Ed Miliband’s announcement on the EU in the Financial Times today is partly a recognition of this:
But it is also made with a keen awareness of this:
The Labour leader is trying to stem the bleeding of support from his party to those on the right. Europe might not be a salient issue but in today’s populist climate, it is a symbolic one. Read more
I know what you’re thinking: Alex Salmond doesn’t need political advice. He is a MacMachiavelli, a crafty schemer, “the best politician in Britain”™.
But if the referendum on Scottish independence due September 18 were held tomorrow, the Scottish National Party leader would lose, opinion polls suggest.
What to do?
I don’t claim to support this idea but what if the SNP leader were to pledge a second vote after negotiations for independence were concluded? Scots could better understand what it is they are actually voting for and perhaps those inclined towards Devo Max would find it an attractive option. Read more
The RMT union leader died on Tuesday, three decades after the outbreak of the 1984 miners’ strike. Jim Pickard’s 2011 interview is the definitive article on Crow.
The chart below shows union membership levels in the UK since 1892.
On Monday, the Labour party announced details of its “job guarantee” scheme for Britons aged 18-24 who have been receiving Jobseeker’s Allowance, the standard unemployment benefit, for more than a year. The Conservative party says that Labour is making an unfunded and unaffordable commitment.
The Treasury estimates that the scheme would cost £1.04bn per year. If that sounds conveniently like ONE BILLION POUNDS, I think you are on to something. The real figure would almost certainly be less than that.
During an eight-day visit to London in 1862, Fyodor Dostoevsky visited The Crystal Palace, which he later described as that “terrible force that has united all the people here, who come from all over the world, into a single herd”. The Russian writer was as horrified by the glitzy universalism of the international exposition as he was by the poverty he saw along “catastrophic” Haymarket and booze-addled Whitechapel.
I thought of this indiscriminate attack on London when reading Ben Judah’s acidic op-ed on Saturday in the New York Times, which comes a few months after the grey lady published a trenchant piece by Michael Goldfarb on how overseas investment in the capital’s property has allegedly led to an exodus of the English middle classes. Judah’s London, like Dostoevsky’s, is ubiquitously effete and dreadful, a city laid supine at the foot of the Shard and its real masters, the oligarchs of Mayfair. Read more
On Thursday, the government published its needlessly controversial report that reviews the impact of migration on the UK labour market.
In a post yesterday, I argued that the alleged worry about publishing the new document derives from how Home Secretary Theresa May used a January 2012 report from the independent Migration Advisory Committee. The MAC report was replete with caveats and qualifications, a necessary feature of empirical analysis about migration.
Thursday’s report supports the MAC findings – not the use of the findings but the findings themselves. Read more
Newsnight brings more support for this telling chart about immigration:
Britons want immigration reduced, though they are not as universally or as rabidly concerned about it as conservative tabloid newspapers would have us believe. At the same time, Britons do not trust the government to meet the Tories’ target for reducing net migration. Little wonder. The whole debate is marred by exaggerations and broken commitments that engender more cynicism. This makes politicians keener to appear tough … and to jump on anything that smells like supporting evidence.
Raising the personal allowance further won’t help the poorest, never mind “just the very poorest”. With 4.6m workers (17 per cent) already not paying income tax, including an additional 2m due to the coalition’s policies, more of the gains will go to those on middle incomes. That might be a perfectly good thing to do but it is not helping the poorest.
the IFS calculates that 69 per cent of the £12.2bn cost of raising the Personal Allowance to £12,500 would go to working families in the top half of the income distribution, 16 per cent to pensioners, and a mere 15 per cent for working families in the bottom half of the population. Of course, any big tax cut like this one would mean public spending cuts elsewhere, which would likely fall harder on the bottom half.
The politics of the personal allowance rise is obvious but so too is its flaws. If you would like to help the low paid, there are better ideas.
The policy document on Ukraine carried by an official and photographed on Downing Street states that “the UK should not support for now trade sanctions or close London’s financial centre to Russians”. It has been cited as evidence that the UK government is putting the interests of the City above that of Crimea. But it does say “for now”, and it suggests that the government is considering travel bans and visa restrictions along with other EU countries. On Tuesday, Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons that economic options remained open. Read more
The rise in demand for food banks is partly related to changes to the benefits system. One of these changes is the toughening of sanctions faced by people who fail to meet one of the conditions for receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance (a benefit for the unemployed) or Employment and Support Allowance (a benefit for the inactive). Sanctions are a necessary part of any welfare-to-work system but as currently designed they are leading to unnecessary suffering in return for no obvious benefit.
In the year from September 2012 – October 2013, 874,850 sanctions were applied to JSA claimants, a 16 per cent increase from the previous year, and more than double from five years previously. This could have reflected rising numbers of JSA claimants after the recession. But on Monday, a report released by Policy Exchange, a centre-right think tank not renowned for its love of cushy welfare, suggests that a growing share of sanctions are also issued in error.