Friday 25th April 2014: As the European elections approach, French politicians, no less than their British counterparts, reflect the concerns of the voters, says Sheila Lawlor, Politeia's Director.
Last week, the European election campaign got underway as EU member states prepare to go to the polls late in May to chose 751 MEPs for the European Parliament in Brussels. These MEPs do not sit in national blocs, but in political groupings. They are expected to leave national interests behind as they enter the gigantic parliamentary building, and join the Europe of ‘interests’. While some groups want a more democratic, more accountable and less federalist EU, the architecture of the Union remains stubbornly opposed to national democratic accountability. Rather than a Europe of nation states co-operating on matters of common interest at each level of the EU and its institutions, we see in Brussels a Europe of interest groups which battle it out at many levels, from the Commission to the Parliament, for power and preferment.
Friday 18th April 2014: Britain’s political parties are now in 2015 general election- mode. Labour, says Dr Robin Harris, promises a policy of ‘madhouse economics’. But if Britain is to prosper in the long term, the case for the free economy must be made. That responsibility falls to the Conservative leaders and in a piece for Standpoint, Dr Harris explains why:
Politicians who make a difference understand that Party politics though often fun, is never a one-set match. Keith Joseph and Margaret Thatcher believed that to make the free economy safe, the Opposition would have to be converted to its merits. This meant educating the wider public in the economic facts of life. Their mission must be not just to win elections but to win arguments — above all, the arguments for choice, markets, incentives, property and the rule of law. Otherwise Labour would revert.
Friday 11th April: In the aftermath of Maria Miller's resignation as culture secretary, the focus switched to the gender balance in the cabinet. But, suggests Sheila Lawlor, Politeia's Director, if Britain is to flourish, politicians and their critics need to focus on the bigger picture, not its segments.
This week the pressure groups had a field day, bemoaning the paucity of women in big political jobs, or complaining about those few who are given them. Maria Miller's resignation cut the proportion in the cabinet by a quarter. Her job as culture secretary and equalities minister went to the treasury minister, Sajid Javid, her brief as women's minister to another treasury minister, Nicky Morgan, who also moved up the treasury ladder to Javid's vacant job.
Friday 28th March: Ministers may be tempted by a recent report to interfere further with university admissions, but says Professor John Marenbon, that would be to miss the point of both the report and universities themselves.
This week it was reported that universities have been given the ‘go ahead to favour state school pupils’ after ‘a major study showed they gained better degrees than peers educated in the private sector.’ The report, by HEFCE, the government’s university funding agency, announces among its conclusions that ‘state school students tend to do better in their degree studies than students from independent schools with the same prior educational attainment.’
The statistic therefore implies that independent school candidates look better on paper than they really are. For instance, the odds are 3:2 that a state school pupil who gains BCC at A-level will get a good degree, whereas the odds for an independent school alumnus with the same grades are less than evens. And so the argument appears to go, if admissions tutors want to be fair and also to select the best candidates – they need to engage in more positive discrimination against those from the independent sector.
Friday 21st March: The Chancellor had a good budget. But life is far from rosy for everyone, says Dr Gerard Lyons.
In the wake of the Budget, the question on many lips is: will pensioners-when they receive their future pension pots- be short-term in their thinking? Welcome to the British economy! Freed from the need to buy annuities,they may in the future decide to buy houses instead, another feature of Britain's recovery.