European Court on Human Rights

In an article yesterday on the impact of leaving the EU, someone rather contemptuously asked what the European Court on Human Rights had ever done for us,  A contributor called ‘deoraiocht’ replied: What has the ECHR done for us? Over 10,000 judgements in 60 years prompting changes to laws in nearly 50 countries. It has: Protected domestic ...

Press regulation special – Crisis? What crisis?

Clever old Ian Hislop (editor of Private Eye and bona fide national treasure). Yes, once again he’s parodying proposals for press regulation: Very amusing. And reassuringly squirming he was the other night on TV, when he confessed his discomfort at finding himself on the same side as Rupert Murdoch, Paul Dacre and other creepy things.  But ...

What makes us free

In these happy days when one can almost believe that the Murdoch empire is finally in retreat, I come across a splendid quotation, almost two centuries old, that tells us a lot about the way we liberate ourselves from his ilk – and from other over-weaning corporate egos and the under-achieving politicians who play at ...

Electoral reform after AV – What next?

I don’t know who will win the referendum next week – I hope it’s the Yes campaign – but whoever it is, we will still be a long way from a credibly democratic electoral system. To take only a few of the more grotesque blots on the face of our ‘democracy’, we cannot recall our ...

Our heroic bankers take on the evil dictators

According to the March 2011 edition of Private Banker International, ‘at least $235 billion of illegal assets are held in offshore accounts opened by the wealthy, including those taking advantage of their government positions in the Middle East and North Africa. That is equivalent to 15 percent of the total $1.5 trillion held offshore by ...

National budgets and global economies

George Osborne delivers his first budget and insists that it is fair. I’m not sure what he means by this, but it is hard to see how it can be. Regardless of what Mr Osborne wants, he simply lacks the political levers needed to control the economy or to decide who bears the burden of ...

Margaret Thatcher – a re-evaluation 2

Driving home this morning I catch Woman’s Hour, the excellent Radio 4 programme, where they are conducting a balloon debate. The question is, ‘Who has done the most to put women on the political map in the UK?’, and the four individuals in the balloon are Mary Wollstonecraft (author in 1792 of the Vindication of ...

A proper education

As all too many parents will be all too aware, it’s exam time again. All around the world, offspring are swotting up obscure facts about Tudor history how a dialysis machine works and the generic formula for making a salt from acid and metal, all ready to regurgitate it all again in sweaty halls all ...

Lovelock speaks. But I wish he wouldn’t

A singularly unhelpful intervention from James Lovelock of Gaia fame (or notoriety). The Guardian reports – ‘I don’t think we’re yet evolved to the point where we’re clever enough to handle a complex a situation as climate change,’ said Lovelock in his first in-depth interview since the theft of the UEA emails last November. ‘The ...

Repo 105 – Symptoms or disease?

As I asked in the previous entry about the swelling scandal surrounding Lehman’s use of the so-called repo 105 accounting dodge, ‘Coming to a bank near you soon? Already arrived but no one has told you? Never forget Enron and Arthur Andersen.’ So yesterday the Securities and Exchange Commission, who regulate US markets, initiated their ...