Fringe parties and the dangerous allure of apolitical politics

Imagine a political party. Its public face is a single, easily identifiable figure who receives considerable media exposure and is regarded as having a genius for self-promotion, while somehow avoiding the scrutiny that more mainstream politicians face.  Despite the fact that our public face is a seasoned and accomplished professional politician, the party seeks to […]

The case for a basic income – time to rethink incomes and work

Britain is facing a cost-of-living crisis, one that is driven by falling real pay.  There is growing concern, not just about the level of unemployment, but about under-employment; people who are in theory in work but in practice cannot earn enough to make a decent sufficiency.  The biggest cohort receiving benefits is people in work; […]

Deconstructing Rachel Reeves: how to reframe the social security debate

It didn’t last long. The cheering had barely died down after Liam Byrne’s removal as Labour DWP spokesman when along comes his successor, Rachel Reeves, apparently using much of the same rhetoric.  It wasn’t that she didn’t have important points to make – about the fact that Tory austerity has contributed massively to the overall […]

The peculiar obsessions of Liam Byrne

Once again, the opinions of Labour’s DWP spokesman Liam Byrne are causing controversy – this time a short piece in the Observer that starts off surprisingly well with quite a cogent critique of the failings of Coalition welfare policy, before shooting himself spectacularly in the foot by proposing a raft of solutions demonstrating his acceptance […]

Austerity and the redefinition of citizenship

The imposition of austerity economics – often in conflict with democratic mandates – has obviously had profound economic effects; but it has also at heart a democratic issue.  Austerity has in many cases been imposed in the face of democratic mandates or by the installation of “technocratic” governments; but I believe that at heart it […]

Nothing strange about the death of English liberalism

Reading Nick Clegg’s New Year message was a sad and sobering affair (leaving aside any impatience at the growing habit of politicians great and small issuing such messages).  It read as really little more than excuse-mongering and post-hoc rationalisation in defence of policies that appear to rub against the natural grain of the Liberal tradition; […]

In praise of universal benefits

Among Nick Clegg’s various pronouncements yesterday was his repeated claim that benefits for the elderly should not be universal, and should not be available to the better-off.  It’s not  a new theme, of course – Clegg was making the same arguments at this year’s Liberal Democrat conference, with Vince Cable weighing in to claim, in […]