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David Goodhart reflects on Ed Miliband's speech to Labour Conference, and the gap between ordinary voters and politicians.

The consensus on the Ed Miliband speech - and therefore on the whole Labour conference - was good(ish) in form, but disappointingly 'core vote' in content. That is nearly right. Delivery was even better than last year, partly thanks to being a bit rougher around the edges. He really did come across as someone comfortable in his own skin (or at least a politician acting someone comfortable in his own skin), and the stuff about his personal qualities seemed less mawkish than usual. Nex...

Posted by David Goodhart on 26 Sep 2013
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Doing God

Zaki Cooper introduces his essay God in Government.

Ed Miliband’s speech to Labour conference yesterday contained an interesting passage about the values he was taught in his upbringing. The Labour leader, the son of Jewish refugees who came to the UK fleeing persecution, is ethnically Jewish, but by his own admission is not religious. Meanwhile David Cameron has remarked that his own Anglicanism is like 'Magic FM in the Chilterns', and Nick Clegg is a self-professed atheist but married to a Catholic. Somehow, the religious iden...

Posted by Zaki Cooper on 25 Sep 2013
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Looking beyond the hospital walls

Claudia Wood describes the challenges facing the NHS in its 65th year.

The NHS has just has reached its 65th Birthday. Until a few years ago, we might have expected our well-worn and well-loved regime of GPs, A&Es and PCTs to be settling down in its golden years into a period of lowest ever waiting lists, historically high satisfaction rates, and fairly decent performance on a range of measures. But the economic downturn, a new government determined to bring the deficit down as rapidly as possible and a backdrop of demographic change accelerating from ...

Posted by Claudia Wood on 24 Sep 2013
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The challenge for banking’s new monitor

Jodie Ginsberg lays out the task ahead for Richard Lambert.

Richard Lambert, former head of the CBI, has been asked by the banks to lead a new professional body that will examine standards in the industry. The move follows recommendations by the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards that banks needed an organisation – funded by the industry itself but independent in make-up – to uphold standards. Interestingly, the Tyrie report commissioners felt that banks were several years away from being able to do this themselves: 'on the...

Posted by Jodie Ginsberg on 20 Sep 2013
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Making a meal of it

Free school meals is just another step in the conservative-driven evolution of the welfare state, writes Claudia Wood.

Much has been said about the Lib Dem’s announcement of universal free school meals. Many have pointed to the evidence base supporting such a move, in de-stigmatising free school meals on one hand and boosting pupil attainment (among those who were already entitled to FSM) on the other. Others are critical of the dead-weight cost of giving ‘rich kids free food’ and make a meal of the Lib Dem’s opposition of the policy when Labour-run Southwark introduced it. Perhaps m...

Posted by Claudia Wood on 18 Sep 2013
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Is Nick Clegg right?

Don't assume Clegg is simply moving his party Right. He's actually a classic Liberal, writes Duncan O'Leary.

It is often said that Nick Clegg is keen on moving his party to the Right. A fairer interpretation is that he is a classical Liberal. He is driven by the idea of people leading independent lives, free from unnecessary government interference. He comes from the liberal wing of the Liberal wing of the Liberal Democrats – not the Social Democratic side. This explains Clegg’s instinctive support for some of the ideas that Conservatives often identify with: choice in public services (...

Posted by Duncan O'Leary on 18 Sep 2013
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Chain reaction

Claudia Wood introduces The Top of the Ladder, a report on the benefits of a new generation of retirement housing.

Earlier this year, a Lords Committee looking at the challenges of demographic change produced a 100 page report detailing the various ways in which it would affect our lives – from health and pension spending to our welfare system and housing needs. Related to this latter issue, the Committee concluded: 'The housing market is delivering much less specialist housing for older people than is needed. Central and local government, housing associations and house builders need urgently t...

Posted by Claudia Wood on 12 Sep 2013
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Is internet surveillance really 'Orwellian'?

Jamie Bartlett on internet surveillance and the totalitarian language used to describe it.

How, why, and when, a government monitors its own population is one of those vexing ‘big’ questions.  It usually hums away in the background, but presently dominates the front pages, such as the furore of the UK’s Communications Data Bill (‘Snoopers Charter’ to critics), and claims by whistleblower Edward Snowden about NSA and GCHQ activities. Civil liberties groups and campaigners have raised serious and legitimate concerns about what is being done in the ...

Posted by Jamie Bartlett on 11 Sep 2013
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A misplaced legacy

Claudia Wood introduces a review of the cultural legacy of the Paralympics.

As the Paralympians return to the Olympic Park for National Paralympic Day, now is the time to reflect on the success of the 2012 Paralympic Games. The games were regarded as a triumph for Paralympic sport – being the most spectated games in Paralympic history and with the largest ever ticket sales.   With such a precedent set, it was unsurprising expectations of the impact of the Paralympics were high. But the Games were not without controversy. Some criticised the media represen...

Posted by Claudia Wood on 07 Sep 2013
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Finance for growth

The conventional wisdom on SME lending is due a rethink, writes Jodie Ginsberg.

Since the financial crisis and subsequent economic downturn, one refrain has been persistent in political and popular discourse: economic recovery would speed up if only banks lent more money to small businesses.  In fact, as a new Demos Finance report shows today, this argument is not only wrong, but it is also sucking up valuable political energy – not to mention funds – that could far more valuably be directed at initiatives that could really ignite growth. Our repo...

Posted by Jodie Ginsberg on 04 Sep 2013
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