The Lessons of Kaikohe

Humankind comes with many different characteristics, and it is sometimes informative to consider how those can be categorised.  Some people, for example, will be extroverts, others introverts, some romantics and others realists, some optimists, others pessimists. I have devised a test that I think can be used to make another – and, I think, important […]

Did Trump Really Want to Be President?

Cast your mind back to the moment when Donald Trump announced that he was running for President.  Like most people, no doubt, you were bemused, entertained and intrigued, but at that point his chances of actually reaching the White House would have been rated at zero. The possibility of a President Trump seemed very remote. […]

International Women’s Day

Last week – a week that included International Women’s Day – appropriately enough saw the role of women in our society making the headlines.  Sadly, those headlines highlighted again the way that women are treated in a male-dominated society – less a matter of celebration than of shame. First, we learned that the perennial and […]

We Need to Shift the Focus of Health Care

The report released last week showing that more than half a million New Zealanders cannot afford to see their GPs, and that the underfunding of the doctors themselves threatens a shortfall in the numbers of GPs we need, will have alarmed many – and not just those unfortunate families who are denied adequate primary health […]

Convenient Fairy Stories

Bill English has made a sound start as Prime Minister.  He seems to be down-to-earth, and a straight-talker – a welcome change from his predecessor.  But, at the same time, he seems to be prone to making statements based on prejudice and anecdote; we have a right to expect better. He was quick, for example, […]

A Revival of Fascism?

The epithets “fascist” and “Nazi” are, in some quarters, tossed about so casually as to have lost most of their meaning.  But that should not lead us to think that the behaviours they might describe are things of the past.  Those of us with longer memories can still scent the whiff of fascism on the […]

I Love Dogs

I have always loved dogs.  My first dog was a wire-haired fox terrier called Scotty, whose irritating habit it was to snap up the daily paper as soon as it was delivered and run under the house with it every afternoon.  Guess who had to crawl after him every day after school to retrieve the […]

Religious Fervour Can Be A Bad Guide

When Tony Blair first came to my attention, and I brought him on to the Front Bench as a promising young MP, he gave no sign of religious fervour.  Like many others, therefore, I was surprised when he later revealed the strength of his religious beliefs, and the part they seem to have played in […]

Does the Rule of Law Matter?

Most people in Western countries, one would like to think, see great value in the democracy they enjoy.  Rather fewer, perhaps, attach similar importance to the rule of law under which they live. Yet the rule of law is a central element of the ordered, yet free, society which we have succeeded in creating.  It […]

Why Not Try “Bubble Up”?

Thomas Picketty is a French economist who recently took the economics world by storm.  He demonstrated that, in a modern, “free-market” economy, growing inequality is inevitable, unless we do something deliberately to counteract it. Picketty shows that, over hundreds of years and in technologically advanced economies in particular, the return on capital will always rise […]