Dissent and devolution; notes on the Unison strike

It’s a shame the Northern Irish press chose to emphasise two things in its coverage of yesterday’s Unison strike: service disruption and the low strike ballot turn-out. The strike was about budget cuts and the declining quality of service provision, rather than a narrow question of wages or conditions. The strike was essentially designed to forestall further, more intractable service disruption in the coming years. The media implication that health workers are indifferent to missed appointments and suffering patients is …

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Wilson: no corporation tax cut in this Assembly

Well, this is interesting. Sammy Wilson has essentially torpedoed the corporation tax cut, at least until after the next election. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Unsurprisingly, ministers are already struggling to implement the cuts agreed to in the last Assembly budget. The arduous, unfinished business of filling the £40m shortfall in the department for employment and learning shows the difficulty Stormont is having finding new savings. The proposed cut in corporation tax would have brought about an additional cut …

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A primer on the Eurozone crisis & thread for recommended reading

(This will likely remain the most important story in the news this week. So here’s a bit of a primer for anyone feeling a bit lost, and hopefully people can leave interesting links and insights below the line. Over the course of the week, I’ll try to start a few threads examining different aspects of the problem: the limits of austerity, bailouts and moral hazard, and ideas for future wholesale reform.) This week, we may finally see the beginning of …

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The riots, the ‘sick society’ and modern conservatism

A great deal of skilled and thoughtful analysis of the causes of the recent English riots has already emerged, and I don’t wish to dwell too much on that subject. Instead, I’d like to examine the government’s response. The prognoses and prescriptions of David Cameron are particularly interesting, delivered as he gazes upon a society he describes as “frankly sick”. What Cameron has said on the riots and looting, and what he proposes to do to stop such events happening …

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The politics of unreality (and the very real cost)

The world is potentially facing two enormous financial crises, while today’s figures confirm, if any confirmation was needed, that the UK continues to face acute economic difficulties. While the underlying causes of these maladies are complex, and the potential remedies are far from simple, all are being exacerbated by the behaviour of political classes increasingly removed from the reach of even a rare, well-informed Joe Public. In the UK, the Conservative Party’s dogmatic adherence to a 1930s-style ‘sound money’ fiscal …

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