Recent Comment

Unveiling a truer likeness of John Hume

Unveiling a truer likeness of John Hume

What is best practice when writing about a Nobel Prize winner (John Hume) who shared it with another Northern Ireland leader (David Trimble)?  Surely the best approach, while accepting the humanity and great achievement of John Hume, is not to suppress all serious questions about his career in favour of an actual caricature of the Northern Ireland problem. 

Police forces must undergo a serious change to attract the best and brightest out there

Police forces must undergo a serious change to attract the best and brightest out there

On his first day in office, Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Downing Street and committed to recruiting an additional 20,000 police officers by 2023. The commitment was central to the Conservative Party’s manifesto at the 2019 election.

What the government is attempting to achieve is no mean feat. As well as recruiting the additional 20,000 police officers, they must also replace those who leave. That’s an additional 6,500 – or 5 per cent – of the workforce every year. Across the three and a half years of the programme that means recruiting and training 42,500 new police officers.

Forty-eight hours that proved the UK’s unwritten constitution is fit for purpose

Forty-eight hours that proved the UK’s unwritten constitution is fit for purpose

With dreary predictability, constitutional reform enthusiasts have begun calling for a codified constitution right after Boris Johnson’s announcement that he was stepping down from the premiership.

The well-rehearsed arguments all turn around the idea that the events leading up to his removal had constituted some sort of constitutional crisis, the result of the country’s uncodified political constitution, and that all of it could have been avoided had the United Kingdom’s constitution been codified (viz. set out in legally enforceable rules).

Staying Power — How Ukraine can prevail tactically and strategically

Staying Power — How Ukraine can prevail tactically and strategically

At a recent event at Policy Exchange the Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas, made an eloquent, well-argued and ultimately moral speech on the necessity to stand up to Putin and deny his aggression and his war crimes in Ukraine any legitimising veneer. For all our futures, it was necessary for Russia to be defeated in its aims in Ukraine.  She reminded the audience that Ukraine needed help to resource its fight, and that help must be constant must endure.

The Treasury Devil and the scandal that never was

The Treasury Devil and the scandal that never was

A controversy blew up last week about whether the Government had sought, or should have sought, comprehensive advice about the “legality” of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill from Sir James Eadie QC (the First Treasury Counsel (Common Law), informally known as the “Treasury devil”). Sam Coates of Sky News had an “exclusive” reporting that Sir James had not been consulted on whether the Government’s plans for the Bill would breach international law. An urgent question in the Commons asked for a statement on requests to Sir James to  assess the  Government’s proposals. There was speculation, apparently based on unattributed inferences or leaks, about what Sir James’ views on the matter actually were. There was a report that Sir James was “on resignation watch.”

The childcare system is broken: It can be fixed by empowering parents

The childcare system is broken: It can be fixed by empowering parents

Few dispute the fact that the UK system of childcare is broken. Although around £5.4 billion on childcare, and £3.8 billion on childcare places, is being spent every year on supporting the sector, it remains financially crippling for parents, inflexible, difficult to navigate and there are insufficient places available for those who could benefit. To give a sense of the scale of the problem, a middle-income household will spend nearly 30% of their after-tax income on childcare but only about 5% of their income on energy after housing costs.

Why the Centre for European Reform is wrong about Brexit

Why the Centre for European Reform is wrong about Brexit

The Centre for European Reform published a report ‘What can we know about the cost of Brexit so far?’ on 9 June 2022. It estimated the impact of Brexit on the UK economy as a 5.2% reduction in GDP, a 13.7% fall in investment, and 13.6% fall in trade, compared to a “modelled ‘doppelgänger’ group of countries. This was given major and uncritical coverage in an ITN television news bulletin and in the Economist magazine. Analysis by Policy Exchange argues that the CER’s doppelgänger methodology is fatally flawed and its conclusion of a large hit to the UK’s economic performance is incorrect. In a direct comparison with G7 countries there is no sign that the UK has lagged behind in growth of GDP.

The APPG on Democracy and the Constitution misfires in “the attack on judges”

The APPG on Democracy and the Constitution misfires in “the attack on judges”

Judges take an oath “to do right to all manner of people after the laws and usages of this realm, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.” If a new report by a group of parliamentarians is to be believed, there are reasons to fear that Justices of the Supreme Court have betrayed their oath, yielding to (indirect) pressure from, and even threats made by, ministers. The report’s assertions are groundless and will no doubt surprise ministers who of course remain constantly exposed to proceedings for judicial review. The significance of the report, the handiwork of the recently founded All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Democracy and the Constitution, is that it reveals the modus operandi of a subset of the legal profession, which is to weaponise judicial independence for political advantage, not only to score points off the government but now also to shame and browbeat the judges themselves.

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