breaking news from the world of ideas

by Peter Franklin
Tuesday, 16
August 2022

Britain can become an education super-exporter

Our universities have a unique appeal for foreign students

Are British students being displaced from our universities by foreigners? According to a Sunday Times report by Sian Griffiths and Anna Lombardi, the most prestigious institutions — including Oxford and Cambridge — are now rejecting UK applicants at record levels. 

The share of international students at the UK’s top universities is reaching new highs, a trend which shows few signs of slowing. Institutions can earn much more from foreign students than the home crowd — and the gap is growing. Given that the cost-of-living crisis applies as much to universities as it does to households, the pressure to maximise tuition fee income isn’t going away. ...  Continue reading

by Rakib Ehsan
Tuesday, 16
August 2022
Behind the news

Why Rishi Sunak won’t win British Indian votes

The diaspora are interested in economic basics, not identity

Britain and India have an inescapably problematic common history of colonisation, subjugation, mutual migration, and now, unsteady partnership. And with this week marking India’s 75th year as an independent nation, it is worth reflecting on British-Indian diaspora’s relationship with their country of origin.

In 2010, then-prime minister David Cameron hailed UK-India relations as the ‘New Special Relationship’, attempting to establish a firm political-cultural alliance based on this shared past. Cameron attempted to woo Indian prime minister Narendra Modi with 60,000 people — predominantly British citizens of Indian origin — packed into Wembley Stadium for the November 2015 ‘Team UK-Team India’ rally. ...  Continue reading

by Katja Hoyer
Tuesday, 16
August 2022

Will the Rhine dry up this summer?

Drought is threatening Germany's key industrial artery

“Water levels” was a byword for boredom during my childhood in Germany. They were read out on the radio after the news in an endless litany of place names and numbers. “That’s about as interesting as water levels,” people would say when they had to endure something exceedingly dull.

These days, water levels in Germany are anything but boring. The extreme and prolonged heat is drying out the country’s rivers fast, disrupting the transport of everything from coal and fuel to grain and paper. Industry captains wait with bated breath to hear if water levels remain high enough for shipping routes to stay navigable. ...  Continue reading

by Philip Pilkington
Tuesday, 16
August 2022

Britain’s trade deficit has nothing to do with Brexit

Prices are rising thanks to our self-defeating Russian sanctions

Last Friday the Office of National Statistics (ONS) released the latest balance of payments data from June of this year. The balance of payments measures the transactions that Britain undertakes with other countries, and the latest report was grim. It showed that Britain is now running a trade deficit of over 4% of GDP, the largest trade deficit on record since comparable records began.

The response by leading economic commentators was bizarre. Economics Editor of The Financial Times Chris Giles tweeted the chart out with a comment reading “I hear #Brexit is going swimmingly”. But the increase in the trade deficit had nothing to do with Brexit, as anyone who read the ONS release can attest. ...  Continue reading

by Tanjil Rashid
Monday, 15
August 2022

Partition was not an imperialist plot

Ahistorical narratives dominate our understanding of the event

It’s recently become a trope to claim that British-Asians have been kept ignorant of their history, because of some neo-colonial plot to suppress it across society. This is being claimed of partition now, on its 75th anniversary, just as it was claimed of Bangladeshi independence on its 50th anniversary earlier this year. 

It reflects what seems to me a very white misapprehension, an anxiety about being unmoored from history, when, if anything, we remember too well, so mired are we in the quagmire of the past. Many activists nevertheless aim to rectify this supposed historical ignorance. They include the Partition Education Group, which lobbies for reforms to the National Curriculum — in which “Indian Independence” is already a listed topic with the same status as the two world wars. ...  Continue reading

by Jake Wallis Simons
Monday, 15
August 2022
Behind the news

Hamas caught trying to control reporting in Gaza

The news agenda shouldn't be set by armed thugs

As hostilities flared in Gaza last week between Israeli forces and terror group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Hamas issued a draconian set of rules to local fixers working for foreign reporters. These guidelines sought to formally control the way in which the conflict was reported in the West.

Here are the key highlights:

It is totally forbidden to do stories mentioning that the reasons for martyrdom are friendly fire. It’s totally forbidden to produce a story showing that resistance factions caused the wave of escalation or holding them responsible for what happened. Instead, put the responsibility on the Occupation… It is totally forbidden to work on stories revealing the resistance capabilities. If the journalist or foreign media writes about this topic, local permissions will be halted… The local fixer is fully responsible for the reporting produced by the foreigner during their stay in Gaza or after leaving it. The local fixer has to demonstrate national spirit, defend the Palestinian narrative and reject the foreigner’s bias to the Israeli narrative… If the local fixer notices any suspicious activity or illogical questions asked by the foreigner, away from the framework of the journalistic work, he must inform us immediately to deal with the issue.
- Hamas

After a backlash, Hamas realised that it had allowed its mask to slip. To contain a burgeoning public relations disaster, it withdrew the guidelines. But fixers were left in no doubt about Hamas’s position, and the consequences that lay in store for those not following the rules. After all, the terror group was simply expanding and codifying restrictions that had, by and large, been in place for years. ...  Continue reading

by Mary Harrington
Monday, 15
August 2022

Climate change is not making children obese

Journalists are twisting facts to suit their political agenda

If you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And if you’re a media ecosystem with a fixation on hammers, you will do your best to make anything look like a nail.

This is the inescapable conclusion from the reporting around a recent study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Temperature, which looked at the relationship between climate change and children’s fitness — and reported the findings entirely backwards to fit a pre-existing political narrative.

The study pointed out that that children’s aerobic physical fitness is 30% lower than that of their parents at the same age, arguing that this is a problem because aerobic physical fitness is vital for tolerating higher temperatures. This in turn means that where climate change is causing temperatures to increase, obese individuals will find it harder to cope. ...  Continue reading

by Henry Hill
Monday, 15
August 2022

Layla Moran and Britain’s missing reservoirs

The Oxford West MP symbolises all that's wrong with planning regulations

As decades of infrastructure under-investment come home to roost in the United Kingdom a new light is being thrown on the Liberal Democrats.

You might have seen this video of Nick Clegg, then leader of the party, dismissing nuclear power in 2010 because it wouldn’t come on-stream “until 2021, 2022”.

Then there is Layla Moran, the MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, who has the distinction of having been a proud and very vocal campaigner against a new reservoir in a part of England where villages are starting to run out of running water.

It’s the usual grim story: residents fighting tooth and nail against the planned reservoir on the basis of “no immediate need”, failing to account for the possibility of future need. Water companies are easy to demonise, but Thames Water has been trying to get ahead of this problem for more than ten years...  Continue reading

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