How do you tell someone who has done something brilliantly for many decades that he has reached the point where he shouldn’t do it any more? It is a question that millions of children face when forced to deal with ageing parents who really shouldn’t be driving any longer. It is also the question raised by the new Alan Bennett play, Allelujah! Continue reading
First it was gangnam style on Strictly Come Dancing. Then it was best-buddy style in Travels in Trumpland. Whatever next for Ed Balls? Has there ever been a more extreme apparent make-over of a public figure? Continue reading
The second crisis of capitalism (part 6)
This week marks the end of this series of blogs. It has focused on economic analysis, on the growing social inequality since neo-liberalism came to dominate the political landscape after 1980, and on possible remedies for the problems. It is time now to consider the political implications. Continue reading
The second crisis of capitalism (part 5)
Do we support a free market?
The answer is clearly “maybe”.
We’ve nothing against the free market,
just as long as it doesn’t stay free.
That is from a poem I wrote in about 1990, satirising Labour Party policy. Neil Kinnock was trying to walk a precarious tightrope between traditional socialist policies and the new economic (and electoral) realities of the time. Now I look at the lines again, I am disconcerted to find that – far from satire – they come quite close to saying what I now believe. Continue reading
The second crisis of capitalism (part 4)
In the last blog, I summarised Thomas Piketty’s arguments in Capital in the 21st Century. Now I want to add another book into the mix – Reckless Opportunists: Elites at the End of the Establishment by Aeron Davis. Continue reading
The second crisis of capitalism (part 3)
In last week’s blog, I summarised research published by Thomas Piketty that showed how economic growth was increasingly being diverted into the pockets of the very rich. The result is that inequalities in wealth are now at a level, throughout the Western world, approaching those obtaining at the start of the First World War. Piketty has shown how, even at an average rate of return on investment and with taxes paid, the growth in the wealth of the wealthy will, year by year, outstrip the growth in the wealth of everyone else. Continue reading
The second crisis of capitalism (part 2)
I will admit to having had two expectations when I opened Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. The first was that the author was a left-wing economist, possibly a neo-Marxist, the darling of the European left, and someone with whom I was likely to disagree. The second was that I expected his book to be essentially polemical in style, long on diatribe and short on evidence. Continue reading
As previewed last week, this is the first in a series of blogs in which I will attempt to pull together various strands from my blogs of the past few years. Let me start by recapping where I had got to previously with thoughts on the economy, on politics and on the growing inequality of wealth. Continue reading
For the past few weeks, I have been conducting what writers call ‘background research’ and what other people call sitting in a deckchair reading a book. I am hoping, quite soon, to start work on a novel (or a series of novels) that will, to some extent, concern life and events in Britain in the past half-century. Continue reading
My recent blogs have been on weighty historical and politico-economic themes. Imminent blogs will offer more of the same, since the past few weeks have been consumed with reading weighty historical and politico-economic tomes. I will want to share my thoughts on all that before I forget what they are. All the more need, therefore, for a little light relief this week. So I will write in praise of the humble anchovy. Continue reading