Recent Articles

Johann Hari and the article for Der Spiegel

by Hopi Sen     July 31, 2011 at 12:27 pm

I didn’t particularly want to write a piece about Johann Hari. As you may know, the Independent columnist is being investigated by his employer for various alleged ethical and professional lapses of various degrees of seriousness.

As a good social democrat, I think an employer has a duty of care to their employee, and while I have an opinion, I’m also aware I’m not in possession of all the facts. For example, if Johann Hari has been consistently honest with his employers about his working practices, the issue becomes as much a matter about their judgement as about his.

What has troubled me, however, is the sense among some on the left that those who raise questions about Johann Hari’s work have a right-wing, or catholic, or other somesuch agenda which devalues their concerns about his journalism.
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Libya: a moment of hope

by Hopi Sen     March 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm

After what feels like an age of indecision, yet is in fact less than a month, the UN resolution on Libya feels like a moment of hope. That hope is qualified, uncertain and unsure, of course, but real. continue reading… »

How the Tory right could become Labour’s best friend

by Hopi Sen     February 5, 2011 at 2:30 pm

As a result of the coalition putting existing political loyalties to great tests, there’s a coming battle for dominance in British politics.

In that fight, The right of the Conservative party are the hidden and undeclared allies of Ed Miliband.

They don’t know it and would shudder at the thought, but in every action they take there is a brutal internal logic which strains the coalition to its limit, and in doing so, allows Ed Miliband to position himself in precisely the territory that would make most sense for the coalition.
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Why Labour was right to reject Bob’s drug policy

by Hopi Sen     December 17, 2010 at 9:05 am

Bob Ainsworth MP was in the news yesterday, calling for the decriminalisation of drugs. Good for him.

I say this, not because I agree with him (I don’t), but because this intelligent intervention is exactly what you would like from ex-ministers no longer burdened with concerns like getting the party they are a part of re-elected. No politician suggests decriminalising all drugs out of excesive concern for their future political prospects.

That said, if I were in Ed Miliband’s office, I would have drafted exactly the same statement that they issued.
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Ed Miliband’s new generation

by Hopi Sen     September 29, 2010 at 10:51 am

So now we know – The torch is being past to a new generation of optimists, who will bring the wind of change to Labour.

Kennedy, with a hint of Obama, by way of Macmillan. Not bad rhetorical reference points.

More seriously, it was an excellent speech.

Ed stuck to the centre ground on Economics, made it clear he understood people frustrations with political culture and decisions of the past, and setting out a new direction on civil liberties and laying a real stress on fairness for those who work hard and would like the government to be on their side.
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How long before IDS realises his dreams are dead?

by Hopi Sen     July 15, 2010 at 9:10 am

So it begins.

Gary Gibbon – Channel 4 news, yesterday.

Elsewhere in the Whitehall jungle I hear that IDS is having a rough time of it at DWP. The Treasury isn’t buying any of his expensive proposals, carefully worked out in opposition. He’s baulking at even bigger, straight, old-fashioned cuts to benefits than those already announced. The perpetual conflict between tighter means-testing and disincentives to work is at the heart of all this.

Some Whitehall old hands say IDS is the senior civil servants’ top tip as “minister most likely to walk”…

Of course, this was all foretold.
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Harriet Harman is right to demand half the cabinet is female

by Hopi Sen     June 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm

Harriet Harman has called for half of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet to be women.

She’s right.

There’s no good reason why Labour’s shadow cabinet should be male dominated.

If the issue is that there aren’t enough “Brilliant/ Talented/Experienced/whatever women” that’s a fault of the system we’ve employed, not a reflection on the abilities of Labour women.
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Important questions for the Tory manifesto

by Hopi Sen     April 13, 2010 at 12:09 pm

None of them are about the location or who introduced David Cameron.

1. Why is a pledge on cutting inheritence tax for millionaires a higher national priority than reducing the deficit or tax cuts for low income single parents?

2. Where will savings in Education budget come from, given you are spending BSF money on setting up “Free Schools”?

3. You have promised to offer referendums on Council Tax. What will you do if a Council loses a referendum, cannot raise funds, so closes vital services to save money, as has happened in California? Will the Government accept Council plans to close schools and sell of parks in such a case?
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The mystery of Blond, revealed

by Hopi Sen     March 28, 2010 at 2:00 pm

I was surprised last night. I read a Phillip Blond article in Prospect, and it was less asinine than I expected.

Rather than being mouth achingly stupid, it was merely utterly unrealistic and impossible as a platform for governing, which puts it with oooh, 99.9999% of articles written for political magazines.

Mind you, Blond didn’t make one mistake – a firm proposal that a Tory government should mutalise BA. (“Cameron should push a radical economic policy — mutualising British Airways…” ran the email I got promoting the piece). With what? I thought, Jellybeans? BA’s Market Cap is what, three billion. I can think of a few things we should be doing with three billion quid other than buying companies and turning their shares over to their workforce.

Anyway, turns out Blond doesn’t quite say this. Instead he just says mutuality provides a model for energy companies and BA, and leaves the thought hanging there, with no suggestion about what should be done with such a lovely model.

This is the tenor of the whole piece. Blond proposes a whole series of rather vague things that the Conservatives are never going to do continue reading… »

The challenge for the centre left

by Hopi Sen     March 24, 2010 at 10:00 pm

This was a good budget. Perhaps unsusually, I thought the best bits were the bits that will probably get the least attention.

While the stamp duty holiday will benefit me personally and (given the age and salary profile of most journalists and editors), get a lot of headlines, it is essentially a measure designed to ensure housing values stay steady. Fair, enough – but not where the real action is.

Instead, I’m more excited by what Alistair Darling talked about, in his understated way, as the Growth Agenda.

Let me put it this way: the prime political challenge of the centre left for the next decade has to be the creation of around two million jobs. If we succeed in doing this, we will be able to pay down debt. If we succeed in doing this, we will be able to fund public services. If we succeed in doing this, we will be able to fund the research, development and technology that is needed for long term growth.

Doing that won’t be easy. People talk about export led growth, and that’s important. But everyone will want to export their way to growth. People talk about public works spending, but such projects can only do so much. continue reading… »

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