John Harris

Journalist & Author

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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Westminster’s drugs paranoia

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

From Comment Is Free: The drug-taking habits of this country have changed in the past two decades – but the government is scared to adjust its policy. It’s all here

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Kirstie Allsopp and all that

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

This one created a slight stink: a piece in The Guardian about the social tribe surrounding David Cameron, and how they just might rub a lot of people up the wrong way…

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Conservative conference

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

A laugh, as usual: 3 more films and a wealth of blogging, as the Tories prepare for power. It’s all here, with the Labour and Lib Dem stuff.

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Labour party conference

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

I’m down in Brighton, slowly losing the will to live at the Labour conference – a truly surreal affair, though it occasionally has its moments. As well as my rolling blog, we’ve made two short films so far: they’re here.

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A day at the Job Centre

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Just published in G2: an account of office-hours at a Job Centre Plus in Selly Oak, Birmingham. An illustrative excerpt:

I watch 27-year-old Nathan reluctantly talking through details of his life with a personal adviser who suspects that this jobseeker is not doing quite what he is told. On the screen is a list of qualifications – four or five GSCEs at grade D, a diploma in sound engineering – and a sketchy employment history that drew to a close recently with the end of his six-month contract at the Cadbury factory in nearby Bournville.

The usual rules apply: most of the jobs require previous experience, and Nathan hasn’t got any. He casts me a knowing smirk, then looks back at the face on the other side of the desk. “That’s the problem with most of these jobs,” he says. “How are you going to get any experience?”

For the first time, even the adviser sounds less than enthusiastic. “If you’ve got the right qualifications and skills,” he says, “you should still apply for the job.”

More vacancies flit across the screen, for “employment administrators”, “trainee advisers” and the like. Just about all of them pay less than £6 an hour.

“What’s the minimum wage now?” asks Nathan. When reminded, he emits a fatalistic “pffft” sound, and cracks another smirk.

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