Britain’s prosperity depends on trade with Europe, whatever Ukip may say

Nigel Farage

It is high time Britain left the ailing EU and its burdensome regulations and embraced trade with fast-growing emerging economies. That was the argument put forward by Nigel Farage at his keynote speech this morning at the Ukip conference. It’s an argument that also chimes with a growing body of opinion about the EU’s diminishing importance for British trade, with recent trading statistics showing that Britain’s non-EU exports have risen to their highest levels since records began in 1998 while exports to the beleaguered eurozone continue to fall. However, the idea that Britain’s economic prospects would actually improve were it to leave the EU is deeply misguided. Continue reading

Crime, transport and the battle for London Mayor

Just six months ago today London was emerging from its third night of rioting, with a semblance of order only just beginning to take hold as a massive police presence descended on the city. The fear in the streets was palpable. We had been given a brief and terrifying glimpse of what sheer anarchy looked like, the rage and shameless opportunism of London’s marginalised youth provoking deep existential questions about what was wrong with our society.

Yet, as the contest for London Mayor begins to build up momentum, Ken and Boris’ campaigns continue to revolve around the same old topic of public transport, ignoring the deeper societal issues at stake Continue reading

Debating the British Bill of Rights: Shami Chakrabarti at Europe House

The European Parliament’s  office in the UK recently held a debate at Europe House as part of the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2011. The topic was centred around the controversial British Bill of Rights, proposed as an alternative to the current system based on the Human Rights Act Continue reading

Why reforming the House of Lords should be a priority

The House of Lords represents a long-standing paradox in the UK. Despite proudly proclaiming ourselves as the world’s oldest parliamentary democracy, we continue to grant significant powers to an unelected elite, some of whom are selected solely on the basis of their noble birth or religious affiliation. But whilst all three major political parties are officially committed to democratic reform of the upper house, achieving this goal any time soon remains an unlikely prospect… Continue reading

The truth about the Robin Hood Tax

Imagine a minute tax on banks which could raise billions of pounds a year, allowing us to turn round the NHS, improve education, and tackle global poverty and climate change.  It sounds too good to be true. Yet this is exactly what advocates of the ‘Robin Hood Tax’ claim would be possible, if only our governments could get together and agree to do something about the significantly under-taxed financial sector… Continue reading

Interview: Baroness Susan Kramer

Baroness Susan Kramer, former MP for Richmond Park and now Liberal Democrat Peer, meets me in the lobby of the House of Lords and offers to show me around. The deep sense of tradition and the ostentatious displays of wealth and power seem to contrast with her friendly, relaxed demeanour, as she casually jokes with me whilst taking me around her place of work… Continue reading

Despite the Euro crisis-Britain still needs Europe

When the Euro crisis first began to unfold back in 2010 it was greeted by many in the U.K.with a certain sense of schadenfreude. There was an air of smug satisfaction that we had decided not to join the single currency, and many argued that those countries that had joined should deal with their own mess and leave Britain to focus on its own painful economic recovery Continue reading

Anti-capitalist protests: a pointless trend or the foundations of an alternative system?

The demonstrators occupying St Paul’s, as well as similar protesters in Wall Street and throughout the world, have seemed to capture the headlines for all the wrong reasons. First they were branded as hypocrites for consuming capitalist goods, as if owning a mobile phone or buying a coffee from Starbucks automatically disqualified them from any criticism of the current economic system. The purchase of one flavoured latte, so the argument went, clearly amounts to a complete endorsement of unbridled capitalism, therefore undermining any argument for a fairer and better regulated global economy. The implication is that anyone concerned about the excesses of the free market should strip to a loincloth and revert to a barter economy if they want their views to be taken seriously Continue reading

Afghanistan Ten Years On: View from the Frontline

Phil, a Lance-Corporal in the British Army, reaches into his wallet and shows me the Taliban bullet that only narrowly missed him during his tour in Afghanistan last year. An old school friend who is now a Lance-Corporal in the British Army, Phil spent six months as a recovery mechanic embedded with the Scottish Guards just north of Lashkar Gar, Helmand province. His unit was subject to one of the fiercest tours of 2010, with nearly seven-hundred contacts with the enemy over seven months. Now, exactly one year today since his return and in the wake of the tenth anniversary of the initial US-led invasion, I ask him what he thinks about this seemingly endless conflict… Continue reading