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OpenLearn Live: 27th June 2016

Updated Monday, 27th June 2016

The musician who aimed to take a mop to power; Hubble gets another five years of star gazing. Free learning from across the day.

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On Friday, we took soundings from across the worlds of academia and business on the results of the referendum

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live

Today's posts

Brexit: A short reading list

A lot of people have spent the days since the result of the referendum was announced trying to make sense of events. Not least the pollsters who, after a grotty performance at last year's General Election needed a good show at predicting this time round.  John Curtice measures the depth of their pain:

There is little doubt that the companies are disappointed with this outcome. Some have already issued statements that they will be investigating what went wrong. The British Polling Council has indicated that it will be asking its members to undertake such investigations and may have the findings externally reviewed. It will inevitably take a while before we get to the bottom of what went wrong. However, it is already clear that there is one issue that will be worthy of investigation.

As the pollsters worked out their final estimates of the eventual outcome, many of them made different decisions from those that they had made previously about how to deal with the possible impact of turnout and the eventual choice made by the “don’t knows”. In the event those decisions did not improve their polls’ accuracy.

London, Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against the tide of the poll, indicating a desire to remain.

UCL's Michele Acuto suggests that the time could be right for London to think about going it, if not alone, at least with a little more self-intrest:

London is tightly intertwined with Europe: the EU is London’s biggest trading partner, responsible for 30% to 40% of its exports. At the same time, London also attracts the most foreign direct investment of any city in Europe and some argue that it should grow even bigger. So, Brexit could have very real consequences for the status and sustainability for a global city like London.

Indeed, just hours after the results came in, signs of damage started to surface. Finance giant JP Morgan Chase look set to follow through on previous warnings that as many as 4,000 of its 16,000 UK personnel could lose their jobs, while HSBC could relocate 1,000 roles to Paris.

With London’s title as the preeminent global hub for foreign exchange and insurance under threat, the FT suggested it might be time for bankers to “dust off the bowler hat and rolled umbrella uniform of 30 years ago”. And the drain on non-British talent and services will “almost certainly” make for a less international City of London.

Stirling University's Paul Cairney argues that Brexit has made Scottish independence far more likely:

Crucially, the Brexit is a godsend for the argument that Scottish independence is the cosmopolitan choice. It was too easy for opponents to argue in 2014 that nationalism was parochialism: by focusing on Scotland, you are removing yourself from the world. The counter-argument – let’s become independent to play a more positive role in that world – was relatively difficult to make.

Now, the door is open to argue that the Brexit vote reflects a Little England mentality, and that only Scottish independence offers the chance to cooperate fully with our European partners. In Scotland, cosmopolitan voters will share a campaign with nationalist voters.

Put these parts together and you have this story: independence is the only solution to being ruled from afar by the Tories who are determined (with the help of UKIP) to turn us into a Little England state which blames immigrants or the rest of the world for its problems.

On Friday, we heard how Scotland could remain in the EU as a reverse Greenland (see OLL 24-06-16). Writing at the LSE blog, Brendan O’Leary suggests a model closer to home that could allow Northern Ireland and Scotland to remain in an EU even post-Brexit:

The compromise would be that the bulk of the United Kingdom would be outside -‘externally associated’ perhaps – and some of it inside the EU. This change would reflect the fact that the UK is composed of two unions – that of Great Britain, and that of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – and that in each of the two unions one partner has clearly expressed the desire to remain within the EU. All four mandates within the UK would be respected in what was an advisory referendum.

Is this feasible? Recall first that many UK dependencies – including three members of the British-Irish Council, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man – are currently not part of the EU. So it’s already the case that sovereign states, including the UK, have parts of their territories within the EU, and parts of them outside. The terms of the foundational treaty, the Treaty of Rome, also envisioned associate status: they were designed for the UK.

It's not just the relationship with Europe that's up for grabs. UK domestic politics has been disrupted. The Labour Party's shadow cabinet has been seeing resignations over the past 48 hours at an alarming rate, throwing Jeremy Corbyn's position as leader into some doubt. Representatives on both sides of the divide have written for OpenDemocracy.

Joe Sandler Clarke thinks its time for Corbyn to step down:

Last summer, while his opponents for Labour leadership struggled to remember what they believed in, stumbling over talking points in media appearances as they flip-flopped from right-wing to left-wing stances on immigration and the economy, Corbyn stood out as a principled and authentic politician.

Calm and occasionally even funny in front of the cameras, he seemed at ease with himself, capable of rising above the tawdry debate of the moment and encouraging voters alienated from the slick, truth-ignoring politics that has defined the 21st century.

What a change today: with Corbyn unwilling to admit that he wants to be prime minister on Channel 4 News and calling for the immediate use of Article 50 to leave the EU when his supporters were still reeling from a referendum result announced just hours before.

Adam Ramsay, though, feels Labour Party politicians trying to unseat Corbyn are disgraceful:

Corbyn probably is at least in part to blame for that error. But the worst possible thing to do in this context is to use it once more for internal party battles; to treat a vast and all-consuming national crisis as an opportunity to sort out some perceived problems in your own political party. Not now. Not this weekend.

The UK faces unprecedented challenges which are global in scale. The governing party has cut itself adrift. And the leader of the opposition has had to sack a shadow foreign secretary who was more concerned with internal games than international politics. What a dire state of affairs.

Meanwhile, the Tories are setting out looking for a new leader - which means the country will get a new PM, too. Nick Pearce at Bath's IPR blog explains why the battle for that crown might create more confusion:

Leaving aside the mendacity of abandoning promises made in a referendum campaign almost as soon as it is concluded, the fantasy scenario sketched out in Boris Johnson’s opening salvo on Brexit terms is unlikely to withstand contact with reality. The UK can have free movement rights for its nationals across the European Union, but a points system will apply to those coming here? The UK can enjoy access to the single market but not comply with ECJ rulings? None of this will come to pass.

Yet once a new Prime Minister is in place, and a likely general election has been held, the expectation is that Article 50 will be engaged. The UK will notify its EU partners of its intention to leave. Let us then say that Britain cannot obtain good terms for Brexit. In the current febrile state of EU politics, there will be a phalanx of states that are unwilling to let the UK have the best of both worlds. There are national government veto points too, particularly if the deal is “mixed” (that is, engaging both national competences and those of the EU). The Brexit terms on which the Tory leadership had been contested, and any subsequent general election had been fought, could not be delivered.  What happens then?

Article 50 is silent on whether a country that has notified the EU of its intention to leave, and thereby initiated divorce proceedings, can reverse its position and withdraw its notification. Does that mean that Brexit is a one-way street once Article 50 has been triggered? Perhaps. But another reading is that the text becomes one those creative non-spaces that Europe has used repeatedly in its passage to union. Constitutional expertssuggest that it may be possible to “withdraw a withdrawal” – though the ECJ might be asked to provide a ruling.

Hubble to look longer into space

Some happy news for space scientists today - The Hubble telescope is going to be around for another five years, as NASA have signed a contract pledging USD2bn to keep it scanning the skies. That means another five years of capturing astonishing shots like this:

The Veil Nebula Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: NASA, ESA, Hubble Heritage Team The Veil Nebula

The telescope is on borrowed space-time, though - since the Space Shuttle stopped flying, it's been impossible to get people out to do maintainence on the craft. There is a replacement on the way, though - The James Webb Space Telescope is coming in 2018.

Watch the OU's John Zarnecki talk about his time working on Hubble

Read the full article at Wired: Nasa extends the Hubble contract for five more years

Try our free course on telescopes

It's my party: Fela Kuti

Fela Kuti Creative commons image Icon Kalusness / MOI MEME under Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0 license Fela Kuti So one of the themes of the week - with both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party having different types of crises - is going to be leadership. And so our start-up segment will be looking at people known in other fields who briefly led political parties.

We're starting in Nigeria, with Fela Kuti. Kuti is one of those people who can fairly convincingly claim to have invented a musical genre - Afrobeat.

Kuti's music was powerful, and lyrically, too, was strong. He came from a political family - Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, his mother, was a feminist and labour activist who had campaigned for women's position in both the Colonial and independent Nigeria. His parents had hoped that Fela would become a doctor; upon arriving in London to study, though, he swapped his studies to music. He formed his first band in 1963; by the 70s, his group Afrika 70 was releasing records like Zombie, challenging a military he saw as blindly accepting dubious orders.

It's unsurprising this political thread of his work would eventually lead to direct political involvement. In 1979, he established a party - Movement of the People. This name gave a pleasing acronym, MOP; in turn, leading to a slogan pledging to mop out Nigerian politics. A bid to run for President, though, was frustrated when he wasn't allowed on the ballot.

Kuti wasn't popular with the nation's dictatorship - he was dragged to court 356 times during his lifetime; five years after his attempt to run for president the government won a case against him accusing him of currency fraud. Amnesty and other observers declared this conviction to be politically motivated.

Fela Kuti died in 1993 from complications relating to Aids, but his son, Femi Kuti took up both his musical and political banners. There's an annual Felabration in Kuti's honour; the 2013 edition of the event featured calls that MOP should, at last, be recognised as a legitimate political party.

Leadership takes many forms - try our collection of unlikely leaders





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