Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 - That Was The Year That Was

Personally the odd years seem to be going the best for me so far.... I am now engaged! Also managed to move house and go on holiday twice - to Barbados and Cyprus!

Outside the personal tho:

What did I enjoy this year?

Website of the year - The Atlantic - always got something new to say. I do seem to enjoy reading US news websites more than UK ones - they almost seem more thoughtful, and less self-regarding than a lot of UK sites (e.g. BBC, Guardian etc - who I often feel do have an agenda and pick stories to match that).

Books including "The Northern Clemency" and "The Lost Continent"

Like everyone else I enjoyed Breaking Bad, and have been using Netflix to binge-watch the remake of "House of Cards", "Rome" and "Dawson's Creek" recently as well. 

Some achievements this year

Giving up Twitter for Lent - which is becoming more and more fashionable - you saw it here first ;)

Working with others in the Lib Dem party about the validity of OMOV for internal committees within the Lib Dems

Helping publish "The Coalition and Beyond" as part of Liberal Reform.

Rolling over resolutions for next year

I wanted to publish something in the Staggers or on Comment is Free however didn't get round to it. Other than my professional goals some other things I want to achieve next year are potentially signing up to a qualification in psychology, and buying a new car. Saving for a house deposit as well.

Here's to a great 2014 and best of luck to you and yours! Happy New Year! 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Harville Hendrix may be a liberal....

I've got a lot of time for Harville Hendrix. He's a marital counsellor, and I've discovered him through Psychology Today, Slate.com and other areas of the internet. In an nutshell, for those that aren't familar with him, he argues that if we can see the other person's point of view, and reduce our perception to a perspective - i.e. admit that we may not be correct - it's just the way we see the world and other viewpoints can be just as valid - that helps in marriages and other relationships. It boils down to "I see what you mean, I disagree, (perhaps including "I'm sad about that" if that's the way you feel) and that's OK" as far as I can divine. 

Now, what good can a relationship / marital counsellor's advice have to offer us in the political sphere? Well, again I was struck by a blog of Hopi Sen's this week, about a twitter break. I did the same thing over Lent, take an enforced break from twitter. The thing that interested me most about Hopi's article was that he says he was resisting the temptation to point out that people are WRONG.

Which provoked me to look up this article by Harville. It's a fantastic piece that I recommend you read all the way through, combining politics, philsophy and psychology - which would be my dream degree by the way - as an analysis of the human condition, and may have some thought-provoking points for you.

In particular tho, I was struck by the fact Harville says something distinctly liberal: 


"You know, it reminds me on a personal scale of something that happens on a political scale of well. I'm thinking of utopias — how we have this dream of a perfect society characterized by unanimity and perfection but, in fact, utopias tend to either fall apart or turn disastrous fairly quickly.  Whereas if you accept that differences of opinion exist instead of trying to eradicate them, you can achieve a more stable society. It sounds like the same goes for relationships — that the dream of unanimity and perfection is ultimately destructive."
It reminds me of why I am a liberal, thinking that if people want to dance to repetitve beats in the countryside, where a farmer has agreed for them to use his land that should be allowed if it's not harming anyone else. But as human beings, at least at the moment, many people want to stop other people living differently to them.




Friday, 13 December 2013

Least credit worthy regions : bad news for the NW.

I read with interest this piece in the Times  (£) yesterday on the least credit-worthy regions.

"After the North East, people from Lancashire, Wales, the West and Yorkshire had the lowest average credit ratings, according to research by Confused.com, the comparison website."

A note of warning - it could be that people have such low credit ratings because they've never had credit, however this survey indicates there is a lot of debt in the region (expressed as a household debt-ratio)

With interest, because I'm always interested in the North West and how it performs against other regions. I think Manchester and surrounding areas are great places to live, as I've blogged about before.

We can see that the NW is suffering in the housing market "boom" that Osborne is so keen on - people aren't getting on the housing ladder. 

Now we all know that correlation isn't necessarily causation, but both items paint a less than positive picture of the NW, and also wage growth and debt management in the region. It costs more to rent, and with the growth of buy-to-let, it could be we are setting up an entire generation to not own their own home, and most worryingly, having to pay rent out of their post-retirement income.