Tag Archives: danny finkelstein

Why not scrap the annual Budget?

Budget 2010 photocallOne of my top 3 suggestions for this year’s budget was: “Scrap the absurd twice-yearly cycle of Budgets and Autumn Statements.” It wasn’t an original idea – the economist Tim Harford suggested it a couple of years ago, arguing “It may be an enjoyable political platform but there is no economic justification for the annual kaleidoscope of trivia.”

Tory peer and Times commentator Danny Finkelstein has tooted the same horn today:

I think one of the most useful reforms the Chancellor could make is to scrap the annual

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LibLink: Julian Astle – Not finking straight

Over on his Telegraph blog, director of the Centre Forum think tank and former Paddy Ashdown adviser, Julian Astle, casts his analytical eye over a piece on the alternative vote by the Times’s Danny Finkelstein.

Here’s a short extract from the post, but do go and read the whole piece – there are even some charts, for those of you who are that way inclined:

What is remarkable is the movement of the dots from the red and blue triangles into the white area in the centre, showing the growth in the number of MPs (now around two thirds) who do not enjoy the

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Does the location of polling stations change how people vote?

Daniel Finkelstein poses the question, based on the finding of an academic survey:

The fact that polling stations are generally located in schools and other public buildings influences how people vote . It makes proposals to protect school funding more potent.

More in his post over on The Times.

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Is Danny Finkelstein right about televised party leader debates?

Over at The Times, Danny Finkelstein has cast doubt on the possible impact of the televised party leader debates at our next general election:

By the time of the campaign proper they are probably too late. We should be having these debates now if we want them to be influential.

In his piece, Danny draws on the evidence from the US (only – not from other Parliamentary democracies with TV debates, tsk tsk). However, there is some very relevant evidence from the UK. It’s from the polling carried out by The Times’s own pollster, Populus, at the time of the …

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Reasons not to have an ‘early’ general election: a footnote

At the weekend I threw in another reason why Gordon Brown is very unlikely to call a general election before May.

The Times’s Danny Finkelstein has a good perspective on the issue today:

“In every election I have been involved in, there has been a last-minute rumour about an early poll date. And every one has involved a mad dash to get things ready, all those little practical details that you were going to get round to but hadn’t. Followed by anticlimax.”

Quite.

It’s sensible to err on the side of caution and be prepared (who has ever regretted being prepared in …

Posted in General Election and News | Also tagged and | 1 Comment

Respec’ to Da Fink: Comment Central apologises to Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems

Straightforward public apologies are an almost extinct species. Such mea culpas are nearly always hedged-about, heavily-caveatted, explained-away with mealy-mouthed phrases (‘the general point remains’, ‘based on information available at the time’, ‘written in good faith’).

So I’m going simply to say well done, and thank you, to The Times’s Daniel Finkelstein for penning a simple and graceful apology to the Liberal Democrats for criticising the party’s monitoring of the policing of the G20 protests.

You can read my articles taking Danny’s original postings to task here, here, here and here.

Today, Danny has posted the following retraction to his Comment Central blog, Mature reflection on the Liberals and the G20, which I hope he’s happy for LDV to quote in full:

The decision of a number of senior Liberal Democrats to be legal observers at the G20 demonstrations prompted me to ask Nick Clegg whether he approved of their decision.

I suggested that for the front bench of a major political party to start monitoring the police was extraordinary.

My two posts on this theme attracted a large number of comments from Liberals with a big and a small L. They expressed disappointment, though not surprise, at my stance.

Well, I have returned from a few days away. I have read your comments. I have caught up with the stories about police conduct. And there is no doubt about it.

You, the critics, were right. I was wrong. And I am very sorry now that I wrote as I did.

Posted in News | Also tagged and | 6 Comments

One week on, and not a peep from Danny

Cast your minds back to 1st April, and the G20 protests in London. You may recall two trenchant articles by The Times’s Daniel Finkelstein savaging four senior Lib Dems – Baroness Williams, Simon Hughes, Chris Huhne and David Howarth – for acting as legal observers monitoring the policing of the climate camp protest timed to coincide with the G20 summit.

Let me refresh your memories. Danny accused this “extraordinary delegation” of Lib Dems of an “extraordinary insult” to the police, and demanded Nick Clegg use Danny’s blog to denounce or renounce the activities of his colleagues.

Lib Dem …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 2 Comments

The silence of Da Fink

The Times’s Daniel Finkelstein suddenly seems uncharacteristically shy.

On successive days this week, he has denounced senior Lib Dems – Baroness Williams, Simon Hughes, Chris Huhne and David Howarth – for acting as legal observers to ensure the freedom to protest peacefully was respected at this week’s climate camp in London, organised to coincide with the G20 summit.

As I’ve previously mentioned – here and here – also on successive days Danny has neglected to mention last August’s Kingsnorth climate camp, after which serious concerns were raised about policing methods.

Nor has Danny acknowledged the concerns noted just 10 …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged and | 2 Comments

A question for Daniel Finkelstein on the G20 protests

Daniel Finkelstein has another of his regular pops at Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems today. (Danny’s an ex-SDPer, and, like a reformed smoker, is obsessively evangelical in his disdain for its successor party).

Today, as he did yesterday, Danny seeks to demonise four senior Lib Dem politicians – Baroness Williams, Simon Hughes, Chris Huhne and David Howarth – for acting as legal observers monitoring the policing of yesterday’s climate camp protest in London, timed to coincide with the G20 summit.

Today, as he did yesterday, Danny fails to mention the legitimate concerns which were raised – …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , and | 8 Comments

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? Shirley, Simon, Chris and David

The Times tells us that four senior Lib Dems will be on hand to inspect police treatment of protesters at today’s climate camp in London’s Square Mile:

Four Liberal Democrats – Baroness Williams of Crosby, Simon Hughes, Chris Huhne and David Howarth – will act as legal observers at the climate camp to prevent violence initiated by police, rather than protesters.

Mr Howarth, the MP for Cambridge, said that police and media were guilty of “talking up the violence”, adding: “The danger is that they are putting off peaceful protesters, and attracting the wrong sort.”

Over at the paper’s Comment Central

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Tories’ double whammy tax bombshell

I leave the country for just three days, and come back to find that, in my absence, the Tories have fallen to bits over tax. I must try this going away lark again, some time. (What do you mean, post hoc ergo propter hoc?)

Of course, it’s possible to claim it’s all a storm in a teacup: that (i) George Osborne’s announcement that the Tories will go into the next election promising to raise the top rate of tax, and (ii) Ken Clarke’s declaration that their inheritance tax cut for the rich was an “aspiration”, are merely a …

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

In memory of Ron Silver

Danny Finkelstein at The Times’s Comment Central pays tribute to Ron Silver, known to West Wing fans everywhere as political strategist Bruno Gianelli, who has died:

Ron was one of the most committed political figures in Hollywood, but not in the usual way. A brilliant debater and public speaker, he had been the actor’s union leader for a decade and a well known advocate of abortion rights. And then, in 2004 he took one of the biggest political steps in his life. He endorsed George Bush for President.

Meeting him in New York after he had addressed the Republican Convention, he explained to me that he had taken this big step because he believed that Islamist terrorism was a danger to liberal values, and he didn’t believe the Democrats realised this.

He expected to pay a big professional price. And he did. He found it much more difficult to get big roles in quality productions after his Bush endorsement. But he did get another stint as Bruno, with Gianelli switching sides to become a Republican. …

Ron wasn’t a Republican, though. He remained a liberal. And in 2008 he voted for Barack Obama, telling me that Sarah Palin was the final straw.

Here’s one of his – and indeed the series’ finest moments:

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What did Voltaire really say?

Liberals frequently quote Voltaire saying, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. But did he really say it? The provenance of this quote is often given as disputed, but Danny Finkelstein in The Times this week had an excellent summary where those words really came from. You can read his piece here.

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Why Danny Finkelstein is wrong about the Lib Dems and the public sector

There’s a distinctly odd posting by The Times’s Daniel Finkelstein over at his Comment Central blog today, Our poll and Nick Clegg’s strategy, focusing on the result of the latest Times/Populus opinion poll which breaks down party support according to the public and private sectors as follows:

Lib Dems: 23% (public sector), 17% (private sector)
Labour: 26% (public), 29% (private)
Tory: 38% (public), 45% (private)

Here’s Danny confusing (and confused) analysis:

Nick Clegg’s party does much better among public sector workers than among private sector ones (23 to 17 per cent). This must put a further question mark over his strategy of arguing

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According to the Daily Mail, I’m a foreigner

As Sunder Katwala has pointed out, the Daily Mail has said it thinks it is a mistake for people who were born here but whose parents where born overseas to be counted as British.

Here’s the comment I’m submitting to the Mail’s story:

I was born here. I’ve lived here all my life (nearer to 40 years now than I wish to think). I’ve been to school here. I’ve been to university here. Twice. All my jobs have been here. All my homes have been here. I celebrate Christmas. I munch chocolate eggs at Easter. I was confirmed in the …

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Are there more ex-SDP members on the Tory front-bench than the Lib Dem front-bench?

Danny Finkelstein asks the question over at The Times’s Comment Central here. Scores on the doors (allegedly) so far show it to be a draw…

Tory shadow cabinet ex-SDPers: Greg Clark, Chris Grayling, Andrew Lansley and David Mundell.
Lib Dem shadow cabinet ex-SDPers: Vince Cable, Chris Huhne, Tom McNally and Paul Burstow

Or can LDV readers point out more…?

Posted in Humour and News | Also tagged , , , , , and | 13 Comments

Nick Clegg vs Daniel Finkelstein on tax

Seconds out, round two. Nick Clegg has a piece over on Comment Central, taking Danny Finkelstein to task over tax policy and laying out the Liberal Democrat approach:

Without growth there’s no earthly way we’ll be able to balance the books over the economic cycle. Far from being irresponsible, as Danny alleges, tax cuts at a time of recession is the responsible thing to do. No wonder august papers such as the FT and the Economist are now coming round to our view, as are many eminent economists.

Of course, not all tax cuts help the wider economy. The Tory inheritance tax

Posted in News | Also tagged | 21 Comments

You shouldn’t complain about media bias

That’s the unconventional conclusion from a thoughtful piece by Danny Finkelstein:

When I worked for the last Conservative Prime Minister and then for the party leader in opposition, we were obsessed with the idea of media bias. I spent hours on memos, assembling evidence.

I vaguely realised even then that it was a waste of time. Now I think it was actively counter-productive.

Why? Read the full piece to see (though I think actually his piece is more about how to avoid complaints that are counter-productive rather than saying that trying to tackle media bias is itself misguided).

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Has Making it Happen made it happen for the Lib Dems?

Well, if the press and media reaction is anything to go by, the launch of the Lib Dems’ Make it Happen policy paper has succeeded way beyond the party’s expectations. No need for LDV to round them all up, as Centre Forum’s Freethink blog rounds up the newspapers’ responses, while Julian H’s Orange By Name has the blogosphere’s first reactions.

Why such a media splash? (And I admit the term splash is relative; but the tendency of political reporters to ignore a party which attracts almost one-quarter of the national vote means we Lib Dems get a little …

Posted in News and Party policy and internal matters | Also tagged | 52 Comments
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