Full employment is not enough

George Osborne has announced that he wants to make full employment a key policy goal – and that Britain should aspire to the highest employment rate in the OECD.  It sounds like a significant shift in policy from a party that has previously accepted unemployment as a price worth paying to achieve its policy goals. […]

An economic and political case for generous social security spending

After a week of political debate about the Governments benefits cap – and Labour’s support for it – at last Ha-Joon Chang, in an article in the Guardian today, takes us back to the economics.  And, not entirely surprisingly, considering the economics takes us to a very different place from the political debate. I take […]

Should Labour support the benefits cap?

George Osborne’s Budget package includes a cap on the overall level of benefit spending – excluding pensions and some unemployment benefits.  Labour has tonight said it will vote with the Government to support it.  I’ve blogged before – and before I joined the Labour Party – about the regressive effects of benefits caps  and why Labour […]

Ed Balls, bankers and Wayne Rooney

Ed Balls has caused something of a furore by claiming that, in contrast with bankers paying themselves bloated salaries, Wayne Rooney earns every penny of his £300,000 per week.  It’s a claim that’s worth unpacking a little, because it tells us quite a lot about some of the assumptions we make about wealth, risk and […]

Labour’s jobs guarantee – addressing the big questions

Ed Balls has today announced that Labour’s jobs guarantee scheme – likely to be a centrepiece of its programme at the next election – will be extended for the lifetime of the next Parliament if Labour wins the election. It’s hugely important that Labour gets this right.  As a society and an economy we continue […]

i360: a final appeal to the City Council

This afternoon the City Council’s Policy and Resources Committee will meet in special session to discuss an increase in the proposed loan to the developers of i360 to £36m.  Having now had a chance to read the papers, I do not believe that they make the case for the loan to go ahead, and urge […]

Rachel Reeves and social security – looking beyond the short term

Unlike a lot of people on the Left, I thought it worth waiting to read what Rachel Reeves actually said in her keynote speech on Labour’s social security policy before taking a view.  Indeed, it has been interesting to see large numbers of people who presumably are not among the Sun or the Telegraph’s most ardent […]

Why are we angrier about immigration than workfare?

You could be forgiven for thinking that the end of restrictions of movement on Bulgarian and Romanian nationals within the EU from 1 January is the most important thing happening in Britain right now.  It has certainly caused a frenzy of political and media comment, much of it pure speculation fuelled by some frankly idiotic […]

Labour’s zero-based review: an opportunity for the left?

The Labour Party has today announced a zero-based review of public spending, to be completed early in the next Parliament.  It’s being presented in some circles as a renewal of the commitment to stick to something close to austerity after the election – which in some senses it is; in others it has been presented […]

Why does Ed Balls want to run a surplus in the next Parliament?

Speaking on the BBC’s Marr show, Ed Balls expressed an ambition to run a budget surplus during the next Parliament.  I didn’t see the programme and I’m relying on reports from other media, but by all accounts Andrew Marr didn’t ask the obvious question: why? The question matters because Balls was sitting alongside George Osborne, […]