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Total Politics Blog Awards 2011 | Vote for Shibley Rahman!

Hi readers,

I would be very grateful if you could vote for my blog in the ‘Total Politics Blog Award 2011‘. I would like to win an award in ‘Total Politics 2011′ as I have never won a blog award of any sort, and I feel that inclusion somewhere in the Top 100 might recognise it. It has a reasonable following, and people have often told me how much they enjoy reading my contributions, ranging from Labour policy, to some other loves of my life, medical education, recovery and dementia. These days, I love the law and business, and hence my other blog ‘LegalAware‘.

My blog is

Please use this link: Vote for Shibley Rahman – Total Politics Blog Award 2011.

Total Politics Blog Award

Total Politics Blog Award 2011 Vote Shibley Rahman

The rules of Total Politics Blog Award 2011 provide that:

Please note you must vote name at least five blogs/authors for each question for your vote to count, but if you don’t want to name more than that, just write ‘blank’ in the other boxes.

Voting is said to close later this week.

Please feel free to mention me @shibleyrahman as your favourite political tweeter.

I have cross-party support for the blog which I’m proposing for Total Politics Blog Award 2011 (see my testimonials on my front page of this blog). Thank you! Rules prevent me from recommending any other blogs! (Thanks, H.)

Finally, I should like to mention one person who has influenced me massively over a long period of time. Iain Dale has shaped the landscape of political blogging like no other person in England, and for that I believe we should be enormously grateful. I had no votes for my Labour blog last year, but it was in its infancy. Whilst I do not agree sometimes with Iain’s political views, I don’t think there is anyone on the left or right who is as competent at articulating his ideas and with passion, currently. I know Iain Dale is not judging this Award, so I do not feel inhibited in writing this!

Total Politics Blog Award 2011

The BBC analysis (this time on credit ratings) is wrong again

The journalist within the last hour (it is currently 10.21 on Saturday 6th August 2011),  providing the analysis on the credit ratings for the BBC News 24, is wrong in my personal opinion, I’m afraid.




The inference from what he was saying that Britain’s credit-rating might be downgraded if the deficit reduction is not fast enough. It is misleading to have presented this as fact. The issue is in fact as Chuka Umunna clearly described it. If growth is too slow, and the UK does have a poor strategy for economic growth, it is widely believed as an expert opinion, the deficit could get worse, this poses problems for our credit rating. We potentially have to pay more people on benefits, but a slow economy is likely to mean lower tax receipts, and therefore the UK’s economy worsens. If our credit rating is lost, this will impact on our ability for our nation to borrow money in its current difficulties.

The BBC should be extremely careful to present its analysis is an independent, impartial and accurate way.

Unsurprisingly, the BBC journalists seemed unable to mention the problems with growth in the UK economic policy at all. They therefore appear like growth deniers.


Dr Shibley Rahman came top in the MBA in economics and marketing this summer.

Transcript of President Obama's address to the U.S. nation (1/5US, 2/5UK)

11:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Good evening.  Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history.  The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world.  The empty seat at the dinner table.  Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father.  Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace.  Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together.  We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood.  We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country.  On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice.  We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe.  And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort.  We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense.  In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support.  And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan.  Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden.  It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground.  I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan.  And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.  A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability.  No Americans were harmed.  They took care to avoid civilian casualties.  After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies.  The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort.  There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us.  We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam.  I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam.  Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims.  Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own.  So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was.  That is what we’ve done.  But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding.  Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts.  They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations.  And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight.  It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens.  After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war.  These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war.  Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed.  We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies.  We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror:  Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome.  The American people do not see their work, nor know their names.  But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country.  And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11.  I know that it has, at times, frayed.  Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete.  But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to.  That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are:  one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you.  May God bless you.  And may God bless the United States of America.

A friendly squabble

The UK of Clegg and Cameron (Tory) as reported on the BBC is a shameful disgrace

At the age of 36, as one of the top Queen’s Scholars of England and having obtained the second highest mark in 1996 in Natural Sciences finals at the University of Cambridge, the world’s top university, I find that the United Kingdom created by Nick Clegg and David Cameron a monstrous disgrace. The BBC’s coverage last night was comprehensive, but after alleged smears against Band Aid and FIFA, the BBC are also a disgrace, With an unshamedly better pedigree than all members of the English cabinet, and indeed mediocre gossip (not very bright) Tory or Libertarian bloggers, I must say that this picture of UK plc is an utter disgrace. The only good thing is about those bloggers is that they’re not the BBC, who have maintained a strongly pro-Tory bias and very anti-Miliband bias from BBC’s Nick Robinson and BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg. The fact – though it is not the fault of the Police – that these pictures were beamed all over the world is really shameful to us as a country, but this is not surprising at all with Clegg and Cameron having pitted disabled people against non-disabled people, students against Vice-Chancellors wishing to make profit in a market-lead higher education economy. I certainly do not condone violence, but these pictures beamed originally by the BBC were revealing. I thank the BBC for them, but the power of the internet is such that people are laughing at us. I am genuinely disgusted, and the sooner both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives get out the better. They could have easily got the money from big corporations and had a much deeper and longer debate. Suffer the consequences. I am hugely patriotic, but I am intensely ashamed of Cameron and Clegg who do not speak for me.

What a contrast to Gordon Brown winning the International Statesman of the Year award 2009, which the BBC would rather vomit at than report. Here is a true intellectual talking about the global crisis. I fear genuinely now for this country.

Dr Shibley Rahman Queen’s Scholar, BA (1st Class; second highest mark), MA, MB, BChir, PhD, MRCP(UK), LLB, FRSA, LLB(Hons)

This is symbol of what has been projected all over the world regarding UK plc.

Not waving but drowning

At least the British political commentators have been consistently two-faced in their opinions of PMQs. When Ed Miliband ‘does well’ in them, some of these journalists instantaneously take to the airwaves to insist that nobody watches PMQs. When David Cameron does well, it is a sign of brilliant wit, showing that Ed Miliband’s leadership is in its dying days. Thankfully the UK voters are not stupid as to judge the future of this country on a limited pre-prepared stand-up performance from David Cameron. A deserving ‘funny man’ he is, but in terms of where he is leading the country on GDP in 2011 he is a ‘cause for concern’.

In last week’s PMQs, Ed Miliband tried to pull a literary punch with David Cameron by asking whether Cameron was the son of Thatcher, alluding to the Wikileak reported earlier that week from William Hague. David Cameron started his answer laughing, in mock-pity, saying, ‘Oh dear, not waving but drowning”.

I haven’t read a single person pick up on the phrase. In a sense, it was brilliant for David Cameron to refer to a classic poem by Stevie Smith in 1957, called “Not waving, but drowning”; if that’s what he meant. The work, the most famous of Smith’s poems, describes a man whose distressed thrashing in the sea causes onlookers to believe that he is waving to them.

The text of the poem is as follows:

Nobody heard him, the dead man,?
But still he lay moaning:
?I was much further out than you thought?
And not waving but drowning.

??Poor chap, he always loved larking
?And now he’s dead?
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
?They said.

??Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
?(Still the dead one lay moaning)?
I was much too far out all my life?
And not waving but drowning.

Unfortunately, David Cameron has been hoisted by his own petard, when you look carefully about what commentators have in fact said about this poem. One expert, Ingrid Hotz-Davies. has suggested that the “drowning man” is Smith herself, but the poem’s humorous tone masks this plea for help. While David Cameron appears to be laughing at Ed Miliband, his funny words could belie some distress about his own personal professional standing, while this Coalition falls apart day-by-day.

Other commentators have picked up on the “pain behind the smile” theme of the poem. This of course would not be at odds with a man with supposedly good presentation skills inflicting the worst cuts since the Second World War, which could see GDP at alarmingly low levels for the whole of next year.

Dr Shibley Rahman is a member of the Holborn and St Pancras CLP, and also active in the Fabian Society, Compass and Progress.

Blog recommendations for

Although the blog is left-leaning, I enjoy reading it, because it gives a fair and balanced perspective, which isn’t the case with many aligned blogs.
Walaa Idris, popular Conservative Blogger, speaker and political activist

Dr Shibley Rahman’s blog and website are one that I read on a daily basis. His non-partisan and open-minded thinking appeal to the less tribal of political followers, and always make for thoughtful discussion.
Spidey, popular Liberal Democrat Blogger, political activist and Executive Committee memner for West Woking Liberal Democrats.

I can’t recommend his website highly enough. Dr Shibley Rahman brings a dazzling intellect to political debate. If you want knee-jerk, tribal reactions, go elsewhere! Shibley’s opinions are always balanced, never clouded and definitely worth reading.
Sue Marsh, the ‘Diary of a Benefit Scrounger’ blog

Razor-sharp thinking and the only Labour blog I read – Shibley’s a gem among rocks!
(Also @LiamRhodes, popular Conservatives tweeter)
Liam Rhodes, popular Conservative Blogger, CoAmber Valley Conservatives

The site is great and the content even better. Shibley does a great job and this site is a testament to his hard work!
Andy Kinsey, Creative Director, Andy Kinsey Designs
(Also @andykinsey, popular Labour tweeter)

In moments of lucidity, Shibley Rahman breaks through barriers of subjects normally considered taboo such as dementia, alcoholism and a unique but welcome brand of Labour party politics…worthy of your bookmark.
“Rightly Wry, Satirically RIGHT” Conservative Blogger
(Also @Parlez_me_nTory, popular Conservatives tweeter)

Shibley’s blog is excellent, providing interesting insightful opinions and some alternative views, a good read.

Jimmy Chen, Ethnic Minorities Officer in Colchester CLP

I very much like the blog exactly as it is. I find it immensely readable, and altho’ we’re both ‘Lefties’, I enjoy your sometimes alternative slant on the movement. Gives me food for thought!

@yorkierose, popular Labour tweeter

The BBC RTS Huw Wheldon lecture 2010 by Professor Brian Cox

80% of people in the general public rely on television to get their information on science. The 2010 Royal Television Society lecture considered the anomalies between science and television, analyzing thereby the principles of good science TV practice.

The opening of this lecture

Defining science is notoriously difficult. The Panel on Public Affairs of the American Physical Society, for example, proposed a definition that some describe as pure science:

“Science is the systematic enterprise of gathering knowledge about the world and organizing and condensing that knowledge into testable laws and theories.” They went on to explain that “. . . the success and credibility of science is anchored in the willingness of scientists to expose their ideas and results to independent testing and replication by other scientists . . . (and) abandon or modify accepted conclusions when confronted with more complete or reliable experimental evidence.” Many dictionaries (e.g., New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 1993) amplify this definition by highlighting the use of the scientific method as the way of identifying any activity as part of science. The report “Science for all Americans” identifies the fact that science is carried out in, and consequently influenced by, its social context.”

The House of Lords’ “Science and Society” report defined the public understanding of science in general terms as the:

“. . . understanding of scientific matters by non-experts. This cannot of course mean a comprehensive knowledge of all branches of science. It may however include under- standing of the nature of scientific methods . . . awareness of current scientific advances and their implications. Public understanding of science has become a shorthand term for all forms of outreach (in the UK) by the scientific community, or by others on their behalf (e.g., science writers, museums, event organisers), to the public at large, aimed at improving that understanding.”

The issue that I’ve always grappled with it is that scientific communicators don’t necessarily have to be good scientists themselves, but it helps enormously if they understand the terminology. For example, recently I picked upon the fact that a Director of a UK cancer charity presented a screening test for a male cancer as a pretty fair diagnostic test, not talking about how that test could produce elevated levels in related conditions (a problem with selectivity). This is a problem as the media will find her a ‘golden find’ to discuss such matters, from being a Director, but actually what she presented was actually very reckless indeed. The media therefore have to ensure that they do not abuse their authority, and possibly this is one of the most admirable aspects of the peer-review process that Brian Cox discussed: the meritocracy of peer review.

However, I am disturbed about how people in the media, particularly the BBC, often do not attempt to present conflicting hypotheses about how disease is caused, for example dementia. The problem there is that the media can either avoid controversy altogether, or really grab attention-seeking sensationalist headlines, such as ‘the length of the index finger could be a useful screening test for prostate cancer”. The general public want to be able to trust scientists, and therefore find non-facts difficult to address. This is similar to a patient asking a Doctor for a diagnosis; the patient doesn’t want the list of possible diagnoses as long as your arm. Or indeed, a business client approaching a lawyer. The client wishes to have legal advice based on the most up-to-date case or statute law, and not an academic diatribe which simply leaves him or her extremely confused.

I believe that scientists should be entertaining, and one of the first things I learnt in public understanding of science is that you can’t engage an audience unless the audience finds your material interesting or challenging; and it is vital that you explain it in a clear way avoiding any complicated words. I personally should like to recommend a brilliant show presented by Dr Chris Smith from the University of Cambridge called “The Naked Scientists”. Ways of getting to the show are found on this page (link here). The show is presented live every Sunday at 6 pm, and is not only very challenging, but also is very entertaining.

And certainly people in the public tend to have dingy memories of sitting in a laboratory, learning chemistry, physics or biology, or “Double Science”. Maybe the science curriculum over decades has failed to inspire, in being out-of-touch with the latest discoveries, or seems detached from the issues which the public want to know about and are intrinsically interested: how fossils are made, what happens in a cancer, which materials are ‘strongest’.

Science communicators need to be like another type of leader in entrepreneurship. They need to demonstrate confidence not arrogance, a clear message, some degree of risk-taking, good personal skills, good listening skills, and personal features which make them attractive to follow. I believe that they also need to be authentic, and to have a real understanding of what they’re talking about. For this, they do not have to be an expert, but should clearly demonstrate the limits of our current knowledge.

Please leave any thoughts about my blog here

This Blog started in May 2010. As we draw close to the end of the year, I would be very grateful if you could leave any thoughts about strengths and weaknesses of this blog in its present format. There’s no need to leave anything other than a Twitter id, for example, but if you’d like to give an affiliation of a blog such as ‘Labour sucks’, please do leave this information. Many thanks in advance.

Anybody who doesn't understand the brilliance of Mandelson clearly doesn't 'do' irony

BBC4 aired a programme last night with the title, “Mandelson – The Real PM?

It was enormously revealing about Lord Peter Mandelson as a person, in his extremely professional working style as a politician, as well as general demeanour as a person.

You can still watch this documentary which is about 75 minutes long here on the BBC website.

Anybody who doesn’t understand the brilliance of Mandelson clearly doesn’t ‘do’ irony. Lord Mandelson seems to embue inherent contradictions from the word go – a very guarded person privately, but a branding expert. Indeed, he is clearly very enthusiastic about marketing and branding, given his lifelong commitment to reversing the rot in Labour pre-(Blair and Campbell); he is also deeply passionate about his credentials as a professional politician, being the grandson of Herbert Morrison, Baron Morrison of Lambeth, who held the offices of Home Secretary, Foreign Security, and Deputy Prime Minister, and so he should be.

He is clearly intensely funny. The way that he makes mincemeat of low-quality journalists, especially at the BBC, was something which had me in total hysterics. He blatantly does not suffer fools gladly, and, while personally I feel he might have done better in his Prelims at the University of Oxford, he is clearly an intellectual: he has focus, enthusiasm and highly-structured analytical thoughts.

He was very driven in working for Gordon Brown, and he should indeed be proud that he was acknowledged as being the chief troubleshooter for Brown in the election campaign. He has also been remarkably full of praise for Tony Blair, about whom he is clear that he does not blame for his departure over the infamous Robinson debacle. He points his wrath very heavily in the direction of Alastair Campbell, making an extremely clever remark that he can co-exist with certain people, without liking them or being friends with me. I too am very specific regarding myself, on this point.

Mandelson shows ambition, enthusiasm and focus, with wit and extreme hard work, and he deserves to be successful. As for the ‘Prince of Darkness’ label, he has branded himself extremely successful, but Mandelson is a parody. Not being able to go beyond the depth of what he is getting at will make many people fall at the first fence. Like Andrew Gibson from the Telegraph says, he is like a supreme figure-skating champion who delights in skating over the thinnest of ice, and, like me, I suspect he enjoys fighting the most when most attacked. He does not need to worry about what people think of him – because he has won, and he knows, I hope, that he is better than his sharpest of critics.

I have been deeply cynical about Lord Mandelson previously. But not anymore – I feel honoured to give him my unfettered respect, even though I do not happen to agree with him on some issues, especially Ed Miliband.

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