Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions. On the other hand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.
If proof were needed
This exciting development was discovered by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students [that’s enough for me – Ed]. They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers. However as they were all adults it was hard to say whether their brains had been born that way or had developed through experience.
Prof Geraint Rees, who led the research, said: “We were very surprised to find that there was an area of the brain that we could predict political attitude. It is very surprising because it does suggest there is something about political attitude that is encoded in our brain structure through our experience or that there is something in our brain structure that determines or results in political attitude.”
Prof Rees and his team, who carried out the research for the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, looked at the brain make-up of the Labour MP Stephen Pound and Alan Duncan, the Conservative Minister of State for International Development, using a scanner. They also questioned a further 90 students, who had already been scanned for other studies, about their political views.
The results, which will be published next year, back up a study that showed that some people were born with a “Liberal Gene” that makes people more likely to seek out less conventional political views. The gene, a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4, could even be stimulated by the novelty value of radical opinions, claimed the researchers at the University of California.
‘Creating an onshore nation is the only way to restore financial sovereignty,’ writes William Brittain-Catlin in the Guardian. ‘We must renounce and turn away multi-national corporations that funnel their profits to offshore accounts.’
”Protests by UK Uncut against Top Shop and Vodafone demonstrate justified anger against these and other clients of tax havens whose lawful tax avoidance makes a mockery of those stranded onshore in a rapidly disintegrating and impoverished social and public sphere.
The protests bring the issue of tax justice to the frontline of domestic politics and that is to be welcomed. But exposing the practices of corporations and finance and their dealings offshore will not in itself bring about change, for we are dealing with a much larger economic system – offshore capitalism – in which national governments can do little to challenge corporate and financial power secured offshore.
On a conservative estimate, a third of the world’s wealth is held offshore, with 80% of international banking transactions taking place there. More than half the capital in the world’s stock exchanges is “parked” offshore at some point. The offshore aspect of the global economy is far from marginal; to a large extent it has captured any significant onshore economic activity that remains.
This is the reality that national governments face; it is not hard to see how impossible a task it is for government to function in these circumstances, and it explains why governments have little option but to bend to the demands of corporate and financial power. Unless they do, corporations and banks just move to the next square on the chequer board of their offshore game, and the national treasury suffers.
Given the pressing demands of tackling the deficit and introducing reforms in health, education and welfare, no time will be found in the parliamentary time table to hold the promised free vote on the ban, introduced by Labour in 2005. Earlier this year, Alice Barnard, the head of the Countryside Alliance, said that people living in rural areas would not understand it if the vote was not held during the current parliament, which will last until 2015. But Jim Paice, the Agriculture Minister, said: There are many greater priorities facing the Government at the moment.”
Hunts meeting over the Bank Holiday will be disappointed by the minister’s words. But while most Tories in the last Government, including Mr Cameron, were pro-hunting, the new intake of Conservative MPs are thought to be less fervent about the subject, meaning the ban may not be repealed even if the vote is held. Conservatives Against Fox Hunting, a recently-formed campaign group, Claims that two-thirds of Conservative supporters, oppose the repeal.
Five new Tory MPs, including Caroline Dinenage and Mike Weatherley, backed a statement issued yesterday which said: “This Government has far more important things to do than spending time on bringing back cruelty to animals for sport.”
Tony Blair, who was prime minister when the ban was introduced, has said that the Hunting Act was a mistake and, in his recent autobiography, expressed regret at the amount of parliamentary time which was spent on introducing it.