The Pit and the Pendulum. And the gothic horror of an issue out of control.

In Edgar Allan Poe’s “Pit and the Pendulum”, three agonising tortures are inflicted on the narrator: a descending pendulum, a grotesque pit, and a dungeon with the walls closing in. These horrors were brought to mind recently by a couple of incidents that, in different ways, shed some light into the policy dynamics that play out when NGOs campaign on issues where public opinion is broadly unsupportive. First there was a (not all that) recent post by pollster and long-time political commentator Peter Kellner. The subject was the politics of immigration; but possibly the most interesting...

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