Sunday, 26 June 2016

So what now?

The referendum is over. The people have spoken. Democracy is flawed. Many elections go “wrong”, and it does not hold up to demand a rerun because we did not like the result.. And now we have a number of Leave voters similarly saying “Oops”. That happens. It has happened before. Back in 2015, Lewes lost its best ever MP, Norman Baker. I am not often stunned, but I was stunned in the days after by the number of Green and Labour acquaintances of mine who had lent Norman their votes before but withheld them on this occasion, and afterwards said, “Oops, didn't mean that to happen”.

It might be possible to avoid leaving the EU. Various scenarios have been proposed. I find none of them convincing.

The Boris option – renegotiate from a position of strength – a non starter. Boris Johnson appears lost in a storm of his own making. It might be possible for him as the poster boy of the Leave movement to do some very subtle manoeuvring to get us into a position of an acceptable way to stay in the EU – but this demands a level of capacity which he does not reach. He has demonstrated himself to be a very clever, and extremely ambitious man, but sadly mediocre when it comes to political delivery.

It has been suggested that Labour might challenge Corbyn and elect an effective pro European leader, and that a new Tory PM might take the country to an election, and that Labour might win convincingly and take that as a verdict on the referendum. Apart from all the “mights”, that would require Labour to get its act together and there is no sign of that.

It is possible that reaction may come from the people. The Leave campaign was based entirely on lies. They lied on an industrial scale as they have already admitted. There is a moral case for rerunning the referendum. But there is no political case, at least not yet. The petition for another referendum is growing fast – of itself that is meaningless. But the number of Leave voters who are beginning to realise that they were conned is growing. There will be more, particularly as they absorb the fact that that the entire Leave case was based on lies. If enough Leave voters made their disillusionment clear, it might trigger a change of feeling. But again that is an extraordinarily long shot.

To be frank, Remain did not deserve to win on the basis of its campaign. In future years dictionaries under “lacklustre” will say “See 2016 Remain campaign”. There was some passionate and effective local campaigning by different groups, but the overall campaign somehow managed to saddle itself as its figurehead with David Cameron, a man incapable of passion on any topic. And as Juncker is reported to have said, if you rubbish the EU from Monday to Saturday, people are not going to believe you when you turn up on Sunday and say it's great. I don't blame Cameron for that actually, he is what he is, a man with no political anchor except a belief in privilege. But people who did, and do, believe in the European project should never have allowed him to be at the front of the campaign.

And further, I have to say I was not impressed with the LibDem campaign. Again, good in parts, but I feel badly let down by the hierarchy both nationally and locally. With apologies to any individuals involved. We are supposed to be good at campaigning – it's what we do. But we did not manage it on this occasion.

I take account of the fact that the media ignored us. That is not our fault. They were not interested in anything – anything – we had to say. They focussed only on blue on blue infighting. They amplified Cameron's misreading in using the referendum to try to heal internal Tory divisions. They helped him fail. That's not our fault, but we could still have done better than we did.

So what now. Well, I accept the result. But not the argument. And for me, the issue is that the EU was never the problem. Whether we are in or out, that will not change. The problem is a lump of English people, voters, who feel disenfranchised. They feel they have no voice, and they feel their identity is threatened. Our failure as LibDems to address this feeling is a problem. We have allowed the elites of the political, financial and media classes to deflect soundly based working class anger on to the EU and on to immigrants.

We have to engage with the causes of working class resentment. And to do that, we can leave behind both the EU and immigration. The key problem for all of us is that misnamed thing, neoliberalism, together with the establishment and the new global elite. (Glenn Greenwald says all this a lot better and in more detail than I can here.)

The LibDems are by definition anti establishment. I will leave for another day the question of what counts as the establishment, but suffice for these purposes to say that the establishment includes both Boris Johnson and, very definitely, Nigel Farage. (Michael Gove, I'm not so sure about; I'm not sure that the establishment knows what to do with him.)

Our entire economic and political system in this globalised world is designed to keep the working classes adrift on a sea of uncertainty. I am afraid to say that the unreconstructed economic liberal wing of this party aid and abet that system. (I am all for free trade that benefits citizens. I am not for things like TTIP that pass for free trade but actually continue to benefit corporations and the elite.)*

They feel their identity is under threat. It is. I think they divide into two types – those who are defending privilege, who believe that somehow their interests should take precedence over other people's. I have no truck with them, and they will most likely remain our political opponents. Another block are genuinely ill at ease, puzzled by a world of increasing uncertainty, which their education and their lives have not prepared them for. We should be speaking to these people, we should be working for them and against the elite, and we have failed to do so with sufficient consistency and clarity. I have a few ideas and no doubt others will supply many more.

- everybody capable of work deserves a decent job and a decent pay rate. That they do not get them is because of the inequality in the system, whereby our national elite cream off all the surplus, and our politicians enable them to do so. In short, bankers and billionaires – regardless of whether we are in or out of the EU. I think there is fertile ground for promoting responsible redistribution of the profits earned by the work put in by everybody with a job. As well as everybody out of a job, because that becomes part of our security. We should be much more upfront about the fact that the profits earned by people's hard work are automatically redistributed from working people into executive salaries and corporate profits, and they can be redistributed back. It is not a “burden” on rich people, it is fairness in action. In particular we should create much more effective regional strategies that enable job creation in the places that most need them. We can most effectively start with the areas that voted most strongly for Brexit.

- we should be saying loud and clear we have had enough of austerity, both the Tories' austerity and Labour's austerity. All austerity has ever done is take money out of the pockets of ordinary decent people and stuff it into the pockets of bankers and billionaires. I am not scapegoating bankers and billionaires (though they deserve it). I am just responding to the way the system we have works – it siphons money up. Our job is to siphon it back down.

- everybody deserves a decent and affordable house. We have done quite well with this message but we need to do more, much more. In particular all LibDem controlled councils should stretch every sinew to create affordable housing by every means possible.

- we are proud of being a British party. We are proud of our identity as English (in my case) and British. Nothing will ever take that away from us. I know this is problematic for some of us, but it is possible to have a liberal approach to promoting a more secure national identity (as opposed to nationalism). This is something I think we need to say much, much more clearly. There is nothing wrong with us using the Union Flag (as long as it exists) and the flag of St George. We can be liberal and patriotic; we can be liberal and proud of it. We can be proud of being who we are without pretending that we are better than everybody else – and we should be.

- and we are clear, as Tim Farron has now said, that it is best for Britain to remain in the EU. We are democrats and we respect the result of the referendum. But people are already changing their minds, in large numbers. We will give them the opportunity to vote for that change of mind at the next election.




*all comments will be accepted. I expect rampant commentary from TTIP ultras, which I will probably ignore because there is no point arguing with them (a bit like some Brexiters), but please comment on the other stuff as well.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

We have our country: we don't need it “back”.

Thereis a time for mourning, there is a time for resolution, and there is a time for truth. Sometimes those times coincide, and this is one of those moments. Being a time for truth also means a time for confrontation. We have to tell the truth about the Leave campaign's great lie about immigration, about the brutal enthusiasm for stoking up imaginary fears with their anti immigration rhetoric, and the atmosphere they have helped to create, an atmosphere of fear and hate, in which it becomes possible to think that taking someone's life is a legitimate act. “He was nothing to do with us” they say, as they weep crocodile tears about the abrupt ending of a life.

Sometimes I feel really sorry for Nigel Farage. He complains about having to sit on a train with people speaking foreign languages around him. He must have such a fragile sense of identity, sitting in an English train, with English language ads and instructions on the wall, reading an English newspaper. He makes me want to pick him up and cuddle him, take him home and tuck him into bed with a nice soothing cup of ovaltine. Poor little Nigel. Only, of course, he isn't. He knew exactly what he was doing when he unveiled his Nazi redux poster this week, playing on the worst fears of the fiction he and his like have created. And when somebody finally takes him at his word, he will wash and wash and wash his hands, but the stain will not come out.


A worse lie still is the one that has taken hold in the mind of so much of middle England that their country has somehow disappeared. It has not. It is still here. As our football team once again misfires magnificently through a major competition, as April rain in June washes out the cricket, our country has not gone anywhere. It is in nobody else's hands. It is still here. It belongs to us and we belong to it. People have been bamboozled into thinking that they have lost their country. What they have lost is security, identity, pride – and all because of the way the world works, not because of Europe or immigration. Zero hour contracts, low wages, precarious employment, food banks will not disappear if we leave the EU. They will not disappear if all the immigrants go away. Britain will continue a gradual slide down global economic rankings, because other countries are developing. There is no way to stop that, and the slide will be faster if we leave the EU. People say “We're still number 1”. We're not. That does not mean we can't be proud of ourselves. I'm very proud of being English, of being British. I don't have to pretend I'm better than anyone else to do that. Yet people are being made to be unhappy, and in fact to be murderous, because somebody across the road is wearing different clothes or speaking a different language. That is foul.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Hillsborough. Justice? Or truth?

The papers today are saying, almost uniformly, that we at last have justice for the 96. Some of the families are saying so as well. I disagree. We do not yet have justice. What the decision gave us yesterday was the truth. Truth is a very important part of justice, but only a part of it. This is an important issue in terms of the national debate, because this is not only about 96 people who lost their lives, and not only about the survivors and family who have had to live with the consequences. We have reached the truth because of the determination of the families, the decency of some (but certainly not all) politicians, and the professionalism and integrity of the Hillsborough Independent Panel, and the coroner and jury who gave their verdicts yesterday.

But this is not yet justice. Justice requires that people face up to their wrong doing and, if necessary, pay a price. There has been much persistent wrong doing over Hillsborough. It is not just about wrong doing by people who were there on the day. It is also about policy and culture that led to a climate in which that kind of thing could happen. And it is also about persistent, deliberate and long term perversion of the course of justice because so many people lied for so long about what actually happened. Even during this inquest, over the course of the last two years, South Yorkshire police barristers were still peddling the lie that the fans were ticketless and out of control drunk. I don't blame the barristers - they were doing their job. I do blame South Yorkshire police - the current commanders of South Yorkshire police - for continuing to peddle such a lie.

The Mirror asks today if justice will be served by people being prosecuted after so long a time. It is a legitimate question. But the answer in this case is a resounding yes. Many people who got it wrong on the day have continued in their lives and careers apparently undisturbed by what they did, and undisturbed by the relentless cover up of their failings and crimes. Yes, they should pay a price.

And the wrong doing has continued to this day. The South Yorkshire police who hid the truth, the West Midlands police who aided and abetted their cover up were guilty even yesterday of maintaining the lie. And it is not a little white lie. It is perverting the course of justice. They should be brought to book.

For some people, the law will not bring justice. The Sun newspaper continues on its merry way. Its "heartfelt" apology was published on pages 8 and 9. Why not on the front page? The Metro has done a brilliant job of trolling the Sun, by the way, reproducing the Sun's infamous front page, and then reporting the results of the inquest with exactly the same format. You need to scroll down a little way to get it.

And there is the person known as Bernard Ingham, the poison pen letter writer. He is a really nasty man. He still refuses to apologise for his disgusting reaction. He will carry on untouched.

The survivors, the families and friends will make their own decision as to whether to continue to campaign for justice. They have earned the right to that decision.

Whatever they decide, the guilty should be pursued. And I hope that the state, which has so long used its apparatus against the 96, will now work on their behalf. But the law does not cover everything. The law cannot not always bring justice, because justice is more than the law. The law does not have the capacity to secure justice between the 96 and their families on the one hand, and the Sun and Bernard Ingham on the other. Justice is about the right kind of relationship existing between people, and it is up to all of us as human beings and as citizens to secure the balance. That means contesting privilege, calling out the powerful when they abuse their power, as the Sun and Ingham have done. And because they are so persistent in abusing their power, the confrontation must also be persistent. In that regard we all have a lot to learn from the families and friends of the 96.

27th April edited to add.
Perhaps they are beginning to do it: David Crompton, South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable, Suspended After Hillsborough Inquest Verdict. While he has only been in command of S Yorks police since 2012, he has been directly involved in the maintenance of the cover up, as shown in the article.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Hillsborough verdict

So the verdict is in, and we have the truth.

QUESTION 6: Determination on unlawful killing issue

Are you satisfied, so that you are sure, that those who died in the disaster were unlawfully killed? Yes or no.

Yes

QUESTION 7: Behaviour of the supporters

Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? Yes or no.

No.

Was there any behaviour on the part of the football supporters which may have caused or contributed to the dangerous situation at the Leppings Lane turnstiles? Yes or no.

No.
______________________________________________

No thanks to Bernard Ingham, who wrote the most poisonous letter I have ever seen from a government official.

No thanks to the Sun. I'm not even going to link to their disgusting front page.

No thanks to Kelvin Mackenzie, who has issued a crocodile apology and continued on his vicious way.

No thanks to South Yorkshire police.

No thanks to West Mercia police, who "investigated" South Yorkshire police.

No thanks to a succession of governments and ministers who failed in their duty to see that justice was done for their citizens, and were complicit in causing it to take 25 years to discover the truth.

Thanks only to the dogged determination of ordinary people - survivors, family, relatives, friends, supporters who would not rest, and some of whom fought until their own deaths, we finally have the truth about these 96 victims of an incapable and corrupt system.

John Alfred Anderson
Colin Mark Ashcroft
James Gary Aspinall
Kester Roger Marcus Ball
Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron
Simon Bell
Barry Sidney Bennett
David John Benson
David William Birtle
Tony Bland
Paul David Brady
Andrew Mark Brookes
Carl Brown
David Steven Brown
Henry Thomas Burke
Peter Andrew Burkett
Paul William Carlile
Raymond Thomas Chapman
Gary Christopher Church
Joseph Clark
Paul Clark
Gary Collins
Stephen Paul Copoc
Tracey Elizabeth Cox
James Philip Delaney
Christopher Barry Devonside
Chris Edwards
Vincent Michael Fitzsimmons
Thomas Steven Fox
Jon-Paul Gilhooley
Barry Glover
Ian Thomas Glover
Derrick George Godwin
Roy Harry Hamilton
Philip Hammond
Eric Hankin
Gary Harrison
Stephen Francis Harrison
Peter Andrew Harrison
David Hawley
James Robert Hennessy
Paul Anthony Hewitson
Carl Darren Hewitt
Nicholas Michael Hewitt
Sarah Louise Hicks
Victoria Jane Hicks
Gordon Rodney Horn
Arthur Horrocks
Thomas Howard
Thomas Anthony Howard
Eric George Hughes
Alan Johnston
Christine Anne Jones
Gary Philip Jones
Richard Jones
Nicholas Peter Joynes
Anthony Peter Kelly
Michael David Kelly
Carl David Lewis
David William Mather
Brian Christopher Matthews
Francis Joseph McAllister
John McBrien
Marian Hazel McCabe
Joseph Daniel McCarthy
Peter McDonnell
Alan McGlone
Keith McGrath
Paul Brian Murray
Lee Nicol
Stephen Francis O'Neill
Jonathon Owens
William Roy Pemberton
Carl William Rimmer
Dave George Rimmer
Graham John Roberts
Steven Joseph Robinson
Henry Charles Rogers
Colin Andrew Hugh William Sefton
Inger Shah
Paula Ann Smith
Adam Edward Spearritt
Philip John Steele
David Leonard Thomas
Patrick John Thompson
Peter Reuben Thompson
Stuart Paul William Thompson
Peter Francis Tootle
Christopher James Traynor
Martin Kevin Traynor
Kevin Tyrrell
Colin Wafer
Ian David Whelan
Martin Kenneth Wild
Kevin Daniel Williams
Graham John Wright




Saturday, 19 March 2016

Only a hollow sense of relief

If I'd ever thought about it beforehand, I would have assumed that I would greet the news of Iain Duncan Smith's resignation with a prolonged bout of helplessly gleeful cackling. But, after a few hours to digest the news properly, I feel only a sense of hollow relief. I feel mostly sadness for the hundreds of thousands on whom he has inflicted his arbitrary misery, and indeed those whose lives have prematurely come to an end because of his policies and practices. (Other people's responses have been a bit more, shall we say, robust.)

Speculation remains as to why he resigned. Some people accept his resignation letter at face value. I see no reason, however, to think that IDS has suddenly discovered a heart. He has throughout his reign at the DWP used the mantra of work to justify ever more repressive policies for sick and disabled people. He brought in PIP expressly for the purpose of saving money, regardless of the effect it had on recipients.  The probability that he now thinks the next cut is a step too far is lower than the probability of Nigel Farage voting to stay in Europe.

The real reasons are murky and complex. The Canary sees Boris's hand in it. Maybe. But I suspect a combination of factors.

Possibly, IDS has realised just how difficult it is to campaign to leave the EU from inside the cabinet. Possibly, he has included calculation of his likely career prospects under a new and Eurosceptic leader (so maybe Boris had some effect). So I suspect that Europe has something to do with it, but not much.

Possibly he calculates that now is a good time to get out of the DWP. Sooner or later the continuing car crash of Universal Credit implementation is going to come to a halt. Even for IDS the ability to continue to lie with conviction about how well things are going while constantly "resetting" must be reaching exhaustion point. There are the lengthy battles with the Information Commissioner to prevent the public from discovering the truth about just how nasty DWP policy has been, with regards to Universal Credit and the investigation of deaths following Work Capability Assessments. There is also the looming report from the UN Inquiry into the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the UK, which has the DWP firmly in its sights. Perhaps better to get out now and let his successor deal with the fallout from all those dirty bombs.

And possibly it is something about his ego and Cabinet politics. IDS fundamentally objects to anybody interfering on his patch, particularly when that someone is George Osborne, whom he venomously loathes. Although the budget cut to PIP is being described as a joint product of DWP and Treasury thinking, it does seem to have Osborne's butter fingered stamp on it. Maybe that was a move too far for IDS's over brimming and sulphurous ego.

Anyway, the man is gone, but not the policies. So who comes next? To me a more fundamental question is who want the job, knowing what he has left behind for them to deal with. Apparently Priti Patel is a front runner. She would be. Cruella de Ville in waiting. She wants to bring back hanging - a much more economical way of dealing with disabled people than trying to force them off benefit by constantly reassessing them. I wonder if Serco would bid for the contract. Or G4S, with their stellar record of running prisons.

To be honest, she would not be as bad as IDS. She has some loathsome ideas, but, compared to his lethal combination of incompetence and vindictiveness, she is a lightweight. So is almost anybody else.

I would not be surprised if the successor were not given the job as a holding appointment. The department needs a heavyweight minister, and Cameron does not want a reshuffle now. Assuming he survives the EU referendum, there will be one after that, when the job at the DWP can be given to somebody with the managerial and political experience to do the job properly. Or he could give it to another bully, of course.

Update: Stephen Crabb appointed. Not Cruella de Ville then. We shall see what Mr Crabb is made of.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Why I am a Liberal Democrat

The LibDems recently ran an essay competition on the theme "What  it means to be a Liberal Democrat today". Results of the competition are not out yet, and I have no idea when they will be. Here is my effort, for what it is worth.

________________________________________________


I am a Liberal Democrat because I have a sense of justice. Justice means everybody getting a fair chance without the playing field being tilted against them throughout their lives. Justice does not mean everyone being treated the same all the time. Equality before the law is a sine qua non, but equality before the law requires different treatment, e.g. those who cannot afford representation should get legal aid. Those who can should not. My sense of justice is Biblical as much as it is political, though I accept it will not be for everybody. The Old Testament justice of Amos “Let justice roll on like a river and righteousness like an ever flowing stream”. Justice is so much more than equality before the law: it demands that we treat everybody as we would wish to be treated ourselves. Thus the two most important fibres in my being, the political and the religious, are intertwined.

Liberal democracy involves a lifetime of effort levelling the playing field. We come into a world with a tilted playing field. We make the effort to level it. But the effort does not end once the field is level because in our world the most influential currency is money, and money is magnetic. Wherever it is, it attracts more. If we leave the playing field alone, it will gradually tilt again as those with money use their power to accumulate more. So we need to work constantly to keep the playing field level. It is not just about fairness, it is also about effectiveness. Wealth used for the benefit of all benefits the wealthy too (some of the wealthy realise this). Wealth redistributed to those who have no work keeps them fit and alert and best able to contribute when work does come their way. Wealth redistributed towards those who will never be able to work means we care for those less fortunate than ourselves. Hence my implacable opposition to the poisonous policies and practices of the current Department for Work and Pensions.

The second most influential currency is information, which is crucial for the exercise of power. Information is light which we shine into the murk of both states and corporations to find out how they are affecting us. Without information we are not free, so being a Liberal Democrat means a concern for the freedom of information everywhere and in every form. People must be free to communicate with each other everywhere and about anything, provided it does not harm other people. But people in power hide information as obsessively as they hide money. So liberalism involves a permanent struggle to uncover information and set it free.

I don’t aim for a small state. I aim for an effective state. Size and effectiveness are not necessarily correlated. I want a state that is strong when I need it to be and otherwise leaves me alone. At the same time I want a society that encourages other people to be all that they can be, but to leave me alone if I am not affecting them. Regulation is a necessity; without it markets and social relations would not be peaceably ordered. Too much regulation is problematic, but so is too little – as we discovered in 2008. I want a smart state, one that is strong enough to counter balance prevailing global forces, and at the same time nimble enough to deal with rapidly changing circumstances. The Home Office’s leaden footed response to legal highs is a perfect example of how not to respond to change.

So the state needs to be smart, which entails that the people need to be smart. We need an active concerned and involved citizenry to keep the state tuned to our needs rather than to the needs of those in power. Liberalism also involves realism. I am realistic enough to know that we will never have an entirely active and involved citizenry. The forces of individualist consumerism are too strong for that. But we need a certain minimum, and everybody should at least have the chance, which means we need an education system in which people learn how to be smart. The system we have at the moment teaches one thing and one thing only – how to be measured. It is a tribute to the indomitability of the human spirit and to the professionalism and creativity of our teachers that most of our pupils leave the system with their character intact.

Ultimately, liberalism, like any political philosophy, is about character. Liberalism includes generosity of spirit. I do not envy those who are richer than me, provided they have earned it, which is by no means always the case. I do not scorn those who are poorer than me, because they did not bring it on themselves. They just live in the wrong part of the playing field, the one that I am constantly working to level up. Liberalism involves being always conscious of the rest of the world, not just the bits of the UK that go beyond my comfortable environment, but the entire world. Being internationalist means we won’t forget that our comfort depends on the discomfort of many others.


Liberalism is not an easy creed. It involves a tolerance for complication, an appetite for the convoluted practice of listening to every point of view and working to accommodate all of them. By and large political philosophies are based on either fear or hope. The politics of fear is easy. You point and shout. Liberalism is founded on the politics of hope, which is hard, hard work. We do not have the Daily Mail to expound our beliefs. We have Focuses. Which have to be delivered. So we pound the pavements. Activism gets you fitter. Not only have you got the message out, but you’ve taken your health into your own hands as well.

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Over-qualified graduates or an under performing economy?

The CIPD reports that more than half our graduates are working in non graduate jobs. Employers are beginning to use a high qualification bar for recruitment in order to sift applicants more cost effectively; and recruits are finding that they have skills which are not being used. (The report makes a genuflection in the direction of general under use of skills, but needs to make more of the fact that many non graduate employees are not being stretched to their full capacity either - and never have been.)

Reporting of this report is varied. The Guardian says, "Britain’s failure to create sufficient high-skilled jobs for its rising proportion of graduates means the money invested in education is being squandered, while young people are left crippled by student debts, warns a new report."  AGCAS says, "The report suggests a range of interpretations of the available data, but the findings raise questions about the size of the HE sector in relation to our labour market needs and reinforce calls for investment in alternative routes into work for young people." Adventures in Evidence is looking forward to the bun fight: "The annual graduate employment statistics remain much-emphasised by universities and government.  Providing an alternative, more sceptical view, this report is worth a bit of attention: it will be interesting to see what counter-arguments are put to this and by whom."  Though so far there doesn't seem to have been much of one. Readers may point me to analyses which I have missed.

Creating high skill jobs requires investment - that thing that Tory governments don't do if they can possibly help it. The Tory rationale is that investment is best left to the market. If firms want high earning staff, they will create high paying jobs. Trouble is there is a mismatch here between requirements for the economy as a whole and requirements of individual corporations. In a way the Tories are right: investment is best left to companies and sectors to decide for both short and long term strategies. But what happens when the business sector gets it wrong too?

Globalisation, technological development and the increasing power of the managerial classes are causing a widening divide throughout the world between the elite and the rest. The CIPD report mentions the hourglass workforce demographic, where there are some nice jobs at the top, then a squeeze, below which the hulk of (generally low paid and precarious) jobs are situated. The elite who run the companies are quite happy with that. It appears our government is quite happy with that too because much of George Osborne's economic policy is pushing that way. But therein lies the contradiction - if that is the shape of our economy, we do not need a large body of graduate employees. The rationale behind Blair's HE expansion was that to maintain our prosperity we would need to compete with the rest of the world on skills and inventiveness. For that we need a large base of well educated recruits. But the economy we are developing (rapidly) is not that kind of economy. So at some point that contradiction will need to be dealt with.

I do not expect our business sector to be able to deal with it on its own. While there is a great deal of entrepreneurship and vision around in the business sector, it seems to me that there is not enough, and current policies do not encourage it nearly enough. It seems to me that our managerial class has become expert in forms of behaviour which are great at enriching them and maintaining their position, but does not require them to find new fields and new endeavours. In other words, they have become among the world's leading experts in rent seeking: in extracting the value of other people's labour and appropriating it for themselves in bonuses and dividends. Why risk unbalancing the trough when your nose is still in it?

The CIPD says, quotes in Times Higher Ed, “It’s crucial we as a nation take stock now of whether our higher education system is delivering desired returns for graduates, for organisations, and society.” In my view, it is not the HE sector we should be looking at, it is the economy. We should be looking at whether our economy is delivering desired returns for graduates, for organisations and particularly for society. All the signs are that it is not. And it can be changed. The economy is not a monolith, as neoliberals would have us think. It is not beyond influence - in fact what the Tory half of the last government and Tory whole of this government is doing is influencing the economy in the - for me - wrong direction. What we are developing is a finely tuned version of the economy of the trough and we desperately need a form of economy that spreads security and prosperity as widely as possible. People should be rewarded for the work they do, rather than the value being sifted out of it and given to people who have not worked for it. And we should also recognise that the economy is easily big enough - massive enough in fact - to afford to pay a decent minimum, without constant harassment, to those who, through no fault of their own, are not working.