Archive for May, 2010
I’ve now made available a three-part piece on Adam Smith. It starts by considering his credentials as an egalitarian thinker whose embrace of the ‘invisible hand’ of the free-market was less complete than his deregulating champions at the Adam Smith Institute would claim. This reappraisal is based on a recent book by Professor Iain McLean (Adam Smith – Radical and Egalitarian, Edinburgh University Press, 2006). I then go on to assess Adam Smith’s writing on money and banking in relation to crises in the 18th century and 21st century banking systems.
Well, they went for it anyway – the Lib-Dems that is. I guess they hope that an AV referendum plus a House of Lords elected by PR will pave the way for more substantive electoral reform for the Commons. (It might also lead to some interesting legitimacy issues too – that has always been the potential problem with a directly elected upper chamber.)
From the coalition policy statement that’s been produced and the attitude of David Cameron (plus the fact that William Hague has thankfully been dispatched to foreign parts) it rather seems that he (Cameron) was really a closet Lib-Dem all the time! Quite a few Conservatives must now be waking up to this fact with some horror – it may well be from the Tories right wing that the immediate threat to this coalition lies. Read the rest of this entry »
Interesting times in politics indeed! As anyone reading my No 10 Seminar Paper of 1998 (apparently seen by David Miliband himself – hope he read it!) would know, I am a keen supporter of electoral reform leading to genuine proportional representation. But I find myself torn on the political and possibly the moral implications of the various options. I think, however, there is an underlying reality that will guide what will happen.
Unless either the Tories or Labour offer a whipped vote on a referendum for a genuine PR system (not AV alone), there will be no PR. No PR now means no PR for the foreseeable future, and the Lib Dems might as well disband. So basically the only thing that makes sense is for them to go with the party offering this. That’s the reality, and the Lib-Dem MPs must know it.
Opponents of PR should realise that it is actually the lack of PR that is causing the problem here. For the Lib-Dems it is an existential issue of political representation and so trumps all others. If PR were already in place, the Lib-Dems and Tories could probably fairly happily reach a compromise agreement on the economy and support the Tories either on a minimum agreed programme or measure by measure for everything else.
Although income inequality appears to be a fact of life there remains general agreement that there should be such a thing as social justice, if this is given to mean at least an approximation to equality of potential achievement. This apparent incompatibility can only be reconciled if money income is neither the only measure of human well-being and fulfilment nor the only means to achieving it. Yet it may well be that the fundamentals of the global financial and economic system are such as inevitably to both widen income inequality and also to increase the importance of money in achieving individual well-being and happiness. Read the rest of this entry »