Posts Tagged

British Politics

What do John Maynard Keynes, Michael Young, Thomas Balogh, Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman, Eric Hobsbawm, Anthony Giddens, Phillip Blond, Tim Soutphommasane and Michael Sandel have in common? Apart from them all being intellectual men, they were, at one time or another, recognised, often by everybody except themselves, as ‘gurus’.

‘Conservatives need to recast the argument about free enterprise for a new age, or risk losing the debate to a tide of anti-market socialisation.’         Elizabeth Truss MP David Cameron’s first major Cabinet reshuffle since becoming Prime Minister in May 2010 was accused or hailed as signifying a ‘shift to the right’. The bruiser of the Tory Left Kenneth Clarke was replaced at the Ministry of Justice by Chris Grayling, a darling of the Tory Right. Matthew Hancock and Michael Fallon, two unabashed Thatcherites, have been installed as Business ministers whose primary purpose is to restrain the egalitarian and regulatory urges of Vince Cable. Other signals that the Coalition has moved to the ideological Right bear witness with …

In 1955 G.A. Campbell wrote ‘[s]o long as officials obtained the whole or part of their income from fees, the total cost of the Service remained hidden. Parliament needed to provide no money at all for salaries in some departments, and where revenue did not balance expenditure it voted only for the difference. Under the new arrangements [after 1837] Parliament saw for the first time the wages bill of the public administration. The cost seemed to members of both Houses to be enormous. […]  There has never since been a time when Parliament has not thought the Civil Service to be too costly and sought, more or less urgently, for economies in administration.’ (The Civil Service in Britain, Penguin, p. …

John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, recently posted a long statement explaining his opposition to same-sex marriage. Some of it appeared in the Guardian and on the Guardian’s CIF Belief blog. In it he referenced an interview he recently gave to the Daily Telegraph, which contains the following statement: We supported Civil Partnerships (the bishops in the House of Lords), because we believe that friendships are good for everybody. Like other religious opponents of same-sex marriage, he goes on to argue that civil partnership is “in every respect in ethical terms an honourable contract of a committed relationship”. Same-sex couples, he therefore says, should not press for marriage. But his factual claim is false. The main Lords debate on the …

The ‘Conservative-led’ Coalition Government, to apply Sir Winston Churchill’s oft-quoted comment on Russia, is nothing short of ‘a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’. Nevertheless, we can can try to decode its behaviour in both ideological terms and its necessary translation into action-oriented public policy positions. It shouldn’t be hard. The Economist recently described the Cameron Government as the ‘West’s most radical government’. The formation of the Coalition, to use the jargon of political science, was potentially an ‘inflection point’ in British politics. It has, even with a limited two-year perspective, the potential to be as seismic a political benchmark as the 1945 landslide victory for Clement Attlee’s programme for democratic socialism or Mrs Thatcher’s 1979 election victory …

As the results of the Local elections began to trickle in on Thursday night it soon became clear that the Labour Party had done well, gaining 824 councillors. The Conservatives, meanwhile, lost 403 and the Liberal Democrats lost 329. From this, the BBC reported an estimate of national vote share of 31% for the Conservatives, 38% for Labour and 16% for the Liberal Democrats, meaning that if these results were replicated at the next general election, Labour would win an 83 seat majority. But is there any reason to think that these results will be repeated at the next election? As I discussed in my last post, there are very good reasons to think that they won’t. But opinion in …

Today voters in 181 local authorities and councils across the UK will cast their votes to elect their local representatives. There are also elections for the London Assembly and three Mayoral elections, most prominently the election for the Mayor of London. Although officially concerned with local issues and local government, local elections in the UK are frequently taken to be large scale opinion polls on national political parties. When the results are announced they will inevitably be described by politicians and political commentators as (depending on the actual results, party affiliation and political inclination): a ‘triumph’, ‘disaster’, ‘bloody nose’, ‘strong message’, ‘resounding verdict’ and various other political clichés. Are politicians and commentators actually justified in making these statements? Do votes …

Although their official report isn’t due to be published until the 23rd of April, on Wednesday the Guardian reported that the Joint Committee on Lords Reform has decided to back an ‘open preferential voting system’ rather than the government’s preferred Single Transferable Vote (STV) for electing members to a reformed House of Lords. Open preferential voting is a hybrid electoral system which allows voters to either express a rank ordering of individual candidates in the same manner as STV, or to select a list of candidates chosen by a political party, much like a closed list proportional representation system. In Australia, where the method is used to elect the Senate, this is known as voting ‘below’ and ‘above’ the line …