London within the hour.
Labour’s transport policy must maintain current spending levels, whilst looking at ways to restructure the fragmented rail system. Spending in the regions should be fairer and the London centric view should be challenged.
A woman stands in the middle of the road blocking a water cannon.
Protesters write ‘liars’ and ‘sell outs’ on the side of a media van after Turkish media fails to report the full story of the protests.
Smoke grenades and tear gas are used heavily against protesters.
Image of Taksim Square as thousands gather.
Supporters in New York send images to Turkish protesters.
Over 400,000 people walk across Istanbul’s main bridge in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Yesterday Istanbul residents hosted a sit-in to protest plans to redevelop the Gezi Park in the Turkey’s capital.
The protest turned violent after police used tear gas. More joined the protesters and they attempted to march on parliament square.
Dramatic scenes of 40,000 marching across Istanbul’s main bridge were posted on social media.
Several people are reported to have been killed or seriously injured after being hit by tear gas grenades.
The Turkish media have largely failed to report the protests. However, thousands are on social media using the following hashtags to report #direngeziparki #TurkiyemDireniyor and #GeziParkiCanlaBasla. I should point out that I have not translated these, and am just reporting on what the social media are saying.
Over the next few days thousands more are expected to arrive in Istanbul from across the country as these protests transform into a wider movement reflecting a wider discontent with the Turkish government.