Labour’s Churchill by Andrew Adonis

Written 26 July 2022 I have had John Bew’s biography of Clement Attlee (“Citizen Clem”) on my list of books to read for some time and will get round to it soon enough. But I was after something a bit shorter, saw this one pop up (it’s about half the length) and decided to give it a go. This is a biography of Ernest Bevin, a hero of the Labour Movement. I think there are likely to be more definitive biographies available, but for someone who wants to know the facts and to get a real sense of the man...

A Glimmer of Light? Possibly?

Written 24 June 2022 It’s now six years since the UK voted to leave the EU. I voted to leave, despite not because of the Leave and Remain campaigns, and I have absolutely no regrets in voting the way I did. I was a bit floaty on the day, the campaign was really boring but also hysterical but in the event I put my cross in the leave box because I could do no other. I was a member of the Labour Party and delivered leaflets for it in Slough in the 1983 general election, when leaving the (then) EEC...

Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air by David J. C. MacKay

Written 05 June 2022 It’s become increasingly clear to me over the years that abundant, reliable and cheap energy is the cornerstone of progress we have enjoyed in the developed world for many years now. It also lies at the heart of environmental questions that are set to be at the centre of our political life for the rest of my life and so I’ve been looking to read more on Energy this year. I started with The Prize by Daniel Yergin which deals with the history of the oil industry (reviewed here), then Helen Thompson’s Disorder (which touches on...

An airport, regulation, stagnation and ill feeling

Written 30 May 2022 The Plymouth Herald reports today that the future of Plymouth Airport is once again “under discussion”. This is a long running saga down in these parts and is a subject I have some familiarity with having worked for Sutton Harbour Group (SHG, the current airport owner) between 2013 and 2018. I’m not interested in the question of whether or not the site has a viable future as an airport, but as an interesting illustration of all the things that are wrong with the way we approach infrastructure, housing and (my main interest) taxation in this country....

Has he still not gone yet?

Written 24 May 2022 Partygate has never really gone away and has burst back to the top of the news this week as pictures emerged of a party in No10 in November and we are going to have the Sue Gray report published this week. It’s looking tricky for Boris Johnson and it remains to be seen whether he can navigate the coming days. I don’t really have too much to add to my earlier post from January on the question of whether Boris Johnson should resign. I think he should, and I still hope he does, but I can’t...

That Pesky Podcaster

Written 3 February 2022 I’m still on a Twitter break, while dipping in almost exclusively on read only mode. I often get the urge to respond or put something out, particularly if kicking back in the pub and scrolling through, but it’s reasonably under control. Goodness, haven’t things blown up at Spotify? I signed up for my free trial a week or so ago (for the music really, I have used Podcast Player for podcasts until now which does me just fine). Neil Young, Joni Mitchell have pulled their music, apparently with the aim of pressuring Spotify to remove the...

Has he gone yet?

I write during a break from Twitter as I try to get a good start to the year’s reading. British politics appears to have settled into the mode that best suits its professional participants in our political parties and in the media that covers it. With each passing day the evidence mounts that Boris Johnson has been less than entirely truthful about his involvement in rulebreaking at No 10. Today it has been announced by Cressida Dick that New Scotland Yard will be cooperating with the Cabinet Office to investigate the ins, outs and what-have-yous of it all. The latest...

Localism: Manifesto for a Twenty-First Century England by thelocalists.org

Written 27 December 2021 This is the fiftieth and probably the last book for me of 2021, and was unusual for a couple of reasons. First, it is one the very few books I have read recently that I have read as a physical book. I got a kindle a few years ago and while I know that many people just prefer physical books I prefer reading on a kindle nowadays and cleared most books out of the house about three years ago. Secondly, I bought the book directly from thelocalists.org via their twitter account @localmattersENG. The book is short,...

Tacking Left on Economics, Right on Culture

I thought I’d chance my arm at setting out some semi-serious thoughts on what “leaning left on economics and right on culture” might actually mean in practice for a UK government in 2021. We are told this is the electoral sweet spot, but I don’t think the current Government’s heart is in it at all and it certainly doesn’t have the talent to achieve much. As for the opposition, well… I started out with a thread then decided it properly belonged in a (quickly put together) blog post. The train of thought was prompted by this tweet: The last reforming...

International Aid

Written 14 July 2021 I didn’t follow yesterday’s debate in Parliament closely in which the Government won the vote to move away from the 0.7% of GDP target. I doubt I missed much. I’m writing something down on this because I have spent a few years up close and personal with International Aid (in Egypt in the mid-1990s) and never really quite got to the bottom of what I think of it all. I’ll see if writing my thoughts down gets me any closer to a conclusion or a more settled position. I suspect it will help but I doubt...