This category contains 514 posts

 “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

Universal Credit is beginning to look like the Child Support Agency on steroids.

THE firebrand SNP MP, Mhairi Black, has made a name for herself condemning the UK government’s benefit reforms. So it came as some surprise recently when she began her speech in the Universal Credit debate by praising it. She said that replacing the cumbersome system of multiple benefits – jobseeker’s allowance, housing benefit, working tax credit, … Continue reading

Yes iCAN – the stigmatisation of nuclear weapons is the surest route to abolition.

STANLEY Kubrick’s brilliant Cold War satire, Dr Strangelove, was also one of the wisest meditations on nuclear deterrence. The US President, played in the film by Peter Sellers, was the only sane man in the room and tried his best, unsuccessfully, to prevent atomic war, after a deranged US Air Force general launched a first … Continue reading

Forget pensions – the way things are going you might not live to collect.

PENSIONS? Just don’t go there. If you want to buy a pension delivering a modest £20,000 a year, index-linked, you would need to save well over £600,000 at present annuity rates. That’s more than someone on average earnings of £26,000 earns in 20 years – all of it. No-one tells the truth about personal pensions … Continue reading

Shock: Tony Blair is right about immigration. (Well, sort of).

DENIAL isn’t just a river in Egypt, or so the saying goes, and it’s still running through Tory, and  thinking about Europe. Now that “hard Brexit” is a busted flush there are all manner of alternatives being talked about: like the Tory leader, Ruth Davidson’s “open Brexit”, John McDonnell’s “jobs Brexit” and the old favourite … Continue reading

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