Politics & campaigns.

This is not a party political site and not very partisan in any way. My emphasis has tended to be on the quality of debate and campaigning, and especially on the need to appreciate represtentative democracy (government through elected representatives whose own views matter), and to be sceptical of the claims of vox pop, "the people", social media, Crowd Wisdom, and "direct action".

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Murray’s “Coming Apart”: A fix for US inequality?

This book bears a superficial resemblance to the rest of the angst literature on Anglosphere inequality, but it is much better than The New Few or The Spirit Level. Its use of evidence about the separations between top and bottom in US society seems fairer and brighter. Yet more to the point, though flawed where it most matters (in its proposed solutions), Charles Murray's cultural and social arguments seem far more interesting than most. Read more...

Published

09 February 2013

Straw’s “Last Man Standing”: the fond politician

Jack Straw's autobiography, Last Man Standing, has been well-recieved, and justly so. At the risk of being patronising or condescending, it's worth saying that it is a touching book. I fancied myself admiring its author. I had to remind myself that it might be - perhaps had to be, was perhaps inevitably - a touch self-serving. Here's a little unpicking of all that.... Read more...

Published

07 February 2013

Update on inequality, “The Spirit Level”, and happiness

In 2009, I reviewed the then-new book, The Spirit Level by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett in the Social Affairs Unit website. I thought the highly-influential and much-quoted work very flawed on just about every level. Until very recently, I hadn't noticed that intelligent, informed voices had continued to attack the book's handling of the inquality data. So I thought I'd now provide some sources which may prove useful.... Read more...

Published

29 January 2013

RDN on Mount’s “The New Few”

I had highish hopes of Ferdinand Mount's book, The New Few. Here, after all, was a famously intelligent, civilised and well-informed conservative voice addressing a concern which is widespread: that Britain is badly run, and controlled by rather few people. Actually, the book made one wonder in what sense Mr Mount still feels he is of the right (if he does), not least since almost everything he says is commonly, and rather boringly, said by the left. The following looks at the book in some detail.... Read more...

Published

08 January 2013

RDN on Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind”

RDN ploughs through this celebrated personal and intellectual exploration – and exoneration - of the moral psychology of the right and the righteous, and finds it surprisingly light on moral or any other kind of useful thinking. Read more...

Published

19 December 2012

Dimbleby half right on BBC management

There was something quite blissful about David Dimbleby's contribution to today's BBC Today programme (12 November 2012). He said the BBC was over-managed, and that such organisations as the BBC and NHS spawned bureaucracies. The paradox here is that he doesn't grasp that one reason that the NHS and the BBC are alike is that they are both state-sponsored behemoths with monolithic tendencies. Read more...

Published

12 November 2012

Reforming the BBC

We should hope all hope that BBC is well-managed. Why not give George Entwistle a nice contract to design an organisational and cultural shake-up, now he's free to concentrate on such a cerebral operation? After all, surely the problems which sank him were of others' making, and Lord Patten says Entwistle was appointed precisely on this ticket? Read more...

Published

11 November 2012

The GOP might learn from climate change

The US Republicans have the problem of comprising lots of angry, dim, religiose and mean white people. Well, that's not fair, but it's the perception that's holding them back.  So how come I see great hope in the climate change which seems like it's beginning to bite in the US? The answers have been pointed-at in a brilliant piece by Camilla Cavendish in The Times (8 November 2012, "Sober suits know better than bearded greens".)  Read more...

Published

08 November 2012
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