How to drain the poison from the MPs’ pay debate


I know, I know, we’re all sick to the back teeth of comment pieces arguing that MPs have their faces in the trough/aren’t really paid that well when you really look at the numbers, actually [delete according to taste and income]. But we have the same arguments every time this topic comes up, and I’m not sure our inability to talk sensibly about these things is conducive to good government. So here’s a couple of ideas on how we can drain this swamp before we all go mad and start bashing our heads against things.

You can find out what those ideas are here.


“Let’s concrete the North Downs!” and other stories


For someone primarily employed as an education journalist I’m spending a lot of my free time thinking about housing policy. Some recent snippets for the New Statesman:

  • And finally, a new way of illustrating the insanity of London’s housing market: how much would Del Boy’s flat be worth these days? Contains other sitcoms, too.

School places and Thatcher and maps, oh my


Not updated this thing in a while, so here are some bits and bobs I’ve written for Londonist of late.

Jonn @Londonist: Er, lots of things


Am going to be upping the frequency of my contributions to Londonist, on the grounds that they’ve kindly let me into the semi-mythical inner sanctum of the editorial team.

Said contributions are likely to be frequent enough, in fact, that I’m not going to bother posting links to all of them. But a sample from recent weeks:

  • On where the cycle hire scheme will end
  • On why average house price figures are misleading
  • ASBOs all round: what other anti-social behaviour should we be fining into oblivion?

And for those of you who can’t get enough Jonn*, you can keep an eye on this page for all future Londonist goodness.

*Please note treatments for such psychopathies are now available on the NHS.

In which the words of Dr Johnson are put to the test, and the actions of Mr Johnson come in for some scrutiny


I’m a regular contributor to Londonist, where I mostly narrow my eyes suspiciously at City Hall and fret about the housing crisis.

On City Hall:

  • Busy doing nothing – the inert mayoralty of Boris Johnson (July 2009)
  • Another one bites the dust – to lose one deputy may be considered a misfortune. To lose three… (June 2009)
  • London Assembly Members: Any dirt? – at the height of the parliamentary expenses scandal, I had a flick through the register of member’s interest (May 2009)

On housing:

  • They come over here, they take our houses… Why the immigrant housing myth persists (July 2009)
  • Housing crisis? What housing crisis? – on the Mayor’s affordable homes strategy (May 2009)

On the 2009 European elections:

  • European Elections: The Alternative Parties – a cut out and keep guide (June 2009)
  • Euro-elections: the morning after the night before – on the BNP vote (June 2009)

I briefly wrote for the shameless-and-swiftly-abandoned Londonist rip-off, Londonshelf:

  • The Beginning of the End – why Hoxton is so over (December 2006)
  • End of the Line – why I was glad to see the back of those bloody Routemasters (December 2006)

I’ve also written two features for the artsy quarterly, Smoke: A London Peculiar:

  • Burgess Park – on an unexpected hole in Camberwell (Winter 2004)
  • All Roads Lead to Romford – on a long walk, and the strangely semi-detached relationship between London and Essex (Spring 2007)

And finally, some some silly photo stories:

  • The mysterious theft of the Cambridge roundabout from a portacabin in Wood Green
  • Snitch on your friends – fabulous prizes to be won!

Some greatest hits

  • How unpaid internships have made the media so middle class (The First Post, August 2009)
  • Busy doing nothing – the inert mayoralty of Boris Johnson (Londonist, July 2009)
  • A lesson in private education – the strange success of Cognita’s schools (Guardian Unlimited/Comment is Free, July 2009)
  • They come over here, they take our houses… Why the immigrant housing myth persists (Londonist, July 2009)
  • Putting the fun in fundamentalism – a trip to Kentucky’s museum of creationism (, November 2008)
  • Disappointment can wait – the election night scenes in Washington DC (, November 2008)
  • Sweet, crazy people – a visit to a McCain-Palin campaign office in Ohio (, October 2008)
  • Nobody can handle the truth about PFI – fifteen years and £57 billion later, and we still don’t know if it works (The First Post, September 2008)
  • A load of Bull – some thoughts on left-wing patriotism (The Sharpener, June 2006)
  • A Sicilian Message – Ten suspicious parallels between the War on Terror and the Godfather Trilogy (ak13, June 2004)
  • Dead giveaway – sitting in judgement on Santa Claus for the Political Judge column (ak13, December 2003)