A review of the "Opportunity for All" essay collection

Last week the Learning and Work Institute and the Shaw Trust published a collection of 11 essays titled “Opportunity of all”, on the challenges and opportunities involved in getting more disabled people into work and closing the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people. You can download the full collection here, but I wanted to pick out several things from the essay and from the panel discussion that launched the collection that Kate Pieroudis and I attended. [Read More]

At the British Museum

I finally got the chance to visit the British Library’s exhibit Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths, one of several shows by cultural institutions attempting to cash in on the hundredth anniversary of the Russian Revolution. One of the previous exhibits at the Royal Academy, was criticised by various Leftist types, typically for excising Trotsky or misrepresenting the events of the October revolution. Personally, I would have preferred the Royal Academy been more explicit about their attempt to recreate the 1932 exhibition in Moscow, and put more effort into explaining what different pieces of art were and why they were important. [Read More]

Isolated Schools Follow Up

Does the location of a school have an impact on the attainment of pupils at that school? I recently published a paper on that question, called Lonely schools: the relationship between geographic isolation and academic attainment in Educational Research, looking at the relationship between geographic isolation and pupil’s academic attainment in English secondary schools (Odell 2017). That paper1 used the percentage of all students and disadvantaged students achieving 5+ GCSEs at Key Stage 4 (KS4), including English and maths (5+ A*-C GCSE(EM)), from 2013-2015 as its dependent variable. [Read More]

Blogging with Jekyll Plugins and Netlify

GitHub Pages is a wonderful platform for hosting blogs and project websites with Jekyll. It’s free, it is integrated into GitHub, which most programmers are familiar with, and it is super easy to set up. However, GitHub pages has a few limitations. If you’re using a custom domain name, as I am, you can’t enable HTTPS, which reduces the security of your site and can hurt your search engine ranking as Google uses HTTPS in its ranking algorithm. [Read More]

On the 'progressive' alliance

Earlier today it was reported that the Labour party expelled three long time members over their plans to ‘vote against Labour’ in order to unseat deeply unpopular health secretary Jeremy Hunt, by backing a local doctor running for the National Health Action party, who got 8% of the vote in 2015. South West Surrey, the constituency in question, has returned a Tory MP in every general election since it was created in 1983, and the Labour party has never gotten into double digit vote share, peaking at a mere 9. [Read More]

When politicians discuss disability

How do politicians discuss disability issues? Has this changed over time? When do particular ways of speaking about disability come become popular, or fall out of favour? In an attempt to answer these questions I downloaded everything that has ever been said in the House of Commons from 1936 to the present day and used a computer to count the number of times different words and phrases related to disability are used. [Read More]

Cycling vs Public Transit

In June, after changing to a new job with an office not too far from my house, I bought a bike and started riding to work. Part of my motivation for buying a bike to ride to work was to save money, but over my first seven months of riding I spent more on my bike and pay-as-you-go Oyster card than I would if I simply bought monthly transit passes and took the bus to work. [Read More]

England Delenda Est

England’s continued existence as a pseudo-country within the UK is a massive existential political threat to the future of the UK. If the United Kingdom is to remain a united, functional nation-state, England needs to break up. The United Kingdom’s devolution process is probably the most confused federalist project in history. Neither the British political class nor its population seem aware that they live in a federalist state, which goes some way to explaining the bizarre nature of UK federalism. [Read More]

On Boundaries

The UK government is considering proposals to redraw Westminster constituency boundaries and reduce the size of parliament by 50 MPs. This has been condemned as gerrymandering by many from the Labour party, who will see a disproportionate number of their current seats eliminated in this review. In the strictest sense of the word, it is not gerrymandering; government MPs are not consulting voting patterns and census data to ensure as many Conversative leaning consituency as possible, and we’re unlikely to see constituencies that look like abstract art. [Read More]


Yesterday Iain Duncan Smith announced plans to examine the UK’s disability benefits system, claiming he wants to get beyond the current system of claimants being labelled either completely fit or completely unfit for work. This is welcome news, and if these reforms were being conducted by almost anyone else I would support them. IDS isn’t wrong to point out how unemployment negatively impacts mental health – an impact that may be even worse for people with disabilities; nor is he wrong to argue that people with disabilities want to work. [Read More]