Jonn @NewStatesman – on the politics of “hard choices”

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On George Osborne’s latest round of cuts, and the strange political euphemism of “hard choices”. 

Whenever politicians start talking about how tough they’re being, in fact, it’s like a flashing neon arrow pointing down the path of least resistance. If a policy actually requires guts, the last thing you want to do is draw attention to the fact, as that’ll just tip your voters off that someone’s about to get stiffed. Better, then, to reserve the label for making yourself feel big while doing exactly what you wanted to do anyway. 

You can read the rest here.

On politics and objectivity

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My latest at the NS, on why a little noticed admission of error from Michael Gove tells us much about the subjective nature of public spending decisions.

Politicians can come up with a formula based on an objective set of numbers – but which numbers they choose, and what they do with them, will always be a matter of judgement.

You can read the piece here.

Feeling Wonky

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A couple of bits of policy wonkery from recent months:

  • Once every few months, a report comes along explaining why the private finance initiative represents a sort of embarrassing skidmark on the national accounts, and suggests we’d better scrap it, pronto. Here’s me at Liberal Conspiracy explaining why that’s never gonna happen. (Liberal Conspiracy, August 22nd)
  • Health secretary Andrew Lansley recently promised to ban minimum waiting times in the NHS. It probably won’t make any difference (New Statesman, 15 November)

Old business stuff

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In which I do the business

Various thoughts on matters of high finance and low cunning.

  • Competitive advantage is under threat – why the skills shortage could knacker the economy (New Statesman, July 2006)
  • Something ventured – on the UK’s then (and, frankly, still) nascent venture capital market (TCS Daily, September 2006)
  • Private Money, Public Good – the much maligned private finance initiative actually has a few advantages (TCS Daily, June 2006)
  • That said, after fifteen years and £57 billion, we still don’t know if it works (The First Post, September 2008)
  • And that said, it’s still not going to go away. Here’s why (Liberal Conspiracy, August 2011)
  • How bad is the feline obesity crisis? – on my continuing irritation at the hypocrisy of the high-pay debate (Liberal Conspiracy, June 2010)
  • And finally, A Modest Proposal for banking regulation. It involves public executions, but I bet you anything it’d work (Liberal Conspiracy, December 2009)