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Paying our Way. Is Britain on the road to economic recovery?

Monday 3rd August: This week the business of governing Britain winds down for the August break. MPs have left Westminster and many ministers are taking leave of Whitehall. However for most people the bread and butter of life must be paid for. What matters are the economic prospects they and the country face.  Should we be hopeful about the future? In Politeia’s summer debate, two economists consider the outlook from two different perspectives.
Dr Ruth Lea CBE, Economic Adviser, Arbuthnot Banking Group considers the outlook, sees room for improvements especially in productivity, while noting signs for optimism at home and in the Eurozone. John Mills, chairman of JML, and former Labour councillor for Camden, suggests that austerity has few answers for the question faced by Britain’s economy.
John Mills writes... The support for Jeremy Corbyn in the current Labour leadership election is yet another manifestation among many others in Europe of the resentment generated by austerity economic policies which are widely perceived to be both damaging and ineffective. Who can deny that they impoverish the public sector; that they heap hardship on those least able to bear it; that they stunt growth in living standards while failing to produce a sound foundation for future economic growth; and that they tend to favour the rich – and especially lenders rather than borrowers – at the expense of everyone else?

Bribe the voters - pay the price

Friday 31st July: As Andy Burnham sets out his stall for Labour's leadership, he must learn to live within the reality of politics if he wants his party in power, says Politeia's Director, Sheila Lawlor.

Look Before You Leap!

Friday 24th July: The House of Lords defeated the government this week over its rushing through its plan for 'English votes for English laws'. Instead, their Lordships backed the former Cabinet Secretary Lord Butler's call for a joint parliamentary committee to consider the proposals.‘Surely’, he said ‘it is more important to get the proposals right than to rush them through'.   

Professor David Abulafia, like Lord Butler, agrees on the aim of English votes, but explains that the House of Commons must be able to function ‘without tripping over its own feet’.

Sir Thomas Dalyell of the Binns, Bart., (Eton and King’s), former President of the Cambridge University Conservative Association, who spent forty-three years in the House of Commons as a convert to socialism, once wrote a book entitled The Importance of Being Awkward. He never achieved high office, and had an impressive record of voting against the government when his own party was in power. Capable, to be sure, of some bizarre comments, he earns his place in history for something else – his sharp insight into the constitutional mess that was created by Scottish devolution. To say that is not to oppose devolution, but to make the point that fiddling with the political structure of the United Kingdom without thinking through all the consequences has been the trait of one government after another, not just in respect of the four nations but in respect of the House of Lords, our position within Europe (‘ever closer integration’) and perhaps even the judiciary (were the Law Lords really a problem?).

Managing the NHS: An Unhealthy Attachment to Top Down Control 

Friday 17th July: The Health Secretary's comments about imposing seven day working on hospital doctors has sparked a debate about how the NHS should be managed. Should control be removed from central government and placed back in the hands of patients? Or should the Department of Health dictate hospital working hours? Politeia author Dr Tony Hockley and former Health Minister Gerald Malone join the debate, reflecting on the different approaches to the future of the Health Service.
Dr Tony Hockley writes Today’s blog for Politeia by Gerald Malone and this week’s keynote speech on the NHS by Jeremy Hunt display the frustration that ministers feel in dealing with the leaders of the medical profession. Since Bevan’s hurried deal with the doctors when the NHS was created, ministers have found themselves having to pussy-foot around the unions in seeking improvements to NHS service.

Long on Perspiration, Short on Inspiration?

Friday 10th July: The test of the Chancellor's Budget, says Dr Gerard Lyons, will be whether the UK's low productivity rates will be entrenched or ended.
Former Chancellor Nigel Lawson was once credited with telling us to watch what politicians do and not just listen to what they say. This is particularly relevant this week in the wake of Wednesday's Budget and Friday's National Productivity Plan, when so many positive things were said about future prospects.
Naturally there is a heavy political element to any Budget, particularly the first of a new Parliament, and this has given a strong steer to the economic policy we should now expect. Three underlying messages appear to emerge. One is low tax and cutting welfare, despite this being a Budget littered with much higher taxes overall, albeit in some less sensitive areas from a political perspective. A second is the desire to have higher wages and higher productivity, ideally by unleashing the supply side of the economy and boosting productivity, although there is a considerable way to go here. Third, boosting the trend to home ownership, and in the process aligning this with voting Conservative, at a time when many people feel they can no longer afford to buy. The dramatic relaxation announced to the planning system is part of this.
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