Tag Archives: the economist

The Swiss Wheeze: the Better Off Out argument that’s full of holes

Swiss CheeseIf only we were Switzerland, eh? That’s the dream of the Better Off Out brigade, who long for its freedom as part of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). And it’s a tempting offer: all the benefits of free trade with EU member states, and (if you believe Nigel Farage, Dan Hannan et al) none of the risks.

Except it’s not quite that easy, as The Economist highlighted when it investigated Britain’s options.

photo by: Filter Forge
Posted in Europe / International and News | Also tagged , , , , , , , and | 19 Comments

Lib Dems as ‘The Party of IN’ – Clegg’s pro-European strategy starts to pay off

nick clegg v nigel farageKudos to Nick Clegg and his team, including his director of strategy Ryan Coetzee. The gambit of issuing a personal challenge to Nigel Farage to debate Nick on Europe has been accepted not only by the Ukip leader, but also now by the media. As Caron Lindsay reported here this morning – #NickvNigel – We have a date and #NickvNigel: We have 2 dates – any more for the Tour? – the two leaders will face-off both on TV and on radio within the next …

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged , , , , , , and | 53 Comments

A personal guide to the 13 most essential political podcasts

podcastsCommuting is a major part of my daily life, so I find podcasts are an essential way to make use of time I’d otherwise spend staring vacantly out the window or idly refreshing and re-refreshing Twitter. Here, in order of where they appear in my iTunes directory, are the podcasts I listen to most frequently…

The Economist’s podcasts – a good mix of audio recordings of selected articles from the print edition together with brief discussions involving the Economist’s expert correspondents. Slightly irritatingly the sound can vary between recordings, so you …

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Would PR spell the end of the Liberal Democrats?

It is one of the biggest yet most under-appreciated ironies of British politics that the policy that unites the Liberal Democrat party membership in its most fervent rapture — the introduction of proportional voting to Westminster elections — is also, probably, the thing most likely, if implemented, to lead to the end of the party is we know it.

That is not to say that PR would necessarily lead to the break up of the party, but it is undeniable that majoritarian electoral systems force together the relatively broad coalitions that are the pre-requisite to winning elections.

The way in which individuals …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 39 Comments

Liberalism’s comeback, feat. Mill, Smith, Gladstone and Clegg (on drums)

For those Voice readers who, as a result of an unfortunate oversight, do not subscribe to The Economist, here’s a heads-up that you may wish to pick up this week’s edition, which features this cover:

For those not inclined to pick up a souvenir copy, you can read the excellent Jeremy Cliffe’s report here, and the accompanying leader here.

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The Economist’s political map of the UK: the north/south divide revealed

Here’s the traditional political map of the UK, each constituency colour-coded to the winning party:

UK-Political-Map1 (1)

It’s a map which flatters to deceive. The Tories appear to be the dominant force across pretty much the whole of England. The Lib Dems’ strength through the celtic fringe appears to put us pretty much on a par with Labour.

The Economist has this week done something very simple: create a political map which equalises the size of constituencies and colour codes according to the turn-out for the winning party…

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The boom years were the dream. This is reality

Pieces of writing can do lots of things: challenge, comfort, exasperate, inform, entertain. Occasionally, though, one reads a piece that, in prose far more clear, lucid and fluent than one’s jumbled thoughts, nonetheless perfectly describes those thoughts.

I’ve long been a fan of The Economist’s David Rennie, and have praised him here on the Voice before. Last summer he took over the paper’s Lexington column (in tragic circumstances), but before that he was for two years British political editor and author of the weekly Bagehot column.

In May last year he wrote one of those columns I describe …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 65 Comments

Opinion: Is Vince writing for the Economist?

A leader in the latest Economist offers the UK a growth plan that involves structural reforms, infrastructure spending and monetary policy changes while maintaining fiscal discipline. Particular highlights include a more welcoming attitude to talented immigrants, and Land Value Taxation.

The tax system could also be changed to promote growth. One reason why companies sit on development land is because they do not pay taxes until the offices and warehouses are built. It would be much better to tax the land value: that would make hoarding expensive and force owners to sell to someone who can use

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

The PM and the EU: Cameron’s zen art of compromise maintenance

David Cameron - Some rights reserved by The Prime Minister's OfficeCredit where it’s due. If David Cameron had returned to Britain empty-handed or walked out of the EU budget talks in a fit of pique he’d have been pilloried. Plenty of his opponents were hoping he’d do just that.

As it is, he’s able to boast (not without justification) that he’s successfully negotiated a 3% real-terms cut in the EU budget — to a cumulative €960bn (2014-20) — and protected the British rebate. Nick Clegg, who’s been a particular critic of …

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged , , , , and | 13 Comments

Your essential weekend reader — 12 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday morning, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

The lottery of life: Where to be born in 2013The Economist‘s annual list of the top quality-of-life countries: ‘Being rich helps more than anything else, but it is not all that counts; things like crime, trust in public institutions and the health of family life matter too.’ Britain comes 27th. (The Telegraph has a picture-only version here.)

The burdens that Israel should not have to bearBrendan

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The Economist: ‘Grassroots Lib Dems are much keener on coalition than Tories’

The Economist’s political commentator ‘Bagehot’ this week surveys the attitudes of Lib Dems towards the Coalition at the mid-term point — I particularly like its opening:

THE Somerset village of Chew Magna, with its sleepy pub and Georgian houses, seems an odd setting for prognostications about Britain’s political future. But prognosticate the local Liberal Democrats do. “In 40 years’ time, people will look back and ask: what was all the fuss about being in coalition?” says Dine Romero, a councillor. Her colleagues nod. Multi-party government, they agree, is here to stay. “I like coalition—on principle”, asserts a sprightly 91-year-old.

We all …

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Your essential weekend reader — 8 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday morning, so here are eight thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

Three big things I’ve got wrong since I’ve starting blogging and commenting – ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie confesses to a trio of big errors on the NHS, higher-rate tax and equalities: “One of the many reasons I don’t want to be an MP is that I think this sort of ability to think openly and reflectively is probably impossible when you are standing for office.”

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Your essential weekend reader — 8 must-read articles you may have missed

It’s Saturday morning, so here are eight thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices…

No, you’re not entitled to your opinion – Patrick Stokes at The Conversation argues that proper debate relies on contested claims based on relevant expertise: just holding to your own view ain’t enough.

Is The Economist left or right? – its digital editor Tom Standage answers the question ‘yes and no’: which can

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“A shitty time to be a liberal”: The Economist’s must-read piece on the Clegg paradox (and 2 reasons why it’s wrong)

There’s a must-read column by The Economist’s Bagehot this week focusing on the Lib Dems’ dilemmas, titled The Clegg paradox. It’s a serious and weighty analysis, which asks some uncomfortable questions of the party’s strategy. Here’s it’s conclusion:

At a recent meeting of the Lib Dem parliamentary party, Tim Farron, an ambitious left-winger and party president, reportedly cheered this anti-Tory success, but bemoaned the fact that unelected peers had led the charge against the NHS reforms and got the credit for it, rather than Lib Dem MPs who need votes. That drew a rebuke from Jeremy Browne, a foreign office

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 18 Comments

Why was this Lib Dem conference cheerful? Simple: because it mattered.

The Economist’s pseudonymous political commentator Bagehot devotes his column this week to the Liberal Democrats, analysing the mood of serenity which prevailed at this year’s party conference to the surprise (and chagrin) of the media.

He notes that activists were cheered by the anti-Tory rhetoric that pervaded speeches by Tim Farron, Chris Huhne and Vince Cable, believing this differentiation will in turn demonstrate to the electorate that the party is punching above its weight — that Nick Clegg is, in the words of Tory MP Nadine Dorries, “the boss”.

Many Lib Dems argue that Tory-bashing is good politics, and long overdue. It is true that differentiation does have a strategic aim: persuading voters that the Lib Dems are not powerless puppets in a Tory government. But those same Lib Dems underestimate the emotional temptations to which they are giving way.

The Lib Dems think it unfair that they are hated. They think (rightly) that inconclusive election results and a mood of national crisis made joining the Tories in the coalition last year the responsible thing to do.

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The Saturday Debate: What do we mean by middle-class?

Here’s your starter for ten in our Saturday slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate:

Class has always been an intangible concept in the UK.

While most countries would define it quite simply as a function of income, in our class-hungover country there are all manner of other factors: state or privately educated, your profession, whether you have a degree, your postcode, your family circumstances (‘where you came from’), even your accent. So while carpenters and plumbers may well earn more than university lecturers there’s no doubt which of those would be regarded as the middle-class occupation.

How …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 13 Comments

The Economist: “the Liberal Democrats have the most mature position on the deficit”

Here’s the verdict of The Economist’s columnist on British politics, the pseudonymous Bagehot:

In some ways, miraculous to report, the Liberal Democrats have the most mature position on the deficit. Nick Clegg, their leader, this week demoted some of the party’s spending pledges (for example, on pensions and university funding) to aspirations, pre-emptively narrowing his manifesto to a few, affordable core themes. He has not promised to protect any departmental budgets. Vince Cable, his Treasury spokesman, has a longer list of items for the chop than Mr Osborne, including some cherished defence projects, but accepts that the axeman’s hand should

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  • User AvatarHelen Tedcastle 21st Apr - 9:54am
    daft ha 'p' orth " All that said, it disappoints me that RE syllabi may be entirely ‘locally determined’ (why??)." The original idea (in 1988)...
  • User AvatarRC 21st Apr - 8:36am
    We could follow this with a Mili-bland flavoured ice-cream, which changes flavour every week according to its audience and melts down on the first contact...
  • User AvatarRC 21st Apr - 8:28am
    @Steve Comer "but we’re unhappy with the Lib Dems nationally" That's because they've absorbed all the constant misinformation and distortion they've seen in the media...
  • User AvatarJohnTilley 21st Apr - 7:21am
    Roland Your throw away complacency about "a few nuclear reactors" is staggering. In terms of this discussion you might want to read this from the...
  • User AvatarManfarang 21st Apr - 5:01am
    daft. Anthropology? E.E. Evans Pritchard. Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic among the Azade.
  • User AvatarManfarang 21st Apr - 4:45am
    Paul Red-Eggs at the Co-op, nest eggs at the Co-op bank. Maybe not.