Insightful and topical opinion on public policy and finance issues from high-profile experts and our experienced journalists.
- Colin Talbot
- Conor Ryan
- Guy Lodge
- Heather Wakefield
- Ian Mulheirn
- John Appleby
- John Perry
- John Tizard
Tag CloudAndrew Lansley Audit Commission Big Society budget 2010 Budget 2012 Budget 2013 Care Central government coalition David Cameron Economy Education Efficiency Employment Environment Eric Pickles George Osborne Growth Health Higher education Housing Infrastructure International Local government Michael Gove NHS Outsourcing Pay and pensions Politics Private and third sector Procurement Professional issues public finance Public spending schools Scotland spending cuts Spending Review 2010 Tax Technology Total Place Treasury Unemployment Wales Welfare
Latest blog posts
When the CSR cuts were announced this week, my first thought was for friends and acquaintances working in health, education or other public sector jobs or the several single parents I know, reliant on a mix of benefits and part time work. Most of these, I soon realised, were women. Read more...
As the TUC fires the opening salvos of the conference season, dissatisfaction and anger at coalition policies are spreading beyond the ranks of the usual suspects Read more...
For as long as I can remember, Frank Field has been thinking the unthinkable. Now part of David Cameron’s cost-cutting team, some old ideas are being re-cycled in a new supposedly culturally and politically sensitive form. His proposals, however, will face some very familiar problems. Read more...
His brother’s choice of snack makes for fascinating reading, but more interesting still is the peeling away of fellow contender Ed Miliband’s layers of compassion Read more...
Commentators, to left and right, have been quick to pounce on ‘Bigotgate’ as proof of a profound gap between politicians and the ordinary voter in this election. Labour in particular, they say, has failed to recognise the discontent in its own heartlands about immigration.
But no-one can seriously claim Labour has not talked about immigration in this election. In both of the leaders’ debates, there has been a clear ‘tough line’ consensus on the issue, with only the Liberal Democrats risking a rare show of tolerance with proposals for an amnesty for illegal overstayers.
No, all politicians have a bigger difficulty here. Immigration is not an isolated issue; it is directly connected to jobs, education and housing. In a recession, with falling employment, pressure on public services, and a real shortage of affordable housing, sensitivity to outsiders who appear to increase pressure on already inadequate resources is bound to be sky high.
But, of course, bigotry plays its part in the immigration debate, not necessarily on Gillian Duffy’s part – she began to complain about the flood of Eastern Europeans but was then distracted – but certainly by the BNP and the thousands drawn to vote for them. And in this tightly fought election, there are tragically few in mainstream politics who are prepared to challenge it.
The combined impact of these two elements - the legitimate resentment felt by many heartland voters at scarce resources and growing inequality, and the role of racism and prejudice in responding to social and economic problems – is the key to the momentous proportions of yesterday’s gaffe.
After thirteen years at the helm of power, it is impossible for Brown not to take the rap for the first; with Labour now riding third in many of the polls, he simply dare not publicly challenge the second.
The oddest part of Brown’s back of the car growl (which incidentally, for all its obvious irritation, revealed a far more relaxed and authentic sounding Prime Minister) was surely his instant assessment that the exchange was a disaster. It wasn’t. It was a bruising, honest encounter, that he handled well enough.
How much better then if he had found a way to both courteously and robustly counter the prejudice that, in his opinion, Gillian Duffy appeared to display rather than so disastrously vent his frustrations later.Read more...
Labour may have been in power for 13 years, the country may be fed up of the same old faces but the party’s election manifesto, hammered out by one of Labour’s most interesting new figures, Ed Miliband, is shaping up to be an important document. It has a mix of radicalism and rationalism, and a receptiveness to the new political situation. More significantly, it is a recognisably Labour manifesto, creating clear dividing lines with the Tories. Read more...
It’s been another frantic week of debate on the future of our education. Private school head and Blair biographer Anthony Seldon has argued that our children are not learning to think independently. The writer Toby Young continues to attract enormous publicity for the ‘comprehensive grammar’ that he and a group of parents are planning to start up in West London, while opposition spokesman Michael Gove has been holding talks with the actress Goldie Hawn. Read more...