Monthly Archives: November 2006

What’s most fascinating about this lament to socialism perdu is the central thesis:

It is axiomatic, since the death of socialism, that governments must everywhere retreat… Liberalisation, privatisation and global policies of “small government” (except in the areas of defence and law and order) have led to a withdrawal by governments from areas of concern, which, until recently, had been seen as their primary functions.

He’s 180 degrees wrong. In fact, the state is hungrier than it’s ever been. Read More

The rising prison population isn’t only a British concern; it also makes the news in Italy. However, the comparison with Britain breaks down on at least two counts: firstly, because the size of the prison population is considerably smaller (in both absolute and relative terms); secondly, because the Italian government has taken the novel step of doing something about it. It’s good news for a lot of convicts, or ex-cons as they are now – including some of the crooks who were running Italian politics not that long ago.
Read More

Simon Heffer is not a columnist for whom I usually have much time – although his biography of Enoch Powell was relatively interesting, that was more down to the subject than the author. If anything, the writing style put me off reading the thing more so than did old Enoch’s politics.

Still, Heffer has a piece in the Telegraph today about the French socialists’ presidential candidate Ségolène Royal, for whom I am holding out much hope (based largely on desperation for some kind of major, top-level reformist drive in the French political system that could finally give the EU a chance for significant improvement), so I thought I’d give him another go.

Read More

Some figures I heard at a conference last week.

NHS costs are growing an an annual rate of about 6%, largely due to several years of generous wage settlements and increasingly pricey drugs.

This hasn’t been that big a problem because, for most of the last decade, NHS funding has been growing at a rate of about 8%. From next year, though, we’re going to see that figure cut to closer to 3%.

So costs are going to increase roughly twice as fast as income will. And deficits, you recall, are already looking likely to hit £1bn for the second year running.

You might want to make sure you get enough vitamins this winter, that’s all I’m saying.