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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Is di Canio a Fascist?

I haven't had time to research Mr di Canio's words and works, but the issue raises the knotty problem of what a Fascist is. Most obviously, is it possible to be a Fascist but not a racist? In practice, most if not all Fascist regimes and movements have been anti-Semitic and anti-black, amongst many other anti-nesses. But racism is not really the defining characteristic of the  ideology. Read more...

Published

02 April 2013

Inequality? Mind the culture gap

The income and wealth inequality gap between the top 1 per cent and the remaining 99 per cent has featured a good deal recently. It's getting wider. But it matters very little. What matters is an emerging cultural gap. Read more...

Published

16 February 2013

Margaret Hodge and the Commons’ PAC: Not heroes

Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home was on the Andrew Marr Show sofa and joined James Landale in doing the now obligatory obeisance to Margaret Hodge for her "brave" work as chairman of the House of Common's Public Accounts Committee. This is all nonsense. Read more...

Published

10 February 2013

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
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