Author Archives: Andrew Haldane

Who needs a big majority?

While pleased that our 1p on income tax to rescue Health and Social care is in the public consciousness I’m disappointed that one of the most important ideas in the manifesto; the cross-party Health and Social Care Convention, hasn’t had the high profile it deserves.

Not only is it by far the best way forward but it is also a model for a better way to do politics. I am proud that we recognise that Health and Social Care should not be a political football and that, while developing clear ideas for a long term solution, Norman Lamb has put so much effort into trying to work with other parties and relevant experts. Our 1p on tax addresses the need for urgent action and provides the time and space to continue to develop a shared vision for the future.

The abandonment of Dilnot and the Dementia Tax fiasco bring into sharp relief the need for a more measured and consensual approach.

Some of the other issues that are dominating the election demonstrate how Governments gifted parliamentary majorities totally disproportionate to their support in the country are able arrogantly to impose ideologies that impact not just over one Parliament but for decades to come.

Across Europe countries with better political systems than ours converted their inefficient nationalised industries into efficient businesses with state shareholdings, very many of which of are now making substantial profits out of less fortunate British consumers. Most of the countless thousands of young people unable to find decent housing weren’t even born, much less able to vote, when successive Conservative and Labour governments sold off council housing without taking the blindingly obvious step of replacing these with alternative affordable homes.

Posted in Op-eds | 6 Comments

Is there a defence against the dark arts?

This bizarre election campaign is based on building a personality cult around a virtual reality leader who can parrot well–rehearsed lines in controlled surroundings, but doesn’t have the guts to risk exposing her façade in a proper leadership debate. It demonstrates both the arrogance of the Tory PR machine and a press propaganda juggernaut that Putin must envy.

Behind deceptively simple messages there appears to  lie a skilful use of psychology, particularly an understanding of cognitive dissonance; the propensity to ignore, distort or misinterpret incoming information which does not align with existing beliefs or is otherwise unsettling.  The dissonance ramparts are not however impregnable; they can be breached, and an action tendency can be changed. Information that comes from trusted sources, or is otherwise credible, will sometimes get through.  During the referendum “project fear” and the denigration of experts was a clever device to offer wavering leavers licence further to indulge their dissonance and ignore powerful evidence to the contrary that might otherwise have triggered many voters’ decision tipping points.

Another tool being exploited is dissonance’s mirror image i.e. consonance. One way to achieve the desired acceptance of a new message is to tag it to an existing belief or to some information likely to be accepted as fact.  The widely expected difficulty of Brexit negotiations ought to work in our favour. it does not logically follow that the annihilation of alternative political voices or an awkward woman are the answer, but voters are looking for reassurance, for mitigation of perceived risk, and are taking these messages on board. 

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 16 Comments

Opinion: Could PEVEL help to secure the triumph of good over EVEL?

england-flagEvery time a Tory mentions English Votes for English Laws they have a certain daemonic glint in their eyes. The power junkies think they are about to get the keys to the pharmacy. They say nature abhors a vacuum, but the Tories can hardly conceal their delight at the vacuum created by the meteoric rise up the political agenda of the West Lothian Question (which they and their friends in the media have helped to propagate). In 2010 they gained 56% of English MPs with 40% of the English vote. Implementing overdue boundary revisions and reducing MP numbers would tilt the balance further in their favour. Requiring a good deal less than 40%, they could gain a majority of English MPs for the foreseeable future if historic voting patterns persist.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 36 Comments

Opinion: Could there still be a bright future for Lords reform?

Unless we are admitting defeat or  consider the electorate agog with admiration of the status-quo, we perhaps need to look beyond  the seemingly  compelling case for democratic legitimacy and begin developing some more imaginative ideas about what a reformed second chamber  might do  differently and explore its potential for transforming  politics.

Limiting the level of ambition for our shiny new democratic institution to the pursuit of the same old objectives of itself does not seem like a great leap forward.

It also leaves us vulnerable to the tactics adopted by the Conservatives and their press allies, who assiduously sought to cultivate public …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 6 Comments
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    @ Joe Burke "Capital instead is more often invested in rent-seeking activities such as residential property and interest bearing financial assets that siphon off economic...
  • User AvatarLiberalise 19th Oct - 6:42pm
    I partly agree with Simon McGrath, and i guess by extension Swinson: it should be the idea and language of fighting poverty on which we...
  • User AvatarJoeB 19th Oct - 5:49pm
    Vince makes a key point when he says: "Our current tax system, by focusing on income rather than wealth, facilitates the accumulation of unearned assets...
  • User AvatarNonconformistradical 19th Oct - 5:25pm
    I see Lewis Hamilton is thinking about it.. https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/2017/oct/19/kneel-lewis-hamilton-us-gp-f1
  • User AvatarMartin 19th Oct - 5:13pm
    Antony Hook lays bare (again) the utter incoherence of Brexit and that it is self evident that there can be no democratic consensus behind any...
  • User AvatarMick Taylor 19th Oct - 4:49pm
    I hope David Howarth's paper was not to be produced for December 2013. Otherwise we'd need a Tardis to find it.