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31.07.14

There is building anger at home and abroad. We need a new big tent

I had this on Labour Uncut last week.

“Today my work is global,” Tony Blair reminded us in his inaugural Philip Gould Lecture. Even when Blair was a mere domestic politician, the forces that he grappled with, as he often noted, were global. Policy Network, the international think-tank, sees these forces as having contributed toward 5-75-20 societies.

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17.08.10

Climate change and extremism

There is a fascinating article in the Economist on the large-scale pattern of atmospheric circulation which links the heatwave in Russia and the floods in Pakistan. There is also a great article in the Sunday Times by Jemima Khan on the floods and Pakistan’s future. There are some obvious dots to be joined up between these articles.

The Economist writes:

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29.12.09

Yes, we still can (but leadership and disciplined support are needed)

The striking thing about the most powerful person in the world, as he approaches one year in office, is how, err, lacking in power he appears.

Disappointed and, according to Mark Lynas, insulted by the Chinese in Copenhagen.  A Health Care Bill that isn’t yet on the statute; is much delayed on his original timetable; and, by his own admission, is only “nine-tenths of a loaf” – some would say that half a loaf is nearer the mark and it comes with lashings of pork barrel whatever way you look at it. An Afghan strategy that even he doesn’t seem wholly convinced by and the backdrop to which Andrew Sullivan commented upon by saying:

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23.11.09

Where will our exports come from?

Given today’s high-profile CBI conference, it seems an opportune moment to ask a fundamental question about the British economy which follows from two basic facts about the current economic situation. These facts are these: First, we have a weak pound, which makes British exports relatively more competitive. Second, the fabled BRIC economies are showing their resilience by leading the charge towards global economic recovery. So, the basic question: How can the British economy take advantage of the weak pound and enjoy a British economic recovery based on strong export growth? What can we produce that the likes of Brazil, Russia, India and China, as well as the developed world economies, want?

The rise of the BRICs means that we need to give new consideration to where exactly our comparative advantage now lies. But the latest figures suggest that the British retain more of an appetite for spending than talents for producing. This brings welcome reassurance that British consumers now feel confident enough to start spending again, but suggests that, in spite of the pick-up which the weak pound provides, we seem set to return to the habits which have had us be amongst the surplus economies in the global imbalances that have been one of the characteristics of recent years. 

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20.05.09

Must Europe wither?

The point of Roger Casale, which I highlighted in my last post, seems all the stronger in light of an observation made by Martin Wolf today.

“The relationship between the US and China will become more central, with India waiting in the wings. The relative economic weight and power of the Asian giants seems sure to rise. Europe, meanwhile, is not having a good crisis. Its economy and financial system have proved far more vulnerable than many expected. Yet how far a set of refurbished and rebalanced institutions for international co-operation will reflect the new realities is, as yet, unknown”.

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10.04.09

We should all be worried about David Cameron, not just the Foreign Office

The Foreign Office is worried about David Cameron, apparently. It is “most concerned about the effects Cameron’s anti-EU European policy will have on the UK’s chances of effecting outcomes”, the Guardian claims. Labour Councillor Bob Piper has also spotted this claim reported on the Sky News website.

We should all share the concerns of the Foreign Office. It is only in and through the EU that the UK can best serve our national interests and values. Bizarrely, Tory MEP Roger Helmer describes it as “indefensible, humiliating and wrong” that David Cameron has not yet fulfilled a promise to form a new grouping in the European Parliament with other parties that have been described as “openly and unashamedly racist and homophobic”. This promise suggests an inability to understand modern British values, let alone take them forward within the EU.

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30.01.09

The immense power of human vanity

Lionel Barber, FT editor, thinks that one of the most underrated events of the past year was “the G20 summit in Washington featuring the leading industrialised nations as well as Brazil, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia”, because it “lay bare the new political constellation in the world, with power shifting to east of the Euphrates”. This video gives a funky illustration of this power shift and the exceptional nature of our times. Faceback is citied in the video as an illustration of the role of technological innovation in making our times exceptional. Mark Zuckerberg of this social networking site has been described by Barber as the person that he most admires in the media. “He is cool, understated, and possessed of a brilliant business focus and an understanding of the power of human vanity”. To what extent is the eastwards political power shift driven by technology and to what extent is technology driven by human vanity?

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30.01.09

The immense power of human vanity

Lionel Barber, FT editor, thinks that one of the most underrated events of the past year was “the G20 summit in Washington featuring the leading industrialised nations as well as Brazil, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia”, because it “lay bare the new political constellation in the world, with power shifting to east of the Euphrates”. This video gives a funky illustration of this power shift and the exceptional nature of our times. Faceback is citied in the video as an illustration of the role of technological innovation in making our times exceptional. Mark Zuckerberg of this social networking site has been described by Barber as the person that he most admires in the media. “He is cool, understated, and possessed of a brilliant business focus and an understanding of the power of human vanity”. To what extent is the eastwards political power shift driven by technology and to what extent is technology driven by human vanity?

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14.12.08

Smart Keynesianism

Andrew Rawnsley writes well on responding to the recession today in The Observer. Lucky countries will be those that have leaders “who turn the emergency of the moment into an opportunity to equip their countries for the future”. Similarly NESTA are trying to focus debate “on the short-term measures we can take to combat the recession which will feed our longer-term strength as an economy and society”. Rawnsley also appeals to this notion of turning a short-term crisis into a response to long-term challenges. 

“We know this recession will end one day. The oil price is not going to be low for ever. To prepare for the day when it soars again, to make good on commitments to reduce carbon emissions and to be free of dependency on the likes of Russia and Saudi Arabia, we have to get much more ambitious about renewable energy”.

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