Last week was spent in London and Berlin (see my Europe blog for details: http://givenseurope.blogspot.com) and it was a great pleasure to meet up with friends after my talk at LSE. This was last Monday, and the main topic of conversation was whether or not Britain would stay in the EU, and what would happen to Scotland afterward. Some say that Scotland would have to reapply for EU admission, but the Scots are hoping they can leave the UK and stay in the EU. An interesting set of propositions…Britain leaves the EU, Scotland leaves the UK, Scotland stays in the EU, and who knows what happens to the Euro zone.
London was lovely as always, I was lucky that the weather was dry during my 4 days there. I had many productive meetings, and had a little time to play tourist, including taking some pictures at St. Pancras Station and a walk down Oxford St. I was impressed with the number of shoppers on Oxford Street, despite the economic downturn it seems that it will be a good Christmas for retailers, at least in London. I was also happy to be able to connect with an old college friend, Nick Shah and his family, who live in a suburb of London. It was great to catch up and reminisce about the old days, particularly in front of his two boys. I hope to be able to visit again with my family. I particularly enjoyed discussing politics with Nick and his wife Ritula who works for the BBC. We had a very interesting discussion about the Tea Party and politics in the U.S.
I was in Berlin at the time that the Newtown shooting happened. My European colleagues were sympathetic, but of course had difficulty understanding why someone could have access to what is basically a military weapon clearly designed for shooting a lot of people at once. I had no words for describing American gun culture, except to say that I hoped this would be a tipping point to a new push for gun control. I have very strong feelings about guns, violence and children, and I cried when I saw my President tear up on television. I couldn’t wait to be home to hug my boys.
Although it was a short trip to Europe, there was a lot going on both in terms of politics and culturally. I was particularly impressed with the interest shown in American politics. The Labour Party leader Ed Milliband spoke on immigration:http://www.migrantsrights.org.uk/blog/2012/12/welcome-speech-integration-ed-miliband – the Labour party’s position in terms of immigration also spoke to many of the issues that U.S. political parties are dealing with after the recent election. I plan to work with a British colleague on an article comparing and contrasting the parties responses to and challenges in dealing with immigration.