The English Question

January 17, 2014

It is worth contemplating the possibility of a scenario in which Scotland votes for independence in September and a new Government holds an ‘in/out’ referendum on the remainder of the UK’s membership of the EU in 2017 and the vote produces an ‘out’ result.  Whether it is of the social democratic  variety espoused by the […]

Co-operation still matters

December 17, 2013

The meltdown of the Co-operative Bank after its unwise merger with the Britannia Building Society, its botched take-over of part of Lloyds Bank (Project Verde) and the shenannigans of its former Chairman the Revd Paul Flowers, have been something of a field day for the enemies of cooperation and mutuality. The reputational damage both to […]

A better deal for bus users

November 19, 2013

I was involved in a cycling accident in the summer and wound up with a broken right shoulder. It has been painful and restricted me a lot, including no cycling or driving for six weeks. One positive, apart from being able to enjoy the summer sunshine in the garden, has been taking buses much more […]

‘Fracking’: new threat to the Tory heartlands

August 7, 2013

The hot days of July finally saw the debates around the implications ‘fracking’ of unconventional hydro-carbons in the UK reach out and grab the attention of the national media. As Tory grandee Lord Howell called for the process to be focussed on the ‘desolate north’ (he corrected the initial impression that he was referring to […]

From Didcot power station to ‘people’s power station’

June 27, 2013

Anyone who has travelled in or out of London by train towards the West Country, Wales, or north to Birmingham will have passed the looming presence of Didcot ‘A’ power station and it cooling towers. They have been a feature of the Oxfordshire landscape since 1970. But earlier this year the coal-fired power station was […]

Something Old, something New, something Borrowed, something Blue: is ‘Blue Labour’ part of the left response to the rise of UKIP?

May 7, 2013

It is a commonplace for commentators to say following the recent success of UKIP in the shire elections, that it poses a threat to Labour as well as the Tories. There is some truth in this, but a strand of thinking in the Labour Party has been grappling with some of the issues UKIP poses […]

Responsibility without power: the fate awaiting newly elected councillors

April 23, 2013

There was a really good April Fool this year from green think tank the Green Alliance   announcing the abolition of the Department for Communities and Local Government. Apart from the clue in the date of the blog, it didn’t take long to realise that it was a jape because of the wonderful comment about how […]

Green Deal: deal or no deal?

March 23, 2013

The Government’s much-heralded ‘Green Deal’ (1) was launched on 28 January. The objective is very worthwhile – to provide a funding mechanism to enable a lot of the 20-odd million homes in the UK which are energy inefficient to be retro-fitted with insulation and energy efficient appliances like boilers and heating systems that greatly reduce […]

Council tax: the new Poll Tax

March 5, 2013

The Poll Tax riots in 1990 famously brought down Mrs Thatcher and led to the hasty introduction of the Council Tax. Twenty three years later are the reforms to Council Tax due for implementation in less than a month, about to bring the Poll Tax back from the grave? From 1 April, instead of the […]

Reflections on how I came to be influenced by the politics and culture of William Morris

January 31, 2013

As a child in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s I was brought up in the village of Wootton near Woodstock on the edge of the Cotswolds, about 12 miles from Oxford. The village residents included a fair number of writers, artists, journalists and dons. Amongst them were Edmund and Meg Penning-Rowsell, who were great […]