Drugs, Ukip and a prisoner book ban: Our most-read articles of 2014

The prison book bank: A campaign started on Politics.co.uk
The prison book bank: A campaign started on Politics.co.uk
Alex Stevenson By

Dodgy government plans you probably don't know about and outrageous comments from fringe parties: these are what the readers of Politics.co.uk got most excited about in 2014. Here's a rundown of our top ten most-read articles...

10 - Budget 2014: HMRC can now take money directly from your bank account

"The new rules mean you are being penalised in expectation of a future government legal victory. Which seems a bit off, constitutionally speaking."

The plans were watered down a little in the autumn statement, but essentially remain in place.


9 - We have witnessed a total breakdown in political legitimacy

"Our current relief is the product of lowered expectations."

Written on September 19th - the day after the 'No' victory in the Scottish independence referendum - the initial elation was quickly giving way to concerns about the future.

8 - Bare-faced liar: Alex Salmond's reputation in the mud

"Alex Salmond appeared to have been caught in an out-and-out lie yesterday..."

This was actually a news story from 2012 but got picked up by unionists keen to point, in the midst of the referendum campaign, to an example of one of the ex-Scottish first minister's more blatant economising with the truth.

7 - Lib Dems ready to decriminalise all drugs

"Senior Liberal Democrat sources told Politics.co.uk the pre-manifesto was adopting 'the essence' of a policy document proposal which called on the UK to follow the approach used in Portugal."

That policy document was published later in the year by Norman Baker before his resignation - and revealed that, with the Lib Dems in the lead, Britain has taken the first few steps towards making a big, big change.

6 - Britain secretly decriminalised cannabis – and it's a disaster

"It is a story of muddle-headed government initiatives, skewed police incentives, racism, drug wars and the old, old habit of treating white people more leniently than everyone else."

Here's the second of our two articles on drugs in this year's top ten, highlighting the weaknesses of the 'escalator' system for cannabis warnings.

5 - Putting a price on love: Half of Brits banned from living with a foreign partner

"Those who don't earn enough are facing indefinite separation from their husband or wife."

This was a minority issue, but only just: 47% of British employees are affected by the Home Office's rules, which mean they may not be able to live with their loved one in their own country.

4 - Britain First: The violent new face of British fascism

"Britain First is the most dangerous group to have emerged on the British far right scene for several years."

We profiled this hugely confrontational new threat from the far-right, despite threats from its leaders that it would campaign against journalists which report on it.

3 - Strip public of the vote says Ukip candidate

"I sometimes think the people who fought for the vote in 1832 and 1888 and so forth, trying to extend the franchise, were probably doing the wrong thing."

Ukip are often accused of wanting to take Britain back to the 1950s - but as this candidate's comments suggested, 1830 might be more accurate.

2 - Secular triumph as government bans creationism from free schools and academies

"The explicit statement that creationism is incompatible with it bars the teaching of it as a scientific theory."

This was a big breakthrough for secularists, who had campaigned hard to finally rid creationism from schools in Britain.

1 - Comment: Why has Grayling banned prisoners being sent books?

"Of course prisons should have incentives schemes to reward good behaviour. But punishing reading is as nasty as it is bizarre."

Frances Crook, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, made a real difference when her article for Politics.co.uk was published. It began a campaign that fought and fought against justice secretary Chris Grayling's plan to prevent prisoners receiving books. Her choice of words was echoed by Mr Justice Collins, when at the end of the year he ruled that Grayling's views were "absurd" and "strange". Let's see what odd plans the government has for us in 2015...

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