Feb 262015
 Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP suggests £60k, which goes up to £80k due to his chairmanship of parliamentary intelligence committee, justifies offering his services to a “Chinese company” for extra renumeriation. The sting has seen him suspended from The Conservative Party. I reflect that leaving my professional career to look after my disabled brother, saves the taxpayer the equivalent to paying his salary.

Dear Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP

I can sympathise you want a professional pay package to compensate you for the sacrifice you have made in public service. I can only apologise that sacrificing my own professional career to continue the care of my disabled brother, saving the tax payer £80,000 a year, was not enough to keep you in the manner you wish to be accustomed. Continue reading »

Feb 262015

Balcombe Fracking - video

Officials both in Europe and America, The Guardian reports, are convinced “that the Russians have infiltrated, or are helping to fund, NGOs campaigning in Europe against fracking and the proposed free trade agreement between the EU and the US”. The talk, apparently, among policymakers is of “Putin’s useful idiots” inadvertently giving succour to “slick Kremlin operations aimed at dividing and enfeebling Europe”.

As somebody who has written, both here and elsewhere, about TTIP, I am left wondering how idiotic I have been. I am opposed to the general thrust of the Transatlantic trade agreement because its benefits appear far fewer than the harms it may cause. I am also opposed to fracking, and for a similar reason: the benefits of extracting fuel from the ground are clearly offset by some serious drawbacks. In taking both these positions I am on the side of people everywhere, both those who want to make an honest living from their work and those wishing to avoid the worst effects of anthropogenic climate change. If that puts me on the side of Mr Putin, then whose side are those “officials” on? Continue reading »

Feb 262015

Suppliers are failing to pass on savings from the slump in gas costs to homes, regulator Ofgem warns

Big freeze: Meanwhile Big Six energy companies are remaining cold-hearted

Greedy energy giants will rake in billions of pounds this year by palming customers off with price cuts as low as 17p a week.

Suppliers are failing to pass on savings from the slump in gas costs to homes, meaning profits could soar by 1,000%, regulator Ofgem warns.

As winter bites, its chief Dermot Nolan said: “This is clearly a cause for concern.”

Labour’s Caroline Flint added: “The reason energy firms are not passing on falling wholesale costs is because the Tories and Lib Dems voted against giving the regulator the power to cut bills.

“They had the chance to stand up for millions of families. They stood up in favour of the energy companies.”

Continue reading »

Feb 242015

This is a challenge to both left and right to develop a more generous politics and public conversation. As leader of Labour’s policy review, I’ve learned a lot from it

Archbishop Canterbury and bishop norwich

The archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, in Norwich with that city’s bishop, Graham James.

It expresses concern about the condition of our country and its public institutions, so it is by definition political; but it is not party political – and is all the better for it. It is as much a challenge to the left, and our commitment to the state and centralisation, as it is to the right with its unquestioning embrace of the market. Its roots are far deeper than 20th-century ideologies, drawing upon Aristotle and Catholic social thought every bit as much as the English commonwealth tradition of federal democracy.

It is a profound, complex letter, as brutal as it is tender, as Catholic as it is reformed, as conservative as it is radical. It draws upon ideas of virtue and vocation in the economy that are out of fashion, but necessary for our country as we defend ourselves from a repetition of the vices that led to the financial crash and its subsequent debt and deficit. It invites us to move away from grievance, disenchantment and blame, and towards the pursuit of the common good.

Continue reading »

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