Is there excessive influence by the wealthy and powerful?

We’ve had a week of negative reports about tax avoidance by wealthy individuals through Swiss HSBC accounts and large donations to the Tories by City of London and Mayfair people, particularly the latter in hedge funds. It raises several issues for the student of politics. Setting aside the question of the rules governing taxation and how they are enforced, we can look here at the funding of political parties and … Read more

Why the British obsession with Brexit from the EU?

A curious aspect of current British politics is the huge amount of energy being invested on the Eurosceptic right about holding a referendum on Brexit, on Britain leaving the EU (formerly the EEC). Yet, public opinion seems remarkably disinterested. The issue has potentially massive implications for the economy and Britain’s future role in the world, and yet it is hardly being discussed so far in the long election campaign of … Read more

Insurgency politics is all the rage

Both in the UK and across Europe the angry reaction to the years of austerity has produced new political forces both on the right and left, insurgency politics in the form of populist movements that threaten the old cosy status quo of established political parties. As such they are disturbing the traditional ways of doing things and threatening to upset the electoral applecart in several countries in 2015. In Britain, … Read more

A UK political system in crisis

Today UK politics is confronted by the challenge of the breakdown of the two-party system and is struggling to come up with behaviours to deal with the new reality. A UK political system predicated on the First Past The Post electoral system and the long-term historical dominance by two main nationwide parties is arguably ill-equipped to respond to a multi-party situation, made more complex by a trend towards nationalist parties … Read more

Was Mrs Thatcher a great leader or a divisive ideologue?

So was Mrs Thatcher a great leader or did she do more harm than good? Was Mrs Thatcher a great leader? The passing of great leaders tends to produce a flood of retrospective comment on the qualities of the leader, their achievements and their legacy, and those who see them as their current inspiration can move quickly to deify them. The death of Lady Thatcher yesterday is one such event, … Read more

Political parties in the UK now operate on a narrow political base and are vulnerable to challenge

A very important underlying trend in UK, European and US politics has been the increasing isolation of a “political class” or elite from the mass of voters. It shows itself in a wide variety of features, but from the perspective of our main political parties it is a potentially dangerous trend in times of upheaval or change such as the current Great Recession, as it opens up the ground for … Read more

The politics of scarcity in a time of rapid change can be toxic

Today the politics of scarcity sees a major change in social policy The observer of political trends might be curious about the mega-whammy apparently happening from today, the changes to “welfare entitlement” being introduced in the UK. On 1 April a whole raft of changes are occuring, that will probably have a major impact on the bottom percentile of the population, while in the same week the top rate of … Read more

The price of a free press can be uneasy choices

As the last-minute late night deal between political leaders and Hacked Off sinks in amongst publishers and people consider whether to sign up to the yet-to-be-finalised regime of press regulation, people have been pointing out the crucial confusion that lies at the heart of the proposal. The use of legislation to support the device of the Royal Charter to set up regulation seems to make no distinction between the various … Read more

Press regulation and unintended consequence of a new UK constitution?

As the dust settles a little from the crisis over press regulation, Britain’s journalists have been contemplating the implications of the system devised between the leaders of the major parties in the small hours of 18 March. There has also been a steady stream of concerned criticism from overseas. The enormity of what has been agreed is beginning to sink in and, just maybe, bringing forward some major unintended consequences. … Read more

How do we balance freedom of expression with press intrusion?

The current state of confusion over press regulation here in the UK presents me with a very useful opportunity to start this blog – the attempts by politicians to come up with a model of regulation that meets the assumed need for reform and also satisfies the various scruples about freedom of expression. One could choose to start a blog at any time but what is so good about this … Read more