Greens, council tax plebiscites and the undermining of local democracy

Yesterday, following the Brighton and Hove Green administration’s announcement that it would seek a referendum to approve a 4.75% Council Tax rise, I wrote a quick blog post arguing that such a move was paradoxical; that, far from undermining austerity, such a policy entrenched it. Given the response to that piece, I thought it was […]

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.  […]

Bradford by-election – time for respect?

You do not need to be an admirer of George Galloway, or to get mired in the politics of ethnicity, to realise that the Bradford West by-election result sent out important messages about the state of democracy in Britain. Galloway was a high-profile candidate whose anti-war, pro-Palestine policies would inevitably strike chords in a constituency […]

Privatising the roads

The news that the Department of Transport is to study the feasability of privatising the running of the trunk roads network is hardly surprising.  It’s been a gleam in the eye of the neoliberal Right for a long time – and it’s not difficult to see its superficial attraction for those of a neoliberal view. […]

Innovation and change in delivering monarchy services

The following was left in a photocopier in Whitehall sometime next week: Secretary of State Ruling Smarter – monarchy that works in challenging times 1. The institution of monarchy has served Britain well for many years. However, in these straitened times, in which the Government’s overwhelming priority must remain the reduction of the unprecedented and […]

It’s not about fees, it’s about democracy

Now that things are settling down after this week’s massive student demonstration in London – and the events at the Conservative HQ building that followed it, it’s worth reflecting a little on what was really happened, and what it tells us about the temper of Con Dem Britain. The media reactions have been predictable. It’s […]

A (nine) grand day out – part two

Some more pictures: These are from the early part of the day, of course, before the Millbank occupation. It was loud but good natured, and the sheer size was impressive. It’s worth reflecting on the issues for a moment. The Con Dems’ proposal that Universities should be allowed to charge up to £9000 per year […]

Privatisation and death rates

Here’s an interesting piece from The Times that reports on some fascinating research about the impact of mass privatisation in Russia following the collapse of Communism. A recent piece in the Lancet by David Stuckler, Lawrence King and Martin McKee suggests that the rapid privatisation in a number of former Soviet and Eastern European states […]

Privatising schools

Today’s Guardian carries a report that the Government has commissioned a review from London University professor David Buckingham on the impact of commercialisation of schools. As well as looking at the perennial issue of academies, Buckingham is particularly concerned about the commercial sponsorship of school activities, and concedes that the Government may not like his […]