Your essential weekend reader — my personal pick of the week’s must-reads

It’s Saturday evening, so here are twelve thought-provoking articles to stimulate your thinking juices culled from all those I’ve linked to this last week. You can follow me on Delicious here.

What will make banks care about their customers? – Diana Coyle says don’t increase banking regulation, instead open up the oligopolistic banking industry to true competition: ‘more competitive banking systems are more stable – the banks tend to be smaller so the “too big to fail” problem is less acute, and smaller banks are simpler so regulators (and their boards) can monitor them more easily’.

Leveson failed to learn from credit crisis – John Kay says regulations, existing and new, are besides the point: ‘the principal reason both press and financial services regulation were lax is that political leaders wanted them to be lax’.

The myth of the campaign swing – Stephan Shakespeare says forget about the final month’s election campaign, it’s the next 27 months that matter: ‘if we don’t recognize how tiny actual campaigning effects usually are, you might forget that elections are really won and lost long before the official campaign ever starts’.

The economic impact of uprating policy – Jonathan Portes dismisses the economic arguments put forward for the real-terms cut in benefits: ‘the idea that benefits need to be cut in real terms in order to ensure either that their value doesn’t outpace earnings, or the long-term sustainability of the welfare system, is wrong’.

The Old Fears of China’s New Leaders – Jonathan Mirsky gets ‘a shudder of déjà vu watching the mounting protests inside China this week’ and concludes with the chilling sentence: ‘The words “Southern” and “Weekend” have now vanished from the Chinese Internet.’

Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel and John Brennan: Similar visions – The Economist says the the President’s senior defence picks reflect his own that the world is ‘complicated, messy and all too frequently impervious to the use of American power even when wielded with the best of intentions’.

Avoiding the B word – Simon Wren-Lewis offers an imaginary interview defending the rationale for increased government borrowing: ‘Borrowing becomes a problem when it underestimates the risks involved, and when the borrower may not be able to afford the repayments.’

head/parapet – Stella Duffy pops hers above it on this week’s Suzanne Moore ‘Twitter / transphobia’ storm: ‘I do think the right adore the left in-fighting and they have always adored it and they always will. Because it is our in-fighting, our passion, our huge upset about the things of our hearts and our souls, that lets them get away with what they’re doing.’

The Whiffle Flib test – Hopi Sen issues a challenge to speech-writers who attempt to coin a new two-word political philosophy: ‘find every example of this phrase in your draft speech and replace it with the words “Whiffle Flib”.’

Why I am a Zionist – Tom Doran, ‘a self-confessed bleeding-heart pinko philo-Semitic goy’, on how he learned to love Israel while decrying the occupation: ‘A nuanced view of the Middle East shouldn’t be the rare virtue it apparently is.’

Liberal Hero of the Week #28: Nick Boles – I explain why the Conservative planning minister deserves some credit. And to ensure political balance Uruguay’s president José Mujica gets an honorable mention, too.

Tom Daley: nice body, shame about the format – David Bowden reviews ITV’s new Olympian-hosted reality-celeb-gameshow Splashed!: ‘diving is straight-up, 100 per cent, balls-out, why-don’t-we-see-that-Mapplethorpe-exhibition homoeroticism. Which is a thrillingly sexually transgressive concept for Saturday evening telly, I grant you, but I can’t help but feel rather on the limited side.’

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from May 2007 to Jan 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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One Comment

  • It is quite depressing how many people think that of all the articles that came out after Suzanne Moore’s frankly terrifying lack of empathy and refusal to apologise, the one that most cis people seem to think is reasonable is the “wah trans people are scary” one. The trans community was perfectly reasonably upset at being treated as less than human, and to not understand that boggles me.

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