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 […]

Who’s for Paella?

Amidst all the wailing and tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth on the part of those who bemoan the UK’s decision to set its own course with Brexit, how many of those who regret the apparent breach with “Europe” have paused to consider the real identity of the “Europe” they seem to hold so […]

Trump and Brexit Are Quite Different Phenomena

One particularly welcome aspect of the House of Commons vote to pass the Bill to trigger the Article 50 process is the rebuff it represents to the relentless campaign, in some quarters, and in the Guardian in particular, to equate and conflate support for Brexit with support for Donald Trump.  Trump’s justified unpopularity – in […]

The World Needs Reassurance

Donald Trump seems intent on continuing to offer the easiest of targets to his many critics.  It is perhaps understandable, though regrettable, that some of those whose opinions are officially those of the countries they represent (such as our own Prime Minister) should feel some reluctance about courting the displeasure of the new US President […]

What Price Public Service Broadcasting?

I had the privilege of serving for a number of years on the board of TVNZ.  The company had a dual mandate over that period – first, as a state-owned enterprise, it had to turn a profit by competing with commercial rivals and selling advertising time, so as to pay an annual dividend of at […]

No Excuse for Offensive Behaviour

So-called “casual racism” hit the headlines recently, following the publicity attending the Mad Butcher’s reported remarks to fellow-visitors to Waiheke.  As Dame Susan Devoy, our Race Relations Commissioner, pointed out concerning that incident, racism may not seem “casual” to those who are its target. “Casual” racism may in some senses actually be even more damaging […]

Presidential L-Plates

Donald Trump is by no means the first US President to take office without any previous experience of holding political office.  Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower, for example, became President after a stellar career in the military, though his military service no doubt gave him some familiarity with the concept of public service. Trump, however, is […]

Universities Are More Than Instruments of Government Policy

    Like so many of my generation, I was the first person in my family to go to university.  In one way or another, though, universities have played a big part in my life.  I was an undergraduate at Victoria and Auckland Universities, then a postgraduate student at Balliol College, Oxford, then later a […]