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Mr P’s Editorial – 8/4/12 Something in the water

An unlikely class warrior found himself in deep waters yesterday after the annual Oxford and Cambridge boat race was disrupted. Privately educated Trenton Oldfield swam into the path of the rowers causing the race to a halt as he was detained. He had previously vowed to use guerrilla tactics to disrupt “the transnational-corpo-aristocratic ruling class”. The boat race, according to Oldfield, was an annual gathering of the “privileged” privately educated few.

Direct action by individuals and pressure groups has seen an unprecedented increase in recent years. Whether it’s the foam pie Murdoch attack or UK Uncut sit-ins, campaigners are increasingly realising the potential power of a diffused media landscape. The group Wikileaks is an interesting example of how technology has given power to campaigners who historically would have had to make do trying to get their message across via the crowded mainstream media. However the question arises, does this lead to change? Oldfield’s breaststroke has certainly given him lots of publicity, directing people to his ‘manifesto‘ on his blog, but can direct action and the use of new technologies really create change? Discuss [25]. If I was the A-level politics chief examiner, this would be my essay question!

Talking about A-levels (have I mentioned exams are soon?), the Education Secretary Michael Gove announced his plans to soon allow universities to design the A-level syllabus. At the moment the government has the major input, but he would like to take this out of his hands and place it in the hands of lecturers, particularly from ‘elite institutions’. I must admit, unlike some of my colleagues I don’t have a particular view on this one! It may help with joining up college life with university life and assist with the transition better. However, other views are available.

A few things caught my eye perusing the Sunday papers. Firstly the anniversary of the Bosnia conflict provides a sober reminder of how nationalism can lead to mass murder. Also Rawnsley argues there may be a rift growing between the Chancellor and the PM, an interesting read. A good article for examples of strains within the Conservatives. The coalition’s plans to capture and store all communications, including Twitter and Email has caused a stir, together with the plan to introduce ‘secret court hearings‘. It seems to make a mockery of the coalition’s grandstanding in 2010 when it promised to reverse the surveillance and authoritarian state established by Labour.

Revise!

Joke of the week – crime in multi-storey car parks, that’s wrong on so many different levels.

I leave you with a song reflecting the moment by the great Cat (Yusuf) Stevens.

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