Recent Articles

How we could solve the online male trolls problems

by Jonn Elledge     November 8, 2011 at 9:16 pm

By now, I assume, we’ve all read Helen Lewis-Hasteley’s skin-crawling round-up of the abuse and threats of sexual violence that women writers face on the net.

Anyone who writes online, of course, is used to being called naive, ignorant or just plain stupid, often by commenters for whom it seems punctuation is just something that happens to other people.

The men who make these comments pose a clear and obvious danger to society. But we shouldn’t hate them.
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We don’t need to talk about Tony Blair

by Jonn Elledge     October 6, 2011 at 11:02 am

I am, I should think, about as centrist as Liberal Conspiracy writers get. I edit a business magazine. I reckon a successful left-wing government needs, at least, the acquiescence of the private sector.

I feel no need to seize the means of production, and if it weren’t for the fact that the full implications of the label make my skin crawl, I’d probably call my politics ‘Blairite’.

So believe me when I ask: why all the hysteria that Ed Miliband is distancing himself from the legacy of Tony Blair?
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It may be really unpopular, but here’s why PFI won’t be banned

by Jonn Elledge     August 22, 2011 at 4:54 pm

The private finance initiative (PFI) fits into that awkward bit of public policy where you’ll also find vast authoritarian databases and government by Whitehall diktat. Governments will always love PFI, oppositions will always hate it, and matters of party and ideology are almost irrelevant to this fact.

I spent two years writing about PFI, for which I can only apologise, and so read Rizwan Syed’s comment with interest. With respect, though, I think he got a few things wrong – largely because the whole mess is far more complex business than it’s sometimes made to appear by both its fans and its detractors.
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Cameron’s greatest weakness is his loyalty to friends

by Jonn Elledge     August 3, 2011 at 11:03 am

To those he knows personally, I imagine, David Cameron is probably quite a nice man. He’s a loving father; a loving husband; and, it’s increasingly obvious, someone who looks out for his friends.

But the personal isn’t always political, and Cameron’s loyalties could hurt him badly.

They could do so by tying his hands on the most important part of a government’s job – the management of the economy.
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The Libdems’ Belgium problem

by Jonn Elledge     October 13, 2010 at 1:05 pm

For a lefty to say that getting into bed with the Tories will be the death of the LibDems is rapidly becoming a cliché. I think it is, nonetheless, true, but not for the reasons that everyone else seems to.

It’s not their choice of coalition partner that’s going to throw them into crisis; it’s the fact that they’ve entered a coalition at all.

I’ve suspected the party might have a problem ever since 2001, when I realised that both my Daily Mail reading father and myself were planning to vote for them: I because I was angry with the Blairites, he because he couldn’t bring himself to vote Tory.
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How bad is the feline obesity crisis?

by Jonn Elledge     June 12, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I’m shocked. Shocked and appalled. David Nicholson, chief executive of the NHS, earns more than £250,000 a year. What’s that about, eh? All he does for it is manage an organisation with 1.4 million employees and a budget the size of Bangladesh. Bloody layabout.

Or what about Christine Gilbert? Chief inspector at Ofsted, only responsible for the education of a few million poxy kids, and they give her £195k a year. Pathetic. You just wouldn’t get that kind of waste in the private sector, would you?
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Doctor Who and the homosexuals of doom

by Jonn Elledge     April 3, 2010 at 10:00 am

It’s five years now since Doctor Who returned to the BBC, as the latest project from Russell T Davies.

When news broke that the man bringing Doctor Who back was the bloke who wrote Queer as Folk, the tabloids were up in arms. A man who introduced explicit gay sex to prime time TV? In charge of a kids show?

It’d be nice to say that the show’s success in the intervening years has put an end to talk like that. But the more bigoted part of the audience have spent the five years since in a state of constant bitching about Davies and his “agenda”.

Why does he insist on populating the show with gay characters? they demand. Why rub his sexuality in impressionable kids faces? Why does he have to stick his big gay oar in?
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How the Tories u-turned on NHS plans

by Jonn Elledge     January 18, 2010 at 1:16 pm

A few months ago I was hanging out at the back of a fringe event at the Tory conference, bored and exhausted and frankly wondering whether I could justify going home, when Mike Penning said something that suddenly made me start listening.

Penning, a shadow health minister, casually mentioned that a Tory government would take from the poor and give to the rich.

He didn’t put it in those terms, of course. But that, nonetheless, was the implication. The government, he said, had done all sorts of iffy things to the formula that distributes money around the NHS. They’d over-emphasised poverty. They’d under-emphasised age.

They’d done this for political reasons, to redirect cash to their own voters, and as a result a lot of sweet old ladies in nice, Tory constituencies were snuffing it with distressing speed.

The Tories would correct all that. They’d “de-politicise” that formula. No longer would those old ladies have to die.

So I looked into this. Yes, a press officer told me, this was actual policy.
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Here’s how we regulate bankers

by Jonn Elledge     December 13, 2009 at 9:11 am

Know much about credit default swaps, do you? How about the Libor curve, how’s that playing out these days? I hear good things about those interest rate options. Maybe I should get me some of those.

Banking, frankly, is hard. We might like to think it’s just a bunch of suited monkeys pushing papers at each other. But a lot of it’s really, you know, complicated and stuff. These are bright guys. The rest of us (“taxpayers”, lets call us) can’t even begin to understand what they do. Hector Sants says as much. And he should know. He’s the chair of the Financial Services Authority.

Let’s be honest – the only people who have a hope of really understanding banking are the bankers. If we don’t want the events of the last two years to ever happen again, they’re the ones who are going to have to change things. After all, if we can’t do it, and the government can’t do it, the only answer is self-regulation.

They’ve shown scant interest in changing anything so far, of course. Indeed, if the crisis has taught them anything it’s that they can wreck the economy, take our money, plunge us into the deepest recession in 70 years, and still pay themselves enormous bonuses at the end of it. So – how do we get them to exercise some self control?

Here’s my suggestion. We give them whatever they want.
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Why EU President Blair isn’t a bad idea

by Jonn Elledge     November 6, 2009 at 4:36 pm

The Tories have finally found an issue to unite them with the mainstream European right: their shared loathing of Tony Blair.

Angela Merkel was never keen on the idea of President Blair; now Nicolas Sarkozy, who first mooted it, has decided that he, too, would rather have someone whose guts his voters don’t already hate.

Back in blighty, David Cameron is thundering that the British people would find whole notion of Blair 2: Attack of the Clones “completely unacceptable.”

On that, I suspect, he’s probably right. People were sick of Blair three years ago; they’re sick of unelected EU technocrats; and they’re sick of politicians living it large on their money. Bring those things together and you get a perfect storm of mutual contempt between the political classes and everybody else.

Except, I actually think that – from a pro-European perspective – President Blair is a rather neat idea.
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