Poor service simply won’t do

Since 2010, the government has increasingly outsourced a range of public services. It is difficult to know whether the poor performance delivered by many of these contractors is due to inadequate specification, non-existent monitoring or ministerial indifference. Sometimes it appears to be all three. Of course, some of those failings have been front page news. […]

Your vote counts

Nearly thirty years ago, Ken Livingstone published a book entitled If voting changed anything, they’d abolish it. Of course, he was as wrong then as he is today. To say the least, It’s unfortunate that so many people have used that argument as a justification for ducking their democratic responsibilities ever since. If nothing else, voting in, […]

Broken Covenant

In 2000, Tony Blair introduced the Military Covenant to refer to the mutual obligations between the nation and its armed forces. It was an informal understanding, rather than a legally enforceable deal, but it was explicit in stating that service personnel, who forgo some of their own rights, should always expect the nation and their […]

Still on the wrong track

The fragmentation of our rail network has left us with an efficiency gap of between 30% and 40% compared to the best performing European networks. This means that money which should be used to address the cost of travel and fund much needed investment is needlessly wasted through the franchising process. Following the collapse of […]

The poverty cover-up

If we are to aspire to be a civilised nation, it should be a national mission to ensure every child has a decent start in life. That means we have to tackle child poverty in every sense, not limited to financial poverty, but also including the poverty of opportunity and aspiration. Huge progress was made […]

Strategic political failure

As each week passes, more examples of the government’s failure to develop a coherent industrial strategy become evident. The challenges for UK steel and engineering are not new. Red flags have been waving for years. You might consider that the government would have thought through the implications of some of its key spending decisions for […]

Hands Off

The BBC is one of the UK’s most successful and loved institutions. The public have said time and time again that they value the BBC’s independence, and that they want it to carry on making the programmes we all enjoy. When I travel abroad, I am repeatedly told by people how much they value the […]

Hot air, high price

At the end of 2012, I spoke out loudly against the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government’s policies on energy. Energy prices were soaring; fuel poverty and unpaid bills were rising fast; David Cameron promised to put every customer on the lowest tariff – a promise which unravelled within 24 hours. David Cameron and the Conservatives were determined […]

Wrong direction

The government – and especially Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne – has been making much of its devolution policies. Locally, outline agreement has been reached on the development of arrangements for the Sheffield City Region involving parts of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire as well as South Yorkshire. However, there is still a strong feeling that […]

It’s quite outrageous

I recently described the government’s housing policies as having moved from disastrous to catastrophic. It has the wrong strategy, the wrong policies and dreadful outcomes. The government is busily stuffing millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money into the hands of a relatively small number of house-buyers – thus maintaining artificially high land and house values […]