Recent Articles

The ten most absurd promises in the Coalition Agreement

by Jon Stone     August 4, 2012 at 9:54 am

The Liberal Democrats might feel a little bit hard-done-by at the news David Cameron is ditching House of Lords reform to placate his backbenchers.

Here’s a quick reminder of what was dangled in front of the party to dupe them into giving the Tories a majority.

All quotes are from the Coalition Agreement.
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Is the new Dark Knight film a right-wing dream?

by Jon Stone     August 1, 2012 at 11:30 am

Two women break into a house at dusk. They’re looking for somewhere to bed down for the night.

Isn’t this someone’s home?” Says the virtuous one, unsure. On the floor is a family photograph in a frame – a sun-drenched image of a beautiful All American family, man, wife and kids; all white. It is smashed. The camera lingers, deliberately.

“No, this is everyone’s home now,” the first replies, in her foreign, roughly Russian accent. She moves to switch out the light: outside a violent revolution led by an incredibly uncharismatic man is promising to redistribute power to “the People”.
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How is a private contractor allowed to charge for NHS treatment?

by Jon Stone     July 14, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Twitter was ablaze with reports that an NHS walk-in health centre in Sheffield is charging patients £25 to be treated for whiplash. The reports seem accurate.

The private contractor which runs the centre, One Medicare, is defending its decision.

One Medicare says it is simply following national guidance issued by the British Medical Association, based on a provision in the Road Traffic Act, which allows doctors to charge for treating patients with whiplash involved in a car accident.
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Why printing money (QE) is actually killing UK’s growth

by Jon Stone     July 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Frances Coppola points out that a combination of Quantitative Easing, which involves the government buying back its debt, and austerity – which means the government is issuing less debt – is drastically restricting supply of these bonds (debt).

This contraction in the supply is causing a real shortage of safe assets for financial institutions to put their money into. This leads to a liquidity crisis because they don’t want to lend to each other. It also means you get record low interest rates on government bonds as demand from these institutions for our debt hugely outstrips supply.

There’s a weird irony here. According to the way neoliberalism tells us markets should work, this situation shouldn’t really be happening.
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Unions aren’t the “fringe” within the Labour party, Progress is

by Jon Stone     June 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

From the moment he became leader until the moment he stepped down, Tony Blair was always significantly to the right of the rest of the Labour Party.

Even though Militant was long gone by 1994, Blair still had to assert himself against the party’s mainstream left with his ‘Clause 4 moment’.

He was constantly frustrated by what he saw as the slow pace of public service marketisation. It’s fair to say that Blair’s replacement by Gordon Brown was less about any enthusiasm for his successor than it was the rest of the party getting fed up with him.
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The govt’s work programmes are pure exploitation: here’s the evidence

by Jon Stone     June 14, 2012 at 8:55 am

There’s mounting evidence the Government’s work and employment strategy is deliberately geared towards the exploitation of workers and the unemployed.

Here are eight reasons to be suspicious:

DWP’s own analysis shows forced unpaid work hurts prospects
Yesterday the Department for Work and Pensions published an impact assessment of its Mandatory Work Activity programme – its forced unpaid workfare scheme. It said it has no positive impact on employment, and is actually likely to lead to people moving from JSA to ESA, which is associated with long-term unemployment and effectively reclassifies unemployed workers as disabled.
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Four reasons Europe’s austerity agenda may be coming to an end

by Jon Stone     June 8, 2012 at 10:59 am

There are some good reasons to think the current emphasis on reducing deficits isn’t going to last forever.

1) Spain is coming onto the scene, and it doesn’t fit the current narrative
Spain seems to be moving to the front row of the euro crisis. Significantly, it’s remarkably obvious that public spending and deficits weren’t the cause of the crisis there.

Spain had the best public books in the whole of Europe until it had to bail out its banks.
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Taxpayers Alliance want to cut taxes, mostly for the rich

by Jon Stone     May 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm

The Taxpayers’ Alliance wants a flat 30% rate of income tax with a £10,000 tax-free personal allowance:

We advocate a radical new system that taxes all income from labour and capital only once at a flat rate of 30 per cent, above a generous personal allowance for individuals and with no loopholes”(p16)

Yes, cutting the top rate of tax from 45% to 30% is a big tax cut for the rich. But this plan will do every little for ordinary people.
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How should we deal with the ‘Facebook apocalypse’ problem?

by Jon Stone     May 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Over at Forbes, Eric Jackson argues quite convincingly that Google and Facebook – powerful though they are now – probably won’t be top dogs on the web for long.

Are companies like Google, Amazon, and Yahoo! obsolete? They’re still growing. They still have enormous audiences. They also have very talented managers. But with each new paradigm shift (first to social, now to mobile, and next to whatever else), the older generations get increasingly out of touch and likely closer to their significant decline.

This prediction is consistent with history. You don’t see many Sony Walkmans, IBM PCs, or MySpace pages around these days.

But it also chimes with a lot of what we know about economics.
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Why Cameron is now vulnerable like he wasn’t earlier

by Jon Stone     March 28, 2012 at 10:55 am

There’s much debate about what’s causing the sustained 10-point Labour lead in the opinion polls.

The first thing to make clear is that this isn’t so much a Labour bounce as the first instance of an erosion of the Tories’ previous floor on their vote.

What’s new, and what separates these 10 pt leads from the 5-7 pt leads the party enjoyed during the phone hacking scandal – is the new dimension of the Conservative vote consistently dropping below 36% for the first time.
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