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 […]

The choices before Labour: Tawney revisited

In a political life that has taken me from undergraduate Liberalism (in the days when Liberals challenged Tories rather than sustaining them in office), to the political neutrality of the Civil Service, to a brief (and deeply uncomfortable) flirtation with Labour, and now finds me comfortably at home in the Green Party, the towering figure […]

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 […]

50p tax rate and Tory triumphalism

Widely-circulated predictions that George Osborne is about to announce the end of the 50p top income tax rate for those earning more than £150,000 have attracted much comment.  The obvious one is fury at the naked unfairness – here is a handout to the wealthiest in society that comes at the same time that those […]

Liberal Democrats and the triumph of neoliberal entryism

Following the Liberal Democrat conference last weekend was fascinating for what I guess many Liberal Democrats would regard as the wrong reasons.  Votes on the Coalition’s Health Bill have revealed not only a deeply divided party, but one whose members and leaders are working from completely different assumptions about leadership, policy and democracy. On the […]

The illusion of choice

As the House of Lords prepares to debate the Health Care Bill, there’s an important piece in the Guardian today by John Middleton arguing powerfully that the concept of choice will make the NHS more bureaucratic, more expensive and less able to offer a comprehensive service: Choice is an illusion created by people to sell […]

Tories are trashing their core supporters too

On the eve of the Tory Party conference, the anger among their opponents is very much – and rightly – focussed on the impact the coalition is having on the most vulnerable in society.  Unemployment, cuts in jobs and services, privatisation of the NHS, the bullying of the sick and disabled by Atos.  Single mothers […]