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The recent decision to expand Heathrow is the latest in a catalogue of blunders stretching back to 1968. Why are UK governments so bad at decisions of this kind? Adversarial government, the tyranny of the minority, bogus quantification and a short-term focus on newspaper headlines are all to blame.
We need more infrastructure spending. With long term interest rates around zero and a sluggish economy, the opportunity seems obvious. And with a new...
Discontent with established politics erupted in the Leave vote during the UK’s EU referendum. But in Scotland it has found expression through support for the SNP (a party of protest and government). It would be wrong to infer from this that Scotland will now automatically vote for its own independence. But I do now think this will happen in my lifetime.
Many visions of Europe are driven by rivalry the United States of America. In this article I describe one which welcomes European integration, sees a European identity as a complement to national identity, not a substitute for it, and does not equate ‘ever closer union’ with additional powers for supra-national institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg.
Last week I received a communication from the Electoral Commission about the coming EU referendum. The pamphlet states the case for each side and gives instructions on how to vote. At first sight that process epitomises democracy in action. But on closer examination the leaflet illustrates why momentous decisions should not be made this way.
The problem of western democracies such as Britain and the US is that the institutions of a two-party system in which alternating governments compete to attract votes in the centre do not work well when politics is no longer arranged on a one-dimensional spectrum from left to right. Recent political upheavals are only the start of the resulting instability.
Does it lift your heart to hear that “Britain is uniquely placed to lead the world in a smart power revolution”? Do you share the ambition of George Osborne, chancellor of the exchequer, to discover “what the government needs to do to become a world leader in 5G infrastructure”? Here's why my heart sank when reading these words in the plans of the UK’s National Infrastructure Commission.
Explaining your possibly complex financial affairs to unsympathetic journalists adds to the already too long list of reasons why able people might not want to go into politics. And such scrutiny draws attention away from genuinely serious and widespread tax evasion, corruption and money laundering, practices.
George Osborne has, it is reported, abandoned plans for root-and-branch reform of the taxation of pension saving and will content himself with tinkering with rates of relief. However, what's really needed in our tax system — as in so many other areas of political life — is purposive change: reforms may well be implemented in piecemeal fashion but should be motivated by a sense of strategic direction.