For the sake of liberal democracy in Britain, we must defeat Brexit in 2018

If there is one political narrative that has dominated late 2017, it is the unravelling of the Brexit project.  The evidence has mounted, not just that leaving the EU will make the UK a much poorer and meaner society; but that the polticians who are leading it are simply clueless.  The furore over blue passports […]

Brexit and nostalgia: a narrative for social democrats?

The return of blue passports, or the royal yacht Brtiannia; gunboats being sent to Gibraltar; the return of imperial measures – it’s not difficult to see the world of Brexit Britain as a sort of contemporary version of Passport to Pimlico, with the symbolism of empire once again dominating Britain’s political discourse.  And it is […]

Why nobody should be surprised by the Liberal Democrat showing in Witney

The main story of yesterday’s by-election for David Cameron’s former Parliamentary seat in Witney has been an apparent Liberal Democrat surge.  It was a good result, but it is one that should suprise nobody – because in recent months there has been a consistent pattern of strong Liberal Democrat results in areas where they are […]

Stiglitz and Blairism

Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prizewinner in Economics and one of Jeremy Corbyn’s board of economic advisers, has claimed that the centre-left consensus of Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband has now eroded.  The claim was made in an interview with Labour List following his recent lecture as part of John McDonnell’s “New Economics” tour. According […]

A budget for UKIP

Amidst all the commentary following the Budget, there’s a political issue that seems to have been missed, but one that shows crucially what keeps Cameron and Osborne awake at night. Look at the beneficiaries of the budget measures.  Older people, high-end savers, drivers, beer-drinkers (and apparently bingo-goers, prompting the Tories into a piece of cod […]

Welfare and vouchers: the Right’s denial of citizenship attack

There’s an excellent piece by Zoe Williams in today’s Guardian in which she describes the impact of the decision that crisis loans – now administered by local authorities – will be paid by vouchers or card; or in some cases will be given straight to a foodbank charity.  Williams is right to point out that […]

One Nation Labour and the abandonment of politics

Like many others, I’ve found the concept of One Nation Labour elusive.  The term is deployed in almost every utterance from senior Labour politicians, but its meaning remains obscure.  Like everyone who has studied nineteenth-history politics, I’m familiar with the origin of the phrase One Nation in reference to Tory politics and Disraeli, and it […]

The pseudo-science behind the political war on the disabled

It has been a bad week for those on benefits, with George Osborne announcing in his Autumn Statement that benefits will be uprated by less than inflation – in other words, cut in real terms.  Labour is promising to fight these cuts but the pronouncements of both Labour DWP spokesman Liam Byrne and Labour leader […]

Railways, renationalisation and political risk

Recent announcements that rail fares will rise by up to 11% have produced a significant political reaction.  Formerly supine Tory MPs for commuting constituencies have been making subversive noises; on the left, the call for renationalisation has been strong. It’s difficult to argue with renationalisation in principle.  Privatisation has resulted in a hugely inefficient structure […]

The triumph of the commons: why Elinor Ostrom matters

The death of Elinor Ostrom, economist, radical and first woman to win the Nobel Economics Prize, seems to have passed largely unnoticed in the Anglo-Saxon world; a look at the #ostrom hashtag on Twitter in the hours following the announcement of her passing showed tributes in many languages, for once English not in the majority.  […]