Aid and Other Dirty Business

Written 15 September I finished this a couple of weeks ago and as I found it pretty thought provoking thought I’d set down a few thoughts. The title is somewhat misleading: the book is by no means an anti-Aid screed but does describe well how Aid sometimes comes up short. It also sets out a realistic vision for what a more effective system of International Aid would look like. Giles Bolton is obviously a bright and highly motivated chap and wrote this in the mid-noughties following stints with DfID in Rwanda and Iraq. He comes across very much as an...

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...

Official statistics

Written 24 June 2021 The story this week in the BBC on the EU resettlement scheme seems to me to have pretty wide ranging implications. Maybe it’s just me though: I find stories in the statistics/economics/public policy/Brexit space pretty interesting, but I accept that this puts me in a small minority! Anyway, the story concerns the numbers of EU nationals applying for settled status in the UK as the deadline approaches and the BBC coverage is here. It appears that as at 31 May 2021 some 5.6 million applications had been made under the scheme. The UK government is currently advertising...

Progress and Poverty

I’ve finally got round to reading Progress and Poverty by Henry George, a book I’d never heard of until a few years ago. In fact, when I say read I mean that I downloaded it on my Kindle and read some of it but I’ve got through most of it using a free audiobook/podcast which I found good. I generally read in the evenings and it is not the easiest book to read, it needs concentration, there is a lot in it and it is very much a book of its time in terms of style. Background Before setting down...