Coming home

There is a cynical view that party conferences are so much hot air – three weeks in which the party faithful essentially look inwards, with little that is relevant to the need of the wider world.  That may be true at times, but this years conference season – and the events that have immediately followed […]

Reclaiming Elgar from the Right

Left politics and classical music are not things that instinctively go together – and if there is one thing that has surprised more of my fellow lefties even than my passion for Wagner, it is my deep and abiding love for the music of Edward Elgar.  Most people are familiar with Land of Hope and […]

The seven day wait for signing on – response to my FOI request

Shortly after the announcement of the Comprehensive Spending Review, I blogged that I had sent an FOI request to the Treasury asking for the evidence held on the savings derived from delaying the receipt of benefit until after the first seven days of unemployment. I have now received this interim reply: Despite its saying very […]

Tories, blood plasma and altruism

The Government has sold a majority holding in Plasma Resources UK, the state-owned enterprise that forms the basis of Britain’s blood plasma supplies, to an American venture capitalist, Bain, for £230m.  While it is not clear whether this will affect the blood that is given by millions of donors across the UK, it has certainly […]

Delaying signing-on for a week: getting the facts

George Osborne’s 2013 spending review announced, among other things, a raft of measures branded as “supporting work”.  These include more regular signing-on, mandatory language training and, most notoriously of all, a seven-day delay before signing-on.  This package overall is claimed to save the exchequer £300m per year – £245m in 2015-16 coming from the seven-day […]

Labour, spending and benefits: how to miss that open goal

Forget the funeral: this has been an atrocious week for the Con Dem economic experiment.  First, the UK’s credit rating has been downgraded by another ratings agency, thus demonstrating that even against its own success criteria – Osborne has repeatedly stated that his aim was to maintain the UK’s AAA rating – Coalition Economics is […]