Abolishing the universal state pension – the new Westminster consensus?

Over the weekend, Ian Duncan Smith made widely reported comments that wealthy pensioners should be prepared to return some of their benefits – notably winter fuel payments and free bus passes.  This morning on the BBC Today programme, Labour DWP spokesman Liam Byrne (unsurprisingly) refused to defend the principle of universality. Nick Clegg and his […]

Thatcher: mythologies and legacies

The past week was inevitable. It was always going to be the case that when Margaret Thatcher died, there would be a torrent of Thatcherabilia in the media; much of it adulatory, some of it reopening the old wounds from the 1980s.  The State Funeral question had been well-trailed; it was always clear that the […]

The Spirit of ’45: a flawed but powerful message for contemporary politics

You would need a heart of stone – or to be Liam Byrne – not to shed a tear during The Spirit of ’45.  My moment came when the retired doctor – one of a number of individuals whose reflections and reminiscences punctuated the narrative, and whose demeanour might have been made for a white […]

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 […]

Agenda for a new Green leader

Caroline Lucas has announced that she will not seek re-election as Green Party leader later this year, in a move aimed at increasing the exposure of other leading Greens.  It’s a wise move; Caroline’s achievement has been enormous, raising the profile of the Party by gaining our first Westminster seat and providing what has at […]