Recent Articles



Labour needs to place fiscal conservatism at the heart of its appeal

by Adam Lent     December 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

Labour’s approach to winning back lost votes seems to be based on two strategies.

The ‘Mastermind’ strategy is based on the belief that it’s the smartest guy in the room who wins out. By correctly predicting the mess the Government will make of the economy, support will apparently flood back to Labour.

The ‘Megaphone’ strategy is founded on the principle that if the Party gives voice to voters’ suffering, they will see Labour as their best hope of respite from declining living standards.
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The “bad thing” theory of opposition politics

by Adam Lent     June 14, 2011 at 9:15 am

Anybody who has been involved in party politics at the national level will know that many, many hours are spent discussing the minutiae of political strategy, tactics and policy.

The very great part of this is probably generated by nothing more than nervous energy and has a negligible impact on votes.

The truth that few professional politicians and their advisers rarely admit, usually until they have been out of office for some years, is that there really are only three rules in the game of opposition party politics.
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As European politics fractures further, where do we stand?

by Adam Lent     May 31, 2011 at 4:13 pm

An excellent piece in the FT today by Peter Spiegel today argues that tensions over the Euro and immigration could see an unravelling of the European project. But maybe the most interesting part of the article is the final lines, worth quoting at length.

We may be witnessing a generational change in European political dynamics. Traditional left-right divisions have narrowed. No mainstream social democrat now advocates centralised economic planning, just as no conservative candidate seriously questions the underpinning of the welfare state.

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The hole at the heart of Blue Labour and Red Toryism

by Adam Lent     April 26, 2011 at 1:17 pm

Red Tory Philip Blond is an acknowledged influence on David Cameron while Ed Miliband, The Guardian revealed on Friday, will soon make a speech responding to the ideas of Blue Labour guru Maurice Glasman.

Beyond this shared influence on their respective party leaders, there is also considerable overlap in their outlooks. But they also share one glaring problem.
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Is Labour really to blame for the deficit?

by Adam Lent     August 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

So common has it become for the White House to blame all bad news on the last administration that a Washington joke claims that Obama is planning to name a newly discovered trench deep under the US, “Bush’s Fault”.

Much more of this sort of stuff from the Coalition and maybe we’ll soon see Gordon’s Fault opening up somewhere under Whitehall.

One of the recurrent claims of the Government, repeated to much fanfare yesterday, is that Labour got us in to our fiscal mess by spending too much.
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Budget hits poor even more than thought

by Adam Lent     June 27, 2010 at 1:34 pm

Drawing on a wealth of data sources, Landman Economics and the Fabian Society, have been building a statistical model for the TUC and Unison over the last few months which shows how public spending affects different households and income groups.

Don’t Forget the Spending Cuts! is the first study based on the model and it reveals just how strikingly regressive the Budget is once you factor in the spending cuts which neither the Treasury nor the IFS’s analysis included.

The model reveals that:

the average annual cut in public spending on the poorest tenth of households is £1,344, equivalent to 20.5% of their household income, whereas the average annual cut in public spending on the richest tenth of households is £1,135, equivalent to just 1.6% of their household income.

The graph based on the data tells its own remarkable story (you can click on it for a bigger version):

The distributional impact of tax, benefit and spending changes

The Observer has a report on the study today.

Also: Next Left – So, what happens to fairness when you look at the spending cuts too?

Update: Left Foot Forward analysis shows that deprived areas will be hit hardest by cuts too.

Spain’s credit rating problem could be ours next

by Adam Lent     May 30, 2010 at 9:20 am

The credit rating agency Fitch yesterday cut Spain’s credit rating from AAA to AA.

Have they done this because they think Spain is not getting to grips with its public finances? No.

They’ve cut the rating because the Spanish Government’s efforts to reduce their budget deficit through cuts.
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Have Libdems abandoned those most in need of help?

by Adam Lent     May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am

There is a lot to like in this coalition deal stuff that the Labour Government should have attended to long ago: political reform, cracking down on tax avoidance, regulating and taxing the banks, restoring the link between the state pension and earnings, environmental measures.

But there are three parts of the agreement that must make any serious progressive question the priorities of the Liberal Democrat leadership. Unemployment, the deficit and immigration have all been handed over to the Tories with only moderate qualifications. They are all areas which will most seriously impact on the poorest and most disadvantaged.
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When will we learn the lessons of Private Equity?

by Adam Lent     February 23, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Rewind almost three years and the trade union movement was embroiled in a bitter media spat with the private equity industry.

In a portent of something much bigger, private equity firms were accused of playing fast and loose with high levels of debt to buy up companies they neither understood nor cared for in order to make a quick buck.

But the ridicule aimed at the unions in the Summer of 2007 was often intense. It reached its nadir when the Chair of the All Party Private Equity Group, Sion Simon, went Paxo on the TUC General Secretary at a hearing of the Treasury Select Committee.

Simon asked Brendan Barber six times in quick and testy succession to produce the evidence that private equity firms increased risk for the companies they acquired.

Well, the evidence is now here.
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Economists’ letter supporting Osborne says not much at all

by Adam Lent     February 15, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Yesterday a group of economists published a letter in The Sunday Times about the deficit, which the newspaper claimed was an endorsement of Tory policy on public spending.

The newspaper is not wrong. Given that Conservative policy on public spending changes close on every hour and given that this letter says just about every contradictory thing one can say on the deficit, they are indeed very closely aligned.

This paragraph, which is the crux of the letter, is the most multi-faceted (to put it politely):

The exact timing of measures should be sensitive to developments in the economy, particularly the fragility of the recovery. However, in order to be credible, the government’s goal should be to eliminate the structural current budget deficit over the course of a parliament, and there is a compelling case, all else being equal, for the first measures beginning to take effect in the 2010-11 fiscal year.

The bulk of this fiscal consolidation should be borne by reductions in government spending, but that process should be mindful of its impact on society’s more vulnerable groups.

What precisely is this saying?
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