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A case against austerity

Chris Dillow / June 23, 2017 at 12:46 PM 147 views

Some  Tories say voters are tired and weary of austerity*. The voters are right. Let’s start with the sums. There’s a simple equation to tell us what primary budget balance we need to stabilize the debt-GDP ratio (the primary balance…

The lack of demand for equality

Chris Dillow / June 22, 2017 at 1:00 PM 163 views

Why do people tolerate inequality? A new paper by Karl Ove Moene and colleagues provides a new explanation: it’s because a small role for merit in income inequality causes a big drop in demand for redistribution. They showed this in…

Free markets need equality

Chris Dillow / June 21, 2017 at 12:34 PM 162 views

These are dark times for free marketeers. Voters are only lukewarm about the virtues of capitalism; the Grenfell disaster is widely regarded as showing the case for greater regulation; and, as Sam Bowman says, even the Tories “have totally failed…

Selecting for Corbynism

Chris Dillow / June 20, 2017 at 12:58 PM 85 views

There seems to be a paradox about Corbynism. On the one hand, I feel the force of claims that Labour’s manifesto was quite right-wing. Matt Bolton says that it’s immigration policy was “well to the right of the 2015 manifesto”,…

The end of the cosy game of politics

Chris Dillow / June 18, 2017 at 11:20 AM 186 views

There’s one aspect of the Grenfell catastrophe that is perhaps under-appreciated – that it should finally kill off what is perhaps the dominant conception of politics in the media. I’m thinking here of the idea that politics is an Oxford…

The landlords’ party

Chris Dillow / June 16, 2017 at 12:47 PM 89 views

Owen Jones says the Tories are the “Landlords Party”. This is true in a deeper sense than the mere fact that so many Tory MPs are themselves landlords. It’s because fiscal austerity has contributed to rising house prices. There’s a…

Political pundits’ biases

Chris Dillow / June 15, 2017 at 12:02 PM 217 views

Everybody agrees that political journalists and pundits were big losers in the general election. As Jon Stone points out, many of their cherished presuppositions turned out to be wrong. Here’s a theory as to why. It’s because of deformation professionelle.…

The changing class divide

Chris Dillow / June 11, 2017 at 10:34 AM 174 views

Social class has become less important as an influence upon voting behaviour. This is one under-appreciated feature of last week’s election. Lord Ashcroft’s polls show that the social class AB split 43%-34% between the Tories and Labour. That meant Corbyn’s…

Under-estimating Corbyn

Chris Dillow / June 1, 2017 at 4:32 PM 205 views

Depending which opinion poll you believe, this election looks like being closer than the pundits expected. Blairites' belief that Corbyn was “unelectable”, and May’s idea that she could win a landslide without even turning up now look doubtful. Yes, they…

On writing for money

Chris Dillow / June 1, 2017 at 9:14 AM 92 views

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.” Samuel Johnson’s words have for centuries fueled a prejudice that paid writing is of higher status than the amateur equivalent. This should be challenged. What I’m thinking of here is…

Unsayable truths

Chris Dillow / May 30, 2017 at 1:05 PM 277 views

There are some truths that politicians find it hard to express – and this warps our political debate. This is my reaction to a piece by Janan Ganesh. He accuses Labour and the Tories of an “indifference” to economic growth,…

May’s groupthink

Chris Dillow / May 26, 2017 at 12:22 PM 161 views

I don’t think commentators have drawn the right inferences from the mess May made over social care policy. The problem is not that she made a U-turn: if you’re heading in the wrong direction, a U-turn is a good idea.…

Poverty, ambition & reference levels

Chris Dillow / May 25, 2017 at 12:12 PM 213 views

I’ve written before about how inequality perpetuates itself through differences in confidence: people from rich backgrounds have the chutzpah to blag good jobs for which they are unqualified, whilst those from poorer backgrounds have confidence knocked out of them. However,…

The populist paradox

Chris Dillow / December 7, 2016 at 1:59 PM 322 views

Danny Finkelstein in the Times is good on the need to resist attempts to bully the Supreme Court. He says: Our institutions – parliament, government, the courts – must serve a plural society, they must balance interests and protect rights.…

Why not centrism?

Chris Dillow / December 6, 2016 at 2:05 PM 823 views

Some people want to revive centrism. Tony Blair wants to “build a new policy agenda for the centre ground”. And the Lib Dems’ victory in Richmond Park is being seen as a warning to the Tories that it must “keep…

Elites or people?

Chris Dillow / December 1, 2016 at 1:13 PM 423 views

The votes for Trump and Brexit have highlighted a division between “elites” and the “people”. For me, though, this is the wrong dichotomy. The question instead is: under what conditions are the people right, and under what conditions are elites…

Criminally stupid

Chris Dillow / November 29, 2016 at 1:33 PM 436 views

There is a point at which stupidity ceases to be a merely intellectual error and becomes a crime. If Nick Cohen is right, the government has crossed this point. He writes: [David] Davis seems closer in spirit to a bubbly…

Not understanding the right

Chris Dillow / November 27, 2016 at 1:07 PM 463 views

We leftists should make more effort to understand the rise of the populist right, says Janice Tuner in the Times: After defeat you must ask why. It is easy to blame Breitbart or the tabloids, to label every Trump voter…

Forecasting GDP

Chris Dillow / November 25, 2016 at 1:14 PM 185 views

The OBR’s downbeat forecasts for the economy have caused Brexiteers to question its competence. For example, Iain Duncan Smith says it has been “pretty much been wrong on everything.” Such attacks miss two important facts. Fact one is that there…

On class politics

Chris Dillow / November 20, 2016 at 12:28 PM 446 views

Trump’s election victory has led to calls to bring class back into leftist politics. “Class trumps gender, and it’s driving American politics” says Joan Williams. Sam Dale attacks the “toxic failure of identity politics” and says “Liberal elites have no…