This category contains 518 posts

Steven Pinker is the original Centrist Dad, but he’s not wrong.

Once a year, around Christmas, I usually write a column about how things are really not as bad as we think they are. I cite many of the socio-economic trends identified by Steven Pinker in his defence of progress, “Enlightenment Now”. World poverty halved a lot faster than we expected back in 2005 when Make … Continue reading

Continuity isn’t just nationalist trouble-making. But it could lead to the Break up of Britain.

BREXIT, the story so far: In December, a spanner was thrown into the works when the Irish Government, and Northern Irish MPs, won a guarantee that there would be no hard border in Ireland. This was a blow to Tory MPs hoping for a hard or “clean” Brexit because the UK Government also had to … Continue reading

Capitalism – an obituary.

WHEN the obituary of neoliberal capitalism is written – as I’m confident it will be within the next decade or so – Royal Bank of Scotland will merit a chapter all on its own. Up to its neck in sub-prime mortgage lending in the US, it was a major figure in the 2007 financial crash, … Continue reading

Only way to get rid of Trolls is to Mute, Block and Unfollow. And if that fails: stop using Twitter.

I sometimes think Twitter was a demonic experiment dreamed up by a misanthropic psychologist to demonstrate what happens when society breaks down. If we give people licence to say anything they want to people, at random and behind a cloak of anonymity, then we should hardly be surprised that it brings out the worst in … Continue reading

 “Bread for All – the Origins of the Welfare State” by Chris Renwick.

When William Beveridge submitted his report to the wartime UK cabinet proposing the abolition of “want, disease, ignorance, squalor and idleness”,  he was regarded with tolerant scepticism. Winston Churchill, didn’t believe a word of it,  though he saw the usefulness of the notion of what he called “cradle to the grave” social provision as a … Continue reading

“The Retreat of Western Liberalism”, by Edward Luce.

Edward Luce was so excited by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 that he raced by car to the Brandenburg Gate to catch the debris from the fall of communism. It seemed that nothing could halt the march of Western liberal democracy. Thirty years later it all looks very different. Donald Trump has … Continue reading

“Grandpa” Corbyn and the anti-personality cult that makes him politician of the year.

The cult of Corbyn has now reached the glossy heights of GQ – the men’s magazine formerly known as Gentleman’s Quarterly.   The editor, Dylan Jones, expressed frustration at Corbyn’s inept performance at the photoshoot for the Christmas edition.  The Labour leader had to be “pushed around like a grandpa at a Christmas family photo”, … Continue reading

Gord Bless you Dime. Meghan and the politics of royal reinvention.

Say what you like about the royal family, and as a republican I often do, but their capacity for reinvention is truly remarkable. The Windsors rebranded themselves for the era of Britpop with the Diana cult and her bling entourage. When that ended badly they refreshed it with the fairytale match of modest, middle-class Kate … Continue reading

The longest pay freeze in history. And how to end it.

We may be in the middle of the longest wages freeze since records began, but the silver lining – according to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond – is that Britain has a record number of people in work.   Unemployment fell last month to 4.3 percent in the UK and in Scotland it’s even lower an … Continue reading

Punk Brexit means anarchy in the UK.

Those of us old enough to remember the punk era have always had a soft spot for anarchy in the UK. “We wanna destroy the passerby” as the Sex Pistols eloquently put it in 1977. But most of us grew out of childish destructivism. The true descendants of punk are to be found in the … Continue reading

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