Consulting the People

It cannot be said too often – democracy is about more than election day. Electing a government is only the beginning. What matters to a properly functioning democracy is whether the government, however decisive its election day mandate, continues to consult and reflect public opinion throughout its term and whether it exercises power in the […]

Why Have Maori Leaders Got It Right?

As a chastened Prime Minister looks back over the last six months and registers the decline in his own standing and that of his government, his record over that period leaves a number of unanswered but increasingly pressing questions. It is clear enough, of course, that the Epsom cup of tea last November seemed to […]

The Chinese Challenge

An Economic Miracle I first went to China in 1978 as a member of a British Parliamentary delegation. We were the first Western politicians to be invited into China following the fall of the Gang of Four. The trip was like visiting the moon. The country was unlike anything I had ever seen. Literally everyone […]

The Chinese Challenge

An Economic Miracle I first went to China in 1978 as a member of a British Parliamentary delegation. We were the first Western politicians to be invited into China following the fall of the Gang of Four. The trip was like visiting the moon. The country was unlike anything I had ever seen. Literally everyone […]

Good Government Matters

Government over recent times has got itself a bad name. Politicians are of course always regarded as fair game, particularly by media whose proprietors often see themselves as competitors for power, but the critics’ task was of course made immeasurably easier by the expenses scandal. The damage suffered as a consequence of that self-inflicted wound […]

What Is The Point of a Coalition If Only One Voice Is Heard?

Nick Clegg’s performance in the election campaign’s televised debates promised briefly to stand election projections on their head. The voters seemed to decide when the crunch came, however, that more was required than a pleasant demeanour and a winning smile. Election arithmetic, though, came to his aid and gave him and the Lib Dems another […]

Will We Ever Learn?

Lessons from the Global Financial Crisis The G20 meeting in Toronto in June was remarkable in only one respect. The familiar protests, the police in the streets, the hob-nobbing of the leaders were all on show. But, what was extraordinary, if not unexpected, was the speed with which most of the world’s most powerful leaders […]

Don’t Be Frightened of a Hung Parliament

The phrase “a hung Parliament” invariably suggests an incapacitating weakness in the political process and a government that will be constitutionally incapable of taking decisive action. This, it is thought, is the last thing that is needed at a time of national crisis when hard decisions will have to be taken. While, therefore, there will […]

What the Meltdown Tells Us About Markets

The economic fallout from the global crisis has been immediate, extensive and severe. It has been felt in the shock delivered to our financial institutions, in the balance sheets of our major corporations, in growth rates around the world. More damagingly still, it will take its toll far from the City of London or Wall […]

Gordon Is Right This Time

William Keegan and Will Hutton do not, I suppose, consult each other as they write their respective pieces for The Observer. If their contributions in this week’s paper are read together, however, they make for a compelling combined message, and one that Gordon Brown and his government would do well to learn and apply. First, […]